Well, it's May 1st, meaning the April Contest is officially closed! And now, as promised, I am going to render my judgment on the entries.
First, the entries themselves. There were eight entries total that I could find. Eight entries from six group members. These entries are:
"Light Yagami" also by
"Kite, Twin Blade" by
"Marisa Adventuress" by
"Alma Wade" also by
and finally, "Pinual, Hope of the Meek" by
Now, I know I didn't specify that you should only submit one entry for the contest per member, so I will take the hit on that. However, to make things fair, and to make things a little bit easier on me to decide the winner, I decided to eliminate one of Doom's and Tommo's entries offhand and pare it down to the entry I liked the most. So "Shulk" and "Alma Wade" were eliminated, with "Marisa" and "Light" making the final cut.
This gave me six entries from six members to decide upon, and they were all worthy entries.
Basically, my decision process was based on a points system of my own devising. I'll briefly touch upon it so that each of you knows how I made my decision. Basically, I started each entry off at 10 points (perfect score), then combed through each entry with a fine-toothed comb, looking for errors or other little nitpicks. Each mistake I found (generally grammatical) deducts one point from the 10 point score. Then, to add a little subjectivity (as is my right as judge), I handed out bonus points based on my own little fancies. I'll go over each entry and explain how each one scored before announcing the winner.
P.S.-- If my judging seems overly harsh and, well, extremely picky, I apologize. I like almost all of these submissions. Take my corrections not as condemnation, but rather as a learning experience.
1) First, there's "Grigori" from
. As a big fan of Ugin, I love when dragons become Planeswalkers! I also like the Naya (Green/Red/White) color alignment as Naya is one of my favorite three-color deck combinations to play in Commander. So I gave the entry one bonus point for those reasons. But, there were some deductions I had to make. First was the second ability "0: Exile Grigori. Return him to play at the beginning of your next turn with 2 loyalty counters on him." I get the gist of the ability, but by the Wizards system of modern rules text, the wording is slightly backwards. It should read: "0: Exile Grigori. At the beginning of your next upkeep, Grigori returns to the battlefield with 2 loyalty counters." Generally, most effects resolve during the upkeep phase of the turn. Since the first phase of each turn is the "untap" step, saying "at the beginning of your next turn" is an outdated way of wording rules text. Nowadays, phase-based ability resolutions must be more specific (during your upkeep/main phase/combat phase/or end step). Next, pronouns like "him" or "her" must be avoided if at all possible. Pronouns are too ambiguous and are subject to conflict during tournament play. So the ability should be phrased in such a way that Grigori's name, and only his name, are utilized. Refer to my correction for an example of how that's done. Similarly, the +1 ability has a small error in it. "Choose a creature. Only that creature can attack during its controller's next untap step." (That) is another ambiguous word that could potentially be argued or manipulated. So the proper phrasing would have been: "Choose a creature an opponent controls. During the opponent's next combat step, only the chosen creature can attack." Finally, my own little nitpick which has nothing to do with rules or grammar: The "0" ability is worthless. I get that it was made for evasion purposes, but a Planeswalker's abilities can only be activated as a Sorcery (i.e. during your main phases). Evasion is only truly effective if it can be activated at instant speed and played on the stack. The problem with Grigori's evasion is that it's very easy to get around. As soon as Grigori resolves from exile, an opponent could simply "Path to Exile" or "Shock" Grigori out of existence. I would also say the number of loyalty Grigori returns to play with should at least equal his base loyalty marker. Otherwise he is far too easy to eliminate. For a dragon Planeswalker, Grigori is extraordinarly weak. He's got a useful +1 ability and his ultimatum (-6) is suitably game-breaking. But the second ability is his weak spot. It basically wastes a turn. Why would you ever use it? For that reason, I deduct another point.
Thus, with four points deducted, and one bonus point added, Grigori winds up with 7 points! A very decent score. Let's check out the other entries...
2) "Light Yagami" from
is next on the chopping block. First of all, I LOVE the way you used the Promotional SDCC 2013 Black/White minimalist style for this card. Major bonus point for that! Your card really stands out among the others for that reason! But unfortunately, there are a number of deduction penalties that sort of ruin the ride for me. First, there's the fact that the text font is too small and very hard to read against the background. The colored apple, while cool, goes a long way toward obscuring a lot of the central text in the rules grid. And while I see that you clarified your rules text in your comment section, that doesn't count as fixing the actual card. So negative one point for that. As with Grigori, the second ability of this card needs a lot of work. "-3: Destroy target creature of an opponent's choice. That player loses life equal to the creature's converted mana cost." Two things wrong with this: First, the way the ability is worded basically grants the target opponent the ability to take out a creature YOU control. Even with the life-lost penalty, that's way too good an opportunity for someone to pass up to screw with you. Basically, using this ability makes your own Planeswalker your enemy. What's the point in that? Secondly, if you're going to keep the ability the same, then -3 is way too much loyalty to give up for that. Here is where a -1 or a 0 cost ability would have made more sense given the drawbacks of the ability. Basically, the only way this Planeswalker makes any sense is to play "Light Yagami" in a deck where you control little to no creatures, and therefore the opponent MUST choose one of his own. Or, in a multi-player game, choose another opponent's critters. Two deductions for that. Also, unfortunately, I must make a personal deduction based on the fact you have no set symbol. All the other entries have one, so this is a disadvantage for your card.
Thus, "Light Yagami", with four deductions and one bonus point, is in a tie with "Grigori" at 7 points.
3) "Pinual, Hope of the Meek" from
is up next. Unfortunately there are multiple issues with this card that put it right out of the running immediately. First is the second ability: "-3: Put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control, with the lowest power among creatures you control." First of all... Huh? Second of all... HUH?!!? The way the ability is worded makes absolutely no sense! What does the second part of that statement have to do with the first half? It's like there are two run-on sentences here. Were you intending for "Put a number of +1/+1 counters on each creature you control EQUAL TO the lowest power among creatures you control?" That would have made tons more sense. That's two points deducted for a grammar issue and nonsensical rules text. The third ability reads: "-5: For every 2 loyalty Pinual has, put a 1/1 white human onto the battlefield under your control." The only problems with this statement are: 1. It should be "1/1 White Human Creature Token" you must, under updated oracle texting according to Wizards, specify whether a creature is a token or not. 2. It should read "for every 2 loyalty COUNTERS on Pinual..." 2 Loyalty, by itself, is far too ambiguous under the tournament structure. That's two more deductions. Pinual's ultimatum is weak sauce, given the amount of loyalty required to pay for it. So for -20 I get to have a 6/6 Human Creature/Planeswalker that takes no damage? And yet has no "Flying","Double-Strike","Deathtouch","Trample", or "Lifelink"? Oh Goody! (I mean that sarcastically) Even with the bonus loyalty counters granted by the +1 provision, this is hardly a worthwhile ultimatum to build up to, and the only reason I would use this Planeswalker in tournament competition is basically for its ability to pop out tokens and control my opponent's creatures. Minus one point for presenting an underpowered card. Finally, the artwork is too ambiguous. Given that I have no idea who Pinual is, or what the reference medium is, the artwork that features just a silhouette against a starry sky gives me no clues, nor does it pique my interest.
With five points deducted and no bonus points awarded, "Pinual, Hope of the Meek" has only five points total.
4) "Marisa Adventuress" from
is next. First of all, I must say I like the artwork a lot, and blue-red Planeswalkers are among my favorite types. Magic could always use more of them! The -X ability of Marisa is freaking awesome! Uber, uber powerful, being able to both damage your opponent and draw cards. What Control/Burn user wouldn't want Marisa playing on their team?? Bonus point for the -X ability! That is right inside my wheelhouse! There are some deductions I have to give out, however. First has to do with the name. Is "Adventuress" her last name? If not, then there needs to be a comma between "Marisa" and "Adventuress." I know, it's only a comma. But it's the title of the card! Second deduction has to do with phrasing in the first and third abilities. The first ability reads: "+2: You may cast a spell from your hand with a mana cost lower or equal to the number of cards in your hand without paying its mana cost." The first error is in the first handful of words. It's not that it's really wrong, per se, but a better way to phrase the opening line would be "You may play a non-land card from your hand..." The second error is in the second part of the ability. "Lower or equal to" should read "LESS THAN, or equal to." Also, commas are important around "equal to." That's simple grammar. These are all little mistakes, so I will deduct only one point for the whole thing and move on. Where you lost another point is in the ultimatum (something that seems to be happening a lot today). Your card reads "-10: You may cast any spell from your hand, graveyard or library without paying its mana cost." It should read similar to the first ability: "You may play a non-land card from your graveyard, hand or library..." Cards from your hand are cast, but cards from your library and graveyard are not exactly "cast", they are "played." Also, please note the order of the three options. Wizards likes to alphabetize its lists in card text, so "graveyard" should come before "hand" simply because "g" comes before "h". Savvy? Again, these are the nittiest of nitpicks, so I'll only deduct one point for both errors. Otherwise, the card seems properly balanced. The Ultimatum is a bit weak, but the -X ability more than covers for that deficiency. In fact, I would play this Planeswalker for its first two abilities alone, and that's saying something about utility.
So with three point deductions, and one bonus point earned back, "Marisa, Adventuress" gets a score of 8 points! Will this prove to be enough to win??
5) Next up is "Kite, Twin Blade" by
. Again we have an "Izzet" aligned Planeswalker with abilities that give it multiple applications in gameplay. Nice artwork to go along with a familiar character. Also, yours is the only Planeswalker card that has the "2015" format modification on it, right down to and including the holographic watermark at the bottom! Bonus point for authenticity. But that point gets immediately redacted when I notice that you hybridized the outer border of the card, when the casting cost is clearly simple multi-color/non-hybrid. It looks pretty cool, I'll admit. But it's technically incorrect. This card would be registered as a misprint by Wizards, and thus unplayable in tournaments. In your +1 ability, everything seems great until "becomes a legendary 2/2 red and blue Human Rogue..." By proper Wizards Oracle-texting, the proper phrasing would be: "becomes a 2/2 red and blue Legendary Human Rogue CREATURE with double-strike and hexproof." Legendary, being a sub-type, needs to be listed next to the "type" of creature Kite becomes, and the ability needs to specify that Kite does indeed become a creature. Otherwise, Kite technically is not permitted to attack or block, even if he does have a power and toughness. This would be a serious oversight on the tournament level! One point deducted for each mistake. On the bright side: Wow! What a powerful ultimatum on such a cheap Planeswalker! And I love the "turn to frog" mechanic provided by the 0 cost ability. This card would see a lot of play in Standard format, with probably a healthy play in Modern as well. Definitely a card that would hold its value over time. I'll give one more bonus point for optimal playability and great balance.
So with three points deducted and a two point bonus, you have 9 points. Great job!
6) The final entry is "Ultron" by
. Ohhhhhh BROTHER!! As a massive comic book/Marvel/Avengers Geek-boy, this is a character that tickles my fancy. Ooh-la-LA on that awesome artwork, my man!! You get a bonus point for the art! And another bonus point for posting my personal favorite among the characters submitted in this contest! Are there any mistakes I can find? Well, you did a good job keeping the rules text simple and the font very easy to read. One advantage to short, simple abilities is that they cut down on the potential for gross mistakes. Are there any grammatical or oracle text violations? Only one that I can see, and that's in the ultimatum. Yours reads "-7: Destroy all other nonartifact nonland permanents." There should be a comma between "nonartifact" and "nonland" permanents. This card plays a lot like a colorless version of the "Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker" card. Right down to the destroy/control properties of the first two abilities. It's flavor is accurate to the character to the point that I can't really find anything wrong. Other than one simple little grammatical mistake that in all fairness to the other entries I have to deduct a point for, this card, my friend, is practically... PERFECT! Good job, my man!
One point deducted and two bonus points awarded equal 11 points! NO8ODY blows away the competition with his "Ultron" Planeswalker card!!
, the winner of the May MtG-CustomCards contest!