Culminating one of the best spoiler seasons in recent memory, Wizards has finally unveiled the complete set for Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI), which can be found here. The set looks absolutely phenomenal. Powerful cards at all rarity levels and flavour that’s off the charts. I have a feeling this will be one of the most bought, most talked about sets since the original Innistrad.
As always, with the arrival of a new set comes a new season of events, starting with this weekend’s Shadows Over Innistrad Prerelease! What is a Prerelease? It’s an event that allows players to jump into the new set one weekend before its official launch date. You’ll be able to purchase, play with and take home cards from SOI before anyone who hasn’t attended a Prerelease event. For that one glorious week, you get to be the object of envy and ire of all your Magic-playing friends who didn’t go to a Prerelease as you brazenly brandish your sweet new loot in their faces. MOO HOO HA HA!
Ahem… I mean… provided that gloating’s your thing, of course.
Before you can let that power get to your head, though, you’ll have to attend a Shadows Over Innistrad Prerelease event at your friendly Local Game Store (LGS)! You can sign up for a Prerelease event in-store or even online (provided your store has a website which allows you to do so). Smaller stores may have a limited number of spaces available, so you’ll want to sign up as early as possible if you want to take part in an event.
Prereleases are fun, exciting, and much more casual than almost any other Magic tournaments. There will predictably be some more competitive players that will have laboured over the card gallery prior to arriving hoping for that competitive edge, but those players will fortunately be in the minority. Most players at a Prerelease will be reading the cards for the first time at the event and discovering the set the same way you are: By playing at the Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease.
Everyone will be reading everyone else’s cards, everyone will inevitably be making mistakes, and everyone will be helping each other out as they navigate this return to Innistrad. If you’ve ever wrestled with the desire to dive into a more competitive environment but were unsure of when or how to start, I cannot recommend Prereleases any more than I already am. You should absolutely attend one.
Fellow Bag of Loot contributor Kyle A Massa wrote an article on Monday with some useful Prerelease advice to keep in mind should you decide to attend one. I would highly recommend checking out his article before continuing here.
In addition to Kyle’s tips, here are a few things I have found to work for me. These tricks have aided me for most Limited events: From Prereleases to FNM Drafts to Grand Prix. Keep in mind, you don’t have to do any of these, but I’ve certainly found that doing a few – if not all – of them make events much more enjoyable and much less stressful.
I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing my own Basic lands to Limited events which are already sleeved and ready to go. Bringing your own Basics allows you to forgo joining the mad rush at the land station which often resembles a travelling tour group at an All You Can Eat buffet.
Almost every LGS will have a land station with Basic lands ready for players but believe it or not, I’ve been to a few that didn’t. I’ve also been to LGSs that ran out of a certain land type. One of the reasons stores will run out of Basic lands is that people often forget to return them at the end of an event. Those stores have to refill the land station and sometimes they simply run out of Basics (unless players donate lands to them). Not only does bringing your own Basics help your LGS, not needing to return your Basics at the end of the event is one less thing you’ll have to remember to do before leaving.
Having your Basics pre-sleeved also cuts down on sleeving time and allows you more time to read your new cards during deck building. I often see newer players frantically sleeving their decks during the first five minutes of round one because they took the entire allotment of time during deck-building to read all their cards, build their deck, and figure out their mana base. With your Basics pre-sleeved, you only need to sleeve 22-23 cards instead of 40 and it makes an enormous difference.
Having your own Basics can be a form of personal expression as well. I know a number of players love their full art Basic lands. You can sleeve those and play with them at the Prerelease! Personally, I’ve been using foil Basics as my go-to Limited Basics. Inevitably, I’ll end up playing someone who asks: “Are your Basics foil?” Why, yes, yes they are. Thank you for noticing.
As a rule of thumb, I carry 12 of each Basic which means 60 in total. I keep them in their own dedicated deckbox. While there have been times when I’ve needed more than 12 of one particular type of Basic land, those times have been few and far between.
I’ve been to Prerelease events with anywhere between 4 to 6 rounds plus the time it takes for deck building, (which is usually anywhere between 30-45 minutes). Roughly speaking, you’re looking at a 4-5 hour event. Some stores will hold up to six Prerelease events over the weekend. I’ve done six event marathon weekends before: They’re very tough… Especially if you forget to eat.
Some LGSs have in-store eateries you can purchase food from. Most don’t, so be sure to bring snacks with you or, at the very least, make sure you know where you can purchase food nearby. It is very easy to forget to eat when you’ve been concentrating on Magic for a few hours and getting lost in friendly discussions of new cards. Making sure you’re well fed is not only healthier, but will keep you fresh which will allow you to play better. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of doing multiple Prerelease events, especially if those events are on the same day.
I would also highly recommend bringing water with you to keep yourself hydrated. Make sure your water bottle is distinctive enough to be easily identifiable in case you misplace it at the event. A good water bottle should be easy to carry and must be resealable. The last thing you want is to accidentally pour water all over your brand new cards or worse, the cards of those sitting around you.
Attending multiple prerelease events is a blast until they end and the adrenaline that’s been pushing you through the day comes crashing down. You will have been challenging yourself with complex lines of play and multiple convoluted calculations over numerous lengthy matches. When all is said and done, you will be exhausted.
With this in mind, try to make sure you’re well-rested before attending events. If you want to challenge yourself by participating in multiple events, that’s fine, but understand what you’re getting yourself into. You’re looking at somewhere between 8 to 10 hours of Magic per day.
Remember that you don’t have to do all the events. Nor do you have to finish all the events. After two losses, your chances to win prizes decreases tremendously, so if you’re tired and need to drop to get some rest, no one will fault you for it. I’ve seen players push themselves too hard to marathon through events and those players end up getting sick. Even worse, they’re miserable through the Prerelease, which is the exact opposite outcome you’re hoping for when attending.
Know yourself and your limits. If you’re getting to a point where you’re not having fun, don’t be afraid to turn it in for the day.
Those first few days playing with a new set is incredible and getting the chance to do so with a bunch of like-minded players is exhilarating. If you happen to be in the Montreal area, this is your friendly reminder that Three Kings Loot will be hosting their own Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease events this weekend! If you’re interested in attending one (or more!), you can preregister at the store or online here. As always, if you liked this article or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the Comments section below! I wish you all a wonderful Prerelease!
JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank
By Dan Erickson
“High roll?” These are often the first words spoken to or by an opponent, (although they should always, of course, be preceded by a friendly greeting.) These words are generally said while holding two D6 or a D20, sometimes even while starting to roll. We all know what they mean, and why our opponent is doing this, but let’s break it down using every Magic player’s best friend: The Comprehensive Rules (last updated January 16, 2016).
“103.2 After the decks have been shuffled, the players determine which one of them will choose who takes the first turn. In the first game of a match (including a single-game match), the players may use any mutually agreeable method (flipping a coin, rolling dice, etc.) to do so.”
So what does this mean? It means that saying “High roll?” is actually the player saying “Do you agree that we are going to be determining who gets to choose who starts the game by rolling these dice?” Exciting!
Another important part of that sentence is the term “mutually agreeable method.” Prior to actually reading this section of the rule, I had assumed that random had to be part of it, but apparently not! Theoretically, you could determine who gets to start by arm-wrestling, having a singing contest, or by who can eat the most ghost-peppers before passing out. Heck, you could even play another game of Magic (although to stay consistent you would obviously need to play another game of Magic to decide who started the deciding game, and so on and so forth until the universe just collapses in on itself.)
Let’s be clear: I’m not actually advocating that you should do any of these things, and I’m sure the spirit of the rule is that the method should be quick and random. But a small part of me imagines a universe where all games of magic devolve into Shahrazad-like ridiculousness, and that part of me smiles.
Right, so aside from advising you not to pointlessly exploit a loophole you didn’t know about for absolutely no reason, why bring this up at all? Good question! We all just assume that high-rolling is the only way to determine who has the choice to go first, but it’s not! And now that we know that, what if there were better ways to determine this? Ways that still kept within the spirit of the rule (quick and random) but were more efficient! Wouldn’t that be great? (Spoiler alert: it would be.)
#2 Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, Scissors Lizard
This method is used by a friend of mine, and while it takes more time than #1, it definitely has style. First, obtain a Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, and Scissors Lizard and sleeve them (we’re not Barbarians, after all.) Next, put all three face down in front of your opponent, and have them pick one for themselves and one for you. You then both turn your cards face up at the same time (for dramatic effect, of course.) Who ever wins gets to decide. Yeah! And if you’re not sure who wins, ask someone who actually had a childhood whether rock beats paper or not. Geez.
#1 Odd or Even
This method still involves using one of the fancy polyhedrons you brought with you, but using superior dice-rolling technology we ensure that only one player rolls one die once! No more rerolls because of ties, no more rerolling the reroll while saying “wow, what are the odds.” Just a brief moment of confusion while you ask your opponent “Odd or Even?” and then sweet sweet Magic the Gathering time! It’s fast! It’s efficient! It’s the new sensation that’s sweeping the nation! Reinvigorate your pre-game seconds with Odd or Even! For even more value, feel free to make as many puns as possible depending on your opponent’s choice and the result (“Hmm, odd choice. Who knew, you can even!”)
Dishonorable Mention: Poker Dice
Want a more complicated and less efficient method involving more dice? Of course you don’t, because you’re a reasonable individual. Don’t be the Poker Dice person. I love Poker and have played it for years, and even I don’t want anything to do with Poker Dice before a game. Poker Dice: Not Even Once.
And there you have it! A comprehensive (or at the very least, comprehensible,) list of some spicy new pre-game deciders that are both more efficient and more fun than seeing who rolls higher. They also both have the added benefit of not triggering that guy who always insists that you re-roll a different D20 because Spindowns aren’t random enough. Everyone wins!
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Hello fellow Looters, I’m back after my long hiatus ! However, before we jump into our main topic, I need to set the scene:
You finally sit down after finishing your FNM. Your final record is 2-2. You feel pretty proud of yourself as you decided to bring that brew you always wanted to try. 2-2 isn’t great but it is better than the 0-4 you expected. Now you are sitting there staring at your two prize packs. Your eyes are wide and your mouth waters like a magic player getting to eat his first meal after a full day at a PPTQ. You hear a cheer to your left and turn your head. You notice the new player in the store just opened a foil Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. This makes you even more excited as you turn your attention back to your own bounty sitting before you. You slowly start opening your packs, taking a small pause after getting the wrapper open as that new pack smell hits your nose. You thumb through the pack and finally make it to the rare. Moment of truth…Remorseless Punishment. You sigh… Sadly, the next pack follows suit with another lackluster rare. At least you can use that Stormchaser Mage…
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever thought that there has to be a better way to handle or get better value from you prize packs? Well search no further! I have helpfully sorted my suggestions in three categories: Value, Fun, and Third Category. Let’s dive in!
Do you like value? Do you often play divination in limited? Is Baleful Strix your favorite Magic card? Then this category might be for you. The following ways to use a booster pack are all focused on getting you that sweet sweet value.
The first, quickest, and easiest way to get value from your prize packs at events is to just take any store credit option offered. Now, I am aware that not all stores have this option available at events. If unsure, ask your store owner if they have any sort of credit policy. If they don’t, let them know that you are interested as this can be more profitable for the store owner as well.
Let’s say that we are our friend from the story in the beginning and we decided to get store credit instead of those packs (most stores give around two to three dollars a pack). We could have picked up some lower end standard cards that we needed. We could have even put it towards our next event. Some players can even use this method to “go infinite” (play for free over and over) at their LGS. I got second place in a “win a box” at my LGS and decided to use this option. I left enough store credit to play in my next event along with taking eight packs home.
Either way, despite each pack being only worth a few dollars, you will consistently get a return from your prizes that has a lot less variance.
The next thing that you can do to get value out of packs is to save them. Specifically, take them home, stash them away (I usually use an empty booster box), and save them. This can get you value in so many ways and is actually my number one recommendation if you don’t do it already. As a set is out for a longer period of time, they slowly become less available as stores stop ordering it. After a few years, printing stops. All this time, your pack will become more valuable (assuming it isn’t homelands). This is why saving your pack for a period of time generates value. In addition, you can also have this pack available to you to draft with which will save you money from having to buy it at an inflated price later.
There are even multiple ways to go about deciding what packs to save. At first, I used to save at least one pack from each event I went to. These days I simply make sure I have at least three packs from each set in my collection (some of the old sets I only have one). You can even save every prize pack you get if that is what you want. I have pulled from my collection of boosters and added to it over the years but it is always handy to have boosters sitting around. Especially ones that are out of print.
So this one is something that I don’t personally do but it would still be a valid option for getting more from your boosters. This option does take more time and effort as finding mediums to sell your packs isn’t always easy. On top of that, if you use an online platform, there are most likely fees and shipping costs which will remove some value from the equation. The best way to go about this would be to find someone you know who really likes to spin that wheel and open packs who may buy them from you for cheap.
Now, you can also get creative with this one. In my old playgroup, I was often the one who hosted drafts. I would charge about 10-15 dollars (depending on the set) to cover the cost of the packs. One time, I did the same thing but instead of using a booster box, I had used packs that I have saved from events. I want to stress this here, DO NOT TRY TO MAKE A PROFIT OFF YOUR FRIENDS. They will not be your friends for long. That being said, if it would cost the charged amount to run the draft in the first place, it should be fine. Transparency is really important here. When I did this, I even charged less than what a box would cost and my friends loved it because it was cheaper for them. This is a good way to get value from your packs and it is basically “selling them.”
The last way to get additional value for your packs is to trade them for cards. This will require you to find someone who really enjoys the rush of cracking packs. Your local serial drafting group may also take this trade as a pack has more utility than a constructed playable card to them. I personally fall into both the aforementioned stereotypes so this method is not for me. That being said, I have traded constructed cards for a spin of the wheel so I can tell you that these people are there.
I hope you found a few new ways to get some value from your booster packs. Now, what about having some fun with your boosters?
Now, we all got into magic for most likely the same reason: we enjoy playing the game. This category is all about getting more play from your packs. Who doesn’t like to have fun?
One of the quickest yet fun ways to use a booster pack is to play Pack Wars. This option option requires two packs, basic lands, and a friend to play with, but most Magic players/LGS should have these in abundance.
There are quite a few different rules for how to do a Pack War, but what follows are the ones I generally use. Each player needs one pack and ten basic lands (two of each color). Now, open your packs and remove the token without looking at the rest of the pack. Shuffle the basic land and the contents of the pack together (carefully if you value keeping your cards in good condition. I tend to pile shuffle as you can do it without scuffing corners and it also mixes the land well). Now, duke it out! I have done contests with this and even spent a good portion of a day Pack Warring an entire booster box. This is definitely a great way to open your packs that gets just a little bit more fun for your buck.
Out of all the suggestions I have made in order to get more value from your packs, this is the one that I love to do the most. Drafting is obviously one of the best ways to use a pack for fun as it is one of the intended uses. You can draft with 4-10 of your friends and this also allows you and your friends to save money. This option also allows you to play one of my favorite formats, Chaos Draft. A Chaos Draft is a draft that is done using packs for all different sets. This creates a completely crazy and unique draft format. Recently, at GP Oakland, my friends and I hosted a Chaos Draft in our hotel room after day one. At most Grand Prix, prizes come in the form of tickets which you can spend at the prize wall on many different packs from various sets. We each got four different packs during the day. Three were mixed in with the draft pile and one was saved for prizes. Some of the packs we had were: Ice Age, Innistrad, Darksteel, Return to Ravnica, and many more. It was a lot of fun.
Just saving one or two packs from each of your events would give you a draft set of packs every few weeks. If a few of your friends did this, there you have it! You can even save packs long-term in case you want to draft them for cheaper down the road. This leaves room for nostalgia drafting without breaking your bank.
Ok ok…I know this article was supposed to be filled with alternatives to just cracking your packs. That being said, simply opening your pack is still one of the best ways to use it. It is also incredibly fun, (as most of you know). Don’t be afraid of losing value all the time as getting to simply crack a pack is awesome. That time you pull a foil Ulamog will far outweigh the 50 times you may pull something mediocre. We play this game for fun, so crack those packs every once in a while! (Sorry Marshall…)
I personally think “Other” is a boring category name and there were a few more on this list that I could not call valuable or fun. (Editor’s Note: Third Category would make an excellent Indie band name.)
Now some of you may never do this, but I like to think the Magic community is awesome and I just want to share this option.
Let us go back to the example in the beginning. You got two packs for going 2-2. Let’s pretend that your last round opponent was one of the new players at your store who just had an event deck or some cobbled mass of draft cards and he was just there to have fun. You were 1-2 during the last round. He had no wins and just got matched-up due to people dropping. He is here to have fun though and continues to play. You beat him because it is clear he still does not have a great grasp on the game. I have encountered times like this all too often and sometimes, helping them out in a kind way or even giving them one of your prize packs can make them a member of the community for life. It may not be value or fun but I would say that it is very rewarding. Think back when you were just starting out. I am sure you can remember something incredibly nice someone did for you and it made you feel great about the Magic community.
I am not saying give away all of your packs you get, but just remember that a show of kindness every once in a while can be a great thing. Sometimes you can be rewarded back as well. I recently did this and then after the draft we went to go trade. He had some cards I wanted and he gave them to me as a very good deal because I did something nice. I then gave him a ride home because it turned out he lived a few blocks away from where my friends and I were headed. The Magic community is awesome! Let’s help keep it awesome!
This is neither value nor fun for people who are sane. Have you heard of this game yet? If not, good. Don’t look this up and never play it. If you do play it, shame on you! I’ve included it only because it is technically an “option.”
I hope this list gave you some ideas on alternatives for your future prize packs. There is no blanket way to use all of them but doing each option (short of Flip it or Rip it, of course) every once in a while should give you more value and fun from your prize packs.
Well Looters, that is all for this time. I hope you enjoyed my suggestions and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
Until then, happy spellcasting!
@Sockymans on Twitter