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 takes a look at Magic: The Gathering Double Feature set sales and the Maus controversy in Tennessee.

Innistrad: Double Feature and Commander Collection Black both released this past Friday to an overwhelming "meh" here at the store (see "'Magic: The Gathering' 'Innistrad: Double Feature'").  From what I've read online, most stores have had similar thoughts, posting they have only sold a handful of packs or less.  However, a couple did reports great sales, primarily to casual players.  As of writing this article, we have sold more packs of Commander Collection Black than we have of Innistrad: Double Feature, which is saying something given the price difference.

I've also heard of some problems with pack configuration: a few stores reporting packs of all commons or some with no rares. It's not enough to make it a widespread problem, but still more reports than I have heard in the past on Wizards of the Coast products.  As all of the cards, save some lands, appeared in both Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, and both of those sets are still widely and more cheaply available, WotC has targeted the collector more than the player with this set.  They might sell, but it may take a while and stores will need patience.

Long time store owners and players will remember the catastrophe of Fallen Empires, back when stores ordered in huge quantities expecting to get allocated down to more reasonable numbers. WotC told stores that on this set, they would finally get the amount they ordered.  Of course, WotC had told stores the same thing for the previous earlier sets, but this time they actually produced enough and stores got swamped in a sea of product.  Today, for those still have packs, a Fallen Empires booster sells for $25 and a booster box for around $700.  Champions of Kamigawa booster boxes, which also sold extremely slowly at the store and which WotC gave away with orders for a while, now list for $1,400 sealed.

The thing with Double Feature is that it will not get reprinted.  It is a one and done set, printed in limited quantities.  However, we may see some of the cards make The List eventually.  This means that in one to five years, unless some of the online Magic experts get excited about the set, stores will see a demand for the cards.  Several places have said they will buy any unwanted boxes of Double Feature, so stores feeling they bought too many do have an outlet.

Not game related but as we do sell comics and graphic novels, the recent uptick in interest in the Maus graphic novel bemused me (see "Tennessee School Board Pulls 'Maus'").  For those who missed the story, a Tennessee school board voted unanimously to pull the book from the eighth grade language arts curriculum.  The book was pulled over the protests of teachers who used the book in their discussion of WWII and the Holocaust due to language and a tiny picture of the author’s mother, who committed suicide in a bathtub.  This news shot Maus back to the top of Amazon’s best seller list and from what we've seen in the store and have heard from other stores, more customers have asked about and bought the book in the past week than have in years.  Wil Wheaton is even asking his social media followers to buy a copy and ask the shop to lend or give it away to anyone who asks.  Stores nationally have reported more sales in the past week than in the past couple of years.

Nothing sells like controversy.  Your thoughts?  Post them 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