Calvin’s Commentaries: Hand of Fate: Ordeals

Sometimes the ‘fluff’ that accompanies a game’s ruleset just grabs you.

“You, traveller, have been chosen to play The Game and ancient artifact of terrible power that can twist reality and call forth horrors from the past to test its players. You now sit at the table before Kallas, the current master of The Game, to play for his entertainment and your life.

“You enter the fray with only a rusty axe and the most basic of skills. Trace the steps of your past and explore the vast lands of the kingdom. Hone your abilities, outwit your opponents, and slay the greatest of foes in order to claim the title of Hero.”

Welcome to Hand of Fate: Ordeals an adventure deck-building game for one-to-four players that can be played in competitive or cooperative modes.

As regular readers will recall a deck-building game is a card game where the construction of a deck is a key focus of gameplay. Readers will also recognize this is one of the Meeple Guild’s favoured game mechanics.

Each player begins with a deck of 10 basic cards, consisting of resource generating cards, and then throughout the game, they use the resource cards to perform actions or to purchase additional cards to add to their deck.

Acquired cards are typically placed in the player’s discard pile. When the draw deck is depleted, all cards in the player’s discard pile are shuffled to form their new (larger) deck.

In specific terms Hand of Fate: Ordeals is a deck-building game where adventurers fight monsters and acquire treasures on their quest to obtain the most fame. If this sounds a lot like the role-playing game (RPG) Dungeons & Dragons, it is not surprising as this deck builder holds a lot in common with D&D.

Each Adventurer starts with a basic set of cards that allows them to move and fight. Better cards will be acquired throughout the game, allowing you to move farther, or fight better. It is much like gaining experience in an RPG.

“Players will move around the board, revealing and interacting with Encounter cards, until they defeat the Royalty of that level, starting with the Jack on Level1. This will cause the board to advance to a new level and a new set of Encounter cards,” details the rules.

“Defeat the Queen of Level2, and finally the King of Level 3, to finish the game. The player who has gained the most Fame will be crowned ‘The Hero’.”

There is a lot of like here, starting with the artwork. From the box top to the game board to the cards, and even the card backs, the art is simply outstanding. It is not the most detailed in the work, being more old manuscript illustration in style, but it works here.

Players get a miniature to move around, not super detailed, but a nice touch.

And the moving around is a key feature. Like a role-playing character, you move from place to place seeking to find and buy neat things. Along the way, you may encounter some bad guys which often you can choose to fight or to simply ignore.

For a long time RPGer who grew disillusioned with the homogenization of D&D fifth edition, Hand of Fate does a fine job of scratching the itch of at times missing a fantasy RPG.

The RPG elements, the pleasing artistic aesthetics, and the rather straight forward gameplay all make this one an easy game to recommend.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Jeff Chasse, Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

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