The Throne of Eldraine prerelease events go down this weekend. As the first opportunity for all of us to play with the paper cards, prereleases tend to bring out more of the Magic community than any other event. Everyone can get together and jam nonsense cards into each other for a few hours, and it is beautiful. I encourage all of you to find a local store where you feel comfortable and head to one of their prerelease events. Or more than one!

Folks will look for all sorts of things as they crack packs of a new set. But everyone wants to see their rares. Everyone wants to build their prerelease Sealed deck with as many cool rares as they can. Here are eight rare cards I’d be happy to crack this weekend.

Somehow I end up playing white decks at prereleases more often than you might think. I don’t know, maybe I crack a lot of white rares. Triple-mana spells tend to be tough to cast in Limited decks because you rarely can play ten copies of a specific basic land. And yet, Linden, the Steadfast Queen shows up to play.

If your goal is to engage in many turns of nonsense with cards nobody’s played before, gaining a bunch of life is a good way to do that. You don’t want to play cards that soley gain life, but why not tack it onto a 3/3 with vigilance? Wingmate Roc was hard to beat. Linden doesn’t quite rock to that level, but you are going to gain plenty of life if your deck has this much white mana in it. Sure, Linden can die to removal, but she’s just a 3/3—that’s a fair trade most of the time.

I realize she’s a human who’s not a knight, which is the least useful category of creatures in the format. But what do you want from her? She wields the sword of righteousness!

Have you ever resolved Mist Raven in a game of Limited? Stolen by the Fae doesn’t pack as much punch on turn four—you probably aren’t bouncing their turn three play—but you get X 1/1 flying faerie tokens! Your curve-outs won’t be as devastating, but playing a five drop against a blue deck late in the game could be your death sentence.

X has to equal the converted mana cost of the creature getting bounced, so theoretically your opponent can control how many faeries this can make. But if my opponent at a prerelease doesn’t want to play any creature that costs more than three mana? I’ll sign up for that! Not that people play around cards very often at the prerelease, but still. This is the sort of card that can get a reputation around the top tables in a Sealed tournament.

Wishclaw Talisman might be the best prerelease card of all time. You can throw out all of that “does a delayed two-for-one tutor exchange benefit me enough to waste a card doing it” analysis for the prerelease weekend. Everyone wants to play their coolest cards this weekend. Wishclaw Talisman goes a long way to guarantee that will happen.

Plus, once you pass the monkey’s paw around in game one, you probably know the best card in your opponent’s deck. You can scour the rest of your pool while sideboarding to see if you can beat their most riidiculous bomb. Maybe your hypothetical level-hopping prerelease opponent instead uses their wish to find Unexplained Vision, or a removal spell, and you’ll feel like they got you. Whatever! Maybe your opponent tutors for their foil storybook promo Murderous Rider, which they never play so they can bask in its artistic splendor alone. That would be a bad beat.

But seriously—if you open Wishclaw Talisman at your prerelease, you have to play it!

Is Opportunistic Dragon better than Sower of Temptation? I plan to test this hypothesis as soon as possible. It’s gotta be worse, right? “Target Human or artifact” sounds a lot weaker than “target creature” in most situations, especially in Sealed. And that’s setting aside the ability to attack and use abilities with the stolen creature. But like, a 4/3 flier for four mana is really good. I’m sure you can find something to do with the silly Human caught in the dragon’s claws.

Then again, what if everyone is playing powerful artifacts? What if you have a glaring need for Food? What if you really don’t want your opponent to use your Wishclaw Talisman? I bet there will be plenty of fun targets. Or you can just, you know, play a 4/3 flier on turn four and win that way.

Wicked Wolf needs food badly.

You can throw out all that crap about how I always end up playing stupid white decks at prerelease events. If I open Lochmere Serpent, you can bet I will put it in my deck. There probably exists a pool of six packs of Throne of Eldraine that include this card alongside a woeful supporting cast of blue and black cards. Let us never speak of that hellscape again.

Odds are, I will lose a game at some point because I sacrificed too many Islands and Swamps in a game with this card in play. In such a strange case, I will gladly take the L. That sounds like a difficult “achievement” to unlock, however. Seriously, how often will you lose when you’re attacking with an unblockable 7/7 and drawing cards and gaining life? Did I mention this monster has recursion? If ever there was a good reason to play 19 lands in your 40-card deck, this is it. Hell, you can go to twenty.

All five rare lands in this cycle are super strong in Sealed. Castle Vantress strikes me as the most fun. First of all, it’s blue, which is by definition the most fun. But even if you disagree about that, repeated Scry 2 will undo an awful top half of your deck with a moderate degree of urgency. You’re probably not dying in the first six turns. With Castle Vantress in play, you can topdeck with the best. Either you draw a spell worth casting, or you hold up mana and then dig two cards deeper to set up your next draw.

I would also like to give a shout out to Stonecoil Serpent. It may not be Walking Ballista, but it sure does a good job blocking flying creatures. Would you like a 4/4 reach—with trample and weird protection!—for four generic mana? Only if you can’t afford a 5/5! It also has pseudo-protection from Stolen by the Fae, at least until the turn they can attack once in the air for victory.

Brendan McNamara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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