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 provides three suggestions for Fantasy Flight Games' Force Friday next year.

In case you missed it, Force Friday took place this weekend and, as expected, Fantasy Flight Games secret release was a 2-player version of the Star Wars Destiny collectable dice game.  Some FLGS experienced great sales of the set, pre-selling or selling out of their entire order, while others reported crickets, selling only one or two copies or even in a few cases, zero.  Was it a worthwhile event for most stores participating?  Yes.  Could it be made better?  Sure.  Here are my three suggestions for improving next year’s event, that is, assuming Fantasy Flight Games decides to participate again.

1.  More and earlier promotional material.  Participating stores were asked by Fantasy Flight Games to observe a social media embargo on the event the week prior to September 1st.  Stores received precisely written Tweets and Facebook posts with space for the store name that could be run between August 25 and August 31st.  More in-store promotional material, either physical or digital, that stores could use.  Teaser promotional items, say a poster with a big question mark on it that we could display mid-August to start building anticipation for the event would have helped.  Apparently there was a standee that stores could get but you had to know about it in order to request it.  Since mention of the standee never appeared in the promotional emails or phone conversations prior to Force Friday, it was hard to know to ask about it.  FFG may have required a minimum purchase in order to receive it but without knowing about it but stores had no idea to do so.  Also a page on Fantasy Flight Games' Force Friday microsite listing the stores participating would really help.  FFG got the names in plenty of time to set one up so I was rather surprised not to see it happen.

2.  Miscommunication about delivery.  A number of stores, ours included, were told that we would receive the item on Thursday in order to process it and have it ready for sale on Force Friday.  I even asked specifically if we would receive our shipment Thursday so that we could have it ready to go when customers came in looking for it on Friday and was told "Yes."  That didn’t happen.  Every FLGS from which I have heard said they received their order on Friday and since UPS has no guaranteed delivery time, all stores could do was hope the shipment would arrive early enough that we could process it and get it out before customers went elsewhere to say, Target.  If communication had been clearer, we could have told customers that the sets would be available by a certain time, instead of on the shelf at opening.  Also a lot of stores understood this to be a game store exclusive item and ordered accordingly.  Making it explicitly clear that the game would also be available at Target would have helped in setting order levels.

3.  Target.  Speaking of Target, the chain had the set in stock at least 24 hours before FLGS did and did a midnight release of it, along with their other Force Friday items.  Given that FFG and Alliance were able to co-ordinate logistics to get our orders to us on Friday, why not co-ordinate logistics so as to get our shipments to us on Thursday so that stores that wanted to could have a midnight release as well.  Target had access to dozen of Force Friday items, the FLGS only one but the FLGS is the location that people will go to learn how to play Star Wars Destiny.  Try to find someone in Target to take the time to teach new players. If the sets can get to Target a day early, they can get to the FLGS a day early as well.

I was happy to participate in the promotion but implementing these suggestions for next year would make me (and some other stores) even happier.

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