My first Magic event was the Betrayers of Kamigawa prerelease. This would be my first sealed deck tournament as well as my first draft. For several years after this event I never missed a prerelease. I loved showing up whenever I wanted, playing a sealed event and then literally spending the rest of my weekend drafting. Being able to draft the new set until my fingers bled was my absolute favorite part of prereleases.
In 2012 prereleases were moved to the store level. Just like every other decision that WotC has ever made, this decision was met with a lot of skepticism. I was greatly saddened, but I got over it as I bought the story that this change would benefit local stores and I believe that this is a respectable objective. That said, every prerelease I see tweets like these:
Benefiting stores is nice and all, but at some point we have to stop and ask if the amount of good we’re doing for stores outweighs the amount of harm we’re doing to players. With regard to product shortages, we’re actually hurting both, as players don’t get to play and will likely take this event as a reason to harbor negative feelings towards the store that sold out.
I work a job that requires me to work every other weekend. The Fate Reforged prerelease fell on one of my weekends on, and as such I missed out on the festivities. It would have been possible to make one or two sealed flights work with my schedule, but this would require a serious time commitment. In addition, I would likely need to decide if I want to play a week or more in advance. With the regional prerelease structure I would be able to show up and draft at any time of day with no notice.
I’m curious to know what the experience of others has been with the store-level structure. As a player, do you feel somewhat deprived of the full prerelease experience? I would also be quite interested to hear the perspective of store owners. How good are prereleases for your business? How many players do you need to turn away and how is this experience for you?