Am I alone in feeling like it’s been way longer than three months since the start of Disney Lorcana? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a blast with The First Chapter. I opened tons of packs, made lots of new friends, and discovered a new way to connect with my family – who suddenly became TCG fanatics the moment they saw Big Tink – but as a somewhat competitive player, I’ve been ready for more Lorcana for a while. With 204 cards, there’s only so much flexibility to the meta, and I’ve gotten tired of seeing the same decks week after week.
When the Rise of the Floodborn starter decks showed up in my mailbox last week, I felt instantly rejuvenated. They may be weak little beginner-friendly decks, but there’s so much going on in them that we haven’t seen in the game before. They’re inspiring me to get started tinkering with RotF as soon as I can, which is exactly what a starter deck is supposed to do. If the game was starting to get stale for you this past month, let me be the first to tell you that Lorcana is extremely back, baby.
This time we’re only getting two starter decks instead of three, which is fine by me. Both of them do a good job of showing up the expansion’s new mechanics and key features, and after playing them I don’t think a third one would have been necessary, especially because it would have just been another Ruby/Emerald like last time.
First up is Tactical Teamwork, an Amber/Sapphire deck that has two main play lines. The first is Dwarfs. You get a whole mess of ‘em. The Dwarfs are cute, they all line up to make one big picture, and they’ve got great flavor too. Sleepy comes into play exerted because he’s so sleepy, and when Dopey gets banished, the rest of the Dwarfs go into a blood rage and gain +2 strength to avenge him. That rules. This is a bit of a ‘go wide’ deck like the last Amber starter, but it’s also focused on a second mechanic: item sacrifice.
Item decks didn’t really come together in The First Chapter, though they were fun to play around with. This deck has a lot of cheap items that you’re supposed to banish, either by using the item’s ability or by playing cards Hiram Flaversham, Judy Hopps, and Launch to draw cards and banish opposing characters. It will be fun to add other item-mongers like Tamotoa, Maurice, and Ariel to this to see if we can finally make item slingers a thing, but the package itself doesn’t do much here.
You also get two foil Floodborn characters, The Queen, Commanding Presence and Gaston, Intellectual Powerhouse, as well as some shift targets and a couple of support cards in Grand Duke and Lefou respectively. These are solid, playable cards you’ll want to add to your collection, and it’s nice that Ravensburger has included two of them here, given this is the Rise of the Floodborn.
What irks me a bit about this deck is that it’s missing a couple of truly essential cards: Snow White, Unexpected Houseguest to make the Dwarfs cheaper, and Nick Wilde, Wily Fox to get your items back from your banished pile. I get the idea is to build out your deck over time and these are the easiest place to start, but these cards are too important to leave out. They make the decks make sense both mechanically and thematically. You’ve got the Dwarfs, they need Snow White. You’ve got Judy Hopps and Pawpsicles, you need Nick Wilde. These are auto-include uncommon cards when you want to start upgrading the deck, and I think they should have just been included here.
The other deck is Might and Magic, an Amethyst/Steel deck that features RotF’s new keyword, Resist, and its major new deck building mechanic, bouncing your own cards back into your hand. If you’re only going to get one starter deck to begin your RotF journey, this one probably has the more valuable cards in it.
You get most of the Madam Mim/Merlin package here, including a foil Merlin, Shapeshifter; Madam Mim, Fox; and one of the most interesting cards in the set, Merlin, Fox – three of them actually. It’s a great start if you want to build a bounce deck. The jury’s still out on how viable that strategy will be, but I expect a lot of people will be trying it out… hard to tell from the limited options in this deck though.
You also get quite a few Resist cards, and boy, did I underestimate its power. Even Resist +1 can totally blow up your opponents’ math and force them to overcommit to clearing your board. Mouse Armor might be one of the most underrated cards right now – you heard it here first.
There are no Floodborn in this deck, which is a bit odd for the Rise of the Floodborn expansion. I guess that’s the other deck? Hercules, Divine Hero would have fit the Resist theme really well, and there’s already a nice cheap Hercules in here, so I guess that’s another obvious upgrade. Again, if it feels like the card is supposed to be in the deck, I wish it would have just been included in the box.
The matchup between the decks is pretty interesting. Tactical Teamwork is a very combat trick-focused deck, with lots of ways to affect your opponents’ cards’ Strength each turn. You’ve got some okay card draw, some good opportunities to go wide with Dwarfs, and even some ramp with Winnie the Pooh, Having a Think. This is the more aggressive of the two decks, and it gets to play more characters. Might and Magic tends to have a more narrow board with bigger threats, and Resist makes it easy to trade up to try to maintain board advantage. Whereas the original three starter decks had a rock-paper-scissors dynamic, these two feel more evenly matched, which makes them great for casual play.
The new starter decks are a huge flavor win for Rise of the Floodborn. From the box to the damage counters, to even the included rule sheet, everything has a dash of inky flood goodness added to it. These decks certainly don’t represent every aspect of the expansion, but they’re a great first step into RotF that will surely get the wheels turning as we all rush to figure out the new best decks. I think they could stand to be just the slightest bit more cohesively constructed, but whether you’re new to Lorcana or just excited about the expansion, these are exactly what you want a starter deck to be.
Next: Rest In Peace To These Lorcana Cards That Will Never See Play Again After Next Week