The Contenders set is a hybrid of limited and Commander. Contender planeswalkers are fun to build around and have slightly tweaked rules to make them better for limited play. The set also has three other new mechanics along with more-than-normal planeswalker interactions. The set is 180 cards, 90 of which are commons which are triple-printed, totaling 360 cards.
See the Contender planeswalkers in their own file at: planesculptors.net/set/contenders-planeswalkers. Planeswalkers start in your command zone and gain one loyalty there each turn (up to their printed loyalty). When they are cast, they enter the battlefield with that loyalty accumulated in the command zone. When a Contender would leave the battlefield, it goes back to the command zone with no counters. This typically means Contenders are cast for mostly-full loyalty the first time, but then come back onto the battlefield late in the game with some fraction of their printed loyalty.
Accelerate When you accelerate, your next creature or planeswalker spell cast is both cheaper and stronger. This effect lasts across turns and must affect the next creature or planeswalker spell you cast. It is possible to stack Accelerate discounts when casting non-creature spells with Accelerate. This also rewards good sequencing, as it is sometimes better to hold onto Accelerate for a turn or two to cast a huge creature early. Accelerate-focused decks can challenge the normally value-oriented gameplay of Contender matches by explosively threatening the board state.
Arise allows a player to cast a card out of his or her graveyard by also removing a creature card from his or her graveyard. It is similar to the Retrace ability, but with a different additional cost. Arise-focused strategies typically reward either a resilient go-wide attack or a slow attrition-based value game.
Fetch is a keyword action that shortcuts the text involving searching your library for a card, doing something, and then shuffling your library afterward. Whether a fetched card is put in its owner's hand, battlefield, etc is specified by the card.
Junctions Junctions are an Enchantment subtype. Each Junction adds specific loyalty abilities to any planeswalkers you control. Junctions are typically best when counteracting your Contender's weakness. If your contender has a good plus ability already, you could use a Junction that grants a useful minus ability.
A longer rules overview can be found here: Rules Google Doc
Since the player always has access to their Contender, each one forms an archetype by itself. Many of the common cards are built to join with specific Contenders. Some examples:
The set contains a large number of efficient but low toughness creatures as well as a larger number of ways to deal one or two damage. With Contenders providing so much long term value, creatures are designed to be a little more disposable. If you'd like to build a truly defensive deck, you'll have to try a little harder than normal.
Tribal Synergies Some Contenders are tribal-focused, but there are also stand-alone tribal synergies. Tribal is not a focus of the set but there are numerous minor tribal payoffs. This is meant to encourage thoughtful drafting and deckbuilding.
Equipment and First Strike
There are more than normal numbers of Equipment and First strike. These "Voltron" combos are intended to help push through the board stalls normally common with these Contender-centric matches.
Change log update in progress
Sway and Forerunner were merged into Accelerate. The sway cards in black and white had sway removed, whereas most of the existing Sway and Forerunner cards in Blue, Red, and Green were turned into Accelerate. I'm open to spreading out Accelerate into other colors in the future but am holding off for now.
Cards where Sway/Forerunner was converted to Accelerate
Cards where Sway/Forerunner was removed
Cards where Accelerate was added
Improved to Encourage Use * Changed Concurrent Volley to Concurrent Volley. * Changed Gathering Fury to Gathering Fury. * Changed Slagwielder to Slagwielder. * Changed Converted Goliath to Converted Goliath. * Changed Bant Waygate to Bant Waygate. * Changed Staff of Bosuo to Staff of Bosuo. * Replaced The Terrace Freed of Man with The Terrace At Bosuo's Peak.
See the Planeswalker changes for additional changes: Version 21 Contender Changes
In addition to these changes, Ravelle the BG Contender was reworked to not care about tokens or use tokens. See Version 21 Contender Changes
White already has a Sway common Pureheart Call so the other colors are the ones gaining here. I'll be looking into reworking the designs of the Sway uncommons, as I've found Sway is best on cards without a lot of other choices.
I go through new designs for the common lands pretty frequently. There are only five slots for common lands, which limits the possible designs. I didn't want to rework the set to include ten land slots, as that would fill the packs with lands and I'd have to evict a bunch of other cards. At the same time players are frequently bummed out that their color pair doesn't have any color fixing available.
That lead me to tri-lands. The trilands in Alara and Tarkir were great limited picks, so I didn't want to downshift them to common as-is. I thought about lands like Adarkar Wastes, but tracking damage can be annoying. Therefore I landed on a "refuge" variant where you take one damage on ETB. The mild cost should discourage two color decks from taking tons of them, allowing a few to float to the greedier multicolor decks that are happier to pay the life cost.
These two cards received slight creature type tweaks but weren't different enough to warrant printing.
Gold Card Upgrades:
With version 20, I've upgraded all Gold cards to Rares, and made them have an extra-planar feel. Many of these don't line up exactly with the Contenders, meaning many of them will be off-color rewards for splashing. My players seem to enjoy building greedy many-color decks and I'm happy to push the rewards for these ambitious decks.
Individual Card Changes:
See also the Version 18 Planeswalker Changes
Version 18 updates fall into three main categories:
This is the first version of Contenders (Main Set) published on PlaneSculptors.net. It is the 17th printed version of the set.