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 shares four observations about the Magic: The Gathering - Dominaria Pre-release.

You may have noticed that the Magic: The Gathering - Dominaria Pre-release took place this past weekend.  From other game stores and my own experience, I heard four things that I found noteworthy about the events:

  1. Allowing stores that hosted Pre-releases of Dominaria to sell booster boxes of the set during the Pre-release weekend worked.  Every store I saw posts or comments from about the program said that they either sold out of booster boxes over the weekend or had sold enough of their ordered quantity that they were comfortable with the number of booster boxes they had remaining.  I do not know if stores ordered conservatively or speculated on quantities (we ordered about double the number of boxes for which we took pre-orders and pre-payments so you can view that as either conservative or speculative, depending on your own proclivity for risk), but it appears that they are happy with the outcome.  Hopefully, the success of the program, at least from the store viewpoint, means Wizards of the Coast will repeat it with the next pre-release.
  2. Richard Garfield Back Again (stolen from Billy Joel’s "We Didn’t Start the Fire," which has been stuck in my head for the past week).  Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering and lead designer of the original basic sets and Arabian Nights, has not worked as a designer on a Magic set since Innistrad, some seven years ago.  I had a number of players comment that they could tell, from the feel of the set, that he had significant input into it and that card play and interaction reflected his familiarity with the set.
  3. Selling Out.  No, not in the indy band sense, but rather in the literal sense.  As noted above, a large number of stores reported selling out or coming close to it with the booster boxes they ordered.  In addition, an equally large number of stores reported selling out of spaces in their pre-release tournaments, with several stores having to cancel one of their scheduled tournaments due to selling out of all their spaces during earlier events.  We had to turn away two walk-ins at least and who knows how many saw our posts on Facebook, Twitter and the store website and decided not to come.  Given that many stores reported not selling out of pre-release spaces and packs in tournaments during the past couple of years, selling out of spaces ahead of time was a nice problem to have.
  4. Old Friends.  I had a number of players comment how nice it was to see the return of cards and characters that they had not seen in years.  Cards and races such as Goblins, Benalia and Thallids, vehicles such as the Weatherlight, characters such as Teferi, Karn and Squee, and cards from the early days of Magic such as Serra Angel and Juggernaut and a new version of the Mox.  New cards did not appear to particularly impress players, I heard no one commenting about the Historic keyword or the new Saga cards so we will see if they become staples in the new decks in Standard play.

 So, overall a great weekend.  Thanks WOTC.  Looking forward to selling many, many packs of Dominaria.

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