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MTG cards you crack at pre-release are now tournament legal

Wizards of the Coast makes MTG cards gained at pre-release events tournament legal as of February 3, saying “when you have cards, you can play them”

MTG prerelease format legality - Wizards of the Coast art of Phyrexian Elesh Norn

Magic: The Gathering’s senior communications manager, Blake Rasmussen, announced a shift in format legality on December 20. Writing for an official MTG blog post, Rasmussen says “beginning February 3, when you have cards, you can play them”. This means that cards pulled at pre-release events are now legal in sanctioned events as soon as the booster pack is cracked.

Cards from new MTG sets previously weren’t legal until their global release date. However, Rasmussen says “there has often been a tension between players receiving cards during pre-release events and not being able to play them in sanctioned events until a week later”.

As well as confusion at pre-release events, Rasmussen cites tournament legality on digital platforms like MTG Arena as a reason for the change. “Digital play has not made any distinction between when cards are available and when they’re tournament legal for some time”, he says.

“Officially, this means that tabletop tournament legality is tied to pre-release”, Rasmussen adds, “and that Phyrexia: All Will Be One cards will be legal for play in all formats starting February 3”. The Phyrexia: All Will Be One release date is set for February 10, 2023.

MTG prerelease format legality - Wizards of the Coast graphic showing the release schedule for Phyrexia: All Will Be One

It’s possible this change will encourage more players to attend pre-release events in person – which would benefit local game stores at a time when Standard seems to be dying. The internet is rife with debates about semantics, though. Are pre-releases just regular releases now if the cards are fully playable? Whatever the consensus, it’s unlikely the MTG 2023 release schedule will change in response.

You can read Rasmussen’s full announcement in the Wizards blog post.

If you prefer digital Magic to playing on paper, here are a few guides to crack open next. We can recommend some of the best MTG Arena decks around right now, and our MTG Arena codes guide will send you home with some nice freebies.