The Great Cardsmith Designer Search: Stage 7: The Gauntlet

Welcome to Stage 7 of The Great Cardsmith Designer Search (GCDS)...The Gauntlet!

This is a closed contest. Only those who have already qualified may participate.

The Gauntlet
This challenge is designed to test your ability to balance a set of constraints against top-down design. Only the cardsmiths with the best overall submissions will win the Grand Prize and Eternal Cardsmith glory!!!

Your task is to design 7 cards with strong Dominarian flavor that collectively satisfy the following list of constraints and would reasonably coexist in the same set..

1. A card that generates mana in some way.
2. A card that uses an existing non-evergreen mechanic that isn't transform.
3. A 3 color card.
4. A creature card with base power and toughness both greater than its CMC.
5. A card that is some kind of graveyard hate.
6. A card with an activated ability that only works in the graveyard.
7. A card with a name that is 5 words.
8. A creature card with 3 creature types.
9. A card with an enters the battlefield ability.
10. A card that is a guaranteed 2-for-1 if it resolves.
11. A card with an alternate or additional casting cost.
12. A card with "Costs 1 less to cast" in its text box (You may use a number other than 1 if you want).
13. A card that can make a token.
14. A card that says "Choose one".
15. A card with an Iconic creature type (Angel, Sphinx, Demon, Dragon, Hydra).
16. A card that mechanically hints at/references one of the Power 9.
17. A card with a tap ability.
18. A card with only one sentence of rules text.
19. A card that can remove some type of permanent in some way (bounce, destroy, exile, etc.).
20. A card with a quote as flavor text by a famous MTG character.
21. A card that searches of looks at cards in your library.

Entry Criteria
1) All 7 cards must be submitted as one post. Incomplete entries will not be judged. Entries can be edited until the judging deadline. If you edit an entry, please let me know by posting in the thread.
2) In addition to all evergreen mechanics, All non-evergreen mechanics and custom mechanics of your own design may be used.
3) RARITY: Among your 7 cards you must submit at least:
1 common
1 uncommon
1 rare
1 mythic rare
No more than 2 of each rarity may be submitted.
4) COLOR: Among your 7 cards, all five colors must be represented at least once.
5) CARD TYPE: Among your 7 cards, you must submit at least:
1 artifact
1 creature
1 instant
1 enchantment
1 sorcery
6)FLAVOR: Each of your 7 cards must have strong Dominarian flavor. More on this below.
7) Each of the 21 constraints must appear EXACTLY once among your seven cards. Each card must use AT LEAST 2 constraints.
8) All cards must be made on or after December 27, 2018. No old cards will be accepted.
9) Cards should be appropriate for printing in the SAME generic standard legal set according to modern design principles. More on this below.
10) No joke cards.
11) When you post your submission, for each card please indicate which constraints you used for it.

The Gauntlet Notes
-Each of your cards should have a Dominarian flavor treatment like an actual WOTC set. This doesn’t mean you have to design all named characters / places (You may of course do this if you want), but that regular cards must be appropriately named and flavored. For example, on Dominaria, Goblins are generally Moggs and blue wizards are generally from the Tolarian academy.
-If you are going to design an actual MTG character/location/event, make sure you research what colors it should be and that the mechanics on the card match what happened in the Mtg canon.
-All your cards should be compatible in the same standard legal set that is set on Dominaria. What this means is that all your cards should (generally) be from the same time period in Dominarian history and have named mechanics and themes that could coexist in the same set. For example, don’t design a card with flashback and a card with jump-start as they would never be in the same set together.
-The immense amount of constraints will naturally work to push up the complexity of your cards. Be very mindful of this, particularly at lower rarities.

Contest Judging Criteria
Each individual card will earn up to 25 points, and your entries as a whole will be graded out of 25 pts, so each submission will be out of 200 points. Every card will get feedback and be graded according to this holistic scale.

Rarity (2 points)
2 – The card is assigned an appropriate rarity.
1 – The card is borderline with respect to the assigned rarity.
0 - The card should be assigned a different rarity.

Flavor (1 point)
5 - Perfect connection between the flavor and the mechanics. All card elements synergize to match the overall Dominarian flavor.
4 - Strong connection between the flavor and the mechanics. Most of the card elements synergize to match the overall Dominarian flavor.
3 - Moderate connection between the flavor and the mechanics. Some of the card elements synergize to match the overall Dominarian flavor.
2 - Weak connection between the flavor and the mechanics. Few of the card elements synergize to match the overall Dominarian flavor.
1 - Poor connection between the flavor and the mechanics. None of the card elements synergize to match the overall Dominarian flavor.
0 - Zero flavor connection between card name and mechanics.

Templating (1 points)
1 – Up to one very minor spelling, grammar, templating, or magic phrasing error.
0 - Two or more spelling, grammar, templating, or magic phrasing errors.

Color Pie (3 points)
3 - Card is in color pie for all colors.
2 - Card is a minor color pie bend.
1 - Card is a major color pie bend.
0 - Card is a color pie break.

Card Design (7 points)
This category is subjective but here are some things I will be looking at (including but not limited to):
-Does it show novelty/creativity?
-Is the card different from similar cards made before it?
-Do each of the individual card elements come together to make a cohesive whole?
-Is the rate (Cost/power ratio) appropriate for this card and its abilities?

Playability (7 points)
This category is subjective but here are some things I will be looking at (including but not limited to):
-Is it an appropriate power level for limited, factoring in rarity?
-Would it cause problems in constructed formats?
-Would it be fun to play?
-Would it create repetitive or unfun play patterns?
-Does it create rules issues/paradoxes?

Overall Submission (25 pts)
- Set Design (15 pts)
Is your overall complexity at an appropriate level? Are your common(s) actually common? Do all the cards belong in the same set? Are any contest rules broken? Do the cards hint at what your set might mechanically focus on?
-Dominarian Theme (10 pts)
Does the Dominarian theme resonate throughout the submission? Does it come through loud and clear? For any existing lore, do the top-down designs do them justice? For generic cards, do they have enough Dominarian flavor?

Final Scoring
The final scoring will be determined by adding each contestant's total score from this challenge (out of 200) to their average score (rounded to the nearest whole number) from the previous six challenges (out of 100).

Here are the current standings.
@Temurzoa: 87
@TheCenterOfTheUniverse: 88
@ningyounk: 86

Prizes
1st: 30 faves of your choice, 3 months of premium, and 1 featured card.
2nd: 20 faves of your choice and 2 months of premium.
3rd: 10 faves of your choice and 1 month of premium.

Deadline
This contest will close for judging on Friday, January 11th at 11:59 PM EST. No late entries will be accepted and no delay time may be used.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them.
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Comments

  • @Temurzoa @ningyounk @TheCenterOfTheUniverse

    The final challenge has arrived! Please feel free to ask any questions you have as the rules are particularly complex. Good luck!
  • edited December 2018
    Uuuuugh I know nothing of Dominarian History xD I litterally discovered the phyrexians had been there when Phyrexian Scriptures was spoiled a few months ago, to tell you how much I have no idea what's going on on this plane xD

    But it's a cool challenge idea, I could see the concept of this one being an actual GDS trial ^^

    Question #1: Can I count "Who's" as one word for the purpose of restriction 7? I'm not sure how it works in English.
  • As this is the last challenge, I wondered how all the entries of the two other contestants looked like when put together, to get an idea of their general design style. I figured I should as well share it here ^^ I added my own designs, here is a little throwback to what happened so far:

    Temurzoa

    CHALLENGE 1: THE ENEMY-COLOURED GOLD UNCOMMON CYCLE

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 94
    RANKING: 1st

    CHALLENGE 2: THE HYBRID CHALLENGE

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    SCORE: 88
    RANKING: 2nd

    CHALLENGE 3: THE RETURNING MECHANIC OF RAVNICA

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    SCORE: 78
    RANKING: 4th

    CHALLENGE 4: THE VERTICAL CYCLE

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    SCORE: 84
    RANKING: 2nd

    CHALLENGE 5: THE CUSTOM MECHANIC

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    SCORE: 88
    RANKING: 2nd

    CHALLENGE 6: THE LIMITED ARCHETYPE

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    SCORE: 88
    RANKING: 2nd
  • TheCenterOfTheUniverse

    CHALLENGE 1: THE ENEMY-COLOURED GOLD UNCOMMON CYCLE

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 89
    RANKING: 2nd

    CHALLENGE 2: THE HYBRID CHALLENGE

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 93
    RANKING: 1st

    CHALLENGE 3: THE RETURNING MECHANIC OF RAVNICA

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 87
    RANKING: 3rd

    CHALLENGE 4: THE VERTICAL CYCLE

    image image image image

    SCORE: 80
    RANKING: 4th

    CHALLENGE 5: THE CUSTOM MECHANIC

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 92
    RANKING: 1st

    CHALLENGE 6: THE LIMITED ARCHETYPE

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    SCORE: 88
    RANKING: 2nd
  • ningyounk

    CHALLENGE 1: THE ENEMY-COLOURED GOLD UNCOMMON CYCLE

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 81
    RANKING: 5th

    CHALLENGE 2: THE HYBRID CHALLENGE

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 84
    RANKING: 3rd

    CHALLENGE 3: THE RETURNING MECHANIC OF RAVNICA

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 89
    RANKING: 1st

    CHALLENGE 4: THE VERTICAL CYCLE

    image image image image

    SCORE: 85
    RANKING: 1st

    CHALLENGE 5: THE CUSTOM MECHANIC

    image image image image image

    SCORE: 86
    RANKING: 3rd

    CHALLENGE 6: THE LIMITED ARCHETYPE

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    SCORE: 89
    RANKING: 1st
  • @ningyounk

    Mtgsalvation generally is pretty good for researching MTG canon so I would start there.

    And Who's is one word.
  • @bnew07
    Quick question just to be sure we're on the same page, you only count "When this permanent enters the battlefield" abilities as ETB abilities, right? Not mechanics like Riot? Because technically Riot is more like a double-faced cards, for instance it doesn't trigger Panharmonicon, but as the words "enter the battelfield" appear in the reminder text I wanted to make 100% sure you were on the same page ^^ (I'm asking because of the "You can't have two cards with ETB abilities" restriction.)

    image

  • @ningyounk

    You are correct that riot would not count. I think the bar for that particular constraint would be that if it triggers panharmonicon, it counts.
  • @bnew07

    How do you reward someone with a Premium?
  • @pjbear2005 on the main MTG Cardsmith page there is a menu option that says “gift premium membership”
  • @bnew07 Ohhhh that makes sense.
  • edited January 11
    @Temurzoa @TheCenterOfTheUniverse @ningyounk

    Just 3 days left! Remember, there is no delay time for this challenge so be sure to get your entries in on time!
  • @Temurzoa @TheCenterOfTheUniverse @ningyounk

    Today is the last day to get your entries in!
  • Woops, somehow I thought the deadline was tomorrow XD Thankfully you mentioned it ^^ Well then, here's my entry:

    #1- Common - Black - Instant

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    Restrictions:
    2. A card that uses an existing non-evergreen mechanic that isn't transform.
    6. A card with an activated ability that only works in the graveyard.
    11. A card with an alternate or additional casting cost.

    Flashback was originally considered for the last Dominaria set instead of Kicker, but was pushed aside because of how close it was to Aftermath in the same standard. So I made a card with flashback to depict a memory: the moment when Liliana got her spark after she accidentally turned her brother Josu into a Zombie. For a little twist, I made an "Instant Reanimate" variation that also explores blinking but in Black (which also triggers dying effects). It's mostly based on Momentarily Blink.


    #2- Common - Blue - Creature

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    Restrictions:
    4. A creature with base power and toughness both greater than its CMC.
    8. A creature card with 3 creature types.
    18. A card with only one sentence of rules text.

    This card is a variation on a common staple in Blue, Illusions, except I replaced the usual "When this becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice it" by this weirder variation where the illusion is put on an actual object (a turnip) so when the illusion disappears, you're left fighting with a vegetable.


    #3- Uncommon - Green - Sorcery

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    Restrictions:
    21. A card that searches or look at cards in your library.
    20. A card with a quote as flavour text by a famous MTG character.

    I'm pushing a little bit the boundaries of the rules with this one, but I believe they can handle it as we have plenty of cards that refer to "mana a land could produce". Otherwise, the quote is from Freyalise's Memoirs and not Freyalise directly for consistency because... well, she's a bit dead right now >.<


    #4- Uncommon - Colorless - Artifact

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    Restrictions:
    17. A card with a tap ability.
    12. A card with "Costs N less to cast" in its text box.

    This comes straight from the story, when Jhoira gives a powerstone to Teferi with his spark in it. This is also why the last ability is there ^^


    #5- Rare - Red - Enchantment

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    Restrictions:
    1. A card that generates mana in some way.
    16. A card that mechanically hints at/references one of the Power Nine.
    7. A card with a name that is 5 words.
    13. A card that can make a token.

    This one is all about references. The Petals are mechanically Gold/Treasures but with a direct reference to the Black Lotus. Meanwhile, the firebreathing ability is a direct reference to the original Shivan Dragon. There's a synergy between the two abilities in that you can use firebreathing to help trigger the first ability, making kind of a free loop.


    #6- Rare - Blue/Black/Red - Creature

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    Restrictions:
    5. A card that is some kind of graveyard hate.
    14. A card that says "Choose one".
    3. A three-colors card
    15. A card with an iconic creature type.

    Sol'Kanar is one of the old characters that were considered for the latest Dominaria set, as mentioned by Mark Rosewater in his Odds and Ends columns. The original card is really weird by today's standard of design. There's nothing multicoloured about it, also the illustration is clearly green xD To fix that, I made it focus on each of its colours equally, but kept the emphasis on actual physical locations (the lands). The second ability is also a reference to the original card.


    #7- Mythic - White - Enchantment

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    Restrictions:
    10. A card that is a guaranteed two-for-one if it resolves.
    9. A card with an enters-the-battlefield ability.
    19. A card that can remove some type of permanent in some way.

    It's my last card of the whole contest, it's Dominaria, it's Mythic... I allowed myself a little Saga x) It's meant to represent when Teferi made Zhalfir completely disappear to save it from the Phyrexians invasion... and then proceeded to lose his spark, therefore trapping the people of Zhalfir outside of time and space for decades ^^" It's a lot about time even mechanically: the saga story constantly goes back to the first chapter, you have to maintain the vanishing spell turn after turn, and more and more permanents are getting exiled as the game goes.
  • @bnew07

    Do you think there will be another of these?
  • @pjbear2005

    eventually, though probably not for a while as judging it is a lot of work. After this challenge is over I will be posting a thread looking for feedback on the whole challenge so feel free to let me know what you think when the time comes
  • @bnew07

    Cool! I'll look out for it.
  • Here is a brief cover each card's color, type, and rarity, as well as the constraints that that card fulfills:
    1) Common white creature - one sentence of text and additional casting cost (11 & 18)
    2) Common green creature - adds mana, tap ability, and three creature types (1,8, & 17)
    3) Uncommon artifact creature - graveyard hate, graveyard ability, & notable flavor text (5, 6 & 20)
    4) Uncommon green sorcery - returning mechanic, two-for-one, 'choose one,' and searches library (2, 10, 14, & 21)
    5) Rare blue instant - "costs N less to cast" & Power 9 mechanical reference (12 & 16)
    6) Rare black creature - Greater P/T than CMC, ETB ability, Iconic creature type, and removes a permanent (4, 9, 15, & 19)
    7) Mythic UBR Enchantment - 3 colors, five word name, and creates a token (3, 7, & 13)
    Now, here are the cards:

    Benalish Squire
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    Benalish Squire is a simple card and my last design. Surprisingly, its hard to create a card which is both interesting and has only one sentence of rules text. It fills a common role in white limited decks, of a card which is dependent on other creatures. I'm not sure how good this card is, considering you can only usually consistently start casting it on turn 4 (maybe should be one creature), but I do also enjoy the fact that this squire is literally two Squires.
    Keldon Druid
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    Keldon Druid is a combination of Elvish Mystic and Goblin Motivator, taking on the flavor of a Skyshroud Elf who joined with the Keldon tribes while Radha is grand warlord.
    Forgotten Automaton
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    Forgotten Automaton is a unique effect by being graveyard hate that is activated while being within the graveyard. Artifacts often have graveyard hate in order to make it accessible to everyone, and this was also made a creature to give it a bit more value.
    Skyshroud Remembrance
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    Skyshroud Remembrance is an interesting sorcery that uses the Domain mechanic to choose multiple options the more colors you play. It always chooses two even if you just have forests, so that when it resolves it always results in a two-for-one. The term "guaranteed two-for-one" is very loose, as this card isn't a two-for-one if a) you don't have any basic land types or b) you can't fulfill two of the choices, but I figured that those scenarios are so unlikely that this could count as a two-for-one. Notably, there are only four choices, so this encourages you to play three colors, but doesn't insist that you play more, as each choice must be different. In monogreen, this is a semi-weak effect, in two-colors it is a good but somewhat random mix of abilities, and in three colors it gives you a fairly powerful spell. Another thing to note is that all of the abilities are mostly minor, so even getting all four of them is only slightly better than just getting two of them.
    Foregone Erudition
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    Foregone Erudition is a reference back to one of the two least referenced of the power 9- Ancestral Recall. 3UU isn't bad for draw 3 at instant speed, but you really want an extra ability, hence the bonus if another one of your instant or sorceries was countered. This also works with the flavor behind Tolaria being destroyed, though still containing the academy ruins which have knowledge.
    Demon of Dimished Hopes
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    Demon of Diminished Hopes is a semi-traditional Demon, require a sacrifice upon entrance but in return killing off an opponent's creature. If you have no other creatures, it is just a 5 mana 6/6 flying, thus a weaker (though not by too much) Doom Whisperer. Also, a callback to older demons which almost always required a creature sacrifice.
    Curse of the Pretender Mage
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    This final enchantment is a take on the curse that afflicted both Jaya and Lim-Dul, that is, Mairsil. In the story WOTC tells us, Jaya's spark igniting destroyed Mairsil completely, however, because I like Mairsil as a villain and the "destroyed completely" story can be written off just as what they believed, I decided to interpret it that the spirit lived on, just no longer in such a form. Mechanically, Mairsil is tied both to draining the curse-bearer's power, as well as granting necromantic abilities, hence the 2/2 zombies.

    Overall Reflective Thoughts:
    This challenge was Tough (with a capital T). I spent a lot of time trying to come up with my first card, and from there slowly designed the rest in order to fill in gaps. Overall, these designs aren't incredibly cohesive as a single set, but they all would work within the same set, and multiple of them somewhat come back to a multicolor theme.
  • Typing in my entries...
  • edited January 12
    Alright, here are my final entries!

    image

    CRITERIA MET: 5, 14, 19

    A nice draft staple with plenty of utility. It would normally be used to take care of opposing creatures, but can remove pesky graveyards in a pinch. Not much else to say.

    image

    CRITERIA MET: 1, 16, 17, 18, 20

    A game-changer for Limited, Standard, and possibly other Extended formats. Having another Llanowar Elf that doesn't have summoning sickness and is harder to remove is amazing. It's not a true Moxen, not even a Sol Ring even, but it is still powerful. Also, how about that flavor text?

    image

    CRITERIA MET: 2, 9, 12

    This card aims to smooth out Historic decks with pseudo-ramping and fetching a Historic spell. Ruin Excavation isn't huge, but it is fun and flexible.

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    CRITERIA MET: 2, 11

    While perusing the Dominaria set, I was puzzled by the abundance of Goblin tribal, but not many token producers. Mogg Initiative aims to solve this problem with another flexible spell that is potent in Limited and casual MTG.

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    CRITERIA MET: 4, 8

    Remember those weird Elves from Onslaught? Because they have mutated, I took artistic licensing to give some a longer lifespan. A solid beater for Limited.

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    CRITERIA MET: 3, 7, 10

    Because Dakkon's death was never confirmed, I brought him back as a sword-smithing Zombie, eternally searching for his masterpiece. This version of Dakkon synergism with Dominaria's Historic theme and the minor Equipment theme, but I made him with focus for Commander. Also, did you catch that Dakkon makes Greatswords?

    image

    CRITERIA MET: 6, 13, 15

    Serra Angel is back, and now it's leading an army of faithful Knights that will never keep her dead for long. Left unchecked, Serra's Faithbringer will grind your opponent out. Also, the Knights have vigilance, so they can attack and reanimate Serra's Faithbringer back that turn. I'm very proud about how that worked out.

    Phew! This was the hardest 'smithing challenge I have ever completed in my 5 years on MTGCardsmith! Congratulations to @ningyounk and @TheCenterOfTheUniverse who finished their entries.
  • @Temurzoa @TheCenterOfTheUniverse @ningyounk

    All right this contest is now closed for judging!
  • All right everyone the results are in! Refer to the google doc link below for all the written feedback and scores.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1798U8vXRttzjg8rx4oDq6hRy-hKgutuLbf_PvZBXrZI

    Before we get to the results, I just want to say that this challenge was insanely difficult (as some of you mentioned). I specifically designed it to be the mother of all challenges so each of you should be proud of your efforts.

    Additionally, I want to thank you all for participating in this mega-challenge through 7 rounds over the last few months. I know it was a big commitment and I witnessed everyone growing and improving their cardsmithing skills along the way. I have learned a ton myself just from the judging.

    Now to the final results! The first number is each Cardsmith's average score from the other six challenges (out of 100) and the second is their score from this one (out of 200). The total score (Out of 300) determines each cardsmith's place.


    3rd Place: @Temurzoa with 87 + 143 = 230 pts
    2nd Place: @TheCenterOfTheUniverse with 88 + 156 = 244 pts
    1st Place: @ningyounk with 86 + 165 = 251 pts

    Congrats to all three of you and to the 1st Great Cardsmith Designer Search Champion, @ningyounk !!!!

    Prizes (faves from previous challenges in parentheses)
    @ningyounk : 30 + (4) = 34 faves of your choice, 3 months of premium, and 1 featured card.
    @TheCenterOfTheUniverse : 20 + (5) = 25 faves of your choice and 2 months of premium.
    @Temurzoa: 10 + (4) = 14 faves of your choice and 1 month of premium.

    Please request your faves in this thread. I will award premium to each of your accounts this week. @Corwinn can you please work with @ningyounk to arrange their featured card?

    I also want to note that I will soon be posting s thread for feedback on this entire mega-challenge, so I encourage you all to contribute and provide your input about what you liked, didn’t like, and suggestions for improvement when the time comes.
  • Feeeeeeeew that was a big adventure! Congratulations to everyone who was involved, and special thanks to you @bnew07! You really put a lot of work into this, and even now that it's done you're doing this feedback thread which I think is a brilliant idea. Again, congratulations to you =)

    For the favourites, I'm going to send you a list by private message, it'll be easier to process x)
  • @ningyounk I am glad you enjoyed it, pm for the faves is fine by me
  • Congratulations to @ningyounk for winning first place!

    Concerning the grading, I understand most of the reasoning, but I am confused why multiple instances of one requirement was not allowed. Was it explicitly stated?
  • @Temurzoa

    Yes it was stated in entry criteria #7. I included it as a rule mostly to make the challenge harder.
  • All premium subscriptions have been sent!
  • Congrats, @ningyounk! Thanks for the superb contests, @bnew07.
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