Review
Episode

Disney Lorcana is a fast paced card game that thrives on your nostalgia

This engine-building card game is quick and easy to play with some fun mechanics once you become more familiar.

June 28, 2024 10:00 AM

There are a lot of different collectible card games (CCGs) out there, it's actually never been a better time to jump in if you're curious about this format and Disney Lorcana is a really nice addition to this genre of tabletop game with some fun mechanics.

If you're like me and have a deep and abiding love for these classic animated films, no joke I know every single line of Aladdin off by heart, there are lots of lovely little nods to the films you love.

I mean nostalgia is Disney's bread and butter, but luckily for players of Lorcana it's actually a surprisingly accessible game which is easy enough to pick up and play for most people and for more advanced players there are layers of strategy to work with.

And uniquely it can actually be played with multiple opponents, it's not just a 1v1 challenge, three or more players can race to collect the most lore and win the game.

Start your (steam-boat) engines

Disney Lorcana shares a lot with other CCGs, there are minions to summon, spells to cast and items to use, but rather than directly attacking your foe like you would in Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic the Gathering, Lorcana has a lot in common with the engine-building genre, you're trying to amass points before your enemies can and you look for opportunities to stifle their scoring chances.

Lore is the resource you're collecting, and each character you summon will help you to build up to the winning score of twenty points and your opponent will try to chuck a spanner into the works to slow you down or reduce your points.

You build up lore by questing, that's one of the two main actions characters summoned into the game can take on your race to the finish.

Powering this engine is ink, a renewable resource that's generated by dropping character cards marked with a special icon into your inkwell, not every card can be turned into ink, but most of the low level ones can.

Early game you'll want to draw some low powered characters that you can convert directly into ink, to power more advanced abilities or minions.

Unlike in Pokémon or Magic you don't need to fill your deck with Lands or Energies, so that allows you to build with a few different options, in one game a low level character might be just ink, but in another run you might prefer to summon them out in packs to give your foes more targets to hit.

When you've got a few characters in play you'll have a couple of options, you can send them on a quest to amass Lore for you and push you further towards victory or challenge your opponent's characters who have just exerted themselves questing to collect lore points.

Damage is instantaneous and bi-directional, it's actually pretty common to banish your own characters when attacking your opponent so you'll need to manage this wisely.

Depending on your deck composition it might be worth using a few cards just to slow down your opponent and limit their ability to score.

If you aren't into the deck crafting aspects of CCGs you can have a lot of fun with the Starter Decks, but make sure you read the strategy guide included for each build

Singing from the songsheet

Once you've got a few characters on the board and you are starting to score Lore, the next level of mechanics come into play.

Instead of just summoning characters you might want to use some of the amassed ink to drop in items which are persistent and stick on the field of play.

For example one of the early options in the starter decks is the Shield of Virtue which allows you to return a character who has exerted themselves back to the safe ready position.

As you can only be attacked when exerted, this proves really valuable when protecting those vulnerable but high scoring characters.

You could also pick damage boosting Stolen Scimitar which adds a bonus +1 to attack but if paired with our favourite street rat Aladdin it's a +2.

There are also actions which are like spells that get cast immediately and Songs which are special abilities that can be sung by higher level characters for free, no ink cost required.

Finally for Pokémon players there is a mechanic which will seem pretty similar called Shift which allows you to play higher level characters directly on top of another, for example if you have Gaston, Bariton Bully in play you can drop Gaston, Intellectual Powerhouse directly on top for a cost of 4 ink instead of the full 6 required to summon fresh.

Keeping your cheaper lower level Gaston in play allows you to access the more powerful version earlier when you use the Shift ability.

Keep up the tempo

Lorcana games are pretty quick you can get through one in around half an hour once you've picked up the basics, but one of the challenges for newer players will be maintaining the tempo, that is making sure you've always got something to do each turn.

You can drop cards into the inkwell, summon, challenge or quest you might want to only do a few of those things, otherwise you'll quickly discover you're completely out of options.

In more than one of our games we found that it was quite easy to drop down to just a single card, you can most likely improve the card draw speed with additional cards from the booster packs, but you should familiarise yourself with what your options are.

With the The First Chapter and Rise of the Floodborn starter decks, there were quite limited options when to draw new cards into your hand, so it's best to just wait and not take every single action every turn.

Ink doesn't run out so as long as you keep dropping a card in there every now and then, you'll build that engine nicely.

You can redraw your initial seven card hand or a mix, what is known as a mulligan, if you don't draw enough of the right cards at first but I would resist the urge to redraw if you have a high-level card in that first hand.

With the current starter decks and no additional cards, we never even got close to halfway through the deck draw before the game was over, so dropping a card to the bottom of your deck effectively wipes it out for the entire game.

You might want to instead think about how many low-level cards you have in your hand that can be converted into ink, if you haven't got at least a couple in those early stages you'll find it very hard to score Lore or challenge your opponent.

Having multiple Dwarfs in play, and you get all seven of them, allows for some nice bonuses which stack.

Disney Lorcana is a good experience for players who want to dip their toes into the world of deckbuilding and collecting, I haven't touched on much of the collectible aspects of this game but that's entirely separate aspect for all of these games.

The game can be played with multiple opponents which is pretty rare for this sort of game, but as this isn't a game about directly attacking another player to diminish their health pool it actually lends itself nicely to playing together as a family.

You can have a lot of fun and get the brain working with just the starter decks and once you're ready and understand all the synergies of the cards, you will be building your own story in no time.

DISNEY LORCANA cards were provided to SIFTER for the purposes of this review.
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