The Joys of MTG Prerelease Sealed Events

Posted on Sat 12 February 2022 in Games • 4 min read

Last night I went to the prerelease event at Dream Wizards of the newest Magic: The Gathering set called "Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty". This was the third prerelease event that I have attended since I started playing MTG last year, and I had a blast! There were 66 people there, and this was my first time going 3-0 at a draft. My prize was 6 set booster packs of the new set.

At a prerelease event, you participate in a "sealed" event. In a sealed event, you get 6 draft booster packs with 15 cards in each. There's also a promo card in the prerelease pack. You keep all 76 cards, and have to make a 40-card deck from exclusively those cards and any basic lands you might need from the land stations at the store. Then, you play 3 Swiss rounds against other players, meaning you play a best-of-3 round and then get future pairings based on your record.

Benefits of Sealed

In other MTG draft events, you end up with 45 cards from booster packs. Although you have no choice in the sealed cards, getting almost double the amount of cards is great, especially for a new set that you don't have yet. Picking cards in a draft makes for a different strategy, as you're picking what you need and trying to see what others are picking out of the packs you're looking at. With sealed, there's not an element of picking, so you get to just enjoy the cards that come from your packs.

Deckbuilding strategies are altered in sealed as well. It's very much an idea of "making the best chicken salad out of the chicken", since you can't choose what you get. This really stretches my comfort zone of MTG play styles, since I have to evaluate what styles my cards are enabling. With the (at least) 6 rares out of the packs, I often check those to see what are the powerful cards I got. However, some of those cards work best with support from "lesser" cards, so it takes some effort to see if your powerful card will actually be powerful with such a limited pool of cards.

Fun With New Sets

Playing an entirely new set in the MTG universe is a really exciting feeling. I had a chance to look at some of the newest cards on MTG Arena, the video game format of Magic, but only for the past couple of days. Seeing what new cards I had really got my brain working with new strategies. Also, while playing against 3 different other decks throughout the tournament, I got to see many other strategies at work to see what fit well and what didn't quite work out.

While the cards are new to me, they're also new to everyone else in the prerelease tournament. This means it's a much more even footing for everyone. When you do a draft of an older set, lots of players have been around a while who know all the cards and synergies, so I'm at a disadvantage. I feel like everyone being new to a set helps even things out and encourage strange combos and strategies.

Thoughts on Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

As someone who loves attacking with big creatures in MTG, I really enjoy this set so far. A lot of the new mechanics lean towards pumping up your creatures:

  • Reconfigure - Creatures that are also equipment means that you can have a bunch of creatures out, and then stack them up to make a mega creature. This leads to things like buffing a flying creature or someone with double strike or first strike. The cool part about reconfigure is that it encourages you to swing with the equipped creature, since even if it dies, you still have the equipment creature alive and ready to fight or block.

  • Modified - Anything that triggers on modified usually helps buff things even further, which encourages auras and equipment to be applied constantly. Also, +1/+1 counters trigger this as well, so bigger creatures leads to better things.

  • Sagas - A lot of the sagas I played with in green/white at my prerelease event pumped up creatures and made them modified (or temporarily better). Then, all the sagas turn into creatures at the end. It's a longer time for that payoff, but it encourages getting your sagas out on the battlefield as early as possible.

  • Ninjutsu - While this doesn't encourage mass attacks or counters, it does encourage aggressive behavior and selective attacking. There are quite a few cards with a cheaper ninjutsu cost than the normal cost, and they usually give you a benefit for doing player damage. Playing against players who were utilizing this meant I had to really think through my blocking and encouraged me to force my opponent into defensive positions instead of offensive.