Disney has announced plans to develop a new trading card game in partnership with designers at Ravensburger. Called Disney Lorcana, the TCG will feature alternate versions of Disney characters, which is a huge field of possibility given just how much pop culture the House of Mouse now owns.
Lorcana has apparently been in development for several years, according to a joint press release from Ravensburger and Disney. It’s being co-designed by Ravensburger brand manager Ryan Miller, though we don’t yet know who else has put their hands on the project.
Miller has a long history in the board game space with a specific focus on licensed trading card games. He boasts credits on official card games for Naruto/Boruto, Godzilla, Evangelion, My Hero Academia and most recently the Digimon Card Game.
Disney is positioning Lorcana as a title that will be both welcoming to newcomers - Disney fans who may have never touched a card game before - and those who already know their way around Magic: The Gathering or the Pokémon TCG, for example. Both companies were tight-lipped on how exactly Lorcana’s proposed “thoughtful and unique gameplay” actually functions, but they effusively mentioned that cards would feature iconic and alternate artwork depicting beloved characters.
And why wouldn’t they? Disney’s decade of pop culture conglomeration gives them access to Marvel’s gigantic roster of superheroes, the Star Wars universe and anything Pixar. Though Lorcana will likely focus on the classic roster of characters first - Mickey and co. alongside the animated princesses, etc. - the press release does not close the door on anything at this point.
Ravensburger North America CEO Filip Francke called the project a “game-changer in the billion-dollar-plus trading card game market,” signalling both partners’ outlook on Lorcana as a substantial money making machine.
Those wondering what Lorcana will look like as a setting - Disney says the TCG will feature an overarching storyline set in this distinct magical world - can likely glean more than a few hints from the recent mobile game Disney Mirrorverse. Also cordoned to its own universe, the game throws a hodgepodge of notable cartoon characters together for action-oriented quests that gradually build out a broader story - Mirrorverse unfortunately suffers from rampant predatory microtransactions and loot boxes.
If Lorcana does something similar, expect the MTG comparisons to continue, with good reason. Wizards of the Coast’s longtime champion of collectible cardboard has spent nearly three decades constructing a multiverse of worlds and recurring characters to foment player investment. It only recently surrendered to the monetary draw of licensed intellectual property with Universes Beyond, which will introduce Lord of the Rings, Warhammer 40,000 and Doctor Who to its unique card designs. Disney wants to inject its colossal established fandom directly into a new medium - Mirrorverse’s reviews are generally solid, so if Lorcana plays even half as well as MTG, success is all but guaranteed.
Surprisingly, Disney and Ravensburger have already announced plans for continued support beyond its Fall 2023 launch. According to the press release Lorcana will enjoy four set releases each year that will expand the mechanical and collectible space. It also mentioned a “robust organized play program”, though what exactly that will entail (sponsored events at local game stores, a sanctioned professional league, prize support?) was not part of this official announcement.
If you’re a fan of Disney and trading card games, this announcement is promising more than a cheap cash-grab consisting of randomised boosters using screen grabs from movies and television shows. Ravensburger is no slouch as a tabletop designer and publisher, and even the mention of post-lauch support goes beyond what most new card games promise at the jump.
But for those leery of the continued encroachment of licensed mega-pastiches supplanting original creative work in the tabletop space, Lorcana is an inevitability in a market that prizes pop culture recognisability over original creative work. Make space at the drafting table for the Disney adults, and get ready for debates over how overpowered Darth Vader is in your Goofy tribal deck.