Into the Inklands Set Review: Emerald

Disney Lorcana's third set will be releasing to local game stores very soon, so we are taking a look at the full set and reveiwing all the cards. In this post, I will be reviewing all the Emerald cards from Into the Inklands.

Introduction

Disney Lorcana's third set will be releasing to local game stores very soon, so we are taking a look at the full set and reveiwing all the cards. With so many cards to go through, we will be breaking this series of reviews down by ink color. In this post, I will be reviewing all the Emerald cards from Into the Inklands.

I would say Emerald has been one of the weaker inks in Lorcana so far. It's discard package from Rise of the Floodborn has seen some success, but a lot of the power of those decks came from the Steel cards. Might Emerald finally be getting some truly powerful and meta-defining cards of their own? Let's take a look!


Into The Inklands Set Review

Rating Scale

Each card will be rated from 1 to 5. Here is roughly what each rating means:

1 = Garbage - These cards are unplayable in nearly all circumstances. You would never consider adding these cards to your constructed deck and probably don't want to see them in limited formats either. Also sometimes known as "pack filler". When you get these cards, add them to your binder and leave them there.

2 = Kinda Bad - These cards are generally unplayable under most circumstances. They may be good in very specific or very niche situations but you would almost never seriously consider putting them in a competitive deck. They're just too awkward or clunky to see use realistically. They can sometimes be serviceable options in limited formats though.

3 = Fair. These cards are not powerful enough to be deck-defining cards in playable decks nor are they bad enough that you would never consider them. They're somewhere in the middle of the road, and cards in this range could jump in and out of the meta depending on how it changes, either within the current set or possibly even future sets. These cards are never worth dismissing out of hand because it's always possible that they could be good enough to see play if the meta calls for them.

4 = Very Good. These cards are powerful enough that they become staple cards in competitive or serious decks. Cutting it from a competitive deck and trying to swap in something else would almost never be recommended because the card is too important to the deck's overall strategy.

5 = Insane. These cards are the most powerful cards in the set. The meta can shift by their very presence. They are the superstar cards of the best of the best decks. They may be able to singlehandedly move the power of a deck a couple tiers higher in the meta reports than they would otherwise. When people think of the defining cards of the set, they think of these cards.

Into the Inklands Emerald Cards

Cubby - Mighty Lost Boy

Cubby - Mighty Lost Boy is a 3/5 for 4 cost that quests for 1 lore. Not that most exciting stuff, but his ability lets him trade up, if you can move him to a location. That's probably not going to be worth most of the time, but it is funny to note that if you have two locations out with a movement cost of 1 and a Map of Treasure Planet on board, you can bounce him back and forth as many times as you want, giving him infinite Strength! But yeah, not super relevant.

Rating: 2/5

Cursed Merfolk - Ursula's Handiwork

Cursed Merfolk is a 1-drop that quests for 2 lore. These cards, such as Lilo - Making a Wish, have always been attractive for aggro decks. Compared to Lilo, this card trades 1 Strength for a discard ability, the same one on Flynn Rider - Charming Rogue. But you are perfectly fine with that, in fact, it's better as the 1 Strength on Lilo was almost never relevant. When this discard ability goes off, and it often will, it means this card trades 1-for-1 in card advantage which Lilo and the like pretty much never did. So you get a strong stat line paired with a strong ability. What's not to like?

Rating: 4/5

Don Karnage - Prince of Pirates

Don Karnage is pure power creep on poor Goofy - Daredevil. Same cost, inkability and rarity, and you just get +1 Strength over Goofy. Goofy already saw some play in Ruby Evasive decks and even in Amethyst/Ruby Control on occasion, as a way to close out a game. So the Prince of Pirates here could definitely make a few lists. Not a terrible card, by any means.

Rating: 3/5

Flotsam - Riffraff

A 5/2 body for 3 is not what you want to see. If your 3-drop is easily dying to Let the Storm Rage On and Ba-Boom!, you are in trouble. Now this Flotsam is obviously meant to be paired with Jetsam - Riffraff, giving him Ward, to get around that potential problem. But you don't want to play two bad standalone cards just to make them both slightly less bad.

It is worth noting that this Flotsam would also work with Jetsam - Ursula's Spy from the first set, and if you had both Jetsams out together, this Flotsam would have both Ward and Evasive. If you can make it work, it's pretty good, but not enough for me to want to run all these bad cards in my deck.

Rating: 2/5

Friar Tuck - Priest of Nottingham

Friar Tuck is a new discard enabler card. But in Prince John - Greediest of All discard decks he is much worse, in my opinion, than a card like Daisy Duck - Secret Agent. Yes, his discard triggers when he enters play and not on quest, but he would target your own hand for discard if you ever have more cards than your opponent when you play him. So unless you have some self-discard synergy of your own, he would almost become unplayable after a certain point. At least he's inkable, so you can always just ink him if that happens. But I'd rather just run the good discard stuff instead.

Rating: 2/5

Helga Sinclair - Femme Fatale

Helga Sinclair is a new Floodborn for Emerald. As a 5-cost uninkable 4/4 for 2 lore with Shift 3, you are getting just an okay body. Compared to say The Queen - Commanding Presence, I would hope for something better. So it's mostly about whether her ability is worth it or not. Her ability allows you to deal 3 damage to a chosen damaged character. Chosen damaged character. Aww... so close to being good.

If this had said "deal 3 damage to a chosen character", I would have loved it. She would have been a great removal tool for Emerald decks. As it is though, you need to damage your opponent's character before her ability does anything. And that's not easy for Emerald to do. You pretty much have to play her in an Emerald/Steel deck, as Steel is the only ink with ping effects. And do you even need her then? If you are playing Steel already, just play all of Steel's damage actions and you can remove most threats from the board easily enough. Do you need this extra 3 damage reach? I just don't see where she helps out enough to be worth running.

Maybe, in the future, if Emerald gets access to reliable sources of pings in their own color, then you have the ability to run an Emerald ping deck that isn't tied to Steel. Until then, just play a deck filled mostly with the good Steel stuff and keep Helga out of it.

Rating: 2/5

Helga Sinclair - Vengeful Partner

This 2-cost Helga is meant to work as a Shift target for the Floodborn Helga. Since I don't rate that Helga very highly, I think it's best to just evaluate this Helga as a standalone card. And a 2/1 for 2 is not great. She has the Cheshire Cat - Not All There ability, but at only 1 Willpower, she is going to die to some ping effect more often than she will to being challenged. She also only has 1 lore to Cheshire's 2 lore, so is less of a priority target. Your opponent is probably content to just leave her be until they can remove her for free or cheap. I guess she "counters" the 1-cost 1/3s in the meta, but if you have to run this 2-cost card just to counter a bunch of 1-drops, you are in a bad spot. I really don't see any reason to play this card.

Rating: 1/5

Jetsam - Riffraff

Here is Flotsam's counterpart. Jetsam - Riffraff is a 2/2 for 3 with Ward and can quest for 2 lore. So basically a more expensive Duke Weaselton - Small-Time Crook. You want something better for the higher cost, but as mentioned in our evaluation of Flotsam, doing so requires running a bunch of other bad cards, just to make this one slightly less bad. Maybe someday we will have a full Flotsam/Jetsam deck that can run all these cards together and always be getting some benefit off of it. Until then, we'll have to settle for meme decks with hilarious names that reference decade-old, viral tweets.

Rating: 2/5

Kit Cloudkicker - Tough Guy

Kit Cloudkicker, one of the two main characters of the 90s cartoon TaleSpin, makes his debut in Disney Lorcana. And he comes with an interesting bounce ability. When you play him, you can bounce an opposing character, provided it has 2 Strength of less. This actually can hit quite a few high priority targets, such as the Legendary Ursula - Deceiver of All, or he could be used to remove a pesky Bodyguard character like Simba - Protective Cub to allow you to take out the Lilo hiding behind him.

I also like that we are getting things that key off of an opponent's Strength, as it makes cards that reduce Strength that much better. For example, you can bounce just about everything in the game with Kit, if you have a The Queen - Commanding Presence on board, ready to quest. Overall, this is a card that can give you a lot of tempo as well as function as spot removal, so it has some flexibility. A solid card.

Rating: 4/5

Lyle Tiberius Rourke - Cunning Mercenary

Lyle Tiberius Rourke is a new Villain character with a John Silver - Alien Pirate type effect on play. That has proved to be a decent effect, locking your opponent's character out of questing for a turn can be useful. He also comes with another ability that reduces your opponent's lore by 1 each time another one of your characters is banished.

Lore reduction hasn't been too valuable up to this point, but it's mostly been tied to one time on-play effects. With Lyle, you can leave him unexerted for several turns and continually be reducing your opponent's lore each turn. If your opponent doesn't have a way to deal with him unexerted, you may be able to really cut into their lore gain potential. How good can that be? It's hard to say, as we haven't had anything like that in the game yet. But it may be worth experimenting with.

Rating: 3/5

Milo Thatch - Clever Cartographer

Milo Thatch - Clever Cartographer is a 1-cost 2/2 that serves as a Shift target for the Floodborn Milo. You are only playing him for that.

Rating: 2/5

Milo Thatch - King of Atlantis

The Floodborn Milo Thatch is one of Emerald's Legendary cards this set. He costs 7 and is uninkable, which you don't love to see. But a Shift cost of 4 is a nice discount and he quests for 3 lore on a 4/4 body. Not terrible.

His Take Them By Surprise ability is the first non-symmetrical board wipe in Lorcana. That is obviously a very powerful effect. But it happens when he is banished, so it can be hard to trigger it on your turn. Most of the time, your opponent will be able to dictate when this goes off and can setup their board in such a way that it's not as punishing. Also bouncing the characters back to hand is worse than outright banishing them, for obvious reasons. A lot of the best cards in the game are good because they have a strong on-play ability, so giving your opponent multiple activations of that isn't always the best idea.

Overall, I think his uninkability (why are so many of the Emerald cards uninkable?) and the somewhat clunky nature of his board wipe will make him an awkward card to play most of the time.

Rating: 3/5

Morph - Space Goo

Morph is, for my money, one of the coolest cards in the game. The ability is so unique and fits the character perfectly. Being able to expand the amount of Shift targets you have in a deck by 4 any time you are playing Emerald is fantastic. He also enables on-curve Shifting for cards that didn't previously have a good target, such as Beast - Tragic Hero and Belle - Hidden Archer. His 1 Willpower is a bummer though, as he gets taken out by any damage. But I think the power of Floodborn cards in this game is readily apparent and any card that lets you utilize them more often and more effectively will see play.

Rating: 4/5

Peter Pan - Lost Boy Leader

Peter Pan - Lost Boy Leader

Peter Pan, like his Lost Boy companion Cubby, is a "location matters" card. You're paying 4 for a 3/3/1, which is not good. But his ability lets you gain additional lore with him once per turn. By moving him to a location, you immediately gain the lore printed on that location. The most lore we have on a location right now is 2, so this will always be a max of 2 extra lore per turn. So he's a 4-cost that "quests" for 3 lore, at best. In other words, he is Hans - Scheming Prince with conditions attached. That's not great.

Now, granted, unlike Hans, you don't have to exert him to gain lore. You can just leave him up and fly him around from location to location each turn, gaining lore as you go. The flavor for that is immaculate, but that still doesn't make him a very good card, in my book.

Rating: 2/5

Prince John - Phony King

Oh, hey look, another Emerald uninkable card. This Prince John has the seemingly standard Emerald 2/4 statline for 5 ink. But it only quests for 2 lore. His ability reduces opponent's lore by 2 every time they quest, provided they have more lore than you. A 4 lore swing per quest is no joke, but you need to already be behind for it to swing that way for you. Otherwise, he's just questing for 2. And then probably dying to Madam Mim - Fox. You can only run so many uninkables in a deck before it becomes too unwieldy, so I think you can do better than this phony king.

Rating: 2/5

Robin Hood - Daydreamer

Speaking of 4 lore swings in a turn, Robin Hood - Daydreamer is a 6-cost 4/5 that quests for FOUR. Yes, he is a vanilla character otherwise, but questing for 4 is a lot. We have to jump through a lot of hoops to quest for 4 with Flynn Rider - His Own Biggest Fan and that card saw a good bit of play. Yes, Flynn is cheaper and has Shift, so you can get him out even earlier. But there are ways to cheat out this Robin Hood early, like using Doc - Leader of the Seven Dwarfs or just ramping with Sapphire cards.

All in all, I think this card could certainly see play as a top-end for aggressive decks, as he can very quickly end a game, if left unchecked. This card would also go great into a The Queen - Disguised Peddler list, something that never coalesced into a viable deck last set, but with enough high lore cards could one day be a thing.

Oh, and I would be amiss if I didn't mention the art. It's absolutely gorgeous and in the running for best art in the set. Love this card.

Rating: 4/5

Shenzi - Hyena Pack Leader

Another card that works with locations, Shenzi is also the first Hyena card we have seen in Lorcana so far. At the moment, her Hyena tag isn't relevant though. What is relevant is that she is a 4-cost 0/6 that gets +3 Strength while at a location. So unless you are moving her there for free, that makes her essentially a 5-cost 3/6. That's underwhelming.

Her What's the Hurry? ability is card draw though, something Emerald currently lacks. But it is highly conditional. Cards that benefit in some way from challenging haven't been very good so far and this one also requires the additional requirement of being at a location. I also don't love these cards that are baseline awful when they aren't at a location. It makes it too easy on your opponent, who just has to remove the location and then you are left with a bad and mostly useless character on board.

Rating: 2/5

Sir Hiss - Aggravating Asp

Sir Hiss is an Evasive character that has its stats in the wrong place. I want my Evasive characters with high Willpower, so they survive damage based removal. This card reminds me of Ratigan - Criminal Mastermind, which saw exactly zero play. Yeah, when you are investing 2 ink instead of 4 into a fragile Evasive character it's not as punishing when it gets easily dealt with. But I'd rather just not run these types of characters in my deck at all.

Rating: 1/5

Skippy - Energetic Rabbit

Skippy is a reprint of Aladdin - Prince Ali. That Aladdin hasn't seen any play since the early First Chapter meta. This sort of card just isn't good enough any more.

Rating: 1/5

Starkey - Devious Pirate

Starkey is a big vanilla character. He does quest for 3 lore, but Emerald has lots of other characters that quest for 3 lore that are cheaper. And now has one that is cheaper AND quests for 4 lore. So, yeah, you don't ever want to put this in your deck.

Rating: 1/5

Stitch - Covert Agent

Stitch makes an appearance in Emerald with Stitch - Covert Agent. He's a 5-cost 3/3/2 with Evasive. And he gains Ward while you have him at a location. Again, it's probably easiest to evaluate these "while at a location" abilities as if they just add 1 ink to the cost of the character, as it will usually cost you that much to move them there. So we can say he's a 6-cost 3/3/2 with Evasive and Ward. The combo of Evasive and Ward is quite strong and it makes Stitch very difficult to deal with.

So you are definitely incentivized to get him to a location and then you can just start questing away with him. But at only 2 lore, considering you are usually investing 6 ink into him, he's not advancing your win condition quite as much as one would hope. I think if he had 3 lore, he'd be quite good. As it is, I think he's just okay.

Rating: 3/5

Ursula - Deceiver

The hopes and dreams of aggro decks everywhere are resting on this 2-cost Ursula. OK, that might be a bit dramatic. But her ability, allowing you to see your opponents hand and then force them to discard a song card of your choice, will be a powerful tool for aggro decks. It allows them to compete in a world where Grab Your Sword and Be Prepared exist.

It also pairs nicely with Emerald's other discard synergies, giving you more ways to shred your opponents hand. I also think the knowledge gained from seeing what your opponent is holding is quite valuable. Knowing they have a Madam Mim - Fox in hand, for example, will dictate whether you want to trade with what is on board or ignore it and quest.

The card can also find a home in control decks. If we see combo decks with Jafar - Striking Illusionist and A Whole New World becoming popular, running this Ursula can be a good way for control decks to shut that combo down. So there is a lot flexibility in this card. And she's only an uncommon! For all those reasons, I think she's going to see a ton of play.

Rating: 5/5

Ursula - Deceiver of All

The second Ursula for Emerald this set is another exciting one. Ursula - Deceiver of All is a Legendary that costs 3 ink and comes with a 2/3/1 body. But you aren't playing her for the stats. You are playing her that borderline game-breaking ability. What A Deal lets you double up on the effect of any song she can sing. This means Sudden Chill becomes discard 2 cards, Mother Knows Best can bounce 2 characters, Let the Storm Rage On becomes deal 4 and draw 2, and Friends On The Other Side becomes draw 4 cards! The amount of card advantage and/or tempo you can gain from singing with her is unmatched.

Now, for the downside. She doesn't do anything the turn she is played. She has to survive to your turn for you to take advantage of her effect. This leaves her vulnerable to removal, mostly Smash. And given how powerful she is when left unchecked, I suspect most decks in the meta will be running a way to deal with her.

If everyone is running a way to counter her, does that make her less as good a card? Of course not. She can get you so much value, that you will certainly run her. The times she comes down and soaks up some removal will be disappointing, but she will more than make up for it those times your opponent can't deal with her immediately and she pops off. This Ursula is a true meta-warping card.

Rating: 5/5

Wildcat - Mechanic

So far Benja - Guardian of the Dragon Gem has been the item removal option of choice. But now we have Wildcat, who is also a 3-cost 2/3, although he quests for only 1 lore to Benja's 2. He also can't destroy items the turn he comes down, but he can do it repeatedly. And he's Evasive, so he's a bit more likely to be able to stick on the board.

All in all, he's not a bad tech card. I'd still probably run Benja, but if you really don't want to play Steel but still need a way to deal with items, Wildcat is a decent option.

Rating: 3/5

Zazu - Steward of the Pride Lands

Zazu is an inkable, 1-cost 2/1 that can quest for 2 lore. Wow, power creep! But no, you need to have him at a location first and since we are usually paying to move him there, he's more like a 2-cost. We've already seen a 2-cost 2/1 for 2 lore in Aladdin - Cornered Swordsman and he saw next to no play in competitive decks.

Now, in a Map of Treasure Planet deck, you might be able to get Zazu to locations for free and then he gets a bit better. But if you're waiting until after you've played a Map and maybe a couple of locations before getting out this 1-drop, he's not doing too much for you. You want to be playing stronger cards at that point in the game. So, ultimately, I don't think he'll find a home in a deck.

Rating: 2/5

Has Set My Heaaaaaaart...

Another item hate card, this one is just a straight-up better version of Break. But Break is awful and just making it into a song isn't enough to make me want to play it.

Rating: 1/5

I Will Find My Way

And here's the location movement enabler for all these location synergy cards in Emerald. The +2 Strength is not going to be super relevant most of the time. It might help you trade up occasionally, but I don't think you can count on it. You are mostly playing this for the movement cost reduction. And since it is a song, you can sing this to actually move a character to a location for "free". I put free in quotes because it is still costing you a card to do this and, a lot of times, a card is more valuable than anything else. If this card cycled itself, I think it could have seen some play. As it is, I think it will simply find its way to the binder.

Rating: 2/5

Strike a Good Match

Now here's a song card I like. It costs 2, so can be sung as early as turn 3 (or even turn 2 if you play Cinderella - Ballroom Sensation) and it draws you 2 cards. Well, sort of. Since you also need to discard something, it's more like drawing you 1 card and improving another card in your hand. But then you also need to play this card, so really it's not gaining you any card advantage, just swapping this card and another card in your hand for two new ones. Hm, I may have just talked myself out of this card.

It does synergize with some of the discard payoffs we have seen like Chernabog - Evildoer and Sheriff of Nottingham - Corrupt Official, so it has that going for it. And Emerald is starved for any sort of card draw, even one that only keeps you even in card advantage, so it probably will see play, in the end.

Rating: 3/5

Airfoil

Here is more card draw for Emerald, this one wants to go in that elusive "actions matter" deck. So far, that deck has failed to get off the ground but maybe all it needs is an Airfoil? I still think we probably need another set or two with more cheap actions before it really takes off though.

Rating: 2/5

Robin's Bow

Another card that wants to deal damage to damaged characters, which I think is missing a key piece in Emerald. Namely, the ability to damage something in the first place. This one does let you target locations, which is a nice benefit, as we have very few ways to do it right now. Being able to run a character into a location and then ping it down could be useful.

I also find the Robin Hood synergy a bit weird. It feels like this item should work better with Robin Hood - Capable Fighter, as he has the ping effect you need to enable the Forest's Gift ability. But if you are using his ping, he can't trigger A Bit of A Lark to ready the bow. It just feels like an opportunity for a cool combo was missed here.

Rating: 2/5

Starlight Vial

Starlight Vial gives you some nice cost reduction on your actions. I actually like that part of it quite a bit. But having to invest 4 ink into this up front is pricy. You'll need two activations of its ability to just break even. Further activations will give you a true tempo gain, but the game will need to be going pretty long for that to happen. You could stack Starlight Vials and really reduce your action costs, but most actions you want to play top out at around 5 ink anyway, so you're going to hit diminishing returns. I guess that is where the Trap ability can come into play, allowing you to pay 2 ink and banish the item to get the Strike a Good Match effect.

It's all really slow and expensive though. Maybe in a deck where you have some cost reduction for items you can get it out cheaper and then start making your actions cheaper? But you'll need support for both items and actions in the same deck then and how are you exactly winning the game? It just feels like too much work for all this to come together. There are better things you can be doing.

Rating: 2/5

De Vil Manor - Cruella's Estate

De Vil Manor is a vanilla 1-cost location. As I mentioned when looking at Never Land - Mermaid Lagoon, I think the vanilla 1-cost locations with 1 lore are actually playable. They have 4 Willpower, so are hard to remove that early in the game, and will likely net you a decent amount of passive lore before your opponent can effectively deal with it. A nice card for aggro decks.

Rating: 3/5

Fang - River City

Fang is an expensive location at 4-cost but it comes with 2 lore and a powerful ability. Surrounded by Water gives all characters at this location both Ward and Evasive. You will want to get as many characters as you can here (well, except for Stitch - Covert Agent!) but the movement cost of 2 makes that a steep investment. Maybe with some movement cost reduction though, this could be good. It is an especially juicy location to pull with Jim Hawkins - Space Traveler.

The natural predator for this card will be Maui - Hero to All. And I do think there will be a lot of him running around since Rush characters are the best and most efficient way to deal with locations. So I think Fang, despite being pretty powerful on paper, may end up being pushed out of the meta.

Rating: 3/5

Kuzco's Palace - Home of the Emperor

Kuzco's Palace is a 3-cost location with 7 Willpower and 1 lore, which is decent. It also gives Kuzco - Temperamental Emperor's No Touchy ability to all characters at the Palace. That movement cost of 3 though is heinous. I do not want to pay 3 to move a character here under any circumstance. You have to play some movement cost reduction in your deck for this to make any sense. And even when you get a character here, there are ways to play around that ability, like using small characters to finish off larger characters or just using straight-up removal. So I don't see this location making the cut.

Rating: 2/5


And that's Emerald for you. They got some real head-scratchers, like the "damage a damaged" character package that feels sort of incomplete. And they continue to, for some reason, have a bunch of uninkables.

But they also got two of the best cards in the set in those two Ursulas, so I think despite a lot of their Inklands cards being underwhelming, we will still see plenty of Emerald decks out there.

Tomorrow, we move on to Ruby!

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An avid player of card games since he got hooked on the Star Wars CCG back in his teens, Phil "gutshot" Bicking is excited to share his years of expertise to players of Lorcana.

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