Ursula’s Return Set Review: Emerald

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

Introduction

Ursula's Return is the fourth set of Disney Lorcana. With 200 plus new cards coming into the game, the meta is sure to be shaken up. But which of these cards are worth their salt and which are just fool's gold? We will be attempting to answer that question for all the cards in the new set in our series of set review posts. In this post, I will be reviewing all the Emerald cards from Ursula's Return.

Emerald struggled in the early days of Disney Lorcana, but it has had quite the turn around since Inklands released. There are now a couple strong decks built around Emerald's powerful tempo tools and discard synergies. Will we see even more options for these decks in Ursula's Return? And might we also see new Emerald archetypes emerging? Continue on to find out!


Ursula's Return 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.


Ursula's Return Emerald Cards

Cri-Kee - Lucky Cricket

Cri-Kee joins the ranks of Emerald 5-cost cards that quest for 3 lore, such as Mad Hatter - Gracious Host, Ray - Easygoing Firefly and Kuzco - Temperamental Emperor. And, I have to say, he may be the best one of all of these.

Unlike all the others, he does something the turn he is played, which is very important in Lorcana. Giving all your other characters 3 extra Strength is nothing to be scoffed at. Emerald typically struggles with using their characters as challengers, since they often have such low Strength. Cri-Kee can give them the boost they need to be able to take out opposing threats. Especially locations like The Queen's Castle - Mirror Chamber, which can be almost impossible for Emerald to take out otherwise.

And because his ability is on-play, he becomes a very juicy bounce target. If you are on 8 ink and you can quest with Cri-Kee, then bounce him with Madam Mim - Fox and then play him again to give Fox 7 Strength, that is a really strong play. Overall, I quite like this card and expect it to see play in the Emerald tempo decks.

Rating: 4/5

Diablo - Devoted Herald

Diablo - Devoted Herald is one of Emerald's Legendaries this set, as well as their one Floodborn with the alternate Shift cost. That Shift cost is discarding any action to play this card out onto another Diablo, for free. With only a base cost of 3 ink though, you may not even need to Shift it out every time. As we've talked about before with these alternate Shift cards, having to trade so much card advantage to Shift these out can be pricy, so you might just want to play it normally most of the time.

Its "Circle Far and Wide" ability is a strong one, allowing you to draw a card every time your opponent draws a card on their turn. Diablo does have to be exerted though for the effect to trigger. This is one reason you may want to Shift him out, so you can quest with him immediately and get at least one guaranteed draw off of him. Because with a 2/2 body, Diablo may not be sticking to the board for very long, so getting some value out of him will be important. He is Evasive, which helps his survivability some, but that 2 Willpower means he'll be dealt with by a Let the Storm Rage On or Teeth and Ambitions a lot of the time.

I know some people are rating this card very highly, but I'm not sold on it. You aren't really gaining any card advantage from playing him, just maintaining parity. As a more aggressive deck up against a control deck, this is fine. But in this scenario your opponent will often be able to remove him before you can get big value out of him. They aren't going to just let him sit there while they play Friends On The Other Side, for example. They will either remove him first or do something else that turn and hold their card draw until they can deal with him.

Ultimately, there are better draw engines in the game now and this card isn't really needed for Emerald decks to keep up in card advantage. So I just don't know if this Legendary will find a home.

Rating: 3/5

Diablo - Maleficent's Spy

Here is the Shift target for the Floodborn Diablo. As Shift targets go, it isn't the worst. At least it does something when you play it and isn't just a vanilla card. Looking at your opponent's hand can be useful. Even when Ursula - Deceiver whiffs, the knowledge gained can still help us formulate our game plan.

If you aren't playing the Legendary Diablo though, you'd much rather just play Ursula and get to look at your opponent's hand and force a discard. So this card only sees play if the Floodborn Diablo sees play and I'm not too confident that will be the case.

Rating: 2/5

Gunther - Interior Designer

Gunther is reminiscent of The First Chapter card 001-072. Except you don't choose which card to bounce, your opponent gets to choose. This is bad since, as you've probably noticed, a lot of the cards in the meta are ones that do something the turn they come into play. Either they have Rush or some sort of on-play effect. Letting your opponent choose one of their characters to play again and gain even more value off of them is not what you want.

Rating: 1/5

Gus - Champion of Cheese

Gus is a 2-cost vanilla 2/3 that quests for 1 lore. And he likes cheese. That's about it.

Rating: 1/5

Hades - Foul Player

Hades is Emerald's other Legendary from Ursula's Return. He's a 4-cost 3/3 that quest for only 1 lore, but you are likely never questing with him anyway. That's because you are going to want to be exerting him to trigger his ability, which lets you banish one of your other characters and play a character with the same name for free. This basically makes all the small characters in your deck a Shift target and all the big ones of the same name, Floodborns.

A really cool mechanic, but how useful will it be in practice? We need to think about some of the most broken combos we can pull off with this. We are, of course, restricted by ink colors. So we can't go Maleficent - Sorceress into Maleficent - Monstrous Dragon, for example. But something like Stitch - New Dog into Stitch - Carefree Surfer could be good. Or maybe Tamatoa - Drab Little Crab into Tamatoa - So Shiny!? Or could Mickey Mouse - Brave Little Tailor finally be playable by getting it out on turn 5 when trading in a Mickey Mouse - Steamboat Pilot?

The combo potential is there with this card, but it remains to be seen if there are combos you want to be pulling off. This might be another one where it's not used right out of the gate, but there eventually becomes a broken combo with Hades that makes him super powerful in the right deck. Either way, I love cards like this that fundamentally alter the game and make us look at old cards in a new light.

Rating: 3/5

HeiHei - Bumbling Rooster

Love a good HeiHei card and this one is particularly juicy. He's ramp in Emerald! But it is conditional, as your opponent needs to have more ink than you when you play him. However, when on the draw, you can always play him on turn 4 before inking for the turn, and you will ramp every time.

In most card games, the player going second is at a disadvantage and that has so far been the case in Lorcana. Even more so in Lorcana than in other card games, actually. HeiHei is one of the only cards in the game that is better when going second and can actually help tip the scales back into the second player's favor.

And if you are going first, you are perfectly happy to just play him as a 3-cost 2/3 that quests for 2 lore. Very playable card.

Rating: 4/5

Hera - Queen of the Gods

As a 3-cost 1/3 with 2 lore that has Ward, Hera is pretty underwhelming on her own. But she has two other abilities, one which gives your Zeuses Ward and one that gives your Herculeses Evasive. Both of these are pretty niche, so I don't see any real compelling reason to run this card.

Rating: 2/5

Jaq - Connoisseur of Climbing

Jaq has the John Silver - Alien Pirate ability, although only when he's played. But applying Reckless to an opponent while developing a 1/4/2 character isn't bad. Especially when we are playing this as a follow-up to Cursed Merfolk - Ursula's Handiwork and Flynn Rider - Charming Rogue. I don't hate it.

Rating: 3/5

Jasmine - Desert Warrior

Jasmine can be a replacement for Lucifer - Cunning Cat, as a top end card for Emerald discard decks. As a 3/3/2, she has a better stat line than Lucifer, and she can potentially force multiple discards, with her effect activating both when she enters play and whenever she's challenged.

I just don't know if the discard deck needs that sort of top end to compete. At the moment, Lucifer isn't seeing much play. Cheap and efficient discard seems to be the way to go. She's a good card but might not find a home in the current meta.

Rating: 3/5

Megara - Captivating Cynic

A 3/6 that quests for 2 and only costs 3 ink is quite the stat line. The downside is, of course, that you have to discard a card to play her. This sort of drawback is reminiscent of the alternate Shift Floodborns. Playing her on curve is huge tempo and probably worth the discard. But later on in the game, her stat line isn't as valuable and then the drawback becomes more painful. Oh, and she's literally unplayable as a top deck.

Still, I think for tempo Emerald decks, getting this down on curve is going to be tempting enough to want to run at least a few copies of her. And, in the future, if we get some cards that synergize with self discard, this could help mitigate her drawback and then she would really rise in value. But, even now, I think she will see play.

Rating: 4/5

Megara - Liberated One

Emerald gets another Megara card this set and this one reminds me of Beast - Relentless. Her ability allows her to ready whenever you play a Hercules card and, crucially, doesn't restrict her from questing multiple times per turn. It's not too hard to envision this card questing two or three times per turn. You'll need to run her with a lot of other Hercules cards to achieve this though. And that's going to potentially weaken your deck overall.

One good thing she has over Beast - Relentless is that she has Ward, meaning you'll nearly always get at least one turn to combo out with her. This was one of the huge weaknesses with the Beast combo decks. Your opponent would see your Beast combo coming and save removal for him, but Ward gets around that problem.

I think this card could be good, if there is a package of her plus maybe 8-12 Hercules cards to allow her to combo out. Finding a package that works and isn't decreasing the deck's overall quality will be key though. But there is some potential here.

Rating: 3/5

Pain - Immortal Sidekick

Pain is a vanilla 3-cost 2/4/2, which is a stat line we've seen before and isn't good enough. He does work with the Panic cards including the one from set 2, Panic - Underworld Imp, but these small cross-synergies are not reason enough to want to run these cards.

Rating: 1/5

Panic - Immortal Sidekick

Panic works with Pain to protect your Villain characters. But his ability is only active when he is exerted and on board. So if your opponent just banishes Panic first, he can then challenge your Villains. So this card is basically Bodyguard, but only for Villains and only when you have a Pain in play. I don't think I need to tell you that that is bad.

Rating: 1/5

Pegasus - Cloud Racer

We are getting two Pegasuses (Pegasi?) this set, one a Shift target and one a Floodborn. This is the Floodborn Pegasus and he's a 5-cost 3/3/2 with Evasive and Shift 3. That already is pretty good. But then you get a bonus effect if you Shift Pegasus out, which is to give all your characters Evasive until the start of your next turn. This is great for keeping your characters alive in the current meta because, unlike cards like Lost in the Woods, it protects against Rush characters.

This seems like a very powerful card for an aggressive deck. Getting an extra turn of free questing is very good. It's also possible to Shift this Pegasus onto itself for another turn of evasiveness. And it's notable that the Shift target, which we will look at next, is also a very good card. Lastly, this Pegasus will be Emerald's best option for reliably singing We Don't Talk About Bruno as early as turn 3. Very good card and will definitely see play.

Rating: 4/5

Pegasus - Gift for Hercules

This is the Shift target for the Floodborn Pegasus and it's just a straight-up better version of Pascal - Rapunzel's Companion. Pascal is already good enough to see play, so a better version of him will definitely see play. And he has a powerful Floodborn to accompany him? Yeah, this cute little guy is going to be everywhere in the meta.

Rating: 4/5

Pete - Born to Cheat

Pete is the rare Super Rare that feels very underwhelming. He's a 2-cost 2/3/1 with the ability "I Clobber You!", letting you bounce a character with 2 Strength or less every time he quests. OK, seems decent? But there is a catch, he needs to have 5 Strength or more when he quests to activate his bounce ability. So you need to find ways to buff him by 3 Strength, either using Support or some other Strength buff cards. That feels like a lot of hoops to jump through when you can just play Kit Cloudkicker - Tough Guy instead.

Oh, the bounce is also notably not a "may" effect, so you would have to bounce one of your own characters if your opponent has no valid targets. I guess, in that scenario, you would ensure he doesn't have more than 5 Strength when he quests, but it's still strange to see they excluded may from his ability.

So a vanilla stat line and a clunky ability... and its uninkable too. Huh? There is another card this set that can also bounce characters repeatedly, but it is easier to activate, is inkable and is only a Rare. So yeah, this card existing in its current state is just very confusing to me.

Rating: 1/5

Pete - Rotten Guy

The other Pete is this vanilla 4-cost with a horrendous stat line. A 1/5/2 as a vanilla is shockingly bad. It's Eli La Bouff - Big Daddy but with 1 less Strength for some reason. Did they just, like, forget to add an ability here? What is going on with these Pete cards?

Rating: 1/5

Prince Phillip - Vanquisher of Foes

Now this card is worthy of a Super Rare. This Floodborn Prince Phillip is a huge 9-cost 6/6 that quests for 3, Shifts for 6, and has Evasive. Plus he comes with an extremely powerful ability which banishes all opposing damaged characters. That can be a full board wipe when paired with the right cards.

For example, if you have Chief Bogo - Respected Officer on board when you play Prince Phillip, Bogo deals 1 damage to every opposing character first and then Prince Phillip slays them with his Swift and Sure ability. You could also just use any 5-cost character to sing Grab Your Sword first, then play Phillip. Or sometimes you only need him to remove one big threat and you can ping it first with something like Robin Hood - Capable Fighter. There are lots of scenarios where Prince Phillip will be very impactful.

And then, once he's on board, he is a huge threat, both as a quester and as a challenger. He can very quickly close out a game himself or allow other characters to quest freely while he removes things. I can definitely see a strong Emerald/Steel control deck taking shape with Prince Phillip as a key piece.

There are a couple negative things I can say about this card. One is that it is very expensive. At 9 ink you won't be playing this for full cost very often. Even six is expensive as a Shift cost. But the card is, thankfully, inkable, so can easily be used as ink if you draw it early. The other issue is it has only one Shift target (if you aren't counting Morph - Space Goo), which can make it hard to get out consistently. But, even taking those drawbacks into account, this card is just so powerful that I still think it warrants building a deck around.

Rating: 5/5

Prince Phillip - Warden of the Woods

This Prince Phillip will be your main Shift target for the Floodborn Prince. He is basically a vanilla character with an upside for your other Hero characters. He has the Aurora - Dreaming Guardian effect, but only for Heroes. Giving Ward is obviously pretty strong, but you will need to stack your deck with Hero characters to take full advantage of it.

One notable Hero character that could work well with him is Beast - Relentless. The one drawback to trying to build around that card, as we noted before, is he gets taken out the turn he's played more often than not. So giving him Ward can be very powerful.

And since you are likely playing this Phillip in a build with ping options already (to help activate the Floodborn Prince's ability) it makes sense to include Beast - Relentless as well. Hmm, the more I think about it, the more I kinda like the shape this deck is taking.

Rating: 4/5

The Fates - Only One Eye

The Fates are a 1-drop that allow you to look at the top card of your opponent's deck. I'm not sure how valuable that is. It's one thing to see your opponent's full hand with Ursula - Deceiver, but only seeing the one card they will draw next turn seems pretty low impact. If we get some synergy or mechanic where knowing the top card of your opponent's deck actually maters, this might see play. But definitely not before then.

Rating: 2/5

The Muses - Proclaimers of Hercules

The Muses don't get their own individual cards but are bundled all together into one card and it looks like a pretty good one. For 4 ink, you are getting a 2/4/1 that has Ward and the ability The Gospel Truth, allowing you to bounce a character with 2 Strength or less every time you play a song.

Songs are good, we want to be playing songs. And we like things that trigger off of doing something we want to be doing already. Bouncing characters is also very good, I mean, cards like Kit Cloudkicker - Tough Guy are already seeing play. This lets you get a repeatable bounce and, importantly, it has Ward so will be very tough for our opponent to deal with, as long as we leave it unexerted. It also curves perfectly after Ursula - Deceiver of All. Imagine playing Ursula on turn 3, then The Muses on turn 4 then double singing Friends On The Other Side. Draw 4 cards and bounce 2 characters? That's huge tempo and card advantage in one.

There's no way four copies of this don't just slot into the already very good Amethyst/Emerald Tempo deck and make it that much better. Feels like a meta defining card to me.

Rating: 5/5

Tor - Florist

Tor is a vanilla 4/7/1. Decent in limited formats, terrible in constructed. Not much else to say.

Rating: 1/5

Zeus - Mr. Lightning Bolts

Zeus is Emerald's second Super Rare this set and he follows the trend of the first Zeus - God of Lightning, by having 0 base Strength but gaining some based on a certain condition. Here, Zeus can copy the Strength of anything on board at the time when he challenges. This should allow him to banish just about anything that your opponent plays. His big weakness being that when your opponent challenges him, he does no damage to them in return.

He's not a bad removal option, albeit a bit slow. I just don't know if he fits the game plan that Emerald generally leans towards. He feels like a card that would be more at home in Ruby or Steel. But maybe in a more controlling build, he can be a removal option that you just leave on board until you need him? I don't know, I don't think he's terrible, but am not sure where he fits.

Rating: 3/5

Dodge!

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge... Maui or Dragon Fire, I guess. Making a character basically unkillable for a turn is nice. But, as with most of these cheap actions, you don't want to spend a card on this type of effect. If we get this effect on a body, it could be very good, but as a standalone card, it's not worth it.

Rating: 2/5

Make the Potion

Item removal has become pretty important, thanks to the prevalence of Lucky Dime in the meta. Some Emerald decks have been running Wildcat - Mechanic solely to deal with it. This card might replace him as the item removal card of choice for Emerald players.

I do wish it was inkable though, for those times when you aren't facing off against Sapphire. Yes, you can always use its second effect, but that one is also somewhat situational. You'll mostly be running this card for its first effect and will have to make the meta call on when to run it and how many to include.

Rating: 3/5

Under the Sea

Emerald's Sing Together song is the Little Mermaid classic, Under the Sea. It has the effect of putting all opposing characters with 2 Strength or less on the bottom of your opponent's deck. Putting them on the bottom of deck is arguably better than just banishing them, as it basically removes them from the game, unable to be recursively brought back from the discard pile.

The problem with this song is that it is very expensive and uninkable. This means you are committed to playing it, if you draw it (unless you are running Hidden Inkcaster). And paying 8 ink or singing with 8 cost worth of characters is not the easiest thing to accomplish. Moreover, how early can you expect to sing this? Turn 5 would be the earliest, unless you are running some Singers or Floodborns that you can get out earlier. Even then, you would need an ideal curve to sing it on 5. Let's say you do get it out on 5, how many characters can you expect to hit with this? By turns 4 and 5, a lot of characters your opponent will be playing will have more than 2 Strength. So you may have the perfect curve and are able to sing this on 5, but there is one thing you can hit with it. Or even none.

It's a powerful board wipe effect, something that Emerald has lacked up, but I think it is going to be too slow to be consistently effective.

Rating: 3/5

Ursula's Trickery

Ursula's Trickery is a 1-cost action that either forces your opponent to discard something or cycles itself. The problem is your opponent gets to choose and they will always take the least bad option. If there is something they really want to keep, they will just let you draw. If there is something they don't care to lose, they will discard. And this isn't inkable or singable. If you want a discard action for your deck, just play Sudden Chill instead.

Rating: 2/5

We Don't Talk About Bruno

Now here is an iconic song turned into an iconic card. We Don't Talk About Bruno (the song that will now be stuck in your head for the rest of today) is a 5-cost song that bounces an opposing character and forces a random discard from your opponent. This is the first random discard effect we have seen in Lorcana. A random discard is so much worse for your opponent, as it means they could end up discarding the character you just bounced or some other key card that they were holding onto. Or, if they have an empty hand when you play this, it basically becomes a Dragon Fire. But one that is singable and inkable!

This card goes so well with exactly what Emerald wants to be doing, which is play for tempo and card advantage. It fits perfectly into any and all Emerald decks: aggro, discard, tempo, control. They all can benefit from this effect.

Prepare yourself, because you are going to be seeing this card a LOT. We don't talk about Bruno-no-no...

Rating: 5/5

Hidden Inkcaster

This item, one which doesn't come from any Disney movie and was created specifically for Lorcana, fundamentally changes how you can build a deck. By making all cards in your hand inkable, you have the option to include a lot more total uninkable cards in your deck. Considering that uninkable cards are, on average, stronger than inkable cards, this should in theory make for a stronger deck.

The thing you need to be careful of is what if you draw all your uninkables but don't draw Inkcaster? It would be game losing. So you don't want to go too crazy with uninkables in your deck. No 60 card uninkable decks, obviously. But with some smart deck building and hard mulliganing, you should be able to get this out pretty consistently in the early game.

And the nice thing is, even though it is uninkable, as soon as you've played one it makes all your others inkable. So if you draw more, you can just ink them. Or play them as a Pawpsicle for the card cycle. I think this one has some real potential, to enable decks that weren't quite possible before, but it will still take some careful deck building.

Rating: 4/5

Signed Contract

Signed Contract is a way to punish heavy song decks, by forcing your opponent to think twice about whether they want to play songs. As a card draw tool, it does seem a bit narrow though. I would love it if it triggered off of our own songs, but that would probably be way too good.

Songs are played a lot though, so maybe this could be worth a slot in a deck? You can always ink it, if you know your opponent won't be playing too many songs. I don't hate it, but you can probably find better and more consistent card draw options.

Rating: 2/5

Vision Slab

Vision Slab wants to go in a ping type deck, alongside stuff like Beast - Relentless and the Floodborn Prince Phillip. It's another payoff for damaging your opponent's characters. Unfortunately, the lore gain from it only ticks up at a rate of 1 per turn, no matter how many damaged characters your opponent has in play. That's just too slow.

And while it does have a second ability of blocking both healing and Amethyst's damage moving mechanic, that is really, really niche. Even in a meta with a lot of healing, I just don't see this being worth a deck slot.

Rating: 1/5

Hidden Cove - Tranquil Haven

Hidden Cove is the first of Emerald's two locations this set. As a 1-cost location with 6 Willpower, it is hard to remove. But it has no passive lore and simply has the ability of buffing your characters by 1 Strength and 1 Willpower while there. But a +1/+1 buff is not worth the tempo loss of having to pay 1 ink to get characters there. You would want something like Map of Treasure Planet to make it free to move characters there. But I tried Map decks last set and the problem is you spend so much time and ink setting up the map and then the locations that you are super far behind in tempo and lore by the time everything is online. It's just not worth all the trouble.

Rating: 2/5

Ursula's Garden - Full of the Unfortunate

Lore denial has been an Emerald theme in Lorcana, but they have been getting less and less of it as more sets release. This location is Emerald's only lore denial card this set (unless you count Jaq, I guess). It's probably for the best, as lore denial/lore stealing has not been very good. And this looks like more of the same. It's too much cost and setup for not enough payoff. Paying 4 ink for the location and 2 to move a character there? Which your opponent can then just remove before questing? No thanks.

Rating: 2/5


And that finishes up the Emerald cards in Ursula's Return. This honestly looks like a very strong set for Emerald. What used to be one of the weakest ink colors in the game has had quite the glow-up over the past couple sets.

Emerald has already had good success with aggressive and tempo based decks and those decks got some more good tools in this set like Pegasus - Gift for Hercules and his Floodborn version. And now Emerald has a real powerful option in Prince Phillip - Vanquisher of Foes to enable control decks. And I haven't even talked about We Don't Talk About Bruno. I expect Emerald decks will be very strong and very prevalent in the upcoming meta.

Next up, we look at 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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