Dragon’s Maze Release Draft

The release event for Dragon’s Maze was smaller than past release events.  (We blame the release of Iron Man 3 on the same night.)  Don’t let the small size fool you.  There was still much competition and fun at Anime Kat.  As tradition, we had a  booster draft for the Dragon’s Maze Release Event.

For those not familiar with it, a booster draft is a format where you pick one card from a pack of cards and then pass it to your neighbor.  In order to have a booster draft, you need:

  • 3 Booster packs per player from the current draft format.  We used Dragon’s Maze, Gatecrash, and Return to Ravnica
  • 8 total players (It’s possible to draft with fewer than 8, but 8 is the number needed for sanctioned Magic drafts)
  • Supply of basic lands

DSCN0144Players are seated randomly at the table.  Each player opens his first booster pack, chooses one card from the pack, and place the card face-down on the table.  After you choose your card, you pass the rest of the pack to the player on your left.  Once everyone has passed their packs, pick up the next pack (located on your right), pick the best card for your deck from that pack and put it in your pile, and again pass it to the neighbor on your left.  This continues until all the cards from the pack have been picked.  Next, each player opens his pack, picks a card, and passes the pack to the right.  This continues as before until all cards from a pack have been chosen, and then repeats for the final pack moving left again.

Any drafted or opened cards not used in a player’s deck function as his or her sideboard.  Once you have 45 cards in your pile, it is time to build your deck.  Booster draft rules allow you to add as much basic land as you want to your deck, and require that the deck be at least 40 cards.

There were a total of four rounds of play with a limit of 45 minutes per round.  During the four rounds of play, three players slowly made it to the top of the standings.  Congratulations are in order for our first, second, and third place winners.
Dragon's Maze release event

Everyone at Anime Kat wants to thank all of the players who choose to spend their Friday nights with us so we can have fun Friday Night Magic events.

From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You: Part 3

By Drew S.

In the last article, I explained what I work on to get everything ready for the prerelease and release.  Now, I explain what I do during the big days.

First up is the prerelease.  The prerelease always happens the weekend before the release.  The prerelease is a chance for Magic players to play with the new cards before they are official on sale.  For both prereleases, my day starts earlier than normal.  I arrive at least an hour earlier than I normally do.  That gives me the time I need to clean up from the previous day’s events (Friday Night Magic for Saturday’s prerelease or Saturday’s prerelease on Sunday.)  Typically cleaning up involves taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom and tables, and vacuuming.

When I’m done cleaning up, I put up any extra decorations I have for the event.  Frequently, I try to get balloons to place around the store.  For the Return to Ravnica prerelease, I got combinations of balloons in the guild colors.  I try to use the last bit of time before opening the store to set up the additional tables and chairs.

At 11am, I open the store.  For most of the prerelease, there is a small crowd waiting to get in.  As the players wait for the event to start, I work on registering everyone.  All players need to have a Duelists’ Convocation International number (more commonly called a DCI number).  Repeat players typically already have a DCI number.  For newer players, I work on having them registered.

Once everyone is registered, the event is ready to start.  To actually run the event, I use the Wizards Event Reporter.  WER is Wizards Event Reporter: the event scheduling, running and reporting tool for the Wizards Play Network.  The WER makes it easier to run Magic events.  The software suggests how many rounds to run based on the number of players.  Each round, the software determines the new round pairing using an algorithm I don’t fully understand.  The WER also determines the player’s standings based on a large number of factors.  For those interested, you can read the full manual on Magic tournament rules.  The WER is what determines tiebreakers determines pairings.  This is what the players should be mad at if they drop in standings at events.

After all of the rounds are played, I get to give out the prizes.  That is my favorite part of the event.  I try hard to make sure at least 1/2 of the players get to leave with what they would consider a good prize.  Once in a while, I’m not able to do that.  At the Gatecrash release event, we had almost twice the number of players that I was expecting.  I was only able to give out prizes to a few of the players.  I used that situation as a learning point and revamp how we give out prizes.  Now, more players should receive prizes.

When the last player leaves our last event on Sunday, I’ve been at the store for about 12 hours.  I will lock up the store and worry about cleaning it on Tuesday.

During the week leading up to the big release on Friday, I receive my shipment of cards.  Before Friday, I will put all of the new items into our inventory.  Then,I will spend several days re-pricing all of the current card binders.  I like to have the most current card prices.  When that’s done, I will open between 1 and 3 boxes of the new cards, organize them into common, uncommon, and rare/mythic, and them price out the cards.  This way the cards are ready to be sold on the release day.

The release is always Friday.  The event is ran similar to the prerelease events (I use the same procedure of registering and using the WER), but the release event will last longer than most of the other events.  When the last player leaves, I will be at the store for about 13 hours.

The prerelease and release events are very time consuming for me.  However, I enjoy running the events.  For many of the players in the area, the prerelease or release event is the only time I get to see them.  I bet you thought I was done with a new set of cards after the release.  Not yet.  I still have a few events to organize after the release.  I’ll explain them in my next article.

From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You: Part 2

Magic: The Gathering card back

Magic: The Gathering card back (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Drew S.

In the last article I explained how the store level determines what we can and can’t do before the prerelease and release even happens.  Now, I’ll explain what happens during the lead up to the prerelease and release.

A day or two after the last release I will know when the next one will take place.  It is normally three months later.  At this point it is too early for me to do anything other than post that there will be prerelease, release, and Magic Game Day events on the correct days on our calendar page.  The listing only states what days the events will be.  I don’t have any other information at that time.  Even though I run the Magic the Gathering events, I don’t receive any information faster that what is released to the general public.

I typically find out what our allocation for the prerelease is about 6 weeks before the event (read about allocations here).  This is also when I find out what extra prize support I’ll get to use during the event.  Once I have that information, I work on creating posters for the prerelease and release that announces all of the important information.  It takes me a day or two to make the posters and a few days to get them back from the printers.  I also use this information to update our calendar page.

Four weeks before the release date, I will learn what my allocation will be for the release day.  Now I know how many boxes of cards I will be able to sell when the cards are officially released.  That also means I can start taking preorders.  I’ve heard of businesses that presell more cards than they received, because they took orders before they found out their allocation.  I choose to only resell 1/2 of my allocation.  That leaves plenty of boxes to sell after the presold boxes are picked up.  The store also offers a nice discount on presold boxes.  I also start taking preregistration on the actual events during this time.

At some point between one and three weeks before the prerelease, Wizards of the Coast will contact me.  They will explain any peculiarities with how the prerelease or release will run (such as the Helvault or Implicit Maze).  I will also receive my in-store display kit.  The kit will include posters, signs,  promotional cards, and any other special items the store may get for the release.

The Thursday before the prerelease I will receive my prerelease card shipment.  In the cases such as the Return to Ravnica block, I will spend time organizing the prerelease material into guilds.  The Friday before the prerelease, I will spend extra time after that night’s Friday Night Magic cleaning the store extra well.  Not only am I proud to have a clean and fresh smelling store, but I know that I won’t have time to do it Saturday morning before the players arrive.

Before the first player checks in the Saturday morning of the prerelease I have already spent about 30 hours working on the events.  But, when I see everyone having fun I know that the time was well spent.

Check the blog in a few days for the next part of “From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You” where I discuss how I spend my time during the prerelease and release.