Writing this midway through our Magic 2014 pre-release weekend, which has proven the lowest attended pre-release in years. I don’t know if that is due to the fact that it is a core set, that it is the middle of summer, that 30% of my customer base has left for three months, that we passed on running a midnight release, or that we didn’t do as good job ginning up excitement for this set, but attendance for the Saturday ‘s tournaments has run less than half what we saw for Magic 2013. Other stores have reported similar light turnouts, with one saying they barely seated 8 people for their first event (In fairness, other stores have reported doing very good numbers but nowise near to a block pre-release).
I did like the change in the Achievement Cards, wherein players actually got something for completing each color’s list of achievement, as completing a set of achievements earned a redemption code allowing the player to put that Planeswalker’s on their page on the Wizard’s website. Still though, some of the achievements were out of the player’s control, such as “Play in a 2-headed Giant event at the Magic 2014 prerelease”. What happens if you play at a store that opts not to run a 2-Headed Giant event (like ours. We tried 2-headed Giant once at a pre-release and could not scare up enough participants to make four teams. Even the guy who asked us to run one didn’t show up). This means none of our players had the opportunity to get the Ajani badge, while playing in a tournament with low turnout means no completion of “Call the Hunt” (play in a tournament with at least 25 players) so no Garruk badge. Also, a couple of the achievements require a player to win a round which can prove problematic should the player crack a weak set of packs. Yes, I know the players can keep the cards and complete the achievements during the Magic 2014 league. However, in all honesty, how many of our Magic players will remember to hand onto the card until the Magic 2014 league. Still, I like the idea of rewards for performing actions during a tournament, so we entered each player who completed a set of achievements in a drawing for packs of Modern Masters (courtesy of ACD Distribution), which the players did enjoy getting (Not surprisingly).