This weekend, all over the world, people are going to be opening their pre-release boxes, poring over clues, and trying to decipher the mysteries of the new set, Shadows Over Innistrad. Pre-release events, generally held at LGS’s, take the form of individual and two-headed giant sealed formats. In the sealed format, you are given six booster packs from which you build one 40-card deck. In the two-headed giant variant, you and your teammate both open two pools of six packs, and make two playable decks out of your collective pools.
This article is going to give some general advice on what to do to prepare for your pre-release ahead of this weekend. Enjoy!
1. Get an idea for the cards in the set.
Much has been written (and talked about) regarding the sealed format, and everyone from youtube content creators to podcasters to website writers have written up reviews of the set, giving their opinions of what to look out for.
For those unaware, Marshall Sutcliffe’s Limited Resources podcast is LEGEN…(wait for it)…DARY for its suuuuper in-depth reviews of the new set. To see his and LSV’s analysis of the SOI Commons and Uncommons, check out his website, or to see the cards, watch it on Youtube here.
Wedge from The Mana Source Youtube channel also produces videos throughout spoiler season, and then goes through the remaining cards in the final week in his renowned ‘Best of the Rest’ series. Each video takes about ten minutes, during which he distills down each colour to its best and worst cards, and even giving advice on some strategy for certain cards. You can find his channel here.
Known primarily for their online comedy sketches, Victoria-based Loading Ready Run produces a lot of content relating to Magic. These include short skits (called ‘Crapshots’), weekly streaming of Magic Online on Twitch, and the monthly Friday Nights series (hosted on Wizards’ Youtube channel). Last weekend, LRR had the opportunity to host a special ‘PRE-Pre-Release’ of Shadows Over Innistrad, streaming it over Twitch with such Magic celebrities as Marshall Sutcliffe, Jimmy Wong (of The Command Zone podcast), and fellow streamers Athena ‘Elantris’ Huey and Kenji ‘NumottheNummy’ Egashira. Now uploaded to Youtube, you can watch it here and see the cards in action!
Of course, I would be remissed if I did not mention some of the largest sources for Magic: the Gathering content: Channel Fireball, Gathering Magic, Star City Games, and (of course) the Mothership itself. Not only can you find articles about the cards themselves, analyzing them for their playability, but you also find in-depth discussions on the new mechanics of the set, and deck building strategies (such as this article by Gavin Vorhey on the Mothership, or Magic TV, a weekly ‘show’ produced by Channel Fireball and broadcast through Twitch and later uploaded onto Youtube).
Of course, not everyone can spend 5 hours listening to the LR set review, or watching LRR’s Pre-Pre-Release. For that, there is the card gallery for the set. Websites such as Mythic Spoiler provide the full index for you to peruse, helpfully divided by colour and rarity. Even taking a few minutes to read over the cards and understand how they work will give you a spectacular edge in the actual event when you are evaluating cards for your deck.
2. Come Early
Judges and event organizers prefer that players arrive at least a half-hour early, to be sure that everyone has been properly registered before the event starts. Be sure that you have or know your DCI Number as well, for quick and easy registration.
3. Bring Protection
Remember: No glove, no love!
Every sealed pack comes with a special foil promo. More than that, there are many sweet rares that you will have the opportunity to open for your decks. You will want to protect them for future value, so be sure to bring sleeves. I like to bring a pack of 40 sleeves for my deck, and a few spare for any potentially sweet cards that won’t be played in my actual pre-release deck. Moreover, this set more than any other wants you to play with sleeves, due to the presence of double-faced cards. Check cards do exist for you to use for any double-faced cards you decide to play, but in general it is easier to simply sleeve them up in (preferably dark) opaque sleeves to prevent being able to accidentally see the double-faced cards while in the library.
On a side note, each sealed pack comes with a special spin-down die for keeping track of life totals, but many players find them unwieldy. That said, dice are helpful for counters and tokens, so I recommend bringing a few, and a pad of paper to keep track of life totals (if you don’t like using dice).
4. Bring Snacks
Prossh isn’t the only one who gets hangry!
Especially for the midnight pre-release, players find it hard to keep their concentration up for the entire 4-5 hour-long event. You will get hungry, which will effect your ability to focus on your gameplay, which will inevitably result in unfortunate misplays. I recommend bringing hearty ‘brain food’ to snack on – like nuts, or granola bards. I try to avoid sugary things like candy bars and cookies, though; the sugar crash is real. I also like to have a bottle of water over caffeine for the same reason; water, besides actually quenching your thirst, helps to stimulate mental processing and helps keep sleep deprivation headaches at bay.
5. Be Considerate and ENJOY!
Player Respect: the Ultimate #VALUE
Pre-releases are fun and exciting events; the energy of a room full of people seeing new cards for the first time is simply infectious. Yet, remember that pre-releases are casual events. For many, this is one of the few times they get to participate in an MtG related event, or maybe it’s their first at all. At the very least, this is the first time that anyone will have played with these cards, so rules interactions are going to be fuzzy for many players. Being a jerk about the rules makes you just that…a jerk. If a player accidentally draws before untapping, for example, do not jump on them about messing up the order.
As for new rules interactions, if a legitimate question comes up do not argue. Rather, kindly ask for a judge call to confirm the interaction. It will vastly improve the experience for you, your opponent, and the judge; I promise you.
Remember, the point of the night is to simply have fun, and explore the set! Shadows Over Innistrad is ooozing with flavour, and the horror is real! So investigate the madness and delirium of Innistrad this weekend at your local game store!
GL and HF everyone, and we’ll see you under the Silver Moon!