Picking up the basics in Disney Lorcana is pretty easy – with straightforward rules. Where it gets complicated is when a card has its own rules text. Keywords in Lorcana aim to simplify things. Let us break it down for you.
Cards in Lorcana have stats in the form of their Ink cost, Strength, Toughness, and Lore. These are building blocks that allow you to choose cards based on the strategy of your deck.
Some cards have no other rules on them. We call these vanilla cards as they’re pretty plain. Many cards have rules text on them that allows them to use an ability, with a special effect. These abilities are where Lorcana gets really interesting.
In this article, we’ll explain Disney Lorcana rules on abilities, keywords, and how basic rule text works. We’ve broken it down so it should be nice and easy to read. This is part of a longer series of Disney Lorcana rules explainer articles.
Table of Contents
Unique Abilities Vs Keyword Abilities
Some cards have abilities that start with a BOLD UPPERCASE NAME in a brown box. These are (mostly) unique to the card, and have to be read very carefully. These are called unique abilities.
Other abilities are used on many different cards. These have their own Keyword with the (Ability explained in italics in parentheses). These are Keyword abilities that could be used in many sets to come. You’ll need to learn some of them.
Abilities on a card can be completely unique to that card, or be a common ability that is re-used on other cards. On character cards a unique ability has its name highlighted in brown, then the description of the ability will follow.
Unique abilities on characters often have story-based names, like Scar Mastermind‘s INSIDIOUS PLOT. This puts an opponent’s powerful character in a dangerous situation by taking away 5 of their strength for this turn, leaving them unable to fight back if challenged.
For action and song cards, the ability doesn’t normally have a highlighted title in the text – just the ability description. Item cards do have a named unique ability like characters. We might see these types of cards have multiple abilities in the future!
A Keyword ability is a common ability that will be used by lots of different cards. Its name is one word and is printed in bold letters. These abilities form a core part of a game, and certain colors or deck types often rely on one or two keywords for their strategy.
Normally in the first few sets of a game, each time a very common ability is mentioned in bold, it’s also explained (in parentheses). Later, cards might be printed without the explainer text – so you’ll need to remember what that keyword means.
You’ll find that some keyword abilities have either a cost or number next to them. For example, Shift has a number that shows how much ink must be paid to Shift the card over the card named. Challenger has a + number which shows how much additional strength this character gets when challenging.
Goofy Daredevil has the Evasive keyword. This means only other characters with the Evasive keyword can challenge him – while he is free to challenge cards with or without. Captain Hook Forceful Duelist has Challenger +2, which adds two strength – but only when he challenges.
Want to know what every keyword does? Read Every Lorcana Ability + Keyword Explained
How To Use Lorcana Card Abilities
Many card abilities have a cost that must be paid to use that ability. Those costs are followed by a dash “-” and that means the ability cannot be used without paying that cost. Keyword abilities don’t need the dash but must still pay any costs.
These are what we are calling activated abilities.
Activated vs Passive Abilities
Some abilities don’t require you to exert the card. These are what we are calling passive abilities (or “triggered”) because they only activate when something happens, not when you choose to exert them.
You can use these when specified on the card. Some only trigger when the card is played, when a specific type of card is played, or when a certain thing happens. They can trigger multiple times unless otherwise noted.
Note: Passive and activated aren’t official terms, but mirror what other TCGs use. Having these terms make it easier to explain the rules around abilities.
Exerting is a key mechanic in Lorcana that is used to show a card cannot be used again in this turn. Any time you see the symbol, it means exert – or to turn a card sideways. Exerted characters can’t quest, challenge, sing, or use abilities that require them to be exerted.
This is a very important part of the game, as you can only challenge characters that are exerted. That means you must choose wisely when to quest, challenge, sing, or otherwise exert a character – they are open to being challenged on your opponent’s turn!
Ink in your inkwell is exerted when it is used to pay the cost of playing a card, or using an ability. Once that ink is exerted, it can’t be used again. It’s worth noting ink can be used on the turn it is played.
At the start of your turn in the beginning phase, you ready your exert characters, items, and ink. To ready a card means to turn it back so it points upwards. A card that is ready can be used – unless there is something else stopping it.
Tinker Bell Tiny Tactician can be exerted to draw a card and discard a card. While it leaves her open to being challenged, this is a great ability without an ink cost. Dinglehopper is an item that can be used once every turn to remove damage – you just have to exert it.
X – Ink Cost
If a card says “1 “, it means you must exert one of the ink in your inkwell to use the ability. Whatever number is before the ink symbol is how much ink you need to exert. Think wisely about how you spend your ink!
You can put one card from your hand into your inkwell per turn by flipping over to show the back of the card. Only cards with the symbol around the cost can be turned into ink. Once exerted, you can’t use that ink again on that turn.
Both of these item’s abilities require you to exert the card and pay the ink cost to use them. As they’re both items, once they are readied at the start of your turn (or with an effect) you can pay and use them again.
Shift is an ability that costs ink to use. You pay as much ink as the number next to the Shift keyword. Keep in mind that effects that reduce the cost to play a character also reduce the shift cost.
When Can You Use Abilities On Lorcana Cards?
During the main phase of your turn, you can choose when to use activated abilities whenever you want, in any order – unless they state otherwise. It’s best to figure out what you want to do and when you want to play cards before your turn starts to take advantage of abilities at the right time.
However, there are restrictions:
- Characters cannot use their activated abilities on the turn they are played.
- Passive abilities (that don’t need you to exert the card) can be used on the first turn they are played.
- Items abilities can be used on the turn they are played – Passive or activated. You must pay the cost to play the card and the cost to use the ability to do this.
- Songs can be used on the turn they are played if you pay their cost outright, or if you have a character that can sing the song and can be exerted.
- Remember, characters can’t be exerted to sing on the same turn they are played (unless the card says otherwise).
- Passive abilities trigger only when a specific thing happens.
How Many Times Can You Use An Ability?
You can use an ability or effect as many times as you want, as long as you can pay for it or exert when needed – unless otherwise stated.
For certain abilities, you’ll need to exert the card. Because you’ve exerted that card, you can’t pay the cost again and can’t use the ability again. The same goes for ink costs. You have to pay that cost each time the ability is used.
One thing to mention here is that if something makes your card ready again, you can use its ability (or quest, challenge, e.t.c) again if you can pay the cost and it wasn’t this card’s first turn on the board.
Stitch Rock Star has the passive ability ADORING FANS which allows you to exert a character as soon as you play it to draw a card. You can use this for each character you play that meets the requirements of being 2 ink or less.
You might play a 2 ink character, exert it using the ability and draw a card. Say you drew another character with 2 ink or less: you could play it, exert it again using the ability and draw yet another card.
Can You Use Abilities of Exerted Cards?
If an ability or effect doesn’t have the exert symbol, then you can use that ability even if the card is exerted. Bear in mind that you still can’t use abilities of characters on their first turn.
Maurice below has two really good passive abilities that can be used together. On the first turn you play him, you can’t quest (as with all characters). If you then play an item, his second ability IT WORKS! does trigger, and you get to draw a card.
On his second turn you can quest with him, which will activate his first ability GIVE IT A TRY. This reduces by 2 the ink cost of the next item you play on this turn only. So you might then play a Coconut Basket for 0 ink. That would trigger IT WORKS! again to draw another card, even though he is exerted.
Now, in the same turn you could use the second ability as many times as you like because it states “Whenever you draw a card”, but the first one only once per Maurice’s quest.
Want to learn more about the different keywords and common abilities? Read Every Lorcana Ability + Keyword Explained
Ready to learn more about card rules text and what everything means? Read Lorcana Card Rules – Card Text Made Clear