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 talks about the recent Magic: The Gathering playtest card treatment announcement, the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG: Duelist Nexus premiere event, and Dungeon Crawl Classics Day.

Another week brings another surprise announcement from Wizards of the Coast (see “New Playtest Card Treatment”). WotC decided to post a picture of a playtest treatment of a version of Counterspell with what looks like the Secret Lair logo on it with no indication as to why. From talking to some people familiar with Magic the Gathering in the area, but no one directly affiliated with WotC, their best guess is that this is another method to get cards on the Reserved List back into print (see "'Magic' Reserved List is Here to Stay").

For those newer players, the Reserved List is a list of Magic cards printed early in the game’s run later determined to severely unbalance play in most formats and WotC has stated publicly on numerous occasions that cards on the List “will never be printed again in a functionally identical form”. However, the Magic 30th Anniversary Set, even selling at $999, proved there was still a demand for cards on the Reserved List, even in a functionally different and non-tournament legal form. Prices for unopened boxes of the 30th Anniversary Packs have dropped a bit but still sell for about $1200 to $1400 apiece, indicating players want them and are willing to spend significantly large sums of money for them even if not playable.

WotC (and Hasbro) have embraced the D2C model with the Magic 30th Anniversary Set and especially, the Secret Lair sets. So, I could see them release Restricted List cards as part of a Secret Lair set, then if demand proves as strong, as I (and likely WotC) expect, cycling them into an updated version of The List, for inclusion in Set Boosters. Since sales of Set Boosters have already eclipsed those of Draft Boosters, to the point that we are considering cutting our orders of Draft Boosters to zero, adding playtest cards from the Reserved List would further drive down Draft Booster sales

Unfortunately, both Dungeon Crawl Classics Day and the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG: Duelist Nexus (see "'Yu-Gi-Oh TCG' Enters the 'Duelist Nexus'") premiere event were not nearly as successful as previous ones have been. In the recent past, we moved through all our Premiere event boosters on the first day. This time we had enough to carry over onto day two. I am not sure if this indicates a waning of interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! or just that this set generated less interest than the last few did. Since as any statistician will tell you, one data point is not enough on which to base a trend, I will hold off on passing judgment until I see how the set sells.

Goodman Games opted to focus this year’s Dungeon Crawl Classics Day products on Mutant Crawl Classics, which draws far less interest, at least locally, than does Dungeon Crawl Classics. Dungeon Crawl Classics targets all of those who played D&D and other fantasy RPGs in the late 70s and early 80s, while Mutant Crawl Classics aims at those who remember the far less popular Metamorphosis Alpha, the first sciene fiction RPG that predates Traveller and Starfaring by about a year, and its later incarnation, Gamma World. Using the Adventure Pack to introduce DCC fans to MCC is a good idea but making the limited edition rulebook and adventure MCC did not appear to draw the interest it did last year.

Any thoughts on “playtest” Magic cards, DCC Day or the Yu-Gi-Oh! Premiere Event?  Send them 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