lspeth Tirel, knight errant, did not come to Theros to become the Sun's champion. She came to escape the horrors of her past and mourn the apparent loss of her friend.
Unfortunately for her, there is no rest for Elspeth on Theros!
Yeah, thanks Xenagos. Jerk! On the plus side, though, Elspeth does not face her destiny alone. She has you, brave heroes, to aid her! Let's look at how.
The Prerelease Experience
If this is your first Prerelease, you're about to try out something that is a lot of fun! (If this is not your first Prerelease, you can safely skip down to The Hero's Path.) A Prerelease is where people of all play levels—from neophyte to Hall of Famer—can mingle in a friendly, low-stress environment. It can also be a little overwhelming, so let's go through what to do and expect.
First, find a store. Hopefully one is near you! Once you've done that, contact the store and find out if it does preregistration. If it does, preregister. Prerelease events across the globe have been selling out for a while now, so it behooves you to preregister if your store allows!
Divination | Art by Willian Murai
On the day (or night, if your store does midnight ones) of the Prerelease, make sure to pack some essentials with you. Your store might have most of this but it might sell out or not have exactly what you want or need:
- Water and snacks. You can't play your best if you're hungry or thirsty!
- Cards. There's a really good chance other folks at the Prerelease are bringing their trade binders. Many will also bring their Commander decks, their casual decks, or even their competitive decks, so bring yours as well!
- Sleeves. Protect your cards from sticky tables!
- Accoutrements. Dice, tokens, paper, pencils—that sort of thing. Bring something to track counters, creatures, and life totals. Yes, your store will have a lot of these things, but it's always better to be prepared.
All that might seem obvious, but don't be one of the people who don't come ready to sit down and play Magic for an entire day!
The main event at a Prerelease is the Seeded Deck tournament. "Oh Mike," you might be thinking, "surely you meant the 'Sealed Deck' tournament!" Nay, friend, like the Theros Prerelease before it (and Gatecrash and Return to Ravnica before that!), the Born of the Gods Prerelease will feature seeded packs. I'll get back to what that means in a mo, but the important thing to know is that your Prerelease Pack's seeded pack will help you play the color you want to play. It's not a guarantee, but it will help.
Chromanticore | Art by Min Yum
Seeded Deck is based on Sealed Deck, a kind of Magic where you build a deck out of cards you open at the tournament (which is known as "Limited" Magic). In the case of the Born of the Gods Prerelease, that is one seeded pack and five booster packs (three Theros and two Born of the Gods). You open up all those packs and that becomes your pool, from which you build your deck. The basic guidelines and advice for building a seeded deck are:
- At least forty cards. You can play more, but you can't play less. (Playing forty exactly makes your deck more consistent, but a lot of people point out that adding an extra land for forty-one cards helps your mana percentages. Which way you go is up to you!)
- Twenty-three spells and seventeen lands. Of those twenty-three spells, you want sixteen or seventeen creatures, with the balance in removal or support spells.
- Two colors. Stick to two colors no matter what! Okay, "no matter what" doesn't really apply to Magic. If you have enough playable cards in one color you can go monocolored, but because every color in Magic has multiple weaknesses, adding a second color helps you shore up where your deck might struggle. Adding a third, fourth, or fifth color challenges your deck's mana base, though, leading to inconsistencies. If you want to play cards in every color (and I don't blame you; there are lots of fun cards!), just make a second deck and swap between them throughout the day!
There's a lot of advice out there on how to build great sealed decks and on playing Limited Magic in general. Here are some links to my favorite advice articles about Sealed Deck and Limited from DailyMTG's past:
Some stores also support a version of Seeded Deck called Two-Headed Giant (often abbreviate "2HG"), where two players team up against other pairs of players. Each pair gets two Prerelease Packs (they don't have to be the same ones, even!) from which the players build their decks. Your tournament organizer can tell you more about 2HG if your store supports it.
If the idea of spending a day playing a tournament scares you, or you just want to play more Magic with more Born of the Gods cards, you can get involved in Open Dueling. In this side event, you get an Intro Pack and use it to do battle against others participating in Open Dueling, including players participating in the main tournament who are between rounds! This is a great way to learn more about Magic if you're new to the game, and for experienced players it's also an excellent way to teach newer players or help them get better. Plus it's, you know, lots of fun.
The Hero's Path
Experience designer and all-around cool guy Dave Guskin led a team in putting together the Hero's Path, an unprecedented block-long experience rewarding you for participating in each Prerelease, Release Event, and Game Day throughout the Theros block. There are nine events total, but we're focusing on the Born of the Gods Prerelease here, so I'm just going to talk about that one!
Choose Your Destiny
You have a choice to make for which heroic destiny you wish to embrace. Five options (not coincidentally tied to the five colors of Magic) await you, so to help you figure out which one is right for you I've included this handy chart:
Destined to Lead
Destined to Outwit
||Arbiter of the Ideal
Destined to Dominate
||Eater of Hope
Destined to Conquer
Destined to Thrive
||Nessian Wild Ravager
Once you choose your destiny, you will be provided a Prerelease Pack that looks like this:
Before I talk more about Prerelease Packs or show you what your Hero Card and promo card will look like, let me first tell you briefly about those!
A Hero Card grants you a special ability that you can use at Game Day events (which is March 1, 2014, for Born of the Gods). Dave talks more about that in his Born of the Gods Hero's Path FAQ update. More immediately, though, your Hero Card provides a unique code on the back that lets you get an achievement at PlaneswalkerPoints.com. Proudly display that achievement and show everyone the destiny you chose and that you walked further down the Hero's Path! Here's an example of what the back of a Hero Card looks like:
Your promo card is a beautiful premium (often called "foil" or "shiny") version of a particular Born of the Gods rare with a different piece of art bearing the date of the Prerelease. You'll be happy to know that your promo card is playable at the Prerelease (just like for Theros, Gatecrash, and Return to Ravnica) and can be included in your forty-card deck. Fun!
Now, if you're curious about what the Hero Card and promo card look like that you're getting with your Prerelease Pack, let me just break it down for you here.
If you are Destined to Lead (white), you get:
If you are Destined to Outwit (blue), you get:
If you are Destined to Dominate (black), you get:
If you are Destined to Conquer (red), you get:
If you are Destined to Thrive (green), you get:
Oh, uh, there are some new mechanics in that list. Well, don't worry, all will be revealed in the Born of the Gods Mechanics section, below!
Okay, so you picked your destiny based on the color, Hero Card, and/or promo card that appeals to you. So what can you expect to find inside said Prerelease Pack? Well, here's the list:
- 2 Born of the Gods booster packs
- 3 Theros booster packs
- 1 seeded booster pack
- 1 promo card
- 1 activity card
- 1 Spindown™ life counter
- 1 welcome letter
- 1 Hero Card
The booster packs are probably self-explanatory, but the seeded booster pack deserves its own paragraph (which happens next), and I've already talked about the promo card and Hero Card above. The welcome letter and activity card are path-specific, so they will reflect the type of destiny you embrace. Plus, if you complete your activity card and present it to your tournament organizer, you'll receive a reward (while supplies last)! The Spindown™ life counter is color-coordinated to your destiny.
Okay, so let's talk about the seeded booster pack. Your seeded booster pack contains lots of cards of the color that corresponds to the destiny you choose, but—and this is important!—not every card in the pack is in that color. So if you choose to be Destined to Dominate (because black is the best color—oops, bias!) your seeded booster pack will contain mostly black cards, but it will also have cards from the other colors. Note that it is possible to get a multicolor God for your chosen color in your seeded booster pack but no other mythic rares.
It is important to note that the destiny you choose for a Prerelease only applies to that particular Prerelease event. If you sign up for another Prerelease event a few hours later you can choose a different destiny. You are not in any way required to choose the destiny for Born of the Gods that that corresponds to your path(s) for Theros (if you went to that Prerelease).
Born of the Gods Mechanics
Kelly Digges, editor extraordinaire, provided me with these summaries of the mechanics from Born of the Gods. Thanks Kelly!
Inspired: Creatures with inspired abilities represent the divine inspiration that comes from the world of dreams. A creature's inspired ability triggers every time the creature becomes untapped. For more details, see the inspired section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Tribute: A creature with a tribute ability offers your opponent a grim choice: either it becomes even larger, or it does something nasty to your opponent when it enters the battlefield. For more details, see the tribute section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Bestow: A creature with bestow gives you the option to cast it as an Aura that enchants a creature, granting that creature its power, toughness, and abilities. For more details, see the bestow section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Devotion: Your devotion to a color is the number of mana symbols of that color in the mana costs of permanents you control. For more details, see the devotion section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Gods: Each God in Born of the Gods is two colors and manifests as a creature if your devotion to its two colors is high enough. Your devotion to two colors is the total number of mana symbols of those colors among the mana costs of permanents you control. For more details, see the Gods section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Heroic: A creature with a heroic ability gives you powerful benefits every time you cast a spell that targets it. For more details, see the heroic section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Scry: Scry is a keyword action that always has a number associated with it. To scry, look at that many cards from the top of your library, put as many of them as you want on the bottom of your library, and leave the rest on top in any order you choose. For more details, see the scry section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
Born of the Gods contains a cycle of five enchantment creatures, one of each color, called Archetypes. Each Archetype has two abilities: one that grants a keyword ability to all of your creatures, including itself; and one that makes your opponents' creatures lose that same keyword. For more details, see the Archetypes section of the "Mechanics of Born of the Gods" article.
The Time is Almost Now!
That's it for this primer. I hope this helps you get ready for your Prerelease(s) this weekend, and remember to preregister if your store allows!
Pop me an email or Tweet at me if there's anything in particular you liked or disliked about this primer. We're always looking for ways to make Prerelease Primers more helpful for both new and experienced players, but we can't do that without your help!
Good luck; have fun!
Oh, and on a personal side note, there is one particular card in Born of the Gods I am looking forward to collecting once it comes out:
Why a reprinted common?! Because this is the first time I have written words (in this case, the flavor text) that will appear on an actual Magic card. Super exciting! ^_^
Mike is the copyeditor for DailyMTG.com and steward for both Card of the Day and Decks of the Week. He got his start in editing fantasy-game magazines with almost four years on D&D's Dragon magazine. He lives in Renton with his wife and assorted pets.