Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at the games impacting his holiday season.

The Christmas season is well and truly upon us as board game sales have skyrocketed this week.  Usually they account for eight to ten percent of sales (we've never been a strong boardgame store, though that has slowly changed over the past several years) but when the Christmas season hits, board game sales start ramping up, and so do out of stocks.  We've already been told that one major SKU is OSM and won't be reprinted until after the first of the year.  Luckily, based upon last year's experience, we stocked up on some of the games that sell perennially well at this time of year (Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Small World, Game of Thrones, Dominion and Ticket to Ride) so should hopefully wind up back at normal stock levels by the first of the year.

I was certainly happy to see Mayday Games' get Toc Toc Woodsman out in time for Christmas. With a little promotion, and especially if the demo copy we ordered comes in soon, I'm expecting this to do quite well by positioning it as a Jenga variant.  Rather surprised we didn't receive the demo copy before the actual game arrived as advance demos are the best way I know to create interest in an upcoming game.  I'm equally looking forward to WizKids' release of the new Lord of the Rings and Hulk sets this month, though I expect soft in-store sales of bricks of Hulk since the Buy It By the Brick figure program still remains essentially a one in 10 chase figure rather than a actual promotion to drive customers into stores.  Paizo/Wizkids' delay of their Pathfinder collectable miniatures set until January may free up some money for purchase of other items in December but I have already had several customers tell me they will be buying fewer boosters of the set, since they won't be available for gifting during the holiday.

Also glad that Wizards of the Coast got its Dungeons & Dragons Red Box back in stock for the holiday.  While from the rumor mill, I am getting the feeling that a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons looms in the near future (next couple of years), both the Red Starter Box and Paizo's Pathfinder Beginner Box should sell well to parents who have had their children show interest in Dungeons & Dragons and want to give them something that introduces them to the game.  I feared WOTC would remain out of stock on the Red Box through the holidays (and, in truth, it's an item that should never gone out of print at WOTC and shame on whomever handled the company's logistics and allowed it to do so in November), but it's back now.  We're stocked up on both it and the Beginner's Box.  Now if Green Ronin would just get the starter set for Dragon Age back into print, we'd have a trifecta of entry level RPG sets to point parents and family members at for the holiday.

This is also the time of year when we see a nice jump in sales for Looney Labs product for sales as last minute gifts (one year we had a customer drive an hour on Christmas Eve to pick up a Fluxx game for a last minute gift). They participated in last year's PGSA Deck Our Halls event and, while the PGSA failed to repeat the contest this year, we will still decorate the Looney Labs' area and make up some gift bundles.

Based on sales so far, this is looking like our best holiday season ever.  Hope yours is too.

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