With the release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Wizards of the Coast changed a few things about how the prerelease would work from past sets. Typically hailed as the first opportunity to play with the new cards from an upcoming MTG set, prereleases are a heavily anticipated event in the MTG community. These Sealed events typically occur a week before a set’s official release. This means that, besides the Prerelease cards, players must wait a week to buy any more loose packs or single cards for their decks. Additionally, players needed to wait for the official release of an MTG set before they could play any of these cards outside of MTG Prerelease events.
Phyrexia: All Will Be One changed the script a bit. The Brothers’ War allowed stores to start selling products for the new set as early as prerelease. Phyrexia: All Will Be One allowed new cards to be tournament legal as soon as Prerelease weekend officially kicked off. While these were not all the changes detailed in these updates, they did prove popular to the overall MTG community. They are so popular, in fact, that Wizards of the Coast just announced that they plan to expand this new-age Prerelease to upcoming sets!
Paper-First MTG Prerelease for Tales of Middle-earth!
In a short article released this afternoon, Wizards of the Coast announced that players should expect paper Prereleases to occur before their digital counterparts for Tales of Middle-Earth. Changes from the past Prerelease updates from The Brothers’ War and Phyrexia: All Will Be One will also be retained for the release of MTG’s huge crossover set. This means that Tales of Middle-earth cards will be tournament legal as soon as Prerelease weekend begins. Players should be able to purchase any product relating to the set immediately. This includes Draft, Set, and Collector Booster packs. This should also include Commander preconstructed deck products.
This doesn’t stop at just the heavily anticipated Lord of the Rings crossover. Wizards of the Coast has also announced these Prerelease changes will persist for the upcoming Wilds of Eldraine set releasing after Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth.
As for March of the Machine, while there’s nothing in these articles strictly saying that these changes will not be implemented for March of the Machine, there’s also no apparent confirmation. Because the changes outlined in The Brothers’ War and Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s Prerelease ‘started’ with those sets, they seem to be updated for Preleases going forward. That said, Wizards of the Coast has cautioned one exception to this rule.
March of the Machine Changes
For most MTG players celebrating MTG’s newest set, all of the positive changes Wizards of the Coast will remain the same. Unfortunately, for Japanese MTG players, this may be changing. While we have no idea what kind of changes this could mean, a bracketed line of text did caution Japanese MTG players from assuming their Prerelease experience would carry on all the changes like everything else:
“(Note: For Japan, Prerelease sales for new Magic releases may not extend beyond March of the Machine. Check with your local game store for details.)”
We don’t really know what this means, but for those who may be affected by these changes, make sure to check with your LGS, so you know what to expect following the release of March of the Machine.
Online Delays Continue
While being able to play with new MTG cards legally starting on Prerelease weekend is exciting, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be for online MTG players. Prereleases on MTG Arena and Magic Online tend to see as much as half a week’s delay from paper Prerelease. For reference, the online releases for Phyrexia: All Will Be One occurred on February 7, 2023 and February 10, 2023 respectively. The Prerelease for Phyrexia: All Will Be One in paper occurred on February 3, 2023.
Don’t be fooled, though. These Prerelease changes are only good for the MTG community. For players and stores who host weekly constructed events, this allows players excited to test new strategies as soon as possible. This allows online players to meet friends at a local game store while experimenting with the paper counterpart for the game. MTG’s newest sets should be accessible for all on the official release date of the set, regardless of how you are engaging with the new cards. If you’re interested in reading Wizards of the Coast’s statement on the matter, you can do so here.
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