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 looks at the possible effects of 18 Secret Lairs hitting preorder during the holiday season, evaluates the Crimson Vow release, and talks about the upcoming Marvel RPG.

Wizards of the Coast just announced not one, not two, not three, but 18 Secret Lair sets on preorder during the month of December (see "Doubles the Number of 'Magic' 'Secretversary' Sets").  On the one hand, I can see going for a big money push during December as the closer it gets to the holiday; customers' purse strings tend to loosen around the holidays.  On the other hand, these sets sell for $30 to $40 for five cards, which is not an insignificant amount.  Also, these sets are likely to get lost among all of the other items competing for the customers’ attention and dollars.

At this time of year, the customer base for Magic-related products expands significantly to include non-Magic-playing friends and family members looking for gifts, and they look to the FLGS for advice on what to buy for them.  Though the Secret Lair drops would make nice gifts, there are so many other Magic-related items available in store that few retailers will direct the gift buying public towards the Secret Lair cards.

The second part of the fall Magic Innistrad release, Crimson Vow, arrived this past Friday.  I get the feeling that Magic players were not ready for the two-smaller-sets-released-within-a-couple-of-months-of-each-other format.  A goodly number of stores reported having problems getting prerelease events to fire.  We pre-registered twice as many people for the Midnight Hunt prerelease as we did for Crimson Vow, and our popular Sunday Two-Headed Giant tournament, which typically attracts 6 to 10 teams, only had two show up this time. Booster boxes, Bundles, and Commander Decks have sold steadily, but we still had about 30 Prerelease kits left by the release date, whereas we only had half a dozen or so of Midnight Hunt on release date.

This does not bode well for Double Feature, but that will have extremely limited availability, theoretically only through WPN stores.  This has been an interesting experiment, and we shall see how it wraps up with Double Feature (see "'Magic: The Gathering' 'Innistrad: Double Feature'").  So far, sales appear steady on the core product but not as much interest in the prerelease.

In the "Give It Another Go" category, I overlooked this announcement last summer, and only caught notice of a new Marvel RPG when author Matt Forbeck mentioned it this week in his Twitter feed.  By my count, this will make the fifth go at a Marvel-based RPG system. TSR released the first, and arguably still best, system way back in 1984, then followed up with a SAGA version in 1998. Marvel released a version titled the Marvel Universe RPG in 2003 (see "Marvel To Publish Roleplaying Game"), then the license was dormant for a decade until Margaret Weis Productions released a Marvel RPG in 2012 based on its Cortex system (see "'Marvel Heroic Roleplaying'").

The Marvel Multiverse Roleplaying Game is, from what I understand, a 3d six system called the "616 System" in which the best roll a player can make is 13 with a 6, a 1 and a 6 on the dice.  Characters will have six statistics (Might, Agility, Resilience, Vigilance, Ego, and Logic), but not much information beyond that has been released.  Players will have a chance to check out the rules and give feedback when the Playtest Rulebook releases next year, followed by the full rulebook in 2023.

What do you think?  Will this one succeed?  Is there another Marvel RPG system I missed?  Post in the comments or email

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