Confusion About Fortune Cards: Why the 900 Pound Elephant is on the Toilet

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , , ,

Based on some of the comments from my previous post, "D&D Flushed Down the Toilet by Wizards of the Coast," I felt like I should really clear up some of the confusion.

1.  D&D has offered these types of cards before.

Spellfire was introduced in 1994
There have been cards that have been released and had the name D&D slapped on them.  For example, D&D tried to capitalize on the success of Magic: The Gathering by releasing what is widely considered to be among the worst collectible card games in history, Spellfire.  It was a flop and didn't hang around too long.  However, Spellfire was a stand alone game.  These were not cards that you used within your D&D games to give your characters extra powers.

Spell cards for Wizards and Priests were for use in a D&D game, but they were just easy reference cards.  Much like those people who wrote the spell info down on an index card, these cards offered no advantage short of easy access to the information presented in the Player's Handbook.

2.  These New Fortune Cards are just like the various Game Mastery Decks available

No.  Paizo offers many different decks, including a critical hit deck.  That is not a CCG being driven into an rpg.  It is a single deck that everyone draws from when scoring a critical hit.  Honestly, when we played with them most people just felt that they would rather have the double damage.  That sad fact, along with the fact that the DM also draws from the deck means that everyone is on a level playing field. 

3. Buying those cards to increase character power is just like buying a new supplement book

Uh, no.  If one buys a splat book to increase character power then they are buying it for a new feat, skill, or spell.  If the DM allows access to the book then he allows access for everyone, not just the person who bought the book.  If a DM only allows you to choose things from books that you physically own, leave the game. With D&D Insider and the character builder there is little to no reason to own all of these supplemental books as it pertains to making characters.  Players have access to all the feats from the various books through that program. 

4.  D&D is not Changing

People for some reason (probably because they didn't actually read what I wrote) accused me of saying that, "D&D is dying."  I never said that, and that certainly isn't what I meant.  What I said is that D&D is changing, and changing into something that isn't much like what it was.  

It is changing like it or not.  I don't like it, some people no doubt will.  I'm not saying that this product will be a failure, far from it.  I think it will make a ton of money.  I just don't think it is good for the game.  D&D will continue, it just probably won't be D&D the way many people know it, like it, and/or play it. 

5.  You have no idea what the cards are like

I do, actually.  They have sample cards posted online.  I posted one of them in the original article and I've posted two below in the Card Comparison section.

Card Comparisons

To help people who believe that these cards are the same as those that have been offered before I've posted five different cards below for people to look at. 

The first is a critical hit card from GameMastery's critical hit deck.  As you can see there is a real give and take to these cards.  If you are using them you may end up doing half the damage that you would with your only compensation that your target is sickened for one round.  It's happened to me folks, and it sucks.

The second card is a spell reference card.  As you can see it gives no advantage short of you not having to look the spell up.  Handy?  Yes.  Power increasing?  No.

The third card is a Spellfire card.  It's a bad CCG, a Magic: The Gathering rip off, and has nothing to do with D&D save the fact that they slapped the brand name on it to aid sales.

A Card from the GameMastery Critical Hit Deck

A 3rd Edition Spell Reference Card

A Spellfire Card

One of the new Fortune Cards

One of the new Fortune Cards

The final two cards are these new fortune cards.  As you can see all advantage, no disadvantage.  The only disadvantage you'll encounter with these cards is not having a deck when everyone else does.  I've seen people say draw from someone else's deck, but right away I see a few issues there.

  1. What is just one player buys them and everyone wants to draw from his deck?  How would he feel basically being the one to supply the entire group with cards?  I'm sure some people would be fine with that, but I could see it being a problem for others.  Especially when playing in games where the Players don't know each other.
  2. People are encouraged to build a deck that has been tailored to their specific character.  If a wizard filled his deck with magic boosting cards to maximize his potential, what good would it be for the fighter to draw from his deck? 
  3. Does the DM also draw from the deck?  These are player cards and don't seem to be meant for the DM, but 4th edition is the ultimate edition of Game Balance.  I'd say the game is almost perfectly balanced, but with these cards the balance get's thrown out of wack.  Even if the DM does draw, the added flexibility of being able to play the cards on any of the monsters in the game makes the cards more powerful in his hands than in the hands of the players.  I'm sure it won't be long before we see DM cards..

So in conclusion, these cards are indeed a new thing.  This new thing is changing the what D&D is, with more changes likely to come in the near future.  Finally, this is not the end of D&D.  It will survive, though perhaps not in a form that is appealing to many. 

I Repeat, the sky is not falling (unless the sky is general respect for Wizards of the Coast's integrity). 

This entry was posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 at Monday, January 10, 2011 and is filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I love how whenever people criticize something, the 1st obsfucating dodge is always "you just don't understand".

No, we do understand. And it still sucks.


Keep up the good fight, man. I put up a big long rant myself today.

January 10, 2011 at 3:24 PM

These are just for sale versions of the RPGA rewards cards, which were integrated into 3e during the Living Greyhawk period. They aren't a game unto themselves.

The situation where some players have cards and others don't.. has existed since that time. It exists today in Living Realms. It exists in D&D Encounters.

WHat I think is meant by "building a deck"- for example some cards let you reroll an arcane attack power, and some cards give you a bonus when you kill X amount of minions. So if you happen to be an arcane character you want the first one. If you happen to have a lot of area attacks, you want the second one.

I don't think (based on these parameters-- which should be well known by anyone who ever took part in any of the Living campaigns) that there will be DM cards or that it will be anything more than a cutesy extra that some people will like and others won't bother with.

The sheer emotionality and bile people are pouring into this issue really reflects poorly.

January 10, 2011 at 4:17 PM


1. Yes, the RPGA cards are basically the same except that you couldn't buy them. They were rewards for playing in RPGA events. So basically, you couldn't just splurge and buy bunches and bunches of cards (see article 1 and "throwing money at the game).

2. RPGA cards were a bad idea. Your defense of a bad idea (Fortune Cards) by citing historical president (RPGA cards) is something I find dubious at best.

3. These cards are all about money. So I find it probable that we will see DM cards. If these fortune cards sell well you can change that "probable" to "certain."

4. At least all the hate is an emotional response which shows that some people care. What really, "reflects poorly" is the apathy that many people feel. They just don't care, and aren't interested. That is a very bad sign.

January 10, 2011 at 4:45 PM

You know what the biggest problem facing D&D is, currently? "Fans" who bitch and moan about upcoming products that they don't have to buy, that don't affect the products they want to buy, that won't need to be used at their table, and that give other people new options to play their games in a way they might enjoy more.

WotC hasn't been flawless with its decision-making, and that's to be expected. Few companies have. But given the choice between supporting a company who is keeping the game I love relevant, and supporting a group of wolves-in-fans'-clothing who contribute little to the game or hobby beyond making its atmosphere as vitriolic as they possibly can, you can be damn sure I'll support the company.

The worst part of D&D is its fans. Most of the older ones will never learn to be anything but the self-important, entitled whiners that they are. The ones I want to see playing 20 years from now are the ones who are excited about the game they're playing, and think it odd that someone would rather complain about something they don't like than enjoy something they do.

January 10, 2011 at 6:56 PM


You are complaining that too many people are complaining???

Interesting stance.

January 10, 2011 at 7:09 PM


You are complaining that too many people are complaining???

Interesting stance."

I'm pointing out that D&D's fans' conduct is far more disappointing than the conduct of the company that makes it.

But yes, I'm complaining that too many people are whining about something they don't like instead of enjoying something they do.

You can snipe at the semantics all you want, but a defense of fan conduct would probably be time better spent.

January 10, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Anonymous #1 - I don't feel the need to defend fan behavior because I haven't seen any inappropriate behavior on their part.

Anonymous #2 - Get the irony?

January 10, 2011 at 8:07 PM

I feel that it should be pointed out that one of the complaints about these cards is the fact that WotC has said they are considering making them legal for organized play. Nobody is saying that you're forced to use them in your home game. That would be a much bigger issue. But if you're the sort of person who enjoys playing in organized play, there's every chance you will be required to deal with these cards.

January 10, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Here's my thought on the requirement for organized play: I think that's mainly a benefit for shop owners. There's been an ongoing effort (via Encounters, via other programs) to make the promotional events more attractive to shop owners.
For example- if your shop runs Encounters- you can get new products two weeks before street date. That's good because that helps them beat Amazon. But what if nothing new is coming out? This at least guarantees that people showing up to "Weekend in the Realms" or "Worldwide D&D Gameday" (for example) are going to make at least one $3.99 purchase. I shrug at the rest. There's no need for people to be uncivil about this, anyhow.

January 11, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Actually I thought that it was the DM who was supposed to buy/provide the Fortune Cards, not the players.

The way I thought these were supposed to be used, (and the way I myself have been using them) was this:

The DM buys the cards, shuffles them into a deck, at the start of a players turn, the player draws a card from the deck, and so on for each player's turn. At the end of that day's game session, all the cards are returned to the deck. The DM puts them away along with his/her minis and tiles, and brings them back out again next week for next week's game session.

Doing it that way, makes it fair for every body, yes? I would think that it would not be fair if players were building separate decks, because some players will have more money to work with so each player having a separate deck is bond to be unfair in the long run, whereas if only the DM has a deck, every player has an even chance because they are all drawing from one deck.

This is how I use the cards. Same as I do everything else in my games: the DM provides the supplies, the players just show up ready to play. I have 500 dice, 40+ hero minis, 300+ monster minis, 28 dragons, a dozen or so maps, 200+ tiles, 1000+ cards of various types, cores for each of all 4 editions (plus Pathfinder, EverQuest, True 20, OSRIC, Warhammer, and a few others), about 20 "Advanced Players" guides, campaign settings for Ravenloft -SpellJammer - UnderDark and Forgotten Realmes, 80+ adventure books, and a giant 50quart box full of terrain. As DM I take it as my responsibility to have everything I need on hand to run any game my group wants to play. My players just show up. They don't have to bring anything - no cards, no minis, they don't even have to own their own copies of the players books or have their own set of dice, because I have everything available for them to use.

Of course, I'm a DM, and I'm in my 40's been playing D&D since the 1970s so perhaps I am looking at this from a different perspective as newer/younger players do? Traditionally the DM was the only one that ever owned any of the books, cards, minis, dice, etc. If the players bought anything thing it was limited to a player's handbook, a set of dice, and one hero character mini. Has that changed?

Do the new generation of players typically supply their own stuff now? I would think that would make the game harder to play, actually, because the DM has to know what supplies will be available each session, and what if one player doesn't show or forgets to bring the items? If the books were owned by players and not the DM how is the DM going to plan the game? I don't know, I just think it'd be too hard to run a game if the players are all scattered about bringing in other stuff to the game. I think the game would run smoother if the DM was the one with the supplies, so that is why I am somewhat confused by this posts and the comments to it, because it seems to be advocating the players running the game, which makes the need for a DM somewhat nil, doesn't it? Or perhaps I am reading these wrong?

November 23, 2012 at 2:14 AM

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