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 three notable trends from 2016.

Given that I am writing this on New Year’s Eve, I figure one more column looking back at some of the notable trends that caught my attention in 2016 was worthwhile.

#1 -- 3D printing of miniatures is still more of a bogeyman to the miniatures industry (see "3D Printer Minis?") than a threat at the current time.  Although eventually impacting the miniatures industry the same way desktop publishing and PDFs are affecting the RPG industry, from talking with the miniatures specialist here at the store, "printing" a standard size 25 mm figure will take from 1 hour to five hours, depending on the amount of detail the creator wants to put into the figure, meaning, of course, that you could be printing out the nigh onto shapeless blogs of lead that passed for miniatures in the late 1970s and 1980s.  Given the amount of time and effort that goes into prepping and painting a miniature now, I don’t see the average hobbyist willing to spend the extra time needed to spring out a miniature when they can have immediate gratification by going to their FLGS (or website of preference) and walking out with it there.  Once 3D printing gets to the same level of quality along with an acceptable length of time, I would expect to see more impact but that is several years off.

#2 -- 2016’s Magic: The Gathering--Planechase Anthology proved a poorer seller than I anticipated.  Though I still think the early discounting of the product did hurt its sales by creating the impression in customer’s minds that it was not worth the $150 price point, the lack of sales over the holiday season and the even deeper discounts I have seen on the set online, as much as $60 off, do indicate that the Anthology was not a hot ticket item for family members to purchase for their Magic playing brethren.

#3 -- Bits and Mortar added Chaosium Inc. to the website’s list of publishers that support retailers by offering them the opportunity to offer customers a copy of a PDF along with a copy of a hard copy of the game.  Chaosium joins other Bits and Mortar mainstays such as Evil Hat, Crucible 7, Mongoose Publishing and Plegrane Press.  I just wish the site would make some promotional resources available such as downloadable logos, shelf talkers and labels or bookmarks that stores could download and print out to use to promote the site and its offerings in the store.  However, I understand that Bits and Mortar is a volunteer undertaking and the publishers who participate have to take time away from their own operations in order to do work on the site.  We have a sign and labels in our store and I have seen another store’s laminated bookmarks, which it places in copies of Bits and Mortar-qualifying products.  The reason Chaosium’s decision to join struck me is the age of the company.  Founded in 1975, Chaosium is one of the oldest companies still operating in the industry and produced two of the most award-winning RPGs ever, RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu.  Having a company with that lineage join Bits and Mortar bodes well for the future of the program.

Next week, predictions for 2017, most of which will likely prove wrong. In the meantime, comments on 2016 are welcome, nay encouraged, and a Happy 2017 to you and yours.

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