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Attention to Detail #23
Dissension is Imminent
by Jordan Kronick
May 26, 2006

It seems like every month there's a new set of cards for us to play with, lately. This year features the much-speculated Coldsnap set, which has pushed thDissensione release date for Dissension forward a month from where the third set of a block normally would be. Paper Magic players may find it a bit crowded, but that's nothing next to the way it's going in the digital world. This spring we saw the release of Guildpact and Visions one after another. And now, Dissension hits Magic Online on May 30th (that would be this Tuesday for those of you without a calendar in front of you). With so many sets coming out in such close proximity, a lot of players are having trouble budgeting their time and money for new cards. It seems like a shame to let a set release go by without playing in some events, but how do you do it so that you can get the most for your event tickets? This week I'm going to go through a run-through of all the release events for Dissension on Magic Online. I hope it will help even the veteran Magic Online player to figure out what's worth their money and what isn't. And for those of you who play in the paper world, you can have a look at what the rest of us are all doing when a new set comes out.

The release events for Dissension start on June 1st.
This is normal. Events always begin a couple days after the set comes out, so that people have a chance to play with the cards a bit and see what they like. Even though it's been out in paper form for a month, many people will be getting their first look at the cards this comingDissension Famous Card week (though with yesterday's update to Magic Online, the cards are now viewable – so if you haven't gotten a look at them, go check it out). Release events are much like the Prerelease events that paper players get. Except that instead of one weekend, we get a whole week of cool events. And there's way more to it than just sealed deck, though there's plenty of that too. Remember also that the cards in Dissension will be legal for use in constructed events (like extended and standard) as soon as they are released. This has proven to be controversial as it means that players who can get access to the new cards faster can hope to rush into the queues and play against opponents who don't have the new cards. For this reason, the secondary market prices on cards from new sets are always greatly exaggerated in the first couple days. If you're looking to make a bit of money off the new set or at least get tix for cheaper than a dollar apiece, this is a good time to do it. Buy a few packs of Dissension and you should be able to sell them for quite a bit. Selling packs instead of buying the tix directly is one of the best ways to maximize your money when it comes to Magic Online. Or, if you like the feeling opening a pack of cards (and who doesn't, from time to time), and you're feeling lucky, try opening a few packs of Dissension on the day of its release. If you can pull a money rare (a dual land, perhaps), you should be able to get a considerable number of tix for it.

First on the list of release events are the Dissension release leagues. These work much like normal leagues, except that they only last one week. There will be new ones filling up and launching throughout the week starting on the first of June. As with many release events, these leagues have double the normal prizes. For the people in the top few spots, that's a pretty incredible deal. First place in a release league walks away with 54 packs for their investment! The leagues will be using 1 Ravnica tournament pack and 3 packs of Dissension (no Guildpact, in other words). In addition to this, it costs 2 event tickets to enter. This brings the total cost in real money to somewhere around $25 depending on what kind of taxes you pay, if any. That's a fair amount of money to put into an event, but leagues do have some redeming values. First of all, the prizes are great as I mentioned above. Check out http://mtgodownloads.wizards.com/mtgo/webhelp/league_prizes.htm for a full list of the prizes for leagues (remember to double the numbers since these events have double prizes). Secondly, you can play as much as you want. Even a swiss event will only last a matter of hours (though it can be quite a few hours) from beginning to end. With a league, you can play with your deck many many times. And unlike normal leagues, it's very rare that you won't be able to find an opponent. Everyone else is as keen to play lots of games as you are. These are the upsides, but there are definitely downsides. The biggest one being that if you don't win your first five matches, you're out of the running for the really big prizes. This can be especially nerve-wracking as it gives you very little margin for error. Besides having a better shot at the top spots in the league, going 5-0 right away means that you'll be awarded the prize avatar. This time around, the prize is Lyzolda. She seems to have been mostly forgotten with all the hype about the very cool participation avatar (which you get just for joining the league), Momir Vig. Because things are so tight in your first five matches, something like mana screw can ruin your chances in one swift stroke. Far more than many tournaments, luck is a huge factor here. You have to hope you open a good deck and you have to hope that the fates let you actually play with your cards. Lastly, even if you do go 5-0, you're suddenly entering some very tough company. Once you've played your first give matches, you start playing tiebreaker matches. For this bracket, tiebreakers will be deciding who wins the whole league. So if you do go 5-0 it can become very time consuming to get on top and stay there. The winner of a release league will usually have played at least 50 matches, sometimes many more. Even if you're playing fairly quick half hour matches, that's still a full day of playing the same deck over and over. It's for these reasons that I try to avoid release leagues. Although in the day to day world of Magic Online, they are considered to be a casual alternative to tournaments, around release time there's very little about them that could be described as casual.

The second kind of release event is the draft queues.
These work just like normal drafts. The prizes are the same (aside from including the new packs) and no avatars are awarded. Once in a blue moon, they'll decided to do some “nix-tix” queues which waive the 2-tix entry fee, but don't count on that. The Rav-Gpt-Dis draft queues will be around for quite a while, so don't feel like you have to jump on them now. You'll have a couple years to play those if you want to, and knowing the popularity of this block it won't be hard to get one to start, either. There is one kind of queue that's only available for the duration of the release events however, and that's the DDD queue. Like most small sets, things can become extremely degenerate when it is drafted on its own. Still, these are extremely popular among people who want to try to open expensive rares from the new set to sell them. Just remember that things can get pretty ridiculous in these formats. When your opponent plays five Wrecking Balls in a single game, remember what format you're playing. These queues are fun but I greatly prefer the standard 3-set queues.

The third and fourth types of release events are the
Dissension Famous CardPremiere Events. These are always sealed deck events with drafts for the top 8. They come in two forms – 2x and 4x. The number indicates the amount the prizes are multiplied by. That's right – in the larger events everyone receives four times the normal prizes. That means the winner of each of these will be walking away with 48 packs as their prize – not to mention the prize avatar and an invitation to the Dissension Championship tournament (which has an astounding 6x modifier to the prizes and is free to those who are invited). It's slightly fewer prizes than the leagues, but in my opinion there's less work involved and it's far less likely that mana screw will knock you out of the whole tournament. So there's 2x and 4x tournaments. Why would anyone play the 2x ones, you ask? Well there's a good reason. Both kinds of tournament have a minimum of 24 players. The 2x ones have a maximum of 32 players and the 4x ones have a maximum of 128 players. Working the numbers, that means that at least 25% of the people in a 2x tournament will be making it to the top 8. In the 4x tournaments, the prizes go down to the top 16, but if the whole thing fills up (and they often do) that means only 12% will be receiving any prizes at all. In addition, 128 people means that the swiss portion of the tournament will last for 7 rounds as opposed to the 5 rounds for a 32 person tournament. If you don't want to be sitting at your computer for up to 10 hours, it's best to avoid the 4x tournaments. In the past, those who placed high in both kinds of tournaments were entered into the same championship. This time around, there's two different championships, one for each type of tournament that feeds into it. The winner of each 2x tournament will be qualified for the championship, while the top 4 from each 4x will be entered. Other than that, the big difference between the two is that 4x flights cost 4 tix to enter, while 2x flights only cost 2 tix. All these things considered, I prefer the 2x events. Especially since the Championship for each event is exactly the same (though separate). The chances of doing well are more mathematically favorable in the smaller events. And because they launch more frequently, the chances that you'll be in an event with fewer than 32 players is even higher, which only improves your odds more. When I play release events like this, I try to join one that starts late at night by US time. These events often only have the minimum of 24 players. That means that one third of the people who enter will be making it to the top 8. Without trying to toot my own horn, I can pretty confidently say that I believe myself to be in the top third of players on Magic Online at the very least, in terms of skill. To enforce this point, I've made the top 8 in all but one release event that I've played in the past year, and all of them were 2x.

Premiere events are still a bit time consuming. If you've never played a large event on Magic Online, make sure to prepare yourself for a long haul. There's nothing worse than getting two rounds into a premiere event only to discover that you're thirsty and there's nothing to drink in the house. The local pizza delivery place has also seen a fair share of my business during long events. Also, it's a good idea to prepare yourself for the top 8 of the tournament. Although the swiss rounds are sealed deck, the top 8 will be RGD drafting. You don't need to provide the packs for the top 8 draft, which is another great thing about premiere events. However, if you've never done a RGD draft before, you may want to try one in the draft queues before playing in an event. Being caught unprepared for the draft could be the difference between going on to the championship and losing in the first round.

Dissension is my favorite new Magic set in a long time. I'm itching for the chance to play in these release events, and I hope you've been inspired to give them a try. The recent changes to the premiere event championship structure show me that Wizards is definitely paying close attention to what people want from these events. They remain the most popular thing that happens on Magic Online in any given month. I urge you to join one and take a shot at the big prizes. There's never a better time to play a premiere event or a league than now, when everyone is mostly on the same level when it comes to knowledge of the cards and the prizes are as good as they get.



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