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 Magic: The Gathering releases remaining for the year.

Every time I get ready to talk about a company other than Wizards of the Coast, they do something to make me focus on them again.  The $999 booster boxes for Magic: The Gathering’s 30th Anniversary celebration caught my attention, but we also got word of the MTG: Commander Starter Decks. This means, by my count, over half a dozen Magic items remain for release in the last quarter of the year, and that does not include any Secret Lair sets that might arrive.

While there is a lot of discussion about the new 30th Anniversary Edition, the set will not impact store sales that much, as so far it appears to be a direct-to-consumer set (see "$999 Magic: The Gathering 30th Anniversary Edition'").  Most of the discussion revolves around whether the release violates the long-established Reserved List policy as well as whether the cards are simply very expensive proxy cards or are worth the price. Indicating its opinion, I have seen at least one M:TG-dedicated website posting a link to a proxy generator at the conclusion of its discussion regarding the set.  However, I certainly do appreciate WotC giving stores a box of them to do with as they will.  I have read a number of stores commenting they plan to use the boosters as prize support for special events, which sounds a pretty good use of the boosters to me (see "Rolling for Initiative: Feeding the Whales").

Here is my take on most of the announced Magic releases for the rest of the year:

Game Night Free For All.  The store staff is not particularly excited about this one, primarily because while Magic is a great game night game, people want to play with their own decks. Magic nights usually go "Hey want to play some Commander? followed up by "Sure, let me grab my deck."  It is not “Let’s sit down, open the box and play with their pre-made decks."  Even with WotC’s premade decks, most players want to tweak them some to make them better.  The only way I see this generating significant sales is if WotC includes some very desirable cards in the enclosed decks.  Given that the prices for the 2018 and 2019 Game Night sets are all over the board and that they sold very slowly upon release, I expect to see the similar sales happen with this 2022 set.

Challenger Pioneer Decks 2022.  WotC has a lot of different tournament formats and it gets pretty hard knowing which cards are legal in each one.  Getting one of these decks means you can legally play in a Pioneer format tournament.  Of course, I cannot remember the last time a player came in asking about our Pioneer format tournaments.  Based on the remaining stock of previous Pioneer decks, likely only a display of these.

Brothers War.  Its Magic, it’s a new set, its tournament legal, its gonna sell.  Now that WotC allows stores to sell everything starting with prerelease, stores will make money with this (see "Rolling for Initiative The Pre-release is Dead, Long Live the Pre-release").

Jumpstart 2022.  I still have booster boxes of the last standalone Jumpstart release and Dominaria United Jumpstart boosters.  New players we steer towards the Magic Starter Kit and after they get some experience, they move on to regular boosters.  Jumpstart, I fear, suffers from the same problem theme boosters did.

Starter Commander Decks.  Commander is currently the most popular format in most stores and having a good starter deck to point new players at is a good idea especially if it releases at an intro-friendly price point.  A lot of Commander decks sell for around $40 and up so a $20 deck would be a great entry point into the format.

Brothers War Gift Bundle.  When ICv2 runs its Gift Guide this year, the Brothers War Gift Bundle will be first place on my list.  It releases December 2, and with the word Gift in the title, it is the perfect item to point to family members looking for a gift for the Magic player in their life.  Thank you WotC!

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