Chalk it up to variance, spookiness, or just a need for a hook for this column, but I was getting messages from the future and the signal was loud and clear. If you have never been to a Prerelease tournament before, there is no time like the present to start (because if you went back into the past to play and mana-screwed one of your grandparents, who knows what effect that would have on the time-space continuum?).
Anna Chronistic of Gainesville, FL writes:
I was originally a tad apprehensive about going to my first Magic tournament, but I am sure glad I did. The first thing that happened when I arrived was someone asked me for my DCI number. I didn't have one and I was ready to head home defeated before I even began. It was explained to me that a DCI number is free and it only requires a minimum of form-filling to acquire one, but they lied when they said it was free—it is better than free.
Since getting my DCI number I have played in a handful of Friday Night Magic tournaments and the Future Sight Release tournament in addition to the Prerelease itself. I have been getting better and even won a flight at the release event but even more exciting than that was when I came home from school the other day and there was an envelope from the DCI waiting for me. It contained a permanent DCI membership card (good thing too since I was already wearing the cardboard one from the event a little thin) and a FOIL Wrath of God with artwork I had never seen before! Plus some token cards! It turns out that when you play in a certain amount of Magic tournaments you get free stuff in the mail! How cool is that?
Victor Goddard of Andover, England writes:
Wow...I had no idea how cool the Prerelease card from the Future Sight events was going to turn out to be. I mean, I thought it was pretty good at the time and I really liked the alternate art. I could have traded for extra copies at the event but I had no idea it would become such a powerful card during the Block PTQ season. I guess I should have paid attention to what happened when I did not have four copies of Lotus Bloom to trick out my copy of Mihara's Dragonstorm deck after the World Championships.
Doctor John Smith writes:
One of my concerns going into the event was that I did not know anyone, but I have to say that for the most part everyone was really terrific. I introduced myself to the tournament organizer and he took a little extra time to make sure I had everything squared away—after all I am a potential repeat customer for him, so it makes sense that he would make sure my event went well. He made sure that some of his better regular players showed me the ropes and my deck turned out much better than it would have otherwise.
I had read all of Jeff Cunningham's Magic Academy articles about building a Sealed Deck, but my natural reactions flew in the face of those lessons. Thankfully I was steered back on course by an old hand at Sealed Deck. If any of your readers have never been to a Sealed Deck tournament before let me share what I have learned:
At Prerelease events for Future Sight the default format was individual Sealed Deck and for this weekend's event I was handed one 75-card tournament pack of Time Spiral and three 15-card booster packs of Future Sight. Somehow I had to cull those cards down to a core of 22–24 spells and creatures and then add any combination of basic lands, which were included in the tournament pack and available at the venue, to build up to 40 cards.
1 – Stick to 40 cards. The guy next to me did not listen to anyone's advice and played something like 50 cards. He complained all day about not drawing any of his good cards and did not seem to have as much fun as I did with 40 cards, since I actually was able to play with my good card more often.
2 – Play at least 17 lands. I saw another player try to squeeze his land count and every time I looked up he was mulliganing to six or even five cards. I ended up playing 17 lands and a Prismatic Lens, and I only had to mulligan twice all day.
3 – Stick as close to two colors if possible. I had to splash red to access some removal – Rift Bolt – but for the most part I was blue-white and I did not have any problems casting any of my key spells throughout the day.
4 – Flying is better. Creatures that fly, or have shadow, or are unblockable are like gold.
This is just what I picked up from some of the players at the tournament. When I got home I reread everything Jeff Cunningham had to say on the subject, and I urge anyone going to a Prerelease event for the first time to do the same.
Joseph Crater of Easton, PA writes:
I usually rely on your Prerelease Primer to give me a heads-up on what to look for in the way of combat tricks but this time I did not see anything. I ended up walking into the event and was caught unawares by
this cardfor the first two rounds:
The card is sick...not only is it solid removal, but it smoothes out your draw. I actually did not include the card in my deck for my first build, but after getting creamed by it two rounds in a row I made sure to side it in every time. In the final round I was on the cusp of winning prizes but was stuck on lands. I used the scry ability of the card to find a land —it was much more important in that situation than killing a creature—and ended up winning some packs.
P.S. Can you imagine how cool this card is going to be in full-block Limited alongside
Will Marshall writes:
My kid sister Holly has been bugging me to take her to a Magic tournament for a long time, but it wasn't until the Future Sight Prerelease that I finally broke down. We played Two-Headed Giant and had a great time. Since I am a more experienced Magic player than she is I was able to make most of the tough decisions but it really helped her to see the difference between a game of Magic at the kitchen table and a game of tournament Magic. I think she really had a great time and is going to try her hand at individual Magic tomorrow (they run two days of Prereleases here).
Tessa Ract of Crosswicks, CT writes:
I could not wait for Saturday morning to play with the new cards. I checked my local tournament organizer's website and found out that there was an early bird tournament at midnight on Friday. I had a blast, although I am glad I didn't make my first tournament a midnight one as most of the players seemed to really know what they were doing.
I was too tired on Saturday morning to go back for more, but I was happy to learn from the Head Judge that events kept signing up all day and I ended up getting into a flight late Saturday afternoon. The way most organizers run things is to have one big tournament at the beginning of the day with a prize pool tied to the number of players. This tournament usually runs all day long and like the midnight event is best suited for veteran players.
Flights, on the other hand, are just the thing for the beginning player. Flights are just tournaments that start throughout the day as soon as the fill up with a predetermined number of players—usually 32. The level of competition is turned down a notch from the bigger main event at the start of the day, and each flight usually lasts only four rounds. At the end of the four rounds everyone with one loss or fewer wins packs. The prize payout is deeper, the time commitment is smaller, and the competition is less intense.
Good luck to everyone in this continuum trying their hand at the events this weekend. Here's hoping that the person you cut to no lands is not a future-shifted relative.