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What is Disney Lorcana's Illumineer's Quest?

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Next month, Disney Lorcana will change forever. Not only are we getting awesome new products, but we're getting a whole new way to play the game. A new cooperative mode called Illumineer's Quest will provide insight into some fun new design spaces, as well as what future mechanics and characters might look like. It will also provide tons of new cards. The first Illumineer's Quest coincides with the upcoming Lorcana set and features Ursula as the villain you and your friends can fight against.

Several TCG's have attempted a cooperative model before, most popularly coming from the Upper Deck (and later Cryptozoic) published World of Warcraft TCG that featured Raid Decks. Illumineer's Quest has some similar DNA, but also stands proudly on its own with several options to test your skills.

The Deep Trouble box includes an oversized Ursula card to use as a villain, as well as a scenario deck containing 50 cards. You can fit all this on a playmat in the box, as well as damage counters, lore trackers, and some tokens. There's also a secret victory card that appears wrapped in a booster pack like foil which makes me think there are a variety of them, or that the card contains narrative that Ravensburger wants to keep under wraps (pun intended) for story fans. There are a plethora of tokens including one called an "Ursula draw" token that fits in with some of the effects I'll explain later on. Curiously, though, there are a lot of tokens with negative modifiers. Not only will these come in handy in the new game mode, but I'll probably tuck some into my deckbox for regular play.

Illumineer's Quest is billed as playable with up to 4 players, but the box only contains 2 player decks. One of the decks is based around the Fantasia sorcerer Amethyst Yen Sid, accompanied by a Steel Mickey Mouse in his wizard cap. Here's me hoping for an increase in viable Broom cards. The other is Ruby and Amber with Mulan taking the spotlight and Piglet taking the passenger seat. I think this is where the line for players is going to be drawn on how interesting this product is; some people (like myself) are going to be interested in Ursula and the cooperative mode in general. I'm chomping at the bit to get new ways to play this game already! Other players may find that they just want the player cards. Not all of them are new. These decks contain a mix of cards from across all four released sets, as well as the new characters mentioned above.

Most of the information about this product doesn't call Ursula by name, but instead refers to her as the "sea witch". The villainess extraordinaire comes with a uniquely gold backed scenario deck. So far, all the information points to black-bordered characters. They have an ink cost, Strength and Willpower, as well as lore. The back of the box shows off a Captain Hook with 7 Strength and 4 Willpower, but the frame color is unlike player cards. Is part of this story that Ursula produces corrupted, evil ink? Certainly.

The biggest factor for the cooperative elements seem to be the Battleground cards. There are 2 oversized and double-sided ones that come in the box. These depict the places your team will confront Ursula. They provide new rules and actions that tweak the difficulty. You can start out at the first encounter, where you can fight her on Easy - or wait to confront her at her own lair for Extreme difficulty. The Battleground cards shown says that "Ursula doesn't draw additional cards for lore each turn." which must mean that she has a hand or a way to play/keep cards faster in other difficulties. There's also a section on the card that describes three Player Abilities with an associated cost in lore. I'm curious how lore will interact here, since normally players race to 20 for victory. Will players need to race to a higher number collectively? Or is there another objective to beat Ursula - and thus we need other things to do with our lore.

Either way, Illumineer's Quest has a lot of promise for the game and definitely opens up design space in some interesting ways. Whether you're interested in the new Mulan or just beating up an octopus lady, Deep Trouble is going to be a fun product that I'll get to the table with my friends - and also seems like a fun way to introduce new players to the game. A cooperative model should've hit with the first set, in my opinion, to help teach and guide younger players into the finer points of the game. Which brings us to the final component; the rule sheet. All the answers we seek are in that little pamphlet.

Illumineer's Quest Deep Trouble launches at your local game stores on May 17th, right alongside the launch of the new booster set Ursula's Return. I'd grab one quickly, even if you're on the fence, otherwise they'll disappear like the rest of sealed product does.

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