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 looks at the flurry of industry-changing announcements from Wizards of the Coast.

Wizards of the Coast was a busy little gaming company last week with several announcements rolling out.  Let’s take a look at a few of them, shall we?

Stranger Things D&D Set.  The announcement of this set makes a lot of sense.  From what I have heard, the importance of Dungeons & Dragons to the storyline in the first season of the series drove a lot of sales of the D&D product line over the past couple of years (well, that and the popularity of the Critical Role web series, focusing on a group of voice actors playing D&D).  This set replicates the D&D game played in the first season of the show and hits shelves early May, about two months before Season 3 of Stranger Things drops.  It is good to see Hasbro/WOTC taking advantage of the popularity of the show to get more people who love the show to take a look at the RPG.  I know I have customers who plan to purchase a copy for their kids.  Said customer loves D&D, the kids love Stranger Things but show indifference towards the RPG so customer hopes getting to play the adventure from the first season sparks an interest in further roleplaying.  I would have liked to see figures for the player characters as well as the Demogorgon but maybe that would have pushed the cost up too much.

When is a Pre-release not a Pre-Release?  Obviously when you run a store in Europe during the pre-release weekend for War of the Spark.  WotC has decided, for Europe only, to make War of the Spark and its ancillary products available for sale on pre-release weekend.  That means players will not only get to purchase full booster boxes but also individual booster packs, Bundles, Planeswalker decks and single cards a week before those of us in the Western Hemisphere do.  From the wording of the press release though, it sounds as if stores in the UK and Ireland, due to Magic Fest London, will get to continue to sell War of the Spark after pre-release while stores in other countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Russia will have to pull their WOTS product off sale after the pre-release weekend.  Hopefully, WOTC will get out another press release clarifying this point.

And finally:

WOTC Ends MSRP.  WOTC announced it will follow the lead of many publishers in other parts of the world and end setting a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on its Magic: The Gathering products, starting with War of the Spark.  Up until then, WOTC has always set an MSRP on its products, $3.99 on booster packs for example.  WOTC then sells its Magic and D&D products to distributors and retailers at a discount from its announced MSRP.  If WOTC needed to make more profit, the company could maintain advertised MSRP while reducing the discount given, thus reducing the amount of profit made by distributors and retailers.  Distributors could compete on how large of a discount they offered retailers and retailers would compete on how much of a discount off MSRP they offer to customers. Discounters compete on how much of a discount they offer from MSRP.  By eliminating MSRP, discounting gets eliminated, replaced by straight price competition.  With no set price, retailers will choose how much profit they want to make on Magic products and set their prices accordingly.  Given the general inertia in pricing, expect to see boosters remain at $3.99 and Planeswalker decks at $14.99 for the next six to nine months as the industry determines what the market will bear.  Expect the customary, or average, price to rise slightly as retail prices adjust to reflect the underlying cost of the product.

There were some major changes in the Magic Organized Play program announced as well.  A look at them next week.

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