5 things that probably happened at your MTG Pre-release… by Liam Casserly

5 things that probably happened at your MTG Pre-release… by Liam Casserly

How did it go? Did you have fun? Of course you did!

We had the added fun of making this video. I spoke to a few of the local players and asked them what they loved about pre-release.

People were also keen to tell me what they hoped to open. Surprisingly there was quite a bit of diversity in the expected cards. With Fate Reforged being the second set of the clan-based block players are already set in their ways. The vast majority of them want to open something for their Standard decks.

I also asked them the big question, “What clan are you going with?”. You really can tell a lot about your friends by what clan they find appealing. Check out the video.

Pre-releases are brilliant. You get to open cards you’ve never played with before and try to battle your friends with them… What’s not to like?

Here’s a list of five things that might well have happened at the pre-release you attended.


Days of treasure hunting are over. We’re cruising now, bro! 

5. “Er… dude, that’s a sorcery.”

It might well have been you playing this gotcha card, or maybe someone caught you out when you went to attacks.

You spend a few moments pondering whether you have any responses before you realise that the card is actually a sorcery. Hopefully it’s just a mistake and you can all laugh about it. Armed with your knowledge of cards in hand you can play around that particular spell. Or, more likely, you can’t and they get to do what they want but just a turn later. Worse still is when you have someone blow you out in a game with a perfectly timed spell and then a few matches later you try to play the same card and only then is it pointed out that the spell cannot be played on your opponent’s turn.

Oh well, the more you know. Sometimes the excitement of playing with all these wonderful new toys can get a bit overwhelming and we forget to actually read the cards.


Please, stop. We, Jeskai, don’t go Wolverine on each other.

4. Oh… so that’s what it is.

At some point you’re playing a game and things are going badly. You’re furiously looking at the cards in your hand over and over again, wondering if there is anything at all that can help you now. During this futile endeavor, a previously unseen aspect of a cards artwork will reveal itself. In the Khans of Tarkir I remember the revelation of Deflecting Palm. In the art for that card the Jeskai Khan Narset is using her Matrix-style kung fu to deflect the blow of Mardu angryman(orc) Zurgo Helmsmasher. The force of her move if pushing the bones back out of his gnarly hand. Gross. In this set I noticed that Renowned Weaponsmith has in the artwork the actual bow from the card Heart-Piercer Bow so presumably one of the other strange objects in the picture is the Vial of Dragonfire that is referenced on the card but not in this set or Khans.

ajani mentor of heroes

Luckily, not all mentors are required to grow a fur.

3. You played against someone who was brand new to the game.

It’s on you; you are the front line of our community. More often than you might think you are going to be someone’s first experience of this game that we love. No pressure then.

Do you remember your first game at FNM or a pre-release? Perhaps it was only this time last year but you have already learned so much about how the game works. Be patient and explain your turn to your opponent. We all needed a little help when we started out and we all remember those people who helped us on our way. Be that wonderful person for someone else.

Don’t be the guy who asks why they’re running such a terrible card in their deck. Be the one who explains interactions and how they work. Maybe they don’t know how the stack works… well, this is a great time to go through it with them. What about talking to them after the game about mana curves or colour fixing?

I have actually called a judge over for rules clarification on a card I’m playing, not to rub it in that there’s nothing my new opponent can do, but because it’s good practice to show how asking a judge for a ruling works. I’ve noticed new players aren’t that keen on calling a judge and you might want to use the pre-release to show them that it’s an okay thing to do and not like telling a teacher on someone who’s done something bad. Although don’t go wasting your judges’ time. I’m sure they have other things to do, like…


Pigtails in beards are so cool this year… No, short, triangle-shaped are way better!

2. A big ol’ rules conference.

One set of players have a friendly disagreement on how one of the new mechanics interacts with a spell. There’s a bit of a discussion where each puts their interpretation forward and then the table next to them pauses their game to offer their opinion. Some other nosy individual (this is usually me, hi!) from two tables over tells everyone how he interprets the rules. Then the person who got the bye wades in and tells you what he read on some website. Eventually a wild judge appears and uses The Knowledge: it’s very successful.

But seriously, I do like a bit of a shop-wide discussion on how a rule works. I mean we all know that there is a correct answer. Yet, there’s no harm in having a chance to say how we think the rules work, before the judge sets us all straight.

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Attention, all players! Drafting Limited starts in five. Please, apply your sunblocks.

1.The person sitting next to you opens the bomb card.

Did you watch the video? Well if you didn’t, this bit has spoilers in it. My friend Sebs opened an Ugin, The Spirit Dragon. There were four people sat around him and they all had great pulls, a foil fetchland and all that, but someone has to get lucky at these events. It’s just statistics: 4 events, 50 odd players, a lot of packs opened, which means a lot of people are getting a lot of really great cards. Some pull a Limited bomb and breeze through games to collect the winning prize with no sweat. Some pull money cards and almost immediately sell or trade them to cover up money they spent on pre-release so far. Some pull a foil Mountain to finish off pimping their GR Monsters Standard deck. Pre-release weekends are great, because there are so many cool stories what people opened and what they did with those cards. And you now, what’s even greater? Half of the time it’s you who has the luck.


I have noticed in my shop that we’ve started to embrace the less competitiveness of pre-release weekend, and then everyone makes a big effort on game day to play a lot more seriously. This trend is something I can get behind. We should all be using the first chance to play with the cards to have fun and not to have a gladiatorial fight to the death.

Community Question: What was your the most memorable bomb you pulled at any pre-release?

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Thanks for reading,

Liam Casserly

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