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Disclaimer: I will refer to people who play Magic: The Gathering as dorks. This is not meant as an insult, but rather as a term of endearment and pride. Please do not take offense, you big dork.
PART 1: THE TOURNAMENT ITSELF
So you want to go to the Betrayers of Kamigawa prerelease, but you’re mainly a casual player and you’re unsure of how to go about it. Well I’m here to help. I’m going to try to answer any questions any newbies of any sort might have. Magic newbies, tournament newbies, Kamigawa newbies, you name it. First, some helpful tips about the tournament itself.
1. Look it up on the Wizards website.
Be sure you know where your prerelease is, when the doors open, and how the tournament is going to be set up. You can find all of this on the Wizards of the Coast Magic website. Click on the Tournaments link, then the Prerelease link. Nice and simple, isn’t it? My tourney here in NC consists of several flights (smaller tournaments with 4 rounds each). At these, it doesn’t matter what time you get there (within reason), you will be able to get into a flight and start playing. Some of them also have side events that start at different times. At mine, there will be Kamigawa Drafting and Team Sealed Deck events later in the day.
In the past, some places have done just one big tournament, like going to a Pro-Tour Qualifier or something like that, and they might still do it this way somewhere. In those places, you have to be there before the start time and get signed up. They also tend to go all day and well into the night. Be sure you check to see what kind of tournament you’re heading to.
2. Be sure you are COMPLETELY prepared.
Get all your trading material ready to go the night before, if you plan on taking any. Be sure you take all that stuff you’re not using that someone else could probably use. You’d be amazed at what some people are looking for. Try to stick to rares and awesome uncommons though. No one really wants to look through three binders of old Fallen Empires, Homelands, and Legions uncommons, you know? Although I could use a few Night Soil
|Set: Fallen Empires|
Artist: Sandra Everingham
Text: 1: Remove two creatures in any graveyard from the game to put a Saproling token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 green creature.
Also, be careful about trading. Don’t leave your stuff unattended, not all dorks are as honest as I am. You should also be aware of some of the types of traders out there. There’s the average everyday trader. He’s looking for stuff for decks he’s building. He may be casual style, or he may be tournament style, but he’s just there to get what he needs and be happy with it. The majority of traders fall into this category. However, there are more. There will be beginners to the game, who have either nothing at all or nothing good. Go easy on them; they’re still trying to get established. You’ll run into a few of the guys who are absolutely clueless about how much stuff is worth. If you’re a nice person, you’ll try not to sucker these people. I know I’ve been taken a few times back in the day, so I really try not to do that, no matter how awesome the trade in front of me might be. You’ll meet the pretentious trader. This is the guy who “only does trades worth $100 or more.” Frankly, I avoid this guy like the freakin’ plague. But I also don’t have a full set of Beta lands that he might want. And you will more than likely hit the jerk. This is a guy who only wants the best stuff, and only wants to trade crap to get it. Oddly enough though, he’ll be the one complaining the whole time about how bad your collection is, and how he really can’t find much of anything he really wants, while he slowly tries to trade you for half of your prized collection. Don’t say you weren’t warned about these characters.
Also be sure you BATHE. I know, I know. Some of you are going to be offended by that, but believe me, there will be a couple guys at each tourney that will be supporting that Dorks Don’t Wash theory. Plus, if you plan on being there a while, it might get hot hanging around that mass of humanity. Or mass of dorkdom. Whatever you want to call it. I’m a dork and proud of it!
Be sure you get PLENTY of sleep the night before the tourney. Unless of course you plan on running in, getting new cards, and leaving again. If you’re in it for the long haul, then it’s going to be a LONG haul, so plan accordingly. There’s nothing worse than dozing off between rounds or missing a play that cost you a match that cost you a prize. I personally would rather go 0-4 than miss getting a prize by one lousy misplayed turn.
Also, pick up some breakfast on the way so you don’t die before 11:00. And find out about lunch options too. The gymnasium here has a hot dog stand, but I’m sure that’s not a requirement to hold a prerelease tournament. So either pack you a cooler or scout places for food on the way in. You definitely don’t want to get hungry in the middle of your match. You might as well just scoop if you’re starving during a match. Everything starts to look like food. Life counters sorta look like Skittles. No really.
Try to get some friends to go with you. It’s always more fun with more people. Unless you absolutely can’t stand any of them, in which case you should try to get into a different flight. But seriously, if you have friends around, you have someone to rant with, someone to complain with, share awesome last-minute-victory-through-topdecking stories with, and someone to hang with during downtime between rounds and whatnot.
Be sure you bring plenty of cash. There’s the cost of the initial tournament, cost of lunch, cost of side events, and even cost of a second flight if you’re interested. Let’s not forget all the vendors and whatnot who crawl out of the woodwork with all things Magic. They sell individual cards by the boatload (but much more expensive than we do here, just so you know. And I thought that long before I got on the payroll, and I don’t get a bonus for saying that. It’s the honest truth). Some of them sell old packs. A friend of mine got an entire playset of Force of Will
s by buying old packs of Alliances. They might be selling Preconstructed Decks from old sets. There’s even a guy that’s usually at our tourney that has a dice-rolling gambling game set up. Roll 4 six-sided dice and get the prize for whatever number you roll. He has booster boxes on 4 and 24, awesome stuff on 5, 6, 23, 22, all the way down to crap on the median numbers that are easy to roll. Back to the cash though, bring plenty, but don’t bring more than you’re willing to spend. The guy who bought all the Alliances packs had to bum money from us for dinner at Wendy’s that evening, because he spent most of his and let his little brother borrow the rest. So don’t overextend yourself. Pretend you’re playing against an old-school guy playing white and packing both Wrath of God
|Force of Will|
Artist: Terese Nielsen
Text: You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.
|Wrath of God|
|Set: Revised Edition|
Artist: Quinton Hoover
Text: All creatures in play are buried.
. Be conservative when necessary, you know?
|Set: Revised Edition|
Artist: Jesper Myrfors
Text: All lands in play are destroyed.
Now for the part about actually playing in the tournament.
PART 2: PLAYING THE GAME
First off, you’re going to need your DCI number. Don’t have one? No problem! Sign up for one free of charge at the registration area. They’ll give you a form to fill out, you’ll fill it out, and they’ll give you a DCI card with your number on it. Stick it in your wallet or something and forget about it until you hit your next tournament. Nice and simple. As the guy who was marking my new suit for alterations said, “It ain’t rocket science.” Once you sign up, they’ll post your number to tell you where you’re sitting and all that stuff. If you can’t figure out what’s going on, ask somebody. Most Magic dorks will be more than happy to help a confused player out.
You will then be given a Betrayers of Kamigawa Prerelease Card. It’s a foil (shiny!) card that everyone attending the tournament will get. You can’t use it in your deck, so stash it in your trade stuff for awesome trading or to keep and show off later. You will then get a Tournament pack (equal to three packs plus a lot of land) of Champions of Kamigawa and three booster packs of Betrayers. You will be instructed to open them, organize them alphabetically by color, and mark on a checklist what you got. This is more than likely not your card pool for deck assembly. Once card registration is complete, you will probably be told to pass the cards. Across the table, two people down, one of each, whatever. The stack you receive will be your card pool. You will then build your deck from this pool. If you don’t pass, then you build your deck from what you registered.
Another tip for participating in the tournament: When they say the round is starting, they mean it. Hurry up and get into position. You may end up with a loss or even get dropped if you’re not there on time. Plus, it sucks to have to rush over and start in a hurry; it disrupts your mental flow. So don’t delay when you hear that the next round of your flight is starting.
2. Deck Building
Now comes the fun part. There are several steps to building a good Sealed Tournament deck.
Become familiar with the sets you’re dealing with. As they say, Knowledge is Power. Thank you, Sir Francis Bacon. The more you know about Champions, the better your chances are of building a good deck. The more Betrayers you can sneak a peek at, the better your chances are. There will be spoilers available on the internet. More than likely there will be complete ones at least the day before the tourney, maybe sooner. Learn to recognize what’s playable and what’s not. Do some research if you like. Talk to your friends. Just get some idea of the stuff you should absolutely avoid.
Learn to recognize bombs. Bombs are the cards that can practically guarantee victory if you can just play it. The Dragons from Champions are such bombs. Horobi, Death’s Wail is another. There are several bombs that you could possibly open, so be sure to keep an eye out. Bombs are those cards that you should absolutely include in your deck if the cards in their color can support them. If you open Ryusei the Falling Star
but the rest of your red is really terrible, maybe you shouldn’t play red. You can always splash a color to include your bomb, if said bomb is splashable. You can splash for Ryusei or Keiga; they only need one mana of their color to play. Splashing white for the Myojin of Cleansing Fire
Artist: Douglas Shuler
Text: Flip Star onto the playing area from a height of at least one foot. Star must turn at least 360 degrees or it has no effect. When Falling Star lands, Falling Star does 3 damage to each creature that it touches. Any creatures damaged by Falling Star that are not destroyed become tapped.
is a bad choice, as it requires 3 white to play.
|Myojin of Cleansing Fire|
|Set: Champions of Kamigawa|
Type: Legendary Creature
Sub Type: Spirit
Artist: Kev Walker
Text: Myojin of Cleansing Fire comes into play with a divinity counter on it if you played it from your hand. Myojin of Cleansing Fire is indestructible as long as it has a divinity counter on it. Remove a divinity counter from Myojin of Cleansing Fire: Destroy each other creature.
When selecting which colors to play, remember that each color has specific strengths. Try to find those strengths in your card pool, and determine from there which colors work best. Here’s a quick reference guide to colors:
White – the weenie horde, damage prevention, permanent creature pump
Blue – tempo control with bounce and countering, evasion creatures, card drawing
Black – creature removal, discard, creatures, stealing life
Red – removal, big damage, fast creatures
Green – mana fixing, big nasty creatures, combat tricks, enchantment/artifact control
If you have many good red cards, a few good blue cards, and a few good black cards, consider a red deck with a bit of black and blue. A monocolor deck is usually not an option given the limited card pool. All of my decks have been 2 colors with no splash color (just between us, I suck at splashing). One of my friends (the same one mentioned above with Alliances and being broke, actually) always makes his deck three colors. Of course, he also always makes his deck 60 cards, so he has to have more cards. It’s really up to you how you do it.
I recommend personally that you stay close to the minimum allowed deck size, 40 cards. The reason is really mathematical. If you have fewer cards in your deck, simple statistics says that the chances of drawing that card you need are greater if there are less other cards to get in the way. You should also remember the mana curve. Try to include as many cheap creatures and spells as you can so you’ll have something to do the first few turns. Remember, the object is to decrease your opponent’s life total from 20 to zero before he does the same to you. You want to kill and kill quickly and efficiently. The best way to do this is to build a deck that is doing something bad for your opponent every single turn. This is done by following the mana curve. Have lots of 1 or 2 cost spells, a few less 3 and 4 cost spells, and a few less spells that cost more than that. It’s really quite simple. Just don’t throw in only big expensive spells. While you’re waiting to build up enough mana to play them, your opponent will be smashing your face in. As a completely separate tip, try to throw in some creatures with some sort of evasion. Flyers are good, fear is good since this isn’t Mirrodin block, and if there are any unblockable creatures, they’re even better. It’s amazing how a 2/2 flying creature can single handedly win you the game. Or cost you the game, if you don’t have an answer to your opponent’s.
Be sure to READ YOUR CARDS. There are few things worse than realizing suddenly that it’s not going to work. Whatever you had planned, it’s not going to work because you read the card wrong. For instance, I was waiting one more turn before destroying the creature currently beating on me because I wanted to cast Burden of Greed
. This was at the Darksteel prerelease. I cast the spell, expecting to win right then. Then I realized that the card had suddenly spawned a new word. It said ‘tapped’. So instead of causing my opponent to lose 7 life, one for each artifact he controlled, he lost 2, one for each tapped artifact he had - a talisman and the artifact creature that hit me in the head. I definitely lost that particular game. And the match too I think. If you have any questions whatsoever about a rule, a card, or anything else, feel free to call out “Judge!” and a judge will come running. Don’t be afraid to bother them, that’s what they’re there for.
|Burden of Greed|
Artist: Vance Kovacs
Text: Target player loses 1 life for each tapped artifact he or she controls.
And now, one final tip for everyone playing in this tournament, whether it’s for the first time or the 12th: DON’T BE A JERK. If you win, shake hands with your opponent; tell him good game, even if he played like total crap. If you lose, don’t go getting all upset and walking off without congratulating your opponent, even if you’re silently wishing for him to get hit by a bus full of nuns on the way home. Just try to be friendly and enjoy yourself, regardless of how you do. It will make the tournament more fun for all involved.
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