Fostering Positive Atmospheres at the Fate Reforged Prereleases!

Written by Jack Doyle
Level 3, United Kingdom

Hey guys! The Fate Reforged prerelease weekend is just around the corner. This coming weekend, your local store(s) will be hosting a multitude of different events, with a huge number of players. The important thing to realise is that prereleases are often some of the only sanctioned events that a lot of Magic players get involved in – the chance to get their hands on the new set and take it for a test-drive is a big draw. So why is that relevant? A lot of new players are going to come to the store, and as judges it’s our responsibility to make sure that they have a great time, as well as the locals, the regulars, and the grinders, who are all going to be there to enjoy an awesome weekend.

Your trusty documents

There are some resources that you’re going to want to have to hand for this weekend:

Education, education, education…

This should go without saying, really, but it’s important to reinforce. Prereleases are a bunch of people testing out new cards for the first time. Experienced and new players are going to make mistakes, and it’s important to fix, educate, and move on. There are some complicated mechanics in this set, as well as a mix of old and new cards. It’s going to be a great opportunity for you to demonstrate how judges can helpful to players, rather than the relatively stern faces that are present when you miss a trigger at Competitive REL.

In addition, it’s worth making sure that players at your prereleases know who you are! I know that a whole load of judges (including me) are going to be playing in these events, and perhaps they’re going to be judging at the same time. If you can make your presence known to the others at the event, they’re more likely to involve you. While playing, it’s not normal (or encouraged) to be wearing judge attire, so it’s not immediately obvious unless they know who you are – make sure that happens. If you have the resources to have a full-time judge at your events, that’s awesome, and it’s going to be better for the players.

Last but not least, the JAR does give you some freedom to set the tone for your events, so that your more competitive players don’t get jaded by that guy who always misses his triggers, and also so that your new guys don’t get taken advantage of by rules lawyers. At prereleases, it’s time to turn that setting down, be relaxed, and make sure that everyone enjoys themselves.

Outside Assistance and Prereleases

Prereleases are events that inspire and encourage a social and friendly atmosphere. For this reason, we waive a few of the rules that we’re often very strict on at Competitive REL, and even at some more frequent Regular REL events. A quote from the JAR for you:

Generally Unwanted Behaviours
Asking for or providing strategic advice during a match or draft.

It’s reasonable to interpret that this particular rule extends to the deckbuilding portion of a Sealed event. However, as mentioned before, we’re all about catering for a positive, social atmosphere at these events. It is encouraged to ask others for help and indeed provide help yourself during the deckbuilding portion of a Sealed prerelease. What this doesn’t mean is that you should encourage or allow people to print off reams of paper detailing each card and how good it is – that’s not fun, and not in the spirit of this waiving of the rules. Set reviews away, please, prerelease players! With all that said, however, it’s important to ensure that commenting on active matches is still not what we want to see – feel free to chat to your friends and tell them how they could have won 5 turns earlier – after the match has ended.

But still…vigilance.

Sadly, I’m not talking about the keyword here. Even at prereleases, there are players who will try to take advantage of that relaxed nature that we’re trying to hard to cultivate. The most common issues that we should be aware of are dice rolling (or otherwise improperly determining a winner); and addition of cards to sealed pools. The latter is often much more of an issue towards prereleases later in the weekend, but due to the nature of the format, i.e. that Khans of Tarkir cards will be being used, it’s important to be on the lookout for too many rares, bomb uncommons, and other abnormal sealed pools – especially in the hands of the same people over the weekend. For more information on dealing with Serious Problems at Regular REL, I wonder where you could look…?

Hopefully not too many of you have to worry about dealing with penalising players, but if you should need to issue a disqualification, please make sure to check out the procedure over on the Official Resources blog.

With that, I hope you guys have an awesome prerelease weekend. I know I will!
Jack xox

2 thoughts on “Fostering Positive Atmospheres at the Fate Reforged Prereleases!

    1. Hey Alex,

      The comment was mainly directed at those judges who are playing and judging at the same time – it can come across as unsettling for a new player to play against a judge who is in uniform. While playing, I think it’s important to separate the roles so that you play when you play, and you judge when you judge 🙂


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