Contributor: John Dudley
If you hang out in card groups online, or listen to award-winning podcasts, you’ve probably heard the word Lorcana being bandied about. Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard it discussed as the Disney Trading Card Game. With Kakawow being a surprise hit, Disney is having a moment in the hobby, and many are convinced that the next big thing in the hobby is Disney’s Lorcana, out this summer.
Let’s see if the prediction makes sense and we should be all Hakuna Matata about the product, or if we should just Let It Go. No more Disney jokes, I promise. It is safe to keep reading.
Disney is hot right now. Disney’s Kakawow has done well on the secondary market and is proof that collectors are hungry for Disney content. Throw in the fact that TCGs have been having a moment for a couple of years now and the combination is enough to make collectors salivate.
Lorcana singles are already doing well. What drew attention to the product are some eye-popping sales of the promo cards for Lorcana. Most of the cards in the set in PSA 9 grade are fetching $1000-$1500 and PSA 10 copies are going for close to $3000 and even higher. Those are figures that draw hobby attention. These cars are fairly rare, so collectors really shouldn’t expect these types of prices with the main hobby release, but expecting collectors to rationally set expectations is a fool’s errand.
The best thing Lorcana has going for it is that the cards look great. Drawing on decades of great Disney art, the cards are expertly designed and should make fans happy. Sometimes a product can succeed based on a strong design and Lorcana looks like it could take that route to success.
Not So Fast
There are good reasons to be skeptical of Lorcana. The biggest to me are its preorder numbers. Lorcana preorders quickly spiked to $350 but have steadily dropped over the last two months to around $190. This is not what one would expect for a hot property about to become the next craze. The TCG community has taken a wait-and-see approach as they’ve been burned by trendy games before. It also means that it is likely that many hobbyists have already lost quite a bit in Lorcana speculation.
The common way TCGs work is that their first set is under-printed, the game becomes popular, and then demand spikes for the cards raising prices and increasing demand even further. It’s a great system that can spark a feeding frenzy. There are two problems with this for Lorcana though. First, it relies on the gameplay being stellar. This is the great unknown here. The bigger problem is that Lorcana, with incessant buzz and one of the world’s biggest media empires behind it, will not be under-printed.
If the gameplay is bad, Lorcana is destined for the scrapheap that is filled with the bloated carcasses of other hyped media-based TCGs. There was a time in the 90s that every IP seemingly had a TCG and they are almost all forgotten. Even big-time properties like Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons, Star Trek, Star Wars, and so many more have had TCG flops and the one thing they have in common is unengaging gameplay. The rules have leaked and there are some details, but we really won’t know if it works until games are played.
Even if Lorcana nails the gameplay, collectors should expect these to be highly printed. Things work differently in the TCG world and those coming in from the sports card world should take note. While cards with a print run of 500 are often overlooked in the sports cards world, they represent the rarest of the rare in the TCG world. Print runs are high in the TCG space and Lorcana likely will have one of the highest print runs for a new product ever. With that in mind, be cautious of market values and don’t give into FOMO with this one. If you want some, it should not be a problem to find.
There is also the issue of competition. Getting TCG players to branch out of their main games is hard. It is even harder when there is competition from shiny new games as some players only have time for one or two. The big elephant in the room is Star Wars Unlimited, the latest attempt to make a Star Wars TCG work. I’m a little concerned that the odds of Lorcana and Star Wars Unlimited both being hits are low.
Ultimately, we’ll know this summer how things end up. While there is rampant speculation, no one will really know how the set will do until people start playing the game. Sure, Pokemon appeals to non-players, but I don’t see Lorcana doing well without solid game mechanics as Disney fans have plenty of other options for their dollars if the game is subpar. With some reasons to be wary of Lorcana, I’m just going to get some to try the game out, but I won’t expect the cards to pay for my student loans as the more optimistic hobbyists are.
Also, if you haven’t checked out the insanely useful Card Shop Live app, what are you waiting for? It’s great for breaks, personal rips, singles, and hobby info. The breakers are all heavily vetted so no shenanigans here.
Leave a Reply