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 looks at Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering Arena XP promotion and week 2 of Disney Lorcana sales.

Most retailers I know responded to the announcement that Magic: The Gathering Arena players could earn MTG Arena  XP points by playing in store based events this September (see “‘MTG Arena’ XP for In Store Event Participation”) with a resounding "meh."  A couple even asked if there was some way they could opt out of the promotion.  According to the press release, MTG Arena players will receive 1000 XP in their inboxes for each event in which they participate.  WotC’s stated purpose is to use the promotion as a means by which to encourage MTG Arena players to play in store-based events.  While I appreciate WotC’s hope this bonus will encourage MTG Arena players to come into stores to play, I wonder if the company has done any research to indicate an XP bonus will encourage MTG Arena players to participate in store events.

As I have said before, WotC supports stores the most of any of the major publishers with both promotional cards and support for pre-release events.  I still appreciate the boxes of Mystery Boosters WotC sent to stores gratis during the COVID epidemic (see "How Publishers are Helping the LGS").  Given stores generally see events as loss leaders or breakeven propositions, with a standard joke that stores should make their money during tournaments on “chips and soda,” I don't see any promotions designed to increase tournament attendance and not product sales as something stores will actively promote.  In fact, I am not sure how much WotC plans on promoting as I am not seeing much promotion from WotC regarding the XP bonuses, aside from a post on the Wizard’s MTG Arena website  and a mention on social media.  If WotC sent out an email to stores notifying them of this, we did not receive one.  Of course, given how much email hits inboxes every day, I could've easily see overlooking one.

The interview with Ravensburger CEO Stephane Madi also attracted lots of attention from retailers, more for what he didn’t say than what he said (see “CEO Stephane Madi”).  How distribution of Disney Lorcana was determined is a major question bothering retailers since the game released and more detail on that would have been appreciated.  A lot of stores reported receiving allocations of booster boxes equaling 10% or less of their preorders through distribution, figures I don't recall seeing since the days of tight allocation of Magic and Pokemon back during the 90s.  Some stores reported only receiving the support products such as Troves, Gift Sets, Starter Decks deck boxes and sleeves but no booster packs while others got close to their full order.

It appears stores selected as Tournament Stores got larger quantities of boosters and it would have helpful for Madi to have addressed what criteria went into the selection of a store as a Tournament Store to qualify for increased quantities of the First Chapter release.  Hence, I've received several notices from distributors reminding me to apply for Tournament Store status before the next wave of boosters so if your store wants to increase its chances of get Disney Lorcana, receiving Tournament Store status appears the best way to do so.

Incidentally, although we found the Melee Tournament software Ravensburger opted to use confusing, I do appreciate the company opting to use existing software rather than developing its own.  I wish more companies would do this so stores only have to learn to use one program rather than individual systems for Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic and Pokemon.

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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