Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois.  This week, Thorne compares pre-release events from Konami and Wizards of the Coast.

While overseeing yesterday’s Sneak Peek for the release of the new Yu-Gi-Oh! set, Storm of Ragnarok, I started comparing the rules and regulations, support, and software surrounding this pre-release and the one for Magic: The Gathering's Mirroden Besieged the previous weekend.  In making the comparison, I have to say that Konami came up on the short end all the way around (sorry Konami).

First was the promotional material, or lack of it in the case of Konami.  Unlike Wizards of the Coast, which had pre-release kits with posters and bag stuffers in store almost two weeks before the event, we received nothing from Konami until the day before the event, and even then, there were no posters, bag stuffers or anything to promote the event in advance.  All promotion for the Sneak Peek had to develop in store.

Then, there were the rules and regulations.  WotC gave very limited instructions regarding the Mirroden Besieged pre-release.  Run it during this weekend, use this format, do not sell any product, give out the foil cards to each player and put a minimum of two boosters per player (from boxes supplied by WotC) into the prize pool, add more if the store wishes.  That is about it.  Charge whatever you want; start the events when you want; run side events if you want and run as many as you want (and have product to support).

Meanwhile, Konami had pretty specific restrictions regarding the Sneak Peek.  Like WotC you had to run it on a specific weekend.  However, Konami sets specific restrictions on scheduling, pricing, play format and prizes, greatly limiting the flexibility of stores in running the event.  To be fair, Konami wants the event run as a casual play event rather than a competitive tournament and the restrictions generally work to focus on this, but still, they are significantly more regimented than that of WotC for a similar event.

Additionally, unlike WotC, Konami has always required photos submitted of participants in the event.  This time, however, stores received an event reporting form collecting demographic data about the players Apparently the company wanted to gather more demographic data and since their KOSSY software was not used (since this was not a tournament), stores had to enter the data into the supplied Excel spreadsheet and send it along with the required 3 photos to the company.  Gathering that information from players as they checked in garnered more than a few odd looks and certainly slowed the process down.

Both events went off satisfactorily, with the Sneak Peek filling up completely for the first time in over a year and we even had to turn people away, unlike the Mirroden Besieged pre-release.  Of course, WotC provides enough product to handle 36 players in their pre-releases, while Konami’s kits only supply materials for 16, though you may order additional kits in increments of 16.  Since we haven’t filled a Sneak Peek, as mentioned earlier, in over a year, it did not make sense economically for us to buy the extra kit.  We will be looking at doing so for the next set though.

We are happy with both events and will keep running both as long as we are approved for them.  Having them fall a week apart, though, pointed out the glaring differences between the approaches the two companies have chosen.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely  those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of