Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Prerelease Primer

Posted in Feature on July 12, 2021

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

It's time for a combination years in the making: Magic. Dungeons & Dragons. One epic experience.

Welcome to Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms!

I am so excited for this set. As a longtime Magic and D&D fan, seeing the games cross over together is incredible. Packed with fearsome villains and incredible heroes, awesome weapons and fantastic spells, D&D really has it all—and now Magic gets the chance to show it all off.

So, whether you're a Magic veteran or coming in for the first time: welcome! And come check out a Prerelease!

But what is a Prerelease? How do you build a sealed deck?

If you'd prefer to watch this in video format, you can check it out here:

Otherwise, to read all about it, continue onward!

Going on an Adventure!

Prereleases have always been my favorite Magic weekends of the year.

Prerelease weekend is your first chance to get your hands on the new set—and to me, the heart and soul of the Prerelease experience is the energy of getting those cards and playing with them. And even if you're doing that at home rather than in a store, you'll still be doing it with so many other people around the world as part of the global experience and conversation. Thanks to the internet, we're all connected!

The Prerelease of a set is great because the set is totally new, the footing is fairly equal as everybody plays with the set for the very first time, and you just get to relax and have fun exploring the new cards. There are a lot of laughs, things to learn, and great games: it's tons of fun for old and new players alike!

If you're a Sealed Deck veteran, you may want to skip ahead to the next section, where I talk about what you can expect for Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. But if you're new to the world of Prereleases or maybe just looking for a few extra pointers, read on!

All right. So, let's go over perhaps the most important part: finding product for your Prerelease! After all, you can't very well play if you don't know where to get the supplies you need.

Well, you'll need to get in touch with a store. If you don't already have a local shop you frequent, be sure to check out the store locator to find one near you! That store may even offer preregistration. Prereleases are some of the most popular events we put on, so be sure to check and see if the store preregisters. Be sure to plan ahead.

While, traditionally, Prereleases are run as in-store events, because of the COVID-19 virus, players can pick up Prerelease packs and take them home for the time being. We expect some stores will be running in-person events and that others will be running virtual ones. In different areas of the world, different rules and restrictions may apply to what can be open—so please take appropriate precautions, be aware of government-level requests, and do only what you feel comfortable with.

Okay now, let's see. You have a store selected, and you've taken a look at all the awesome cards in the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Card Image Gallery.

You're all set and ready to see what this long-anticipated set has to offer! Now it's time to actually open up some of those cards!

Incredible Treasures

What does a Prerelease Pack for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms look like? Well, it's a little something like this:

AFR Prerelease pack

You don't even have to go through a dungeon crawl to get one of these beauties! And there is indeed a lot of good loot inside—let's take a look at everything you get inside:

Everything inside the Prerelease pack

And, of course, front and center are those booster packs. Let's get to it!

First things first: crack them open! Then, you'll have a stack of cards.

So . . . what now?

It's time to build your deck, of course!

Sealed Deck is a little different from normal deck building. You get to build a deck using only the cards in front of you, plus as many basic lands as you'd like. Also, unlike a normal Constructed deck where the minimum deck size is 60, you only need to play 40 cards.

The first thing you're going to want to do is figure out a method to pick which colors you'll be playing. I recommend playing two colors and about 23 nonlands. You can sometimes "splash" for a third color, but in general, you'll want to pick two to be your core.

Some things that may draw you into specific colors are:

  • A really strong rare you're excited about
  • Plenty of "removal" cards that can deal with your opponent's creatures
  • A lot of playable cards in that color
  • A good "mana curve" in that color—meaning lots of creatures of different costs

Ideally, the colors you pick will have all four, but if two or three of those are true, that's plenty good.

Now you have your colors down. From there, how do you take everything you have and figure out which 22–23 cards you're going to want to put in your deck?

Here's one process that may help!

First, lay your creatures out in mana-cost order. This helps you see what creatures you're going to potentially be able to cast at each part of the game. (Don't lay your noncreatures out at this point unless they're cards you are planning to play as soon as you have that much mana—for example, you will generally cast a Prosperous Innkeeper on turn two, whereas Power Word Kill isn't usually a turn-two play.)

A good "mana curve" of creatures is crucial to a successful sealed deck. You don't want to have a ton of cards at any single spot in the curve. It's important for you to have a good mix so you can play your cheap spells in the early game and your expensive spells in the late game. As a very general rule for Limited, I would look to play something like this:

  • 1 mana: 0–2
  • 2 mana: 4–6
  • 3 mana: 3–5
  • 4 mana: 2–4
  • 5 mana 1–3
  • 6+ mana: 0–2

Mana Curve

That's far from hard and fast, but it's a good place to start. Cull your creatures down to these numbers by choosing your favorites.

Now that you have your core creature base figured out, it's time to add in spells! Pick your favorites among your colors to bring your deck to 22 or 23 cards, and then you're good to go from the spell side.

The spells you're going to want most are what we call "removal spells." These are the spells that permanently neutralize your opponent's creatures by either dealing damage, keeping them tapped, or just straight-up destroying them. Sealed Deck Magic is all about creatures, so you'll want to play most of the cards in your colors that can get rid of your opponent's creatures.

If you want to learn more about mana curves, you can also check out my article on how to build a mana curve.

Interested in more tips? Here are a few more things to keep in mind for deck building:

  • You can play more than 40 cards, but you really should stick to 40 if possible. Every card you play past 40 just means it's that much less likely you're going to draw that awesome rare you put in your deck!
  • The land ratio you're looking at should be about 17 or 18 lands to 22 or 23 nonlands. This isn't right 100% of the time, but most Limited decks end up looking like this, and in general, it's what I would want to have.
  • Play a mix of cheap-to-cast and expensive-to-cast cards. If you have all cheap, small creatures, then a single big creature can shut you down. If you have all large, expensive creatures, you risk getting run over first. Stick to a mix that focuses on two-, three-, four-, and five-mana-value creatures. More games of Sealed Deck are won by casting a creature every turn starting on turn two or three than any other way.
  • Evasion is important! Often, Sealed Deck games will get into stalls where both players have a lot of creatures and neither player can attack very well. Creatures with abilities like flying ensure that you can break through these creature stalls.
  • Unlike most Magic formats, Sealed tends to be a little slower. If your deck is on the slow side, choosing to draw (go second) rather than play (go first) can be reasonable to give you that extra card.

Many Different Realms

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has some pretty fantastic frame treatments in it.

For example, the showcase cards look like they're straight out of a monster manual:

Showcase Cloister GargoyleShowcase Drizzt

And we have borderless planeswalkers, of course:

Borderless Lolth

Even Dragons are getting in on the borderless fun!

Borderless Tiamat

Those are just some examples, but to see everything that's happening and where to find it, go check out the Collecting Adventures in the Forgotten Realms article.

Magic from a Distance

Depending on where you are in the world, playing Magic in a store may be a challenge right now due to COVID-19. So, if you are unable to play in a store, or don't feel comfortable doing so, what should you do?

Well, there's Magic: The Gathering Online and Magic: The Gathering Arena, both of which let you play the set from a safe distance. But one other thing you could try is playing over a phone camera or a webcam.

If you haven't tried SpellTable yet, it's fantastic: with just a few clicks of a button, you can set up your phone or computer with a webcam to play Magic with someone across town—or across the world—with product you bring home. Complete with life tracking and card lookup, it's easy to set up: just log in with your Wizards account, and you're good to go.

Some stores will even be offering remote play Prerelease opportunities using SpellTable, and there are many places out there organizing times to play.

One such great opportunity is our Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Prerelease event on SpellTable, partnered with ChannelFireball, that will run all weekend, starting Friday, July 16. Pick up a Prerelease Pack at your local store, bring it home, build your deck, and then log onto their Discord server and get matched into a game quickly! It's all for fun, so feel free to try out whatever wild combinations you'd like!

Is Commander more your bag? Grab an Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander deck, and they'll be matchmaking that, too.

CFB Promo

There are regular games and all kinds of other fun stuff going on—read more on ChannelFireball's event page as well.

For more information on using SpellTable, you can also check out my video here:

Treasure Troves

While you're at your store to pick up a Prerelease Pack, you can also buy other things, like booster boxes of Set and Collector Boosters! Be sure to call ahead to preorder one, and while supplies last, you should be able to pick one up.

When you grab a box from your local game store, you can also grab one of these (while supplies last) to boot:

Vorpal Sword Buy-a-Box

Set Mechanics

Dungeons? Dice rolling? What's going on here?! Learn how the mechanics of the set work through these great videos:

Into the Forgotten Realms

In my entire time playing Magic, a crossover like this has been one of our most requested sets—and it's finally happening. Our love of Magic and D&D together have really created something special here, and I hope you have a blast with it.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or even by sending an email to BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com. I'd be happy to hear from you!

I hope you've enjoyed Adventures in the Forgotten Realms previews, and whenever and however you play with the set: have fun! It's a set really like none other.

Gavin
Email: BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com
Instagram: GavinVerhey
TikTok: @GavinVerhey
Tumblr: GavInsight
Twitter: @GavinVerhey
YouTube: Good Morning Magic

Latest Feature Articles

FEATURE

July 26, 2021

Where to Find Jumpstart: Historic Horizons Previews by, Wizards of the Coast

Jumpstart: Historic Horizons previews are here! To help our readers and preview seekers, we've created this handy guide to preview season—and have a few highlights to share upfront. This...

Learn More

FEATURE

July 16, 2021

The Legends of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms by, James Wyatt

Planeswalkers The Planeswalkers in Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms are characters of tremendous power whose influence extends across many worlds of the D&D...

Learn More

Articles

Articles

Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All