Prerelease weekend is always a treat for me. The Sunday of the prerelease weekend, I run a Prerelease that is pretty much just kids. My local library has a Magic Club for young Magic players and I worked it out with a nearby game shop to host a Prerelease! Most of the kids from the Magic Club attend, along with plenty of others from my constantly growing mailing list. I usually sell out early and end up with kids from ages 8-18. Everyone is excited and has a lot of fun. Just a great atmosphere for young players to get their first experience with timed rounds and building sealed decks.
Just when I catch myself thinking about how much work it is to set this up, or how annoyed I get when my card pool is lousy, the kids remind me just how much fun this game can be!
Given the joy they display just playing the game, I thought I’d ask a few of them a simple question: what card from your prerelease pack were you most excited to open? I know that’s not exactly the question in the tweet, but sometimes 140 characters can be a problem!
Cam’s deck was a smooth-running 4-0 powerhouse. He pulled plenty of cool cards that I would have expected him to be far more excited about than Legion’s Landing, but there was something about the flip card that excited him more than others. Just the idea that a card starts out as one thing and can become something else was a huge draw for Cameron.
“Jace Belrin” here was looking to live the dream. He was running primarily Merfolk, but was hoping to ramp into “Traumatize Fish” and swing twice. He figured that would put most of his opponents really close to decking themselves and what could be better than that?
While I admit I might try that, he was going for it with unabashed gusto! A Prerelease is the best time to try the crazy, offbeat deck! If you lose, no one cares and you aren’t really risking anything. If you win, you’ll have great stories to tell for years! I don’t know if Jace ever pulled it off, but I do know he had a great time trying.
And no, I never asked why there was a stick on his forehead.
Even young players can recognize good cards, and Sean recognized what to do when good fortune smiled on him. When the Magic gods give you a foil Ripjaw Raptor and another Ripjaw Raptor in the rare slot, you put them in a red-green deck and ramp into them game after game! In one game he hit twice with one Raptor and when his opponent destroyed it, Sean displayed his amazing Magic skill by topdecking the foil one and playing it right away!
Sean didn’t take a loss until the final round, and when the round ended he was fine with the loss. He knew that a big part of him being 3-0 was being lucky enough to open the Raptors, so when the luck didn’t fall for him in the last game, he was just fine.
Sean has been coming to Prereleases for almost five years and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him become a better player and someone who handles the losses while still keeping a smile on his face!
Julian’s prelease pack was rough. He just didn’t get anything to work with and struggled to a 1-3 finish, which is far less than his usual 3-1. Julian recognized that in his packs and opted to “go for it!” Regisaur Alpha was one of the few decent cards, but he was never able to really strike fear into his opponents’ hearts with it the way he hoped.
Julian is one of the favorite players at the Prerelease. He smiles easily, gets along with everyone whether they are older or younger and always enjoys himself. I wish Magic players everywhere had his ability to make everyone around him just happy to be playing the game!
In the last three Prereleases, Alex has gone a combined 10-2. He started out still learning, building four-color decks and running 45-50 cards because “they were all so good!” The better players showed him how to build on a curve and when to splash. He showed up at the Magic Club every week and just started to get better. The first time he went 4-0, I assumed it was because he had help building a deck and his pool was crazy. When he did well again and again, he showed me and everyone else, that he could play.
When he told me he was most excited by Axis of Mortality, I asked him why. He had to know the card was going to be bad almost all of the time. It could only help you in situations were you were actively getting slaughtered then it could pull out a win, assuming you had some way of getting a little damage through. He had to know that this card demanded he play a dangerous game of chicken, letting his life total get smaller and smaller, all the while knowing that an unforeseen alpha strike or countermagic could destroy his plan.
He knew it, but he reminded me that I asked what card what card he was most excited about when he opened his packs, and this was it. He knew the limitations, but the card just appealed to everything he thought was cool. His card pool was weak so he ran it as a Hail Mary type of card. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be and he suffered the 0-4. I’m sure he’ll be back at the top tables next time!
Griffin hardly counts as “one of the kids,” anymore. He has monied at a Grand Prix with a team that only lost to ChannelFireball teams at the last team GP. He is a rock solid player and has been for a long time. Griffin is my unofficial judge for most Prereleases and he started the Saturday Magic Club with my son Spencer many years ago.
This time around, we had one player come late and rather than have someone sit out with the bye, Griffin built a sealed pool and played a round. When you open three copies of a utility card that works with your deck, you just run it.
There were computer problems for this Prerelease, so Griffin and I ended up doing pairings for rounds three and four by hand. This can be miserable, but we took the problem in stride and the two of us kept things moving after a short delay trying to fix things online. He plays, he judges, he can pair a 30+ player tournament by hand. Griffin is the definition of a utility card!
Eli is eight years old and was enjoying his first Prerelease. His deck wasn’t particularly awesome, and he is still learning the ins and outs of Magic, but I really can’t argue with his analysis of Gishath, Sun’s Avatar. He may only be eight, but I think he has this whole card analysis thing down!
Viola was one of many players who really enjoyed the flip cards, mostly for what they could become. Having a Maze of Ith appear on the battlefield was a wonderful thing, and helped Viola reach 3-1 after taking an early loss to one of the 4-0 players. Almost everyone who pulled a flip card was enamored with it and was choosing it as the card they were most excited to see when they tore open the pack.
Beyond just being good cards generally, the kids liked the novelty aspect! Not many of the cards in the set flip and when the players are this young, many had never seen a flip card before! All of this made Viola’s choice pretty representative of a lot of players.
Duncan liked his flip card for all the same reasons Viola liked hers, but you could add two more. Duncan, like most of the kids, is very aware of how much the cards cost. It didn’t take long before someone had their phone out and told him how much the card was worth. Duncan is also a Commander player and was deciding which of his decks was going to get the card!
Asking this question, I knew I would be getting a different answer from each player. Everyone opened different packs, so seeing the same cards as answers would be pretty shocking. What did surprise me was the variety of reasons each player had! I expected the reason for choosing the card would be the straightforward answer that it was the biggest bomb in the packs. Instead players chose cards that were cool, crazy parts of a combo, weird, showed value, and were bombs. Even the younger players have all kinds of reasons for loving all kinds of cards!