By Ashlee Rubinstein

Editor’s Note: Meet Ashlee Rubinstein, our second contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Ashlee’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, as she details the highs and lows of being new to MTG. If you’d like to write for The Scrub Report, send an email to [email protected]

Read her first article for us here, and her second article here!

I love pre-release. It is by far my favorite MTG event. The main reason is that the cards are, for the most part, all new. Everyone starts on a similar footing. Yes, the cards have all been spoiled by now and people have some idea of what to expect. On the other hand, they haven’t played with these cards yet. You also do not have control over what cards you have to choose from, bringing me to my second reason for loving pre-release: limited resources. You can’t go out and buy over-powered cards to stack your deck with; you are stuck with what you pulled, also making it a more even playing field. Along those lines, you have six packs to pull from, giving you plenty of options for putting together a deck. Unlike drafting, you don’t have to pick a card on the spot and pass up other cards you might find beneficial. To me, it is a much less stressful situation. I always seem to put together a solid deck and do well. In fact, it is my favorite format and I thrive in it.


“In fact, it [Sealed] is my favorite format and I thrive in it.”

At the Fate Reforged Pre-Release weekend, I did two of the events. On Saturday, I ripped open my packs, eager to see what I had to work with. The great thing about the Khans block is that they are meant to be played in three-colored decks. In any kind of limited format, odds are that you will pull cards that will work for the deck you want to pull together. I chose Mardu, grabbing all the red, white, and black cards, and putting the rest aside. I spread out all the cards in front of me: lands went in one pile, creatures in another, and a pile each for sorceries, instants, and enchantments.

After rearranging them a few more times, I built a deck that was Mardu warriors, heavy on removal and combat tricks, and super aggressive. I had cards that all played off of each other quite well and was excited to try it out. The only thing left to figure out was mana. I’m pretty sure most people would agree with me that figuring out your mana base is the hardest part of putting together a deck. In my friend circle, I am infamous for not having enough mana. So what do I do? I play 14 land cards in a 40-card deck (please don’t try this at home). Gutsy, yes, I know, but if I had a low enough mana curve, which I did, it could work.


“I play 14 land cards in a 40-card deck (please don’t try this at home).”

The day consisted of seven rounds. I won five of them and lost two. For the most part, my deck was quicker than my opponents, allowing me come in quick and swing hard before my opponent got their big creatures out. If they did bring me in to a longer game, I had the removal to take care of their heavy hitters. The two games that I lost were different stories. In the first one, I got super unlucky. I didn’t get anything out. No creatures, no removal spells, nothing! Oh well, it happens.

In the last match-up of the day, I got paired against another Mardu aggro deck. What it came down to was who would be on the play first, and my opponent won the toss-up. The first game was a disaster: I got mana screwed and got nothing out on to the battlefield. The next game, I was excited to be on the play. It was a close game, but I was able to build up momentum quickly and keep it. Going into game three, it was a race to see who was going to be able to get creatures out and swinging first, and he was on the play. It was another nail-bitter, but in the end, he had me, and it was over. I had a great time and was really proud overall of how I played. Yes, I made lots of mistakes, but I learned from each and every one.

Strike Leader

“I enjoy the security of playing at home with friends, but sometimes that just isn’t enough”


Magic events usually make me nervous. I enjoy the security of playing at home with friends, but sometimes that just isn’t enough, especially if you want to hone your skills. The pre-release is a great way to get out there, quickly become familiar with the new cards and the new mechanics in the set, and get lots of great cards. It gives you a chance to try something new and play against different people. All in all, it is still my favorite MTG event and keeps me looking forward to the next new set each and every time.

*Feature Image by Flickr User Steven Depolo

Of former Pokemon glory, Ashlee never thought she’d succumb to the temptations of another trading card game, especially not Magic: The Gathering. Then she met the Theros block, and it was love at first Fat Pack.

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