Monk's Corner
by
Ray Powers

*Level III Judge

*WOTC Tournament Organizer for Arizona & San Diego


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9.7.04 

 

Champions of Kamigawa Pre-Release Weekend is Coming!

 

Youíve started to read all the preview articles for all the Champions of Kamigawa cards on Magic The Gathering. Perhaps youíre following the forums on MTG News. Maybe youíre reading our Card of the Days and preparing to send me hate mail for not giving enough analysis of each new card.

 

In any case, with any luck, youíre getting a bit excited about the new set. Well, to me itís lucky. Iím preparing to run prerelease events in San Diego and Arizona, and am taking an additional risk of trying, for the first time, to do a two-day event in Arizona. So itís very important to me that youíre excited by the new set, as my financial wellbeing depends on it.

 

Why am I taking a risk by doing a two-day event this prerelease? Itís something Iíve been agonizing over for almost a year now. The attendance for prereleases has been going up and up each event lately, and I am getting concerned about a one-day event simply being two big to feasibly run. The decision to go to two days was set in concrete when my normal event space fell through, and my backup site could only seat 350 players, which is less than my usual prerelease attendance. Suddenly, I was in a situation to either disappoint a huge amount of players, or go to two day.

 

Two days it is.

 

Now, the issue was communication. I needed to find a way to let hundreds of people know we were doing two days, and that since we couldnít support more than 350 people on any one day, we were going to do early registration for this event. To do this I made up over 500 fliers advertising the event, with the backside explaining the registration process.

 

Now, being a premiere tournament organizer and owning my own store, thereís sometimes hard feelings between myself and other stores no matter how hard I try to keep premiere events separate from my store, so trying to find a way to get these fliers out to the players of different stores was a challenge.

 

I went with bribery.

 

Every store I could find that ran an event in the Phoenix valley or in Tucson, or that I just had an address for, got a letter from me inviting them to participate in the Prerelease Promotion. The Prerelease Promotion was simple: a store could participate by agreeing to put out fliers for the prerelease event, and in return they got a coupon worth one free entry into a prerelease flight. All they had to do was run an event and give out the coupon as a prize. Any event would do, any entry fee, any format. The event did not even have to be sanctioned. As an added bonus, I advertised your event on my web site, so more people who came looking for prerelease info would find out about your store.

 

In general I tried to make it as much of a win as possible for the stores. I lose one entry, cost of the coupons, cost of shipping, and cost of the fliers, but itís more than worth it in advertising costs. I already have over 65 registrations, so word is getting out. I like this idea so much I likely will continue doing it. It really helps build the community of players as a whole, and it letís me know who is willing to do these kinds of promotions and who isnít.

 

As a short aside rant, I was amazed that certain stores choose not to do this promotion. Thereís nothing in this promotion about my store at all, so itís hardly a hidden promotion for my store. The only logical reason I could think of for not doing this would be that either a) they donít like me or b) they are under some mistaken belief that by not promoting the event, people wonít hear about it, and they may get that customer that day instead of the prerelease.

 

This is such a funny misconception that it scares me to think anyone would take it seriously. If it was a Grand Prix Trial or a Pro Tour Qualifier I could see it, but this is a prerelease. Everyone knows when the prerelease is, and everyone wants to go to a prerelease. Word of mouth on prerelease events is huge. Not to mention the fact that prerelease events help local business. They generate a huge amount of excitement for the new set, while giving out only enough product to whet most peopleís appetite. This concept does ignore the occasional really good player who wins a lot of product at a prerelease, but likely, this person was not planning on buying any anyways.

 

So, instead of ignoring the event and sticking your head in the sand pretending it doesnít exist, why not capitalize on it? The event runner is willing to give you a coupon for FREE that letís you run an even where you can send one of your players to the event for a free entry, and you get to keep all the profits of the event you run, and heís willing to advertise it on his event web site, potentially getting you new customers. Not only that, but you can ask the winner of your event to wear a shirt promoting you as your event winner or something, giving you basically more free advertising.

 

Am I looking at this wrong? I thought I had made a stunningly good offer, and I did indeed get some people joining in I had not worked with before, but a couple of the big guys passed without so much as a response, and it confuses me.

 

Ah well, its their problem, not mine.

 

But thatís only part of it. Then I had to create a registration system so that people could call in to have a spot held for them. I think this was only fair since I had a maximum space of 350 people, while we normally have more than that at a prerelease. I actually pre-built the DCI files, and as people called or e-mailed me, I added them to the next flight for the day, and am starting the flights at roughly 15-30 minutes apart to give us time to set up. I see a lot of holes in this plan, but I think itís fine as a starting point. If people do not show, weíll have plenty of standbys to fill the first few flights, and Iíll kill those people who donít show up later. I really would like to force people to prepay when they register early, but I donít have a system in place for it yet (I hate Pay Pal). Maybe next time.

 

Now, weíve spent a lot of time lately working on our efficiency for the events. We have the lines moving at record speed, and the flights going off in an incredibly timely manner. My staff is becoming nothing short of amazing. But at the same time, I think thereís always room for improvement.  So the focus for this prerelease is no longer efficiency, but fun!

 

Weíre efficient enough that thereís little we can do to improve it, but thereís always room to make it more fun. So hereís where I am coming to you guys. What do you think can be done in general to make prereleases more fun? What has your local organizer done that you really enjoyed? It can be an event, or a special guest, or a way they distributed the prizes; anything goes. One idea we had was to run a couple ďnew type twoĒ variations, unsanctioned. In one variation, you could play any type two deck with as many cards as you managed to get from the new set added in. In the second variation, you got three booster packs, got to open them, then got to pick a type two deck you had an add a minimum of eight cards to the type two deck of your choice and play that. Both of these ideas SEEM fun, but Iím not sure how many people will actually have an interest in playing them.

 

Do you have an idea like this, or something we simply never thought of, like a cool way to do door prizes? Now is your chance to be heard! E-mail me at rayp at primenet dot com and Iíll take a look at your suggestions for future prereleases, and weíll see what we can do to make these events even more fun than they already are!

 

Have a great week!

 

 

E-mail me at rayp-at-primenet.com.

 

 

 

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