Prerelease Achievements Card

Let’s up your fun quota at the Gatecrash Prerelease with an achievement card for you to fill out this weekend.

Use your Guild Achievements card. So many players simply discard the card upon opening the guild box. I can understand why they do this. They are excited about the new cards! Your first instinct is to open the packs and start building. I am not here to stop you. In fact, I encourage you to set the letter and Guild Achievements card aside at first. Your primary job is to build a deck that you are going to enjoy piloting through the rounds of your Prerelease. Wasting your precious deck building time reviewing the letter and card when you can do that later is just crazy.

Goblin Game
Once you are finished building though, come back to the achievement card. Why not add another layer of fun to your Prerelease? Is it going to hurt you to try to check off every box? Some of the challenges can be achieved simply by having a good time and being a good sport at the Prerelease. Other challenges may involve a little variation in your play during the game, but nothing too crazy. Besides, your opponent will likely chuckle when you stop for a second in the game and check off another achievement. Watching players high-five each other to check off an item on their card from a few Prereleases ago was pretty funny!

Be the Guild you want. Many Magic writers will suggest which guild will be best at the Prerelease. They have looked at the cards in the set, and the cards you will likely get, and definitely get, in your guild box. Based on that, they will tell you that Dimir or Boros or whichever guild, is the guild you should be running to maximize your chances of winning.

Instead, I say be the guild you want! You already have a pretty good idea which guild suits your play the best, and which guild has the cards you most want to play. If you are trying to maximize your fun at the Prerelease play the guild you want, not the one that will improve your chances of winning by a tiny percentage point. Besides, those prognosticators haven’t played the cards against each other yet!

The earliest you’ll be reading this is the Friday before the Prerelease. If you haven’t already preregistered at your local store, stop reading and do it right now. This Prerelease will be as popular as the Return to Ravnica Prerelease. You can only guarantee your guild if you preregister, so get on that. Now!

Be the Guild you want. No, this isn’t a typo. I was discussing your choice of guild above. This achievement wants you embrace your Vorthos side. Be your guild. I’m not looking for you to take your opponent out back and demand tribute (a la Orzhov), but stepping into character a little bit shouldn’t be a stretch for anyone. A little “Hulk Smash!” when your Gruul creatures attack adds to the fun of the game. When I think Dimir, I see scenes from Mission Impossible.1 This is a chance to add a layer of flavor to your tournament.2

If you are trying to check off the achievement card, you are probably already started on being your guild. Consider this encouragement to take it to the next level.

Build the deck you want. I don’t build decks well under time constraints. I start looking at the cards and pretty soon I find myself defaulting to whatever aggro build is available, whether it is the best build or not. I know I could run something else, but it wouldn’t be good because I wouldn’t have thought it through. I play some 2-color deck with efficient bears and try to beat down.

Why? Because I want to win. I want the best deck I can put together, so I default to what I know. I need to step out of this mindset. This is a Prerelease! Playing the crazy cards is the name of the game! If your deck offers you a twisted combination of cards that seems just a little too crazy to work, why not run it? If your mana curve is a little on the high side, give it a try. This isn't a PTQ, this is a Prerelease. Stop trying to maximize every angle. When your outlandish deck idea pans out, even if it does only once, it will be well worth it!

Go with friends. Almost everything (medical procedures excluded) is better with friends. Embracing your Vorthos side is far more fun when the people that know you see you doing it. Your successes and crazy plays throughout the day will be made better when you have friends there to tell and relive the moment. Hearing about their wild plays is great too, and only spurs you on to try things that are even more unlikely.

Adding friends also emboldens you to spread your efforts at fun to everyone else at the prerelease! If you are the only one at the Prerelease working on a guild's achievement card, it won’t be long until you set it aside as well. Having your friends there helps to keep a fun attitude for the tournament.

Make a player’s day. I was at a Prerelease several years ago with my son, and someone gave him a City of Brass. He was walking by and decided to just do something nice for this young player. I know this sounds like some kind of sappy “Random Acts of Kindness" or “Pay it Forward” moment, and that’s exactly what I was going for here. You are at a Prerelease playing with the new cards. You are having a great time. Why not add to that good feeling by sharing with someone else?

Some of the things I’ve seen players do at just the last couple of Prereleases include: Giving up new cards; Conceding a game; Helping someone rebuild their deck; Returning a lost Commander deck worth hundreds of dollars; Offering genuine congratulations to someone who just destroyed them in the last match. This doesn’t require a huge gesture, or you giving up something valuable. You will feel the reward of a good deed done.

At a quick glance this can appear to be a difficult achievement, but it is only difficult if you want to be completely over the top. While I encourage that, even something small can make a big difference. Being a part of the Magic community is more than simply playing Magic or making the odd Magic post on a forum.

Offer input to your Tournament Organizer. Admittedly, this one is less about increasing your fun at this Prerelease, and more about improving your experience at the next one. I have never met a TO who wasn’t interested in hearing about ways to improve their Prerelease. Keep in mind, more prize packs are probably not an option, and other suggestions that involve spending more money simply may not be feasible. Suggestions such as a visible timer or a better table layout for the tournament are examples of things most TO’s can fix with little or no cost.

Simply saying “your tournament sucks” isn’t helpful. Some issues don’t have a ready solution, and it is possible that your TO is already aware of the problem but hasn’t come up with a way to resolve it. If you are offering input, describe a specific problem and a way to solve it. Providing a solution is really the key here.

Input doesn’t have to be negative either. When you have a good time at a store, let the TO know. You will be amazed by the shocked look on their face when you thank them. The last time I attended a Prerelease I spoke with the store owner afterwards, praising everything up and down. He was shocked to receive the praise, and thrilled to know his staff was doing a great job making the Prerelease experience a good one. When my Prereleases sell out, I try to send everyone his way.

Make your own Achievements card. While Wizards of the Coast’s guild achievement cards encourage you to use your guild’s abilities in various ways, your card doesn’t need to be that specific.

  • Convince your opponent to give you a high five.
  • Quote 3 lines from different movies that match your guild's character.
  • Convince your opponent by turn five that you are playing as one guild, but are actually another.
  • Use your guild’s keyword or ability word three separate times in one turn.

Your achievement card can be as mild or wild as you wish!

Leave the game face at home.3 The reason the rules enforcement level (REL) for Prereleases is so low is to discourage you from being a try-hard  These are tournaments where new and casual players come to see the new cards.

Grinning Demon
While the Prereleases are technically tournaments, in reality, they are organized parties for those there to celebrate the new set. Will you feel a momentous success because you defeated someone who ran a 5-color 60 card deck, and a player so young he could barely do the combat math? Save the game face for the PTQ. Relax and enjoy the experience.

Smile. This sounds easy, and for many of us it will be. For many others, this is beyond difficult.

  • My opponents are cheaters or stupid.
  • The Prerelease is running late.
  • The food here sucks.
  • My sealed pool is terrible.
  • Everyone around me are a bunch of jerks.

Don’t let the BS get you down.4 A genuine smile makes those around you respond in kind. People are less likely to be jerks when everyone is smiling. Solutions to problems appear when you have a positive attitude, and a smile goes a long way to bringing that. My favorite poem, by Longenecker, applies here.

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will.
It's all in the state of mind. 

Smile and the rest of the achievements will be easy to check!

Bruce Richard

1The original TV series, not the movies. I am that old.
2Yes, I do watch too much Food Network. “Layer of flavor” appears to be the new catchphrase for the entire network!
3Thanks to @originaloestrus for the suggestion!
4Thanks to @cavemankellen for the suggestion!