Magic: The Gathering kicked off its Shadows over Innistrad prerelease event last evening at midnight for participating stores. I joined in on the action at my local shop and really enjoyed what the new set of cards had to offer. The shop I went to in town was packed! I physically had to leave from the front entrance and then enter through the backdoor in order to get to the other side of the room when the festivities were underway. There was no feasible way to squeeze in between the crowd of fellow Magic: The Gathering fans.
“On the plane of Innistrad, humanity is beset on all sides.
Horrors stalk in the shadows. Terrors scratch at doors in the night.” – Wizards of the Coast
As soon as the clock struck midnight, eager players lined up to grab hold of their prerelease kits, which contained six booster packs, a promo card and a set-themed 20-sided die to commemorate the event.
I commend Wizards of the Coast for simplifying the packaging for Shadows over Innistrad’s prerelease kits. The kits came in smaller, yet compact boxes that were tastefully done. I would nitpick about this for previous sets as they were sometimes overly clunky and cumbersome.
In the context of everyone already touching elbows with one another, every bit of space helps when opening up the packaging, laying the booster packs out, opening the packs themselves and then organizing the cards you pull into a cohesive deck. Not to mention, one cannot forget about the expected clutter of trash from dozens of players breaking open their respective kits simultaneously. To say it could get messy would be an understatement.
I truly hope Wizards of the Coast continues to keep the prerelease packaging functional like Shadows over Innistrad’s version. This is a step in the right direction.
Packaging aside, let me brief you in on how a normal prerelease event plays out as soon as you open up your prerelease kits.
1) Open & Build
After opening up your packs, it’s time to see if Lady Luck is on your side. It is highly recommended to sort the individual cards out by their type/color. It’s literally like Christmas when you hear Magic: The Gathering players yell out with excitement and great glee that they managed to pull out a set’s super rare card (or even more) from some of their packs. You can see a lot of big smiles on people’s faces as they wave their special cards around with pride.
And then you’re there shaking your head, wishing you pulled out the same card instead of them.
Anyway, you have an allotted time to think of a deck strategy concept right then and there, so you have to be somewhat diligent in figuring out what cards should and should not make it into your deck. In this format, you are advised to make decks of 40 cards instead of the standard 60 in the regular game. With this in mind, it’s best to cut out superfluous cards and focus on trying to build with some sense of synergy.
I happen to consider deck building to be very entertaining, forcing me to think in different and interesting ways.
For my own deck, I ended up going with three colors: green, black and red. Green is my favorite color in the game, and I ended up using black and red because my “bombs,” slang in Magic: The Gathering for powerful cards that can impact the game, happened to coincide with those other colors. There are numerous strategies when it comes to prerelease, but I firmly believe in making the best of what you have at your disposal.
What is the best way to see how the cards themselves fare? By playing in an actual tournament!
It’s always a delight to see players be ecstatic when they finally get to play their rare card, witnessing firsthand how special their cards can be. I know I am someone who loves seeing my new card do work.
Every store can run their tournaments within certain rules, but using Swiss rounds is a common choice. At this prerelease event, we ended up deciding on five rounds total and seeing who scored the most points in the end to determine prize support.
My deck did OK, though I ended up going 2-3 as far as matches go. However, I did have many close games that would have made the difference between victory and defeat. There were plenty of games that came down to a single critical card draw. My deck just lacked a few key cards to make it a bit more consistent, which made variance very apparent when I had an excellent game followed by a totally lackluster one back-to-back.
But I am not upset about it. Win or lose, I have fun going to these events because of the social aspect that goes beyond the game itself. I enjoy going to prerelease because it really does put the ‘Gathering’ portion of Magic: The Gathering into perspective. It is a game designed to bring people together.
I look forward to the next prerelease event with bated breath.Click for more of the Decked Out series
Magic: The Gathering images belong to Wizards of the Coast.