Wizards of the Coast sent me a few packs of D&D Fortune Cards. The way they work is that each player must accumulate his or her own stack — the cards are collectible, and come 8 to a pack. At the beginning of the battle you shuffle the deck. Every round you can draw a card or swap a card, but ultimately can you have only one card at a time. Each details a specific combat-related power. For instance, playing “Eye For Danger” protects your PC from granting combat advantage when flanked. “Careful Aim” lets you exclude one person from getting struck by an area-of-effect power.
So, why do we need these cards?
For those unfamiliar with D&D’s fourth edition, the way it equalizes the classes is by giving everyone powers. Clerics and wizards can cast spells, yes, but fighters and rogues get tactical maneuvers and special weapon attacks. Additionally, everyone gets extra goodies for their race and for other reasons.
With so many powers already out there, why do players need these new cards? It boils down to fun. Imagine your character’s advancement is bogged down and he hasn’t earned any new powers in forever. Wouldn’t it be sweet to have a stack of these cards to spice up a fight? The randomness of drawing a card adds an unknown factor that’d be particularly delicious depending on how desperately you need a specific card. Another way Fortune Cards differ from powers is that not every effect is positive. For instance, in “Reckless Violence” you take a -2 penalty to your attack roll but do +4 damage, and grant combat advantage until the start of your next turn.
Ultimately Fortune Cards aren’t all that unbalancing. Chances are you’ll only use a couple in a fight — whether you’re camping on that sweet card, or swapping a useless one, you probably won’t find yourself getting a giant bump in power — but who knows? You might get a bump in fun.