Fortune Cards – First Impressions Are Everything

Get A GripMy FLGS handed my husband and me one pack apiece of these new Fortune Cards on Monday when we sat down to play our weekly Dark Sun game. They also gave us some index cards and asked us to jot down a few thoughts about them before we left for the day. Well, I glanced at my cards and dashed off a quick line for the store, but I didn’t really get to sit down and take a look at them until now. So here I go…

The Good

Between two packs of cards, I have 18 cards. They are beautifully printed on your typical CCG cardstock. Half the card has a graphic indicating if the card is one of three types (so far) – Attack, Defense, and Tactic. The style of the symbols look like the work of the same hand that brought us the stylish Three Dragon Ante cards. The right half of the card contains the text of the card and below that has it’s rarity indicator. Circles are common, diamonds are uncommon, and stars are rares.
Rare Card - Grim Determination
The rules, once I found them, seem straight forward. You get to draw a card and can choose when to play it or if you want to discard it and draw another. If you play your card, next round you get to draw another. Since most of the cards have specific triggers, I doubt players will use a card every round unless they perpetually discard and draw new. The rules pdf also includes guidelines for building a custom deck with consideration towards how many of a certain type of card a deck may have. This seems wise as it would presumably keep a player from completely stacking their deck with all Attack cards, or no Tactic Cards, for example.

My favorite cards were the cards that included a penalty or a possible downside in addition to a benefit. Risky Move lets you shift your move, but you risk falling on your face at the end of the move. Reckless Violence trades you a penalty to hit in exchange for a double bonus to damage with some combat advantage tossed in for good measure. Most of the cards will be useful in combat and no where else. A few will see their way into skill challenges.
Fuzzy condition card
One card was very different from the other cards – it’s a condition tracking card! With the glossy finish of the cards, it seems like it will do well with a dry erase pen. Nice sort of bonus card, I wouldn’t mind having a few more.

The Confused

Each pack contained 1 card that had an advertisement on the backside instead of the D&D Fortune cards splash. At first I thought it was a rules card – to explain how to implement Fortune Cards into your standard D&D game. I was wrong. There are no rules in the packs, and no rules on the wrapper either. I found the rules on the D&D website earlier this evening.  The lack of rules on or in the packs is very disappointing to me. A brand new product like this should have the rules in every pack – not just online or on the cardboard sales display. Rules should be accessible to the customer off the web and out of the store.

The part about each player can build and bring their own deck makes me a bit wary. Even with the deck guidelines it would clearly be easy to build a deck with predictable results. I feel that betrays the nature of fortune cards, takes away from the randomness the cards imply. Admittedly I can see where some cards will be of less value to some characters than to others though. I recommend DMs inspect their player’s decks prior to game time.

Lastly, out of just two packs, I have a three cards of which I have two each. This makes me wince. Commons are expected to accrue duplicates, and perhaps it’s just sour luck I got this many on my first draw. According to the numbers on the cards, there are only a total of 80 different cards.

Last Impression

I like the cards; graphically they’re crisp and pleasing, mechanically they don’t seem broken. For Encounters, I could see these adding a lot of flavor. I’m intending to take my cards to my next session as a player and give them a trial run. As a DM, I think I’d prefer to implement my own rules about players using these in my home game instead of the guidelines suggested in the pdf.  $3.99 a pack seems a bit much, but I may buy a couple more packs to see what I get, but I don’t think I’ll be trying to collect all 80 cards.