Contenders (Planeswalkers)

Author: TimFReilly Current version: Version 25 Last change: 2020-01-17 07:24:19 Stage: Development

These cards are intended to be played with the main Contenders set:

Contender Summary
Contender 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 die, it goes back to the command zone with no counters. If it would otherwise change zones, it returns to the command zone without any loyalty counters.

Contenders in the Command Zone
* A Contender starts in your command zone. Unlike a commander, it does not dictate a color identity for your deck.
* Each upkeep while it is in the command zone, put a loyalty counter on the Contender planeswalker unless its loyalty meets or exceeds its printed loyalty.

Contenders entering and leaving the battlefield
* When a planeswalker with Contender is cast from the command zone, it's starting loyalty is equal to the number of counters it had in the command zone.
* If a contender would leave the battlefield, it returns to the command zone with no counters.

Version 24

Date: 2019-07-27 06:36:45

Change log:

Version 23

Date: 2019-05-06 04:13:31

Change log:

Reworked Ainsleigh

  • Was Ainsleigh of Corru River is now Ainsleigh, Gavony Cathar.
  • Her old version had some initial appeal, but I got consistent feedback that her card wasn't effective. After trying a round of buffs on her card, I decided on a remake.
  • I like the "Innistrad native guided by spirits" trope and wanted to build on that.
  • I felt that an ETB Spirit token would be a novel way to also call back to cards like Geist of Saint Traft.
  • Her +1 calls back to Garruk Relentless but has a couple twists.
  • Her +0 can either boost her or her creatures and rewards a mixture of Spirits and non-Spirits. Since there aren't many Spirits in green, I wanted to encourage a mix of tribes rather than a mono-Spirit deck.

Other Design Changes

  • Changed Thaegen the Confined to Thaegen the Confined. His extra target ability was always on the watch list. It doesn't really work in the existing Magic rules, which I was ok with if it was fun. The problem is that it mainly served as an amplifier for removal spells. I'm trying out a new middle ability in hopes that I can enable a wider range of spells to be played with him.
  • Changed Lykarev the Usurper to Lykarev the Usurper. His plus is only occasionally useful. The new version of the ability will be stronger and also simpler. We'll see if it is too strong.
  • Changed Zruawk, Liege of Lost Aku to Zruawk, Liege of Lost Aku by swapping his second and third abilities. Everyone seemed to agree that they were misplaced in the original version
  • Changed Zaina Shreen to Zaina Shreen. She's one mana cheaper and her first ability now says "up to 1". She's one of the least-played Contenders so I'm trying a small boost.

Small Tweaks

Version 21

Date: 2018-12-26 18:23:12

See the change log on the main set for more details:

Change log will be updated soon. Raw changes:

  • Changed Golmorn, Planar Judge to Golmorn, Planar Judge. Golmorn now puts the full three counters on tapped creatures, which both slows them down and immediately makes them eligible for his minis ability. Golmorn is a little too slow to gain control of the game but I’m committed to working through issues with his design rather than replacing it.
  • Changed Thaegen the Confined to Thaegen the Confined. Thaegen created repetitive gameplay that felt a little too much like a lock. Slowing down the loop retains his plotting flavor while making games feel more fair. I’m very happy with his new power level overall as well as his upgraded win percentage.
  • Changed Ainsleigh of Corru River to Ainsleigh of Corru River. I’m removing the human requirement on her plus and making her other abilities cheaper to encourage players to use her. I really liked the Innistrad flavor of her “humans become spirits, spirits revive humans” plus and emblem, but it proved a little too restrictive given the available creatures in GW. I think there are some design possibilities mixing Humans and Spirits but o haven’t locked in on a specific design yet.
  • Reworked Raevel, Eternal Gardener to Ravelle, Witch of the Wood. Ravelle was completely reworked, including her hard to pronounce name. I’ve decided to remove all “cares about tokens” functionality from the set and scale back the use of tokens in the set as well. My inspiration for this design was Peng Ping, who has an extreme “build around” design that is very appealing to players. Ravelle is a seriously focused graveyard contender that also sets up your deck long-term like the old Innistrad Memory’s Journey/Runic Repetition loop. She also has the raw power of destroying permanents, which will help her close out the game.
  • Changed Har-Oha, Fist of Ifnir to Har-Oha, Fist of Ifnir. Har-Oha’s middle ability was meant to provide a back and forth feeling. In practice it was so confusing that almost nobody ever activated it. The new version is a little more expensive but provides a more reliable payoff. I’ve also increased his base loyalty and the cost of his emblem. He can sometimes get off to a very hot start and his emblem is almost always a game ender. Now he will be a little less penalized for being cast late but he will also have a harder time immediately taking over a game.
  • Changed Volshe Aoron of Voda to Volshe Aoron of Voda. Volshe has been reasonably successful so far, and I’m just fixing his confusing reminder text.
  • Changed Zaina Shreen to Zaina Shreen. Zaina is a ton of fun to “polymorph” with, but the polymorph is just a bit too powerful and was the only thing anyone ever activated. It was also sometimes a self-lock if you were stuck without a your own creature to target. I’m trying her out with swapped abilities. Her new plus is pretty powerful on its own and can work with many of the small base creatures you'll want to polymorph later.

Version 20

Date: 2018-10-02 23:51:42

Change log:

  • Added Volshe Aoron of Voda. Aoron is a value-oriented Contender with a light tribal reward. I'm not totally confident that Merfolk wants to be this value-oriented (and not tempo-oriented) but these abilities felt good for his color identity.

  • Golmorn, Planar Judge now Golmorn, Planar Judge. With Golmorn (and Brillia), I'm trying a new on-the-battlefield passive ability instead of an emblem. This works better with the set's focus on playing PWs repeatedly and should be more interactive. For Golmorn, it should also be a buff to his power level.

  • Thaegen the Confined now Thaegen the Confined. His new middle ability should be both exciting and a reward for building around it. With a set as small as this one, it's important to reward more focused build-arounds that players wouldn't otherwise notice.
  • Gralanth, Voice of Jund now Gralanth, Voice of Jund. His +2 made him too beefy, so I'm just trying a numbers tweak. He's also a little easier to cast color-wise, which hopefully reinforces his identity as a three color Contender.
  • Brillia of Quirion now Brillia of Quirion. Brillia has typically been the unassuming most solid Contender for a few versions now, so I don't feel too bad about tweaking her downward. Being able to churn out land creatures at half the rate should limit her ability to snowball early, and her new "passive emblem"-style ability rewards keeping her on the battlefield, which she normally rarely did.
  • Ainsleigh of Corru River now Ainsleigh of Corru River. Just template tweaks here, for now. I do anticipate doing a fairly large token creature type update sometime in the next version or two.
  • Har-Oha, Ifnir’s Rising Fist now Har-Oha, Fist of Ifnir. I'm trying a new exert-flavored +1 ability on him, and increasing the cost of his ultimate to compensate. This "keep attacking, even it breaks you" flavor should fit with this evil warlord character.
  • Peng Ping, the Curious now Peng Ping, the Curious. Peng Ping's storm dream was a little too achievable by just playing as many 1 CMC cards as possible. Along with Forerunner cards and Reinforcements on the Way, he hit the battlefield on turn four or five too often. I decided to make it harder to get him for free, rather than making his abilities weaker. His storm clause is now non-creature, though it does also count lands again. His -4 is also slightly weakened, but should still be back-breaking in many cases.

Version 19

Date: 2018-08-15 06:00:40

Change log:

  • Thaegen the Confined reworked to Thaegen the Confined. I'd like him to focus on building towards his ultimate, but his older versions would just alternate first and second abilities.
  • Gralanth, Voice of Jund changed to Gralanth, Voice of Jund. His old ultimate was a little Chandra-y, so I'm trying something that evokes more of the wanton destruction of Jund.
  • Brillia of Quirion changed to Brillia of Quirion. Her old ultimate didn't really work with mana pool rules, as the bonus would wear off and creatures would die after combat when you wouldn't expect. I could have made the old emblem wordier to get around that, but I opted to hammer home the "different land names" aspect of her.
  • Ainsleigh of Corru River completely reworked to Ainsleigh of Corru River. Her new design is meant to evoke priests of Innistrad such as Avacynian Priest and Sigardian Priest, as well as cards like Dearly Departed.
  • Lykarev the Usurper reworked to Lykarev the Usurper. The new Contender designs (which started around version 16) work better when they have something to do on a blank board. I still want Lykarev to have fairly mild abilities, since he's a 2CMC planeswalker, but I want him to have a better chance against decks with lots of spot removal.
  • Peng Ping, the Curious changed Peng Ping, the Curious. Increased his casting cost by 1 and changed the "play" requirement to a "cast" requirement. Peng Ping has been a big hit but he was a little too easy to just cast without using his ability. Since his abilities are so super powerful, I raised the bar.
  • Psommegos, Dekatia’s Dean reworked to Psommegos, Dekatia’s Dean. His old +X ability was more interesting in the pre-Contenders era, but now it's just kinda bad. His other two abilities were generic UB gold cards. Now, he's a graveyard-and-spells Contender, which fits well into the set's overall structure.
  • Raevel, Eternal Gardener tweaked to Raevel, Eternal Gardener. Her new -4 should be a solid ability that trades a fairly large amount of resources (four loyalty and a large token) for versatile, black-feeling removal.
  • Zaina Shreen changed Zaina Shreen. Her swap ability was too confusing for players. The new -2 should also better interact with Zaina-style decks, which typically contain a half-and-half mixture of small sacrificial creatures and large "payoff" creatures for her to +1 into. The -2 will let her get some value out of those smaller creatures while also giving her an answer to large creatures on the opponent's side.

Version 18

Date: 2018-06-17 08:24:16

See also the Main Set Version 18 notes

Change log:

  • Added Peng Ping, the Curious. This giant planeswalker is meant to be a more challenging build around for players looking to try a new style. I anticipate having to tweak many of his numbers.
  • Changed Golmorn, Planar Judge by lowering his third ability from a -6 to -5. I think he still needs more improvements, but I'm unsure if those changes will come to the PW card itself or to his support in the set.
  • Changed Thaegen the Confined by downgrading his +1 to a 0. I think the ability is still maybe too weird. This is a temporary change to allow for more testing.
  • Changed Chael, Meszaros Liason by lowering her second ability from a -3 to a -1. Chael has a lot of utility but her second ability was rarely used. I'm hoping to see players fish out more Arise cards and zap lands from their library.
  • Changed Gralanth, Voice of Jund to generate Jund mana with his first ability and go "any target" for his second ability. I also added an extra red common elemental to the set to make his plus more useful.
  • Changed Har-Oha, Ifnir’s Rising Fist by requiring a discard on his plus. Previously Har-Oha's plus was game-breakingly good.
  • Changed Raevel, Eternal Gardener by reworking her "sac everything" ultimate to a "sac one thing" utility ability. I anticipate further tweaks after play testing.
  • Changed Zaina Shreen by upping her cost from 2UR to 3UR. Her abilities are fun and powerful and I hope she's still solid at 5.

Version 17

Date: 2018-05-21 02:38:38

This is the first version of Contenders (Planeswalkers) published on, but the 17th version of the overall set. The Contender planeswalkers were introduced in version 16.