Review of "Disney Lorkana: Uprising of the Floodborn" and Other New Board Games

Review of "Disney Lorkana: Uprising of the Floodborn" and Other New Board Games

While 2023 has broken records in the video game industry, it's also an excellent time for tabletop games. Even after pandemic restrictions dealt a blow to this hobby, signs point to its continued growth: this year, the industry in the US could earn over 2 billion dollars.

We've selected some of the most popular tabletop games of the year: from quick duels to extensive cooperative campaigns. Here are our reviews:

Lorkana: Uprising of the Floodborn Card Handles Sapphire and Amethyst. Ravensburger Lorkana: Uprising of the Floodborn

I'm content with my chances. I started the game with the Queen from Snow White, then played as the Beast to oust the opposing Megara. Only a few quests away from Victory — and perhaps my Gaston from an alternate universe (with the subtitle "Intellectual Power Plant") can provide the cards and beef I need for the win.

But despite my advantage, I couldn't keep up with the flow of characters from my opponent, from Duke Weselton to Steamboat Willie. I'm a seasoned Magic: the Gathering and Android: Netrunner player, but Lorkana's glory somehow eludes me.

Gaston, Intellectual Power Plant Ravensburger While I lost as a competitor, publisher Ravensburger achieved financial success with this new collectible card game for kids and Disney fans. The debut product, The First Chapter, sold out quickly this fall, and the Rise of the Floodborn expansion is releasing just in time for the holidays. I had the opportunity to test both.

In these two-player games that take less than half an hour, you take turns summoning Disney characters, items, and actions. You win not by attacking the opponent but by sending characters on quests to increase your knowledge points from zero to twenty. Most cards serve a dual purpose: each turn, you can place one of them face down in your "inkwell," which you'll use to play increasingly expensive and powerful cards.

The storyline covers the multiverse of heroes and villains, each divided into three types. You'll see classic "Born Stories" as they appear in canonical films, while "Born Dreams" deviate slightly from the factory forms. But the characters of the "Floodborn" lead the latest set and bring a bit of whimsy to Disney's strict standards. Here, you'll see Cinderella as a knight in armor, Belle as a forest archer, or Cruella de Vil as a runway model.

As much as I liked Lorkana's inventive art and playful irony, say, about how Dr. Facilier teamed up with Rapunzel and sings "Part of Your World," the game didn't fully enchant me. Although Rise of the Floodborn delves deeper into Disney's catalog (it includes all seven dwarfs!), it doesn't clarify the game's convoluted identity.

Cinderella, Brave Ravensburger Collectible card games often break down cards into opposing factions with different game plans, but each of Lorkana's six "ink colors" feels roughly equivalent. Sure, Amber cards care more about princesses, and Sapphire cards let you, for example, draw more from your deck, but they also have plenty of mechanically identical characters. Heroes and villains also aren't fully defined by specific colors — for example, Mulan and Mother Gothel have Ruby and Emerald variants.

However, such complaints don't slow down sales for the families that the game caters to. Now more than ever, you can fill your shelves with Disney board games from legendary designers: "Lorkana" stands alongside "Dixit Disney," "Codenames Disney," "Disney Villainous" — the list goes on. Navigating Lorkana's shallows, I glimpsed flashes of a deeper game, but for it to truly shine, a real transformation was needed.

— James Mastromarino, lead game specialist and producer at "Here and Now"

Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West Vanessa McGinnis/Asmodee Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West

My first game of Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West felt like a journey into the unknown. While the game is based on the classic, it literally changes the rules as you progress through the long campaign designed by industry veteran Rob Daviau, intended for 15-20 plays. Between each one, you'll be opening sealed boxes and envelopes to find new figures and stickers to place on the board based on the results of the previous game.

The game starts like the original Ticket to Ride, but the first twist happens early with a new rule: now, each player gets two points every time they build a route matching their player color, fundamentally changing our strategies. Instead of taking tickets that looked easy to fill, I searched for unused blue routes on the map and picked tickets that conveniently overlapped.

My first game of Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West felt like stepping into the unknown. Although the game is based on the classic, it literally changes the rules as you progress through the extended campaign designed by industry veteran Rob Daviau, designed for 15-20 plays. Between each one, you'll open sealed boxes and envelopes to discover new figures and stickers to place on the board based on the results of the previous game.

The game begins similarly to the original Ticket to Ride, but the first twist occurs early with a new rule: now, each player receives two points every time they build a route matching their player color, fundamentally altering our strategies. Instead of grabbing tickets that seemed easy to complete, I scoured the map for unclaimed blue routes and selected tickets that conveniently overlapped.