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 release of Tales of Middle-earth and the upcoming Free RPG Day

Since last week’s column (see "$1 Million Dollars"), the price offered for the 001/001 One Ring card from the Magic: The Gathering - Universes Beyond: The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth has risen to $2 million euros or about $2.2 million dollars (see "The One Ring to over $2 Million").  However, some of the other cards in the set are going for some pretty eye-popping numbers as well.  Several of the Surge Foil modern reprints (like Great Henge as "The Party Tree" and Gemstone Caverns as "Caves of Aglarond") were selling for hundreds of dollars while a non-foil Elven Sol Ring sold on TCGplayer for just under $1,000.  Some of the Nazgul foils are going for $60 each.

Several stores have said this past Friday was their best sales day ever.  I have also read worries from several retailers that once the The One Ring 001/001 card gets found, the value of Collector Boosters will drop dramatically.  Based on the prices of other cards in the set and the amount of interest we have seen in Tales of Middle Earth product other than Set Boosters, I do not think that will be a problem.  I do have to wonder about the online sellers offering the Collector Boosters at $35 a pack.  Seems like low-balling a hot item right out of the gate is a fool’s choice.

Free RPG Day takes place this upcoming Saturday, June 24, 2023. Typically, the event takes place the third Sunday of June, but given that Wizards of the Coast plunked the prerelease for Tales of Middle Earth for the same weekend. Gaming Days, the company organizing Free RPG Day, realized retailers could not reasonably run both the Tales of Middle Earth event and Free RPG Day.  Thus, they opted to move it to the following weekend (see "Free RPG Day 2023 Moves to Avoid Prerelease").  I do not know if this will be a permanent move or one time only. I imagine the event will move back to the third weekend next year unless WotC decides to drop another huge Magic release on the date.

It is always nice to see more companies taking advantage of Free RPG Day to promote their lines.  As well as including items in the Free RPG Day kit, Goodman Games, Magpie Games, and Foam Brain Games all offered discounts or product bundles tying into Free RPG Day.  From the company’s offering and bundle, it looks as if Magpie Games really wants to get material for its Root and Avatar: The Last Airbender RPGs into potential players’ hands, as there were as many promo books for each game as Paizo included for Pathfinder and Starfinder.

Unfortunately, there is a paucity of products included for use with Dungeons & Dragons 5E, which from my experience, is what participants are most interested in (well, that and dice).  As near as I can tell, the only D&D 5E-compatible products come from Loke Battle Mats and, surprisingly, Dragon Shield, which is better known for their card sleeves but has launched a line of RPG supplies in the past year.  Although a lot of stores run RPG sessions tied to the products offered (and Smirk and Dagger’s Adventure Party looks quite interesting), our store has never had any luck doing so.  We opt to give items away and tie them into purchases, which makes Free RPG Day a very profitable day for us.

How were sales of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth at your store?  What will/did your store do for Free RPG Day?  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