A Primer for Pre-release Events
Hey there, Rulers! DM073 here, back with another helpful article
in order to help you get the most out of your local pre-release event. This coming
weekend is the pre-release for Return of the Dragon Emperor, and it might be
your first time attending a pre-release for the game, so it’s important for you
to understand what to expect and prepare for going into it, so that you have
the most fun possible and walk out with as much loot as you can get! Today’s
article is going to be broken up into 3 parts: gearing up for the event, pack
opening/deck construction, and playing to win it all!
Gearing up for the event
So the first thing you need to do is find out when your store is doing their
pre-release. Stores can do their event either on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday so
check in with them to make sure you don’t miss it, and so you know how much it
costs. The event is going to be a little bit longer than it would take for a
regular 3 round tournament, due to the extra time for deck construction, so be
sure to schedule for that as well. I have seen players have to drop out of
prerelease events despite being on a winning streak because they didn’t
schedule well and missed out on walking away with the prized playmat, and I
don’t want that to happen to you!
Next up is what you need to bring to the event. Since you are going to be building your deck onsite, you obviously don’t need to worry about bringing your own cards, but I would still recommend bringing a pack of sleeves for your main deck and stone deck just so you can keep your prerelease deck and any high value cards you pull safe. Be sure to bring with you any other accessories you like for the game (playmats, life tracker, dice, etc.) so that you don’t have to worry about borrowing them from the store or any other players. In addition, you can use the database here on the official site to print out proxies of the rulers for the set and 8 of each basic stone so that you have them already sleeved up and ready to go in the event. I will talk more about this later, but having your own personal proxies/stones can actually save a lot of important time in deck construction, and helps you be better prepared in terms of what to look for in your packs in order to build the strongest deck possible.
Pack Opening/Deck Construction
If you have never played in a sealed event before, this part of the process can be a little overwhelming and confusing. First off, you only have so much time from the moment your tournament organizer says start until you have to be finished with your deck. The official rules state that you have 20 minutes in total, but some stores might extend that so be sure to ask. You will be given 6 booster packs to open and use to create a very different looking deck than regular tournament play.
First off, you will be able to use your proxy for any ruler of the set, so even if you don’t pull one, you will have access to all the ones available in that booster set. This is why printing them all out ahead of time can be so helpful, because you are more aware of what each one does and you can check them yourself on the fly while checking out your cards. The main deck must be a minimum of 20 cards, but does not have a maximum and can contain any number of any cards that you pull during the set. You get lucky enough to pull 5 or 6 of a card you think is really good for your ruler of choice? Well then throw them all in there, and be ready to destroy your opponents!
The stone deck also looks a little different for sealed play. You
must build a stone deck that has a minimum of 8 stones in it, with the usual maximum
of 20 stones, and can have more than 4 of any particular card present as well.
Now in 6 packs you probably won’t pack enough stones to make up a stone deck,
so most stores provide a set of basic stones that anyone can walk over to and
pick up to use. However, it can eat up a lot of your deck construction time to
walk over, find the basics you need, sleeve them, and then come back to your
seat. This is why bringing your own pre-sleeved basic magic stones is so
important, because that way you can focus all of your time on building the main
deck to be as smooth and strong as possible.
Now, let’s focus on exactly how to go about getting through the
pack openings/deck construction in the most efficient way possible. Provided
you have looked at all the cards ahead of time, the opening of the packs
themselves is not super important. Try to open each pack as fast as possible
and quickly skim through just to see if there are any super important cards in
them, and if not, just set them down and move on to the next pack. Once you
have all your packs opened up and all your major cards set aside, sort the rest
by attribute. Seeing how many cards you have from each attribute will
definitely help shape which direction your deck will take (especially when you
take any special stones you packed into account) and which Ruler you use. When
you decide what attributes you are going to be using, quickly go through those
particular piles and try to grab all of the cards that you think are playable
and put those into a pile, remembering that because of the random nature of
prerelease events quite a few cards that would not be used in a regular
tournament could have a lot of potential in this event.
Once you have your 20 cards picked out, sort them by cost so you can see what your average cost is. If your average cost is too high, you will probably struggle as most of the time your opponent will beat you before you have a chance to play them all. Likewise if your cost is too low, you might not be able to keep up or push through decks that have more staying power and ways to kill your creatures. If you find after sorting that your average cost is not where you want it to be, simply choose the cards from your pool that you can use to replace cards in your deck until it is where you want it to be, even if it means taking out a card that you really want to use, or putting in a card that might not be the most impactful. Finding the perfect balance for your chosen ruler is the most important part of the deck building process, so definitely keep that in mind!
Ok, so your 20 cards have been chosen, but now you need stones.
The best way to do this is to sort your deck by attribute so that you can see
what colors you need more of. Be sure to include any special stones that you
pulled, and then grab the basic stones from your stash that align with where
your attribute layout is. This will typically look like 5 of your primary attribute
and 3 of your secondary attribute, but can greatly vary based on how you
decided to build your deck.
Hopefully, if you were able to get through the construction piece quickly enough, you will have enough time to sleeve up your deck and do a few practice hands. Going through the motions of drawing your first few hands and taking your first few turns can help you see if the deck will really do what you want it to do, or if maybe your card choices were a little off. It might not seem like it, but knowing that before your first match and adjusting accordingly can mean all the difference between victory and defeat.
The last thing to note in terms of deck construction is how to manage your sideboard. Most of the time in pre-releases, the format is open construction. This means that you are allowed to change your deck in between games and in between matches during the event, using any of the cards that you packed as your sideboard, rather than the traditional 15. Having that availability is really nice especially after round 1, because you might find that something in your deck that does not really work the way you wanted it to, and you don’t want it to get in the way in future rounds.
Due to the nature of pre-release events, and opening packs, there are some additional things you need to be aware of that could happen. First off, you will usually receive a promo for participating in a prerelease event. This promo cannot be used in your deck itself, so just set it inside your binder or deck box and don’t worry about it. Next up, you may get lucky enough to pack a secret card that wouldn’t normally be found in a pack. For the most part, these cards are also not allowed to be used in your deck, especially if they are a reprint of a card from a previous set (like the full art super rare cards from Curse of the Frozen Casket found in packs of Legacy Lost). Finally, if you are lucky enough to pack a god pack, you must call a judge immediately. That pack of cards cannot be used in your pool, and so your game store needs to replace that pack. While all your friends may get upset with you for packing the god pack, they would be more upset with you if you were allowed to use all those amazing cards you just pulled, so be sure to take care of this situation the proper way.
Playing to Win It All!
While you may have a smaller deck to make use of, you are still
going to be playing full matches in order to climb your way to the top and take
home the sweet prerelease playmat and prizes from your event. In order to have
the best chance to win, there are a few things you need to keep in mind while
playing your games.
The first is be cautious about how many cards you are drawing. Many times I have seen players play cards early on in their games because they want to draw as many cards as possible, and they end up losing because they deck themselves out. Keeping in mind how many cards you have left in your deck and playing accordingly is a major part of prerelease events that you should be mindful of as you play.
The next major tip is to never be too sure about what your opponent’s deck is capable of. As I stated before, cards that might have no place in major competitive events usually can have quite an impact on games in prerelease events, and if you aren’t careful or considerate enough of these kinds of situations, you can find yourself in an un-winnable position faster than you may think. If you follow these two tips, and as long as you play as smoothly and effectively as possible, you will probably come out on top.
Pre-release events are an incredibly exciting way to try out new cards from the upcoming sets, all while trying to win exclusive prizes and cool promos that you can use in your collection. No matter how you do in the event, I am sure that you will have a blast! I hope these tips and tricks help you win big, so feel free to send me a message attelling me all about your prerelease experience and showing me all the cool stuff you win!
Until next time Rulers,
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