All Magic Has a Price #4 – The Big Winner at the Prerelease

True Cost:
The lowest amount of real cash needed to acquire a card.

All Magic Has a Price


J. Graves
Tampa, FL


Let me know your thoughts at [email protected]
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About AMHaP

All Magic Has a Price focuses on Magic: The Gathering finance from the player’s point of view. AMHaP discusses the true cost of playing Magic: The Gathering by reviewing strategies to acquire a playable collection of cards for Standard as a returning player, a new player, or a continuing player, and by discussing potential investment opportunities in older formats. AMHaP targets those of us that play casually and competitively on a local level, and AMHaP is written for casually-competitive players by a casually-competitive player. If one would like further explanation of the viewpoint and scope, please read: All Magic Has a Price Issue #1.

If you would like more information on determining true-cost value, please read: All Magic Has a Price Issue #3 – Accounting for MTG.

The Big Winner at the Prerelease

I walked into a room the size of a coliseum. White tables where lined across the floor. I felt at home.
The prerelease structure is different now—I am not saying better, but different. Supporting the local card shop does feel like the right way to do it, but let me say, prereleases in the old days were big events.

Prereleases are a fantastic way to add true-cost value to one’s collection. The big winners at the prerelease will be those that prepare to win in all phases of the weekend.

Winning is by far the most important phase of a prerelease. How does one give himself or herself an advantage? The answer is simple: study.

Usually, the full set will be released a week before the prerelease on Saturday at 12 a.m. We’ll refer to this week as the “pre-week.” The pre-week gives one approximately 168 hours in which to prepare to dominate.

First and foremost, one has to know the cards. Several sites post the revealed cards from the new set. My personal favorites are Mythic Spoiler and the mothership itself, Daily MTG. As of this writing, 21 cards have been spoiled. Being aware of spoiled cards as they are revealed will give one additional time to prepare during the pre-week. The Monday of the week of the prerelease, the entire set will be spoiled. Take time to read through every card. Evaluate the value of each card in the context of playing it in Sealed. While evaluating, keep mindful of current archetypes in Standard. Is the card Standard-playable? Does it have a possible home in current Standard? What is the prerelease true-cost value?

The Friday of prerelease weekend, the Limited Resources podcast will have a commons and uncommons set overview. These reviews are up to four hours long, but find time to listen to the entire podcast while sitting in front of the computer. This way, you can follow along with the spoiler and do some expanded evaluation. Listen closely to what Marshall and Brian have to say. These two a very good at what they do. Study the new keyword abilities, look for interaction between cards, and evaluate the strength of each—this will add the most value to your limited study time.

After one has read every card, other practice options exist. Several websites offer virtual packs in order to practice building decks in the new Limited format. is currently my favorite. is another good one. Continue reading the cards to make sure you fully understand them all. Look further for card interactions or specific deck archetypes.


Other phases of the prerelease can be as lucrative as winning. When Gatecrash came out, I studied the cards and noticed a very fun-looking one: [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]. Three mana for a 3/3 that can be given first strike seemed really good to me. Reckoner also did damage to a player or a creature for the damage Reckoner took. Wow, a great card. I looked up the price of the card, and found it was less than five dollars. I knew this was going to be a playable card in Standard, so I decided I was going to target it at the prerelease. I ended up winning the event and trading into six [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]s. As you might know, this worked out well for me.


An example of the reverse is [card]Aurelia’s Fury[/card]. The hype around this card was intense. An instant-speed fireball that could be split just made everyone happy. I personally didn’t understand how a [card]Fireball[/card], even at instant speed, was any better than a [card]Fireball[/card] ever had been. When is the last time a [card]Fireball[/card] finished a Standard game? For that matter, when had a [card]Fireball[/card] finished any game? Not since [card]Channel[/card]/[card]Fireball[/card] have I won a game with a [card]Fireball[/card]. I decided this was a flop. I pulled two of them prerelease weekend. When I got home, I immediately put them on eBay, and the Furies sold for approximately $22 each. Again, as you might know, this worked out well for me.

Being the big winner at your prerelease does not require winning the event, although that certainly helps. Other phases exist in order to recoup losses from a bad draw or a lucky opponent. Look at the current Standard to determine what cards might fit into current archetypes and evaluate the potential of new archetypes. This will give you an advantage when looking to build value in your collection during prerelease weekend. Properly evaluating over-hyped cards is another way to add true-cost value to one’s collection. But remember, in order to consistently be the big winner in all phases of prerelease weekend, one must study.

Mailbag #3

LogoTwitter chimed in this week on the mailbag question. Awesome Twitter, thanks for the feedback. @sushihipster talked about eBay and PayPal fees versus selling to card shops—what is the time value of money? The time value of money is a fantastic concept, and one that very much fits into the conversation. I am going to do a future article on the time value of money versus MTG historical prices. Thanks for the input @sushihipster.

@nikvenar said, “I like to use the option in eBay where you can get eBay credit and pay no fees.” @nikvenar, this does sound like an awesome option. However, I was unable to locate it! @nikvenar, if you read this, please leave a link in the comments below so that we can look at this. I would really enjoy reading about this. This is exactly why I write these articles. I want to learn stuff.

Awesome questions, @shushihipster and @nikvenar!

In the comments of my last article, Nick talked about the mailbag questions. Nick said in regards to last week’s article, “This one (Accounting for MTG) seems to go against the previous one (Supporting the Local Card Shop) of what value using the store and giving up a few pennies or dollars can really add to you long term”.

Nick, this is a fantastic point, and is the main reason I wrote Supporting the Local Card Shop. Unfortunately, in order to minimize the actual cash needed to acquire a card, one must sometime go outside of his or her local community. Of course, if one can find good reasons to stay in the community, there will be additional value. When discussing true-cost value, it is important to be honest with oneself. One cannot always do what is best for the community; most times, it is prudent to focus on one’s own personal interests. I hope that the concept of opportunity costs was understood by most readers. If not, please send me questions.

Reddit, notice how I spelled it right, ty kihashi, was not as active this week. Come on guys, give me some feedback. vVvtime did have interesting thoughts. Be sure to check out the forum for other members of the community’s feedback, and get in there and give me some feedback!

Mailbag #4

I have taken the time to discuss my preparation for the prerelease. Now it is your turn to repay the favor.

How do you study for the prerelease exist?

Feel free to respond on, or follow me on the Twitter machine @jwgravesFL, or if you have a name and an email address, you can leave a comment below. I need you, get in there.

About the Author
@jwgravesFL     -     Email     -     Articles J.W. is 42 years old and is married with an 18-year-old son. He is a tax accountant for a Big Four accounting firm, and has degrees in accounting and business management. He is currently a student at the University of South Florida for an IT information architecture degree.

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