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First Look at Disney Lorcana – a Game Review


Justin shares his thoughts on Disney Lorcana, the new Disney-themed trading card game from Ravensburger in his review!

Disney Lorcana. If there’s any single thing we will remember from Gen Con 2023, it will definitely be Disney Lorcana.

The game, published by Ravensburger and arriving at retail today, was the most anticipated product at the show. It created a frenzy each and every day of the convention—the black market for the cards was epic, the lines for getting a single starter set of the cards were brutal, and the Lorcana foot traffic on the expo hall floor was intense.

Disney Lorcana is a collectible card game (CCG), which I find is often referred to as a trading card game (TCG). To be honest, I’m not big enough in either world to help sort out the difference, but in terms of impact, I think Lorcana will become the biggest CCG/TCG product of all time because Disney fans are the most hardcore fans of any entertainment property I have ever met. Games like Magic the Gathering (MTG) have a big lead…but, Disney!

I’ve certainly read stories about epic auction prices for Pokémon cards; in rare cases, $300,000 for a card is crazy town to me. But when I walked into the Gen Con expo hall on the second day of the show, I met a line that wrapped all the way around the block…and that was the line outside the building. The line inside snaked in so many different directions I was afraid of being poisoned by the lure of a cash grab. (That fear was real.)

All this is to say that Lorcana is labeled as a game, and I’ll treat it as such for the purposes of this review. The reality? It’s a COLLECTIBLE, so run out and buy a couple sets of cards. Like many people I spoke to at Gen Con before playing the game myself, I think the game is clearly outpaced by the collectible nature of the product—the packaging, the card stock, and the exceptional artwork is meant to be collected, sleeved, and maybe only occasionally played.

The Game

The base game experience of Lorcana is a one-versus-one duel with each player using a minimum 60-card deck full of Character, Item, Action, and Song cards taken from the Disney movies many of us grew up with back in the day. (The time period of “the day” is admittedly relative.)

The instruction manual describes the game: “As an Illumineer in the wondrous realm of Lorcana, you’ll wield magical ink to summon new versions of Disney characters and items, which are glimmers. These glimmers—some familiar, some fantastic—will help you as you race across Lorcana to find and collect missing pieces of lore. Endless quests await!”

Starting with a hand of seven cards, opponents take turns playing cards and scoring points until one person has scored 20+ “lore”, the trigger point for victory.

There’s not much more to it than that, in terms of rules. Each turn allows players to reset a tableau that includes cards played on previous turns before drawing a single card from their personalized deck. (To make things easy, designers Ryan Miller and Steve Warner have helped build a number of different starter decks that ease players into the Lorcana system. I was provided two of these decks to ensure I could play against members of my family for this review.)

After drawing a card, players can add one card from their hand to their “inkwell”, the currency system that grants the opportunity to permanently bury a card to increase spending power to put cards into play. Buried cards are placed facedown in an area off to the side, never to be played again during the game. Using easy-to-decipher card iconography, players can always tell which cards can be played as ink and which ones cannot. Additional icons include the cost of each card in the upper left-hand corner along with powers and stats for offense and defense listed in the middle-right area of each card.

Then, a choice: characters played on previous turns can be tapped (“exerted”, in Lorcana-ese) to either fight (“challenge”) another character or go on a quest to score points equal to the number of lore symbols on that character’s card. Each game is a race to score 20 points, but you’ll occasionally need to slow opponents down by defeating stronger opponents who are scoring too many points.

This tension is the best part of Lorcana. Mathing out the appropriate number of actions needed to take down certain opponent characters from time to time is just as important as playing a roster of your own characters who can lead to a big scoring round. Even in my first few plays, it’s been interesting to see where some of the starter deck powers were intended to combo with each other.

One of my favorite plays was a game where I was sitting on the chance to play Maui, from the film Moana. The Maui ink cost was high, but if I waited another turn or two, I would have a legitimate tank in play that would be hard to take down even with repeated attacks by the combination of attack power of the other opponent characters on the table.

In my experience, the race to 20 points usually takes 20-25 minutes for a single game, longer when I’m playing against my daughter. That’s because my daughter loves reading all the cards, even the ones she recognizes.

Which brings us to what Lorcana is really about: it’s a family game, pure and simple.

No, It’s Not Hardcore

I’ve talked to a few people who have actually played Lorcana, and most of them agree with me: none of us believe that Lorcana is a great game for hardcore, competitive CCG/TCG players—at least not yet. Mind you, I’m not a hardcore CCG player, and I don’t usually seek these experiences out, but I’ve got a few friends who play these games competitively or judge competitions, and I trust their assessment based on the Lorcana starter sets.

Now, playing Lorcana with my kids? This is a BLAST.

By the third turn of her first game of Lorcana, my 9-year-old daughter had the mechanics down. She recognizes all the characters (limited to the characters and items in the starter sets). She loves reading all the quotes from each card. She snickers every time we bring Gramma Tala into the game, because (for those who haven’t seen the film) Gramma Tala dies in Moana but reappears a little later.(Her card power leans very hard into this fact.) When Gramma Tala is defeated (technically, “banished”) in Lorcana, she comes back into the owning player’s inkwell to be used as spendable currency in future rounds.

Lots of the Lorcana starter set cards do similar things, and that’s before we even address the fact that a few of the cards in the starter deck are Song cards; like Actions and Items, these Song cards can be played immediately. (Character cards have to wait a turn before taking an action, but the other card types come right into the action.) When sung by the appropriate character—currently tied to the cost/value of the singing character)—these Song cards enter the game at no cost.

Disney films are mostly musicals, and I thought the addition of Song cards was a brilliant way to celebrate what the original Disney films are all about. (We all know that eventually, there will be Disney Marvel cards coming to Lorcana; I’m not sure what’s going to happen when Iron Man is tied to a Song card, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.)

My son, who can’t read many of the bigger words on these cards just yet, enjoys being my sidekick during Lorcana games against my wife or daughter. He gets to draw my card each time it is my turn. He cackles with glee when I draw some of the lower-level minion cards like Goons or Flounder, because he knows that those cards are not exactly the key to victory. He is in charge of inkwell exertion when I put a new card into play. And he enjoys consulting with my hand of cards to help decide which one should be played, sometimes based on which character’s artwork he enjoys most.

Speaking of artwork, the pictures on the Lorcana cards are gorgeous. As representatives from Disney and Ravensburger shared through press releases and meetings during Gen Con, the art on the cards is not a screen grab from the movies; these are newly-commissioned pieces used solely for the 204 cards in the initial starter sets plus many hundreds more that are sure to come.

Whether it is Steamboat Willie (Mickey Mouse from the original 1928 short), Elsa, Captain Hook, Stitch, or any other image, the pictures in Lorcana are a joy to look at. As a production, Lorcana is a typically grand Disney experience.

But As a Game…

My experience with Lorcana depends greatly on my opponent.

The game is fine. Truly, it is nothing particularly memorable as a game. I like some decisions that have to be made to outrace my opponent on the lore track. Late in each game, there are a few interesting choices while trying to mix scoring points on quests with eliminating some of my own characters to slow down a massive scoring engine across the table.

After a few plays, I think I’ve seen all that Lorcana has to offer for now. The first iteration of games like this must be so difficult; in three years, Lorcana is going to look a lot different. As version 1.0 goes, Lorcana is alright.

As a game with my family, particularly my kids, I’m very excited about Lorcana’s future. My son stares at his Pokémon collection every single day. He takes out the cards, rearranges them for no reason at all, calls me over to the couch to show me card number XXXX and tells me why this card is so amazing, even if he can’t read all the abilities on the card without help. He loves the collectible nature of the “game”, but never wants to play it.

It wouldn’t shock me if, in a year, Lorcana becomes that for my son, and maybe even my daughter. Collecting cards is fun. I collected baseball cards growing up, and Lorcana begs players to break out a scrapbook and arrange all of their cards just so. I have a feeling we will only “play” Lorcana a couple times a year, but we’ll have new cards coming in on a regular basis.

Lorcana, then, is a collectible for our family’s purposes, but for other players, maybe it will turn into a game that gets a lot of love as a competitive tournament property. I know that Magic The Gathering, Pokémon, Flesh and Blood, and other games like it have become that for passionate fans, and maybe Lorcana will become that as well. On Facebook, prior to publishing this article, I went looking for Groups aligned with Lorcana; there’s already one for Chicago fans that has over 160 people. I’m sure that will spike when the game becomes widely available over the next few weeks.

I’m thankful I had the chance to join this party at the beginning. It will be exciting to see what Lorcana looks like at Gen Con 2024 and beyond!

  • Good - Enjoy playing.

Disney Lorcana details

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!


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  • Thanks for this review, Justin. I understand the appeal of revisiting some Disney characters/settings from the pantheon of its archives, but the TCG model was a non-starter for me. When I was watching some video recaps of GenCon 2023, I wondered how many people in the Lorcana line were simply there to churn their purchases on eBay.

    Well, at least Disney wasn’t robbed of $300k worth of commander sets by the guy wearing a Castle Assault t-shirt…

  • Great review!

    I came into Magic the Gathering in its infancy. I watched as the imitators rose and fell; games that pulled from the lore of Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, somewhat generic space conquests, and everything else one can imagine. With very few exceptions, these games had a moment in the sun and then quickly retreated into obscurity. A few have lasted and been able to grow: Pokemon being the brightest secondary star out there. I poured far too much money into MtG over the years. I dropped out of the scene, only to be pulled back in years later… only to drop back out of the scene.

    The problem: cost.

    If you want to play in stores and with others from your community, this will generally mean maintaining a ‘standard’ compliant deck. Which means that your deck from a year ago is no longer ‘legal’ in the environment you find yourself in. You *must* buy more cards. With each expansion, each block, each what-ever, you *must* buy more cards.

    Sure, there are environments where you can keep an older deck. But in those environments, you find yourself competing with decks that cost more than your car. No, I am not exaggerating. I have watched in awe/horror as a guy was playing with a deck in which his hand included cards whos collective cost far outstripped my mortgage payments.

    So… with a new CCG/TCG in the arena, backed by the might of the largest entertainment corporation that has ever existed, and sporting cards that were selling at $1000-3000 each in the first few weeks… this is a game I will not just stay away from, this is a game I will actively ignore.

    It sounds like the mechanisms involved were designed with some of the same goals and solutions that were used in the VS game system back in 2004. Assuming that is true, I fully expect this ‘game’ to devolve into just a collectable over time. Fewer and fewer people will play, but more and more will be pulled in to get the rare cards from their favorite Disney properties.

    I do not see how this will ever be anything other than a success for Disney and (perhaps) Ravensburger. After all, this is a game where the rules and game play are vastly less important than the properties and production. It is a golden goose, or a cash-cow. Take your pick.

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