How to Succeed in a Prerelease Without Really Trying

Hi all! I’m back for my second article here on SixPrizes. You may have read my first one on my Battle Roads experience, and now I’m here to talk about the very important tournament series after Regionals. No, not Cities…Prereleases!

This applies here. Also, Harry Potter.

Now I’m not ignorant, I know Prereleases don’t give out Championship Points, or you know, really have much to do with competitive play at all. But they are fun, and there is a strategy to them. In this article I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of attending a Prerelease, what you can expect at one, and how to maximize your chances of succeeding in your matches and walking away with the cards you want.

I know everyone is down on this set due to the lack of expected cards, but I think it’s still an exciting set. The full art Supporters and shiny Pokémon are awesome, ACE SPECs are cool and of course we got some major metagame contenders.

First I should mention my Prerelease history. Disclaimer: it’s not extensive, since I’m a relatively new player. I’ve been to a Prerelease event for every set since Noble Victories. I’ve won a couple, and placed in the top 15 of all but one, where I could barely scrap together a deck. The latest was of course Boundaries Crossed, where I ended up 2-1 and 15th in the first flight and 2-1 and 2nd in the draft side event.

Prereleases vs. Buying Singles

The general consensus is that buying singles online at or on eBay is a much better deal than buying packs. While I mostly agree, in this set the hyped cards are selling for pretty high pre-order prices ($34.99 for non-FA Keldeo-EX, $39.99 for non-FA Landorus-EX). You could drop the cash for a playset of Keldeos if you would rather, and that would probably be the safer bet. Personally, I tend to go to one event then buy the cards I didn’t pull. I just don’t buy any packs from stores.

Oh White Kyurem, you awkward mutant, you.

The reason I like to attend Prereleases is for the atmosphere. Obviously there are no guarantees that I will make out positive dollar-wise on the day, but I love the opportunity to see all of the new cards and make trades. Also, a Prerelease will probably be the only occasion I’ll get to make a deck that uses Delibird!

As I mentioned, a definite plus to going to a Prerelease is making trades. If you just buy a box later, you probably won’t be able to unload that Black Kyurem EX you pulled on anyone, but Prereleases tend to be full of collectors as well as competitive players who may give you what you need to complete their set. That way your Crystal Wall has less of a chance of becoming binder filler.

However, let me say that I do not advocate being snaky in trades. I have seen small children be taken advantage of for their fortunate pulls. There is nothing wrong with trading a 5 year old for his or her full-art Landorus-EX, just make sure your trade is of equal value and he or she walks away satisfied.

Building 40-card Decks

I’m sure everyone reading this knows how Prereleases work, but since I didn’t know before I attended my first one, I’ll go over it briefly here. Everyone is provided six packs to start with. Usually, you get 30 minutes to open your packs and build your deck (unless the mall closes at 5 and you need to finish the second flight in 45 minutes).

Since it’s an alternative format, the usual rules don’t apply. For instance, you may include more than 4 copies of a single card if you choose to do so. Also, no trading before you build your deck. Save the fun stuff for after.
Get used to topdecking one of these bad boys every turn.

Unfortunately, due to the limited pool about half of your deck (which will consist of 40 cards instead of 60) will be comprised of basic energy cards, which will be provided by your PTO. Because of this smaller deck size, the games will be shorter and only have 4 Prizes.

Now, how does one go about building a Prerelease deck? I’m glad you asked, because I have a few tips. Obviously, in this format, if you pull an EX, your deck is probably going to be structured around that one card. Unless it’s Celebi, I mean probably, you never know.

For example, I pulled a Cresselia-EX in my packs, so I went with Psychic as my primary Energy type. Since Psychic attackers typically attempt to confuse or poison the defending Pokémon, my strategy was to hit with Cresselia, then retreat it to the bench while it healed slowly between turns via its Ability while stalling with flippy status condition Basics. This generally worked well, and the match I lost was due to being overcome by another EX (Black Kyurem, I think.)

Once you pick your primary type, next go through all your Colorless attackers. Even if they are of a different type, select the ones that can use any energy to attack. Requiring C Energy is great at a Prerelease (as it usually is in the normal format) because it means the card can be included with your primary type without messing up your energies.

Support Pokémon are also great (Delibird, anyone?) because Prerelease decks are horribly inconsistent by nature. Any card you see that allows you to draw or search should generally be included in your deck. It might go without saying that 80 percent of the Trainer cards you draw should also be included, unless of course they make no sense in your deck, i.e. Twist Mountain with no Restored Pokémon.
Delibird, a Prerelease god.

My last tip is to avoid thin evolution lines. You are probably just not going to get out that 1-1-1 Stoutland line, as awesome as that would be. Most times your Herdier will just be a dead card in your hand. It’s better to stick with useful Basics or Stage 1s.

Side Events

A great way to turn your day into a positive gain is to participate in draft side events. These can give out good prizes in the form of more packs (yay!), and are more skill-based than the main event.

For those who don’t know, drafts work slightly differently than the main event. You begin with six packs. You open one, select one card to keep, then pass it to your right or left depending on the instructions you received. This continues with each subsequent pack.

This allows for more deckbuilding control, although a lot of the same rules apply. The difference is that now you get to choose your strategy at the outset and only select cards that aid in your goal. You will also probably get to include more Trainers, which will make the deck you build more consistent. Consistency is key- again, Stoutland is an awesome card, but won’t help you if you can never play it.

Landorus and Keldeo and Kyurem, oh my!
Ain’t he cute??

The sad thing about this format is, if you pull an EX, you will have a huge advantage in rounds. However, that’s not to say you can’t still win. My boyfriend Andrew went into the draft with the assumption he wouldn’t pull any high-HP basics, and nabbed every Scizor and Scyther he saw. He ended up winning his three rounds (Just because I flipped four tails in a row on Delibird, grumble grumble…) and got 5 packs, where he pulled two full-art Keldeos. So, it can happen.

Anyway, I know everyone is focused on Cities, and I apologize for not contributing anything to that discussion. I just wanted to talk about a fun part of a new set and maybe provide a break in the endless speculation about the upcoming format. I myself am undecided about what to play, since my Darkrai/Hydreigon build utterly failed me at Regionals. Haha. Hope this was an entertaining read at least!

Comment with the under-appreciated cards you used in your Prerelease decks. After all, bad cards need love too. :) Thanks all xx

Reader Interactions

23 replies

  1. killerpotatoe

    my general idea is if you pull high hp basics/exs, just play like 1 cresselia + 39 energy

  2. Adam Capriola

    Nice article Nicholena! I think this part is especially important for people to remember:

    However, let me say that I do not advocate being snaky in trades. I have seen small children be taken advantage of for their fortunate pulls. There is nothing wrong with trading a 5 year old for his or her full-art Landorus EX, just make sure your trade is of equal value and he or she walks away satisfied.

    • Tyler Odom  → Adam

      I had to stop a trade from happening at a Dark Explorers Pre-release. Someone was about to get a kid to trade them a Raikou EX for a Haxorus (not even holo). The kid wanted the Haxorus for some reason, but didn’t know the value of his card at the time…

  3. Arya Stark

    Went 3-1 with mostly Tangrowth and Delibird, the latter being one of my favorites. Prerelease is good for playing the ones you actually like but that never get to be competitive-tier (Heracross, anyone?)

  4. theo Seeds

    You forgot the part on how if you pull an EX, you should play it and 39 Energy.

        • nicholena moon  → theo

          The thing is that it takes four turns of manually attaching.. So by the time you can attack, you are a couple turns away from getting KO’d. And you could have been poisoned in the meantime, negating your healing…there are a lot of poison cards in this set. So I mean, you could do that, but it’s not a good strategy and you likely wouldn’t win.

        • theo Seeds  → nicholena

          Went 2-1 at my prerelease with it and would’ve won the loss if I had gone first.

          And don’t forget it’s a prerelease. Not a meaningful tournament.

  5. Aaron Minjoot


    “However, let me say that I do not advocate being snaky in trades. I have seen small children be taken advantage of for their fortunate pulls. There is nothing wrong with trading a 5 year old for his or her full-art Landorus EX, just make sure your trade is of equal value and he or she walks away satisfied.”

    I can’t stress how important this is not only in pre-releases but also at everyday league. It is so unfortunate that the more older players or even respectable ones tend to rip off younger, more newer players whenever they have or pull a rare/high demand card. If this doesn’t go in check, then the future of the game is seriously in doubt, at least in my opinion and at where I reside.

    Overall a very nicely written article.

  6. Alan Lewis

    My kid went 3-0 at the Tallahasse pre-release at Gamescape. He lucked out on getting Keldeo and having enough to make a Vileplume line work. Vileplume was the MVP along with Gold potion helping to keep it alive.

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