Reviews

Lorcana Review — A whole new CCG

Disney Lorcana is on everyone’s mind right now. Even if Disney or CCGs don’t interest you, you’ve likely heard of the game. What’s all this hype about? Is it a good game? Should you check it out? Maybe, by the end of this review, I’ll have answered that for you. I’m going to attempt to cover everything from how to play to product availability so buckle up for a long ride or jump to the sections that interest you.

First, I need to mention that while I was not asked by Ravensburger to do this review, I did attend the Lorcana launch party at Gen Con this year where I received some free product; A Starter Deck, this Deck Box, a few boosters, and this playmat.

Now, let’s start with the basics. Disney Lorcana is a Collectible Card Game designed by Ryan Miller and Steve Warner, being published by Ravensburger.

What is it?

A collectible card game is a style of game where players purchase and collect cards in order to make custom decks and compete against other players. You can test your luck with opening randomized booster packs as well as purchase or trade for single cards that you need to complete your deck. You may be familiar with games like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! or Magic the Gathering. These are all Collectible Card Games.

Playmat

Chapter One of Disney Lorcana is out now and features 204 unique cards. If that number of cards and building a deck sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Chapter One has three different starter decks available to get you straight into the game, no deck building required.

A starter deck is a prebuilt, complete deck that comes with the game rules, some damage tokens, a paper play mat, and a bonus booster pack! If you and a friend each grab a starter deck, you are ready to jump into the game and start playing right away.

The rules for Disney Lorcana are easy to absorb and fairly straight forward. The goal of the game is to be the first player to gain 20 Lore. You primarily gain Lore from Questing with characters, but there are a few abilities that can grant Lore as well. Questing is as simple as exhausting a card that has a Lore value to gain that amount of Lore.

Exhausting a character comes with risk though. An exhausted character can be challenged by an opponent’s character and banished to your discard pile if their Willpower is reduced to zero. Basically, they are vulnerable to attacks when exhausted.

All cards have an Ink cost that needs to be paid in order to play the card. At the start of your turn you can choose to Ink a card, turning it into a resource for the rest of the game if it features the inkwell symbol. You will then exhaust your ink to pay for cards you want to play.

The game is excellent at integrating the characters into the mechanical design. One example is a version of Cinderella that is able to play song cards easier than other characters because of her singing ability. Another is an Ariel after she has lost her voice and can’t sing songs at all. Grandma Tala from Moana is turned into a resource after she is defeated, mirroring how she continues to help Moana after passing in the movie. There is also Te Ka from Moana that is extremely strong and must challenge each turn if possible that can be instantly defeated by a Moana with the Heart of Te Fiti. The list goes on and on.

With a decently sized initial card pool there are multiple strategies and deck archetypes that can be used, but the underlying strategy of the game revolves around deciding what cards to sacrifice to your inkwell, and when it is most advantageous to risk questing vs challenging.

Deck building in Disney Lorcana is very simple, at least rules wise it’s simple. Making a deck that is actually good is an entirely different story. To make a deck, you choose 1 or 2 of the 6 colors of ink and choose at least 60 cards. You can have up to 4 copies of each card, and it’s generally best to go ahead and include the maximum number of copies of each card to increase your chances of drawing the cards you want and to focus your deck on a specific play style or goal.

For collectors, Disney Lorcana is a treasure trove of new unique pieces of art featuring your favorite Disney characters in classic as well as new settings. Every card in the game can be found in a foil version and if you’re really dedicated, you can hunt down the special enchanted variants.

Yea, but can I buy them anywhere?

Those looking to get into Disney Lorcana as an investment may be pleased with the extreme scarcity of cards right now, but from a players perspective, it’s a problem. I was fortunate enough to buy a booster box at Gen Con this year, but I have not seen the product in a single store that I went to in my local area. Whether Ravensburger severely underestimated the popularity of the game, or the scarcity is an intentional marketing tool, I don’t know, but as a new player or someone trying to get into the game, you may not be able to find any product to buy for a while.

In an attempt to build communities around local game stores and support small businesses, Ravensburger gave local game stores exclusive access to Lorcana during the month of August, and it appears to have largely backfired. The typical resell scalpers we see with any new hot product were out in force scooping up product, but many game stores were engaging in scalping prices directly as well. Limited product combined with greed is not a recipe for creating a welcoming game or community like Ravensburger has said they want to do.

As an alternative, some stores have resorted to only selling products as part of official events or tournaments which sounds great if you’re a competitive player, but only throws up another barrier for casual gamers to get into the game.

The good news is that restocks are on the way. Ravensburger has already announced more products will be hitting local game stores in October this year and a reprint of Chapter 1 in early 2024. They have also just recently announced Chapter 2 will be releasing in November. If interest in the game remains high, we can only hope the availability of the product itself catches up to demand. Collectors should note that so far there has been no indication that the reprint of Chapter 1 will have any 2nd edition indicator or design to show any difference from the first printing.

Empty shelves at Best Buy

If you’ve managed to get some cards to play the game though, is it good?

There are aspects of Disney Lorcana that are undeniably fun. I assume if you’re watching this you enjoy the Disney characters and are interested in the game, but if you’re here just to comment about Magic being the only real CCG, then that’s fine too. Every time you draw a card and see a character it brings a small moment of joy and a rush of memories. Playing your favorite characters and singing the songs that come up is not just fun but a shared experience that everyone playing can bond over in a way that playing a generic wizard in another game just can’t do.

Speaking of singing and songs, these are a huge part of Disney Lorcana. One of the main card types in the game are Song cards. These can be paid for like any other card, but can also be sung by a character you already have on the table if they meet the song’s ink requirements. Remember that Cinderella I mentioned? She acts like she costs more than she really does when singing so that she can belt out those really powerful songs.

Song cards can have huge impacts. Be Our Guest is really cheap to play and allows you to draw a card, more on card draw later, as well as cycle less desirable cards to the bottom of your deck. Mother Knows Best lets you return a card to the player’s hand, your own or your opponents. This can be huge when timed well to either delay an opponent’s power play or save one of your own valuable cards that is vulnerable to being banished. Then we have more aggressive songs like Be Prepared that banish every character on the table or Grab Your Sword that deals damage to every opposing character.

Using Songs to your advantage and anticipating opponents Songs can be the difference between winning and losing in a game of Lorcana. Not to mention, you can’t help but sing a few lines yourself every time one is played.

The choices you make on which cards to ink, when to quest, and when to challenge give the player lots of space to feel in control of their strategy.

When you are just starting out with Lorcana, you may quickly notice something. In Lorcana you draw a single card each turn. Right around turn 5, or even earlier if you are playing cheap cards, the game can devolve into drawing one card, and playing the one card you just drew. Yes, you are still deciding when to quest or challenge, but the actual playing of cards dries up pretty quickly. Currently the only ink color in the game that really provides any meaningful card draw ability is purple. For the casual player, like myself, this can initially be a problem. Drawing and playing one card each turn slows the game to a crawl and all those fun interactions you were having at the start of the game dry up.

The good, and also bad news, is that we are just bad at the game. Sure you can build a purple deck that actually has a lot of card drawing abilities but even without purple, competitive or experienced players don’t have this issue. At higher levels of play there is much less spamming of every possible card that can be played because these players are aware of the threat of those Songs we talked about earlier. Building up a huge roster of characters might seem strong until they are all wiped out with a single Be Prepared.

You see, Disney Lorcana is actually a much deeper game than I think some people are giving it credit for. You can definitely play this game casually with your family or friends, not worrying about more serious card play, and have a great time, but for those that want to dig deeper, Lorcana has that as well.

Once you get past the childhood cartoon veneer, the card play is actually really engaging. Holding cards for coordinated plays later, setting up powerful Songs, knowing when to sacrifice characters to banish an opponent, anticipating the play your opponent is setting up based on their deck composition. These are all serious CCG techniques and strategies that Lorcana has to offer if you want to go beyond the surface.

Ready and Exhausted cards.

Let’s talk about the different products Disney Lorcana has on offer. It’s 2023 and gamers have come to expect premium products for the cost they are willing to pay. The card quality is on par with every other major CCG on the market. Where Lorcana clearly stands out is the Disney IP and the stunning original Artwork. Artists like Nicholas Kole and many others have done an amazing job of bringing all of your favorite characters to life. Disney and Ravensburger have commissioned entirely new original artwork for this game, which is amazing considering the vast amount of existing Disney artwork that they could have reused. If you want to see a list of all of the artists involved in the game with links to their work, click here.

The extras

In addition to booster packs, which include 12 cards, there is an entire range of supporting products.

Starter decks as mentioned earlier are pre-made decks that get you straight into the game and include the rules and some damage tokens as well as a bonus chapter one booster pack. The starter decks are a great value, and while the deck isn’t super optimized or competitive, it’s fun and is the best way, in my opinion, to get started.

Next we have the Gift Set. It includes 4 booster packs, game tokens, 2 foil cards, and 2 collectible oversized cards. If you are a collector and really want the oversized cards, then you may want to pick one of these up but overall I think you’re better off getting boosters themselves at a cheaper price or even better, buying the singles you need for your deck.

The Illumineers Trove is an absolute waste of money. Do not buy this. The good news is that it comes with 8 booster packs and is the same MSRP as 8 booster packs, so from that perspective it’s not bad value. However, the included deck boxes are flimsy folding paper boxes that are too small to hold sleeved cards. The collectors box is so small that if you are serious about the game, it will quickly be overwhelmed, on top of being thin cardboard that will do little to protect your collection. Ravensburger needs to do better if they are going to continue offering Trove’s in future chapters.

The game tokens included in all of these products are better than nothing, but they are the thinnest possible cardboard that could still be considered cardboard and not just paper. Personally, I quickly replaced them with dice to track damage and Lore.

Themed deck box.

The themed Lorcana plastic deck boxes are fine. They are on par with any other flexible plastic deck box as far as price and utility. If you are going to get this type of box anyway, you might as well grab one that features the game.

The playmats are also on par with similar offerings from other games. The three available in chapter one are also nicely made and I particularly enjoy the classic Steamboat Mickey. Ravensburger has already teased future mats and they look stunning. The sky’s the limit for new art featuring the games Dreamborn and Floodborn characters.

Next up we have collection binders. I didn’t buy any of these myself so all I can tell you is that they feature the games artwork again but are relatively small. They would be great for keeping your foil legendary cards safe and organized but are definitely too small if you are planning to binder an entire collection or play set.

Themed card sleeves.

Finally, themed card sleeves. I do not recommend these. While the artwork is great, the edges of the sleeves seem to curl a bit making them very difficult to shuffle. Ripping sleeves is inevitable, so you will be locked into keeping these special sleeves on hand to replace damaged ones if you are taking these to a competitive event. You’re better off sleeving with your favorite color of widely available third party sleeves.

Disney Lorcana Review - A whole new CCG

 

Lead Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

A life long video gamer, Mark caught the Tabletop itch in college and has been hooked ever since. Epic two player strategy games are his favorites but he enjoys pretty much everything on the tabletop, just no Werewolf please. When he gets a break from changing diapers and reading bedtime stories he can usually be found researching new games or day dreaming about maybe one day having time for a ttrpg. Some of Mark's favorite games are Star Wars: Rebellion, A Feast for Odin, and Nemesis.

90

Excellent

Disney Lorcana

Review Guidelines

Solid gameplay and fantastic original artwork will have any Disney fan smiling. Whether you are an experienced CCG player or new the hobby, Lorcana is a great game to jump into. You'll be singing along and questing your way to victory before you know it.

Mark Julian

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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