Innistrad: Crimson Vow Prerelease Primer

Posted in Feature on November 10, 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.

There's a wedding . . . and you're on the invite list!

Legendary vampire Oliva Voldaren is getting hitched to Edgar Markov. Everybody is just dying to attend—surely, you'll want to come and check it out.

And if you do . . . well, then you're going to want to hit up a Prerelease!

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

If you'd prefer to watch some of this information in video format, you can check out my episode of Good Morning Magic here:

Otherwise, if you want to read all about it, let's continue onward!

Wedding Planning

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

During Prerelease weekend, you have 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, whether you're doing that at home or 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's a lot of laughs, learning, and great games: it's a lot 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 Innistrad: Crimson Vow. But if you're new to the world of Prereleases, or are maybe just looking for a few extra pointers, read on!

All right, 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.

You'll need to get in touch with a store. If you don't already frequent a local shop, 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 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 currently pick up Prerelease Packs and take them home! We expect some stores will be running in-person events and 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 Innistrad: Crimson Vow Card Image Gallery.

You're all set to see what's going on at this wedding! Now it's time to open some of those cards!

The Big Day

What does a Prerelease Pack for Innistrad: Crimson Vow look like? Well, it's a little something like this:

Prerelease Pack

But looking at the outside is not where the fun is—here's everything you'll get inside:

  • 6 Draft Boosters
  • 1 Foil-stamped rare or mythic rare card
  • 3 Double-faced helper cards
  • 1 MTG Arena code card
  • 1 Spindown die

If you want to see me open one up, check out my video above, too!

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

First thing's 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 qualities, 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 spells you're going to want to put in your deck?

Here's one process that may help!

First, lay your creatures out in mana-value 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 Vampire Slayer on turn two, whereas Adamant Will 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 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 are called "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.

Color pairings are another thing to keep in mind. Every two-color pair in the set has a subtheme. You can go check out my video to hear all about them and what to expect.

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 the two-, three-, four-, and five-cost 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.

Best Dressed

What would a wedding be without some gorgeous looks? And that's no exception here in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, as there are plenty of gorgeous card styles to look at!

To see them in video form, check out my episode of Good Morning Magic where I cover all of them:

Or if you'd rather read about them, let's dig in here.

We have a few different frames, like the showcase fang frame found on Vampires:

Olivia in Fang frame

We also have the showcase eternal night frame on legendary non-Vampire creatures in the set:

Eternal Night Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenEternal Night Halana and Alena, Partners

Plus, the return of eternal night basic lands! These are ten new basic lands that are different from the ones in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt—and you can find one of these in every pack!

PlainsPlains

IslandIsland

SwampSwamp

MountainMountain

ForestForest

On top of that, we of course have borderless planeswalkers:

Borderless Chandra

And, also, borderless dual lands! This completes the cycle started in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt:

Sundown PassDeathcap GladeStormcarved Coast

Shattered SanctumDreamroot Cascade

To see everything that's happening, and where to find it, go check out the Collecting Innistrad: Crimson Vow 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 get product to bring home and aren't able to play at the store, or don't feel comfortable playing in a store just yet, what should you do?

Well, of course there's Magic Online and MTG 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 really fantastic: with just a few button clicks, you can set up your phone or computer with a webcam to play Magic with someone across town—or across the world. Complete with life total tracking and card lookup, it's really easy to set up: just log in with your Wizards account and you're good to go.

Some stores will even be offering remote Prerelease play opportunities using SpellTable, and there are many places out there organizing times to play. Be sure to talk with your local store to see what they might be doing in the way of online events

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

Wedding Favors

While you're at your store to pick up Prerelease Packs, 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:

Buy-a-Box

Set Mechanics

Blood? Cleave? Training? All are keywords that show up here, so come learn how the mechanics of the set work through these great videos:

Have a Ball!

The newest entry in Innistrad has what you love about Innistrad . . . with a wedding twist. It was such a fun process for all of us working on Magic to help bring this set to life (in the case of some cards, un-life) and I really hope you have a great time playing it.

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

Whenever and however you play with the set, have a ball! Enjoy the wedding . . . I'm sure it will go perfectly fine, without any problems whatsoever.

Talk with you again soon!

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

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