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 shares his big-time results from the launch of Return of Ravnica, and discusses the street date issue.

Winding down this evening after a week's lead-up to the best weekend of Magic: The Gathering sales I can remember since the Halcyon days of Legends and The Dark.  We ordered and received about double the amount of Return to Ravnica that we did of Avacyn Restored and sold through three quarters of it within 48 hours (out of the BIBTB promo cards within 24 hours).  This is the first set ofwhich customers have purchased case quantities.  During past releases, we have sold several displays of boosters; this time we had three different customers purchase full case quantities, one after the pre-release discount had expired.  An interesting trend was the number of people who just casually purchased a full display of boosters, almost as an afterthought: "I need a couple of dice, a pack of card sleeves, oh and why don't you give me a box of Return to Ravnica boosters as well."  Wizards of the Coast has done a wonderful job both in development and marketing of the set, even eclipsing last spring's opening of the Helvault.

Although I heard  instances of stores breaking release date on Return to Ravnica, and even saw a receipt for an early purchase posted online, one of our customers let us know our local Walmart had put out Return to Revnica Thursday afternoon.  Unfortunately for him, and what he was complaining about, apparently someone in the store got a message about breaking the release date because when he went back to buy some, they had all gotten pulled off the shelf.  May not have happened with other stores throughout the country but, at least here, the Walmart does pay attention to street dates (at least this one time).  All of the stores I discussed the topic with online had adhered to the street date for the set, though several posted stories of competitors that did not.

Enforcing street dates on major releases, like every new release that comes out for Magic, is a major concern for most retailers in the game industry, as, if anyone breaks street date, they have the opportunity to garner sales at the expense of other retailers in thearea that do adhere to the street date.  Ergo, retailers really want publishers to set street dates and then enforce them.  Unfortunately, most retailers have the perception that, even when manufacturers set street dates, violators suffer little if any repercussions for breaking them and the thought becomes "If other stores break street dates, and nothing happens to them, why should I keep adhering to them?"

Granted, WotC says they enforce street dates and asks that retailers send themevidence of violations whenever they happen to occur, but it seems we neverhear of any stores suffering any loss of purchasing privileges as a result of action by WotC.  Who knows?  Maybe there aren't any violations and the reason we never hear about WotC taking action against stores is that no-one ever does it.  That's a bit hard to believe.  Much more likely is that WotC does find out about and take actionagainst those stores that do violate street date but chooses not to publicizeit.  If this is the course they have adopted, and I have some reason to believe that is so, I really wish they, and other companies with a street date policy would start publicizing enforcement more, if only to reassure those stores that do adhere to street dates that they have reason to do so.

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