Locations to the Main Stage: Evaluating a new card type’s impact in Lorcana

I know we are very early in the Into the Inklands metagame but I am already so excited for the gameplay!  I already talked about the oft-forgotten Emerald Ink Color seeing a massive increase in play, and that is just the tip of the iceberg in old strategies that get updated with new cards.  The other most exciting aspect of the early innovative parts of the metagame forming is finding out how the reception of Locations has been overwhelmingly positive.

There was a lot of fear during reveal season that Locations were underpowered.  It was not until the last couple of weeks of reveals, when the powerhouse Locations were revealed, that we really understood the true power level of the “good Locations.”  I think that was only step one, however, and I believe we are already starting to see a shift in understanding how literally any Location when played and protected properly, can affect a game state.

A New Path to Victory!

“The locations in general at one cost are truly fantastic value when you put them into a game state of a turn one play – on one you will gain a minimum of two lore while taking away two to four lore from the opponent as they usually have to commit two attacks to banish the location.  On the low end, that is a four lore swing for one ink investment and many times it can be six or more all while forcing your opponent to act.” ~ Colby Gerrish, my TFM Teammate in a chat about Locations.

This weekend saw the breakout of Locations at high level competitive play. We see that Locations with both passive Lore gain and/or abilities when characters are housed there each have their place.  Locations that have both of these, well they are just the icing on the cake. 

Right now, control decks seem to be the most common place to find Locations, although I believe in the long run that aggro decks will adapt to use them as well.  Control decks are currently the most common place to find locations because they already do a great job of dealing with opposing characters. In fact, oftentimes they dedicate a gigantic portion of the deck real estate specifically dealing with opposing Characters. Locations have made this into a double edged sword: if your only way of handling Characters is through out of hand action type cards, then your ability to handle Locations will be severely limited. If you are the one USING the Locations, however than your Character removal does double duty: keeping your opponent from winning through their own characters while protecting your own win condition. I think this is in subtle but stark contrast to how the first two sets operated: sure you wanted your Characters to survive, but your removal was rarely used to keep them from being taken off the board. With Locations, that is exactly what most of your removal is used for.

The two main decks this weekend that played that type of game both top foured in the large online Pixelborn event, piloted by Moyen and Jebas, respectively.

Let’s start with Moyen’s list:

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This deck is undoubtedly built on the axis of getting out a hard to deal with win condition in McDuck Manor - Scrooge's Mansion and then using your deck to protect it. The ramp pieces allow you to play the win condition and protect it in the same turn, because you normally would not want to lose tempo by playing a vulnerable nine willpower, automatically exerted card all in one turn. The ramp pieces allow you to get out the Manor the same turn you can protect it with removal. The deck is very focused on card draw, ramp, and efficient threats to lock the game down. Cogsworth - Grandfather Clock helps keep your other characters alive to chip in occasional Lore, or more importantly keep them around to challenge more efficiently, keeping the Manor intact.

The Manor does what other late game win conditions did for Sapphire/Steel in metas past: closes the game efficiently. In the past you used cards like Belle - Strange but Special but now you have a faster, harder to deal with late game threat that abuses the nine willpower. Even if they deal with the manor, you still have very efficient characters, and a sure ink and card advantage, to out gain your opponent in the late game!

Locations with Abilities

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Undoubtedly the best location in Lorcana is The Queen's Castle - Mirror Chamber. For such a low move and play cost you get a seven willpower, two Lore, card drawing threat each turn. Jebas took this threat to the utmost in how he rebuilt Amethyst/Ruby for an Into the Inklands metagame. He piloted this staple to a top four finish in last weekend's large Pixelborn tournament, and it was built around the Queen's castle.

This deck can win though Amethyst/Ruby's typical Mim-Merlin packages, but it is really paving the road straight to the Castle! He even ran two copies of Jim Hawkins - Space Traveler to get out the Castle for free, and then move Jim there, essentially giving you ten ink worth of resources at half that cost. This means in a later turn, you can play Jim, the Castle, and potentially additional threats or removal in the same turn. Forget it if you have 12 ink, a fist full of cards, and you are able to Be Prepared WITH the Jim/Castle combo afterwards!

Playing a full complement of Madame Medusa - The Boss is also a clear nod to the Castle plan, because you do not care about her low Lore value compared to other options like last season's staple, Lady Tremaine - Imperious Queen. Between Medusa and rush staples like Maui and Fox, you keep the board in typical Amethyst/Ruby fashion while allowing this location to keep your hand full, and tick up the lore gains each turn. Pinocchio - Talkative Puppet deals with early to mid-game threats that were very popular in the tempo oriented first week of the meta, and you barely notice his uninkable status, since this deck affords you so much card draw.

Conclusion

I really think we are only scratching the surface as to how versatile Locations can be as "alternate win conditions" in Lorcana. You can build entire decks around protecting them instead of just supplementing your deck with their powerful abilities. With large upcoming in-person Lorcana events, leading to the set championships in mid-April, I am very curious to see who finds the next piece of the complicated Location puzzle!

AUStarwars
AUStarwars

Scott Landis is a 30-year Trading Card Game professional, and former writer for the World of Warcraft TCG and Transformers TCG among others.  Currently he is an owner of The Forbidden Mountain, a Lorcana YouTube Page and TCG player Store. You can follow them on YouTube and please use their TCGplayer Store (same cost as the marketplace). You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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