I spent most of this weekend at or recovering from Magic 2013 pre-releases. I have a great game store (Comics & Gaming in Centreville) and the Friday night post-FNM midnight pre-release was a great time. (Had to spend all of Saturday in bed or on the couch, and I'm still not fully recovered mentally, but totally worth it.) Sunday wasn't quite as good since it was mostly a different crowd and people were kinda hung over, but it was still fun, especially since I won prizes for the first time ever-- 5 packs after going 3-1 with a black/white life-linking deck. I probably could have gone 4-0 if I'd played better, but I'm still happy about that.
Some cards I liked, and am looking forward to first-picking in draft:
Rancor: I got blown out by this, Odric's Crusader, and 2 Captain's Calls in my first game on Friday night. It won't be nearly as good in draft once people learn how to counter it, but it's still sick.
Ring of Xathrid: Get this on Nighthawk Shaman or Tormented Soul and bad things will happen. Won me almost all my games.
Nighthawk Shaman: See above. Lifelink is good and it seems like there's a lot of it in draft. Paired with evasion and removal and it wins games. Nighthawk gets you the whole package.
Murder: Have I mentioned that I really like black in this set?
And a very special honorable mention to Duress, which won me my first match on Sunday. It revealed to me my control deck-playing opponent's Planar Cleansing into Stormtide Leviathan game plan, and knocked out the Planar Cleansing. Stormtide is surprisingly easy to deal with if you have a few turns to plan for it and a deck that runs 2x Murder and 1x Public Execution. Hold back a game-winning creature the 2nd game and you're good.
I'm looking forward to drafting versions of two decks I saw this weekend: A better version of the BW lifelink deck I ran Sunday, and something like the GW aggro deck I saw a fair amount of running around on Friday. So far I'm not super-impressed with Exalted, but I love almost everything else the colors do, and green has some sweet tricks going for it as well.
In general I'm pretty psyched about M13 as a draft format-- I was definitely ready for something new after like 7 weeks of triple AVR. While I made a lot of play mistakes this weekend, and desperately need to improve my ability to keep track of the board state, I also feel like I've made some serious progress in the last couple of weeks. (Perhaps due to the Duels of the Planeswalkers I've been playing on my iPad? The puzzles in particular have really helped me expand my thinking about Magic.) I'm really starting to think in terms of a game plan, and beginning to learn how and when to hold back creatures and whatnot, instead of just dropping everything as soon as it I get the mana for it.