Still Missing Regional Prereleases – 60 People Turned Away from a Prerelease?

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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?

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Ryan Overturf

Ryan has been playing Magic since Legions and playing competitively since Lorwyn. While he fancies himself a Legacy specialist, you'll always find him with strong opinions on every constructed format.

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Posted in Free, Prerelease

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8 thoughts on “Still Missing Regional Prereleases – 60 People Turned Away from a Prerelease?

  1. The best way for shops to combat product shortages is to offer pre-registration for their events and widely advertise that fact.

    They know how much they’re getting from WotC ahead of time and can simply plan ahead by allocating the product across each event.

    WotC does cap the amount that you’re able to purchase for the pre-release, but as you host larger events and advance in levels, this cap rises as well. So while the problem of limited product doesn’t immediately solve itself, it does get better over time as shops host larger and larger events.

    Regional pre-releases were certainly fun. But it’s a different experience than WotC wants to deliver today. They’re very much interested in players hooking into the achievements and these side quests like Ugin’s Fate. Those sorts of things become rather impractical at large regional events like that. Some people really like that stuff (and others, of course, don’t really care).

  2. To deal with seating limits, one local store has been renting out a larger location for prereleases, but I have heard that doing so means they actually lose money on prereleases b/c they have to pay so much to rent a large enough space. And if attendance ends up being low, they reportedly hemorrhage money.

    If I were to go to a prerelease only to find out there’s not enough seats or not enough product, I would definitely think twice before ever attending another event at that store.

  3. Perhaps a percentage of the product shortage could be alleviated by ending the ‘seeded pack’ approach. Anyone else have a store that ran out of Jeskai last weekend before they ran out of Jeskai players?

    1. I couldn’t agree more with eliminating the seeded packs. It was cool and novel for RTR, but afterwards just seems gimmicky (personal opinion). The store I played at Saturday ran out of Jeskai before the 3rd event even fired (schedule was midnight, 3 Saturday, 2 Sunday). This means quite a few people showed up already disappointed – although I’m not aware if they had to cap any events. FWIW and to tie the two points together – I was fortunate enough to get a Jeskai pack but ended up playing Naya as the seeded pack too often does too little.

      1. And forgot to mention: +1 for missing the regional prereleases. If they ran both (store level with a larger regional one) I’d be at the regional one every time. The greater quantity of people and change of venue just make it that much more of an experience rather than another tournament at the local shop, only no one (myself included) knows how to best play their cards.

  4. Of the eight store prereleases I’ve been to, only once have I been turned away and that was my first one where I didn’t know to preregister, so I agree with Mike that preregistration is an easy way to address this problem. The people most incensed about being turned away seem to be some of the most serious about tournaments, and presumably they would know to preregister if they knew they had the option.

    Even so, I do not at all miss the regional prereleases although I could never go to one. In fact that is precisely why I do not miss them, because during that time I was either unable or unwilling to drive an hour each way to the nearest huge city to play in a huge event full of people I didn’t know. For me, the store prereleases improve that situation in every way and it’s one I’m glad to be “deprived” of.

    In either type of event there will be people who want to go, but cannot. Is it better to effectively turn away the players who cannot arrive in the first place (who definitely exist), or to turn away the hypothetical players who exceed a store’s capacity? At the very least, players who go to a store only to find it packed might have a chance to simply go to another store, whereas no similar option exists for those not going to a regional event.

    My own experience is an 87.5% success rate with store prereleases versus 0% for regional ones. I get to play more Magic this way, and since I’ve observed that store prereleases bring players who never come to FNM (and therefore would probably not go to a regional prerelease) I conclude that in general, more people get to play more Magic this way.

    Perhaps the store capacity situation is more dire in other areas, though I don’t think it’s fair to think less of a store for having to turn people away at a prerelease. If the problem is that casual players fill up the store at prerelease but never come to FNM or whatever, then it doesn’t make sense for the store to expand just to accommodate prerelease crowds. Their other events may yet be exceptionally well-run. A solution could be to advertise in-store (so that the spikes will see it) a Sunday event and advertise online (where an infrequent player would be more likely to see it) an event on Saturday.

  5. I ran a pre-release at my shop. My shop is tiny. I also rented a space. The costs involved with renting the other space is substantial. The product caps were also very difficult to deal with. my biggest problem with pre release is the lack of prize product provided. The amount of product which is provided is less than half the amount they recommend as the lowest acceptable payout. I am forced to buy another box of boosters for the second allocation of pre-release product. This is still only 72 out of the 80 pax which is considered the low end payout. I then open intro packs which I am also forced to purchase.

    seeded packs are gimmicky and foster hostility in the community. People who pre pay get to pick their pack. First come first serve. then people will be upset because they didn’t know they had to pre pay or deposit. I once had a high profile player who did not deposit receive his random seeded pack last. Everybody is treated the same and he still got first place but I could see the look of disappointment on the person’s face upon hearing no pics were available.

  6. I for one quit playing pre-releases. I for one enjoy larger events and the competition, and until they bring them back or at large scale pre-releases or pre-release drafts. I’ll just stick to mtgo.

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