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 discusses the importance of Wizards of the Coast maintaining an introductory product for Magic: The Gathering.

I received a few comments on last week’s column, agreeing that this is the worst state they have seen the supply chain in during the game industry’s history, but that the industry will recover probably in 2022 (see "Extinction Level Event?").  Also, the JIT supply chain adopted by both game stores and the U.S. manufacturing economy as a whole may need to adapt.

Among all the announcements regarding new releases (see "‘Magic: The Gathering’ Release Calendar For 2022/2023"), new Secret Lair sets, new benefits for WPN Premium stores (and I do not begrudge Premium stores their additional benefits; they put in the extra work to make their store Premium, and should reap the promised benefits from WotC, as well as the benefits that come from having a well-kept store), and the relaunch of the Store Championship program.

But I was really hoping for an announcement of the return of the Welcome Deck.  Sadly, it was not to be.  The problem with all of the announced new releases and programs announced by WotC, with the possible exception of Universes Beyond (see "Upcoming 'Magic' 'Universes Beyond"), is that they focus on current players.  Universes Beyond products could bring in some fans of WotC's other properties towards buying a Magic set, as Adventures in the Forgotten Realms did with a few D&D players, but a new Kamigawa, more Secret Lairs, more Masters, and Commander-focused sets target current players rather than new ones.

Although Magic is more popular than ever and certainly has room to grow (see "Sales Surge in Q2"), coupled with the fact that it is far easier to sell products to a current customer rather than recruit a new customer, it makes financial sense for WotC to release more products targeted at its existing base.  Especially with the growth rate Magic has seen the past few years; it appears to have a player base hungry for product.

The problem, as I and a lot of other stores see it, is a lack of introductory product for new players.  Currently, the only intro product out there is the Arena Starter Set, and even that, according to some stores, still proves hard to get.  I've heard of stores using Jumpstart packs as intro-level items for new players, but there is nothing currently for Magic of the caliber or value of a D&D Starter Set, D&D Essentials Set or the Adventure Begins set.  There are the Welcome Boosters, which replaced the Welcome Decks a while back.  And, while the packs are certainly a nice item to give to new players, these packs aren't a great introductory tool as the player receiving them has to first have an interest in the game in order to appreciate what Welcome Boosters are.

I've heard of stores so hard up for introductory product that they are taking bulk cards and building demo decks to give away to customers showing an interest in Magic.  The question then is, how good of a use of the store’s time is doing so?  On one hand, the store is taking the initiative in creating promotional items that could draw in new customers.  On the other hand, building demo decks to draw new customers in is a pretty labor-intensive activity.

I would really like to see WotC, and for that matter Konami, The Pokemon Company and any other TCG company out there, either bring back or develop a demo deck program that is either sent to stores on a quarterly basis, gratis or orderable, and is available directly from the TCG company or through distribution.  We've gotten several players into Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! through their free decks.  Welcome Boosters, not so much.

Would you like to see the return of company provided demo decks, or is there a different route you think companies should pursue?  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