Going to your local store or staying home, here’s how to win

Core Set 2021 prerelease guide

Artwork for Liliana, Waker of the Dead from Core Set 2021

Liliana, Waker of the Dead looking as innocent as a spring flower (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Can you believe that Core Set 2021 prerelease weekend is almost here? Some of us will be lucky enough to go to the local game store and play in person, and others will make a nice big mug of coffee and sit comfortably in front of MTG Arena. Whatever the case, here’s what you need to know in order to win.

What you’d need

Going to the local card shop? It’s a good idea to grab a few things first. Besides your Prerelease kit (6 packs of Core Set 2021, A date-stamped promo foil Rare or Mythic, and a life spindown), it’s best to get a pack of sleeves (you’ll need at least 40) and it sure helps to bring your own deck box and playmat to protect those cards. Some of them are worth big money!

Playing from home? Great! All you’ll need to do is buy a Sealed pass from MTG Arena and you’re good to go. Now let’s talk about gameplay.

Sealed is not Draft!

While both the Sealed and Draft formats are a form of Limited, they have one major difference.

In Sealed you open your six-packs and that’s it - what you see in front of you is what you’ll play in this event. That’s why it helps to sort the cards by color and then split them into Bombs, Playables, and Duds. You can learn all about bombs and duds in our B.R.E.A.D. guide!

In Draft, it is easy to pick a playstyle and then go and get the cards that you’ll need. During a Prerelease, your card pool will dictate your archetype, so it’s up to you to determine what combination of cards will work best.

Do not fall in the pitfall of including all of your Rares, or building a deck around one Mythic even if the rest of the pool could not support it. In Sealed, removal is king, so start there. Get your kill, bounce, and counterspells and build from there. It will be great to include a nice juicy planeswalker if you can, but we’ve seen people win Sealed tournaments without a single Rare in their deck - synergy trumps single-card value every time.

Archetypes to look for

With the general advice out of the way, let’s focus on some things to look for real quick.

Core Set 2021 is designed to be played in decks of two colors, though it’s easy to occasionally splash one or two cards from a third color if this means increasing your synergy and ways to win. There are dozens of archetypes - pretty much one for every combination of colors, but they all also overlap each other. Here’s a quick list of some good ones:

  • White/Black Lifegain - this set relies heavily on the vampiric and necromantic themes, and white and black cards will allow you to gain life, drain your opponent’s life, and replay your dead creatures. These decks play the long game and rely on winning in a war of attrition, not fireballs to the face.
  • White/Blue Flyers - angels, drakes, spirits, and all sorts of birds are here to make your life easier. If you go for this archetype, look for great Commons that are difficult to block and provide some additional value such as life gain, or buffs. There are some great Angels and Spirits in Rare and Mythic that are worth building a deck around.
  • Dogs - coming in white, red, and sometimes green, dogs can buff one another and make for really fun swarmy decks.
  • Cats - funnily enough, Core Set 2021 has a “Dogs vs Cats” subtheme. Cats are all about value, so make sure to give them a lot of support from non-creature spells
  • Black/Red Sacrifice - the Rakdos Cult is all about making a show, so play your puny creatures and blow them up for some great value. Better yet, steal your opponent’s creatures and sacrifice them!

There are a few other notable archetypes such as Blue/Red Prowess and Black/Green graveyard shenanigans, but you’ll know them when you see them.

A dead giveaway that you have cards for a certain archetype is an Uncommon that costs two mana of different kinds. Whenever you get one of these, make sure you have some Removal and some creatures in these two colors and you’re more or less good to go.

Well, that’s it for today. Read up on our B.R.E.A.D. guide, see a couple of spoilers online, and most importantly - just have fun at the prerelease! Best of luck!

For more Magic: the Gathering, stay tuned to EarlyGame!

Nikola Petrov

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