Game Review: “Disney Lorcana” Combines Clever Gameplay and Gorgeous Art for a Special TCG

***Please note: Ravensburger provided me with three decks of cards and two playmats for the purpose of review***

Ever since it was announced nearly one year ago, hype for Disney Lorcana has been building steadily. Now, we’re just mere weeks away from its release as the game will debut at Gen Con before making it to local game stores and Disney Parks on August 18th followed by major retailers and shopDisney on September 1st. Ahead of this, Ravensburger sent me a preview of the game to explore and review.

Before I get into the game itself, I feel compelled to mention that Disney Lorcana marks my first real exposure to trading card games — or, as I learned that they’re called, TCG. While I believe I had half-a-dozen Magic: the Gathering cards when I was in elementary school, I definitely never actually tried playing. Luckily for me, I had a chance to chat with the Lorcana’s co-designers Ryan Miller and Steve Warner who were able to introduce me to the world of Disney Lorcana and TCG in general. After a brief 30 minute walk-through, I felt pretty comfortable with the game. That said, it was clear from our short playthrough that there was much more to explore.

So how does it work? In short, the goal of Lorcana is to collect lore — with the first player to reach 20 lore (or more) being declared the winner. While lore are earned by sending your characters — referred to as glimmers — on missions, you can also slow your opponents down by challenging them to what is essentially a mini-battle. Of course, although these elements represent the basics, there are plenty of other fun mechanics and special abilities that certain characters have that you’ll get to discover as you continue to play.

This might look confusing at first, but it makes a lot more sense once you start playing

This might look confusing at first, but it makes a lot more sense once you start playing

This is where the collectible aspect of Disney Lorcana comes in. While starter decks will give Illumineers (the name for Lorcana players) what they need to begin with the game, booster packs will also be available so that they can grow their deck and, in turn, devise new strategies.

Also speaking to the trading and collectible element of the game, the art on the cards is gorgeous. While some of the art depicts characters in a form or even scene that may feel familiar, others take a completely different and intriguing direction. For example, the card Fiery Usurper shows a version of Scar that’s seemingly made of magma. Sticking with the Lion King theme, another favorite that popped up in my deck was Mysterious Sage — which, to me, almost looks as though Rafiki has entered the world of Frozen II. In addition to the great art, there are also some fun details elsewhere on the card, including one gag that got me to literally laugh out loud.

Beyond the cards themselves, fans can also find accessories featuring Lorcana artwork, including playmats. At launch, three mat designs will be available: one with Maleficent, another with Maui, and one with Mickey as Steamboat Willie (or, actually, Steamboat Pilot as the accompanying card is named). Other accessories include card portfolios, deck boxes, and more.

Another thing I learned about Lorcana is that it’s extremely customizable. Although The First Chapter will contain six deck colors, Illumineers can mix and match any two colors to create a custom deck — as long as the deck also has at least 60 cards and no more than 4 copies of any one card. What’s more, the Disney Lorcana TCG Companion app allows players to keep track of their cards and manage their custom decks. It also has a lore counter and walkthrough guide, which will surely come in handy for Illumineers.

Back to the game itself, following my crash course, my wife and I attempted a game. Admittedly, while it was easy enough to get started and get into the flow of the game, we each needed to take a minute or two to fully understand what each card did and decide how we wanted to proceed. Of course, this is half of the fun and is part of the process. I presume those more familiar with TCGs will catch on more quickly, but newbies like me may want to take some look over the provided materials and maybe even thumb through their deck ahead of time so they can jump in and start collecting lore ASAP. Then again, although discovering glimmer abilities on the fly may not be the best approach from a strategy perspective, it’s also pretty exciting.

Also, I should note that, while I’ve only played a two-player version, Lorcana does lend itself to a multi-play set-up (which I’m sure I’ll see when I attend Gen Con next month).

Overall, while I’m not sure that Disney Lorcana has turned me into a TCG fan, I can definitely appreciate what the game has to offer (and plan to purchase at least a couple of booster packs given how much I enjoy the art featured on these cards). Plus, if you do learn to play, it’s an approachable game to start with even if skill and strategy will have to come with time and practice. For those reasons and the fact that the gorgeous artwork is displayed on physical cards and not just digital JPEGs, I think Disney Lorcana will prove to be a hit with TCG fans and newbies alike.

Disney Lorcana will be available in local game shops as well as at Disney Parks this August and will come to larger retailers in September.

P.S.: we’ll have much more on Disney Lorcana as part of our Gen Con coverage August 3rd through 6th.

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Kyle Burbank
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into several aspects of his life and work. In addition to his position at LP, he's also the head writer for as well as his own personal finance site