With Disney Lorcana finally stepping beyond its first-ever card set with new expansion Rise of the Floodborn, the fledgling TCG has begun to show its hand. (Pun intended.) What were simple building blocks without much room to manoeuvre in The First Chapter have now been further realised and expanded upon with the arrival of The Flood and all its new deck archetypes.
Emerald players can now reap the benefits of forcing their opponents to discard their hand while stealing a few extra bonuses for themselves with emerald Rise of the Floodborn cards like Prince John, Greediest of All - who allows you to draw a card for each one your opponent discards - and Flynn Rider, His Own Biggest Fan, who gets more effective at questing for lore the fewer cards your opponents have in their grip.
Ruby’s selection of deck-building blocks are as strong as ever, but now they’ll reap even greater rewards for getting into challenges with your characters. Shere Khan, Menacing Predator will give you a lore every time you challenge, while Queen of Hearts, Sensing Weakness will draw you a card as well.
My favourite archetype of the set sees amber players healing their own damaged characters in exchange for card draw. We saw a glimpse of this in Rapunzel, Gifted with Healing from The First Chapter, but a whole gamut of Rapunzels have hit in Rise of the Floodborn that reward you for damage removal.
Those include Rapunzel, Gifted Artist, a five-ink character that draws you a card whenever you remove one or more damage from one of your Disney crew - even herself! Pair that with a few Dinglehopper item cards from the first set and you’re laughing, especially when built around ruby’s aggressive strategies.
In truth, there are a lot of new ways to play Lorcana with this excellent new addition’s mirriad bits of deck tech. But as any long-time TCG player will tell you, sometimes the easiest way to get yourself a win is to stop the player on the other side of the table from playing. With all the fresh mechanics and play strategies added in Rise of the Floodborn, it seems like the competitive end of decks is getting a bit meaner.
Control decks, for those not familiar with TCG terminology, aim to halt your opponent’s progress as much as possible. They stop them putting together the building blocks they need to combo in order to run away with the victory, instead slowly eking out your own win. In Magic: The Gathering this is often done with copious amounts of counterspells, which don’t exist in Lorcana due to players not being able to use cards outside of their own turns.
Instead, the powerful new mechanic that amethyst flexes (available to try out in the new Steel and Amethyst starter deck for Rise of the Floodborn if you’re intrigued) is bouncing the player’s own characters back to hand to keep using their “enters play” effects.
With all the fresh mechanics and play strategies added in Rise of the Floodborn, the competitive end of decks is getting a bit meaner.
Merlin, Goat (a not unfitting name) will gain you a lore when he both enters and leaves play. This means you can put him down on the board to earn a lore, then quest with him next turn for another lore, before having a character like Madam Mim, Snake enter play to bounce him back to your hand, earning you yet another lore.
Bear in mind that this is repeatable for as long as you can hold onto the card, too. Considering Merlin spends most of the game hiding in your hand and you still get a “leaves play” trigger when he’s banished, it’s not hard to keep him safe.
When you combine all these bouncing back-to-hand effects with ruby’s scary banishing ability and amethyst’s penchant for characters that can challenge on the turn they play, suddenly wiping your opponent’s board every turn becomes very easy.
Meet Lady Tremaine, Imperious Queen: the bane of my existence and a ruby Rise of the Floodborn card I foolishly traded to the very person who obliterated me with it because I am bad at reading.
When Lady Tremaine, Imperious Queen enters play, each opponent chooses one of their own characters and banishes them. Ouch. Forcing your opponents to sacrifice their own creatures is known as an edict effect in Magic: The Gathering, and is a great way to get around protection effects such as hexproof or indestructible.
In MTG it’s not too much of a problem, especially in a game with loads of throwaway token creatures and reanimating effects. But in Lorcana, it's rare to have too many characters on your board you don’t want to keep around.
This was a real problem for my strategy, and a plight I’m sure would be shared by steel players who want just a couple of really expensive cards to win their games for them. By bouncing Tremaine back into his hand and playing her over and over again, my opponent had me on the ropes and wiped out my deck with a 2-0 score on a best of three.
That’s a difficult position to come back from - especially when they can have a whole playset of four Lady Tremaine, Imperious Queens in their deck, complete with kill spells like Dragon Fire and board wipes such as Be Prepared. It’s going to be a tough deck to beat; unsurprisingly, the person using it is currently sitting on top of our local friendly league.
While The First Chapter was a decent start for Lorcana, Rise of the Floodborn has shown that the Disney TCG has real chops.
Another deck that seemed to do well at my local utilised the new discard benefits in emerald. Again, the person sitting on the other side of the table will struggle to keep hold of their most precious pieces when you’re constantly forcing them to discard a card.
A particularly funny moment happened in my game against the discard player when he played A Whole New World, which had us both discard all of our cards and draw a fresh hand of seven. Paired with Prince John, Greediest of All, he was holding about 12 cards in hand when it finished resolving.
Although I certainly didn’t find much success on the first night of our local Lorcana league, it was exciting seeing all the new decks emerge while finding the synergies that work and don’t work in this new playscape. While The First Chapter was a decent start for Lorcana, Rise of the Floodborn has shown that the Disney TCG has real chops, and there seems to be a pretty healthy meta emerging with lots of different deck archetypes finding success.
If you haven’t already given Lorcana a go, now’s a great time to hop in with loads of new deck-building options available and a fresh pair of starter decks to get your hands on. I recommend the Amethyst and Steel one - it’s relatively competitive right out the box! But if you’re not a fan of having your big shiny characters removed every turn, I’d suggest opting for a go-wide strategy to avoid the heartbreak.