Hey! Are you excited for Magic 2013?

What? I can't hear you. Let's try this again. Are you excited for M13!?

Okay good.

The Magic 2013 Prerelease is right around the corner so it's time for a primer to help get you ready. Let me first address a concern you might be having: Tim Willoughby will be back for the Return to Ravnica Prerelease Primer in a few months, so all you Willoughby fans out there (including myself) need not worry! I'm covering this one because the Magic 2013 Prerelease is completely straightforward—build your sealed deck, get a promo card (while supplies last), and maybe even win some packs!

Magic 2013 Prerelease Card

Since the Magic 2013 Prerelease doesn't have an extra side-event, we get to focus instead on the new cards in the set. And what cards they are! There are so many cool cards in this set I can't decide on which is my favorite. And not just incredible new cards, but also some jaw-dropping reprints. Rancor? Rewind?!?! Pacifi—well, Rancor and Rewind are pretty unexpected, anyway.

Magic 2013 Overview

The full Card Image Gallery is up, so you can see every card in the set. You don't have to, though; I'm not going to make you. I know some people like to be surprised when they open their packs at a Prerelease. So if you're one of those "No spoilers!" people, I advise you to just completely skip this section and head on down to the next header. Go ahead. It's cool. I won't hold it against you.


Where was I? Okay, let's take a look at what sets Magic 2013 apart. I mean, besides cool uncommon reprints.

Exalted: Starting with the Magic 2011 core set, each one has brought back a popular mechanic from Magic's past. Magic 2011 brought back scry, 2012 returned bloodthirst, and for 2013 we get to play again with exalted.

Exalted grants a solitary attacking creature a +1/+1 bonus for each permanent you control with the keyword. So if you're attacking with a single creature and you have five permanents in play with exalted, your solo attacker gets +5/+5! I keep saying permanents because although it's usually creatures that grant exalted, some enchantments and artifacts (and now a land!) do as well. Oh, and let's not forget the awesome Angel that just hands out exalted like candy.)

Mark Rosewater has already said a lot about the return of exalted, so if you're interested in more information about it, check out this column.

Legendary Creatures: For the first time since Tenth Edition, legendary creatures are part of the core set. This is great news for Commander players (like me!). A brand new rare legendary creature sits at each color, with a lower-rarity spell tied in with that creature's theme. White gets Odric, Master Tactician; blue gets Talrand, Sky Summoner; black gets Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis; red gets Krenko, Mob Boss; and green gets Yeva, Nature's Herald. These five legends are also prominent in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013).

Planeswalkers: The core sets always have Planeswalkers, and Magic 2013 is no exception. Three Planeswalker cards return from Magic 2012Jace, Memory Adept; Chandra, the Firebrand; and Garruk, Primal Hunter—while we get all-new versions of Ajani and Liliana.

Oh wait, and for Magic 2013, there's also a sixth Planeswalker. Just in case you didn't notice the tell-tale horns on all the beautiful M13 packaging, here's a hint: it's Nicol Bolas. (That was a great hint, huh?)

Good Morning, Mr. Bolas.

Prerelease Event Overview

So what can you expect when you go to the Magic 2013 Prerelease? Well, if you've been to a Prerelease before, you probably know most of this. If not, or if you just want a refresher, let me help you out a bit.

Sealed Deck: The main event, as usual at a Prerelease, is a Sealed Deck tournament. In Sealed, you will receive six Magic 2013 booster packs. With them, you need to build a deck of at least forty cards. (We say "at least," but you really should keep it at forty to optimize your deck's performance.)

You can find a lot of great deck-building advice for Sealed from this article by Steve Sadin. The short version goes like this: two colors, forty cards, seventeen lands, mostly creatures. The deck you build comes out of the limited pool of cards you open in your six booster packs (which is why Sealed Deck is one of the "Limited" formats), so you almost never have enough quality cards in one color to build a mono-color deck. That's why we advocate playing two colors! Of course, you could also splash a third color if you have a few really good cards that are easy to cast.

To help you with some of your two-color combinations, Magic 2013 brings back the same two-color-producing lands from previous core sets. It also introduces a cycle (that's a series of related cards) of mono-colored creatures that get better if you're playing a specific secondary color. Steve recently talked about those, too!

Two-Headed Giant Sealed Deck: This is similar to regular Sealed Deck except you and a friend (or a friendly stranger!) open a total of eight booster packs and use those eight to build two forty-card decks. If this sounds exciting to you, make sure to check with your local store to find out if they're doing it.

Open Dueling: Some venues will also run side events using Intro Packs. In Open Dueling, each participant (who can also be a competitor in the tournament's main event between rounds) gets an Intro Pack (each coming with two booster packs) and uses it to duel. This is a great opportunity to teach someone this great game we all love without scaring them away with a full-blown, multi-hour tournament.

Enjoying the Event

Playing with new Magic cards is always fun, right? Right! But there are some things you can do and bring to make your Prerelease experience even more fun.

Hydrate, Eat, Sleep: Basically, take care of yourself as a living, breathing, biological organism. Not only will you be more comfortable but your mind will work better, which means you'll play better! Water is best, of course, but most drinks can help. You're going to presumably be in a large place with a lot of people... in July. It's probably going to get warm. Some venues have drinks available for purchase, but don't risk it unless you know the location; bring some water.

Bring Cards: You should definitely bring some decks to play with between rounds but you probably don't really need me to tell you that, do you? Perhaps less intuitively, don't forget to bring your trade binder as well. Because such a varied mix of players show up at Prereleases, it's an excellent time to get the cards you want and ditch the ones you don't.

Go With Friends: Having even one friend with you can make the day a lot more enjoyable. A friend can watch your stuff if you need to get up, gives you someone you know to talk to between rounds, and provides a built-in opponent if you want to test your deck. Magic is more fun with friends, right? A Prerelease is no different!

Angelic Benediction | Art by Michael Komarck

Have Fun: If you show up thinking you're going to have fun you almost certainly will. A Prerelease is an event where players of all different levels of experience and skill, who play for every reason imaginable, can come together on almost-equal terms just to do the thing we all love to do: play Magic: The Gathering. Timmy, Johnny, or Spike—Pro Tour Hall of Famer or neophyte—all kinds of people gather together at Prereleases to play the new cards for the first time.

There are lots of different ways to have fun at a Prerelease (winning is one, obviously), and one of my favorites is helping a new or newer player become better. But no matter what you consider to be fun in Magic, you can find it at a Prerelease.

If this is your first Prerelease, you're in for quite a treat. They are so much fun! And if you've been playing since Alpha, there's probably not much more I can tell you. Have fun everyone and good luck this coming weekend!