The Triumph of Tempo

By Corey F. Lerch

Want to be the best at Fate Foretold? Here's a quick lesson that will get you there- fast!

    I don’t know about you, but Fate Foretold is not the first card game I’ve ever played. Through the years I’ve played everything from UNO to Magic: the Gathering. I’m not (yet) part of any pro circuit of either, but I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way that can quickly and easily make you a better Fate Foretold player. Want to come out on top when you play with your friends? Then listen up: the two most important things you need to know are called “card advantage” and “tempo.” In almost any strategic card game, as you play, you unknowingly balance these two critical and mutually opposed forces, and mastering them will help you prevail in any scenario.

   You can think about Card Advantage as the sheer number of cards available to you. As a rule in most games, you want more cards. The more cards you have, the more cards you choose from to play, and the better (on average) each card you play will be.

    Tempo, on the other hand, is the rate that you play your cards. All other things equal, in most games you want to play more cards than your opponents do in the same amount of time. Why? Because you accomplish more than your opponents and win faster because of it.

   I’ve tested every prototype version of Fate Foretold extensively. I’ve probably played it more than anyone else on this planet, save of course the head designer and Master of Fate himself, Nicholas Fair (unless some of you are playing it day and night!). Throughout testing, I have come to the following conclusion about the game we love:

    In Fate Foretold, Tempo Triumphs.

   Think of it this way:

    In general, as you play Fate Foretold, you want to impact the game as much as possible. You want to do as much as you can every turn with effects that help you progress in the game, stifle your opponents, or give you cards on your field that help you build towards convergence.

    In Fate Foretold, most of the cards have roughly the same amount of impact on the game (we’ll talk more about cards that break this rule in a moment). In order to measure this impact, I’m going to make up a unit called a “Fate.” If we say that one “Fate” is the average amount of impact a card has on a game of Fate Foretold, then every card you play causes about one “Fate” of impact. Stay with me, here.

    Every turn, you draw one card and play one card. That means, on average, you get a rate 1.0 Fates a turn. If you play a good card with a larger than average effect, you might get 1.5 Fates that turn, while playing a less good card might only net you 0.5 Fates. I know, math. Gross. Hang on.

    Let’s start with a pretty normal scenario. You’re in the middle of a game of Fate Foretold and your hand looks like this:

    You have options.

    Option 1 – Play The Aegis

    This is an example of an average play. Assuming you want to align with Body, you’ve just increased your alignment by one. You also have a small but significant effect on your fellow players through the ability on the card. You make 1.0 Fate of impact, and you’re one step closer to winning the game. Good job.

   Option 2 – Play The Throne

    This card generates card advantage. However, it also makes no impact on the game this turn (a net of 0.0 Fates). This is because it doesn’t get you any step closer to winning with convergence to body and doesn’t affect your fellow players. However, you got more cards! Next turn, you have more cards to choose from, and instead of making a 1.0 Fate play, you have the choice make a 1.5 Fate play with that extra card you drew. That’s great… except that it took you 2 turns to do it, meaning you averaged a play of 0.75 Fates/turn when your opponents were taking option 1 and playing 1.0 Fates/turn. Not so awesome. The Aegis is the better play.

    Option 3 – Play The Druid

    This is my favorite card. Even if I only get to play two cards using its ability, and even though The Druid itself makes no impact to player’s boards beyond increasing my alignment, it’s a fantastic play. I’ll say The Druid is worth 0.8 Fates on its own (just for increasing my alignment; the remaining 0.2 is the price of affecting the board), but the cards it can play are also worth their own Fates. Even if you just play one card with it worth 1.0 Fates, that’s 1.8 Fates in one turn. I’ll gladly hurl The Throne or an off-suit alternative into the infinite abyss at the bottom of the Nest in order to play the Druid and The Aegis all in one turn, any day. The tempo play puts you way ahead, and sometimes in Fate Foretold that’s all you need.

    Two more tempo cards that get honorable mention.


    First, and most important, it’s always a great decision to cover your opponent in snakes. Second, even if less relevant, The Snake Charmer can increase your alignment while forcing your opponent to trade tempo for card advantage. Most of the time, your opponent will feel like they’ve just been fleeced at the pawn shop, even with a hand stuffed with cards.


    I’m always glad when this card gets played; that’s because I rarely play it. My reaction is always the same: “Here, dear opponent, have the Throne, or another off-suit card from my hand. Meanwhile, I’ll put The Aegis down and get my 0.8 Fates (for upping my alignment) for free. Nice.”

    I only play The Fallen when I need card advantage. Desperately. Even if my opponents get a few extra Fates, hopefully the card advantage nets me just as many. I also hope all my newly-advantaged opponents turn on one another. Tempo and Card Advantage aside, having your opponents cripple each other is always the best strategy.

    There are two scenarios in which I play for card advantage in Fate Foretold.

    The first scenario is a card like The Steadfast.


    The important difference between The Throne and The Steadfast is that the second increases my alignment in this scenario, where I want to be aligned to body. Since I don’t make any impact beyond increasing my alignment, I only get 0.8 Fates this turn; however, with my sweet new cards, I get 1.5 fates next turn. That averages out to 1.15 and puts me 0.3 total fates ahead of my opponents. Awesome!

    The second scenario is when my hand stinks. If I’m holding a hand full of cards that aren’t in my suit and not going to affect the board in any way that will help, I’ll gladly try to find better cards that will give me a higher rate of Fates per turn. If playing out my hand gets me 0.5 Fates/turn, but instead I risk it and pull a sweet card that gets me 1.5 fates next turn, I’ve made the right call.

    Last but certainly not least, don’t forget about cards like The Seductress, The Falling Star, or The Resurrection that give you tempo and card advantage, if you can find the right opportunity to use them.

    As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on tempo, card advantage, the cards themselves, and your favorite stories from Fate Foretold.

Email us at

Corey Lerch is a Steely-Eyed Missile-Man from the suburbs of Nantucket
with a heart of gold and a quarter pound buckshot in his pocket.

Posted May 19, 2017