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 thanks publishers for the support programs they offered for game stores during the COVID-19 crisis.

Happy post-Independence Day!

I thought this would be a good time to reflect and say “thank you” to the manufacturers and publishers that went out of their way to help out game stores during the quarantine and retail shutdown.  I looked at the programs a number of them had put in place  at the time (see "Rolling for Initiative -- How Publishers Are Helping the LGS in the Time of Quarantine") and, upon checking the publisher support programs listed by GAMA this past weekend, I noticed a lot of the programs, especially those that offered some form of profit sharing with stores when a customer made a purchase from the publisher’s website and mentioned the store or provided a code when submitting the sale. Although we didn't have any customers take advantage of that program, I did read messages from various publishers indicating they had cut checks to various stores, sometimes for several hundred dollars. So, to any game or comic  publisher that set up a profit-sharing program, thank you!

There were also several publishers that offered free product to stores to sell, give away, use as promotions, etc.  The first one to actually hit stores was the special edition Catachan Colonel sent out by Games Workshop to their Independent Stockist stores to either sell directly or use as a promotional item to drive sales. While the figure sold for $200 to $500 when it first arrived in stores, it now sells for around $80 to $100 but did drive a lot of interest from GW customers when it arrived. Thank you!

Czech Games Edition offered a retail support kit with 6 copies of their games, an XXL Codenames and promotional items free of charge.  CGE even covered the shipping, all stores had to do was fill out the order form. Thank you!

Tabletop Tycoon offered (and may still) a Local Store Recovery Package. For covering a $95 shipping charge, stores received roughly $1000 retail in games and gaming supplies, including The Princess Bride-themed games and  a copy of Everdell with its supplements, including two that had not made it into distribution yet. Thank you!

Similarly to TableTop Tycoon, Japanime Games offered a retailer recovery bundle wherein again for covering $100 in freight, stores received around $1000 worth of product at MSRP. Included in our shipment, among other items, were Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade (see "Hunt Criminals Across the Galaxy in 'Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade'"), Robotech, and four of the Tanto Cuore games. Thank you!

Not listed on the GAMA list, but something that Ultra PRO is doing that I found pretty cool, is offering a box of free masks , while quantities last. Go to the Ultra PRO web site, and use the promotional code you can get if you are a member of the Ultra Pro Retailers Group on Facebook. Ultra Pro will ship you a 50 count box of masks for free (and stores can buy additional boxes for $25). Thank you!

Also, not listed on the GAMA list, was Konami which sent all of its Official Tournament Stores with free boxes of Eternity Code (see "'Eternity Code' Brings Plunder Patroll To 'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG'") and, since resumption of in-store OP has been indefinitely postponed, allowed stores to use Tournament Packs as promotional incentives for purchase of Yu-Gi-Oh product. Thank You!

Finally, there is WotC, who just did an amazing job helping stores going from offering special promotional cards to drive box sales (see "WotC Provides Special Cards, Prints for Game Store Customers") to giving stores free boxes of Mystery Boosters (see "WotC Announces Game Store Relief") to moving release dates and allowing sales of pre-release kits by stores (see "Wizards of the Coast Adds Coronavirus Accommodations for 'Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths' Prereleases") to freezing WPN metrics for stores at February levels. Far above and beyond what any store could expect. Thank you!

Did I miss someone? Probably. Email if you know of a publisher or manufacturer that should be thanked.

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