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 responds to a comment on his column on rapid discounting on the Planechase Anthology.

I wanted to thank Rembert Parker for his response to last week's column.  It is always nice to know that someone reads 'em.  He is right in that the Law of Supply and the Law of Demand could and will apply here.  However because of the specific ways and speed with which the discounting took place, I think the concept of the Prisoner's Dilemma applies here.  I would like to respond to a couple of his points.

1.  Law of Demand.  The law of demand says that as demand for a product increases, the price increases.  As demand for a product drops, the price decreases.  Fairly simple.  However, in the case of the Planechase Anthology, I found retailers discounting it as soon as it hit the shelves and even before on some pre-orders.  November and December are stores busiest time.  Customers are looking for gifts at this time of the year and an expensive, nicely packaged item like the Anthology should move to customers looking for a gift for someone who plays Magic: The Gathering.  If you still have more in stock than you would like as Christmas approaches then discounting would be appropriate, even moreso when the Twelve Days of Christmas pass us and the long cold days of January beckon with those empty wallets and visions of invoices yet to come dancing in our heads.

2.  Law of Supply.  The law of supply says that as supply of a product increases the price decreases and as supply of a product decreases, conversely the price increases.  Here we have a limited supply product.  By my understanding, most stores could get at most 10 copies of the set.  Some, looking askance at the price and contents, took less, further limiting the supply.  Each copy of the set sold reduces the number of sets available in the pool, further limiting the supply.  Ergo, as the number of copies available decreases, the supply goes up.  Unless WOTC decides to do another print run, no retailer will have any more copies of the Anthology than they did on November 25th.

Over time, I agree, the law of supply and demand will kick in, maybe even as soon as a month or so but, unless a store wanted to get its money out of the product as quickly as possible, I would argue that chasing the lowest discounted price only hurts the store.

On a completely unrelated note, I happened to run across an article in The Guardian in which yet another reporter discovers the resurgence of boardgames.  What piqued my interest was the mention of the Orcs Nest game store in London.  While I have never had the opportunity to visit the store (something I hope to rectify some year), I recall the shop's advertisements in White Dwarf magazine during the late 80s, with its orc head mascot and the slogan "London's Vilest Games Shoppe."  While I doubt very much the slogan is still used (as the clientele has changed significantly from the Dungeons & Dragons players of yore, with families shopping for boardgames instead of teenagers looking for modules), I am certainly glad to see the shop still in business.

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