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 reviews the roll-out of the Magic: The Gathering: Strixhaven product line, and pays tribute to Robin Wood and Lou Rexing.

Well, Strixhaven: School of Mages (see "Wizards of the Coast Releases Initial Product Details on 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Strixhaven: School of Mages' ") hit the shelves this past week, at least what we were able to get of it.  This set went over pretty well with customers.  Sales of Collector and Set Boosters were a bit higher than expected; although not so high that our preordered product did not cover demand. The thing that disappointed most customers was the lack of Draft Booster boxes (see "Rolling for Initiative -- 'Strixhaven', Oh 'Strixhaven'! Where Art Thou?").  We've had several customers come in looking for Draft Boosters, and when we told them that we had no booster boxes but did have boxes of Set Boosters, they bought a pack of sleeves and went on their way.

The shipping situation with Strixhaven has been downright befuddling.  Initially, we put in orders with no problem, then we learn that Draft Boosters will get heavily allocated.  Then, we learned this week that Draft Boosters have been reallocated and we are getting even fewer and that distributors won't receive their shipments of Draft Boosters until the date of the release.  This meant that they will not get to stores until Monday at the earliest, unless you are close enough to your supplier to drive over and pick them up.

After all that, we learned that our allotment of Draft Boosters would actually arrive the day before the release date, meaning that most stores will now get their allotment of Draft Boosters on the release date.  However, the Draft Boosters would arrive in too few of an amount to supply the demand with no real idea as to when they will come back in stock. Oh, and for some reason, Strixhaven Promo Packs are delayed as well (see "Wizards of the Coast Reveals a Shortage of 'Magic: The Gathering' Draft Boosters"), and I recently received an email indicating that we should receive them by the end of the month.

However, unless a store is running some form of online MTG Arena play, the promo packs are not usable for their original purpose of being prizes awarded for in-store play.  OP is still not sanctioned in most parts of the world, and these promo packs could've been handy to use as an incentive for box purchases if we had received them in time.  I don't remember a product launch from WotC that has had this much difficulty since the allocations of the mid-90s.

I was sorry to hear of the passing of Robin Wood (see "R.I.P. Robin Wood").  As noted in the ICv2 article, she painted a number of Dragon Magazine covers as well as covers for assorted TSR AD&D modules.  I had the pleasure of meeting her a few times on the convention circuit.  At that time, she had written The Theory of Cat Gravity and designed the Robin Wood Tarot Deck.  The Theory of Cat Gravity has sold steadily for 20 years, and I've lost track of the number of times we have had to restock her Tarot deck.  She was a wonderful artist and person.

Finally, I wanted to take note of the passing of Louis "Lou" Rexing who recently passed away from cancer.  If you were involved in the games industry in any aspect in the 90s, you knew Lou Rexing.  He was the Director of Marketing for Mayfair Games when the company was best known for Empire Builder and Settlers of Catan.  Anyone who attended any of the GAMA Trade Shows or Chessex Open Houses of the era will likely have one or more Lou stories.

My Lou story involves one of the Chessex Open Houses of the early 90s.  Mayfair Games was providing the beer at the event, and Lou was pretty proud of it.  He was representing Mayfair at the 6’ table in the warehouse (this was long before the massive displays publishers bring to trade shows now.  Most of them got a table, pulled product off the distributors shelves and stood there talking about it).  We were talking about his product lines, and eventually, he offered to dance on the table if I would write an order.  Well, how could I turn down an offer like that?  He did, and then I wrote the order.  He left Mayfair and the industry for the most part in the late 90s, and I had lost track of him, but I saw, from various social media posts, other people in the industry maintained contact.

If you have any Lou stories you would like to pass along, email them to

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