Hi all, how was your pre-release? I’ve just finished a very long weekend indeed. It started on Friday night when I played in FNM at one of the two stores in town – Patriot Games. This was the last time I’d get to play my beloved Squadron Hawks, so I used Marco Orsini-Jone‘s Caw list from a Magic Online Premier Event. I’d split the finals of the WNM in town with it and fancied one last hurrah. I got to the store at 6:15pm, ready to hang out with people before the event started at 7pm. Unfortunately I realised that I’d left my deck and trades in my office at the University, 15 minutes away :/
I jogged-on and retrieved my deck, breathlessly ready to start the 8-man tourney. I beat a mono-black Vampires deck and a UR Splinter Twin deck before splitting the finals with Ben Flounders and his Birthing Pod deck.
There was a midnight Draft Pre-release scheduled to start at the other store in town – Travelling Man. The FNM had finished at 9:30 ish though so Ben and I took a detour in a local pub (£3.84 for 2 pints :D) to get a little merry before the event. They’d expected between 8 and 16 players to turn up but the novelty of it all was sufficient that a whopping 33 players showed up to draft! The store had two floors but not enough room for everyone on a single one so they were looking for someone to drop and judge, making it 4 pods of 8 exactly. I reluctantly thrust myself forward to help judge the event, and managed to eventually get to bed at 4:15am.
The late night was matched by an early morning, 9:15 (at least an hour earlier than normal). For Saturday I was scheduled to judge another pre-release, with the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society (plus Patriot Games) in the University. This is usually the largest pre-release in town, and we were not disappointed by a whopping 50 players. Local scotsman Kenny Hall gave a Sealed Deck Masterclass which went on a little longer than expected, but we managed to get things going just after midday. I managed to weave some coverage of our pre-release in for the local blog, and went to the pub with local ex-pro Mick Edwards.
At 10pm I realised that I was falling asleep in my pint and should probably head home to get some sleep. After all, what else could Sunday have in store for me but another pre-release? This one was at Travelling Man – one of the two day-time pre-releases they were holding this weekend. We got 22 in for the event. It was briefly 21 but I bravely offered to play until Ben Flounders called to say he was coming. I opened his packs and sorted his pool for him, then mentally built a deck which was only a couple of cards different from what he ended up with anyway (going 4-1). After the 5 rounds of sealed we had 20 present to participate in drafts, and I seized my opportunity to finally play with the cards. As is usual with very early first drafts of formats I got my hands on multiples of what seem like sweet cards to me:
2 Ashmouth Hound
2 Avacynian Priest
3 Bonds of Faith
2 Harvest Pyre
2 Brimstone Volley
Into the Maw of Hell
+ Basic Lands
Plus a sideboard containing Bloodgift Demon, Stony Silence, Isolated Chapel, Moorland Haunt, Nephalia Drownyard, and Stensia Bloodhall (nice rares). I won 3 matches and drew with the guy who opened a Garruk after not drawing my Fireball in 10 turns or so (50:50 chance, not too bad beats). I finally got out at 10:30pm and headed home to relax. I’ll be sleeping very well tonight!
My thoughts on the format: White appears to have many of the stronger commons and bomb rares and was the most successful colour across all the Pre-releases. Sealed deck matches seem to start on turn 3, sometimes on the draw, but it is still quite tempo-oriented. There isn’t lots of removal, but it is often quite good – the combat tricks make up for the lack of it if played well. I’ll be using my infinite boosters from judging all these events to practice Sealed Deck for the upcoming PTQ season, trying to get more insight into what looks like quite an interesting format.
How did you find it, and did any cards particularly surprise you?
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