Disney Lorcana is a real phenomenon. It is difficult for new TCGs (trading card games) to compete with the popularity of Magic The Gathering or Pokémon, but thanks to manageable gameplay and of course the Disney license, Lorcana was coveted from the very first edition. So very desired that the first printing sold out at lightning speed and sets and cards flew over the counter at extortionate prices. But what kind of game is Lorcana exactly?
Trading Card Games
So Lorcana is a trading card game. An important feature of such games is the collecting element. You can buy ready-made decks to play with, but the best cards are largely hidden in sealed packs (blind bags) that you can buy at your local game store. Each set contains several cards that you can collect and add to the game. Because there are different cards to collect and players mostly rely on the cards they find in packs, many decks are unique and player-focused. Opening packs and discovering new cards is akin to gambling, but is also exciting and magical which makes it fit well with the magical feel of Disney.
One downside to the collecting element in many TCGs such as Magic the Gathering and Pokémon is that coveted and rare cards are sold for high prices online in the aftermarket. In Magic the Gathering, the best cards are expensive and the game is therefore often described as “pay to win,” and Pokémon cards are so popular as collectibles and investment items that such collectors managed to ruin a playful promotion with the Van Gogh Museum. Disney Lorcana is already very popular, so if sets were to be printed less and thus unable to keep up with popularity, there is a risk of fueling the aftermarket and potentially allowing the collectible element to dominate: a pitfall for many popular TCGs. Disney Lorcana is still too new to conclude this.
As with other TCGs, viability depends not only on popularity with buyers, but also with the community of players. Disney Lorcana works well with local game stores that organize game days where enthusiasts can come together to learn, buy, play and trade Lorcana. The Spelkwartier in Arnhem is a place that regularly organizes events, so check their calendar soon.
How do you play Lorcana? The advantage to this TCG is that Lorcana relevance is easy to play and manage unlike more complex TCGs like Flesh & Blood. To play Lorcana, you need a deck of 60 cards and some tokens or dice to keep track of your victory points (Lore) and damage.
Each deck consists of characters, items (for ongoing effects) and actions (for one-time effects). With characters, players can earn Lore, and when a player has accumulated 20 Lore, that player has won. To play cards, you need to use ink. I get you by playing cards closed in front of you and these can only be used as ink for the rest of the game. Many cards can be used as ink, so you don’t have to consider mana or energy as you do in Magic and Pokémon, respectively. Deck management is a lot easier because of this.
Each round, players can do a number of actions. These include adding a card to the inkwell, playing cards by paying ink, activating effects of items or characters, or using characters to earn Lore or to attack other characters. Used cards are turned to show that they have been used, and at the beginning of a turn the cards are turned back.
Lorcana has a simple game design and flow of play that makes it a lot more “welcoming” than other TCGs with years of build-up to rules and complexity. Deck management is easier for newcomers because you can use many cards for two purposes.
Disney obviously appeals to a lot of audiences, and I’m not going to deny that this is one of the elements that appeals to me as well, but Lorcana did apply an extra touch of magic with the illustrations and various settings that collectors and players will surely appreciate.