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 Pikachu in Grey Felt Hat promo kerfluffle, first weekend's sales of Magic: The Gathering's Doctor Who set, and bids farewell to Dave Hoover of Armored Gopher Games.

Oh, good lord, not again.  The Pokemon Company International created a Pokemon TCG promo card as a giveaway for kids, to get them into the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for an exhibit aimed at children, and adults had to go and ruin it (see “Van Gogh Promo Card”).  Resellers outside the museum reportedly offered around €5 (approximately $5) for copies of the card and then went off and resold them.  An early buyer paying over $700, but the price currently has leveled off at around $100.

Demand for the card was high enough that some people scheduled vacations to include a visit to the just to pick up the card and began cancelling once they learned the museum had ran of the promo.  Now, fans can just buy $30 of product off the Pokemon Center website to get one.  This is much cheaper than a trip to the Netherlands, I figure.

Magic: The Gathering’s Universes Beyond Doctor Who set hit the shelves this past Friday and did a lot better than I expected (see “ Magic The Gathering Doctor Who Set”).  Well, at least the decks have.  As of Saturday afternoon, the store has not sold a single booster, but we've gone through almost our entire allocation of decks.  It appears demand for both were quite high as a check of my primary distributors shows a complete sell through of both decks and booster displays.  That sales pattern mimics what I have seen online as decks seem to sell steadily as do single cards, but only a few Collector Boosters have moved and those were the oversized mass market Collector Boosters.

Keystone on the normally packaged Collector Boosters is about $30, but the mass market versions selling had prices ranging from $40 to $50.  As far as I know, there are no different cards in the mass market boosters, so I'm not certain what is generating the price.  It would appear most buyers find the decks a far better value than the boosters as customers know what cards they will get from the decks and can fill out most of their collection from a purchase of a set of the four decks.  Given the low allocations on this set, I expect to see decks sell out quickly and demand increase for the collector boosters, insomuch as they are the only place collectors can get the serial numbered cards.

I learned of the passing of Dave Hoover earlier this month.  He and his wife Heart nee Heather, were fixtures at the store and at the SIU Strategic Gaming Society throughout most of the 1990s.  He was an avid tabletop RPG player and loved a good game of Steve Jackson Games’ Car Wars as well.  He and his family later moved to Urbana, Illinois where, several years later, he opened Armored Gopher Games.

Armored Gopher Games grew into the main game store in the Champaign-Urbana region, a fixture at the Winter War game convention and the core around which the current collection of Gopher Games businesses is built.  Dave left Armored Gopher around 2016 and moved to Indiana, where I kept in sporadic touch with him through social media.  His health declined in the past few years and the surgery he underwent earlier this month to repair his damaged heart failed.  Rest in Peace Dave.  Carbondale and Champaign-Urbana are both better places because you were there.

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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