Fortune Cards: DnD Meets MtG?

DnD Fortune Card back Fortune Cards: DnD Meets MtG?Last week I had my first exposure to the new Dungeons and Dragons Fortune Cards. I think they might provide an interesting spin on the game, but I have a few concerns. But before I get in to that, if you don’t know what Fortune Cards are all about, here’s a synopsis.

Fortune Cards Debrief

“Shadow Over Nentir Vale” is the first set of DnD Fortune Cards to be released. Apparently, the cards will be divided into sets, including unique symbols to identify a given set,  just like Magic the Gathering. Also like magic cards and minis, fortune cards will have different rarities.

A pack of fortune cards will cost $3.99, and each pack will contain 8 cards. Supposedly, players can also earn fortune cards for free by participating in weekly games of Public Play Encounters. From the cards I’ve seen thus far, they mostly seem to function like additional utility powers, except that you have to meet specific criteria to be able to play the card. For example, if a card turns a critical hit into a regular hit, you can only play that card if the DM crits you.

Decks of these cards must be made in increments of 10. The decks should have equal amounts of all three types of Fortune Cards. At the beginning of your turn, you draw a card from your deck. You may only play one card per round, and you may choose to discard the card. The cards do not require any actions to play, you just have to meet the card’s criteria.

Fortune Card Examples

Here are a couple examples I obtained last week:

DD Fortune Cards Fortune Cards: DnD Meets MtG?

Types of Fortune Cards

There are three divisions of fortune cards, attack, defense, and tactics (miscellaneous). The kinds of abilities found in offensive and defensive cards are pretty obvious. The miscellaneous cards contain abilities like granting saving throws, or other utility-like powers that aren’t clearly offensive or defensive.

My Concerns

Concern #1: Renown cards form the first three seasons of Public Play Encounters are no longer allowed, and these types of cards are no longer allowed in Living Forgotten Realms Games. Apparently it’s fortune cards only from here on out.

Concern #2: These cards cost money. You would have to spend $7.98 plus tax to get enough cards to build a “legal” deck of 10 cards. I’m not a fan of anything that increases the barrier to entry to new players. If you feel pressured to buy a lot of stuff, this raises the barrier to entry. I’m sure Wizards of the Coast is trying to find ways to make D&D more profitable, but I think this move is counter-intuitive to what they were trying to accomplish with the release of the Essentials product line.

Concern #3: I think these cards may hurt creative roleplaying. If a player can provide me a reasonable situation that would grant them the benefit they want, they can have it. I may make them roll a skill check, but creativity is still required on the part of the player. I suspect fortune cards may further discourage activity that is “outside the rules” in that players won’t need to be creative any more, they’ll just need to have the right cards in their fortune deck.

Concern #4: The old renown cards were earned. Now that people have to buy fortune cards, Wizards is locked in. If they change this format, there will be a nasty backlash. Maybe the fortune card mechanic will work out, but I’m concerned that Wizards has boxed themselves in a bit.

Concern #5: How will this affect Dungeons and Dragons tournaments? If fortune cards are allowed, will players be forced to spend hundreds of dollars to build decks of awesome fortune cards in order to stand a chance? I was a big fan of Magic the Gathering once upon a time, but one reason I never played in Type One or Type Two tournaments was because I couldn’t afford to invest thousands of dollars into my decks. Sure, you could still compete if you wanted to, but the guy with the mox cards or the hottest new rares would always have an edge.

Your Thoughts?

Have you obtained any fortune cards yet? My local game shop gave out a few free packs last week, so I was able to snag a couple cards. What are your thoughts thus far? Will they impact the game for better, or worse?

4 comments for “Fortune Cards: DnD Meets MtG?

  1. Lahrs
    January 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Today I received a nice DM gift pack from Wizards with a cool calendar, some DM status tokens (if you buy their DM token kit in the wooden box, they are similar to those tokens), 1 special DM promo Fortune card and two packs of fortune cards. Now that I have a few packs of cards, I think I can talk about them without as much speculation.

    Looking through the cards, some of them are straight up beneficial:

    Defense – Only a Flesh Wound – Gain a +5 bonus to a death saving throw.

    Attack – Full Speed Ahead! – Charge and gain combat advantage against the target.

    Tactic – Distracting Banter – During your turn, take a move action to allow one ally within 5 squares of you shift 3 squares as a free action.

    Others include risk:
    Tactic – Risky Move – Shift your speed. At the end of the shift, roll a d20. On a result of 9 or lower, you fall prone.

    Attack – Reckless Onslaught – Reroll missed attack roll. You must use second roll, even if it is lower. You then fall prone and take damage equal to your level.

    I like Distracting Banter and a few others, but what it boils down to is an extra action for each person, each round (if they choose). This is exactly what I do not want, as it adds to a battle that takes too long anyway and is going to slow down the game. Essentials came out to minimize and simplify the game for new people, and the next second Wizards whips up additional rules and actions with these cards. I enjoy 4th edition, but one of my big criticisms are battles are much longer, I believe this has the potential to add to the length.

    I am in a rough spot. As a DM, I do not have to allow the cards, but as the coordinator for my store, who pays nothing but is given tons of resources, I feel compelled to at least not block the possibility of sales, so I will still allow them.

    My tentative solution is to only allow them to be played with the spending of an action point. I feel much better allowing someone to use an AP to play Distracting Banter before fireballing an area than to just letting someone take an extra action every round.

    I may even make a community deck, so everyone can use cards and is not forced to buy any, though that would still favor people customizing their deck to some small degree. Since AP usually only occur once every two weeks, I do not see the advantage being too big.

    I am a big fan of earned renown cards, and have already told my players they can use them next season as well. I am not going to hand over the 100 point cards on Wednesday just to tell my players they can never use them.

    • Sunyaku
      January 31, 2011 at 3:56 am

      I also received the DM package this last weekend. I am not the organizer, but the DMs at my FLGS have tentatively decided to allow earned reward cards OR fortune cards to be used during the next season of encounters… just not both at once. With the cards I received in the DM package, I had a chance to playtest a legal deck of 10 fortune cards at a public LFR game this weekend… will be posting my experience shortly.

      I think this is an especially important compromise… I would also feel terrible if a player earned the 100 point renown card from Keep on the Borderlands only to be told that they can never use the card in organized play. :-/

  2. Funkfugiyama
    January 29, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I am firmly against these fortune cards. I feel that in order to play the game Wizards is making players continue to buy, buy, buy. If you include the books, the online component DDI, and now cards?… (not to mention figures, pre-made adventures, etc) It’s confusing enough to know what you need to “have” to just play the game that adding cards to the game is just too much. Gary Gygax is turning in his grave.

    • Sunyaku
      January 31, 2011 at 4:01 am

      We are certainly in agreement, per concern #2 above. Truth be told, you don’t actually “need” most of these products to play a fantasy tabletop RPG. I plan to use the cards I obtain for free, but I don’t plan on buying them… for basically the same reasons that I stopped playing Magic and sold my collection some years ago, but that’s a story for another time. :-)

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