Cards with the Inkwell Cost icon may be placed into a player's Inkwell face-down to use as Ink.
All cards have an Ink cost that can be paid with the Ink in your Inkwell. To play a card or use a card Ability which requires Ink, a player must Exert the required amount of Ink in their Inkwell in order to pay for the cost of playing the card or using the ability.
Some cards do not have the Inkwell icon as a way to lower the utility of some of the more powerful cards.
Disney Lorcana co-designer Ryan Miller stated that “It allows a really interesting balancing tweak that we can do, because by taking the ink off of a card and saying this card doesn’t provide you ink, it really changes your valuation when you’re building your deck. It’s really got to justify itself now because I can’t use it as ink. [...] I believe that the experienced trading card gamers are really going to find that very interesting.”
The Ink system makes resource generation a choice rather then luck, and adds complexity to the game as any card that is added to the Inkwell can no longer be used for the rest of the game.
Ryan Miller adds “[I’ve] got to decide which of these cards is the least useful to me this game, and I’m going to decide that by looking at the [other cards on the] table. That’s the best kind of decision to make, because I feel — as a player — I’m using my skill now. I can see from what they’re playing, they’re doing this strategy. [...] So I’m gonna go ahead and ink that [high-value card]. I feel good about that decision: I feel like I’ve used my skill.”
Another key advantage of the ink design that Miller enjoys is that it expands what he calls variance. By giving every card in that 60-card deck multiple functions — being used as ink, being used to gather lore, or being used for some other unique action — further compounds the amount of variance in every deck.
“The reason I want to add variance is that variance gives hope,” Miller said. Without that added variance, players that start losing the race to 20 lore could have a higher chance to continue losing the race over time. Higher variance gives players more things to do, more cards to play in the attempt to narrow that gap. “Without variance, there can be no hope.”