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 shares some more publisher promotions that work in his store.

Since I received some positive comments about last week’s column on publisher promotions, I figured why not go back to that well again and look at a few others that struck me favorably.

Bookmarks.  I'm a big fan of Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin bookmarks.  Players use the bookmark’s effect and the player either has to give it away or destroy it, making it a one-use item that doesn't drastically affect gameplay.  If you contact SJG, and they will likely send you an envelope full of them.  I think we have a box full of them and hand them out with a Munchkin purchase.  The problem is, few customers know about them, and are usually surprised and appreciative when we give them one.  Expanding awareness of the promotion would certainly help.

We currently have a sign up in our Munchkin area offering a free bookmark with every $10 spent on a Munchkin product (We have a LOT of Munchkin bookmarks), but something more professionally done from Steve Jackson Games, either mailed to us or downloadable, would certainly help.  This works well for Munchkin because SJG has produced a LOT of Munchkin products and Munchkin players, of which there are admittedly fewer than there were five years ago, usually try to buy all of the new sets.  Make the bookmarks a promo available at your FLGS, and announce that on the SJG website and move those customers to the store.

Posters.  I 'm a big fan of useful posters (see "Rolling for Initiative--How Much is that Poster in the Window?").  By "useful," I mean a poster that communicates information about the product or service offered.  Case in point, promotional posters that show the cover of the game or book only are comparatively useless.  They can take up a lot of valuable wall or window space.  A poster, at a minimum, should have a call to action such as "Buy It Here," or the release date of an upcoming item.  The two best posters I ever saw came from Brotherwise Games for Boss Monster and Fireside Games for Castle Panic.  Each provided a brief tutorial on how to play the respective game so that customers looking at them could quickly decide if the game play was something they would enjoy.  The only way I see to improve them would to scale them down to 8-1/2" by 11" so that they could hang or otherwise get displayed next to their respective games.  The shelves do not have space for posters nearby so the very useful posters have to hang in other parts of the store.  Again, a pre-printed one mailed out or a downloadable flyer would prove highly useful.

Welcome Decks.  This was the best promotional item Wizards of the Coast ever came up with for Magic: The Gathering, and the Welcome Packs now available are a faint replacement.  Several trading card games have produced demo/intro decks of one form or another.  I have seen, at various times, free demo decks for Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, Force of Will, Flesh and Blood and Cardfight!! Vanguard, and the ones that came with rules (I’m looking at you Konami) were a wonderful way to introduce potential new players to the game.  Hand interested customers a pre-made deck, find them a friend to play with, and let them go.  The decks didn’t have to be great, just something to introduce players to the game.  Unfortunately, I have not seen any demo decks produced by companies in the last few years, and, as I noted earlier, WotC discontinued its Welcome Decks in favor of the much weaker Welcome Packs.  Here’s hoping we see a resurgence of Welcome Decks and a way to reorder them soon.

What promotions have you see that you like. Let me know at

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