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 talks Wizards of the Coast's split Innistrad sets and Webbed Sphere's acquisition of Flying Buffalo.

It’s mildly bemusing that Wizards of the Coast has decided to venture into Yu-Gi-Oh! territory this fall, with only two months between the release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow (see "'Magic: The Gathering' Release Calendar for 2020/2021").  We haven't seen yet how large each set will run, but I'd expect them to run far smaller than the typical 300 or so cards that comprise the Fall or Spring sets.  If this release proves successful, I wouldn't be surprised to see WotC modify its release schedule.

I'd say that WotC risks swamping the market, but so far, the past year has indicated that the demand for Magic product had grown dramatically with plenty of collectors out there wanting to buy cards that they'll probably never play (Secret Lair sets come to mind).  As long as sales keep surging, Hasbro and WotC will keep pumping out product.

The purchase of Flying Buffalo Games by Webbed Sphere caught me a bit by surprise, as I didn't see Flying Buffalo as a prime acquisition target (see "Webbed Sphere, Inc. Acquires Flying Buffalo, Inc.").  After Rick Loomis passed away back in 2019, Flying Buffalo continued to exist but seemed to languish with its product lines being dropped by at least four distributors (when I searched distributor websites, Flying Buffalo didn’t even appear), and I don't remember the last time I've received an email from the company.

From what I could see, John Ward and Rick Loomis always had a good working relationship during Ward’s tenure at GAMA and that relationship might have something to do with Webbed Sphere’s decision to purchase the company (see "Rolling—Comments on ED").  The purchase of Flying Buffalo brings along with it the classic backstabbing card game Nuclear War; the second tabletop RPG Tunnels and Trolls; the Lost Worlds combat book series; and the award-winning series of Citybooks and the Grimtooth’s line of Traps books, though this may be under license to Goodman Games as the last Traps book came out under the Goodman Games banner.  The company also publishes play-by-mail games, an interesting anachronism in today’s video game culture but apparently one for which there is still demand.  Additionally, the company that produces the Queen’s Blade game has licensed the rights to the Lost Worlds system in order to produce a Queen’s Blade series of combat books using the system.  However, I'm not sure how well those would sell in today’s market.

How viable is the company going forward? That depends on how much money Webbed Sphere wants to put into it.  Flying Buffalo launched a couple of successful Kickstarter campaigns for new editions its flagship products, Nuclear War and Tunnels and Trolls, but neither developed much traction in the marketplace after their successful release.  Ward however is a pretty savvy businessman.  So I'll be interested in seeing what his company has planned for Flying Buffalo and its properties.  Since the company plans to have a presence at Gen Con, we'll probably have a better idea of its future after September.

Any thoughts as to the future of Flying Buffalo?  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