WPN Orientation: Managing WPN Programs
Up until now we’ve discussed general retail strategies and what you can do without much WPN support, so let’s talk about the official WPN programs you’ll have access to. This article covers best practices that will help you create a fun environment by maximizing the effectiveness of our promotional materials and events.
Review the Managing WPN Programs checklist here:
This article will cover the following topics in more detail:
- Understanding WPN Programs
- Using Promo Packs
- Prereleases and Event Policies
- Techniques for Effective Seasons
Understanding WPN Programs
If you are at all familiar with our suite of WPN programs, you are probably aware that they can change. Take some time to sit down at the beginning of each season’s scheduling window to ensure you have a firm grasp on the key beats of that season.
There are a few events that you can usually expect each season, and we recommend having a strategy for each of these events ahead of time.
- Prerelease—This is the first opportunity for players to get their hands on a new Magic set. One week before a set is officially released, participating WPN locations host Sealed Deck events with a relaxed, celebratory atmosphere.
- Launch Parties —Celebrate the excitement surrounding the release of the new Magic set by giving players their first chance to draft or play Sealed with the new cards.
- Friday Night Magic—Our flagship weekly program. Stores can design and deliver a suite of Magic activities tailored to satisfy their player community. Run as many events as you like, in any formats your players want.
- Commander Nights—A weekly Commander league with rotating global rules and achievement-based prizes. These rules add a unique twist to Commander games during the week and tie into the achievements that players earn over the season.
- Open House—A new player acquisition event designed to open your store to your community and invite players to bring friends, family, and anyone else to learn Magic and play some casual games. It is available to run once a year with the release of the newest Core Set, although WPN Premium stores will run it once with every Standard set release.
Each event type has its own reference page, which you can find here. At the beginning of each season, take some time to read up on the new events available and changes to any existing events.
Using Promo Packs
What is a Promo Pack?
The signature promotional item you’ll have access to each season is the Promo Pack, a special mini-booster pack that you can award to players at any of your events. This is a flexible prizing tool for stores to use to sculpt the sort of experiences they want for their community.
Each season, we will send you Promo Packs based on the number of Tickets and Engaged Players your store has reported in the last twelve months. One in four of these Promo Packs is a foil Promo Pack, which contains all-foil contents.
Here’s a rough breakdown of an example Promo Pack. As with all promotions, you might expect this breakdown to change from time to time.
- Promo-stamped rare or mythic rare from the most recent set. Could be any rare or mythic.
- Promo-stamped rare or mythic from a shorter, curated list. Hand-selected by Magic’s design studio.
- This slot will change from set to set.
- Promo slot, with a selection of special, season-specific cards with an alternate frame.
Promo Pack Distribution Strategies
You have flexibility in how to distribute these prizes, but it’s important to have a plan so that you can effectively communicate with your players. Here’s a few tips that might inspire you.
- Use them for events that reward you back. Promo Packs are allocated based on Tickets and Engaged Players. Engaged Players is a metric that counts players who participate in Standard, Draft, and Sealed events. If you are using Wizards EventLink, Commander events count too! If you reward players for playing those formats, it’s a cycle that feeds itself to generate even more Promo Packs for your players over time.
- Budget your pack distribution ahead of time. You get one shipment of promo packs a season, and exactly 1/4th of that shipment are foil Promo Packs. As you create your calendar for the season, take some time to work out the math of how many packs you’ll distribute at each event. We make recommendations each season on distribution amounts, but these are only suggestions.
- Be consistent with weekly events. Give your players something to look forward to each week and try not to surprise them by shifting your event prizing strategy without notice.
- Communicate your strategy. Inform your players about the different ways they could earn a pack and use the packs to drive players to special events that might not receive as much attention otherwise.
- Make foil Promo Packs a big deal. Consider offering foil Promo Packs for very special occasions, such as going undefeated in a tough tournament, bringing a friend to their first event, or accomplishing a difficult achievement in a casual game.
- Reward players for behaviors you want to see. Promo packs can be issued for more than just performance. Create a loyalty program that rewards players with a promo pack once they have attended some number of events in a series. Offer a promo pack to players that demonstrate exemplary sportsmanship, recruitment, or mentorship abilities.
- If possible, don’t open the packs. Part of the fun of the Promo Packs is in being rewarded the complete pack and being able to open it yourself. This experience is dulled if you open the packs for players ahead of time. If you choose to split up promo packs among players, announce it in advance and open it in front of them when distributing prizes at the end of the event. We advertise these promos as packs, not as singular promo cards.
Check out this article by Michael Bahr of Desert Sky Games, with his thoughts on Promo Packs.
Magic: The Gathering Prereleases are some of the most exciting events your store will organize each season. This section will cover common strategies and things to consider as you prepare for this key event.
There are many different activities that take place at a typical Prerelease. Here are some options to prepare yourself for.
- Prerelease Sealed Event—This is the classic, default Prerelease option. Players will register for a typical Sealed event and receive a Prerelease Pack. They open their six booster packs from the Prerelease Pack and build a deck from its contents.
- Prerelease Two-Headed Giant Sealed Event—This is another popular option for many stores organizing Prerelease. Players pair up with a partner and build two decks from a shared pool of two Prerelease Packs. This is a great option for new players whose partners are more experienced. You may encourage new players to participate in more Prereleases if they have an easier time at their first.
- Learn more about Two-Headed Giant here.
- Prerelease Party—These are casual Prerelease events that you can use to help use up remaining Prerelease Packs outside of the traditional Prerelease options. Players register for a casual side event, receive a Prerelease Pack, and play casual games against other players. Note that Prerelease Party attendance does not factor towards future allocations, and this does not replace the traditional event option. (More info on allocations below.)
- Planeswalker Deck Sales—Players may purchase the newest Planeswalker Decks a week early! Consider creating side events where new players can battle with them.
- Prerelease Early Sale Promotion—During your Prerelease weekend, players can buy full booster boxes from your allocated Prerelease Early Sale Promotion product and receive a special Buy-a-Box promo with their purchase while supplies last.
- Added Fun—In addition to these activities, many stores choose to add their own flair to create a memorable experience for their players. Themed decorations, food, prizes, special guests, and other unique activities can help your event be a memorable experience.
Each season, your store will be allocated a quantity of Prerelease Packs based on your reported attendance at previous Prereleases. There are two parts to your allocation of Prerelease kits:
- Baseline—Determined by previously reported Prerelease events. We expect this amount to cover an attendance size you have demonstrated you can support. For each case of Prerelease Packs you order from your baseline, we will send you a booster box for prize support
- Growth— These are extra Prerelease Packs that can be used to support additional players beyond your baseline. Order this extra product if your store’s event attendance is growing. For each case of growth product you order, you are expected to also order a booster box of prize support to supplement it.
Prerelease allocations are straightforward when you understand how to maximize them. Here are a few pointers for making the most of your product.
- Take preregistration. This will help you plan for max capacity in each event and improve the chances of selling out.
- Use as much as you can. Allocations grow over time as you report more players in your events. It’s in your best interest to have all your Prerelease Packs used in your Prerelease tournament.
- Encourage actual play. Only the players that complete at least one round of your traditional Prerelease events will count towards your reported attendance. Consider offering incentives (like partial prizes) to players after the first round or two to encourage players to stick around for at least some of the event, even if they didn’t plan on staying the whole time.
- Handle turn-away responsibly. There may come a time when you run out of Prerelease kits, but you still have interested players. Gently encourage those players to consider preregistering for your event in the future and take a note of your total turn-away. You may contact your Retail Support team and let them know that your allocation fell short of your actual attendance.
Expectations may change each set, so always review the newest details before your Prerelease event to ensure you are hitting the right notes. Here are our policies to keep in mind.
- No Draft Until Release—Sanctioned drafts with the new set before the official release date are not permitted. Instead, encourage players to return for your Release weekend events, where you’ll have more product for sale and excitement is still high.
- No Selling Outside Prerelease— Do not sell any product before your Prerelease weekend begins. Once your Prerelease weekend is over, do not sell any leftover product or singles until the set officially releases.
- No Early Events—Each Prerelease has a designated start date and time. Review the terms for that event, and make sure that product is not in the hands of players and the event does not start until the approved start time.
Techniques for Effective Seasons
Each set release presents an opportunity to build a new strategy for your store. Outline the key beats in each season and set goals for your events to grow your business.
- Schedule and run everything.
Our marketing efforts are designed to inform players about exciting events available at their local game stores. If you opt out of any individual program, you are leaving free marketing on the table.
- Manage peaks and valleys in excitement each season.
As with any product release in any industry, we understand that new sets can only sustain excitement for so long. It’s a good idea to plan for how you’ll manage player activity throughout the season so players continue to engage with the new product for as long as possible. Here are some examples to create a template for your next season.
Discuss new preview cards, take preregistration for Prerelease.
Welcome new players to your store. Communicate details for rest of the season. Take preorders for release weekend. Begin loyalty program.
Organize Drafts, encourage players to start building constructed decks.
Friday Night Magic
Drafts early in the season, Standard constructed later in the season. Organize a league to encourage repeat participation.
Throughout the season, challenge your players to build their Commander decks around the new themes of the latest set. Keep them engaged by rewarding them for completing global achievements.
Prepare for next set release, organize special events with fun twists to keep players engaged.
- Connect events to each other.
Maximize attendance by incentivizing your players to come to each of the main beats in the season. Consider creating a loyalty program that rewards players for participating in Prerelease, Draft Weekend, multiple Friday Night Magic events, and Commander Nights. As players see your events as a collection of related experiences, they may be more likely to return more often.
- Match your marketing efforts to ours.
Every season, we add new digital and printable marketing materials. Take down your old marketing posters and replace them with new messaging that supports your sales efforts. Current marketing invites conversation around upcoming events and specific products. Older marketing material won’t have the same effect.
Set out Prerelease decorations as soon as you receive them to start building excitement. Ask your players at events leading up to the Prerelease if they will be attending and fill out your preregistration sheet.
Take advantage of our promotional materials and official WPN events by staying informed and being ready for everything. Here are our top talking points.
- Run everything. We create marketing campaigns to direct players to stores for specific events. Don’t leave opportunities on the table by not organizing those events.
- Go big at Prerelease. This exciting event is the starting point for many new players, and a critical part of any successful season. Run a memorable event and bring your players from that into the rest of your event season.
- Be prepared for the arch of the entire season. Make the most of the peaks and set goals to continue to drive attendance during slower parts of the season. Understand how each program works, what it is designed to accomplish, and how you can use it to grow your business.
For more customized training on any of the above topics, please contact your WPN Retail Development Specialist for information.