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 shares four observations from GAMA Trade Show.

I am sitting in room 111 of the Sands Motel in Grants, New Mexico as I write this (having just driven twelve hours along Route 66 from Las Vegas after the 2014 GAMA Trade Show) and wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on what I took away from the show.  In no particular order:
RPG Companies are Back; At Least at GTS
This is the strongest showing of RPG companies I remember at GTS in several years.  Besides perennials Paizo Publishing and Wizards of the Coast (who for the second or third year did not have any products displayed at their booth in the exhibit hall), I saw displays from Pelgrane Press, Green Ronin, Palladium, Eden Studios (which looks to have a really hot property with its new Adventure Maximus game.  After seeing it, I immediately doubled my pre-order), Flying Buffalo (which had some promotional material for the new edition of Tunnels and Trolls but, sadly, no mockups), Catalyst Game Design (with a new RPG based on the Valiant Comics universe), Atlas Press, AEG and Chaosium.  I probably missed one or two, but for a show that has heavily shifted to board games in recent years, the number of RPG companies there made an old role-player like me happy.
Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors Are a Thing
Admittedly, I am not a big fan of either show, but a lot of people are, it appears, at least based on the number of licensed properties I saw shown there.  Steve Jackson Games has its Adventure Time Munchkin release; Cryptozoic Entertainment has its card game based on the card game in the Adventure Time world (which sold out last month and has gotten great reviews); while Catalyst Game Labs showed off a new Bravest Warriors card/dice game.  A couple of other companies had licensed the properties as well, so expect to see more games playing off both in the next year.
International TableTop Day Gets an Upgrade
Still no word on Season 3 of TableTop, as Geek & Sundry will neither confirm nor deny the status of production on Season 3.  However, the rumored premium package for International TableTop Day did get announced.  It costs quite a bit more than the basic package does, approximately $750 compared to $50 for the basic, but does come with many more promo items as well as full copies of several games such as Roll for It, Smash Up and Munchkin.  I did get the answer to something that has bugged me since last year's International TableTop Day, namely, why did the kit include promotional items for games that did not appear on the show?  It turns out those games are ones Wil Wheaton really likes, but for one reason or another, do not work well in the TableTop format (Wheaton discusses what a game has to have in a Not the Vlog post on Geek & Sundry).  He thinks them worthy of greater attention though, hence the promotional items.  I have heard some stores already complaining about the cost of the kits; however, since part of the money spent goes to help fund TableTop, and considering how much money I have made as a result of TableTop, I figure buying the kits is a good investment.
Cards Against Humanity Comes to Retail
Cards Against Humanity, the company that makes Cards Against Humanity, announced that it would start selling direct to retailers later this year and gave the web address where retailers could register to purchase the game.  This announcement got the loudest spontaneous applause of any at GTS and surprisingly, the website did not crash as retailers rushed to register.  I am not quite certain the owner understands the channel of distribution though as he railed against distributors, wanting to cut out the middleman and sell to the FLGS (that's Friendly Local Game Store).  Uh, the FLGS is a middleman, and since the company will still likely use Amazon for fulfillment, there is another middleman still in the picture.  I am still not sure if this means more money for those stores selling CAH or an indication that the tide has peaked.  I guess we will see later this year.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of