Dominaria United Prerelease: Players and Games at Mavericks

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Prerelease! One of the best Magic events there is! New set, new mechanics, new characters. An event that is generally laidback, low rules enforcement, and focused on F-U-N. Everyone, inherently, starts at the same level, where anyone can have a great deck or pull awesome cards, as did my friend Doug.

Yep, that's TWO! Phyrexian text mythics. Lucky Doug!

Along with a new Magic experience and valuable cards is the opportunity to get out and play; to see familiar faces and make new friends. I don't have the numbers, but I truly believe prereleases bring out more people overall than the majority of other Magic events.

I've attended every prerelease since Planeshift except the few that weren't available during the pandemic and Apocalypse. I missed that one since my youngest, Jarod, was just about to come into the world.

Back then you only had the large, single-location prereleases to go to. If I remember correctly, it wasn't until Shards of Alara that Wizards started providing prereleases locally. Going to larger events were still a lot of fun, but many times you had to set it up as a whole day or weekend event. Ours was about 2 hours away, and my wife wasn't comfortable with my being that far away. Priorities are important.

Fast-forward to the Dominaria United prerelease, and Jarod and I are ready to go! We both were able to attend the Friday prerelease at Mavericks. Fun times and many packs opened by us both.

While slinging the proverbial cardboard at both locations, I decided to get to know my opponents a little better as well through a few quick-hit Q&A sessions. Making new friends and solidifying existing relationships is healthy, but it's always good to learn more about others. That way you'll have more people to play Magic with!

It's a Good Friday... for a Prerelease!

Maverick's PR on Friday

Once we arrived, Jarod and I had the initial pre-prerelease discussions about cards we'd like to open, what colors are good to get into, and so on. Kits were passed out and we dug in.

My Mavericks Prerelease Deck

Note: for clarity, I've highlighted any pertinent cards in each deck.

I knew that I was set in WB, but with a little bit of fixing I took the chance and threw in the two Lightning Strikes and Temporal Firestorm, which helped out a lot. I felt comfortable with the deck and knew it could win, but didn't think it was a outright bomb. I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Round 1: Eddie, Esper

How long have you played Magic?
For a few years. My first Magic purchase was a Throne of Eldraine planeswalker deck.

Who or what got you into the game?
A friend at school. He said, "Hey, I'm going to teach you how to play." I replied, "Alright." Afterwards, I was like, "This is really cool and I'm in!" It all started from that one conversation.

What do you enjoy about Magic?
Being able to play and hang around with my friends. To meet new people at the game stores and join in some Commander games.

An in-game moment with Eddie

Commander is great, of course. Are there other formats you enjoy?
Pauper. I play it online and have a lot of fun with it.

What is one of your favorite memories involving the game?
Again, hanging out with my friends during lunch and playing a few games. I've also taught a few other friends, helping them learn how to play. That's really what it's about. Having fun with friends.

Have you made friends through Magic?
For certain! I met Parker [points across the store] through a mutual friend, and now we're good Magic buds.

Favorite Magic cards?
Lightning Bolt and Birds of Paradise are two of them.

I see! You like "Bolting the Bird!"
Oh yea, absolutely! They're a couple of old cards that are simple, still relevant in many decks, and very fun.

Match Result

Eddie had a few issues with his cards lining up, and I quickly took the match 2-0.

Round 2: Hunter, Bant tokens

How long have you played Magic?
My involvement started with my dad when I was five. He had been playing since '95 and involved me early on, so I've always been familiar with the game. I got into it on my own during college around the time of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Being a poor college student, I didn't have a lot of extra money to build a Standard deck, so I started playing limited.

I wasn't sure how I would perform, but I did have experience with card games through Hearthstone. I was the number one player on the ladder in North America at one point. It's something like hitting the top tiers of Mythic on Magic: Arena.

So your dad alone got you into the game?
Well, it was him and his cousin. They'd play Magic, so whenever the family would get together for a holiday or something, they would play all night. Once my brother, cousins, and I got to a point where we old enough to read the cards, we joined in. I still have the Mono-Blue nonsense deck from when I played back then. Here I am, playing a bunch of horrible chaff cards, while they're playing Elf-Ball or something degenerate.

I'm unfamiliar with Hearthstone, how does it line up with Magic?
One major difference is each player only plays on their turn. There aren't instants or responding to the other player, so you lose that interaction with your opponent.

I see. For an old school Magic player like myself, that is definitely different.
It is. I attended a local limited tournament and came in second out of 42, so I thought to myself, "Ok, great! I can actually play this game!"

Coming from another game, what do you enjoy most about Magic?
Starting as a young Mono-Blue player, it was being able to mess around with the board by bouncing my cousin's stuff or counter an ability he wanted to resolve, like Squelch-ing his Wellwisher. Then they would play something else and I'd send it back.
More recently, it would be interacting with my opponent. Hearthstone doesn't provide that as much, so I've enjoyed Magic a lot more because of it.

What is one of your favorite memories involving the game?
My first Adventures in the Forgotten Realms sealed event. As I said, I grew up with a Mono-Blue deck, and was always jealous of my brother's Boros soldier deck. Well, in my first sealed pool, I pulled two Adult Gold Dragons, did well with them, and loved it. I enjoyed it enough so I came back the next day and received a sealed pool with two Skeletal Swarming. Both events were just so much fun.

Favorite Magic cards?
Harkening back to AFR, it's A-Bruenor Battlehammer. I would, of course, pair him up with a bunch of equipment, joining the fight with other Dwarves and Dragons, and swing away!

Match Result

Hunter had a very interesting deck and in the first game he started with a quick Soaring Drake beatdown. I stabilized, and Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim's ability was able to slowly grind him down to Lightning Strike-range.

The second game, we traded off a little early on, but he started pulling ahead with some beaters. I survived until my seventh land drop and was able to cast Temporal Firestorm with one kicker to turn the tide. After that, I had him on the back foot and got him down to four life.

I had used a Lightning Strike on a creature earlier in the game, so he thought he was turning a corner. I did one last attack and he was able to block three of my four attackers by copying his Soaring Drake a couple times through Vesuvan Duplimancy paired with Gaea's Might and Shore Up. I was able to get my little Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier token through his defenses for one point and zapped him with the second Lightning Strike he didn't know I had to make 2-0.

Round 3: Adam, Esper Ertai

How long have you played Magic?
I started about fifteen years ago, but really started playing around Alara Reborn.

Who or what got you into the game?
I played in high school with a few random cards and decks. I do recall a Mono-White soldier deck I had at the time. I was a sophomore in college around 2010 and saw a couple of my fellow frat brothers playing at the house. I went home, grabbed my bag of cards, and joined in. The following year, I got a couple of my roommates to start playing as well.

That's great! Continuing to share the fun! What do you enjoy about Magic?
Definitely the social aspect of playing. Honestly, the vast majority of my adult friends are people that I used to and sometimes still play Magic with.

What is one of your favorite memories involving the game?
I was in a team constructed tournament that was split up into Standard, Modern, and Legacy. I was the Modern player piloting Copy-Cat in a battle against a Tron deck. Our Standard format partner had already lost his match and was assisting me.

I had the combo in hand, but needed my opponent to not exile my land with an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger they were in the middle of casting. While my opponent and his friend are deciding what to exile, my buddy, whose name is also Adam, leans over and quietly, but not too quietly, expresses: "well, they could take out your Spreading Seas."

They took the bait and targeted the Spreading Seas. I untapped, showed them the combo, and won. It was the most savage Jedi mind trick I've ever been a party to.

Favorite Magic cards?
Snapcaster Mage

Match Result

This match was a disparity of games. Our first game took up half of the match. We'd gone back and forth between threats and removal. There wasn't any specific card that ran away with the game, but he pulled into a little more gas at the end and closed things out.

The second game wasn't as eventful since I was stuck on two lands for way too many turns. I held out as best I could and eventually cast Temporal Firestorm again, but with a late Automatic Librarian and a Stall for Time, I had my first loss. Overall record: 2-1.

Round 4: Justin, Rakdos Removal

How long have you played Magic?
I've been playing for about ten years. My first booster pack I opened was Gatecrash, but I truly started playing during Dragon's Maze.

Who or what got you into the game?
I overheard some friends on my robotics team playing and they started me into it. I started to get more involved in the game then they were, so I located a game store, and was hooked from there.

What do you enjoy about Magic?
I enjoy the strategy and build of limited formats. Working out the optimal design within the constraints of what you get. I play constructed formats as well, but I'll usually latch onto one of the popular decks and tweak that a little instead of trying to break the format.

What constructed format and decks are you currently playing?
I've been frequenting Modern. I played Grixis Death's Shadow and Heliod Company for a while, but I've been building Yawgmoth as of late.

What is one of your favorite memories involving the game?
The first time I went 5-0 in an FNM. It was the week after Bloodbraid Elf was unbanned in Modern, so I hadn't even previously played the deck. I had Collected Company, Knight of the Reliquary, and other related Naya components. The feeling after winning that event was tremendous!

I know for a while you worked in a game store. Did that change how you approached the game?
It definitely changed me, but as Magic evolved, so did I. While I was working, my individual enjoyment of the game was tempered somewhat. I had fun helping people learn and provide a service, but of course, that took away some of the attention I would normally give myself.

After I no longer worked there, I was able to get back that focus and enjoy the game even more. I did enjoy being a part of the team though. I gained a different perspective on the Magic trends, the cards people said were hot, and which cards actually were.

Interesting. Can you give me an example of a card that you heard people saying was great, but actually wasn't?
The first one that comes to mind is Lightning Helix. It's a fine card, but it never seemed like people were always asking for it, even though everyone said it was always sought after. My guess is because most people already had copies. On the inverse, people were always asking for Altar's Reap. Couldn't have enough of them.

Favorite Magic cards?
Taking into consideration its design, I'd say Raging River. I've never played the card, but the thought of placing half of your opponents creatures on one side, and the other half on the opposing side, is awesome in its concept.

What about cards you have played with?
I've got a soft spot for Knight of the Reliquary. Being able to retrieve any land is just great utility.

Match Result

Justin started the first game off fast, with continuous early plays of Yavimaya Steelcrusher, Lagomos, Hand of Hatred, and Rivaz of the Claw. I saw the writing on the wall when Jaya, Fiery Negotiator came out and I'm still trying to keep something on the board.

Fortunately for me, Justin slowed down somewhat on our second and third games. We played a little removal back-and-forth, but he drew more lands than I in the later turns, and I was able to clinch the win with Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim and Aron, Benalia's Ruin.

Winning was the difference of one pack, so before we started we went ahead and split the result. We were able to just enjoy playing the game. 2-2 (3-1, in my mind).

Event Wrap-Up

As I mentioned, prereleases are always a great time. Win or lose you get to open packs, build a deck, and hang out with your local Magic community. Come back next week and join me when I take on a second prerelease event at another local game store, the Illuminaudi.

So how was your prerelease event? Did you pull some great cards or have a great (or not so great) story to share? Were you able to make new Magic friends? Feel free to let us know either in the comments below or on Twitter.

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