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 "boiler room" push behind Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - Skaventide and Wizard of the Coast's Love Your Local Game Store promotion.

From what I have heard, the sales representatives at Games Workshop are under a lot of pressure to increase preorders for Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Skaventide this week (see "Rolling for Initiative").  Our store didn't get any calls, but I've read numerous reports of stores getting called by GW representatives, some of them their regular representatives and some they had never dealt with before, working the phone to get stores to increase their orders of the set, almost like a boiler room operation.  Some retailers even reported hearing cheers and applause in the background of their call when a representative apparently got a store to increase their numbers.

Most stores reminded the representatives of the Dominion debacle, when there was a similar push to sell an expensive box set that left many stores still sitting on stock years later; "But this set is different," say the reps.  Maybe so, but I'm still staring at initial orders of Dominion sitting on the shelf some three years after the release, a pretty strong incentive to tread carefully with another big Age of Sigmar release.  The pressure that GW brought to increasing preorders of Skaventide makes me think that one of two things is occurring:

  1. They really believe the game has been under-ordered and are desperately trying to help retailers have enough on hand for the ensuing demand.
  2. Orders are drastically below GW projections and the company needs to get as much product as it possibly can out the door for the pre-release date as sales will drop off drastically after that point.

Since most retailers are putting in orders far below Games Workshop’s recommended quantities per store, I lean heavily towards #2.  Much like with comics, most of a new release’s sales occur upon launch and then trail off dramatically soon after.  Given that (according to what I have been told by GW representatives) Games Workshop starts production of new book releases about two years ahead of release date, Skaventide represents a pretty large investment by Games Workshop.  Seeing such low initial sales for the release has got to be pretty worrisome for the company.  They did send stores out a nice promotional standee, though.

Segueing over to Wizards of the Coast,  the company announced this past week another Love Your Local Game Store promotion (and everyone should love, or at least like, their local game store) (see "Wizards of the Coast Announces Love Your LGS Promotion").  Starting July 5, 2024 and continuing while quantities last, customers can stop by their LGS and either purchase three packs of Modern Horizons 3 Play Boosters or play in a Modern Horizons 3 booster draft. For participating, they will receive a full-art textless Sakura Tribe Elder card, limit, while quantities last, to one card per customer per day.  It is a nice promotion from WotC, especially since in-store pickup is required (customers can buy the packs online but must pick them up in a store).

However, since the company announced it on pretty short notice, I expect most stores already have events scheduled for July.  Unless they already had Modern Horizon 3 drafts planned, I figure most stores will use the card to generate additional sales of Modern Horizon 3 packs.

(Disclosure:  I own stock in both Hasbro and Games Workshop.)

Comments?  Did your store get inundated with calls from Games Workshop?  How have Modern Horizon 3 sales been?  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