The destiny deck (formerly the destiny pile or orders pile) is used during the destiny phase to determine which player will be the defense for the encounter. In the current edition, the destiny deck is a deck of cards; in previous editions, it was a pile of discs (called "star discs") that were identical on one side and showed various colors or other information on their other side.
There are three types of destiny cards: color, wild and special.
This is the most common type of destiny card, with three for each player color. If the offense draws a color destiny card, he or she must have an encounter with the player of that color in that player's home system.
If the offense draws his or her own color, he or she may choose one of three options:
- Encounter another player's foreign colony that is on one of the offense's home planets.
- Re-establish a home colony on one of his or her empty home planets, using up to four ships from his or her other colonies. In this case, the encounter ends immediately after the destiny phase and is considered to be successful. This use isn't printed on the destiny cards but is described in the rulebook.
- Discard the destiny card and draw another one.
One of each color destiny card features a hazard warning, which appears as a circular design around the colored circles in the corners of the card. This has no effect on its own, but some cards and powers gain extra effects during encounters if a destiny card with a hazard warning is or was drawn. If playing with the hazard deck, drawing a hazard warning causes a hazard card to be drawn before allies are invited.
If a wild destiny card is drawn, the offense may have an encounter with any other player of his or her choice, in the chosen player's home system.
If a special destiny card is drawn, the offense must follow its instructions to determine which player to encounter. These are designed to target the players who are furthest ahead in some respect, such as:
- The player with the most foreign colonies
- The player with the fewest ships in the warp
- The player with the most cards in hand
In each case, ties are broken to the offense's left.
Historical destiny card types
- This article or section uses Eon and Mayfair terminology: e.g., ships are "tokens" and colonies are "bases."
Reverse Cone destiny cards show a "negative" hyperspace cone in addition to a player color. If a Reverse Cone destiny card is drawn, flip the hyperspace cone over to its "negative" side. During a challenge in which the negative cone is in use, allies’ gains are reversed: winning offensive allies receive rewards instead of landing their tokens on the planet, and winning defensive allies land their tokens on the planet instead of receiving rewards. Flip the cone back to its "positive" side at the end of the challenge.
The Reverse Cone mechanism can still be used with the current edition, but players will have to use substitute destiny cards and, because both sides of the hyperspace gate are printed identically, another method of keeping track of whether or not the Reverse Cone is in effect.
Comets have instructions on them that modify the upcoming challenge. During setup, shuffle one Comet card per player into the destiny pile and set the rest aside out of play. If a Comet is drawn for destiny, note the effect and draw again (if any more Comets are drawn this way, ignore and discard them and keep drawing); once the defense has been determined, the Comet takes effect. When the destiny discard pile is to be reshuffled, remove the topmost comet in the destiny discard pile from the game and replace it with a randomly-drawn comet from those not in play (without looking at it) before reshuffling.
The hazard deck from Cosmic Conflict can be considered a replacement for Comets, as both are unpredictable effects that are triggered by destiny and modify upcoming encounters.