Magic: the Gathering

What to expect at a Magic the Gathering prerelease

Prerelease is one of the most exciting times to be a Magic player, and it’s an exceptionally great time to dive into the game. Players are always abuzz about the latest and greatest cards, ripping open the packs, and trying out new and unique strategies. Coming to your first event as a new player might seem daunting, but this guide will fill you in on what to expect on the unexpected journey of your first Magic prerelease.

What to expect at a Magic the Gathering prerelease

You should sign up

Unlike Bilbo, your adventure should not be unexpected. Let your local store know you’re coming by preregistering.

The first (and most important!) thing you’ll need to do is to sign up for your seat at prerelease. If you’re reading this close to when it was written, the most recent set is Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth. You can sign up for its prerelease HERE. If you’re brand new to the game we recommend one of our ‘Super Casual’ events, where everyone gets the same prizing at the end of the event regardless of your win-loss record.

So you’re signed up, but what should you bring with you? A lot of players like to bring a package of sleeves both for their deck and in case they happen to pull something super sweet out of their packs. Dice will also be extremely helpful for keeping track of counters, life totals, numbers of tokens, or how tempted by the Ring you are. A handful of dice will serve you well. Some players also like to bring a playmat to protect their cards and personalize their playspace, but it’s not exactly necessary.

What to expect at a Magic the Gathering prerelease

So you’ve gathered your party for adventure… now what?

Now you’ve got all your belongings together, so what of the event itself? What you’ll find inside your Lord of the Rings prerelease kit is six draft packs, a spindown d20 life counter, and two shiny new promo cards: one of which will be a rare or mythic from the new set, and the other a special prerelease promo. Both will have stamps on them marking the year the set came out. Rip open all the packs, and sort the cards in a way that makes sense to you. Most players sort their cards by color so they can see which colors they pulled the best cards in. This is the point at which you usually hear a lot of excitement from all the players about the super cool stuff they’re opening.

Here’s where we get into what is usually the most daunting part for new prerelease players: actually building your deck. You might feel like you’ve been flung out of the frying pan and into the fire, but here are some quick and easy deck building tips:

  • Locate your ‘must-play’ cards, usually your big and splashy creatures or game-winning spells. Fill in your deck with cards that have an impact on the board and you can’t be going wrong.
  • Prioritize cards that interact with your opponent’s board. Playing big dumb creatures is great and all, but often if you have nothing to stop your opponent’s game plan you could be knocked out before you’re able to take them down.
  • You’ll want a total of 40 cards in your deck, with about 17 of those 40 being lands.

Once everyone has built their deck, the actual gameplay begins. We run our prereleases as three round events, with a best of three match in each round. You’ll make use of the handy Magic Companion app to receive your pairings and find your opponents. If you’re feeling a lack of confidence in your gameplay, don’t worry! Prerelease is a fantastic time for new players because everyone is seeing all these new cards for the first time just like you are. We try to foster a welcoming environment for all players old and new alike, so you can just say to your opponent: “Hey, I’m new to this whole Magic thing, so bear with me while I wrap my brain around this game” (or a similar statement), and your opponent will be understanding and helpful.

What about the end of the event?

After you play your three rounds, and many meetings of fellow Magic fans, you can head up to the front and get your prizes. Prerelease is always a great time to be a Magic player, and an even better time to try it out if you’re on the fence. We hope to see you come out here and back again for Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth prerelease!

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