Disney may be the king of theme parks, streaming television, and major motion pictures, but when it comes to collectible card games, the House of Mouse must tread lightly. Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon Trading Card Game have dominated the industry for decades, each a billion-dollar franchise in its own right. Now, Disney has partnered with a powerful new ally: Ravensburger, a 139-year-old game publisher. The new joint effort is called Disney Lorcana, a family-friendly collectible trading card game. The first sets are expected in the latter half of 2023.
Most board game consumers will recognize Ravensburger for its popular line of Disney-themed strategy board games, called Disney Villainous. That series began in 2018 and now contains nearly 30 villains from all across the Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars universes. With Disney Lorcana, Ravensburger says that it wants to take things to the next level.
“The basic idea is there’s this place called The Great Illuminary,” said brand manager Ryan Miller, a veteran of Wizards of the Coast who also helped design the gameplay of Disney Lorcana. “It is a treasury of all the Disney songs and stories ever made — all the characters — and it’s where they’re kind of recorded. The players take on this role of an Illumineer — this powerful sorcerer that has the ability to bring these characters to life off the page. [Players will be] bringing a band of their favorite Disney characters together to adventure in this world.”
The collectible game will include a “modern storybook” art style, said North America head of games Cassidy Werner. Shane Hartley, global games creative director, said that it “was inspired by the storybook openings of classic Disney films and features visible line work and vibrant color washes” and “mixes both traditional hand-drawn qualities seen in fairy-tale storybooks with new digital techniques.”
The game will also include all the flourishes that fans of collectible cards have come to expect from top-of-the-line releases.
“You know those little paint chip things that people have sometimes when they’re painting their house?” Ravensburger’s Werner said. “[Our art director] has one of those from a manufacturer of different foil treatments for cards — holographic with an ink spill, or with a star. Yeah, he kicked me out of his office the other day. I’m kidding, but I could just sit there for hours looking at the pretty things. I’d say as a person who collects Pokémon cards, especially shiny Eeveelutions, I am really excited. I can’t wait to add more cards to my collection. I think other Disney collectors will feel the same.”
Meanwhile, Ravensburger North America CEO and global head of games Filip Francke spoke about the big-picture implications of the partnership.
“This [game] is probably the largest potential that Ravensburger has ever gone after,” Francke said, “and hence also probably the largest investment that we have ever done into any type of project and initiative.”
“We know that as you enter the TCG market, that you’re inviting the players for a many-year journey,” Francke continued. “We don’t take that lightly. This effort is a multi-year series [of releases]. It’s something that Disney has never really allowed any [collaborator] to do. So the trust that we built with Disney [...] I think allowed us to come to a point where we both strategically, commercially had the trust to say, ‘Yeah, let’s dare to do this together.’”
Folks will have to wait a little bit longer before they can see a preview of the actual gameplay, but Ravensburger told us that its goal is to create the most welcoming trading card game around. So how will the game compare to its closest, and notoriously cutthroat, rivals?
“Magic, I would say, has a very high competition level,” said Miller. “People love that about Magic. We have pulled back from it. I wouldn’t say that we’re cooperative in any sense — it’s definitely a strategy card game. But I would say that we’ve pulled back the confrontation level, because we feel that that will appeal to a lot more folks. So if you think [of] chess as the highest confrontation level you can get, we’re a bunch of notches behind that because we want people to have fun [...] with these characters that they love so much.”
Fans will get their first look at the cards themselves during the D23 expo in Anaheim, California. The fan-focused event kicks off on Sept. 9.