I said in my last article that Magic: the Gathering has become a sort of self-care tool for me. Unfortunately, as I also mentioned, I rarely get to play because I’m always busy. So imagine my reaction when I found out that, not only did I have a day off both jobs, but there was a Ravnica Allegiance prerelease event happening near me. One phone call and debit card later, I had registered and chosen my guild.
I walk into the store and within a few minutes, the event is starting. Rules get explained, kits distributed, pairings posted. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly: people who haven’t played for 12 years are slinging spells with newbies. My first opponent’s here with her boyfriend after having learned the game through Arena. Even with prizes on the line, nobody is overly competitive or serious. I’ll even admit that a nonzero amount of time is spent watching a cat roam the store, don’t judge me.
I mean, winning packs is cool too…
Wait, how do I play this game?
For those who don’t play Magic, whenever a new standard set is being released, the weekend before the release date is a chance for people to play with the new cards before they can buy them in stores or online. This particular event was sealed constructed. Small kits are given out, containing 6 boosters and a spindown d20. With the cards in these 6 packs, each player constructs a deck with a minimum of 40 cards. This is part of the Limited format, a sort of one-shot style of gameplay.
I’d like to say I won the whole thing, but no. My card pool wasn’t super strong, it was just janky enough to have some hit. There were also a few *ahem* misplays on my end. A little lesson I relearned the hard way: it doesn’t matter how many cute tricks you try to pull, sometimes the other person just has you dead on board.
And at a prerelease, where everyone’s there to goof around with the new cards, that was fine! One opponent openly admitted to keeping a 2-mana hand the first game, only for both of us to wind up flooded out game 2. Another made a game-winning play out of my attempt to not lose. One more registered Simic and wound up playing Mardu. There aren’t really any stakes at a prerelease, so why not have fun with it?
A Minute to Pause
Attending that prerelease was a nice break from reality for a bit. Like I said up top, it was lucky I got the chance to attend. That doesn’t happen often with multiple jobs and no real stop between them. The chance to go out and play with new people, to break out of the repetition, was huge.
I’m also lucky to have had a great shop nearby to play. For their privacy, I won’t give out the name. But in my experience, it’s always been a great time, and I can’t say that about every game store. Nobody is judgemental, everyone just wants to play and have fun.
Sometimes you hit a miracle.
If you take nothing away from this article and have any interest in MTG, I would urge you to attend a prerelease event. It’s a great blend of casual and competitive Magic, and easily one of the best ways to experience the game. Depending on the store, some people might bring along a commander deck and start up a pod after dropping. Others might bring modern or standard decks to test between rounds. It’s a great way to bring players together, and absolutely worth attending if possible.