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 begins to explore the many changes Wizards of the Coast is making to Magic: The Gathering and organized play.

The most notable change coming with M20 is/was the earlier release time for starting Prereleases that took place this past weekend.  In case you missed it, Wizards of the Coast allowed stores to start running Prerelease events (and selling booster boxes) for Magic: The Gathering: Core 2020 as early as 3 p.m. Friday, July 5.  Additionally, as a perk for doing the work to meet the new Premium level, those stores, in addition to their Prerelease materials, received boxes of Core 2020 boosters with which to run drafts over the course of the weekend.

In the past, stores using Prerelease product to run drafts has been forbidden so this is a major change in WOTC policy, likely to see how well it works alongside the traditional sealed deck Prerelease format, before deciding whether or not to expand drafting during Prerelease to all stores.  Similarly, the 3 p.m. start time for Core 2020 Prereleases is an experiment to see how well it works.  WOTC has not yet announced whether the "Archery" set will stay a midnight Prerelease or also move up to the 3 p.m. time.  The company will see how well the 3 p.m. time works for Core 2020, as well as allowing drafts over the weekend, before making either or both a permanent feature of future Prerelease weekends.  The midnight Prerelease seems to generate more excitement but I must admit, my staff and I prefer getting to bed before 5 a.m.

Some other things WOTC has announced and will introduce over the next month:

Buy-It-by-the-Box Promos.  Since there are now only two store levels, stores no longer receive a set quantity based on their level. Instead the number of promo cards sent is tied to the number of Tickets and Engaged Players reported.  WOTC hopes this will more accurately distribute the number of promos with more active stores receiving more and less active stores fewer.

New Welcome Decks.  Just in time for the Magic Open House (what a coincidence), stores receive 40 Core 2020 Welcome Decks to use to teach new players.

London Mulligan.  This became legal July 5 and is the newest way to take a mulligan in Magic. Henceforth, when a player takes a mulligan, they discard the offending hand, draw a replacement hand of 7 cards and place one card on the bottom of the deck for each mulligan they have taken.  So, with the first mulligan, they would draw 7 and place 1 on the bottom of the deck.  If they took a second mulligan, they would again discard the hand, draw 7 and place 2 cards on the bottom of the deck and so forth.

Best of One tournaments.  Again, getting tested out at Premium stores between August 1 and Sept 15, this format will speed up play with rounds of only one duel instead of best two out of three, thus allowing tournaments to complete in half the current time.

More Foil Cards.  War of the Spark has a ratio of approximately 1:67.  For Core 2020, the ratio drops to approximately 1:45.  This doesn’t mean much for players but will make it much easier for the collectors to complete their sets.

And that’s only about half the changes.  I haven’t even gotten to the Universal Promo Packs, replacing the Friday Night Magic and most of WOTC’s other promo cards.  More on them next time.

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