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September 20, 2016

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Preparing for the prerelease.

Welcome back all! We’re quickly approaching the prerelease for Kaladesh, and your humble scribe will be hauling himself over for the early flight, and perhaps an afternoon flight as well should he scrub out ignominiously early on. Some of you may never have attended these events, and if not, this article is for you!

First and most importantly, what is a prerelease? Simply put, it’s a chance for you to get cards from a new set a week or two before they release to the general public. For a reasonable price, your local game store will give you a kit which contains a cool deck box, a handful of booster packs (6), a spindown dice, and a special prerelease foil. The special foil could be any mythic or rare in the set and can be played in your prerelease deck. From these, you’ll build yourself a deck to play against others! Before that though…comes the night before the prerelease. (insert excitement here)

Preparing for the big day.

An old fogey like myself will need a full night’s sleep, but you might be able to get by on a different schedule. Now’s a great time to pore through the full Kaladesh spoiler found at Magic’s website. You’ll get a feel for the new mechanics and start brewing your strategies. You might want to stop by your local game store (LGS) and pick up some sleeves for your deck as well. Bring dice and print out some of those nifty energy counters on the above site, or ask your LGS for energy counters of their own.

Once your bags are packed and you’ve had enough rest, head over and find your seat! Bring some decks (Standard, Modern, Legacy, Commander) to play with friends between rounds if you’d like. Commander decks are great here since you can nab three other people and have a pickup game in a hurry.

Building your deck.

The hardest part of your day. You’ll always want to have 40 cards in your deck and very, very, very rarely exceed that amount. Of these 40, 15-17 will be basic lands, which you can bring yourself or find at “land stations” at your LGS. Make sure to return these borrowed lands when you drop out though! You’ll want a good amount of creatures, maybe 12-15, and a handful of “combat tricks” to push through tight combat situations. For example, Giant Growth effects can serve as subdued kill spells when your creature defeats theirs, or finishers if your opponent’s life total can’t bear the brunt. (Kaladesh provides: Blossoming Defence for the win)

Try to stick to two colours if at all possible, though with Kaladesh‘s mana-fixing, you might be able to squeak in a third. With the new Energy mechanic, you’ll want some early Energy enablers so that you can harness it with your (hopeful) late-game bombs. When determining land counts, remember that if you have many double-mana symbols (as with Craw Wurm), then you’ll need more forests to get there. Try to “curve out” your deck so you have early plays, mid-game plays and late plays. It’s easy to peter out if you concentrate too much on early spells, so have a game plan.

Your prerelease goals.

You might be like me, looking for a few cards for my Commander decks. Others just show up to socialize and see new mechanics. Still others want to use this as a test of their Limited ability, and try to to snag that box of product at the end of the line. All approaches are legitimate, but to avoid personal frustration, set your objectives and go from there. If you open a rare you need, do you just drop or play? I’d play to at least a few rounds get a feel of the mechanics and gameplay. Depending on where you play, you might need to top out at one loss to get into the prize pool, so if you’re 2-2 just relax and play for your own enjoyment.

If you’re serious about being one of the early format masters, various websites can provide sealed deck generators to test your build skills. You’ll also want to increase your effort and attention as rounds go on to sharpen your play and grind out those wins. Best of luck to our high-level competitors.

The après-prerelease.

It’s late afternoon/early evening and you’ve seen enough vehicles to mistake your LGS for the Queensway. What now? You might not want to do any more Magic play, but if so, there’s always a chance to sit down and do some serious trading. Tons of people show at these events, so you might be able to snag that last card for your deck, or to trade your new cards for store credit or other cards you need.

Cubes are an alternate form of sealed involving a box of draftable cards, and might make a nice, light alternative after a day of grinding Limited. Some cubes are even themed, so watch out there!

All in all, I recommend prereleases to all Magic players, both as a chance to see new cards and old friends in one fell swoop. I hope to see you there on Saturday, and until next time, may you open an Invention to help win your games.