Weekend Post: Kaladesh Pre-Release Events!

Another appearance by Chandra, who is pretty central to Kaladesh.

Another appearance by Chandra, who is pretty central to Kaladesh.

This weekend was the Pre-Release Weekened for the new “Magic: The Gathering” block, called Kaladesh. As a result, I have been playing in Pre-Release tournaments since eight o’clock on Saturday, and drawing a bit at the events. That’s how the Chandra art for today came about, drawing when not playing cards.

I didn’t reply to a comment about my school’s Magic Club earlier this week. That was not because I felt like being a jerk, but instead because I knew that this post pretty much had to happen at the week’s end (although I was very unsure what to draw), and figured that the ground could be covered in a single, “on topic” post.

So..first things first. For those that don’t know, Pre-Release tournaments are a form of “Sealed Deck” event. This means that you pay your entry fee, which gets you a “Promo Pre-Release Pack” as your cards for the day. The Pack has six packs of 15 cards in it…those are random. It also has a “life counter”, which is embossed with the set’s symbol, and a randomly inserted foil card (shiny)! The shiny card is one of the mythic rares from the set (that means Very hard to come by) and can be used to play with that day. It’s even stamped with the date of the event, in gold foil.

Since those Mythic Rares are hard to come by, it’s pretty cool that you’re allowed to play it.

Once you open your packs, you have about an hour to build a 40 card deck out of the 91 cards that you now have. That really means that you need to find 23 playable cards, because you need to put enough Land cards in the deck to play them Lands are commons, and dime each…but provided for play that day for free. Which is nice.

So the deck building is important. Heck…the promo cards are a fun revelation.

When I opened my Pre-Release Kit, this was staring out at me.

Well, hello Chandra!

Well, hello Chandra!

I immediately held it up in the air, amidst all sorts of either congratulations or groans. The groans were for two things…either that they didn’t get it, or that they would be dealing with it later that event.

I was actually wearing my Chandra t-shirt at the time, which made it even more epic.

In that photo op, it’s a bit hard to read how awesome the card is, or for that matter to see the art through the reflective shininess. As a result, I ran the image through a contrast process, and removed the shininess. You can see that the art is full portrait length…her image continues under the text, which isn’t as obvious with the foil reflections. That’s a nice touch, the full art.

There is actually noting about this card that I don't like.

There is actually noting about this card that I don’t like.

That would already be great. It would.

As I opened my packs though, I drew another major “Planeswalker” for the set. And then another Mythic Rare, a Legendary Arttifact. And then I drew a Legendary Creature, which was also a Mythic Rare…meaning that I could actually build a Sealed Deck that was ten percent Mythic Rare Cards overall…none of which had a mana cost greater than five.

In other words, it was the Dream Pack.

The total draw of Insano Cards from the pack.  Hello again, Chandra!

The total draw of Insano Cards from the pack. Hello again, Chandra!

Needless to say, I did very well in that Midnight Tournament.

Which is good, because I didn’t fare as well as I would have liked in the “Standard” format event that was at eight o’clock on Friday, before the Pre-Release at Midnight. Chandra never showed herself out of my deck though, it was Nissa, the green Planeswalker that did most of the Heavy Lifting for the event. That card is also really good, and overall, the event was solid.

I played in the Saturday Pre-Release as well. You need to buy a new pre-release pack for that, and that was not the same kind of “Dream Pack.” I still did decently in the event, but that good performance was much more about “doing more with less” and making a clever build our of an odd assortment of cards, not having a backbone of Very Good cards.

I also discovered that Pre-Release is when the Jerks come out. Attendance was great, but it was not nearly as friendly as the usual DCI events. This was the crop of people who are there for the Foil Promo Cards, who are gaining DCI points, and trying to sell their Foil Cards on eBay at the same time they are playing them. The stereotype of the Magic player who has limited people skills, lawyers the rules, and is generally kind of rude and awkward…which I hadn’t seen, was out in force.

Although some women came to these games…which was NOT the case for much of the game’s history…those guys, the “Pros” if you will, make it a pretty impenetrable environment. For either gender, really. There were two times, where I was ready to just scoop up my cards and walk out, with “@#$% you, bro,” as my thesis.

I realized that this is actually a strategy. A lot of these guys are weak players…so they are total jerks, in order to get through the early or mid games through the other player folding. If you just shut up and play your cards, most of those guys just choke. It was a pretty reliable theory as the two days went on.

Artistically, I was struggling to figure out what to draw. It seemed like I wasn’t going to get my long awaited Chandra team up…since I never played the card…it just sat around in the Collective Unconscious being threatening. I considered doing some sort of Nissa team up, but to be honest…that seemed boring. I couldn’t find a punch line…there was a lot that was problematic.

So instead, I sketched the figure art during down time, and the background separately, based on a portion of one of the Land cards’ art, that I had in front of me. The drawing gave me insight into the “Jerk as strategy” idea…because once they saw me drawing, a whole lot of these guys wanted to suddenly stop being @#$%s, and talk about the process and so forth.

Being who I am, I generally asked point blank, “Why are you suddenly not being an @#$?”

That was actually an interesting process. Usually a “Huh?” with the fake confused response that my students give when they know I’m calling them on something. To one fellow, I pointed out, “when we were playing, and I asked you to declare blockers, you gave me a lecture about what playing Magic is all about. You actually asked me if I was here to play some Magic, or just going through the motions. Now, in this moment, you’re talking to me like I’m cool. Which is it?”

After the explanation, I had to ask, “Cool playmat.” The playmat was from an Eldritch Moon event, and said “Champion” on it. I have to admit, it was a bit intimidating, until I realized he wasn’t all that good. anyway, my question was, “Shouldn’t that be MY playmat?”

Mercifully, the conversation ended, and I could go on drawing.

The Chandra art before I did the background.  Pencils only.

The Chandra art before I did the background. Pencils only.

I like the way that Chandra came out…very happy with the art. I figure that the protagonist couldn’t be around for a team up either, being stuck in the Savage Land. The weekend really made me think out whether I want to do the Pre-Releases again…the event in “standard” format was basically full of much nicer people, who legitimately love the game…much like the Booster Drafts that I was doing over the summer.

I could do without the Jerk Parade.

However…things were very much squared away with my own Magic: The Gathering club. The kids kind of realized on their own what was going on, and we talked. It was pretty excellent, and everybody was pretty happy with the way that came out. There is sequel content however, which is kind of interesting.

As a result, my club will soon be having it’s own Buttons! Yay!

All that, and I get to come in with a @#$%load of new cards, since you get more cards for winning in Pre-Release, and you get cards for playing.

A happy ending, even though no Chandra Team-Up.

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