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:
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.
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.
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?