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The Dragon's Den
Preparing for the Prerelease
By DeQuan Watson - 05.20.05

Most of the long time Magic players have seen many prereleases in their day. The older players make take these events for granted. This is understandable, since many of the have been attending prerelease events since around the Visions or Weatherlight. But for those of you unfamiliar with the routines of prerelease events, I've got some advise. I'm here to help. Consider this your prerelease handbook. The reason I think this is important to new players is that prerelease events are about more than just seeing the new cards. It's a social event. So you might as well come prepared, right?

First of all, make sure you have the location information and such prepared. This may sound silly, but you will likely want to get there early to make the most of your day. Getting lost can easily cost you fifteen to thirty minutes. If you are already cutting it close, it is likely that you will miss the first (and possibly the second) flight. This sucks for you, because it is less time you get to play and fewer new cards that you get to go home with.

Make sure you bring some money. Obviously you want to play in at least one flight, but bring about $20 over what you expect to use. Many tournament organizers make the flights you play after the first one cheaper. If so, this money will help you get into more events. Also, many organizers also make deals to have local dealers set up at the events. This may be your only chance to pick up that card you've been looking for. The dealers may also have a particular type of dice or sleeves that aren't available in your local market. You will be glad you have that extra $20 if a situation like this comes up. If nothing else, you can use the extra money for food. It can be a long day, so be sure to have money for snacks if you don't bring any snacks with you.

I would also recommend that you prepare a binder or two of cards that you are looking to trade. For years prerelease events have been a large draw for players. Many of them are casual players that come out to any other events all year. There will be people at prereleases that you will only run into at those events and Regionals. Why Regionals? I don't know, but that's just the way it's been for years. Anyway, what does this mean to you? Those two binders may be your chance to enhance your collection. With that many people in one area, you can usually find some one looking for something you are trying to get rid of. Also, it is likely that someone in the room will have one of those hard to find cards that you are looking for. Don't bring a bunch of junk cards though. Even though the majority of the players are casual players, they do have an idea of what the popular cards are.

I just realized that I've been telling you to bring more and more stuff. I'd be careful though. Don't bring more than you can keep your eyes on. I recommend any type of binder or backpack with straps on it. This way you can hook them on the leg of the chair you are in while playing. It's a good way to keep up with your stuff. I'm not going to sit here and call everyone a thief, but we know the truth is that the bad seeds are out there. Don't let them ruin your day. Just watch your stuff, protect and keep the problems to a minimum.

Anyway, when you get your product you will have a lot of thinking to do. You can give yourself an edge by looking around for some spoilers. Talk to the other players in line while you wait. So much information is out there, so you never know what idea or rumor some one in line may have heard about the set or particular card interactions that you may not have heard. Knowledge is power. The more you know about the set, the better prepared you will be.

As far as deckbuilding, don't try to get too tricky. If you can, try to go with two colors. Ultimately, it would be neat to go with one color, but that's very rare and highly unlikely. Even if you have to play a couple of sub par cards, I would recommend sticking with two colors. The day is supposed to be fun and relaxing so you want to give yourself the greatest chance of maintaining this mindset. If you are only using two colors, it's likely that you won't get stuck on mana for particular spells. This is a good thing. Besides, the K-value isn't that high for prerelease events. So, don't get too tricky. Being tricky and trying to leave yourself a ton of options does increase your risk of crazy things happening. You don't want that.

Also, when building, keep your number of high costing cost spells to a minimum. If you have a bunch of stuff that's hard to get into play, your opponent will run you over with his little spells before you have a chance to fight back. So be careful in that regard. Speaking of your opponent's creatures, you'll need to devise a way to stay ahead of them or kill them with your deck. It's best to have some type of removal. If you don't have removal, you will need to have a LOT of creatures of your own or a bunch of creatures with evasion abilities. Evasions are anything like Flying, "Protection from", etc. It's a word that pretty much refers to anything with keyword abilities that make your creatures hard to stop.

When playing, keep your eyes on the game at hand. People are already going to be playing slow, because of unfamiliarity with the cards. Keeping your head in the game will keep your games moving along. There will be plenty of time between rounds for trading, conversing, etc. Be courteous to your opponent and save non-game related events until then. That brings up another minor point though. Since you will likely not be familiar with the cards, don't be afraid to read your opponent's cards. Read them more than once during the course of a match if you have to. There's nothing to be ashamed of. You don't know the cards, so give yourself the best odds of making a good play. Get to know them as you go along. A card that's in play shouldn't surprise you.

Afterwards, don't be so quick to open your packs that you get. Use them as trade stock. Many people are so eager to get their hands on the new cards before everyone else, that you can many times get some very favorable trades for the packs that you get. The packs will be in store within a two week time frame anyway, so it's not like you will have to do without that long. Another thing to consider is holding any product you win to draft with. Getting a chance to make yourself better at a format for free surely can't hurt. Drafting with prize packs is a great way to get some quality practice in. And if you are just fanatical, feel free to rip your packs open and start collecting the set ASAP. There's nothing wrong with that. Open packs just for the sake of opening them is more than acceptable. That's what pack fever is all about. Have fun. Do with your packs what you see fit.

Well, this should give you a good set of guidelines to follow at the prerelease. It's going to be a long day. Just make sure you maximize your fun. It's not something you will get to do every day.

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com

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