here are many days you can play Magic. And while it may be challenging from a time management perspective, you can even play Magic every day. But there are just a few days out of the year when playing Magic is a little more special. There's a tangible buzz of pure excitement, an air of anticipation and eagerness to crack a few booster packs (something I can always appreciate). There isn't a droning intensity of competitiveness or quiet, focused aggression, but instead an overwhelming sense of shared experience.
Prerelease events are unlike anything else in the world of Magic.
Worldwake came on the heels of the amazing Zendikar, and I was quite happy to be quite wrong about just how big Worldwake would turn out to be.
Welcome to the Big Rock Show
The Regional Prerelease for Maryland was held on a gloomy, cold Saturday. The weather forecast was calling for a few inches of snow—emphasis on "few"—but it did little to diminish the volume of players or the size of their appetite for playing.
Of course, Magic would be played en masse but what makes the big shows more fun is the extras that tie together a broader network of those vested in the game. Artist Matt Stewart was the featured artist for this trip.
I had actually met Matt once before at one of StarCityGames's events in Philadelphia last October. He's a really nice guy and does really awesome work (like every Magic artist):
But what makes having an artist on-hand so special is that they will often sign cards and sell artist proofs—and give a little bonus to boot:
Matt signed a dual land with dual colors. Nice touch!
I would spend the entire day just mere feet away from Matt, who was clearly the more important person; he had two tables packed full of items for sale compared to my fairly sparse single table. Of course, that was precisely the point—I would have plenty of room to play Magic all day.
I started off by paying out twice over for Open Dueling, the only official Prerelease activity I could do completely stationary. I got really lucky to snag the two Worldwake Intro Packs I wanted: Fangs of the Bloodchief and Brute Force. Foil copies of Butcher of Malakir and Wolfbriar Elemental were two of the cards on my "Foil Find List."
With my two decks at the ready, I decided to open the booster packs. The first pack of Worldwake I opened contained a mythic rare, which—while normally exciting—was slightly boring for me personally: Wrexial, the Risen Deep. He's a friend I had already had found for me.
I guess that's something I should have mentioned earlier: I was granted the opportunity to show off both Wrexial, the Risen Deep and Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs as EDH generals. Aside from my personal desire to open some packs of Worldwake, my intention for the day was to show off what I feel is one of the most fun ways to sling cardboard.
Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
Picking up Comet Storm on the way in let me add it to the Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs deck right away. EDH and Prereleases are generally always that awesome.
I hadn't been there long when one nice fellow came right up to me asking if I was "that guy from the Wizards site" who had come to play EDH. His smile lit up when I affirmed that I indeed was. Joe slid in comfortably as my first EDH opponent of the day. He hadn't seen either of the generals I had brought with me, so he quickly gave them each a once-over and settled on Wrexial.
The duel moved extremely fast. Kazuul started off slow and slightly land-shy while Wrexial got off to the fast start with Sensei's Divining Top into a Sol Ring. We dropped generals as our first creatures, but Joe had Persuasion to take mine. While Wrexial started bashing in, I slipped Obsidian Fireheart into play, which Joe didn't like one bit. After Venser bounced it I cast it again, attaching Loxodon Warhammer for good measure, though little good it would do against Wrexial and the already looming 10 general damage. I also managed to finagle Kazuul into play. Joe simply stole them both anyway.
I had a Molten Disaster to avoid instant death. Now at a precarious 15 damage from Joe's general (out of a lethal 21), I needed to find an out, and fast. Untapping, Joe looked over at my library hungrily.
He turned out to have Acquire, and proceeded to dig straight down to Gauntlet of Power, naming blue. Wrexial wrecked me with exactly 21 general damage, and "Sexy Wrexy" was born.
Joe was pleased he had beaten me. I guess my Internet tough guy persona is forever broken.
As the time changed hands in the morning (and snow started to speckle the outside) I managed to get some of the Open Dueling in. A father-son duo, Don and Sebastian, had come to get in on the action, with Don jumping into an early Sealed flight and Sebastian trying his small hands at taking me down. Since he also had the Brute Force deck, I opted for Fangs of the Bloodchief. I wish I could say it was a back and forth battle of planeswalking might, but it went rather smoothly for the deck with removal and Vampires. Sebastian didn't seem to mind. He could see lethal damage coming but happily untapped and cast Lightning Bolt on something, since that was the most awesomest thing ever. The kid knew exactly how to have my kind of fun.
With my real-life tough guy persona reinforced by defeating a nine-year-old, it was time to play more EDH. Evan wanted in on some action and even brought his own deck: a mammoth fatty-filled Patron of the Orochi deck. He, too, wanted a piece of action against Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, and I gladly obliged. His deck met my opening of Gamble for Taurean Mauler (randomly discarding Grand Melee) by giving him the mana troubles. While my Thawing Glaciers start ripping lands out of my library, he took his time before finding a Keeper of Progenitus to cast. Although I missed the counter trigger on Taurean Mauler, I did get to use a lot of mana to call on Chandra Nalaar, who promptly burned out the Keeper, and started swinging with my Mauler. He cast Nature's Spiral to grab back the Keeper as Chandra pinged away and Taurean Mauler hit home. After he cast Keeper of Progenitus again, I used all the mana I had to drop Aggravated Assault and double swing with Mauler for 10 damage, after using Chandra to clear the way. His Oblivion Stone then cleared to board. Without anything else going on, I dropped Scourge of Kher Ridges. Things looked grim for Evan until he hooted when he drew his sixth land—finally—and laid out the Desert Twister on the Scourge.
Nice topdeck! Not to be left outside, I decided it was time to bring Kazuul in. When Evan went to Reclaim his Keeper of Progenitus, I decide to Reiterate it and nab back Chandra Nalaar. With the Keeper back on the battlefield yet again, I was able to muster 10 mana: just enough to drop Chandra to clear off the Keeper and then cast Gratuitous Violence. Kazuul wins, fatally.
Since I'm a good-natured sport about rematches. I agreed to one. As Evan put it, his "deck didn't really do what it was supposed to do." The rematch was fairly well-paced until Patron of the Orochi joined the fight. I thought its untap ability was just okay. How much could really be done with it? Decree of Savagery putting four +1/+1 counters on Kalonian Behemoth, Arashi, the Sky Asunder, and the Patron itself—in response to me trying to burn out Arashi? Sure, why not!
Yeah. I didn't win that fatty slugfest. And apparently that wasn't what his deck was supposed to do either.
And those are just two recaps of the many rounds of EDH bouts. As the day rolled on, the snow continued to muck things up outside, and evem inside, some rounds were put into a slight delay as those still playing had to head outside to move their cars to the parking garage—snow plows needed to clear the way through the outdoor lots.
In the end, if the games and stories somehow weren't enough, I managed to open a pack of pure bliss that made the 11-hour, one-meal day worth every ounce of energy put into it. The last pack of Worldwake I was able to open contained both Avenger of Zendikar (a neat addition to my Kamahl, Fist of Krosa EDH deck) as well as a foil copy of Lavaclaw Reaches—the new dual creature-land that I was looking to slide into my Kresh the Bloodbraided EDH deck. ¡qué suerte!
All said, it was a day filled with far more stories than I can share—including the one about driving home. If this taste of a Prerelease has piqued your interest, keep that on your radar—there will always another set rumbling down the pike in April.
Next time, be ready to release to the Prerelease!