This is down to two changes which Wizards of the Coast has just announced. Firstly, prerelease events, where local game stores run tournaments a week before a set’s global launch, are going to be happening before the set comes to MTG Arena (or Magic Online for that matter).
Secondly, you’ll be able to purchase MTG product – that’s everything and anything from Commander decks to Draft Boosters – at stores that participate in a prerelease, and in whatever quantities they’ve got in stock.
It may not be an indefinite change, but Wizards plans to experiment with this release method for the next three sets. That means it’ll definitely apply to The Brothers’ War, Phyrexia: All Will Be One, and March of the Machine.
While Wizards of the Coast has been changing up the way it releases sets this year, this still marks a major shift that’ll benefit paper players. For one thing, it means that players at a prerelease can take part in a tournament, safe in the knowledge that it’s everyone’s first time playing, and no one’s been racking up a bunch of draft experience on MTG Arena. These changes will certainly make prereleases into more exciting events.
Previously, cards have launched on MTG Arena a few days before prereleases began, and a full week before the global launch of a set. For example, Dominaria United came to MTG Arena on September 1, its prerelease ran from September 2-8, and the global launch date was September 9.
Wizards experimented with a later digital launch date with Streets of New Capenna, and it seems it liked the results. But it’s gone much further this time by allowing stores to sell unlimited packs as well. The result is, while The Brother’s War comes to MTG Arena on November 15, you’ll be able to play with the set’s cards a full four days earlier if you go to a prerelease event – as these kick off November 11.
If the fast-paced MTG release schedule has your head spinning, you may need our 2022 release dates guide to set you straight. And here’s MTG’s 2023 release schedule, if you want to look to the future.