Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at Wizards of the Coast's recent announcements about the upcoming The Brothers' War prereleases.

I find Wizards of the Coast’s announcement regarding the release of the The Brothers’ War set pretty positive; although that does put another nail in the concept of the prerelease, making November 11, 2022 the Launch Day for the set and November 19, 2022 the Release Day, or maybe vice-versa (see "Wizards of the Coast Updates Deets on The Brothers’ War Prerelease").  WotC announced WPN stores could sell all The Brothers’ War Magic: The Gathering items (booster boxes, Commander Decks, Bundles, individual boosters, and even single cards) on what has until now been the prerelease date for the set.  In addition, the digital release of cards in the set will take place on November 15, 2022, giving brick and mortar stores a full weekend to sell the set before digital players get their hands on it.  WotC tested out the delayed digital release with Streets of New Capenna, and apparently found the results positive enough to continue delaying digital release of The Brothers’ War and the next two Standard sets.

With the ability to sell individual booster packs during Launch Week comes an authorization from WotC to run draft events starting release weekend and running through the week until release day.  From the way I read the announcement, prerelease events and drafts are the only way to play with The Brothers’ War cards in sanctioned tournaments until November 18, 2022.  Several policies put into effect during the epidemic remain in effect, such as the week long prerelease , at-home prerelease events, private events (as long as there are no scheduling limits such as with Game Day), and the shipment of online orders for arrival during the prerelease period.  Coming to an end with the release of The Brothers’ War is the inclusion of Buy-a-Box cards with online purchases.

Per WotC policy, the Buy-a-Box cards are only given out with in-store purchases.  Also, Buy-a-Box cards may no longer be given with the purchase of six prerelease kits, only with booster box purchases; and Magic promo packs may no longer be used as a sales incentives, only as a play incentive.  There is one other small change WotC is introducing to the use of promo cards.  Once the next Standard set releases, surplus promo cards can be used as Promo Packs are, with the exception of Premier Play events. Surplus promo cards cannot be used for Premier Play events.

WotC allowing draft events during prerelease for the first time in several years may signal an upcoming shift in the format for prerelease.  Although prerelease kits are far easier for stores to hand out, as long as they are not divided up into guilds or gangs, packaging them is another expense for WotC to bear.  Eliminating the kits and moving solely to drafts for prerelease week would save WotC quite a bit of money.  Given WotC’s reintroduction of drafts with this set, it would not particularly surprise me to see the company eliminate prerelease kits with an upcoming release and move solely to drafts or quasi-sealed deck events such as prereleases are now, only without the variant promo cards and spindown life counters in the kits.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of