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A selection of cards from Disney Lorcana’s Into the Inklands, including Kit Cloudkicker, Tinkerbell, Agrabah, and Scrooge McDuck himself. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

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If you only buy one Disney Lorcana: Into the Inklands starter deck, make it this one

A duel to the death between Scrooge McDuck and 101 dalmatians

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Disney Lorcana seems to have made it through a painful teething period. Now that cards are finally flowing into players’ hands in quantities large enough to turn away speculators, the fun can really begin. The next set, Into the Inklands, drops on Feb. 23 at local retailers, and Polygon had an early look at its two new starter decks. If you can only pick up one of these $16.99 decks, the choice is clear: Drop a lucky dime on Scrooge McDuck and friends.

Into The Inklands offers two preconstructed starter decks: an Amber and Emerald deck featuring the gangs from 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan as well as a Ruby and Sapphire deck featuring Moana and Scrooge McDuck. While that first deck will likely appeal to collectors and fans of stunt decks, it’s the Inklands’ Ruby and Sapphire that packs the best punch out of the box. It all has to do with the game’s resource system, which stands out in contrast to systems in competitors like Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon Trading Card Game.

One of the most common frustrations I’ve had with Lorcana starter decks is that I tend to burn through my hand of cards fairly quickly. The problem is that I’m inclined to generate ink (the game’s version of mana) on every turn, which burns one card from my hand right off the top. Not having enough resources to deliver more powerful cards late in the game is a risk in any TCG, but here it’s been especially challenging. Even if I have enough ink, sometimes I’m out of cards to play, leaving some decks looking strong out of the gate only to taper off near the endgame. Even if enough cards show up, getting a bad draw late can mean that it’s fairly easy for my opponent to catch up, land a haymaker or two, and then saunter off to finish her algebra homework.

Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Duey, Louie, Della, and Webby cards from Disney Lorcana’s Into the Inklands set. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The card called Scrooge McDuck, Uncle Moneybags solves the problem of not having enough ink on hand with its Treasure Finder ability. Whenever you send this billionaire on a quest, he makes the next card you play to the table one ink cheaper. That means you can be a bit more thrifty when it comes to making ink, and squeeze out a few more low-cost cards using less ink when the pressure is on. There are also low-cost cards aplenty in this starter deck, including most of the cast of DuckTales (2017). Huey, Louie, Webby Vanderquack, Della Duck, and Gyro Gearloose all make appearances alongside Minnie Mouse, Hei Hei, Simba, and more — all at a cost below four ink!

New cards, called location cards, shown here include Motunui and Agrabah. The Vault Door to Scrooge’s money vault is also shown. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The savings continue to add up with Scrooge McDuck, Richest Duck in the World and a land card called Motunui, Island Paradise. This version of Scrooge (which can be played to the table alongside the other at the same time) lets you play an item card for free each time it banishes an opponent’s card. Elsewhere, the Reincarnation power on Motunui lets you turn characters who were banished there into ink.

I also appreciate the item cards in this deck. They include Vault Door, which gives extra staying power to your locations and the characters stationed there, along with the Sumerian Talisman item, which lets you draw a card when one of your characters gets banished. The entire deck feels really well-tuned and cohesive, and I’m excited to see how it stands up to some of our more powerful, homemade decks.

That being said, the Amber and Emerald deck isn’t bad per se. It’s just not as powerful, in my opinion. Why? Well, it’s all the fault of those wretched little puppies!

The puppy-heavy deck’s details include Pongo, Patch, Rolly, and Lucky, along with 5 unnamed Dalmatians. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

While the Ruby and Sapphire deck feels fulsome and potent, the Amber and Emerald one feels incomplete. Peter Pan’s new card makes good use of the novel location cards, but the new Lost Boys don’t really back him up as well as they could. At its core, Amber and Emerald plays like a stunt deck, one where you want to get as many cheap dalmatian puppy cards to the table as possible. In practice, I just wasn’t able to get a big enough bunch of barking buddies bouncing around on offense. While the card called Dalmation Puppy, Tail Wagger offers you the option of filling your deck with 99 copies of that singular card — a lot more than the traditional 60-card limit for an entire deck — the starter deck itself only comes with five. If you want more, you’ll need to start chasing those little rascals through a whole lot of boosters.

Disney Lorcana’s Into The Inklands set arrives early to friendly local game stores on Feb. 23. You’ll be able to find it online and at big box retailers on March 8. For more on Disney Lorcana, check out our guide for absolute beginners.

Disney Lorcana: Into The Inklands starter decks were reviewed using a pre-release copy provided by Ravensburger. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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