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, Scott Thorne talks about new games and trends that caught his eye at the Alliance Open House.

In case you missed last week’s column or want to refresh your memory, you can read last week’s column here.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

More things that caught my eye at the Alliance Open House:

Resurgence of RPGs.  Although Dungeons & Dragons is still the 800-pound gorilla in the room, more RPG companies had booths set up than in past years.  I saw RPG displays in the exhibit hall from not only Wizards of the Coast and Paizo, but also Renegade Game Studios, Green Ronin, Palladium Games and Evil Hat Productions.  In addition, in the demo hall, not only did Goodman Games have a table but I also saw tables with Renegade Game Studios and Palladium Books showing off products AND Goodman Games had a small table set up outside the exhibit hall running demo games of Dungeon Crawl Classics for all comers.

WOTC and Avalon Hill.  WOTC promised a resurgence of its Avalon Hill game imprint.  Of course, the company has promised this for the past several years but aside from producing expansions and variants for Betrayal at House on the Hill and Axis & Allies, we haven’t seen much.  This year, the company kept true to form, showing off Betrayal Legacy and Axis & Allies & Zombies.  However, it also put a major promotional push behind its new Dungeon Mayhem card game, which sells for 15 dollars and plays in a similar number of minutes.  WOTC feels so strongly about this game that the company even included an opt-in for it in DCI Reporter, making sure that every store that runs Magic events knows about the launch.  I did ask about reprinting and pushing other games in the company’s catalog, especially given that a used copy of Three Dragon Ante can go for over $100 on eBay.  With the game commanding prices like that, seems a shame not to have it back in print.

Tags.  Fast moving categories game for 1-12 players (on teams for larger numbers).  Five categories of items such as "restaurants and stores" or "souvenirs" and five letters.  Players have 15 seconds per round to name something in the category that starts with one of the letters, trying to clear as many spaces on the board as possible.  It sounded easy when I sat down to play but my mind blanked, rather like I expect it would if I ever wound up on a TV game show.  Fun game and it plays fast. [From Hiedelbar, a new Asmodee studio]

Railroad Ink.  Roll the dice and create a network of rails and roads using the icons that you roll. Score points for connecting entry points and having long interconnected routes, as well as going through certain parts of the grid.  As with early train games such as Empire Builder, players use a wipe-off marker to draw routes on a wipe-off tile, which can get quite messy after so many turns.

Fluxx.  Star Trek Fluxx, Star Trek Next Generation Fluxx, Mary Engelbreit Fairy Tale Fluxx plus a non-Fluxx game, Mary Engelbreit Loonacy, all from Looney Labs.  By my count, there are about 20 different varieties of Fluxx in print now and all of them still sell steadily with the newer Doctor Who and Firefly versions selling well to fans of those series, so I expect to see the Star Trek versions do so as well.

There were a lot more games shown as well, with Keyforge getting a heavy push so expect to see a lot of them hitting the market between now and December.

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