Success Story: Returning to In-Store Prereleases
Nick Nazar, owner and manager at Phoenix Comics and Games in Seattle, Washington, was thrilled to welcome players back to in-store Prerelease for Modern Horizons 2 last month.
Today, he's here to offer insights on what made this Prerelease a success, what it's like to use EventLink in person, and how players reacted to new discretionary event policies.
How did you engage with your community before re-opening for in-store events?
And we made it a point to mention that in-store play was coming back any time we rang up a customer for Magic or heard them ask about events.
Which of your advertising efforts made the biggest impact on players attending your in-store Modern Horizons 2 Prerelease?
Our Discord server got the most impact—we had a lot of people talking and asking about in-store events there. We did share our blog post in a local Magic Facebook group, which got the word out, but most of the players that attended our Modern Horizons 2 Prerelease and subsequent events I’ve recognized from Discord.
How was your experience using EventLink for an in-person Prerelease?
Good, with room for improvement to make it really great. (A lot of improvements are on the way, too!)
EventLink worked great for most of last year during the pandemic for our webcam events, and we definitely intend to continue to offer these events as interest dictates.
In person, there was a learning curve for asking for people’s email addresses or getting them to download the Companion app and check in with the event code. But once that happened, people were excited to get their pairings via push notification (not to mention reporting—that’s working beautifully). In the entire weekend, there were only about four people who either didn’t have Companion or an Arena ID out of about 104 players.
Did you host any private events or use any discretionary event policies?
We opted to enforce vaccination requirements as part of our event policies (this was for all events or casual table usage, period), and we maintained the requirement that masks needed to be worn at tables.
We found this left players feeling safe and excited to engage in play again. I received absolutely zero complaints about it.
What's your biggest takeaway from this Prerelease about running in-person events right now?
Our biggest takeaway is that we can afford to start scaling up availability of space in the store again.
For Modern Horizons 2, we capped things at sixteen per event. For Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, that number is twenty-four per event. I can easily see us getting back towards regular-sized events in the near future.
What was the best part of this in-store Prerelease for you?
The best part of the Prerelease was the first time I got to make my initial announcement. Usually, we begin things by having a quick player meeting confirming the rules and introducing myself and my team.
It was hard not to tear up a little when doing my first one of these in person in over a year, and I think our players felt the same way.
We hope you and your players are just as excited about the return of in-store play—if you can, make the most of the upcoming Prereleases by hosting in-store events.
It's not too late to schedule Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Prerelease in Wizards EventLink, and, if you're in the U.S., this Prerelease marks the ability to grow your allocations once again as metrics return.
And, if you're not yet running in-store events, Webcam and At-Home Prereleases are still available to keep your community together until the right time comes.