Magic the Gathering Pre-release Weekend: Eldritch Moon rises over eastern Iowa

I’d rather be playing Magic — photo by Tim Taranto

Magic the Gathering players of eastern Iowa will be celebrating the global pre-release of the expansion set, Eldritch Moon, with sealed-deck and two-headed giant tournaments being held at their local gaming stores. If you’re a seasoned planeswalker or necromancer, then that preceding sentence made total sense, and if you’re unfamiliar with the game, allow me to cast an explanation spell…

Once upon a kitchen table

Magic the Gathering (MTG) is a collectible card game created by the company Wizards of the Coast (WOC) back in the early ’90s. Since the unveiling of the initial base sets (Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised), WOC has released subsequent expansions to keep the game lively and enhance the game play. The first expansion set, Arabian Nights (1993) was based upon the Islamic Golden Age classic One Thousand and One Nights, with later expansions drawing from themes pertaining to a world of fantasy unique to MTG. Eldritch Moon is the 72nd Magic expansion.

How does one play Magic?

It is simple enough that most first and second-grade students bring the cards to school in their backpacks and duel with their friends during lunch hour, but more complex than I could explain in this concise LV article. If you’d like to learn, WOC offers a comprehensive rules for game play page on their website. It’s also fruitful stopping in to one of your local gaming stores for a Friday Night Magic tournament — there are bound to be many a helpful mage or wizard adept available to help you along. Be prepared to dabble in sorcery, summon the undead and diminish the life total of opposing planeswalkers.

Diminishing Returns Magic card — photo by Tim Taranto
So what’s so special about a pre-release tournament?

New expansions come out several times a year, and WOC heralds these releases by inviting players to participate in tournaments with the new cards a week before the official retail availability. So this pre-release weekend is a chance to preview, play with and geek out over the new cards. Plus, there are always limited edition promo-cards given out at the pre-releases, which are especially prized among the more collectible minded players.

Standard vs. Two-headed Giant

At pre-release events, there are two styles of tournaments held — standard sealed deck and two-headed giant. Sealed deck means you purchase an event pack of unopened cards, construct a deck with those cards and then compete with them. Two-headed giant involves this same blind deck construction method, though you play with a partner (in my case, best friend Big Chris), in a two-on-two style of play — this is by far my favorite style of play!

I’m down! Point me to the nearest pre-release!

Fantastic — welcome to the goblin warren! Tournaments start Friday, July 15 near midnight, and run through Sunday afternoon. For an exact list of times and pre-registration information click over to Critical Hit of Iowa City, Geek City of Coralville or First Turn Games of Cedar Rapids.

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