A Guide to… Prerelease

Prereleases are the best, absolutely the best events that Wizards run at local game stores. I love them. They’re nicely level playing fields because the rest of the plums haven’t played with the cards just yet and everyone is pretty excited to see how the new format will shake out. And now that the head honchos in the development team have finally seen sense and ditched these ‘thematically consistent’ design aesthetics and given us the gloriously batshit world of pirates, dinosaurs and fishmen with the release of Ixalan , it’s time to prep yourself for prerelease weekend.

So, following my excellent, and still relevant, guide to drafting: here’s a handy set of rules for attending a pre-release to help you get the most out of everyone else’s ignorance.

  1. Revision. Everyone is very friendly and excited at a pre-release. You must take advantage of this. It is their character flaw. Of course, this is Britain, you have to be nice to their face. But inside you must be a seething mass of calculation. This must be based on your slavish addiction to something called ‘spoiler season’. This marks a period of time in your life where news of new cards seeps on to the internet like the sweat patches on a Southern Baptist preacher and you must sit transfixed as smell of freshly minted cardboard inveigles its way into your brain. Finally, in the week prior to the pre-release your studying montage becomes more intense than the Italian Stallion’s ascent up the mountain in Rocky IV. Now you start doing fake sealed events on the internet. Yep. That’s right. You open six fake boosters and construct 40 card decks from them using the ‘internet’. Truly, this invention designed to forward the continuing growth in human knowledge has reached its apogee in the sacred art of the simulated opening of six booster packs of Magic: The Gathering.
  2. Hydration. Now, my feelings on hydration are clear. This is Britain, we drink tea. In America, those hyperactive attention monkeys survive on coffee and in the rest of the world we can only assume they’ve found a different plant to boil. But staying hydrated, whilst important, is a causal factor in one of the most disturbing and sometimes critically destabilising experiences of the Magic tournament player. The local game store toilet. Now, I am lucky. My local game store has a nice toilet. It’s clean and well kept. It’s a sign of something important. I’m not sure what but probably something to do with character and decency. Which is a dying art in this world. But it was not always this way. No sir. I’ve seen things. Terrible things. Unclean things of which it would be a little too coarse to bring to light in such polite company. So, in short – don’t overdo it.
  3. Box Choice. Some game stores will allocate a box to a person. Back in the days of ‘seeded boosters’ you would be given a box according to whatever guild/clan/Khan you had purchased. Those days are gone. All the boxes are the same and this can result in people engaging in the strange, and frankly delinquent, activity of swapping boxes before they’re opened. That’s right. You heard me. They swap boxes. I’ve seen it. With my own disbelieving eyes. Call me a prude but as far as I can tell that’s about two steps away from throwing your car keys in a bowl and getting out the lubricant.
  4. Opening technique. Open a booster, discard the bullshit, sort into colours, check your rare. Rinse and repeat. Only the depraved would even consider alternatives. Is that what you are? A degenerate?
  5. Deckbuilding. Every other dickhead on the internet has written this advice. Stuff the good cards in and push them at your opponent. How hard can it be?
  6. Rules. Call for a judge. Do it loads. Remember, you’ve revised which triggered abilities stay on the stack and all that crap but your opponent has just come for a good time. Crush them with rule based knowledge. It’s the only way they’ll learn.
  7. Chit-Chat. In other circles, more military circles, this is called fraternising. Remember, loose lips sink ships, and talking about your deck to other people is broadly the equivalent of giving up before the fight starts. Or, in your grandad’s words, “Being French.”

So, there you go. To paraphrase the words of the immortal Conan: The Barbarian “Go to the pre-release. Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women (or men, no judging).”

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