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 takes a look at the sales of Critical Role and Magic: The Gathering miniatures and talks about another recent Eventlink crash.

Critical Role has proven an extremely popular web series, enough so that companies have licensed RPG supplements, comics, miniatures, and even puzzles based on the series (see "Wizards Unveils New Monster Minis for Critical Role").  Unfortunately, as noted in last week’s column (see "Is The Supply Chain Slowly Becoming Unkinked?"), we may have reached a saturation point in terms of interest in spinoff products for the line.  The high price points for the items and excessive packaging also do not help sales any.

The nine figures in the Critical Role: Monsters of Tal’dari set cost $59.99, breaking down to about $6.66 per figure.  Admittedly, this is not a bad price for fully-painted figures, and it comes in packaging that takes up, by my calculations, 576 cubic inches of space.  Granted, I understand WizKids’ desire to show off the figures, but the wasteful packaging used on the Critical Role sets will cut demand.  They have quite a large footprint for what you get and as an email I received from another retailer last week indicated, after the initial interest in Critical Role-themed miniatures, sales of them have drastically trended down in the past year.

Part of the problem may also be that the fan base for Critical Role-themed miniatures is far smaller than that for fantasy-based miniatures generally.  In addition, the Wizkids’ Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder Deep Cuts figures allow buyers to purchase the individual figures they want, either for their campaign or just to paint, whereas the Critical Role figures come pre-painted and curated. Critical Role figures also run on the large side with the Ember Roc, Dieter, and Udaak figures being several orders of magnitude larger than a standard 28 mm figure, making them quite impressive to look at but awkward to tote to a game session and limited in use for the typical RPG campaign.

Similarly, the Magic: The Gathering figures from WizKids look quite nice, but they have little use in a typical D&D campaign; unless you are also a Magic as well as D&D player, a Blightsteel Colossus has little use aside from showing off painter’s skills. On a related note, it would be nice if WizKids could post a list of unpainted miniatures discontinued from their line.  It gets old trying to figure out which figures are no longer available, and which are only out of stock.  An updated listed readily available would certainly help.

Wizard of the Coast’s Eventlink software locked up again for several stores during Friday Night Magic this past week.  While the outage was much shorter than during the pre-release for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty (see "'Kamigawa' Prerelease and the Perfection Fallacy"), it still occurred during a tournament using software that doesn't have any options for running the event offline and doesn't allow you to manually enter match results.  WotC fixed the problem after about 10 minutes, which is much better than the 60 minutes during the Kamigawa Neon Dynasty prerelease.  However, when you have players waiting for their next round pairings and the tournament organizer has to either put everyone into an alternative tournament program or run the event on paper, a 10-minute wait is 10 minutes too long.  WotC said that they are looking into the problem and will make fixes, but an offline option would sure help matters.

Your thoughts?  Next week’s column pays tribute to the late Marcus King, so your remembrances of him would certainly be welcome.  Email with any comments.

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