When is a Prerelease more than just a Prerelease?
How about when Liliana herself shows up.
Not much says Amonkhet quite like the wielder of death herself, and as the Second Sun dawned on the Prerelease, one lucky store in Greece hosted the Planeswalker for its midnight Prerelease of Hour of Devastation.
From Innistrad to Amonkhet to a local gaming store near you.
All thanks to one store's hardworking staff.
Pavlos Opaouka was the first to champion the idea of doing a little something extra for the Hour of Devastation Prerelease. As a tournament organizer at Kaissa Glyfadas, a store just south of Athens that typically hosts a dozen or so players for Friday Night Magic, Opaouka hadn't originally set his sights on doing something so over the top. Like all stewards of the community that come together every three months for another wild trip into the Multiverse, Opaouka wanted simply to make sure the players who made the trip—a rare occurrence for many in the coastal paradise—thoroughly enjoyed their time slinging spells.
After the amazing show Kaissa Glyfadas put on the for the Kaladesh Prerelease, Opaouka knew how much going the extra mile could mean to players. But for a small store grappling with all the challenges of day-to-day operations, sometimes big plans could fall by the wayside.
"We like to do something special for Prereleases, and we like to go out of the ordinary. But Amonkhet's Prerelease was pretty simple, and I felt kind of sad we missed a chance," explained Opaouka, who is in his fourth year working with Kaissa Glyfadas after years as a customer. "During the Pro Tour, I was watching coverage, and I thought maybe there was something we could try."
Thus, the idea of the cosplay Prerelease was born.
Opaouka reached out to local cosplayer Tzina Konstantopoulou to make the idea a reality. Although not a Magic player before the event, Konstantopoulou was a quick learner, and the details began to fill themselves out.
"We kept it a secret while we were working on it, and it was hard work, but we had fun from the [beginning] setting everything up," Opaouka revealed.
When the Hour of Devastation arrived at midnight, players were treated to quite the sight as they walked through the doors of Kaissa Glyfadas.
As you can see, the final result was stunning. Konstantopoulou praised it as the best event she's ever cosplayed at. As competitors packed the tables at Kaissa Glyfadas, the queen of death was there to watch over it all.
But no man is an island, and no successful Prerelease is possible without a team effort, even if it's an effort headed up by the defiant necromancer herself. And as Opaouka explained, this incredible event took the sustained efforts of plenty of Magic enthusiasts determined to make the return of Nicol Bolas something special.
Patrick Dziedzic, Kostas Diakantonis, and Mike Petrou—regular players at the store—volunteered to act as Liliana's servant mummies, because what kind of Planeswalker doesn't have Dutiful Servants? Opaouka did his part as the Doomed Dissenter, while Giannis Galatas and Aigli Vogdanou created the astonishing artwork that made the entire scene pop inside the store. Even 2015 Greek National Team member Charalambos Kikidis was on hand to help school Liliana in the ways the living conducted their Magic.
"It was a fantastic experience," Opaouka reflected. "It was like seeing a dream come true, and I'm really grateful I got so many people working together for the same purpose: to have some fun and do something great about the game we love. Many sacrifices had to be made for all of this to happen. Everyone worked voluntarily on their spare time on the really hot days of the Greek summer. But most certainly it was all worth it. The attendants were amazed and thanked us for the great experience they had.
"It's really important to us to provide that. Some players come just for the Prerelease, and they love Magic and want to come back."
Giavridis Constantine is one of those players and described the Prerelease as a truly immersive experience.
"Playing against a mummy has never been more fun," he explained. "Knowing that the store tries to one-up itself at every Prerelease is a major factor for other players and me. It's good to know the owners and organizers don't see this as just another event, but as an opportunity for something fun and engaging for the community. I find myself trying to make the date just so I can be in Athens and be a part of a Kaissa Glyfadas Prerelease."
So after a wildly successful Hour of Devastation Prerelease, what's next for Kaissa Glyfadas and Opaouka?
Let's just say he's on the lookout for some Dinosaurs.