New sets in the Magic: The Gathering trading card game are released periodically throughout the year. Each quarter, large sets are released for the Standard format. New Standard sets are introduced in-person to players through prerelease events. A typical prerelease event occurs the weekend before a set's official release date. These weekends are exciting to players as it is the first opportunity to acquire brand new trading cards. Players participate in the Sealed and Two-Headed Giant formats during a prerelease weekend.
What Players Receive at a Prerelease Event
When a player registers for a prerelease event, they pay money to receive a sealed kit for the newest MTG set. This kit contains six booster packs, one promotional card, one spindown life counter, and an insert. Other special items could be included in the sealed kit depending on the featured set.
Players are given around 50 minutes to open the contents of a kit and build a 40 (or more) card deck. A built deck can only contain the promo card and other cards opened in booster packs found inside the kit. The only exception is that decks can contain any quantity of basic lands. Stores provide basic lands for players to borrow during a prerelease. There is a bit of luck and variance involved as some cards in the set are more powerful than others.
The Basics for Building a Deck
Building a deck can be challenging for new players or those unfamiliar with a set's mechanics. Other players and staff at the event will typically help newer players who ask for assistance. In general, a sealed deck contains 17 lands, 15 creatures, and 8 spells. These numbers can fluctuate depending on how a deck is built. For example, the pictured deck below contains 17 lands, 16 creatures, and 7 spells. There are multiple strategies involved in building a deck from a limited pool of cards.
One basic strategy is building around the most powerful cards opened. The most powerful cards are usually found at mythic and rare. Uncommon and common cards compliment many of the mythic and rare cards centered around particular mechanics. Multicolored cards at uncommon often act as guideposts for a set's themes and mechanics. In addition, non-basic lands that produce two colors of mana are used in preferred color combinations.
It is important to have creatures and spells at different mana costs. A good rule of thumb is to have seven to nine creatures with mana costs between one and three. This allows the deck to potentially cast a creature on each turn. Creatures and spells with mana costs between five and seven should be limited in quantity. Having one or two cards between six and seven mana is typically enough in an average deck.
Once a player has determined which cards to use in a deck, they need to decide the quantity for basic lands in each color. Sealed decks typically contain two colors. A common method to calculate a land ratio is to count the mana symbols on each card. Compare the results and use those numbers to determine basic land counts. For example, the deck below contains 11 black mana and 13 blue mana symbols. Since a dual color land was available in the pool, the remaining basic land slots were split evenly. Otherwise, the deck would likely contain 8 swamps and 9 islands. If a deck contains multiple cards with two of the same color mana in the casting cost, consider running more of that color's basic land. When splashing a third color in a sealed deck, ensure there are at least three sources of mana generation to cast one mana symbol of that color. Beyond basic lands, a source can be a creature that produces other colored mana or a spell that finds a basic land in the deck. It is recommended not to add a card containing two splash color symbols in its casting cost.
Playing Against Opponents
A prerelease event usually consists of three rounds against different opponents. When deck building is complete, players are randomly assigned an opponent for the first round. A player wins a round by defeating their opponent in two out of three games. A draw can occur if time is called and each player has won zero or one game. In Two-Headed Giant, players only play one game per round. Pairings for the next two rounds are assigned based on a win-loss record. Booster packs are awarded as prizes when the event ends. Players receive a quantity of prize packs based on their overall win-loss record.
Prereleases are a fun way to experience a new MTG set. They offer a casual environment for new and veteran players to compete in a Limited format. Many players believe prerelease events are the most exciting MTG event offered throughout the year. Prerelease events are something a MTG player at any skill level can participate in and enjoy.
One of the social aspects of playing Magic: The Gathering is trading collectible cards with others. When building decks, players often have to purchase or trade for individual cards. Trading cards has the benefit of exchanging something of value you are not using for something you can use. One issue with trading is that both parties have to find cards to trade that are of similar value. Another issue is that players have to carry around extra cards for trading in person. Using a website like Deckbox helps alleviate some of the in-person trading problems.
Deckbox is a website dedicated to organizing, trading, and selling collectible trading cards. The website supports Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, and Warhammer: Invasion. Individuals can create a free account to trade, organize, and inventory cards. In addition, premium features for collection management and deckbuilding are available for $3.99 to $4.99 per month. Selling cards on Deckbox requires individuals to enroll in a seller account. This guide focuses on new users interested in trading cards for free through Deckbox.
The first thing anyone must do is create a free account. This requires entering information like a user name, shipping address, and bio description. I strongly encourage adding a bio that states your trading interests, tracking value minimums, and expectations. The best way to write a bio is to look at bios of users with high feedback. You can get an idea of what verbiage others say and tailor it to your preferences.
The second step is adding cards you have available for trade. This requires entering cards individually to a tradelist or general inventory. One benefit of adding cards to inventory first is that Deckbox allows users to upload a CSV file. You will still have to mark cards in the inventory for trading purposes. It is important to specify the set and condition of the card. For more information on conditions, refer to this page. Filtering options are available to quickly sort the inventory and tradelist. If a tool or function is unfamiliar to you, just hover over the name to see a description.
The third step is to create a wishlist. A wishlist is used to show other users what cards you are interested in acquiring. Adding cards to a wishlist is easy. Simply add the name of a card, specify the edition, and pick any ancillary details. Deckbox will show general market prices of cards added to your wishlist, inventory, and tradelist.
The final step is to read through the trade rules on Deckbox. I recommend reading it a few times to ensure you understand the guidelines.
Initiating a Trade
Options for trading are found under Trade & Market in the top left corner of the website. Trading shows current trades in progress and feedback from previous ones. Trading opportunities display users who have cards you want and cards they want from you. The tool calculates total values that you can give and receive from different users. Marketplace lists users selling cards that are on your wishlist. If you are looking for a specific card to acquire, try searching for it at the top of the page. You can find a link for users trading a particular card on the right-hand side of the results page that appears.
For new users, I recommend using the trading opportunities function to see who has a similar value of cards available for trade. Your wishlist will feed into trading opportunities. Click another user's name to compare wishlists. Read through the bio of a user before initiating a trade. Some users have a minimum dollar amount or other requests for trading. Also, many users prefer to use TCGPlayer's market price for comparing values.
Initiating a new trade is easy when viewing another user's profile. Click the new trade with X (user's name) option in the top-left of the user's profile. After clicking the new trade button, a few options appear. You can name the trade, choose if it is mail or local, and agree to the trading terms. The new trade will now appear under the trading section.
You will need to add cards under each user's side on the trading page. Start by adding cards that balance the value of Deckbox's average market price. You may want to reference other websites for double checking card values. Sometimes the values on Deckbox do not reflect current market conditions. I also recommend writing a comment at the bottom of the page once all cards are added. This comment will explain the trade and notify the other user you have initiated a trade. Finally, you will click the propose this trade button to complete the trade request. The other user will have an opportunity to edit the trade and write additional comments. They may swap out cards and re-propose an offer. Once each party agrees to a trade, you will submit your shipping address. I recommend pulling all cards and checking their conditions prior to submitting your shipping address. If there is an issue finding a card, you can still edit the trade. It is frowned upon to submit your shipping address and then make changes to a trade.
After each person has submitted their shipping addresses, you can send the cards. Deckbox users typically mail cards at the same time. However, you may be expected to send first if you have low feedback. Use recommended packing methods when shipping cards through the mail. Allow at least two weeks for cards to arrive; especially, when sending without tracking. When the cards arrive, go back to the trade and mark them as received. Once each user marks a trade received, a feedback box appears. Giving and receiving positive feedback earns one point per trade. Feedback is very important on Deckbox. It is expected to leave positive feedback when trades go smoothly. When issues arise, a trading dispute can be opened. I recommend giving someone the opportunity to resolve an issue before filing a dispute.
Tips for a Positive Experience
I have completed over 100 trades on Deckbox during the last two years. Almost all of my trades have gone well. Only a handful of trades had an issue. I never had to file a trading dispute to resolve a situation. Here are ten tips that will help ensure you have a positive experience.
Karaage is a Japanese dish where meat or vegetables are coated in potato starch and deep fried. Chicken is commonly used as the main protein. Making Karaage, or Japanese fried chicken, at home is not too difficult. You can make Karaage in your own kitchen by following the below recipe.
Karaage Ingredients for Serving 2 People
Preparation: 20 minutes
Marinating: 1 hour
Cooking: 25 minutes
1. Cut the chicken breasts into bitesize pieces.
2. Put the bitesize pieces of chicken in a plastic storage zipper bag.
3. Mix the sake, mirin, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger in a bowl.
4. Pour the marinade mixture in the plastic bag containing the chicken.
5. Seal the plastic bag and then shake it for 30 seconds.
6. Lay the plastic bag flat in the refrigerator and let it sit for 1 hour.
1. Remove the plastic bag from the refrigerator.
2. Heat oil in a pot or deep fryer over medium heat.
3. While oil is heating, spread out the potato starch on a flat kitchen dish.
4. Coat each piece of chicken in the potato starch.
5. Fry the coated chicken for about 4 minutes until it is golden brown and cooked thoroughly. Flip the chicken pieces halfway through to ensure they cook evenly.
6. Put the cooked pieces on a plate or serving dish with a paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
7. Serve with rice, cooked vegetables, or by itself.
Peppervine is a fine dining restaurant located in the SouthPark neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. Dinner is offered Monday through Saturday with brunch on Sunday. The décor inside Peppervine is breathtaking. Wooden sculptures hang from the ceilings. Wine cellars with glass windows offer a glimpse of critically acclaimed bottles. Beautiful art canvases are scattered throughout the dining space. The magnificent furnishings are reason enough to visit Peppervine for a cocktail.
Guests visiting Peppervine will not be disappointed with their seasonal menu. A wide range of seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes are available. The menu is separated between small and large plates. Small plates are generally the size of an appetizer. Large plates can serve as one person's main entrée. During my visit to Peppervine, three small plates and four large plates were ordered for a table of four.
One of the small plates was the popular Yeast Rolls. The order of Yeast Rolls comes in a cast iron tray with six buttery rolls. Ashley and I split an order of the Roasted Beets. We were impressed with the complex flavor profile of the dish. The Poached Pear & Arugula Salad was split between another couple. They thought the salad was very good and would order it again.
Our server recommended George's Bank Scallops and Charred Korean Beef Rib among the large plates available. Ashley ordered the scallops and thoroughly enjoyed it. Four large scallops were perfectly cooked with a nice crust on top. The parsnip cream paired well with the scallops and roasted vegetables.
I ordered the Charred Korean Beef Rib. I was surprised by the generous portion of bone-in beef. The Korean sauce smothering the meat was excellent. The beef was very tender and easy to pull of the bone. I liked the poached egg inclusion in the basmati "fried rice." Mixing the rice and beef together offered a colorful and flavorful combination. However, I found the rice was underwhelming when eaten separately. I would recommend this dish to anyone that enjoys a great piece of beef and Asian-inspired cuisine. Ashley and I shared Peppervine's olive oil cake for dessert. While I thought the cake was a tad dry, Ashley found it tasty. I would have liked it more with the delectable whipped cream served on top.
While I have praised the decorations and food, I need to save a few compliments for the wine list. Peppervine's extensive wine selection is found on an Apple Ipad. Guests are able to search and scroll through bottles of wine from all over the world. There were some fantastic bottles available to celebrate a special occasion. If you are looking for a bottle of wine under $75, I would recommend ordering one from their menu featuring wine by the glass. Ashley and I enjoyed a bottle of the Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir. We like Willamette Valley Pinots and this one did not disappoint.
The service we received at Peppervine was above average compared to other experiences in Charlotte. Our server was attentive, informative, and accommodating throughout the evening. Unfortunately, we did have one issue when our server went missing while we waited for the check. Beyond the service blemish, our evening at Peppervine was delicious and enjoyable. I believe Peppervine is one of the best restaurants in SouthPark and highly recommend it.