Insider: Dark Ascension Prerelease Tips and Tricks

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Welcome back to the Revenue Review! This week I want to do something a little different. We’re super deep in Dark Ascension spoilers, of course, and there’s a plethora of articles (some are even mine) about the new cards and what they mean.

Rather than tell you for the hundredth time what cards from the new set are good, I want to talk about what you’re actually going to do with them once you get your hands on them. Next week I’ll do my usual Prerelease Primer, where I note the cards to look for and what I think they’re going to do financially, so this week I want to look at another aspect of the prerelease atmosphere — how you’re going to use these cards.

Let’s start with the most important thing.

Have Fun

Since the rest of the article is going to be about how to profit at your prelease, speaking from a pure EV perspective, I figure it’s best to stress this point first. You are at the prerelease, first and foremost, to have fun with friends playing a game we all love. There are few tournaments more exciting than a Prerelease, whether you’re with a few a buddies at your local shop or hundreds at a Regional Prerelease (Oh, wait…).

The point is, don’t take either the tournament itself or the trading aspect too seriously. Let’s be honest. With the type of player who comes out to a prerelease, you’re not going to have any trouble making money at the trade tables, so remember all along the real reason why you’re there, and have some fun.

Get In, Get Out

Play in as many prerelease events as you can, for the reasons mentioned above. Open the shiny new Dark Ascension cards. Use them. Stare at them in awe. Play them. Win more of them.

And then get rid of them as quickly as possible.

As we all know, new cards only hold inflated pricetags for two weeks to a month before they begin to drop off rapidly.

While I’m telling you to get rid of the cards quickly, that doesn’t mean I’m telling you to accept the first offer that comes along. These cards have inflated pricetags for a reason — they are a hot commodity. Use that to your advantage, and hold out for the best deal you can get. There will definitely be people who will tell you that your Sorin isn’t worth $60. The thing is, they’re probably right (more on that next week), but that doesn’t mean you should move it cheaply. Someone, somewhere at that event will give you a premium trade price on it, and you should hold out for that.

And just because a potential trade has you ahead “on paper,” it doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for you. Sure, getting a ton of small-ticket items may technically put you ahead on a deal, but if your goal is to trade into Legacy staples, that pile of Standard lands might not be such a good trade, even if you’re coming out ahead on strict prices. In short, when you have the new cards, you have the power. Use it wisely.

On that note, if you’re trading from cards from the new set, either because you need them or you think something is undervalued, do everything you can to only trade other cards from Dark Ascension for them.

Just as you’ll profit from trading from new cards into old cards, you obviously don’t want to pull the trigger the opposite way unless you have a good reason for doing so. Maybe you really need a particular card for your deck, and don’t mind losing some value to do so. Go for it! The most important thing about trading is that it’s not about making money — it’s about making both parties happy. Sometimes that involves money, and sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to lose value if it gets you what you want.

This isn’t your world

Chances are, if you’re reading this article right now, you aren’t the typical prerelease attendee. Most of the people who walk through the door for a prerelease are not tournament grinders who are up-to-date on the latest Modern tech.

Instead, they are a group of friends who play at home or maybe play EDH. They’ve seen some of the new cards and have come for the experience. Sometimes they even just take the packs and go home without playing a match or drop after one round to go do something else.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, that’s the point. You just aren’t on the same wavelength of many of the typical attendees or a prerelease. And that’s okay. You can and should welcome these people into the shop and make them feel comfortable. Not only does this go along with Point #1, it also fosters a better community that, in turn, will increase your profits at the trade tables.

Now let’s talk about trading with these guys. It’s a gold mine, and we all know it. In my experience this is the group of people who are most likely to make trades without checking or even caring about the value of cards (if they even brought trades). It’s not even a matter of ignorance, it’s often one of apathy. Card values just aren’t as important as filling out their EDH or kitchen-table deck.

Of course they’re going to care if all of a sudden you’re trying to trade Dark Ascension cards for duals, but for the most part you can make very profitable trades with these casual players that will make both parties happy. As I said above, you will very quickly lose this pipeline if you set out to rip off every player in the room, so don’t be a slimeball.

Standard Sucks

This is mostly my personal preference, but when trading, especially at an event where the coming metagame is completely unknown, do your best to avoid trading into other Standard cards. Not only can the metagame change suddenly, making something like Runechanters Pike bulk again, but Standard cards have a relatively short window to move.

At your prerelease, I suggest moving into Modern and casual cards moreso than Standard. We’ll be right in the midst of the Modern PTQ season, so demand will be strong for the format, and the future growth of Legacy is uncertain due to Modern. While dual lands are never going to be a bad investment, I think the growth on Legacy cards will be more muted over the next year than it has been for the last 12 months.

As for casual and EDH cards, you should be able to both pick them up from the typical Prerelease attendee and move them to these same people. While trading at an event like this, I usually look for the most stable cards I can get. For instance, I’ll be looking heavily for Zendikar fetchlands (gotta catch them all), in addition to other Modern cards. I’ll also look for the usual casual fare, such as the Liege cycle and other goodies like Divinity of Pride.

Speaking of Divinity, there’s one last point I want to touch on. In case you weren’t aware (and many people aren’t), Black/White is one of the most popular color combinations among casual players. Look at things like Fetid Heath and the Divinity to see for yourself. With Sorin coming out I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the cooler B/W cards from Eventide (another small set) in the vein of Deathbringer Liege see a small price bump. While Sorin’s playability in Constructed won’t likely affect these as much, it could easily inspire more people to put together a deck in those colors, meaning that these cards will likely trade better than usual if nothing else.

That’s all the space I have for this week. Next week I’ll be back with my usual prerelease primer and make some predictions about the financial future of many of the super-hyped cards (and maybe some sleepers) from Dark Ascension.

Until then, thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler


One thought on “Insider: Dark Ascension Prerelease Tips and Tricks

  1. Great post, as usual! 😀

    I was wondering if there will be another 'cheat sheet' like at the prerelease of Innistrad, I really liked that, if only because you'll have a general idea of the value of the cards.


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