Welcome back! On this Tournament Tuesday, we’ll be going over some basic Prerelease tips and expectations, as well as how to handle something rather special from Kaladesh! We’ll start with that: The Masterpiece Series. Some of you may remember that the Battle for Zendikar block had super cool foil lands called Expeditions that could appear in your packs; starting with Kaladesh, a “sub-set” of awesome promo foil cards is going to be standard in every expansion, and will be called the Masterpiece Series. The Masterpieces for Kaladesh are, fittingly, submissions to the Inventor’s Fair: a heap of awesome artifacts from throughout Magic’s history. Only about one in every 144 packs will have an Invention, so don’t expect to see a lot, but because you read this blog you’ll be ready if you do! Most of the Inventions aren’t Standard legal, because they’re “special” reprints of older cards like Sol Ring and Aether Vial; however, ALL of the Inventions are 100% legal in a Limited format like a Draft or a Prerelease. That means that if you crack a shiny new Sol Ring during your prerelease, you won’t be able to play it in your Standard deck for FNM, but you absolutely can play it in your Sealed deck at the prerelease (and you should, Sol Ring is bonkers). Be ready with sleeves! The Inventions are fairly valuable cards, and you can’t “proxy” one you want to play to avoid damaging it, so be ready to sleeve it up if you want to play with it.
Prereleases are pretty laid-back events, with an emphasis on fun, learning, community, and seeing awesome new cards. Don’t be nervous- everyone is there to have fun! If you have any questions throughout your day, just raise your hand and call for a Judge- even if there’s not a certified judge at the event, your TO should be able to help you out. So, what should you expect once you get there? You’ll be given a Prerelease Pack, which is a nifty box full of goodies. Inside will be a spindown dice (you can use it to keep track of your life total, but we’d prefer you use paper and pen!), six packs of Kaladesh, and a special promo. The promo can be literally any rare or mythic in the whole set, and is legal to play in your deck- so if you open a really great card, be happy that you get to wreck boards with it! From these 6 packs (and one promo), plus as many basic lands as you need- your store should have plenty available, but please return them when you’re done!- you will build a 40 card deck. You can go above 40, but generally you want to stick to right at 40 for consistency. With this deck, you’ll be playing at least 3 rounds; if your store doesn’t announce how many at the start of the event, ask! Some stores stick to a hard 3 or 4 rounds regardless of how many people enter, while some will ‘scale’ it up to 5 or 6 for very large events. Be sure to ask to find out!
Prereleases don’t use decklists, so like any Limited event with no decklists, you can change your whole deck as you please between games AND rounds! You could build two different decks and switch between them every game, or change your deck between rounds if you have good ideas on what to do. You’re also not only allowed, but ENCOURAGED to give (and seek!) advice on how to build your deck from other players, both during the initial construction and between games. Feel free to offer advice to those who want it, and feel free to ask those who are willing to give. But don’t trade your cards until you’re done! That can get you in trouble.
So, what should you put into your deck? Normally, you should play 2 colors. It’s very unlikely that you’ll have enough strong cards to play a one-color deck, and playing 3 or more colors can be difficult without the mana fixing that Constructed decks have access to. Which colors SHOULD you play? Well, whichever you want- but you might be pulled one way or another by a very strong rare (often called “Bombs”), lots of good removal, lots of good creatures, or just a really good mana curve. Sort your cards by color as you open them so you can look at what options are available! Once you pick your colors, you’re going to want 22 or 23 cards, with 17 or 18 land to build your deck. Try to keep your mana curve in mind- it can be tempting to put a ton of huge creatures in, but you need to live long enough to play them. You’ll want only a couple of 1-drops, a lot of 2 and 3 drops, a few 4 drops, and fewer and fewer as it goes down the line. It’s okay to have an ‘extra’ big late game bomb like the Gearhulks, because those cards are pretty nuts! Just don’t go overboard; you want to be casting spells, not sighing and taking damage. Also, don’t forget to keep evasion abilities like flying in mind- both in the sense of having a hard-to-block attacker on offense, and remembering what your opponent might have that you need to stop!
Last, these are some tips I give anyone, regardless of the event: Have fun. Eat a good meal beforehand to stay focused, and get a good night’s sleep. Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated! And most important: have fun. Magic is a wonderful game, and if you’re not having fun, what’s the point of a game? Get out there, crack some shiny mythics, and have a great weekend playing Magic with other people who share your love for this amazing game. May the pulls be ever in your favor!
Today’s Prerelease Primer was written by Trevor Nunez