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Theros Prerelease Primer

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Hi again! Usually I'm pretty manic when I write Prerelease Primers, but the start of a new block requires more information and less excitability. It's gonna be hard, though...

Because Elspeth.


After watching her two previous adopted homes fall to evil, Elspeth Tirel, Planeswalker and knight-errant, sought a quiet place to rest, escape from constant conflict, and confer with the wisdom of the living gods of Theros. Unfortunately for her, Elspeth has been thrown into the role of hero once more... a role this time she shares with you...


Point Alpha: Seeded Deck and Prereleases

Before we delve into Theros the set and the wonders and challenges of the Hero's Path, as it begins in Theros, let me first make sure we're all on the same level playing ground when it comes to Prereleases and the Seeded Deck format. The first thing you need to do is find a store near you that is running a Prerelease; if that store takes preregistrations you should totally do it! Prerelease events across the globe have been selling out, so it behooves you to preregister if your store allows!

The main event at a Prerelease is the Seeded Deck tournament: open the packs provided (five Theros booster packs and a seeded booster pack, explained below) and build a forty-card deck from them, then play some Magic. If you need to know about Sealed Deck (on which Seeded Deck is based) or just want to brush up on theory, check out Marshall Sutcliffe's handy guide to the Sealed Deck format and "How I Break Down My Sealed Pool," as well as his general advice for Prereleases at "Prerelease Prerogatives." Nate Price and Steve Sadin have even more advice articles for Sealed (and Limited in general). Finally, if you just can't read enough about Prereleases and want to explore Magic's history while you're at it, you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong with Brian David-Marshall's original "Prerelease Primer" from ten years ago! Whew... so many great links!

And now, onto the show!

Point Beta: Theros Mechanics

One of the exciting parts of writing Prerelease Primers is going over the new mechanics in a set! If you want to know even more about these, make sure to check out the Theros Mechanics article and the Theros Release Notes. If a quick overview is all you crave, though, here you go:

Bestow

A creature with bestow kinda works like an Equipment, in that if you cast one as an Aura it sticks around on the battlefield even if the creature it was attached to goes away. You can also just cast it as a creature and skip the whole piggybacking as an Aura thing. So! You cast an enchantment creature with bestow as an Aura and attach it to another creature you control, which gets some spiffy bennie from that. But then oh waily waily your attached-to creature dies and... well, then your bestowed enchantment creature stops being an Aura and becomes its own person. Or Crab. Or whatever. (And visual protip: enchantment creatures in Theros have a sparkly starfield border most prominent above their type lines—and some of these have bestow!)

Thassa's Emissary

Heroic

Whenever you cast a (presumably beneficial but not always!) spell that targets your heroic creature, your heroic creature gets better in some way. "Heroic" itself is an ability word (and as the FAQ points out, "an ability word has no meaning") so think of it there as a heads-up: "Oh hai, this duder gets buff if I target it with a spell."

Favored Hoplite

Monstrosity

Sometimes, you have enough mana to cast a cool creature and you're content with that. But forget just being content—hunger for more! Well, if your cool creature has the keyword action, "monstrosity," you can pump some mana into it and get more! Monstrosity puts one or more +1/+1 counters on the creature and possibly has some other neat effect as well. You can only activate monstrosity once, but believe you me: once will almost certainly be enough.

Hythonia the Cruel

Devotion

Okay, you know how you have some permanents (artifacts, creatures, enchantments, lands, and Planeswalkers) on the battlefield? And some of those have colored mana symbols? Well, devotion cares about those mana symbols. Your devotion to a color is the number of mana symbols of that color that appears among all your permanents. So lands don't help and colorless artifacts don't help, but colored artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and Planeswalkers all do!

Evangel of Heliod

Scry

Scry returns! When you scry 1, you look at the top card of your library and you have the option then of putting it on the bottom of your library as well. Scry, by itself, doesn't let you draw that card... just to look at it and decide whether or not to put it on the bottom. And some cards even let you scry for more than one! (In which case you put any number of them on the bottom of your library and arrange the rest on top of your library. But you still don't draw a card.)

Gods Willing
Omenspeaker

Legendary and Planeswalkers Rules

Just a reminder (or maybe first-time information if you didn't know), there are new rules for legendary creatures and Planeswalkers now in effect. To wit: If you control two or more Planeswalkers with the same type (let's pick "Elspeth" as our example!) or two or more legendary permanents with the same name (like, say, Tymaret, the Murder King), you choose one and put the rest in their owners' graveyards. The new rules don't care anymore about what your opponents have on the battlefield, only you. What this means is that if I have an Elspeth, Sun's Champion I am quite happy—no wait, where was I? Oh right, if I have an Elspeth, Sun's Champion and you cast one of your own (fist bump!), they both stay on the battlefield! But if I then cast an Elspeth, Knight-Errant (what is this, Commander?), one goes to my graveyard and the other sticks around.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

Point Gamma: The Hero's Path

Experience Designer Dave Guskin has... uh... designed... an amazing... experience. Let me start over. Previous Prereleases have had little extra flavorful activities mapped onto the core experience of just playing Magic, such as opening the Helvault or battling for a chosen guild. For the Theros block, Dave assembled a crack team of seers and hoplites, and together they created the Hero's Path.

It is you who must brave the path and prove yourself a hero of Theros! And your path begins at the Theros Prerelease.

Choose Wisely!

First, you much choose your path! There are five possible paths to choose from, and perhaps unsurprisingly, each path corresponds to a color of mana. Not only that, but each path also provides you with a Hero Card unique to that path. (Back to that in half a mo.) Once you choose your path, you will be provided a Prerelease Pack that looks like this:

Prerelease Packs

To help you choose the path that rocks (for you), here is a helpful table:

Path Color Hero Card Promo Card
Path of Honor White The Protector Celestial Archon
Path of Wisdom Blue The Philosopher Shipbreaker Kraken
Path of Ambition Black The Avenger Abhorrent Overlord
Path of Battle Red The Warrior Ember Swallower
Path of Might Green The Hunter Anthousa, Setessan Hero

It is important to note that the path you choose for a Prerelease only applies to that particular Prerelease event. If you sign up for another Prerelease event a few hours later you can choose a different path.

Prerelease Pack

So what do you get when you choose your path? You get a Prerelease Pack! /drops mic.

Oh! You probably want to know what's inside said Prerelease Pack. Well, here's the list:

  • 5 Theros booster packs
  • 1 seeded booster pack
  • 1 promo card
  • 1 Choose Your Path activity card
  • 1 SpindownTM life counter
  • 1 Hero's Path Welcome Letter
  • 1 Hero card

The Theros booster packs are probably self-explanatory. The seeded booster pack contains lots of Theros cards of the color that corresponds to the path you choose. You'll also be happy to know that the promo card...

Celestial Archon et. al

...is totally playable at the Prerelease (yay!). The welcome letter and activity card is each path-specific, so it will reflect the type of heroism you embrace. The Spindown™ life counter is color-coordinated to your path. And the Hero card...

Let me tell you about Hero cards...

Hero Cards

First, it's a card.

...um...

...moving along. It's a card with a Magic-like effect, that isn't a Magic card, that helps you on the Hero's Path at specific quests. Did you just blink-blink at me? Okay, here, let me show you an example of what the front of the card looks like:

The Avenger

So, as you can see, a Hero Card gives you some kind of bonus when you use it. But you don't use it at the Prerelease. You get a Hero card for each Prerelease you join (you can choose different paths and thus get different Hero cards each time you do one). Hero Cards are designed for use at the Game Day event (October 19–20, 2013), and you get a different Hero Card if you go to the Release Weekend event (the weekend after the Prerelease) and yet another one at Game Day. Since I'm just talking about the Prerelease in this article, you can find out more from Dave about the rest of that stuff over here.

So the short answer to "What is a Hero Card and what do I do with it?" is "It's a card you get at a Prerelease (and Release Weekend) that you can use at Game Day (or in your casual game, as your group allows)."

But... there is one more thing you can do with it. As I said before, it's like a Magic card but isn't one. And what I mean is this: flip over that Hero Card and instead of seeing this...

Magic Backside

...you'll see something like this...

Hero Backside

...with a unique code (not the one in this example image!) that lets you get an achievement at PlaneswalkerPoints.com. You can proudly display that achievement and show everyone that you have bravely answered the Call and have begun to walk the Hero's Path!

More Pictures!

And because I like to show you pictures, here are the promo cards and Hero cards by color:

If you choose the Path of Honor (white), you get:

The Protector
Celestial Archon

If you choose the Path of Wisdom (blue), you get:

The Philosopher
Shipbreaker Kraken

If you choose the Path of Ambition (black), you get:

The Avenger
Abhorrent Overlord

If you choose the Path of Battle (red), you get:

The Warrior
Ember Swallower

If you choose the Path of Might (green), you get:

The Hunter
Anthousa, Setessan Hero

The Time for Heroes is... This Coming Weekend!

Now get out there and hero around! /peptalk

Good luck; have fun.

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