As a new card game, Lorcana has a whole new set of abilities to learn. Some of these are so common that they have bolded keywords, and many have very specific costs. Here we’ll break everything down so you can get playing!
Every keyword ability released for Lorcana so far is detailed below. We’ll add new ones as they are revealed and clarify rules where needed. Feel free to comment on the article if you have any questions or want a rules check – we’ll reply as soon as we can!
You can also read our full how to play Lorcana rules guide. For common questions about abilities and rulings check out our Lorcana Rules FAQ and for specific card rulings take a look at the Lorcana Card Rules FAQ – both coming soon.
Bodyguard (This character may enter play exerted. An opposing character who challenges one of your characters must choose one with Bodyguard if able.)
This ability is a brilliant way to protect other characters by putting out a card with high willpower . The Bodyguard ability breaks down into two things:
First, when you play the card you can play it exerted (sideways, or “tapped”) immediately. That means the card’s ability can be used straight away but opens it up to being challenged.
Luckily, that’s what the ability is designed for – tanking big hits and sacrificing itself so others can win you the game.
The second is the important one. It means that if an opponent decides to challenge one of your characters, it must choose the one with Bodyguard if able.
So if you have a character with Bodyguard that is exerted (this is important) then they have to challenge that card before any other card – if they are able to.
So you could have a few characters out on your board, make them exerted by questing or challenging, then play a character with Bodyguard and exert it on that turn. That would force your opponent to challenge that card first – giving the other cards a chance to stay out on the board.
Look at every card with Bodyguard here
If you have two characters with Bodyguard who are both exerted, your opponent can choose which one to challenge. They might choose to take one down first, then the other. They could also spread the damage and use another card to deal damage to both.
Cards with Bodyguard can be the targets of effects and damage that aren’t from challenges. It doesn’t stop the card from being sent back to your hand, to the discard, or being readied. Readying the character would mean your opponent can then challenge another of your characters.
Just because a card with Bodyguard is rested, doesn’t mean it must be challenged. The ability only forces characters to challenge this card first if they choose to challenge.
You don’t have to exert a card with Bodyguard on the turn it’s played if you don’t want to. However, you must choose whether or not to exert it immediately when it enters play. You can’t play it, take another action, then exert it using the ability.
If a character with Bodyguard is given Evasive, and the opponent has no Evasive characters that can make a valid challenge, they don’t have to choose to challenge that character and can attack another valid target.
This would also apply if something else would stop a character from being able to challenge the character with Bodyguard. If they weren’t able to challenge them, they could choose another valid target.
This is a good way of getting around a small character like Simba – Protective Cub protecting a better target. Use something like Tinker Bell – Most Helpful to give them Evasive for the turn and use another character to challenge the one they don’t want to be challenged.
Challenger +x (While challenging, this character gets +x .)
This is a great offensive ability that allows low-cost cards to pose a big threat when challenging. The “x” can be any number. A card with Challenger +1 would get 1 extra strength, but only while challenging – not will being challenged, or at any other point in the game.
That means a card could have a low challenge value normally, and not be great in responding when they are challenged by an opponent. However, they could take out a much higher-cost character when they challenge – even if they get banished for their effort.
This ability to “trade” a lower-cost card for a higher one is really important, and what makes Challenger such a useful ability.
You can also use increase the total + (or -) number for Challenger. See the rulings on stacking keywords in Lorcana below.
Look at every card with Challenger here
Why “When” or “While”?
It’s worth noting that the standard text for the ability is now “While challenging“, where it was previously “When challenging” on the D23 Captain Hook. That might seem insignificant. However, the wording means that it gets the buff only while the challenge is happening.
“When” could be interpreted to mean that that card is given the buff when it challenges, and it doesn’t lose it after. So it would keep that +x forever, and gain even more whenever it challenges again. Now the wording clarifies it is only while the challenge is happening.
Evasive (Only characters with Evasive can challenge this character.)
Evasive is probably the trickiest ability to play around in Lorcana. Cards with this keyword ability can only be challenged by other cards with the keyword ability, but can still challenge those without.
That means if your opponent has a full board of rested characters that all have Evasive, and you don’t have a single character with Evasive – you can’t challenge them at all. You can still choose them for card effects that do damage, remove them, banish them, etc.
Characters with Evasive can choose to challenge characters without the ability. They don’t both need it. When they challenge, damage still happens like normal. It just means characters without it can’t choose to start the challenge.
Some cards have the keyword ability all of the time. We’ve also seen others that gain it only when a certain thing is true. For instance, Simba Returned King and Robin Hood Unrivaled Archer have the keyword only on that player’s turn (each turn).
Pascal Rapunzel’s Companion gets it only if you have another character on the board.
It’s important to have a plan to combat your opponent when they play Evasive characters. Without a few cards with it in your deck, or the ability to target them – you won’t be able to stop their cards questing safely.
Having a few cards with this allows you to quest or use other abilities fairly safely. It also allows you to choose when to challenge if needed. Evasive is very similar to the Flying ability in Magic: The Gathering.
Look at every card with Evasive here
Reckless (Characters with Reckless can‘t quest and must challenge if able.)
Essentially, Reckless gives the character tunnel vision and forces them to challenge instead of questing.
Some characters come with Reckless, but it’s also a keyword that you might give to an opponent. It’s the type of keyword you probably want to give to opponents in order to stop a card with high lore questing that turn – at the expense of probably getting challenged by it.
The ability means:-
- That character can’t quest this turn – even if they normally could, and even if they can’t challenge
- If there is a valid opponent to challenge and the card can’t take another action that would exert them or stop them from being able to challenge, they must challenge
If you have a Reckless character and an opponent’s character can be challenged, you must challenge it. That is, unless you can take an action like singing a song or something that isn’t questing to exert your card.
If you give an opponent’s character the Reckless keyword and leave one or more of your characters exerted, your opponent’s character must challenge yours unless they can be otherwise exerted.
Some clarifications: –
- Characters with Reckless can still choose targets to challenge if there is more than one valid target
- Characters with Reckless can still sing – this is a great way to stop them from challenging if it would be bad for you
- They still can’t challenge cards with Evasive unless they have Evasive too
- If another ability or card stops that character from challenging that turn by exerting it or otherwise stopping it – it doesn’t challenge
- Even if the character doesn’t have to challenge, it still can’t quest
- If that character has a card Shifted onto it, it will still retain Reckless
- You don’t have to challenge straight away. Basically, think of this as an end-of-turn check. If you can’t exert your character or stop them from being able to challenge in another way, they must if able.
Essentially, if your opponent gives one of your characters the Reckless keyword, you have until the end of your turn to figure out a way of exerting that character if you want to stop them from challenging. Otherwise, they have to but you can choose any valid target.
Look at every card with Reckless here
Resist +x (Damage dealt to this character is reduced by 2.)
Resist is a simple way of reducing all forms of damage to a character. When they should take damage from a challenge, an effect, or a card – they have the amount reduced by the number on the Keyword.
They can resist multiple times, and Resist doesn’t wear down like extra . Resist can also be given or increased by cards like Cogsworth – Grandfather Clock.
Look at every card with Resist here
Rush (They can challenge the turn they’re played.)
Rush is a keyword ability that allows characters to challenge on the first turn that they are played. Normally when you play a character to the board, it can’t attack on its first turn because its ink still has to dry.
Characters with Rush can challenge straight away. This is a very common card game mechanic and one that forms the basis of aggro or rush styles of deck-building strategy.
While the keyword ability allows them to challenge straight away, they can’t take other actions like questing or singing. That’s important as being able to instantly quest would be very hard to work around.
The main advantage of rush is when you have no characters on your board and your opponent has exerted characters. Normally their characters would almost certainly be safe for a turn – with Rush you can give them an immediate answer.
Look at every card with Rush here
Shift x (You may pay x to play this on top of one of your characters named y).
Shift is one of the cornerstone abilities in Lorcana. It allows you to play powerful characters on top of cheaper characters at a reduced cost. It’s very similar to evolution, or stages of cards in other games.
The cost of the Shift ability for that character is the “x” above. However, there are two ways to play a Shift character: –
- You can choose to pay the Shift cost and play the character over the character named in the “y” part of the ability. You must pay that much ink.
- You can play the character as normal without using the Shift ability or its cost. Pay the normal ink cost at the top left of the character. The character is not played over another character, just played as normal.
When you Shift a character over another, it has to be done over a character named on the card. It literally goes on top of the previous character and they become a stack. The abilities, strength and willpower, and Lore values of the previous card no longer apply.
Look at every card with Shift here
Shift Keeps Damage, Status + Effects
However, the shifted character does keep the “status” from the card below. If the lower card was played this turn and can’t be exerted for quests e.t.c., neither can the new card on top. If the lower card was exerted, so is the new one.
Damage tokens and other effects all carry over. So if the previous card had one damage token and was exerted, so does the new card. If the previous card had been given Reckless, Ward, or other abilities, those also carry over.
The main advantage of Shift is being able to play a cheap character in one turn and get a more powerful one in the next. It also might subvert any plans your opponent had for banishing that cheaper character in their next turn.
The disadvantages are that you effectively lose a character you already paid for. This means you have to think about your deck’s build, plus losing the abilities of that other character.
Discarding, Go to Hand, Go To Inkwell
When a Shift character is discarded, put into the inkwell, or sent back to its owner’s hand – both cards are sent there. So if you banish the character, both cards are discarded. If you return a shifted character, the owner gets both cards back.
If you use Let It Go on a shifted character, you are giving your opponent (or yourself…) two more ink.
Singer x (This character counts as cost x to sing songs.)
Singer allows cards to sing songs that require a higher ink cost than they normally have. Normally, songs can only be sung by characters that meet the ink cost of the song card’s text.
Singer gives them a higher number – though their ink cost (the top left number) stays the same.
For instance, Ariel Spectacular Singer has an ink cost of 3. Normally she could only sing songs that say: (A character with cost 3 or less can to sing this song for free.)
However, her rules text says Singer 5. That means that can sing songs that state “cost 3 or less” in their rules text. Normally a 3 ink cost card could only sing Part Of Your World or songs costing 3 or less for free.
Look at every card with Singer here
Support (Whenever this character quests, you may add their to another chosen character‘s this turn.)
This ability allows characters to gain lore while supporting others in their challenges. The character must quest, and then they can add their strength to another character for this turn.
You might give that strength to a character that’s going to challenge this turn to make sure they can take out an opponent. It only lasts for this turn, not your opponent’s turn. The Support character doesn’t lose their strength.
Characters can use Support more than once if you can ready and quest with them again. The “Whenever” in the text is key. So you might have Ariel – Whoseit Collector on the board and use Work Together to give her the Support keyword.
She could then quest, giving her to Stitch – New Dog. If you play an item you could then use her ability to make her ready. Then, you could quest with her again, meaning she could add her to Stitch or any other character once more.
You use Support in this way to give a card’s strength multiple times to the same character or give it out to different characters each time you quest.
Look at every card with Support here
The Support abilities rules text has officially been confirmed as: “Whenever this character quests, you may add their to another chosen character‘s this turn.” in the official app.
Four of the seven Support cards from The First Chapter were printed without the word another. Technically that means they could have used the Keyword on themselves, then be readied and be able to challenge with a higher strength.
Even if you have one of these older cards, the ability still must target another character. You can use the app to look at the errata on the card itself if you are asked in a game.
The cards were corrected in the second print run that released in early November. The full article on every errata or error card from The First Chapter is here. The four cards are: –
- Chief Tui – Respected Leader
- HeiHei – Boat Snack
- Merlin – Self-Appointed Mentor
- Philoctetes – Trainer of Heroes
Ward (Opponents can’t choose this character except to challenge.)
Ward is a powerful ability that stops your card being chosen by cards that might do it damage, discard it, or otherwise hamper it. Essentially any card that says “choose” or “chosen” can’t target a character with Ward.
Your opponent can still challenge the character, and your character can still challenge, quest, use its effects, sing, etc. Aladdin Prince Ali comes with it built in, but Aurora Dreaming Guardian protects other characters by giving them the keyword.
This is incredibly helpful, given that there are so many abilities and card that “choose” a character to carry out an effect. Bear in mind that card abilities that don’t “choose” a card will still work. We don’t have any yet, but if your opponent has a card that does damage to all opponent characters – Ward wouldn’t protect against it because there is no “choosing” in the text.
Characters with Ward can still be chosen for effects that you choose, as it specifies “Opponents can’t choose this character“, not all players.
Look at every card with Ward here
Can A Character Have Multiple Keywords?
Yes, characters can have lots of different keywords on a character at the same time. But you can’t have two of the same keyword on a character, see below.
Can You Stack Keywords in Lorcana?
No, and yes. First, a character cannot have more than one of the same Keyword. But, they can gain higher numbers for Keywords with a + or -. This is explained further below.
One Instance Of A Keyword Per Character
Characters can only have one instance of a particular Keyword. So, a character couldn’t have the Evasive keyword twice.
For example, Pongo – Ol’ Rascal already has Evasive. If you played Tinker Bell – Most Helpful, you would not be able to add the ability to Pongo again. The attempt would fail. Pongo would still have Evasive, just not two instances of it.
The same would also go for a character that you were trying to give a Keyword to twice, that didn’t have it before. For instance, you could use Tinker Bell – Most Helpful once, then play another of her, targeting the same card, and the Keyword-attaching part would fail.
Keywords with + or – Can Stack the Total
For specific Keyword abilities, their effects can stack. With Challenger and Resist, both always have a number. You can add numbers from effects together, for a total number.
Instead of giving the character the Keyword twice, you actually change the number the second time. For instance, you have a The Prince – Never Gives Up on the board. You play a Cogsworth – Grandfather Clock and The Prince’s Resist +1 is now Resist +2.
You can do this as many times as you like if you can pay for the cards/ability. So you could play four Cogsworth – Grandfather Clock and make The Prince have Resist +5 if you wanted.
From Team Lorcana: “Any keyword or effect with + or – a number effects the keyword accordingly when stacking” . “Numbers with + add value onto the keyword rather than another instance of the keyword. (Hypothetical: Challenger +1 and Challenger +1 become Challenger +2).“
“Keywords with +(Number) add the numbers together but still act as 1 keyword. Keywords without a number cannot be granted to a character an additional time” 
Common Lorcana Card Abilities
These aren’t keyword abilities but they are common enough that it’s worth mentioning them. Knowing what mix of them to have in your deck will often determine how you fare against different strategies.
Draw simply means taking the top card from your deck and putting it into your hand. Cards that allow you to draw are very powerful. Having more cards than your opponent is called “hand advantage” or “card advantage”. The more cards you have, the more options you have.
Being able to choose a strategy for your next turn with a few options is much better than being locked into using the only card you have. Effects that allow you to draw often cost a lot of ink or have drawbacks like discarding or exerting.
Magic Mirror costs six ink in total (two to play, then four to use) to draw just one card but can be used multiple times. Friends on the Other Side instead costs just three ink for two cards but can be sung for free!
Maleficent Sorceress draws a card on play without needing to be exerted – though her stats aren’t great. However, being able to build your board and gain in hand at the same time is very valuable.
Basically, all decks should have some form of extra card draw, or at least the ability to bring cards back from the discard to be used again. Having less cards in hand than your opponent is a key indicator you aren’t in the lead!
Look at every card with Draw here
Look At Top X
This is another common card game ability. You take the top x number of cards from your deck and look at them. It’s normally followed by another action.
Most of the time you then choose to put the cards back on the top or bottom in any order you’d prefer. Sometimes you can keep one of those cards but must discard another. It’s a good way to draw cards or plan your next turns.
Develop Your Brain is a classic example that gives a really cheap way of drawing a card. The disadvantage is you might have to put a card you really want to the bottom of your deck.
Banishing a character or item means sending it to that player’s discard pile. It’s a powerful ability that can ruin a game plan by sending a high-cost character thats just about to win a game to the trash!
While it costs a lot, it can be absolutely worth it. In other card games, this will often have a limit on the cost of a character that it can banish to stop it from being overpowered.
Look at every card with Banish here
Return From Discard
In the same way that having a card banished can be a game-breaker, so can returning that card. Some abilities allow you to return either a character or item back to your hand.
A slight variation on this is one from Magic Broom Bucket Brigade. Their ability lets you take a card from a chosen player’s discard and shuffle it back into their deck. That allows you to either: –
- Stop your opponent from returning a card from their discard straight away
- Search your deck for that card in the future or hope you draw it soon
Look at every card with Return From Discard or Return To Hand here
Return To Hand
Another tricksy ability that puts a card back in the owner’s hand. While not as powerful as Banish, it wastes time and ink by forcing the player to pay again if they want to use the card.
You can also use this ability to return your own cards to hand. You might do this so you can play them again readied so they can’t be challenged, or to use an on play ability again.
So there you have it – every single keyword ability in Lorcana explained! We’ve tried to cover a few examples and uses for each one. While many decks focus on just a couple of keywords, it’s good to have a few different abilities ready to go for different situations.
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