How to Prepare for a Tournament Format You Don’t Know

We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a Historic Arena Qualifier weekend you made it to by playing Draft. Maybe it’s a Limited Grand Prix in your city when you only play Standard. Maybe it’s just the next Magic Online Qualifier which is in a format you don’t play. Regardless of reasons or specifics, you’re frequently going to have to play tournaments that are outside your area of expertise, and sometimes you’re going to have to play these tournaments without spending weeks preparing and understanding the format. While there’s no one correct way to prepare for a tournament, here is a replicable set of steps you can apply that should, at the very least, let you have a decent chance to do well in a format you’re either new to or not super tuned in to at the time that you’re playing the tournament. Before I dive in, I want to add the caveat that these guides apply primarily to established formats: brand new sets for Limited and Constructed formats that have just had a large shakeup are unfortunately going to require a large amount of work one way or another.



Header - Limited Tournaments

Step 1: Getting Acquainted with the Cards

Regardless of whether the Limited tournament you’re playing is Sealed or Draft, having a passing familiarity with most, if not all of the cards in a set is crucial to succeeding at Limited. Under normal circumstances, you’d frequently get this familiarity just from playing Limited, but when you only have a short time frame, you can’t really afford to spend that much time on this. The best way to do this step is to read at least one, if not multiple set reviews for the set in question. These will both give you a glance at all the cards in the set and give you at least some understanding of opinions people have on various cards. The opinions and ratings in these reviews may become dated the further you are from release, so don’t look to them as gospel, but even a good way into the format set reviews from good Limited players should at least be a reasonable data point on some views on the format while getting you familiarized with the cards.

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