We finally have the full spoiler for Lorcana, The First Chapter! Just the other day, Ravensburger released the official Lorcana companion app, which includes a complete, searchable card database and deckbuilder. And now that we can see all of the cards side-by-side, it’s time to break them all down and see what makes them tick.
There are six ink colors in Lorcana: Amber, Amethyst, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Steel. Think mana types in Magic: The Gathering or energy types in Pokémon. Like those other TCGs, the ink color of a card plays a big part in deckbuilding. At minimum, your deck has to contain sixty cards, and you can only have four copies of a given card. Unlike those games though, Lorcana deckbuilding rules strictly limit you to one or two colors. That means it’s more important than ever to understand what each color has to offer, so you can make sure your deck has everything it needs to get you to 20 lore before your opponent.
Sapphire Ink Identity
The official description for Sapphire says that it’s the ink of intellect and invention. In gameplay terms, it can be summarized very simply: Sapphire likes items. Every ink has items, but Sapphire is the only one that depends upon them. Small wonder, then, that this is where you’ll find the likes of Merlin, Maurice and Belle.
Item interactions are key to Sapphire, but that’s not all this ink brings to the table. Sapphire also has some of the only ink acceleration – you’ll hear this called ramping, a reference to the Magic: the Gathering card Rampant Growth. With removal effects like Let It Go, which sends target character face down into its owners inkwell, you can get around Lorcana’s one ink per turn restriction.
Add to that a good mix of Support, Evasive and Ward, and you get a well-rounded ink that can pair with just about any other ink effectively.
The Belle of the Ball
There are two Belle cards in Sapphire: Belle, Inventive Engineer and Belle, Strange But Special. More than any other cards in the ink, these two showcase what makes Sapphire stand out.
Inventive Engineer’s Tinker ability reduces the cost of your items, which supports other cards in the color. Strage But Special not only lets you ink an additional card each turn, but it also gives you a massive +4 lore if you have 10 or more cards in your inkwell.
Remember, there is no rule in Lorcana that says you can’t have multiple copies of a given card on the battlefield at one time. If you have multiple copies of Strange But Special on the field, you get an additional ink for each copy.
The First Chapter of Lorcana is relatively light on items, and Sapphire ink only has five. Then again, there are only twenty items in the whole set! Of that, are there really enough to make an item-focused deck worth building? Right now, there aren’t a lot of options for item removal, so the passive benefits that can be gained from items like Coconut Basket add up quickly. And for the few items which require you banish them to get their effect, Sapphire has several cards that allow you to return item cards from discard to your hand.
Some Sapphire cards also get passive benefit from having items in play. Tamatoa, So Shiny! gets an additional lore for each item you have. He’s an inkable 5/8 for 8, but only quests for one. That’s an expensive card for such a low lore value. Conveniently, Amber has Lantern, an item which reduces character costs by one when it’s exerted. Each Lantern you have in play not only makes Tamatoa, So Shiny! cost less, but improves his lore value. Imagine a boardstate with four Lanterns, where you can exert them all to cast Tamatoa for a lowly 4 ink. And on your next turn, he will quest for a whopping five lore. More, if you buff him with the Sapphire item Eye of the Fates, which will give him an additional 1 lore base, plus one lore for having an additional item.
There has been a lot of hype leading up to release about Sapphire’s ability to load up the inkwell with Belle and protect its characters with Aurora, Dreaming Guardian’s Protective Embrace (which gives all other characters ward). As nice as those abilities are, it would be a mistake to sleep entirely on the potential an item-heavy Sapphire deck carries. At least until item removal becomes more prevalent, anyway.
Like a fine wine…
A case can be made for pairing Sapphire with just about every other ink. Amber has Lantern, and support for Sapphire’s song Let It Go. Amethyst has card draw to complement Belle, Strange But Special’s additional ink ability. Ruby has its awesome removal package. And Steel has Beast’s Mirror and A Whole New World to re-fill your hand if you get low from inking twice on your turn. Emerald has the least synergy with Sapphire, preferring actions over items. That will likely change with future sets, but for now I would suggest steering clear of Emerald/Sapphire.
The Sapphire ink hype is real leading up to Lorcana’s release. Do you have a decklist that runs Sapphire? Drop a comment below or tag me on Twitter. We just might make a video about it!
Lorcana releases in local game stores on August 18, 2023.