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 what he learned from his interview with NPR on the Hasbro proxy fight, and the results of the Commander Legends prerelease.

After my interview with a reporter from NPR for a story about the proxy battle brewing inside of Hasbro (see "Rolling for Initiative: Hasbro Responds to Alta Fox"), I came away learning one thing and getting reminded of another:

  1. Reporters spend a whole lot of time talking with their interviewees and only a fraction of the material discussed appears in the story.  The reporter, Wailin Wong, and I spent just under an hour discussing Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, Dungeons & Dragons and the proxy battle Alta Fox has brought seeking seats on Hasbro’s board.  From that material, only about 45 seconds worth made it into the podcast.  When I asked Wong about it, she said that was not atypical.  She had conducted two-hour interviews for Planet Money with only a fraction of the material making it into the published work.
  2. Everybody, and I mean Everybody, likes to talk about their characters.  One of the reasons Wong asked to get assigned to this story is that she plays D&D so, of course, we spent several minutes discussing her 5th level druid and my 3rd level cleric.  Everyone likes talking about their character and their adventures.  However, unless you are well acquainted with them, do not do so in stores with the store staff.  Not everyone is as fascinated with your character as you are, and the staff cannot readily walk away (see "Did You Know People Still Play Boardgames").

(The Hasbro board vote is this week, see "Funds Urge Compromise in Hasbro Battle".)

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, the new set for Magic: The Gathering, prereleased this past weekend and the results for us, at least, were underwhelming, which seems to be a pattern across game stores, with most reporting fewer attendees than for a normal prerelease (although several did report selling out of all available product by the end of Saturday).  Here, our Friday night event went off with better attendance than expected, but no one showed for the Saturday event, even though the other stores running events locally did not start theirs until later in the day.  Here are a few reasons I think we are not seeing the numbers we would for a normal Magic prerelease:

  1. This is not a normal Magic prerelease.  Although Commander is arguably the most popular format, drafting is a version for which few players opt.  Couple that with the variations implemented in a Commander draft that differ from both regular draft and Commander, and that can put people off.
  2. Too soon.  Streets of New Capenna released just a little over a month ago and Double Masters 2022 streets in early July.  As I noted before, that’s an awful lot of Magic for the market to absorb in 3 months’ time. (See "A Swell of Magic and RIP Scott Bennie").
  3. Drafting new sets.  Any time a player drafts, they make the choice of either drafting to play or drafting for value, (i.e., keeping the expensive cards they open, even though they will not work well in the deck).  Unless a player keeps a close eye on spoiler lists and Magic pricing sites, they will not know if the rare they just opened is worth a buck or 30 bucks.  That uncertainty will put off some players until they get a better feel for the value of the new set.

How did your Battle for Baldur’s Gate pre-release go?  Better than ours, I hope.  Let me know at

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