Kaladesh is almost upon us, and with that in mind it’s time we take a look at one of my favourite events of the year, the prerelease. Taking place on Saturday and Sunday the 24th–25th of September at local game stores and other venues throughout the country, the Kaladesh prerelease will be our first chance to get a hands on taste of this set and its Limited environment. For people who are unfamiliar with the format, here’s a very quick rundown.

Prerelease falls under the Sealed format, which means players keep and open their own booster packs and make a 40 card deck using only those cards. The current format for prerelease kits is nice and simple: six booster packs, in this case of Kaladesh, one prerelease promo that can be any rare or mythic rare card in the set , one spin-down twenty-sided die bearing the sets logo and -- in the case of Kaladesh -- one papercraft Constructable thopter, which is just there for a bit of fun.

Wizards of the Coast also have a more expansive guide to the Kaladesh prerelease on the main Magic: The Gathering website.

Know Your Stores & Events

Some of us will find ourselves doing prerelease in an unfamiliar location. Be that because of a recent move, trying out a new store, or the fact that we’re only just getting into the game. Be sure to know what time your event is starting and check if the store has any special requirements. For particularly busy stores you will need to sign up in advance for prerelease, for others you may simply be able to show up and pay that night.

For those who only want to be surrounded by other adults, or want to be able to drink, a decent amount of prerelease events here in the UK are held in pubs, bars, or function rooms that will have more of the feel of a night out. This is a good choice for those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a local game store environment.

kaladesh-prerelease-insertA Kaladesh Prerelease Kit

Some stores are also making at least one of their prerelease events a Two Headed Giant event. If you’re unfamiliar with the format you can read our primer on a Two Headed Giant prerelease event here, but the concise version is that Two Headed Giant is a two versus two format where two person teams have a shared life total. If you prefer this format, or are curious about it, be sure to check which venues are holding these events and on which days.

A Helping Hand

Prerelease may be the only event some players will attend at a store, it may even be some players first time at a Magic: The Gathering event period, so if you’re a veteran player be sure to help people out who are newer to the game when you can. The main ways veteran players can help out is:

  • Be more forgiving with accidental misplays than at other sanctioned events. This might be someone’s first time playing the game, so don’t be rude or overly harsh. This is an opportunity to grow the game so don’t put players off in what is potentially their first experience of a local game store.
  • Help explain how a card works if a player is confused. You don’t always need to wait for a judge to come over if you can explain to your opponent what a card does. Prerelease is more about casual fun than competitive gameplay and the environment should reflect that.
  • Bring some land cards. Oh god please bring some of your mountains or spare land for your own deck, and possibly even some for other people. This not only helps out new players but also helps out your store who I can guarantee you will be thankful.
  • Donate unwanted cards. Don’t just throw tokens, bulk commons, and land away. Those are gold-dust to new players and smaller stores. The practice of ‘draft chaff’ is well known and most stories have a provision for cards left on the end of tables or will have donation boxes for unwanted cards and tokens. If you know a player who would benefit from them, you can just give your unwanted cards directly to them. They may not mean anything to you, but they’re they can offer a stepping-stone into the game for someone else.

If you’re a regular, you act as an ambassador for your store and the game, so be sure to make prerelease as welcoming and friendly as possible.

Prerelease Deckbuilding and Gameplay

I’ll be going over the specific cards to look out for in Limited in my set review, but there are some general tips and tricks when building a prerelease sealed deck:

  • Learn the mechanics of the set. There are plenty of primers out there, including our own preview, that will give you a good overview of Kaladesh’s mechanics and environment. Knowing how effects work helps you evaluate cards, build synergy and avoid misplays. Knowledge is power.
  • Read up on Spoilers. Continuing the theme of the power of knowledge, knowing what cards to look out for and getting a general feel for the set and its power level will help you enormously when choosing which cards to put in your deck. On a more advanced level, it also helps you know what cards to look out for.
  • Sealed tends to be a slower format. Generally, in sealed higher mana cost spells are more playable than they otherwise would be, so don’t be afraid to top off your curve with a few big, splashy spells. Just try not to use too many.
  • Don’t get greedy. Unlike with draft, sealed gives you a set card pool you can’t control. This can often lead to a lot of off-colour rares or powerful uncommons you want to use, but your deck won’t support. Kaladesh isn’t massively multi-colour focused, so chances are you’ll be running a two colour or even mono-colour deck. Remember, the best cards are the ones you can cast.

All of the advice in this article is applicable to any prerelease event as the format doesn’t change significantly from set to set.

I’m a huge fan of prereleases, and wish this style of event took place in stores on more than a handful of days in a year. If you have a playgroup or live a long way away from a store it might be worth hosting your own prerelease, as unused kits tend to end up for sale online for a reasonable price, at least in the short-term. But hosting your own events is a subject I hope to tackle on its own some time in the future.

Just remember to keep in mind the main point of prerelease is to have fun. So good luck with your sealed pool and good luck harnessing the artefacts and constructs of Kaladesh!

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John Sweeney
John Sweeney is a terribly British man with a background in engineering. He writes long-form editorial content with analysis of gaming, games media and internet culture. He also does the occasional video game retrospective with a weekly column about Magic the Gathering thrown in for good measure. He also does most of our interviews for some reason, we have no idea why. A staunch supporter of free speech and consumer rights; skeptical of agenda driven media and suspicious of unaccoutable authority but always hopeful for change.