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 continues his look at upcoming AEG promotions, then compares Games Workshop's promotions for Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower.

Following up from last week’s post on AEG’s promotions for the rest of 2016 (see "Rolling for Initiative--AEG: A Year (Well, 9 Months) of Promotional Opportunities"), September brings the next Smash Up release, Cease and Desist (see "'Smash Up: Cease and Desist,' 'Fantahzee,' More").  Stores that preorder 24 copies will receive a spiffy looking standee that will hold a mix of base sets and expansions, as well as the opportunity to host a first ever Smash Up pre-release event (not nearly as exciting as a Magic: The Gathering pre-release but still a nice opportunity).

Then in October comes the release of Fantahzee.  Since AEG pitches Fantahzee as the game of "dice and slice," the offer is buy 12 copies and get a demo copy of the game plus $20 towards a pizza party for your customers.  The idea being, of course, that players will get to roll dice in the game while eating slices of pizza.  Get it?  Get it?

With November comes Black Friday and the return of AEG’s Black Friday Black Box.  This is a pretty neat idea from AEG and one I wish more gaming companies would pick up. AEG puts together a box of assorted games, the contents of which the company keeps secret.  The box sells for $50, has more than that value of games inside and is sold to stores with the understanding that 1) stores will not open the box and 2) stores will not sell the box until Black Friday.

The first year, the Black Box was in high demand as given the size of the box, it appeared buyers would get far more than their $50 in games.  If I remember rightly, the Box contained a copy of AEG’s Trains, a $60 value by itself.  Last year the box was half the size and generated a lot less excitement.  We, and several other stores, did not sell out until several weeks after Black Friday.

AEG promises a lot more interest in this year’s Box, as it contains first printings of AEG’s new Expandable Card Game-style game, along with promo cards for said game. With promotion by AEG, I expect the same level of excitement as the first Black Box.

December brings Yeti, a yeti-hunting boardgame.  If stores pre-order 6 copies, they get a Yeti hat.  No demo copies of the game though, which would have proved much more useful.  Not sure what to do with the hat.  Run a Yeti tournament and give away the hat as the prize?

Meanwhile, Games Workshop has really been pushing Warhammer Quest:  Silver Tower, an updating of the Warhammer Quest published back in 1995 (see "GW Pulls 'Warhammer Quest' From Its Vaults").  With copies of the original game selling for $120 to $400 and GW saying this version stays close to the original rules, while updating and incorporating changes people have requested while deleting things they did not like about the original versions.

GW has really worked to get stores to promote and stock the game, offering quite a few incentives and bonuses tied to purchases of so many copies of the game.  GW even offered a merchandise credit if stores would post and boost the promotional video for the game on their Facebook page.  The problem with the whole promotion was that the offers appeared to change from day to day.  Some stores got offered extended terms, while others, with the purchase of a certain quantity, were offered returnability.  The numbers needed to receive certain bonuses seems to vary as well.  With only two weeks notice, it proved pretty difficult for stores, and GW, to maximize the promotional opportunity for the game.

Here’s hoping GW takes a look at AEG’s promotional campaign and starts giving retailers enough notice that we can take advantage of the opportunity.  With months of advance notice, stores can do a pretty good job of selling games.

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