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 ponders the recent delay in Magic: The Gathering Strixhaven product and reviews The Sherlock Files by Indie Boards and Cards.

Following up on the announcement that consumers who want to get Strixhaven booster boxes at the prerelease will be able to buy Set Boosters rather than Draft Boosters (see "Rolling for Initiative -- Thoughts on Hasbro's Investor Day Announcements"), Wizards of the Coast recently announced that Strixhaven Draft Booster Boxes will unaccountably run late, with most stores only getting a fraction of their normal order (see "Wizards of the Coast Reveals a Shortage of 'Magic: The Gathering' Draft Boosters").  We normally order two or three dozen boxes of Draft Boosters for pre-release weekend, and have heard from our main distributor that our allotment has dropped to four so I guess we will be taking four for initial sale on April 23.  The other Strixhaven releases appear shipping as normal, so it makes me wonder as to what happened this time to catch WotC so flat-footed.  Although the country currently has a graphic card shortage, I didn't find anything indicating a card stock shortage, nor anything to indicate a shortage in any of the materials to make Magic cards.  WotC has done this for so long I find it hard to believe the company didn't foresee a glitch in the supply chain that affected Draft Booster production.

If I were a suspicious person, I might think that preorders of Strixhaven Set boosters came in far below expectations, despite the announcement that they were the only booster boxes available for sale at pre-release.  Holding off shipment of Draft Boosters for a week or two, thus allowing Set boosters to fill in the gap as Magic customers look for something to feed their desire to crack packs.  However, that would assume that an organization the size of WotC could keep that quiet.  As the old saying goes "Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead," so it is very unlikely this shortage is a deliberate action on WotC’s part.  More likely despite the company’s long experience, it is an unavoidable glitch in WotC’s otherwise long-running chain of success in getting product to the market.

On a completely different subject, the store recently started stocking The Sherlock Files from Indie Boards and Cards, the same company that publishes The Resistance and Coup, both of which have sold hundreds of copies for us over the years.  I thought it would be similar to Clue when I first read the description, but it has more similarity to the recent spate of "puzzle room" games that have hit the market.  There are three sets currently on the market and each set contains three single play cases.

To play, players open the deck for that game, read the set up, and then take turns playing cards on the table.  Each card contains a clue and players have to decide if the clue is relevant or irrelevant to the case. Relevant cards stay in the game, irrelevant ones get discarded.  When the deck is exhausted, the players then discuss the case and clues, with the ability to refer to the relevant clues.  However, they can only use what they remember from the cards discarded as irrelevant.  Players then complete a checklist of villain, motive, method, etc.

Once they complete the list, they refer to the case guide again and score two points for each correct answer and subtract one point for each irrelevant card deemed relevant.  It is a fun game for those who like puzzle-solving and is suitable for one to eight players.  Each case is, as noted above, only playable once, unless you are really good at forgetting, the clues, and the designer only used the Sherlock name to indicate the theme of the game, as Holmes, Watson, and Mrs. Hudson make no appearance.  Still, we have been pleasantly surprised by its sales and will keep it in stock.

Do you stock similar games that have done well for you? Email and let me know.

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