Disney Lorcana – First Wave Review

Disney Lorcana – First Wave Review

Disney and Collectible Card Game – a moneymaking match made in heaven on paper by any stretch of the imagination. Speculative markets, nostalgia and occasionally an honest-to-goodness great game underneath it all has sustained many a production company in the CCG space, keeping the lights on at many smaller game stores to boot. Disney Lorcana feels like a product that should have existed long before its inception, launched a decade or more ago alongside the slew of other IP dependent games that have come and gone underneath the monolith that is Magic: The Gathering. Amongst a sea of heavyweights and also-rans, Lorcana manages to create a very compelling gameplay experience that is straightforward to teach and can be done and dusted in as little as twenty minutes per game, leaving players clamouring for one more round and perhaps a few more booster packs.

Lorcana Group

Lorcana is a game which sees 2 or more players racing to collect 20 Lore points before the others, employing cards depicting beloved characters, items and songs from the Disney canon in a variety of ways. The in-game action economy is driven by each players ‘inkwell’, an area in front of them where cards can be deployed face down once per turn (provided they have a special ‘inkwell’ icon around their cost’) to be used in that turn and all subsequent turns to pay to play cards or execute effects. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary system and will be familiar to players of other modern CCG’s, but provides plenty of opportunities for good and bad play alongside tempo considerations. By default, players will only draw a single card each turn from a deck of 60 which can feel glacial at times unless further draw opportunities are purposely built into a deck. 

Lorcana Unboxed

Lorcana works to slightly subvert the usual attack/defend pattern of many card duellers which can grind other games to a halt with the Lore system. Victory is achieved not by destroying one’s opponent, but by being the first to reach 20 Lore points on their turn. Most Lore points are accrued by sending characters on ‘Quests’, a nice way of saying you Exert them sideways and chalk yourself up as many Lore points as the card has Lore symbols on its right-hand side. It can be difficult to stop opponents accruing Lore as only characters who have been Exerted in this way can then be targeted for attacks in the following turn, with many characters able to Quest at least once or twice before being defeated and subsequently Exiled to their owners discard pile. While the idea of Aladdin skewering Happy the Dwarf with his attached Stolen Scimitar might sound gruesome, it rarely plays out as such – very little in Lorcana ever feels mean, and no absolute drubbing will last longer than 15 minutes due to the way in which players quickly upgrade both Lore and damage output within 4-5 turns. Lorcana is a race game more than it is a combat game and anyone who can’t get their Lore production up at some point will be looking to tweak their deck before the next match. 

Lorcana Setup

Player2 was provided with two starter decks – a First Chapter Emerald/Ruby deck and Rise of the Floodborn Amber/Sapphire deck – alongside six booster packs from each of these product waves to put Lorcana through its paces and tinker with some deck construction. Decks in Lorcana have a number of restrictions they need to follow; a minimum of 60 cards, a maximum of four copies of each card and only one or two of the six available ink colours can appear in a deck. I personally like deck construction games that have these sorts of limitations as it makes it easier to on-board players like myself who are more at ease with deck-building during a game rather than crafting a deck beforehand. It does mean that to get a taste of each ‘ink’ aspect and its related strengths and weaknesses, purchasing the three Starter Decks from The First Chapter wave is practically mandatory. Ravensburger have made this an attractive option in a number of ways. Firstly, the Starter Deck products are extremely well put together, each providing a decently built deck with some synergies, a functional albeit spartan token set, a paper player mat that isn’t totally necessary, a Quick Start set of instructions and a single booster pack to encourage some deck tweaking as early as possible. For the price to gameplay ratio, the Starter Decks can’t be beat and it wouldn’t surprise me if some people buy nothing but these. One concern that did appear across my playthroughs is the stark difference in the perceived power level of each Starter, with The First Chapter Emerald/Ruby deck far less tuned than that of the Amber/Sapphire from Rise of the Floodborn. In a number of match-ups, even with deck-swapping and different opponents, the Floodborn deck usually dominated. However, this may merely be a case of Ravensburger doing their best to onboard players with lower overhead card effects in First Chapter, as I can already see potential in taking some Floodborn wave cards into the First Chapter Starter.


My foray into deck tweaking, courtesy of the aforementioned booster packs was relatively straightforward thanks to the inclusion of many basic cards in the Starter Deck that made it obvious where improvements could be made, often purely because a card of the same cost had an added effect or a slightly higher attack/defense/Lore stat. Rather than being overwhelmed with Keywords and resorting straight to Netdecking, Lorcana has been the first time I’ve worked myself to find ways to improve a deck and it was interesting to finally enjoy that process for once – which I now hope might carry across to my expansive Arkham LCG/Marvel Champions/L5R LCG sets. The Ink ‘Mix and Match’ nature of the current and upcoming Starter Decks is also enticing, a quick way to see how the different colours play off or against one another – yet another point in Lorcana‘s favour. 

Lorcana Cards

It would be ridiculous to spend this much time discussing Lorcana without mentioning the artwork; gorgeous, bespoke renditions of Disney scenes and characters adorn each card, a point of pride for the design team; each piece of Lorcana artwork is an original, not a reproduction from a previous film. Compounding the stellar card art, the layout, iconography and considered colour choices help to make Lorcana something that stands out on the table and had many people enquiring as to what I was playing, no doubt aided by recognisable imagery that’s front and centre on each card.


Character designs come in three flavours in Lorcana; Storyborn, Dreamborn and Floodborn. Dreamborn designs stays true to the Disney originals, while Dreamborn characters have been altered slightly in some way in terms of personality or visuals, whether it be Superhero Tigger or Surfer Minnie. Floodborn characters are radically different, as is the case with Hades, whose Floodborn version is now the King of Olympus. Floodborn cards also carry the Shift keyword, which lets you ‘overwrite’ an already played card of the same character name often by paying the difference in cost between the powerful Floodborn variant and the often-cheaper Storyborn or Dreamborn version. Transforming a Steamboat Willie style Mickey Mouse into a powerful Rogue via Shift is a satisfying action both mechanically and thematically and one I can’t wait to dig into more during deck construction

Lorcana Floodborn

It’s taken almost a year for Australia to receive this first wave of Disney Lorcana, but it appears to have been worth it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my plays of Lorcana and look forward to trying out more decks and various ink colour combos. For anybody looking to introduce a Disney-inclined spouse, friend or child to the world of Collectible Card Games, grabbing a pair of Lorcana Starter Decks is an absolute no-brainer. Even as someone who already has a number of LCG style card games on hand including Android: Netrunner and Legend of the Five Rings LCG, Lorcana has found a home in my collection simply because I can throw two decks into a deckbox and teach it to almost anyone, the thematic elements making it much easier to onboard them while the visual design lends it a level of table presence and charisma not often seen in this style of game.


My biggest concern going forward is across two waves of Starter Decks, there is already a perceived feeling of ‘power creep’, often a necessary evil to keep players coming back to a product that relies on repeat purchases. This could be fixed with some solid deck construction or further exacerbated when the as-yet-unnamed fifth wave of Lorcana cards launches simultaneously in the US and Down Under on August 9th,  just a fortnight after we’ve been sped through the previous four waves of product in the space of 6 weeks; The First Chapter which hit stores on June 1st, Rise of the Floodborn on June 14th, Into the Inklands on June 29th and then the Solo/Co-Op set Ursula’s Return on July 13th. Reportedly plagued by product shortages throughout its lifespan overseas, it remains to be seen if supply can keep up with demand alongside such a gruelling release schedule.

Lorcana is currently available to purchase at EB Games, Zing, Kmart and many toy and game stores. Player 2 was kindly provided with a Lumineers Welcome Set including two starter decks and 12 booster packs by Disney Australia and New Zealand.

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