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Mercadian Masques Pre-Release-Brisbane, Australia (Updated 10/20, 1999)

Michael Mason

Okay, for the players the pre-released started at 8:30 on Sunday. For the me, the other Australian TO's and DCI-Australia, this was well into the "festivities"....

Prelude to a Pre-Release

Right up front I've got to give a huge cheer, and thanks to Renato, and his band of helpers who actually made the Australian Mercadian Masques Pre-Release tournaments happen.

The defining moment of the Australian Pre-Release's happened a probably over a week before they started in a country on the other side of the globe - Belgium - where all the stock at Carta-mundi was packaged ready to be sent to Australia, just in time for distribution to the TO's and the Pre-Release. At this point I really must digress for a second and question the DCI's policy of "13th hour delivery of Pre-release stock", running PR's are the highest stress events to actually organise, because the earliest you will get the stock, and *know* everything is really all right is the Friday before the event less then 12 hours before kick-off. When something goes wrong, you have very little notice, very little time to fix it and very little time to notify your players if worst comes to worst and the tournament is cancelled. All in all, this is ultra-stressful and the MM Pre-Release is a case in point as to why holding out stock from the TO's (and DCI-Oz) until the last minute is terrible. Why can't it be delivered a week in advance? If DCI is worried about "leakages", I'll sign whatever assurances are necessary, I just want less stress, and I'm pretty Sure Renato does too.

Anyway, I've belly-ached enough and haven't actually told you what happened, so here is a brief run down of the events as I understand them from the week leading up to the Brisbane MM Pre-Release.

  1. Thursday:
  2. Renato tries unsuccesfully to phone me, I here this in the evening and realise "Something might be wrong - start the the stress timer"...

  3. Friday ~9:00am:
  4. Renato catches me by phone and tells me "Someone in Belgium didn't fumigate the Australian MM Stock, It's in quarantine. At this point there is no Pre-Release stock in Australia. I'm trying to get some from New Zealand. It should get to Sydney tonight - I'll keep you informed."

    Now Renato had already been working on the problem for at least a day at this point, so I realise his stress is probably only like a billion times mine, and since mines slowly beginning to sky-rocket, I'm feeling really bad for him.

  5. Friday 5:30pm:
  6. Renato calls again - "Stock has arrived form NZ, but I (Renato) hasn't got it yet it's somewhere in traffic (in Melbourne). I'll be sending it overnight express." And he gives me a con. note so I can chase it tomorrow if necessary, eta. Saturday morning. Also stock has been limited due to how much NZ had free, but Brisbane managed to get 99% of what it needed, a small short fall due unexpectantly large numbers, but that comes later.

    Now as far as I can tell, this is where most of the drama ended for the other Australian States, Sydney had their stock direct, as did Perth, Melbourne was sorted out and the rest received it on Saturday morning as predicted, but Brisbane? No there's more!

  7. Saturday 11:30am:
  8. Getting a little disturbed by the lack of stock this late in the morning I call Ansett to inquire. I catch up with Les who tells me my box wasn't on the morning plane, He's aware its missing but doesn't know where it is, bar the fact that it isn't in Melbourne any more. They've been checking planes all morning in the hope that it will show up. This phone call ends with assurances that it will get here, it will be before the end of the day and he will call me. I don't even want to know what my blood pressure was as this point in time.

  9. Saturday 1:30pm:
  10. Les calls back, the stock touched down with the last flight (I didn't ask where from, but since it left Melbourne Friday night, I suspect it went on a sight-seeing trip to somewhere else in Australia first). He's going to shove it onto the first truck he can and get to me. Okay by now I'm expecting the truck to crash off the top a bridge or explode or something else equally devastating, its obviously just going to be one of those tournaments.

  11. Saturday 3:00pm:
  12. Stock arrives!!!!!! Stress levels start to decrease, tomorrow just might come off after all.

The Actual Pre-Release

Well after the huge drama with the stock I was at least happy about the number of people who had pre-registered or at least told us they would be coming, sixty in all. Normally this would mean I'd have ordered enough stock to cover 96 players, but this time around that obviously wasn't an option. We had enough stock for 72. I had 3 other Judges on the floor, David Refern (II), Rob Ansell (I) and Jason McDonald who was doing his Level II test today.

With the "on the day" registrations we filled all the slots we had and even had to turn some waiting players away from the main event. So these people became the first booster draft side event, which got underway after the 1st round of the main event was finished.

9:00 am saw 72 players, many of them first time tournament players, hoe into their starters and boosters. With deck construction underway, and most of the sundry organisational tasks well in hand I got the chance to take a spin around the floor and see the set. First impressions - a decided lack of excitement. One or two decent cards, a few fun multi-player cards and a lot of nothing. I'm hoping I'll warm to the set over time, with a bit of play, and possibly the first minor expansion in the cycle.

Well all in all the rest of the rounds ran like clockwork. No huge problems, and sadly to say no real rules issues, kind of disappointing for a pre-release, where I normally expect to have to at least think about some rules issues. After lunch a second side-event was run, which completely exhausted all stock reserves.

After 7 rounds the final standings found Andrew Cuff , who travelled form Lennox Heads, as the winner.

A Quick Top 8

Rank Name Points Win%
1 Cuff, Andrew 19 65.9864
2 Polk, Jason 18 62.9252
3 Tang, Bernard 18 51.7007
4 Starak, Yaro 16 64.7959
5 Green, Michael 16 58.1633
6 Hudson, Chris 16 55.1020
7 Trandafilovic, Carl 15 67.3469
8 Kee, Roy Ho Yew 15 59.5238

After prizes were given out Jason sat down to do the written test, while the second side event played out. The side event finished around 8:00pm and Jason and I sat down to mark his test and take the interview. A long day when it was all over around midnight but I headed home happy in that the day went off far better then the build up, and next time round I'd have a new Level 2 Judge on the floor (congrats' Jason).

Summary - Props

  • Renato and his band of helpers. He posted a public thank-you notice to DCIA-L which I thought should be reproduced here:

Hi all,

As probably some of you know, we had a torrid time in getting the stock to all the pre-releases in time.

I wish to publicly thank the following people for their effort.

First of all an foremost Tony Hamblyn from Wizards Distributors in NZ. Tony organized the stock flown across from Aukland to Perth and flew across himself to Sydney with enough stock as baggage for the Sydney prerelease and (if needed) for the other cities.

Chris Zantides - Chris spent most of Friday afternoon, first at the airport picking Tony up, then in front of TNT depot waiting for the go ahead to send some stock to the other prereleases. Chris also offered to drive to Canberra to deliver their stock.

Ian Hunter - I woke Ian at 7.00am on Friday and he organized Custom clearance for all the stock coming from NZ by 9.00

Clavel Savage - Clavel worked tirelessly all day until very late on Friday to help me organize all freights interstate.

Eric Lawson for his offer to take the stock to Melbourne on Saturday.

All those friends at both Croftminster and AEI that helped.

And finally to those other people that call me with offer of help and assistance.

Again thank you

Renato Prestopino



  • Jason McDonald and the rest of my judging and organising staff who make these events possible.
  • All the New and Old Players who turned up to make the event a complete success


  • DCI PR policy which ensures my stress levels explode every time I run a Pre-Release.

Well That's all from me for now,
Keep Smiling

Michael Mason
DCI Certified Level III Magic Judge

Author's Addendum (10/20, 1999)

Since writing this report Jeff Donais has clarified that the
shipping policy regarding pre-release stock is not in fact a DCI
policy.  With this is mind I must assume that the policy is one
generated elsewhere within WOTC.  Please excuse the
mis-representation of this as a DCI policy throughout the above
article and rather attribute all comments relating to the shipping
policy to the appropriate department within WOTC.

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