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 Wizard of the Coast's moves with Street of New Capenna, the relaunch of Saga and Ghost Rider, and inflation concerns.

Wizards of the Coast announced that the physical version of Magic: The Gathering-Streets of New Capenna will arrive on April 22, 2022 for prereleases before its digital release date on April 28, 2022 (see 'Wizards of the Coast Prioritizes FLGS ‘Magic: The Gathering Prereleases Over Digital Release').  This means that stores will get physical product for the set almost a week ahead of the digital release.  The upshot of this move by WotC is that we won't see play results moving through the Magic world nearly as quickly as they would if the cards had released online first, since the spread of information about physical product is generally slower than information transmitted through the digital realm.

Online players can usually play more frequently and generate deck data quickly.  Magic sites and forums also allow them to spread this information faster than IRL players can, which affects singles card prices.  By delaying the digital release, we will likely see even greater delay in single card prices settling than we do now.  As it is, we wait about two weeks before trading for cards from a new set in order to give prices time to settle down.  Quite often, especially with Yu-Gi-Oh!, a hot card spikes high on initial release and then drops in value very soon after.  We've offered brand new singles cards in the first week before, a few times in the past, and had seen the value drop precipitously soon afterward.  This move should lengthen the time frame that it takes for card prices to stabilize, creating for less immediate swings in singles cards' values.

On the comic book sales front, never underestimate the power of a relaunch.  We ordered heavily, for us, on both the return of Saga (see "'Saga'") and the relaunch of Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider.  These two titles sold through 95% of our order within 48 hours, which isn't too shabby.

In the realm of inflation projections, prices were looking like they were beginning to decline as the money from last year’s stimulus checks finally had worked its way through the economy.  However, with the war in Ukraine ongoing and sanctions being imposed on Russian exports, I expect to see prices move up again.  Sanctions against Russia means there are now sanctions in place against for international trade against three of the major oil producers in the world:  Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.  The world’s economy has been doing alright with the sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, but Europe, last time I checked, gets about 40% of its oil from Russia.

The U.S., currently the number one oil producing nation in the world, has promised to ramp up oil production to help fill the gap left by the expected loss in Russian oil production, although the sanctions may provide exceptions for energy, which makes them much less effective.  According to S& P Global Platts, about 75% of the world’s sunflower oil comes from Russia and Ukraine, and just under 25% of its wheat supply comes from the two countries.  Disruptions in the supply from both of these countries will likely mean further, longer term price increases on certain food products.

Food is a necessity; games and comics are luxury items.  When it comes to how to allocate dollars as prices rise, food will (usually) take priority over entertainment.  Although it is doubtful we will see the double digit inflation rates of the late 70s, the current 7% rate still triples the numbers we have seen over the last 20 odd years and will likely continue for most, if not all of this year.

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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