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 addresses the lack of written directions and packing slips enclosed with promotional items from Wizards of the Coast, and other companies, and bids farewell to game designer Kelly Borilla.

We received a box full of promotional items for assorted events tied into the release of Murders at Karlov Manor as well as some cards to give out to players in the Magic: The Gathering Standard Showdown events. By my count, we received over a dozen items in the box:  cards, posters, pins and a Commander Launch Party card. WPN Premium stores were sent a Murders at Karkov Manor puzzle in addition to these items. As is the standard with WotC promotional items, there was no indication in the box as to how stores are supposed to use them.

It appears that coordinating the insertion of a sheet into the box is moderately difficult. Someone can co-ordinate the insertion of cards, pins, and even a puzzle, making sure the right items get to the right stores, but putting a sheet into the box listing all of the said items and their intended purpose is not possible. I know several Premium stores would have been less confused if something had indicated why a puzzle came in the box they received. I know WotC posts a list on their website describing all the promotional items sent and how the company expects stores to use them, but still, a list in the box would save time. When stores are checking the box, we generally do not have the Wizards’ website accessible where we are unpacking the box. A list in there would let us know what we should expect and what to do with it.

If that is not logistically possible, as Pat Fuge of Gnome Games has suggested, maybe WotC could put all the information on a web page, create a QR code for that page and include a card with the QR code in the box. The company could even make the page static for the code and just change the information on the page with each set, moving the older information to another page that could be found if necessary. Meanwhile, stores can scan the code included with every promotional set, which takes them to a dedicated page for the promotional cards. That ought to be feasible.

To be fair, WotC is not the only company doing this. Konami gave up shipping packing lists with its promotional items years ago, and Southern Hobby recently went digital only with its packing lists. Asmodee still includes printed packing lists with its orders but the lack of pricing on them makes them only partially helpful. Giving us the information when stores check in orders would really speed up the process.

I was sorry to hear Kelly Bonilla passed away from cancer last week. If you are not familiar with her name, you are familiar with her work. She was the lead designer on Wizkids’ Mechwarrior:  Age of Destruction. In addition, during her time at Wizkids, she worked on developing and playtesting HeroClix, HorrorClix, and the Pirates of the Spanish Main set Pirates of the Cursed Sea, and was referred to as “the heart and soul of the design department.” After her time at WizKids, she moved on to a career in the video game industry as an independent designer before taking a position with Hidden Path Entertainment several years ago. I never had the opportunity to meet her, but from the memories I have read people post, she was an excellent game designer, a good mom,  a great person and the world is poorer without her.

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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