Windborn Musings – New Phyrexia Prerelease Tournament Organizer Report

Did you attend your store’s prerelease last week?  I bet mine was a little different…

I know it wasn’t really much of a teaser for most of you who read my TO report from the last prerelease, but for those of you who don’t know, my prerelease is entirely children between the ages of 8 and 15.  My son’s Magic Club plays twice a week at the small local library.  When prerelease time comes around, I order up the cards and we set up the tournament.  The parents are great about paying me ahead of time and the tournament spots fill quickly. This year was our biggest ever, straining my pack allotment from Wizards of the Coast.  Hey, guys, if you could up my allotment, that’d be great, thanks.

I figure everyone is here to see the pics of young kids playing Magic, so I thought I would drop a pic and use it to tell a little part of the story that was my prerelease. 

All right, clearly this is not a pic from the prerelease, but I just want to thank these guys up front for making the prerelease something special.  Harry (on the right) went out of his way to help me out.  The distributor delivered the cards to the wrong address, but Harry was able to swing out and pick them up from where they were delivered and bring them over. Then when some foil cards were delivered to the wrong address (yes, my prerelease preparation was a little stressful), Harry jumped in and made that run smoothly as well.  Harry’s ability to take the little bumps in life and smooth them out is just one of the things that make having him in my playgroup such a great thing. 

Jesse (in the middle) has a collection far bigger than anyone I’ve ever met.  His range of knowledge for Magic cards stretches back to Alpha.  He loves a good combo deck, then the next game he is running aggro, then the next game it is Homarids.  Jesse brought over what must have been over a thousand commons and donated it to the prizes I gave out to the kids.  Most of the cards were old bordered and we laughed that most of the cards were probably older than the kids themselves.  He is a great guy who has an eye for strategy and fun. 

Eric (on the left) was a godsend for the tournament.  I had never tried to run a tournament with 16 kids.  While this doesn’t sound that difficult, keep in mind the ages of some of the players.  It is nice to be able to get around to each of them and see what they are doing and how the deckbuilding is going.  Having a second person to help with that was great.  I also knew that I would have to leave in the middle of the first round to pick up the foil cards for the tournament (yes, even more stress), so having someone there to watch the round was great. 


This is fully half of the library where we play.  When I said it was small, I wasn’t kidding.  The community library has really stressed the “community” aspect, encouraging all sorts of groups and events to use the library as a meeting place. The greatest benefits to this group of boys is the neighborhood location.  Since it is small and local, the parents generally feel better about bringing their young children to play Magic here than in a card store.  It doesn’t hurt that the boys will never end up playing a college age shark who will wreck their tournament experience.  The Magic cards lying all about are not going to be stolen by anyone.  The environment is great and that is due in no small part to the library.


Sebastian (in green) and Willis (number 1) played their match on the floor.  This has been annoying me since the first tournament.  Most of the kids prefer to play on the floor.  They can spread out as far as they want and stretch.  I see their cards getting stepped on and it makes it more difficult for me to track their games.  I even bring in a table to add to the tables already at the library.  While some of the older boys take advantage of the table, most head straight to the floor.  I don’t fight it any more, and this time around, there wasn’t enough table space for all of them anyway. 


This is undoubtedly the best dressed player at any prerelease.  Conrad only recently picked up the game.  I believe he has been playing for a few months now.  His family and mine are good friends, although Conrad did not pick up Magic through me.  Several of his friends started to play and he got hooked.  When he heard I was running a prerelease, he decided he wanted to be a part of it.  Conrad was about a year older than the next oldest kid at the prerelease, but he understood the situation pretty clearly.  He was great with the younger kids and had a good time.  He ended up 3-1 for the day.

And the reason for the suit?  He was escorting an older woman to her junior prom later that day and wouldn’t have time to go home to change.  Every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man.

This is Bennett.  Bennett is a quiet, contemplative player.  He usually gets a pretty decent read on new sets, but this time around the cards and game luck were against him.  He wasn’t really happy about his deck, and his opponents always seemed to have just what they needed, exactly when they needed it.  He was the unfortunate player to end up 0-4.

This was particularly lousy because I changed the prize format this time around. The old format was that if you won 3 or more games out of four, you won prize packs.  While this was fine, it meant a lot of kids would not win any prizes at all.  I altered the prize payout this time around so each player won a pack for each match win.  This meant that even if you were 0-3, there was still a chance that you could win another pack.  Not surprisingly, Bennett was very disappointed to lose that last match.  In the end, I still had a spare pack of New Phyrexia, so everyone at the tournament (including Bennett) opened at least 5 packs of New Phyrexia. 

You’ve already met the sharp dressed man on the right, but the fellow in the fine fedora is the wise one, Solomon.  Solomon put together a smooth deck that carried him to 3-1 for the day.

My son Spencer (in the middle of the picture) ended 2-2.  He wasn’t too thrilled with the cards he had for his deck, but he made it work for him.  Spencer had a great time showing Conrad around and being just a good guy.  These tournaments are not always easy for Spencer since he is trying to play in the tournament, but knows that I expect him to keep an eye open at everything going on.  Spencer is often my second set of eyes.  Since he knows everyone so well, he can often tell me if there will be a problem even before one shows up.  This is a handy thing to know.

Something you might not notice in the picture are the huge 20 sided dice all over the table.  The dice were the surprise prize for this prerelease.  At each prerelease, I try to find something to give to the kids as a gift that they can use again and again (and isn’t just more cards).  I have done deckboxes several times and even managed to find a good deal on playmats another time.  This time around I went with dice.  They went over really well, although there were at least two players in every round who had lost their dice.  By the end of the tournament every player walked out with: 3 packs of Scars, between 5 and 8 packs of New Phyrexia, the 20-sided die, the Launch Party card*, a Scars of Mirrodin poster, and a stack about 3 inches thick worth of commons.  A nice haul for everyone.

I already have something in mind for the next tournament.  I won’t spoil the surprise, but the forum posters have good ideas.

First off I’ll admit right away that this is an old picture.  I didn’t get a shot of Griffin this time around.  However, at 4-0, our champion Griffin deserves a little time to shine.  He was held up and had only 15 minutes to build his deck.  He pushed his time right into the first round and shuffled up right as I was about to give him a game loss.  From there he rolled, not losing even a game up until the finals. 

I’m confident that if Griffin put his mind to it he could be a true star at this game, however there are too many other things to do, that I doubt he’d ever limit himself that much. 

*    *    *

It is great to be appreciated.  This prerelease was particularly difficult.  I had problems with WPN, the distributor and my store.  There were items being delivered late, to the wrong address and not at all. Companies were charging the wrong credit card and the entire process was leaving me to shake my head and question why I was choosing to go through all the hassle.  Then one of the parents presented me with this during the prerelease. 

Some of you might remember Asa and his kickass sweatshirt.  I raved about this in my last prerelease report and Asa’s mother Alisa must have heard me and provided me with a t-shirt of my own.

I enjoy being the TO for the boys.  I get a chance to spend time with my son doing something we both love to do.  On top of that I get a chance to share my love of this game with these young guys.  This is a pretty sweet deal in and of itself.

However the gratitude and appreciation I get from the parents of the players is amazing.  They really appreciate what I’m doing and they tell me all the time.  They tell me how excited the kids are about the tournament and it is the buzz in their house for the week up until the prerelease.  The library is thrilled to have a vibrant group here on a regular basis.  When I look back at this prerelease, I’m not going to remember the difficulties, I’m going to remember the t-shirt, the shouts and fist-pumps every time a Karn was opened.**

At your next prerelease, be sure to let your TO know how much you appreciate the work that goes into setting everything up.  You don’t need to get him or her a shirt, but a thank you goes a long way.

Bruce Richard

* My prerelease foils are missing.  As far as I can tell, they were never delivered.  I haven’t heard anything from Wizards yet (it has only been two days), but I’m hopeful.  I lieu of the prerelease foils, I gave out Launch Party foils.  I still have enough left for the Launch Party, so it should work out. 

** Three Karns opened.  And a foil Koth.  Just crazy.


About Windborn Muse

If you seek limited or constructed tournament knowledge, wrapped up with excellent comedic writing, you are in the wrong place. Planted firmly at the kitchen table, Bruce (the Windborn Muse) is all things casual, focusing primarily on strategies for multiplayer games wrapped up with horrific, train wreck attempts at humour. Bruce is married to an extremely tolerant woman and has three children who will not go near him in public. In real life Bruce works as an attorney and lives just outside Boston.
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3 Responses to Windborn Musings – New Phyrexia Prerelease Tournament Organizer Report

  1. Charles R says:

    I’m a librarian in Miami who would love to set up a program like this at my branch, and I have so many questions.

    My main concerns are the startup. How did you first start getting a group to play?

    Once you got going, how do you deal with Wizards to do the prerelease type tourneys? And who is covering the costs of the program? You said the parents were paying, but does any come out of your pocket? I see from your bio you are not library staff.

    These last points might be a stickler for me, b/c I think our programming policy wouldn’t allow us to ask the parents for money.

    Any help would be great.
    Thanks, and kudos to an awesome program!

    • Thanks for the kudos! It is always appreciated.

      Your questions:

      How did you first start getting a group to play?
      The group that plays in prereleases and other events started with my son’s friends getting together and organizing themselves into a group. They started advertising it locally, and this brought other players into the fold. After a few months, I decided that I could get them some WPN foils for prizes for their small tournaments, so I signed up as an organizer and started running their events (since none of them were the required age to be an organizer). It just sort of took off from there.

      Once you got going, how do you deal with Wizards to do the prerelease type tourneys?
      This requires you to affiliate with a store. The WPN has three levels. The first level lets you host regular events, but no FNM or prereleases. To host those events you must reach the second level. The only way to do that is to affiliate with a brick and mortar store and have a certain number of new players sign up and have regular tournaments. At that point, you simply sign up to do a prerelease. Wizards contacts you to inform you of your allotment of cards, so be aware that you may be limited in how many people you can have in your tournament.

      And who is covering the costs of the program?
      That is up to you. I charge an entry fee and I’m lucky enough that I get the entry fees well before the tournament, so I rarely have to pay anything out of pocket. Occasionally I do have to front the cost of the cards, but I can usually get all the money back long before my credit card company comes looking for the payment.
      If you have any other questions, just email me at bnrichardhotmailcom. Hope it works out for you!

  2. Pingback: Windborn Muse – Commanding a Commander (Launch Party) | Muse Vessel

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