Return to Ravnica: The Pre-Release

The pre-release for Return to Ravnica is just around the corner. This set is going to be big. Bigger than Innistrad, bigger than Avacyn Restored . . . it’s going to be the biggest Magic pre-release in years. Hopefully you’ve already made your plans, but if you haven’t and you are going to be in the Nagoya area, here are your chances to play in the pre-release! All directions and information about these stores are located in a tab at the top of this webpage.

  • Card Brunch – Saturday and Sunday with doors opening at 10:30 am in the morning. The cost is 2100 yen and up to 48 players can particpate in the event. You do NOT have to register, it is first come first served. There were 36 people at the Avacyn Restored pre-release and I think this event will be full so get their early if you want to play! This is also the cheapest pre-release in the area. There will also be a 2nd pre-release at 5:30 on each day.
  • Amenity Dream – AD is also hosting a pre-release on Saturday and Sunday at 11 am. The cost is 2500 yen and a max of 36 players will be allowed to play. They are doing pre-registration (which is almost full on both days), but there is no cost to pre-register. I signed up just in case Card Brunch was full, but hopefully that won’t be the case.
  • Big Magic – Sunday only, 2500 yen. The morning game is already full, but they will be taking reservations for the night game starting at 3:30 pm. The evening game will begin at 4:30 pm.
  • Hobby Station Osu – Sunday only from 2:30 pm. No registration is needed but the tournament is limited to 36 people. The cost will likely be 2500 yen. If you miss out on Card Brunch and the registration for AD is full, this is a good 3rd choice before heading over to Big Magic.
  • Hobby Station Mei-Eki – Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 pm. They are taking reservations now but will end them on Monday (9/24) next week or if they fill up the reservation list. To reserve a spot is free, but there are 36 spots limited on each day. The cost is going to be 2100 (which is the cheapest in the city), so if it’s easier for you to travel to Nagoya station than Kanayama station (for Card Brunch), I’d recommend reserving a spot here.

There will also be a few more events at places around town such as at Mishimaya and Phase in Chikusa, but if you’re interested please contact the store and check the Magic Locator on Wizards website for further information.

Early Strategies for Return to Ravnica sealed tournaments

When you choose your guild and start opening up your packs, you’d better have a strategy in mind before you build. You’ll have to make a choice of 23-24 cards and 16-17 mana out of a potential 75 cards. It’s going to be tough, a lot tougher to make your choices than in M13. Mana fixing is going to be a lot better during RTR because of lands called “Gates”, and it won’t be difficult to splash a 3rd color in your deck at all. You might want to run 2 colors, but with 3 you’ll be adding another dimension to your gameplay and make yourself a lot harder to beat.

Lets take a look at possible combinations and what strengths and weaknesses it will have.

  1. IZZET – By itself, Izzet has a lot of great spells. They will be able to counter spells as well as deal damage, and you’ll also be able to draw a lot of cards with them. For a quick burn deck I’d go straight Izzet for a pre-release. However, I don’t think Overload is going to see that much play in sealed/draft. The cost is usually way too high and if you’re playing UR you’ll want to finish the game as quickly as possible. Izzet doesn’t have a strong late game. There also aren’t a lot of creatures but you might be able to find some strong blockers in blue if you choose to go the direct damage route. I think they might have some problems with Selesnya’s Populating tokens.
  2. RAKDOS – Rakdos is fast and nasty. Unleash is a great way to deal chunks of damage  fast and early. You’ll see a lot of creatures with haste that can’t block in a pure Rakdos deck. I especially like Carnival Hellsteed and if you choose them you’ll get that card to play with. 5/4 first strike, haste that you can choose to make a 6/5? I like it. Rakdos is going to be all about pump spells, dealing a large amount of damage as fast as possible through creatures. The creatures are a little heavy to cast, but once they start coming out you better have some beefy blockers. I really think Rakdos will surprise people at the pre-release. Azorius and Selesnya will probably be able to deal with Rakdos well, but if they can’t get big creatures out to block later on in the game Rakdos will eventually win out. I think Golgari will do well against them well since putting things in the graveyard will only help them. However, Rakdos’ charm will help with that.
  3. SELESNYA – Beatdown is always effective in sealed, and if M13 and Avacyn was any indicator, the bigger creature you have = a higher chance of winning. I like Selesnya because they have a very good curve of cards. You can start out small, drop a land every turn, and each turn you can put out a bigger and bigger creature. These turn into quite an army with populate, and can also be turned into massive elementals. The big creatures should be able to deal with Rakdos, and populate should give you lots of blockers against big Golgari creatures as well. Direct damage might be a problem against Izzet decks, and Azorius is also a problem if your opponent has Detention Sphere or Supreme Verdict to to deal with all of your creatures. My bet is on Selesnya to do well during the pre-release.
  4. AZORIUS – UW has access to the strongest control magic such as Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere, but those are rares and you might not have those at your disposal during a sealed event or draft. What Azorius DOES have is A LOT of evasion. They have the most flyer’s by far, and if you can constantly Detain a player’s creatures/blocks, it has a chance to win. Having blue also gives it access to card draw, which will be really important to speed your deck up against Selesnya and Golgari decks. White also gives Azorius life gain which is good to have at a pre-release. UW also has the ability to Unsummon creatures, which is great when a Golgari player is building up a massive attacker or Selesnya just put out an 8/8 elemental token creature. I think Azorius can hold it’s own against Golgari and Izzet, but it could have some problems against fast and/or too many creatures.
  5. GOLGARI – There are a lot of people leaning towards the gutters and thinking of going with the grimy Golgari, and I might be tempted to use them as well. GB doesn’t care about having their cards milled or creatures killed by demons of deep. They bide their time and build up their graveyard before climbing back out of it and overtaking their opponent. It has some of the best rares in Ravnica, and a very nasty planeswalker. There are also a decent amount of green and black creatures with Scavenge and others with regenerate, which makes Golgari very resilient. I think regenerate will be strong against Rakdos, and Scavenge will help against Selesnya’s big creatures, and mill decks won’t have any effect against Golgari. Izzet’s direct damage might cause problems for Golgari, as well as the new Pillar of Incinerate Flame (Annihilating Fire), and Azorius’ flyers could also be a problem since Golgari doesn’t have access to that many creatures with reach.

If I were to gauge the power of these decks in draft, I’d say that Rakdos and Selesnya have a slight edge over Golgari, which is then followed by Izzet and Azorius. However, I don’t think there will be that many people only running two colors in draft. There will definitely be a lot of people splashing a third color in there, and that’s where things suddenly get more complicated. I won’t talk about it today, but next time I’ll talk about which 3 colors I think would work well together and what their strengths and weaknesses would be.

I’m interested in hearing what you think about my predictions, so please leave your comments and be sure to vote in the poll!