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 remembers Mel Thompson, talks about The One Ring's discovery, and Bridgerton the card game.

I had not heard much from or about Mel Thompson in the past 20 years, but he and his company, Thompson & Associates, Direct Market Consultants, was a major force in the comic industry throughout the 1990s (see "RIP Mel Thompson" and "Remembering Mel Thompson").  His Comtrac software was a major force in bringing comic retailing on par with other retail operations at the time, and he was one of the first, if not the first, to bring market research techniques into the comic industry.  Thompson spoke regularly at distributor-sponsored conferences of the era, which is where I had the opportunity to speak to him several times and still remember some of his comments.  He was also one of the first, if not the first, to apply standard market research techniques to the comic industry.  Anyone selling comics and games today owes Thompson a debt of gratitude.

The serialized 001/001 One Ring card from Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond - Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth has been found (see "The One Ring 001/001"), causing the value of Collector Booster boxes to drop by about $100 in one day (see "The One Ring Retailer Chat").  Prices of individual LotR Collector Boosters are down to as low as $35 on TCGplayer, and I am reading posts from retailers worrying about selling off the rest of their stock of Collector Boosters as well as lamentations about the cancellation of preorders by customers for the Gift Bundles releasing later this year.  I am also reading posts from other retailers offering to buy boxes of Collector Boosters from those worried about not selling them.  Based on what I have seen regarding continued demand for the product and card prices in the set, I put myself in the latter group.

I see there is a Bridgerton card game coming out from Mixlore Studios (see "Asmodee's Mixlore studio Announces Game Based on Bridgerton Netflix Series").  According to Walmart’s website, the game is already available for $24.99 and I could have it by later this week, should I want to order a copy; then the game releases to the trade later this year.  From reading the description, it sounds like a Love Letter variant.  Since Z-man Games publishes Love Letter and Z-Man Games is one of the studios operating under the Asmodee umbrella and Z-man Games has published other games using the Love Letter engine (Adventure Time, Munchkin and Star Wars Jabba’s Palace come to mind), it seems only natural to apply a Bridgerton skin to the Love Letter rules.  Maybe there is some reason Z-Man could not get the Bridgerton license?

Looking at Mixlore’s catalog, the company does specialize in games based on various media properties, including Black Mirror, Squid Game and Queen’s Gambit, which can sell fine while the property is hot, but tend to fall out of favor once the series runs its course.  We have not had any inquiries about Queen’s Gambit in years and our chess sales dropped off dramatically once the series concluded.  Few media properties, Lord of the Rings the exception, have very long legs.

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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