Disney Lorcana Review – Inklands and Ursula Glimmer Brightly

Disney Lorcana Review – Inklands and Ursula Glimmer Brightly

Our first piece on Lorcana, the TCG team-up from Ravensburger and Disney, was hopeful about forthcoming additions which would quickly bring Australia up to speed with the worldwide August 9th release of the impending Shimmering Skies, Lorcana’s fifth wave of content. As this piece builds upon that one, we encourage you to read it first and also check out our Lorcana video content for an understanding on the basics of the game.

Into the Inklands and Ursula’s Return represent Waves 3 and 4 of Lorcana respectively, the former having already launched officially in Australia on the 29th of June while the latter hits AU retailers on the 13th of July. As of that date, Australian Lorcana players will be on an equal content footing with international counterparts, a move which is worth applauding given rumours that some of the earlier waves might have been skipped entirely. Having continued to explore both The First Chapter and Rise of the Floodborn across various games and tinkering with further deck construction, I’m not convinced I’ve yet plumbed the depths of what those content waves had to offer, exacerbated by Australian Lorcana players receiving in 8 weeks what US players have had almost 9 months to play through. Obviously those purely operating from a collection and speculation angle will approach the game differently, and the sheer convenience of being able to pick up Booster boxes locally rather than rely on importing is a boon, but being firmly in the player camp my perspective is maybe a bit different.

Lorcana Inklands Ursula

Armed with both Into the Inklands Starter Decks and an as-yet-unreleased Ursula’s Return Starter Deck alongside 15 Booster Packs split between the two sets, I dove in eager to see what was new. There were a few changes that already stood out during the unboxing of the Starters. First is the switch from a foldout rules sheet to a proper booklet, nestled amongst what feels like ever-so-slightly sturdier card for the included player tokens. The visual design of the tokens, rule book and player mats are unique compared to previous sets and makes it easy to run up to four separate player areas if desired.

Lorcana Mats

Off the bat, Ravensburger have maintained a good standard of ‘pre-constructed’ decks in the Inkland Starter Kits, with the Ruby/Sapphire deck containing 49 new cards and 11 from the previous waves, while the Amber/Emerald deck contains 51 new cards and 9 old. For me, this is a reassuring sign that subsequent waves won’t make previous ones totally obsolescent, even while the total card pool is about to tip into 1200+ card. That said, both decks feel very fairly powerful compared to their predecessors, leaning into the familiarity players would now have with the game and slightly upping the complexity of each deck as a result.

Of note is that Inklands may be the last Wave to include a list of the card contents on the side of the box as it’s a feature missing from the Ursula’s Return Starter box – my suspicion is that the 75/25 ratio of 45 new cards and 15 older wave cards might put off some purchasers, yet makes financial sense in terms of encouraging players to pick up a few Boosters to shift that deck makeup closer to all new content. Given decks need to be split between two Ink colours however, it would require a minimum of 3-4 boosters to achieve without considering optimisation – rarely is it worthwhile to include a bunch of single cards in a game where the maximum of each named card in a deck is four. Put simply, when building your deck, you want to maximise your chances of pulling certain cards, and a deck loaded with an abundance of single cards is much harder to do this with. Sure, the minimum deck size of 60 allows players to run with even larger decks, but the draw economy in Lorcana is such that without specifically building a deck that allows plenty of card draw, you can find yourself stuck with a whole lot of nothing as the average pre-constructed deck will have you top-decking (relying on your single card draw at the start of a turn) within 4-5 rounds. In a longer game, this would be a huge problem, but Lorcana’s focus on quick games and an easy ‘reset’ process make it mostly a non-issue.

Lorcana Inklands

Between the new sets, Into the Inklands brings the largest changes to the Lorcana format thus far, introducing a new card type and effect. Location cards (of which there are roughly 6 in each of the Inklands Starter Decks) provide a variety of new options for players. Locations can be played like a Character or Item card, paying the Ink cost and placing them in the Play Area. Locations add another layer of strategy to the experience as they can often synergise with Character cards and actions to great benefit. The most basic utility for Locations is as a passive Lore engine that ticks over at the start of a players turn, but is always at risk of being Challenged by the opposing player. Locations have a Defence value, but won’t damage a Challenging character in return. They may also have abilities triggered by Character cards being present, which requires players to pay an Ink cost to move a Character on to the Location card. Locations appear to be one way to shore up cards which would otherwise be perceived as weak, overcoming imbalances in Attack, Defence or Lore values. I’ve enjoyed utilising Location cards in the new decks and can’t wait to explore this new mechanic in more depth.

Lorcana Locations

Another new concept is Moving Damage, which is fairly self-explanatory; take damage assigned to one card and shift it to another. For Characters that get benefits from being Banished, this might lead to interesting interplay between this action and other cards – such as purposefully Banishing your own Characters for a Draw – and is one I can’t wait to see the ramifications of. Neither of these changes seems to overly complicate the basic flow of Lorcana and most games will still wrap up in 15-20 minutes, but players are free to remove Locations and cards that allow damage movement if it doesn’t up their enjoyment of the game.

The art on each card remains top tier, once again focusing on creative reinvention and reinvigoration of many beloved Disney Characters, with Inklands focusing on Moana, Ducktales, 101 Dalmations and Raya and the Last Dragon in particular. As the card pool expands, I expect it to become more and more likely that intensely specific Character and IP themed decks will be viable, as reaching the 60-card minimum, four copies maximum on some would still require some flexing to make work.

Lorcana Card Art

Moving over to Ursula’s Return, unlike the big gameplay shifts of Inklands, it comes across as a ‘more stuff’ type of expansion focused on expanding the card and Character pool, The Little Mermaid being an obvious source of inspiration. Across both Inklands and Ursula’s Return, the included flavour text is doing more to expand the game overarching narrative, with references to story beats that will be appreciated by die-hard fans. The pun game has also been upped, with Inklands providing my favourite Ability name thus far in Musketeer Goofy.

Musketeer Goofy Lorcana

Where the Ursula wave truly shifts the playspace for Lorcana is in the Illumineers Quest – Deep Trouble product which is a standalone set that brings Solo and Co-Operative play to the table. The inclusion of two pre-con decks and a might foe in Ursula not only add a more tangible narrative element but make it a perfect jumping in point for players who aren’t interested in a competitive experience, or those who think working together would make Lorcana more palatable for younger players who can’t quite strategise effectively just yet. It is unknown yet if it will be available at the same time Ursula’s Return releases, but this style of product is one that will presumably continue in the future.

In terms of pushing Booster purchases, I think Lorcana is ever so slowly moving in that direction in the make-up of their Starter Decks with the increase in previously released cards, a decision that will impact both dedicated collectors and players equally. However, there is still a ton of game to be found in a ‘Starter Decks’ only collection which, as of Ursula’s Return, has hit 11 total if including the set in Deep Trouble and will jump to 13 when the Shimmering Skies wave hits stores on August 9th.

Enchanted Minnie Lorcana

With two dozen games under my belt and climbing, it’s safe to say Lorcana has grabbed me with its quick gameplay, relatively low rules overhead and manageable keyword set to this point. A familiar IP is also a silver bullet in getting people in the door, something Magic the Gathering is also discovering via their themed sets; the nearly 100-year Disney back catalogue ensures the designers at Ravensburger are set for inspiration for a long time to come. The release of Into the Inklands has only deepened my enjoyment for playing Lorcana, with the addition of Locations and Moving Damage providing another layer of strategy to contend with, while Ursula’s Return in comparison feels less immediately vital for all but the most dedicated and competitive Lorcana players aiming to keep pace with the ‘meta’. That said, Deep Trouble is something I will be picking up the first chance I get as a way to ease my 7-year-old into the game – there’s no satisfaction in victory against less capable opponents, but working together to both learn the game and subsequently improve is a viable path to competitive play for him and many other families looking for a starting point in Lorcana.


Lorcana Starter Decks and Booster Packs used in this article were kindly supplied by Disney AUNZ. Into the Inklands is currently available to purchase at EB Games, Zing, Kmart and Toymate stores, while Ursula’s Return will release on July 13th and can be preordered at the above outlets. 

Have you seen our Merch Store?

Get 5% off these great Arcade Machines and help support Player 2

Check out our Most Recent Video

Find us on Metacritic

Check out our Most Recent Posts