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avacyn-the-purifier-flip-side-980x865As a Magic: The Gathering player, by far one of my most favorite times of the year are prerelease events. Prerelease events let you get your hands on the latest cards of a new set before they are officially sold in retail. Not only that, a special tournament is always held in which you build a deck comprised of cards from the newest set and compete. Shadows over Innistrad will begin its prerelease events this weekend, starting at midnight for participating stores on April 2nd and runs through April 3rd. The set will not officially launch until April 8th.

There are numerous events throughout the weekend. In a city I lived in, one of my local shops had six separate events in total. Plus, I knew plenty of people who would play in all of them. Talk about dedicated.

For me, ever since I started playing Magic: The Gathering back in the Gatecrash set, I try not to miss out. I participate in at least one event during prerelease weekend when I can. In particular, if I had to choose, I always prefer to play the midnight event at my favorite shop. Call it a personal tradition, but it’s a fun tradition for me nonetheless.

So what does Shadows over Innistrad promise?

Well, just taking one gander at a spoiler reveal will tell you that this set is supposed to be dark, full of gothic horror and death.

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Most angels aren’t friendly anymore…

To be perfectly honest, I am not that into the gothic stuff. I like angelic things, but a lot of the pretty angels have turned “evil,” and they are supposed to be scary and threatening now. In addition, I’m a cat person, and this set has A LOT of wolves and werewolves. Regardless, from a mechanics standpoint, I look forward to trying these cards firsthand. It should make for many interesting matches during the prerelease tournament.

Some simple tips to make your prerelease experience that much more enjoyable:

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Location matters.

1) Pick the Right Place
This one is subjective, but you should choose the right kind of store, AKA the right kind of gaming environment, that suits you for your prerelease event. Obviously, this all depends on what your local shops offer you, but it’s good to ask around with generic questions such as price, prize support and average turnout. I have played at multiple stores throughout a prerelease weekend, and I literally came across completely different experiences.

It’s to be expected. Stores can run their events however they see fit within reason of what Wizards of the Coast allows. Factor in the kind of people you may or may not come across for better or worse.

Is it a hardcore crowd? Is it a casual crowd? What about the actual venue? Will there be enough space for everyone? What about the tournament structure? Is it elimination or will there be a top eight?

Every little random thing adds up, and this can make or break your prerelease event. Choose wisely.

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Bring everything you may possibly need.

2) Come Prepared with Supplies
Bring things such as extra sleeves for your prerelease deck. You are about to use newly opened cards, and you want to make sure those rare cards you actually open out of those fresh booster packs don’t get damaged throughout your tournament matches.

Also, I recommend getting middle-of-the-road sleeves such as Ultra PROWhen it comes to events like this, you want durable sleeves that won’t cost you too much. Avoid novelty sleeves. They tear easily and literally will mess up your shuffling, upping the chance you have bad games because of sleeves sticking together and not separating apart correctly.

I shudder when people play their prerelease decks without sleeves. It’s a pet peeve of mine. That potentially sought-after card you just pulled from a pack can lose its value from any tiny scratch, smudge or whatever kind of debris those card tables have sticking to them. Ugh, it disgusts me just thinking about it!

As for other supplies? Extra dice, counters, writing utensils, paper for notes, even something like drinks or snacks to keep yourself quenched and fed… Better safe than sorry!

3) Trade Binders, Extra Decks and a Friendly Attitude
The trade binder should be obvious. There will be plenty of downtime in between rounds to trade cards with other participants. Prerelease events often yield great player turnout, meaning you have a greater chance of pulling off successful trades with others who bring their collections. Of course, remember you can’t trade your actual prerelease cards until AFTER the tournament ends for you!

Having an extra deck or two is also something good to bring when you want to kill some time, as some rounds can take longer than others. It’s always a joy to get some friemaxresdefaultndly games in when you can.

Finally, remember that prerelease events are meant to be for fun. Yes, there is a tournament attached. And yes, there is more often than not prize support thrown into the mix, but it doesn’t mean you have to spoil the mood of everyone else who just wants to see what the new set has to offer.

I have come across a lot of unsavory situations at my own prereleases throughout the years, from people literally crying after losing a round to players throwing their actual decks at others.

Please, for the sake of sportsmanship, don’t be like this. Play hard, but play respectful enough so that your next and future events are a joy instead of an embarrassment.

Wish me luck at my Shadows over Innistrad event this weekend. And good luck with yours.

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Magic: The Gathering images belong to Wizards of the Coast.

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