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 reflects upon four things that make him thankful for the year.

Since this is the season in which we traditionally give thanks (not that we shouldn't do it the other 11 months out of the year), I wanted to note four things (aside from health, friends, chocolate, etc.) that make me thankful:
  1. Other Retailers, both local and distant.  While 'tis true that life would certainly have remained simpler not having three other game retailers open up within 15 miles of us within the past year, I have found that having them in the area has made me focus more on our product mix, and determine what elements of our marketing strategy to emphasize and what to de-emphasize.  Result, our revenues did take a hit over the past year but have now climbed back to the point that they equal sales prior to the other stores opening in the area.  From retailers more distant, I can usually find at least one idea or product to integrate into the store's marketing mix every month, often more.  Visiting the websites and physical locations or reading the blog posts or online musings from stores like The Fantasy Shop, Gnome Games or Black Diamond Games, among others, proves a useful 15-30 minutes of every week.
  2. WOTC finally pulled the plug on Kaijudo.  Yes it was a good game.  Yes, I know at least one store did really, really REALLY well with it.  However, for every store doing well with it, I can point to 25, including us, that did not.  Not for want of trying though, either on Wizards of the Coast's or our part.  We received more promotional material for Kaijudo than we did for Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon and Cardfight!! Vanguard combined.  We ran events almost every week that the same 4-5 people attended, but product sales were infinitesimal.  Now, I hope, WOTC will take the promotional dollars it poured into Kaijudo and spend them promoting Great Dalmuti, Guillotine, Acquire or some of the other great boardgames in its catalog.  Unfortunately, even now I can hear some marketing genius at WOTC say, "You know, if we just did this with DuelMasters…"
  3. The Bits 'n Mortar program.  Bits 'n Mortar doesn't get nearly enough publicity as it ought but this consortium of small RPG publishers still has their program in place, allowing registered brick and mortar retailers to give a PDF of their products to customers when said customer purchases a hard copy of the RPG.  We have customers who purchase Cubicle 7 and Arc Dream RPG products from us on a regular basis specifically because we participate in this program.
  4. Munchkin (and Steve Jackson Games).  The base Munchkin game still sells reliably week in and week out over a decade after it first released.  Unlike some other game lines (cough… X-Wing Miniatures, DiceMasters …cough), Steve Jackson Games manages to keep the almost the entire line in stock through distribution and, although they have run special sets through Target and Barnes and Noble, I have not seen them participate in any deep discounting or "Buy One, Get One Free" silliness such as appeared on the Target website last week.
And since 'tis the season for giving, one more:
  1. The "TableTop Bump."  Though the TableTop bump was more like a hiccup in season 2, it seems to have returned for season 3, though not to the levels of season 1.  Most stores reported Tokaido hard to find and our sales of Forbidden Desert increased significantly with the release of last week's episode.  Any TableTop show featuring either Anne Wheaton or Felicia Day proves especially strong in selling the demoed game as either plays off Wil Wheaton so well.

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