Attending My First Magic the Gathering Expansion Prerelease

It’s prerelease weekend for the Magic: The Gathering expansion Hour of Devastation. I just got back from what turned out to be an all day excursion. With this first prerelease under my belt, I’ll comment on what I thought worked and what didn’t work out too well for this day of exploring and playing with the new cards.

Hour of Devastation is the second expansion set from the Amonkhet block.  Amonkhet was basically the reason I returned to Magic: The Gathering. I fell in love with the card art and the focus on the Egyptian theme really appealed to me as a player.  Though I’d been watching Magic from a distance for years, it always seemed like the sets came out so rapidly and there were so many cards and sets that I didn’t know if it was really worth it to get back into playing the game.

And after getting some of the Amonkhet cards, I decided that I would dive a little deeper into Magic and attend the Hour of Devastation prerelease.

Hour of Devastation Expansion for Magic the Gathering Prerelease Packs

The inner boxes (middle) and the sleeves that they came in.

How much money I spent at the Hour of Devastation Prerelease Event

I took my son with me and we ventured out.  We got to a local game store just as they were starting, and had no idea what to expect, except that we knew we would get some of the brand new cards before they were released, and that we could play some games with them and possibly win some prizes.

The cost of the cards were $28. I got one for each of us, plus a lunch for kiddo from the restaurant next door. In total it was $56 for the cards and $8 for his lunch.

What do you get at a Magic The Gathering Prerelease?

Each of our prerelease packs came with 6 booster packs, plus a few inserts. The packaging is really nice. Not that it’s made out of fancy material, it’s a cardboard box, but it’s got some transformer-ish folds in it that can be lifted up so that you can hold your cards vertically.

It makes for a pretty nice box for holding a small amount of cards.

Magic the Gathering Hour of Devastation Prerelease

The inside booster pack holder raises up to hold your cards vertically.

Also included in the prerelease packs were 20-sided dice for life counters (one D20 in each pack) and an insert that had some breakaway cardboard counters for bricks, -1/-1 counters, and tags to use for identifying creatures that were embalmed.

Finally, there was a single foil rare, embossed in gold with the dates of the prerelease weekend, in a plastic wrapping all to itself.

$28 for 6 Boosters Sounds Like a Lot. Is it Worth the Price?

If you consider a price of a single booster, which is usually about $4, then paying $28 for 6 is high.  Especially when you consider that you can order a 10 boosters from Amazon for $30.

Magic Hour Of Devastation Sealed MTG Bundle Box 10 Boosters

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But more than the cards, I found that the Magic: the Gathering Prerelease Event added a lot of value for those few extra dollars. The local game store opened up their doors to allow us to come in and buy the cards, but more than that they put their tables and had space enough for about 30 people to come in, and occupy their store for an entire afternoon. Retail space isn’t cheap, so providing us a place to play and hang out for a while had to be worth a little something extra. And to be fair, you DO end up paying a little more for the cards. But you do get value for the money.

Plus, this is just the base cards that you get for starting the tournament. If you do well, they awarded additional booster packs as prizes. Anybody that went undefeated in the tournament was awarded an additional 8 Hour of Devastation Booster Packs. I split my games, went 2 wins and 2 losses, and received one extra booster as my prize.

Would I do it again?

I will definitely do it again – for the next expansion. I had fun, and I am still thinking a lot about the new cards I got, and the new keywords/abilities that come in the new expansion. But for now, I’ll save my money and not join another tournament this weekend.  Now that I’ve had a turn with exploring the new cards and these new creature abilities during the Hour of Devastation Prerelease, I’ll spend some time looking over the cards in my collection and prepare for that I’ll be seeing in casual play.

But I think that for new expansions, the prerelease is a perfect way to learn about it. Even for someone like me, who is returning to Magic, I found it really easy to get on even footing with people that have much larger collections than I do and test my ability to build a good deck from a limited pool and engage in a great strategy game.

Father and Son at Magic the Gathering Prerelease Event

Father and Son getting ready to start.

As I said, I also had my son with me, who is very new to the game. He’s played a few games over the last couple of years but has recently “clicked” with the game and took it more seriously. But when I say he’s new, I mean he’s brand new. He’s played a few games with me over the last couple of weeks, enough to give him the basic rules and the keywords in the Amonkhet expansion, and not much more. Many people that he played against asked how long he’d been playing. He answered them honestly with “a couple of weeks”.

More About the People at the Hour of Devastation Prerelease

On the topic of the people that were competing at the Prerelease Event, I was really impressed by the welcoming nature and friendly attitudes.

I’m a long time gamer and card player, and I’m really competitive. I want to win and I play to win. But I’m a good sport about it too and I won’t let a loss turn me into a bad person. But I’ve played against plenty of people that take everything so seriously that they just suck all of the fun right out of it. You end up feeling bad when you play them, whether you win or lose it’s miserable to play against a poor sport.

There weren’t any poor sports there today. Even my little guy, who has had to be talked to in the past about sportsmanship, did great and had a fun time while being a gracious player through his wins and his losses.

The people were great, and I could tell it was about more than sportsmanship

I had a really great experience from start to finish, and I found that the good attitudes was more than just about sportsmanship. It was ambassadorship. People were playing against my son, and they would play him — not “with kid’s gloves” but with the heart of teachers.  They knew how green he was, and even the kids that he played against were good hearted and happy to share a common passion. I heard several players give him advice during the game, and take extra time to explain rules and his options.

It wasn’t just directed at him, either. They learned that I am a returning player and we had great conversations about playing, taking breaks from the game that spanned over ten years, and getting back into it. Keywords and the nuances of the game have changed a lot since the last time I was an active player.

Even though it was a tournament, and everyone was trying to win and hoping to succeed, people weren’t jerks about it. I did hear one person complain that “this guy is cheating!” from across the room, but I don’t know what the situation was, and I had talked to the complainer before we all got started and he was nice and really helpful. So that one person being upset didn’t really detract from the overall positive energy that was in the room. My opponent at the time joined me in looking over, scoffing and joking that it’s just not that serious. We then got back to our game, where he proceeded to hand me a second straight loss.

Wrapping Up and Final Thoughts

If you’re a new player, currently playing or just returning, I recommend you take part in Magic the Gathering Prerelease Events. I hope your experience is as positive as ours was, with great cards, games and people. It was a great way to spend an afternoon bonding with my son, and sharing that together was something we will both remember.

If I could change something about the Magic: The Gathering Prerelease Events, it would be the unequal distribution of the cards. With just getting the booster packs to start from, I heard of some people that didn’t get any Mythic rares. I got two Mythics and constructed my deck around one of them. Two of the people that went undefeated pulled Planeswalkers from their booster packs. I think it would be better if the people in a limited pool are either all given at least one card on par with a Planeswalker or just keep them out of the packs altogether. But maybe my opinion on that will change after I’ve attended a few more Prereleases.

Conversation Starters

You’ve read this far – so leave a comment below. I’m really interested to hear:

  • Did you attend the Prerelease for Hour of Devastation? What cards did you get?
  • What was the first Prerelease you attended and how did it go?
  • Ever been to multiple Prerelease Events for the same expansion?