Fortune cards – Second impressions

I played in a Living Forgotten Realms game this morning at my friendly local game store. One of the guys who works there (a person I consider a friend) had a stack of the cards for players to look at. He knew that I wasn’t all that excited about the cards, and he was eager to tell me that I was wrong – the cards were AWESOME, in his opinion.

I looked through the stack of about 50 cards (some of which were duplicates, of course). Verdict: I’m still not impressed.

The cards seem to give minor bonuses to attack or defense or have a minor effect on the board. I think that’s the appropriate power level, since they’re pure add-ons to the powers that player characters already have. If they were super-powerful, the game would be warped and the DM would have to increase the challenge level of encounters significantly in order to make things interesting.

However, with these minor bonuses, it just feels like too much extra stuff to keep track of without enough benefit. On your turn, you now have your full array of normal powers PLUS one more card in your hand to keep track of. That card changes every turn (generally speaking, as I understand the rules of Fortune Cards), so you never get to the point that you’re totally familiar with your character’s abilities. Heck, I kept forgetting that my elf hunter ranger had Elven Accuracy this morning, and that power is always there! Fortune Cards would be one more thing that I would be likely to forget about (and then kick myself later).

Overall, I don’t think the cards add anything meaningful to the game. It’s another layer of complication on a game that, in my opinion, has enough complication already, thank you very much. If you want more twists in your game and bonus powers to give out to players, then Fortune Cards might be a great fit for you. For me – not so much. And that’s even ignoring the whole cost and rarity aspects (which bum me out, too).

By the way, Wizards of the Coast has cleared things up a little bit (in my opinion) about what organized play events will require the cards. They’re starting a new series of events in September that sound similar to the competitive Dungeon Delve events that have been held at several conventions. These are really tough adventures that you’re not expected to be able to just win. It’s strongly implied that Fortune Cards will be required for these events.

Some players will probably love this. If you’re a big-time tactical gamer and want to survive the hardest possible encounters with your min-maxed character, this is right up your alley, and building a powerful deck of Fortune Cards will help. That’s not my cup of tea, but I know some players will love it.

Fortune cards – I plan to ignore them

Since it’s the current big uproar in the D&D community, I thought I would give my two cents’ worth on the Fortune Cards news:

I plan to ignore them.

Yes, Wizards of the Coast seems to be trying to make more money by adding a collectible card game element to Dungeons and Dragons.  I understand why they’re doing it.  It doesn’t sound like much fun to me, so I plan to leave them out of my games.  Players will not be allowed to use them in games that I run.  I only DM right now so I’m not a player in a regular game at the moment, but if I were, I would vote to exclude them (and I’m pretty sure the people I play with would do the same).

I’m a little bummed about the part of the announcement that says, “For some Wizards Play Network programs aimed at experienced players, Fortune Card purchase will be a requirement to participate.”  They say that this will not apply to D&D Encounters (although this page talks extensively about Fortune Cards with Encounters, which confuses me), so I’m left to wonder what they mean.  I know that they required the purchase of Gamma World boosters for the Gamma World Game Day (which I did not participate in); is the plan to require Fortune Cards for future Game Days?  What about Living Forgotten Realms?

I’d be especially bummed if you had to use Fortune Cards to play LFR, especially since it seems that LFR is sort of run by the community now rather than by WotC.  I like LFR, and if I HAVE to buy Fortune Cards in order to play, then I’m not playing.  I’m just not interested in the cards.  Maybe someone will give me a stack of commons that I can put on the table and then not use.

Anyway, for people who don’t care about Organized Play (which is most D&D players, since most of us play home games), you can freely ignore Fortune Cards.  The two they’ve shown so far don’t seem that interesting anyway.

Is this a money-grab by WotC?  Yep.  They’re a business and are trying to maximize profits.  Is it distasteful?  Sure, but I don’t mind ignoring it.  I like D&D 4e without Fortune Cards, and no one can require me to add them to my home games if I don’t like them, so I won’t add them.