I am aware you usually see me writing about TV shows, however today I decided to drop back onto the Magic scene and write another beginner's article. I previously wrote an article about how to get into Magic: the Gathering today's article will be similar.
Once you've wrapped your head around the basics of this card game. a really fun thing for new (and experienced!) Magic players to do is to attend a pre-release event.
"But what the heck is a pre-release?!?"
Well, my dear nerd friends, let me tell you all about pre-release events.
What is a Pre-Release?
Every few months or so, Wizards of the Coast will kindly release yet another new set of Magic cards for us to all spend our money on. A really cool thing they do a week before a set is released is a "pre-release" event.
A pre-release is a weekend full of absolute fun! You get access to the new cards of a set a week before the set is actually released. I don't mean you just get to look at them but you actually get to play with them. Your LGS will hold pre-release events starting midnight after FNM through 'til Saturday morning and then more events on the Saturday and Sunday!
The cool thing about pre-release is that it's a sealed event, so you get 6 packs in your special pre-release box, one of which is "seeded" meaning it contains cards that correspond to your chosen colour or colour combination and has a cool promo foil in it! These packs are your pool from which you build a deck. Sealed is probably my favourite limited format but only because I'm absolutely terrible at drafting.
The fact that this event is sealed is pretty cool as well because it's not often that you get to play sealed, let alone 6 or 7 rounds of it until 9am the next day!
Overall, pre-release events are just really awesome because you get a whole bunch of new cards from the upcoming set, you hang out with friends, make new friends and discuss the possibilities of these cards entering constructed!
Sealed is one of the limited formats, the other being Draft. A limited format is different to constructed because instead of bringing your own deck, you get a pool of cards (one way or another) and build 40 card deck there and then!
Limited formats test your deck building skills and give you the chance to play with a deck that you'd probably never consider playing in constructed. For example, almost every time I draft DTK/DTK/FRF, I almost always build a green and white bolster deck. I would never considering playing anything like that in Standard purely because it's not a viable deck! Limited formats give you access to deck archetypes outside the meta, which is what makes it so fun!
Sealed is different to Draft because instead of picking cards from packs and passing them round, you get 6 boosters to open and build a deck from. You could have a good pool or an absolutely awful pool to build a deck from. However, like I said, limited tests your deck building skills. Being able to build a deck from a pool is a great skill to have. You'll learn about card interactions, colour combinations and more by building your own deck with a limited set of cards!
Building a 40 card deck can be hard when you have a pool of 80-90 cards that can't all possibly make the cut. You also then have to consider your ratios!
Building a Limited Deck
As I've mentioned, a limited deck is generally a 40 card deck. Like constructed has 60 as it's minimum, 40 is the minimum for limited, however there is no maximum. In constructed, you can usually only use up to 4 copies of a card however, in limited you can use any number of card if you received more than 4 in your pool. For example, if I were to open 6 packs of Dragons of Tarkir and get 6 Dragonlord Ojutai, not only would I be very confused and have made a huge profit, but I'd be able to use all 6 in my deck if I wanted to. Though, to be fair, I probably wouldn't use all 6 my deck. But I could!!!
Now, there are some ratios you should keep in mind when building your 40 card deck:
Let's talk about the mana base. This, of course, can be the hardest part of building any deck but more so for a limited deck. Especially, if you're running more than two colours as you don't have time to test it. The optimum number of lands for a limited deck is 17. Of course, depending on your curve this can be less or more but this is only by 1 or 2 at the most. If you pulled some mana fixers, that makes the mana base even easier. Depending on the split in colours, you'll have different numbers of each land in your deck. This is entirely situational obviously as you have no idea what kind of deck you might build on the day.
The optimum number of creatures for limited deck is around 14. Already, that's 31 cards out of 40. This number can be less or more depending on your pool and deck archetype. However, 14-15 is a good number. You generally want a low curve in your deck but if you have a huge bomb, like Dragonlord Ojutai, you want that to be the top of your curve.
This leaves 8-9 spaces for any good instants, sorceries, enchantments or artifacts that are in your pool!
This are the basics of building a limited deck!
What Should I Bring?
When attending a pre-release, specifically a midnight one, there are a few things you want to bring with you. If this were the Dragons of Tarkir pre-release or Fate Reforged, I would suggest bringing some Morph tokens however Magic Origins doesn't look like it will be implementing this mechanic so here's a list of things you should bring to your Magic Origins (midnight or other) pre-release:
- 50 Sleeves (Dragon Shield, Ultra Pro, KMC Hyper Mats etc.)
Sleeves are important and believe me when I tell you they make your playing experience better. I know there are some people that don't like sleeving their limited decks but when playing with the same deck for 6 or 7 rounds until the early hours of the morning, a sleeved deck can make the difference. Not only will you keep your new cards in good condition but shuffling will be so much easier at 3am. I personally like to use Dragon Shield sleeves and sleeve most of my constructed decks in Dragon Shield sleeves, but Ultra Pros will do the job for your one time limited deck.
- 10 of each basic land
Your LGS may as well have their own land boxes for limited events, however these can deplete very quickly at pre-release events and they don't always get put back. This leaves less and less for other players at other events. So, bring your own!
I say bring 10 of each because even if you got into the event having pre-registered for the black Liliana pre-release box, you may not even build a deck revolving around her colours. The chances of building a mono colour deck in limited is, well, limited so bringing 10 of each colour is the best way to go. Better to be safe than sorry!
- A playmat
Now, if you don't usually play Magic with a playmat then this isn't applicable but if you do, I'd assume this would have been on your list of things to bring already! I always find that playing with a playmat just makes the playing experience smoother as tapping and uptapping your cards isn't a hassle on the (sometimes) grimy tables at your LGS. Also it helps keeps your cards and sleeves in better condition!
- Dice (D20s, D6s)
Your pre-release pack will come with a D20 spindown but it's always good to bring some spare as well as D6s for counters. Any magic player should have dice to hand but don't worry if you don't as I'm sure your opponent will have plenty.
- A notepad and pen/pencil
Although you can use your spindown as a life counter, it can be helpful to carry a notepad and pen. This makes it easier when keeping track of what parts of your opponents hand you've seen (if there's any hand disruption in the set), keeping track of both life totals and figuring out how you stand against certain match ups.
- A deck box
This is simple. Instead of carrying around your 40-card deck all night or sticking it in your pre-release box, a simple Ultra Pro deck box will do the job. You'll be able to keep your deck and sideboard (the rest of your pool) in there and makes the night a lot easier! And you probably won't get it mixed up with anyone else's pre-release box.
This is pretty much all you need to know for your first pre-release event... oh well, there's one more thing.
Pre-release events are not super competitive and are generally just about playing magic all night and having fun with your friends! Sure, there are prizes at the end but overall, it's not really about winning.
Have fun at your pre-release this weekend! Let me know which planeswalker you want to get in your box. I'm hoping for Liliana. Not because she looks playable in standard but because I like Liliana. Who doesn't?
If you're in the London area, you can sign up for Dark Sphere's pre-release events here! https://www.darksphere.co.uk/origins.php
If you're still looking for one, use the Wizards of the Coast locator to find your local pre-release! http://locator.wizards.com/