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 lays out his suggestions for holiday gift items.

It is still 2 months out from Christmas but since Walmart put out Christmas decorations a few weeks ago, I figure it is about time to look at good gifts for gamers this Christmas, so without further ado:

The Brothers’ War Gift Bundle
As I noted in my column a couple of weeks ago, the Brothers’ War Gift Bundle releases early December (see "Looking At Magic Fall 2022") and should prove a great gift for anyone looking for a present for a Magic: The Gathering player.  Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and HeroClix, because of their collectability, all make great gifts for their respective players. However, the Brothers’ War Gift Bundle, which contains 8 Set boosters.  1 Collector's Booster, 1 storage box.  20 premium lands and 20 normal lands.  1 premium card. 1 oversized spindown counter w/set symbol and 1 insert, will make a great gift because of the greater quantity of premium cards included. I am seeing stores already selling out of these.

Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
While the book would be a nice gift for any Dungeons & Dragons player, but with it arriving about a week after the Brothers’ War Gift Bundle, any D&D player worth their salt will already have a copy purchased by the time Christmas arrives.  However, the gift buyer could go with the Dragonlance:  Shadow of the Dragon Queen Deluxe Edition Bundle, which comes with an exclusive foil cover on the campaign book, a limited-edition DM Screen and the Warriors of Krynn boardgame.  Like this year’s Monsters of the Multiverse, buying the bundle is the only way to get Warriors of Krynn until the boardgame releases separately later in 2023.  While the bundle may give the recipient an extra copy of Shadow of the Dragon Queen, they can either trade, sell or give away one of the extras.

This is a perennial favorite of mine for gift-giving.  I still remember the customer that drove an hour one Christmas Eve to pick up a copy as a last-minute gift.  With some 35 different versions available, including more recent science-themed takes such as Anatomy Fluxx and Astronomy Fluxx, there is a version of the game themed to appeal to almost anyone.

Still at the top of the most popular boardgame lists, Wingspan sells out regularly over three years after release.  If your target recipient already has Wingspan, well, there are the Oceana and European expansions, the Nesting Box, playmats, additional score pads and more.  There are even three jigsaw puzzles featuring art from the game.  If they do have all that, Oni Games just released Bird Watcher, which features some very nice bird art in another bird collecting game.

Starter Sets
I am a big fan of starter sets for various RPG and TCG games and wish more companies would put them out.  They are a great (and comparatively inexpensive) way to introduce new players to the hobby.  MTG has the Arena Starter Set and Pokemon the Battle Stadium set and there are several starters for HeroClix available.  In RPGs, D&D has the Dragons of Shipwreck Isle Starter Set while both the Pathfinder and Starfinder RPGs have reasonably priced sets, as do Call of Cthulhu and Runequest.  The starters for BattleTech, Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar are a bit pricier, but not when you consider the miniatures that come with the set.

What have I missed?  Obviously, a lot!  Email your recommendations 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

For more great suggestions for gifts merchandising this holiday season, click here.