In addition to being a Magic player, I also run prereleases! My prereleases are probably a little different than what you're used to.
The oldest player, 16 years old, is also the luckiest! #mtgkld pic.twitter.com/ShRC5qN4zF— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
The youngest warrior (9 yrs) pic.twitter.com/S90lGn7clI— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
The average age of a player at my prerelease is about 13 years old.
About six years ago, my son's friends formed a "Magic Club" at our local library. They got together with a group of their friends twice a week and played Magic. The group started to grow. The guys were using their own collections as a source for prizes in their tournaments. At the time, the WPN was giving tournament organizers foil cards to give out during their tournaments. I signed up to be a tournament organizer and the boys were able to use the foil cards as prizes instead of their own. I looked into running prereleases for the guys and found a store that was willing to sponsor us, and we were on our way!
The prerelease begins! #mtgkld pic.twitter.com/F7nu5gQMns— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Now I have a huge mailing list and every prerelease is sold out well in advance. My son and his friends in the Magic group have all moved on, but I enjoy running the prereleases so I find myself at the library running tournaments for a new set of kids!
Doubling down at the round table. #mtgkld pic.twitter.com/L0iagMJYUw— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Not running a prerelease at the local game store offers an interesting set of challenges for a tournament organizer. Running out of lands can be an issue. Internet access may not be accessible or may be spotty. There's a lot of "making suboptimal things work" involved. While the library has several rectangular tables, I need to bring a couple extras just to fit everyone. And when you have a round table, you do your best to make that work too!
Coffee tables aren't ideal for Magic either, but if you sell it and the sofa and chairs as the "Luxury Pairing" suddenly it doesn't seem so bad!
The luxury pairing! #mtgkld #SofaMagic #HighBackChairMagic pic.twitter.com/1cCvvhXQEF— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Another difficulty lies with decorating the store. Wizards of the Coast sent a huge box for Kaladesh that included the parts for at least two large air ships and several thopters. With a store, you simply put the paper and cardboard ships together and hang them in your store until the prerelease. With an alternate location, I need to either arrive early to build all the ships, or put them together at home and transport them to the library.
The two large ships took over an hour to put together, so I would have had to arrive several hours early to build them all. Instead, I transported the larger ships, which also proved tricky, since you can't really set them down without crushing them. They did look great in the library, and the kids were excited to win them as door prizes!
Ships of Kaladesh fly in the library! #mtgkld pic.twitter.com/KfAITp0Rqr— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
The prerelease itself went off without any problems. I give 40 minutes for deckbuilding and that seems to be enough. I like to have enough time for the younger players to get plenty of help. Losing games can be tough, but losing games because you don't feel like you knew what you were doing when you were building the deck in the first place can make for a miserable experience.
Deckbuilding is serious business! pic.twitter.com/dSqsASj5hP— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Getting help with deck building can be tough if you are alone, but I've always had help running each prerelease. Griffin and I ran things for several years and it made it easier when the both of us were able to help the younger players. Griffin graduated high school this year and was off at university for this prerelease. I was talking about Griffin moving on with Joakim (@Swedebit on Twitter) at PAX East and he expressed an interest in helping out. He was great with the kids, explaining the basics of building a sealed deck with one, mana curve to another, and land ratios to a third. He was my "Judge" for the tournament and all around good guy. I could probably run a prerelease on my own, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun for anyone involved and I'm happy to have the help. I don't have a picture of him specifically, but he appears all throughout as he was constantly on the move.
Round 3! The top tables! #mtgkld pic.twitter.com/teiE5edse2— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Another reason the prerelease runs so smoothly is the fellow on the left in the picture above, Jacob. Almost a year ago, I asked Jacob to take over the Saturday Magic Club. My son and his friends had moved on and weren't attending any more. There was no one in charge of the Club and the attendance had dwindled to just a couple of people. Jacob is a responsible player with a great grasp of the rules. I asked him to run the Club and we made a concerted effort to get the Club going again. He has been successful, with little help from me, getting the Club attendance to 10 children just about every week.
The benefit to the prerelease lies in what Jacob teaches. He helps the new players to build their decks and improve their play. By the time they get to the prereleases, most of these players need almost no help. This streamlines play and deckbuilding, which really help me out.
It should come as no surprise that he went 4-0 and all of the Saturday regulars did well.
The Women of Magic! @TheGFBracket @Swedebit pic.twitter.com/Rw6bOFKCvz— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Our prereleases are advertised almost completely by word of mouth. The kids talk to their friends and their friends talk to their friends. When starting with boys ages 9-11, almost all of their friends are also boys. Almost. It was not surprising that few girls found their way to these prereleases. I made some efforts to encourage girls to attend, but it wasn't helping. This time around, Joakim brought his daughter Miya. Meg has been a regular on Saturdays, and also came to the prerelease. Joakim described how things went:
I'm hoping this will start a surge of girls for future prereleases.
Helping out at #MTGKLD prerelease w. 30 young planeswalkers, run by Master Artificer @manaburned. Great kids, loads of fun! #mtgdad pic.twitter.com/rALiwLwNMv— Swedebit (@Swedebit) September 25, 2016
My attitude towards multiplayer games is that they are best when everyone is having a good time. I feel the same about prereleases. The kids all had a good time and everyone had fun. It is a joy to make so many young people happy. I got a little extra bonus as well.
My outstanding scorekeeper (and youngest son!), Spencer! #mtgkld pic.twitter.com/DU84fqoMtH— Bruce Richard (@manaburned) September 25, 2016
Spencer has been off at university, but was back to pick up a few things this weekend. I was able to get him to help out at the prerelease like he used to do a few years ago. Spencer doesn't play much any more but he was happy to help out. It was nice to get some time together without everything feeling forced, and I think he felt the same way.
Now, if I could just get off the damned phone and hit those judge calls a little faster…
The man, the myth, the legend @manaburned in charge of social media at #MTGKLD with 30 young planeswalkers. pic.twitter.com/90L39pjW4N— Swedebit (@Swedebit) September 25, 2016