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 reports on a Tabletop Tycoon retailer relief program, and looks at recent changes to organized play for Magic: The Gathering.

After last week’s column, I received the following press release from Tabletop Tycoon, indicating the company is out of its Local Store Recovery Package.

"Tabletop Tycoon donated over $500,000 in free games and accessories to local stores to help with their recovery. The program began accepting applications on May 26. Each Local Store Recovery Package contained dozens of products from their catalog including brand new releases.  Each store paid a flat fee for shipping and processing costs. As of July 6, Tabletop Tycoon has approved 500 local stores for these packages from those who applied.

"We are heartened by the reports from stores receiving their Local Store Recovery Packages.  It’s encouraging to hear how this is bringing them much needed cash and a boost to morale during these challenging times.  We will continue our efforts through more programs and policies to support local recovery."

While all the current Local Store Recovery Packages are allocated and no more are available at this time, local stores can still apply to be included on the Tabletop Tycoon Local Store Locator and be notified of any potential future Local Store Recovery Packages. Tabletop Tycoon indicated it was considering offering another store recovery package later this fall, but was not certain as to what format the package would take.

Moving onto news from the WotC front, Wizards just announced that, due to resurgences of COVID-19, the company has suspended all in-store Organized Play until the pre-release events for Zendikar Rising at the earliest (see "WotC Temporarily Suspends In-Store Play").

This will continue to hurt stores that heavily relied on the in-store Organized Play model to drive sales of Magic singles and sealed product, but will help reduce the spread overall of COVID-19, since there will not be people sitting two feet across from each other.  Even wearing masks, players would see (or not see) some of their opponent’s breath coming through the mask and potentially infecting them.

In addition, Wizards announced several changes and additions to the WPN Premium Store program.  First off, all metrics for stores as far as determining allocations have been "frozen" at February pre-epidemic levels. In addition, metrics have been removed as a determining factor in a store achieving Premium status, at least for the foreseeable future.  Physical retail and play space standards remain as before with the following additions:

  • Stay up to date on and follow all local laws and guidelines regarding COIVD-19
  • All staff observes guidelines from health authorities (this is a permanent addition)
  • Offer highly visible information on event attendance caps, including inside Wizards EventLink
  • Allow event preregistration

Given that, as noted above, in-store OP events are suspended until the pre-release of Zendikar Rising, the last two in the list will not have any effect on a store’s status until October.  The two major additions to reaching Premium status involve maintaining a "high quality online sales experience" meaning that a store will have to have both a "best in class" brick-and-mortar environment and online retailing platform.  Hopefully, WotC will give more indication as to what sort of online sales experiences it views as high quality.  The other addition requires that stores maintain an online community through Discord, Facebook Groups, WhatsApp or some other platform.  Currently, from my reading of the requirement, stores do not have to run events online but must provide some form of store-administered online gathering space.  I imagine we will get more direction from Wizards on these last two as time progresses. 

If you have any comments on the new Premium standards, or anything else, send them to with "comments" in the subject line.

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