Sunday, 25 September 2011

Innistrad pre-release weekend

I went to my first pre-release for Magic: The Gathering (MTG), even though I have played the game on and off for around 16 years. I have previously been to a prerelease for MTG, but only to see what was going on. That was for Zendikar, and now, for Innistrad, I was going to participate.

I may have forgotten to mention that the Zendikar pre-release was in Canberra, and had around 20 participants. Not many people turned up. I thought the Innistrad prerelease was going to be about the same, especially since it was going to be a midnight release - starting at 12:01am on Saturday (24.09.2011). I was wrong!

Participation involved a sealed limited format. I, and 41 other people, were given 6 booster packs (a random selection of around 15 cards sold in individually packets) of the Innistrad set, and was required to construct a deck of 40 cards out of those cards found in the 6 boosters supplemented with as many basic lands I wanted. This was similar to draft limited format, except there was no passing of cards from one person or another. You got what you received at the start of the session, and you made your deck out of that. Swapping was not allowed.

My first match was a walk-over. I was pummeled into the ground by my opponent. He knew what was going on, and did what he did to win - by a large margin. I was never in the game. Since we finished very quickly, he offered to assist me in building out my deck to avoid a repeat situation. My problem was that I had a very unbalanced mono-coloured deck (being red). With a few tips, I was shown how to rank cards on a mana-curve, and to weed out just creature / artifact spells, attacking spells, and removal / counter spells. Creatures are usually used to attack with, and removal spells are used to get rid of attacking creatures, spells, or artifacts. With this new information in hand, I tried to construct a more balanced deck by adding black to the red.

It proved successful, but only marginally. I did win 2 more games, but I lost all the best of 3 matches. Still, I see this as a learning curve. I did not learn how to run in a day, and I see these defeats as my attempts to learn how to crawl and walk first. I hope it is not going to be a long slow crawl.

Thanks goes to the guys at Games Laboratory, for putting on a great prerelease event (which I ended up getting home from at 5:30am). As some assistance to me, they have pointed me in the direction of the following online resources:
When I did get home, I decided to do some additional reading, and review the cards I have gotten from the sealed limited event. Within 30 minutes, I had created a red-green deck with a small portion of white. I tried some example opening hands (ie. drawing 7 cards), and found it to be a far more viable deck - assuming I shuffle it well every time. Who knows what would have happened if I spent the time on making that deck, instead of taking the easy way out and constructing a mono-coloured red deck? Maybe I would have won my first best of 3 match?

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