Disney Lorcana brings Disney animation to the world of trading card games. Perfect for fans of Disney’s animated films and trading card game beginners, Disney Lorcana is about to become your new personality. The cards are beautiful and collectible with abilities that bring Disney storytelling to the table in moments that will make you nod and say, “Yes, of course.” Gameplay flows quickly, making it all too easy to play just one more game. Nerdist spent some quality time with an early review copy of Disney Lorcana from Ravensburger. For context: I played the game with two players, I’m a huge fan of Disney animation, and while I play a lot of tabletop games, I’m not super experienced with trading card games (the only one I’ve played for any amount of time is Star Wars: Destiny).

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What Is Disney Lorcana About?

In Disney Lorcana, the player is an Illumineer. Players must protect Lorcana by using magical ink to play glimmers. To win, players race to collect 20 lore. Questing for lore will win the game, but players can challenge their opponents along the way.

Is It Easy to Learn Disney Lorcana?

Despite needing to learn the above terminology, getting started with Lorcana is so quick and straightforward that it feels like a trick. I’m all too used to playing games that take 20-30 minutes to review the instructions for the first time and set up the board. With Disney Lorcana, we were ready to play in 15 minutes with only minimal fumbling through the first round of play. However, I wouldn’t call the first game (or even the first few) skillful. You play, learn, and refine as you go. Initially, I focused on gaining lore as quickly as possible—which is good, gathering 20 lore first is how you win—but I did so at the expense of paying attention to my opponent’s lore and cards in play.

Lorcana is a game about balance. Strategy comes with practice and getting to know your cards. The approach that works best for you will be subjective. After playing 10 times, I’m still figuring out the nuance of when to turn cards to ink and when to hang onto them and when to challenge and when to quest for lore.

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What’s Disney Lorcana’s Replayability Like?

The more practice you get, the faster Lorcana games go. It’s easy to fit games into your schedule or to sit down for a best two out of three. And you’ll want to. I’ve played at least once every day for the past week, and I don’t see that changing. And once booster packs are out and I can build my own deck? Forget about it. The combination of gorgeous Disney art, honing my technique, and wanting to play as many of the cards as possible keeps me coming back again and again.

Which Disney Lorcana Starter Deck Is Best?

I gave mostly equal time to Lorcana’s three starter decks: Amber and Amethyst, Emerald and Ruby, and Sapphire and Steel. These decks come ready to play with different strengths. Amber and Amethyst “likes to quest early and often.” Emerald and Ruby “is especially good at delaying your opponents’ progress early on.” Sapphire and Steel “is great at quickly increasing the amount of ink in your inkwell.”

Those descriptions from the quick-start rules for each deck proved true. While I cannot tell you which Lorcana starter deck is best, because they’re weighted equally, if in different ways, and much depends on luck of the draw, I can tell you about the play styles and which I enjoyed the most. I am not taking into account which characters are in which deck; I would never be able to choose.

Ravensburger

Amber and Amethyst has plenty of characters with a low ink cost. You can play characters quickly and start questing for lore early. Those low-cost characters are easy prey, but numbers matter, as does having options. This deck is my personal preference because I like getting cards into play as early as I can. You can defend with this deck, but it’s gentler than the other two.

If you are an aggressive and sneaky strategist, Emerald and Ruby is for you. This deck has strong cards in all categories, ideal for dealing damage to your opponents. This does not match my playstyle, however. I struggled anytime I tried the Emerald and Ruby deck, while my opponent flourished with it.

Sapphire and Steel has some sharp offensive cards too, but it’s with more brute force than Emerald and Ruby. Cards in different categories help you fill up your inkwell, which means you can put your more powerful characters into play. These high-cost characters can challenge repeatedly before other characters drain their willpower and banish them. Despite that, Sapphire and Steel feels like a kinder deck than Emerald and Ruby. It’s my second favorite since it occupies a middle ground between the other two decks.

I haven’t tried mixing and matching other combinations of two inks yet (you can have up to two ink colors in a deck).

Disney Lorcana’s Design

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The first thing I did with my decks was look through every card because I needed to see the art. Some characters, items, and songs look right out of the animated films they come from. Other cards look from the world of the animated films but with some extra zhuzh. All the card illustrations are lovely. Ravensburger includes the artist’s name on each card so you can look up your favorites online. Each card’s mechanics complement the character, item, or action. I am consistently impressed with the thoughtfulness applied to Lorcana’s cards.

The only element I found lacking is the paper playmat that comes with the starter decks. This is what you use to place your cards and track your lore. It gets the job done. I understand it needs to fit in the starter deck packaging, but its nature meant I accidentally slid my lore tracker around. However, a d20 easily solves this, as does the Lorcana app (which was not live at the time of review).

Is Disney Lorcana Worth It?

If you are a trading card game fan and especially if you are a Disney animation fan, Disney Lorcana is absolutely worth it—especially with starter decks costing $16.99. It’s quick to set up, easy to learn the basics, and then continues to challenge you as you develop your skills.

The first set of over 200 cards, Disney Lorcana: The First Chapter, debuts August 18, 2023 at local game stores and Disney Parks. The game then arrives in mass retailers and on shopDisney on September 1.