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 changes Wizards of the Coast is making with its upcoming Magic: The Gathering - Dominaria release.

It didn’t get a lot of attention when Wizards of the Coast announced it in February (at least not among my staff or customers or in the various and assorted Facebook groups and forums I read), but it will be replacing the generally disliked promotional foil tokens it has provided as promotional prizes for Friday Night Magic with real, actual foil playable cards.  This is a good step, as although WOTC may have heard positive things about the foil token cards and players may have embraced them at various events, at our store the player base has been either neutral or negative towards them (of course, in fairness, since our staff was not too enthused with the switch from playable cards to tokens, our perceptions of customer feelings about them may be tainted with confirmation bias).

In addition, WOTC just published this list of the six things the company things you ought to know about the upcoming Dominaria release.  In addition to the return of the actual promo cards for Friday Night Magic (with different frames instead of alternate art, allowing for a shorter lead time when printing the promos), here are the other five in no particular order:

  1. The return of old friends.  Karn last appeared as a Planeswalker back in the New Phyrexia set, while we haven’t seen Squee the Goblin in a normal block set since Mercadian Masques.  A Teferi card has not appeared regular rotation since, by my calculations, 9th edition.  And, of course, we have the return of the Hurloon Minotaurs.  Speaking of which…
  2. The Buy It by the Box card.  Standard and Commander-legal Firesong and Sunspeaker promo card available only (if stores follow the policy) when a customer purchases a full booster box (see "Rolling for Initiative – WotC and the Early Booster Box").  In addition, stores may sell a number of booster boxes of Dominaria during pre-release weekend equal to the number of Firesong and Sunspeaker cards they received.
  3. Two Pre-release Promo cards.  Players receive the "normal" foil stamped and dated promo card in each pre-release kit but there is a second promo card in each box as well.  This second promo is also foil stamped and dated but is a random Legendary card from the set.  Speaking of Legendary cards:
  4. More Legendary Cards.  Since Dominaria is the "Plane of Legends," each and every booster pack will contain a Legendary card, making this set especially good for Commander play and the new Brawl league.
  5. Historic mechanic.  The Historic modifier plays off the historical theme of Dominaria.  Historic keywords reference Artifact, Legendary, and Saga cards, giving additional benefits when a Historic card is played after a card with the Historic keyword.  For example, if a player has Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain in play, whenever the player casts a Historic spell, they may draw a card.

So far our store has had much more interest in the Dominaria set than in other recent sets, at least judging by the pre-payments we have seen on booster boxes.  I am betting a lot of that interest comes from the opportunity to pick up booster boxes a week ahead of time as pre-registration for the pre-release are not commensurately large.  Pre-release and release weekends should prove interesting.

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