D&D Encounters: D&D Fortune Cards

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on January 30, 2011

Included in the D&D Encounters season 4: March of the Phantom Brigade DMs kit was information about the new D&D Fortune Cards. Here’s what Wizards of the Coast provided along with instructions on how to distribute the free cards earned when players accumulate enough Renown Points.

Dungeons & Dragon Fortune Cards
A New Game Enhancement Starting This Season

Starting this season, a new product called D&D Fortune Cards is available for use. Going forward, D&D Fortune Cards will be featured in a variety of Wizards Play Network programs – “March of the Phantom Brigade” is the premier of their use.

How to Play With Fortune Cards

At the start of each encounter, shuffle your Fortune Card deck and draw a card.

You can play one Fortune Card per round. It requires no action to play. The rules on each card state when you can play it and what effect it has. A Fortune Card takes effect just once unless its rules state otherwise, and you discard the card when its effect ends.

You can have only one Fortune Card in your hand at a time. At the start of your turns, you can do one of the following:

  • Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.
  • Draw a new card if you don’t have one in your hand.
  • Keep the card that’s in your hand if you haven’t played it.

You can use one or more Dungeons & Dragons Fortune Card boosters as your deck. We recommend 2 booster packs as a start, creating a 10 card deck containing at least 3 of each type of card (attack, defense, tactic).

You can also build your own deck, using the rules in the Fortune Card Rules and FAQ, available in booster packs and online at:


Fortune Cards and Twitter Buffs

Starting this season, we’ll be using our Twitter channels – @Wizards_DnD – to enhance the play of Fortune Cards instead of providing direct mechanical benefits to characters. Here’s how it works.

Every hour of every session during the normal play times for D&D Encounters, a Twitter message will be broadcast through the Twitter channel. Each message will contain a keyword that will correspond with a mechanical benefit listed below.

Battle Prowess: Once per session, draw an attack card from your discard pile instead of your deck.
Divine Providence: Once per session, draw a defense card from your discard pile instead of your deck.
Obscure Knowledge: Once per session, draw a tactics card from your discard pile instead of your deck.
Great Fortune: Once per session, when you would draw a card, draw two cards and discard one.
Fickle Fate: Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.
Misfortune: Discard the card in your hand, and don’t draw a new card until the start of your next turn.
Battle Back: Once per session, when an attack card would be discarded, put that card back into hand instead of discarding it.
Effective Tactic: Once per session, if you have no Fortune Cards in your hand, return a discarded tactics card to your hand.
Dual Defense: Once per session, after another player plays a defense card, discard a card in your hand and also gain that effect.
Renewed Boon: Once per session, shuffle your discard pile into your deck.

Distributing Rewards

  • When a player hits 20 Renown Points, give them the Cautious Maneuver Fortune Card.
  • When a player hits 40 Renown Points, give them the Impervious Fortune Card.
  • When a player hits 60 Renown Points, give them the One More Chance Fortune card. These are 12 copies of this card in the kit, as it is assumed that more players will earn the easier-to-obtain rewards, and less will earn this one.

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.

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1 Liam Gallagher January 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Can’t say I am looking forward to this. I thought the FLR cards were awful, and so I was glad when plays had to at least earn reknown cards in encounters but these things are a whole new level of arbitrary nonsense.

2 Alton January 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Dungeons & Dragons: The Gathering.


Anyways on a more serious note, I will try them see how they play out. I think it is a good idea for newbies, but for more experienced players, it will just make it easier to win encounters and harder for the DM to DM properly. Oh, well. We shall see.

3 E. Walter January 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I’m pretty ambivalent about this. I think it could be fun, but I’m not about to run out and start buying them. I think it’s an interesting idea, although I might want to tie it to in-game rewards somehow (e.g. roleplay a situation well and get to draw a card).

As crass at it may sound, if it results in more support and business for FLGSs, then I support the idea. It’s obviously (at least partly) a money-maker, but I try to remember that it’s not only Wizards who makes the money. Not that I have anything against giving Wizards my money – my bookshelf will attest to that.

4 Alric January 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I think I’d like the cards better if some bad fortune was included in the booster – the worst it apparently gets is having to discard or not be able to draw again. I’d like to see something like bad footing that slows your movement or being knocked off-balance and suffering an attack penalty.

Maybe WotC will provide similar cards for DMs, so that the monsters can have a few boons, too; I’d be okay with balancing things out in that way. But right now, this product just looks like a pack of free PC buffs in a game already weighted in favor of the PCs.

5 Richard January 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I picked up the Encounters packet yesterday from the game store and looked through it. The new pre-gens seem pretty cool. I’m adopting a wait-and-see approach as far as the Fortune Cards. I do think newbies will love them, though. There were no Impervious cards in my packet, however- just Cautious Maneuver and One More Chance. Anyone else have this happen?

6 Feeroper January 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I think this is a good idea overall. You dont have to use em if you dont want to in oyur home game, and for a thing like encounters, it gives the FLGS that incentive with D&D as it may create the repeat buy customer like they see with magic cards during in store play.

Ill wait and see how it actually plays out, but I think its a good idea for that environment, and can be a cool addition to D&D if handled corectly.

7 Sunyaku January 31, 2011 at 12:41 am

@Alric I just had a chance to playtest a legal deck of 10 fortune cards for the first time, and the card “Gambler’s Eye” has different effects depending on a d20 roll. It actually hurt me! And it was the only card I was able to play during a 5 hour LFR session. 🙁 More on that and additional analysis in the link below.

8 froth January 31, 2011 at 7:32 am

hate these so much

9 Thorynn January 31, 2011 at 8:26 am

This just adds a confusing layer to an event that is geared towards new players. Learning D&D can be confusing enough, do we really need to make it a CCG as well? Boo.

10 Lahrs January 31, 2011 at 9:32 am

My apologies for repeating this post, as I have posted this write up on Sunyaku’s blog as well.

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, as Alric was hoping for:
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.

11 obryn January 31, 2011 at 10:25 am

Yeah, still not a fan of these. I’m rather relieved I’m running a home game where I can easily ignore them, rather than an organized play game where they’ll be required.

I like the concept of having a deck of cards, and using it during play for events and whatnot. I thought it was one of the best parts of TORG, for example.

I don’t like (1) collectibility, (2) deck-building, and (3) financial advantage where players get better decks through spending more money. I also think the price is insane – $0.50/card – but if I’m not buying them and my players aren’t buying them, I can’t bring myself to care *that* much.

I’m pretty far from a grognard – I’ve drunken the 4e kool-aid just about wholesale – but I’m deeply uncomfortable with the idea of randomized boosters for an RPG, where players get advantages by spending more money.

12 Gormal February 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I see this as a way for wizards to make more money. I prefer the free encounter benefits that we have recieved. I think wizards is trying to recoup lost money from the promotional stuff. Fine by me but I doubt I will be buying any.

13 Wes February 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

As an organizer for D&D Encounters at a Barnes & Noble, I am not excited about the inclusion of Fortune Cards in the upcoming season, as our store does not stock them, and there are few other options nearby for our players to pick up a few packs. I have a feeling they will not be used very extensively.
However, from both a player and DM perspective, after seeing a few packs of them in my DM Appreciation kit (Thanks WotC!), I am more excited about the prospect of including them in my home campaigns. They don’t seem as game-breakingly overpowered as I had first feared.

14 Peter February 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

The rules for using fortune cards don’t say that they are for players only. Therefore DM’s can use them too. This may help with balance issues.

Admitedly the DM’s only got the one deck of cards, but with all the monsters on the table the odds that the DM can use the card he has
are better.

15 Yronimosw March 23, 2011 at 11:36 am

If you like the idea behind the cards, but dislike the collectible and radomized aspects, then Paizo’s “GameMastery: Plot Twist” cards might be more like what you are looking for.

It looks like basically the same idea, except:
– Paizo’s product is a complete, uniform deck of roughly 50 cards
– each card represents a plot twist theme, open to player and/or DM interpretation
– suggested interpretations on the cards include a purely mechanical effect, and four sample alternative storytelling effects, which might have positive effects on a player, or negative effects on an NPC (or vice-versa if the card is used by a DM)
– use of the card is subject to DM veto or alternative interpretation, leaving control of the story ultimately in the DM’s hands
– the DM may “build” the deck by removing troublesome plot twists, if desired
– the DM can use the Plot Twist cards between games to help with creating the story, the cards can also be used by NPCs, given out as rewards to supplement treasure, etc.
– the cards were designed to be system-independent, so they can be used in a variety of game systems (I am planning to use some of these cards as an optional rule for the “Castle Ravenloft” board game, for example.)

An example of one of these cards:

COVERT OPERATION – effect suggestions:
[Target receives +10 circumstance bonus on a Stealth check.] Or,
– An action has unseen ramifications.
– A hireling has motivations of his own.
– A secret society has designs against you.
– A mission has greater importance.

16 Grimm March 24, 2011 at 5:54 am

Another way to seperate you from your dollars…gimmicky and to me takes away from role-play. I can see the apeal for both players, and the company selling them…but as a DM i’ll never use them in a game…I just think these types of things take away from me as a story teller, and my players and characters withen the story…like children in real life, they gotta learn to stand on their own two feet.

17 SirZed May 30, 2011 at 11:27 am

I am also an Encounters Organizer… and the I run at store has also decided not to carrythem.

As someone who has new players each week, when I gave out some of the free packs I actually had a new player ask “Do I have to use them?” and they decided to not even open the pack. It adds more steps, more things for new players to try and figure out each round and really adds another, unnecessary, complication for brand new players.

I was fortunate enough to have some left-over reward cards from previous seasons of encounters and I give one of these to each new player. For those that have both, I allow them a choice to use either fortune cards or old reward cards… and I find it is about 50/50 split.

I’m afraid a lot of the WotC decisions and products since September 2010 have done nothing for the game and have actually hurt the brand. I am up to 4 tables each week for encounters and allow 4e characters (not just Essentials) and the only people using Essentials are those that are new and use pre-gens or are new and have no books so buy a subscription to use the online generator. 100% of the remaining people do not use Essentials rules.

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