How to Run a Prerelease Party
Rivals of Ixalan debuts a new tool WPN members can use to move more product, serve more players, and make the most of their allocation: Prerelease Party. They're casual, open play events with no pairings and no round structure, designed to enable the maximum use of Prerelease Packs.
The idea is, with a Prerelease Party on the calendar, you never have to turn anyone away. So long as you've got product, you've got something to offer. But the caveat is those players won't count toward future allocations.
This might put organizers in a tricky spot. How can you maximize your sales without cannibalizing your allocation? Should you set product aside, and if so, how much? Should you run it as a proper event, or as a loose, open-play-all-day sort of thing?
First, some background.
Prerelease Parties got their first test run in select markets with Aether Revolt.
Long story short, they worked. Come Monday, stores had fewer surplus packs. Plus, over half of players who joined a Prerelease Party only played in Prerelease Parties. That amounts to thousands of players who wouldn't have played otherwise.
But Prerelease Party isn't an alternative to Prerelease. It's about getting more product out the door. You've got a lot of freedom—so long as product is being used for events, you're good. Use it however will help maximize your allocation while minimizing the risk of lower allocations in the future.
That will vary from store to store. Here are our recommendations, based on our experience with Prerelease Parties so far:
If your Prereleases have been falling short of maximum capacity, use past attendance for guidance.
The first question is whether to set product aside and run Prerelease Party alongside your traditional Prerelease—as a proper event, advertised in advance, that players can preregister for, join as an alternative to the main event, and so on.
Let past attendance guide you. If you haven't been selling out, then reserve some product, but cap it based on how attendance is trending. Say you've been falling 40% short of a full house. You might set aside something in that neighborhood, while leaving your main event some room to grow.
If you sell out consistently, reserve no more than 20% of your allocation for Prerelease Party.
If you're selling out completely, set after set, it may be that you simply don't need this tool. That's fine.
But if you still want to run Prerelease Party, minimize your risk. Leave at least 80% of your allocation for your main events. This way, you don't leave yourself open for a huge dip in the future. (Note, however, that Dominaria allocations will be based on Ixalan, unless Rivals of Ixalan is your only Prerelease).
If you choose to reserve no product, try open play on Sunday afternoon.
The third option is to devote all your product to traditional Prereleases, then run open play with whatever you've got left once your main events are covered.
Most stores have at least a handful of surplus packs come Sunday afternoon. This way you can use them up. The only risk is that you'll run out of product first.
Whatever you choose, remember: Prerelease Party is meant to help you move more product on Prerelease weekend. You've got a lot of freedom—use that freedom to make the most of your allocation.