Contest September 2022 CaC: Middle Stages (All Results Up!)


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Would a Raichu VMAX/VSTAR count? It is a stage 1 pokemon on an evolution card, but I don't know the rulings on Rule Box pokemon (GXs, exs, etc.)
No. For this contest, we were looking for Pokemon that have already evolved once but are not finished evolving; if you would skip over it using Rare Candy to go straight to the Stage 2, then you're good. Raichu is fully evolved and would not be eligible.

This contest has already ended, but there will be a new contest with a new theme posted on November 1st. Hope to see you there!


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Text-Based Results

I don't know what it is about September, but this month saw the most entries for text-based in at least a year, and the first month since September 2021 to see 100% participation (nine compared to seven entries). Well done, all of you. Any contest is made more interesting with more contestants and I love seeing the stuff you guys come up with so keep it coming.

I'd like to take a moment to stress the importance of including references and relevant notes when you're submitting your entry. As a judge, if you just throw your fake in my face without telling me any relevant information about it, I can't take that into consideration when giving you a score. As an example, Kaleidophoenix's Lampent had a wording mistake that would have changed the meaning of his fake had I not seen his notes that made the intent of his attack clear. After the deadline passed, I messaged him on Discord and asked him to clarify, and it turns out it wasn't an omission at all, but just how he thought the wording would have been. This didn't change the penalty, but it did change the context of it, which is important in trying to improve your score.

Second, you should always include references in your post. If you have complicated Frankenstein wording (much like Kaleidophoenix did, incidentally), it is extremely helpful for me to be able to see where you're coming from with regards to why you used the sources you did.

For this month, I was looking for how much your entry would entice me to play it. I looked at existing lines to see if your fake would improve said line, as well as how well it could stand on its own. With Bench space at a premium, using up one of your slots for a low-HP Stage 1 isn't always worth the effort. Does your entry make the cut? Find out below.

Wording was a problem for many of you again. Did you know that we have a Discord where you can receive help with your fake before posting it? (Yes you did, because I never shut up about it.) If you like doing this, consider joining our fancrafted custom card creating community. We're glad to help and I wanna see someone hit a 45 or better in text in November.

Fletchinder HP80 [R]
Stage 1-Evolves from Fletchling
N.622 Ember Pokémon HT.2' 04" WT.35.3 lbs

[Ability] Wildfire
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn,you may switch 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon with their Active Pokémon.If that Pokémon is not a R Pokémon,put 2 damage counters on the new Active Pokémon.

[C] Flap Away
Switch this Pokémon with 1 of your Benched Pokémon.Then,draw 2 cards.

Weakness: [L] X2
Resistance: [F]-30
Retreat Cost:[C]

"Fletchinder launches embers into the den of its prey. When the prey comes leaping out, Fletchinder’s sharp talons finish it off."

My Thoughts

Boss's Orders is one hell of a Supporter. It's not uncommon to see Supporters reprinted as Abilities, and when asking if your Supporter of choice would be busted, it's easy to see if it's been printed on a real card before. If it has, you can base your power accordingly.

There's an Ariados from Darkness Ablaze with an Ability like this, with the extra caveat that the Pokemon you gust up must be evolved. Fletchinder allowing you to gust up anything you want (and ping it for 20) is significantly better. Fletchinder's attack is much better as well. It's strict upgrades all around. The damage ping seems a little unnecessary; you're definitely not playing this just because you can hit a Benched guy for 20.

Wildfire might be powerful, but it's thematically fitting. I can easily picture Fletchinder swooping into some Benched Pokemon's hidey hole and starting it on fire, forcing them to come out into the open.

Wording errors:
- On English cards, the proper abbreviation in the dex info for number is "NO." [-1 point]
- On Sword & Shield cards, single-digit inches omit the zero (2'4", not 2'04"). [-1 point]
- Don't forget to put spaces after your sentences. I'll let it slide this time, but keep it in mind for the future. [-0 points]
- The trigger for damaging the new Active Pokemon isn't clear. Is it if the target isn't Fire, or the Pokemon that went to the Bench? You need to say so. [-1 point]
Flap Away
- There are a couple ways to go about making this wording correct. If you want them to get the 2 cards no matter what, you should say that first. If getting the cards is dependent on them switching, the correct wording is "If you do, draw 2 cards." [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 15/20
(Fun themes aside, a free, damaging Boss's Orders is insanely powerful. The effect isn't also very creative, but I give you a bonus point for presenting it in a thematic way.)
Wording: 11/15
(Easy errors with simple fixes.)
Believability/Playability: 13/15
(Given the restrictions on Ariados, I'm gonna ding you a little for believability here.)
Total: 39/50
Pignite HP: 100 [F]

Stage 1: Evolves from Tepig

NO. 499 Fire Pig Pokémon HT: 3'3" WT: 122.4 lbs.

[F] Strength Challenge 30+

Each player searches their deck for a Pokémon and reveals it. If the Pokémon you revealed has a higher Retreat Cost than the Pokémon your opponent revealed, this attack does 60 more damage. Then, both players discard the revealed Pokémon and shuffle their decks.

[F][F][C] Full Toss 120

Shuffle a Stage 2 Pokémon from your discard pile into your deck. If you don't, this attack does nothing.

Weakness: [P] x2
Retreat: [C][C][C]

When its internal fire flares up, its movements grow sharper and faster. When in trouble, it emits smoke.

My Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this card. It seems built to discard Emboar BST, as you can Mustard it into play on your next turn, but that's a pretty sketchy way to get Emboar into play. Full Toss is too expensive for the drawback, even if there are a plethora of fat Stage 2s you can toss with Strength Challenge.

While the attack effects are unique, or at least rare, I'm having a hard time finding a reason to use this card. It's difficult to justify when the attacks are so weak. Full Toss needs to do more damage; it's not even worth using as is, especially given the cost. Look at the upcoming Braixen and Delphox from Silver Tempest as an example. They have the same attack, for the same damage, with slightly different costs. That hits for a possible 240 for CC. You can get away with a similar cost for slightly reduced damage, given how much easier it is to find Pokemon to discard, but that's the kind of ballpark damage you should be shooting for. An attacking Stage 1 needs to be able to do more than tickle the big 2- and 3-Prizers in the current format.

I will give you props for entering a card without an Ability. It is significantly more difficult to justify a card's usage when it doesn't have some OP Ability it can fall back on. It was a risk, but I don't think it paid off for you this time. This is one time I wish you'd included some notes so I could get some insight into your thought process.

Wording errors:
Strength Challenge
- You need to add clarification for what happens when either player fails the search. Remember, the deck is a private zone, and you are always allowed to fail searches for specific types of cards, even if either player knows that there are valid targets in the deck. [-1 point]
- "Both players" was deprecated as of Sword & Shield. Instead, it should be, "each player discards the revealed Pokemon and shuffles their deck." Write out actions concerning both players as actions that "each player" takes as opposed to one that "both players" take. [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 16/20
(The combo is clear, even if the damage is weak.)
Wording: 13/15
(Not bad)
Believability/Playability: 11/15
(The big draw for this card, Full Toss, is far too weak. In a format this quick, I struggle to see value in this over Rare Candy, especially in a deck with Emboar.)
Total: 40/50
[Stage 1] Evolves from Dratini Put Dark Dragonair on the Basic Pokémon
Dark Dragonair 60 HP [C]
[Dragon Pokémon. Length: 13' 1". Weight: 3 lbs.]

Pokémon Power: Storm Summoning As often as you like during your turn (before your attack), you may attach 1 Basic Energy card to 1 of your Dark Pokémon. (This doesn't use up your 1 Energy card attachment for the turn.) For each energy card attached, put 1 damage counter on Dark Dragonair. This power can't be used if Dark Dragonair is Asleep, Confused or Paralyzed.

[C][C][C] Dragon Retaliation 10x
This attack does 10 damage times the number of damage counters on each of your Benched Dark Dragonair.

weakness / resistance / retreat cost
[-] / [P] -30 / [C][C]

[Often seen flying between dark cloud, it though to be the mysterious harbinger of bad weathers. LV. 40 #148]

My Thoughts

Classic era? Really making me dig out those old references for this one, huh? All right, let's see what we got...

I think this card is a good balance of strength and frailty that Dark Pokemon are known for. With Dark Dragonair TR and The Boss's Way, it's easier than ever to stream Dark Dragonair, and popping off with a T2 KO on something by utilizing DCE is pretty simple, too. The strategy is very weak to gusting and Bench damage in general, although Transparent Walls can help with the latter.

It's kind of a standalone deck and, ironically, has no real need for Dark Dragonite, as you'll want to have Dratini in play already to evolve into Dark Dragonair when you're ready to attack. Giant Tail is awful, but if your back is against the wall, it could be worth using if you think you're gonna go down or you're gonna lose otherwise. I will say that Summon Minions might have use after using Nightly Garbage Run to recover Dratini back into the deck, but generally speaking I probably wouldn't play more than 1 copy of Dark Dragonite.

This card could also be used to power up other Dark Pokemon in a pinch, but they're all so awful I don't think I'd worry about them. With three Dark Dragonair on your Bench, you're OHKOing everything anyway so trying to hit something for Weakness isn't really necessary.

The only problem I have is that it's unheard of for a Stage 1 to be usable as an attacker over its Stage 2 in this era. While I think you've hit the mark in terms of strength and ease of use, this just isn't something you'd ever seen in the classic-Neo eras. Other than that small detail, I like this fake a lot.

Wording errors:
- You should be using a comma instead of a period after the length. [-1 point]
- You missed a digit in Dragonair's weight. [-1 point]
Storm Summoning
- Don't capitalize basic when referring to Energy. There's a Ho-Oh in Neo Revelation that does, but it's the only card I can find that does; it's wrong. [-1 point]
- Cards should be attached to 1 of your "Pokemon with Dark in its name" or "Pokemon that has Dark in its name" (Light Machamp N4, Pokemon Personality Test N4) [-1 point]
- There are no relevant references for the damage counter sentence, so I'm going to leave it as is. However, you should always capitalize Energy no matter what. [-1 point]
Dragon Retaliation
- In classic era, when coin flips are not involved, you just say "Does x damage times..." (Sudowoodo N1) [-1 point]
- This took me a bit to nail down, but I believe you need to say the "total" number of damage counters because you are counting multiple Pokemon (Sabrina's Gengar G1, Clefairy N1). [-1 point]
- You also should say "each Dark Dragonair on your Bench" (Kabuto N2) [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 15/20
(Rain Dance is nothing new, but counting all the damage and then doing that damage is new to classic era. Still, it's been seen before, so even as a fake, there's no wow factor.)
Wording: 7/15
(Even though classic era wording is basically the Wild West, most of your wording errors were simple grammar mistakes or wording errors that would have been solved by checking a few cards. This is also why it's helpful to list your references, so I can see how you're coming up with the wording you do use.)
Believability/Playability: 13/15
(A powerful Dark deck with the capability to do huge damage, but also comes with the risk of getting your damage sources wiped instantly. As I said before, this strength is unbelievable to see on a Stage 1 in this era, but it is absolutely playable, and even has a guest room for Dark Dragonite, which is always nice.)
Total: 35/50
Raboot HP: 90 [R]
Stage 1
NO: 814 Rabbit Pokémon HT: 2'00" WT: 19.8 lbs.
Ability: Kick Up
Once during your turn, you may put 3 damage counters on one of your Pokémon. If you placed any damage counters on one of your Pokémon in this way, prevent all effects of attacks, including damage, done to that Pokémon during your opponent’s next turn.

[R][C] Double Kick 20x
Flip 2 coins. This attack does 20 damage for each heads.

Weakness: [W] x2
Retreat: [C]
It kicks berries right off the branches of trees and then juggles them with its feet, practicing its footwork.

My Thoughts

Being able to ping one of your own guys for 30 damage in exchange for immunity to all effects and damage is such a broken effect that there's no way to justify its existence on a card. By hitting your Active with this while having some sort of Bench protection like Manaphy BRS on your Bench, you essentially force your opponent to have Rope + Boss every turn just to deal with whatever's swinging up front. There are a million and one ways to heal this 30 damage as well, making the damage essentially a non-issue.

Additionally, why is it called Kick Up? Why does it hurt your own Pokemon? Why does doing that grant you immunity to damage and effects? Thematically, nothing about this Ability makes sense, even if it functionally does. If you want to play up the kicking angle, what about an Ability that boosts the damage of your Fire-type Pokemon that have a Tool attached (referencing how this Pokemon gets better by practicing kicking around berries it kicks off trees)? I think there's definitely potential here, but unfortunately the effect you've gone with is completely busted.

I would invite you to visit our Discord to get some help toning down some of your ideas. I notice that your fakes consistently have potential but if you're not well-versed in game balance then it becomes very easy to put out something that's completely unfair. Obviously I don't think this was your intent and I want you to do well, so stop by and see us for advice, we will be more than happy to help you, bro.

Wording errors:
- In SWSH era, a length of zero inches is omitted (any Raboot card) [-1 point]
Kick Up
- Always use numerals in your effect text (1, not one) (Hoopa V) [-1 point]
- You don't need "on one of your Pokemon" (Spiritomb CRE, Flapple RCL) [-1 point]
- In SWSH era, Agility-style prevention is written as "prevent all damage from and effects of attacks done to" that Pokemon. Additionally, the "during your opponent's next turn" should go before the prevention phrase (Mr. Mime LOR) [-2 points]

Creativity/Originality: 14/20
(Thematically the card is confusing and Double Kick isn't an interesting attack.)
Wording: 10/15
(Looking at real cards helps a lot. is a fantastic resource!)
Believability/Playability: 5/15
(Breaks the format.)
Total: 29/50
Pokémon - [D] - 90
Stage 1 Pokémon - Evolves from Venipede

NO. 544 Curlipede Pokémon HT: 3'11" WT: 129 lbs.

Ability: Speed Squad
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn, you may search your deck for up to 3 Whirlipede and put them onto your Bench. Then, shuffle your deck.

[C][C]: Gang Growth
Search your deck for a Pokémon that evolves from 1 of your Benched [D] Pokémon and put it onto that Pokémon to evolve it. Then, shuffle your deck.

Weakness: [F] x2
Resistance: None
Retreat: [C][C][C]

It is usually motionless, but when attacked, it rotates at high speed and then crashes into its opponent.

My Thoughts

Hey, welcome back! It's been a while, hasn't it? Glad to see you entering again.

At first glance, this card looks promising. The moment you evolve, you get to bring out all your other Whirlipede? Sounds great! And you even get to evolve one of them, if you so choose? Even better! My problem is that this looks custom built to swarm Scolipede, and the only Scolipede in SWSH aren't meant to be swarmed. Or, more specifically, there's no incentive for you to have multiple in play at once, which really takes the wind out of this card's sails.

The attention then turns to Gang Growth and what is worth using it on, and unfortunately there aren't a lot of great targets for this, given the restriction that the Pokemon you evolve has to be Darkness. It could be used on Deino DAA in order to prepare Zweilous for evolving the following turn; Hydreigon's Dark Squall Ability could be great for powering up all those Scolipede. Combine it with Garbodor RCL's Poison Puddle and you've got the makings of a decent single-Prize deck that might be less clunky than it appears.

There's not much else use for it, as many of the Stage 2s you might wanna get into play either evolve from things that aren't Darkness (Pupitar, Dewott) or have Abilities that trigger on drop from your hand (Crobat, Galarian Obstagoon). I also think you could get away with having Gang Growth cost a single Energy; attacks like this have been on Basics for both 1 and 0 Energy.

Wording errors:
- You're missing the "HP" in the HP! [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 14/20
(The idea of being able to swarm gets me excited, but the lack of real options is kind of a downer.)
Wording: 14/15
(Great job nailing the effect text wording!)
Believability/Playability: 14/15
(It's certainly playable, but would I want to? That's debatable.)
Total: 42/50
Porygon2 – C – HP90
Stage 1 – Evolves from Porygon

NO. 233 Virtual Pokémon HT: 2' WT: 71.7 lbs.

Ability: Hyperlink
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn, you may choose 1 of your Pokémon that doesn't have a Rule Box (Pokémon V, Pokémon-GX, etc. have Rule Boxes.) That Pokémon's attacks cost [C][C] less as long as this Pokémon is in play.

[C][C] Reload and Rewind 50
Put 2 basic Energy and all Pokémon Tools attached to your opponent's Active Pokémon into their hand.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Retreat: [C] [C]
After artificial intelligence was implemented in Porygon2, the Pokémon began using a strange language that only other Porygon2 understand.

My Thoughts

Hyperlink is cool in theory but only mildly useful in practice. The inability to choose Rule Box Pokemon combined with the frailty of anything you could get out reasonably quickly means that it's not suitable for more than a surprise attack on something. The effect going away once you evolve something also means you need to have your guy ready to go before you evolve into Porygon2, which slows the deck down further.

None of that matters though, because Reload and Rewind is completely broken. For a single Twin or Double Turbo Energy (or nothing - just self-target with Hyperlink), you can set your opponent back two turns of attachments consistently. I can't understate how bonkers this attack is for its cost. Lapras SSH can do this attack for WWWW. Samurott VIV, a Stage 2 can do it for WCC. This Porygon2 can do it for free, or one attachment at the most. It's understandable to give your Pokemon a good attack to make it stand out, but you've well over shot the mark here.

Wording errors:
- Rule Box reminder text should be placed after all other text (Arezu LOR) [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 16/20
(The idea of a Pokemon becoming a DCE is pretty cool, but having to sequence things in just the right way makes it lose some of its appeal.)
Wording: 14/15
(Nice work for your first foray into SWSH)
Believability/Playability: 10/15
(Attack is way overpowered for its cost, self-targeting allows you to do it for free)
Total: 40/50
[Lampent – Fire– HP80
Stage 1 – Evolves from Litwick

NO: 608 Lamp Pokémon HT: 2' WT: 28.7 lbs.

Ability: Consuming Flames
When you play Chandelure from your hand to evolve this Pokémon during your turn, you may use this Ability. Before evolving, attach this Pokémon to 1 of your opponent's Pokémon as a Pokémon Tool card. If the Pokémon this card is attached to uses an attack, discard the top 2 cards of your deck. (When this card is removed from a Pokémon for any reason, put this card in its owner's discard pile.)

[R] Ennervating Fire 20
During your opponent’s next turn, the Defending Pokémon has no Abilities.

Weakness: [W]x2
Retreat: [C]
It lurks in cities, pretending to be a lamp. Once it finds someone whose death is near, it will trail quietly after them.

My Thoughts

So I talked to Jabs about this again and I'm not going to ding you for missing "opponent's" like we discussed, but, more specifically, because of the ambiguity of the wording. Since the effect you're looking for doesn't exist, you need to be super clear about what your meaning is, especially if it's a new effect that might be misunderstood the way I did.

So let's talk about the actual fake. I think it's pretty neat. I don't know if you took inspiration from my own post where I mentioned how I liked making a bad Stage 2 decent, but I'm a sucker for mill and I support any attempts at making it more viable, no matter what the rest of the council says >:[

I kinda like the strength of this card. The effect is an unremovable Cursed Shovel for as long as the Pokemon is alive. Adding in a couple Tool Scrapper to ensure that you can attach the Lampent safely goes a long way in making sure this card doesn't get stuffed by them flooding their field with Tools.

It is a little concerning that you pretty much won't be getting your Lampent back once you attach them, which makes streaming Chandelure progressively more difficult. Assuming you're getting Knocked Out every turn, it can be hard to keep the mill coming, although Cursed Shovel + Lampent means losing 4 cards on a Knock Out which is pretty nuts.

While a Tool that mills the opponent whenever they attack is pretty cool, needing to use Chandelure to trigger the Ability means it doesn't really have any use outside of a dedicated mill deck, and that's okay. I think that what it does do, it does well.

Wording errors:
Consuming Flames
- The wording for who discards the cards needs to be less ambiguous. It currently reads that you, the player, get milled whenever the opponent attacks. You could solve this ambiguity by saying something like "discard the top 2 cards of its owner's deck". This effect of attaching to your oppoennt's Pokemon and having it do something that also affects the opponent doesn't exist, so you can get away with inventing new wording for it. [-1 point]
Ennervating Fire
- "Enervating" is misspelled. There's even a Gloom that has used the word before. [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 17/20
(An interesting way to get mileage out of something you would normally just skip over. Tools that are attached to your oppoent's Pokemon aren't exactly original but it's been long enough that it's kind of refreshing to see again; additionally, the card has a unique trigger that makes it a stellar option in its dedicated deck but nowhere else, which prevents it from becoming the blanket new Tool that everyone uses.)
Wording: 13/15
(You had a lot of moving parts for this wording, but you still nailed it, weird wording inventions notwithstanding. Well done.)
Believability/Playability: 13/15
(It's hard to say for certain because there have only been two cards in the history of the game that attach to your opponent's Pokemon, and those two card have very distinct designs, probably to help tell them apart from other cards. I don't this Lampent would receive the same treatment and I don't think it's fair as a text faker to be able to get out of making that sort of visual distinction just because it's text. So a couple points off for believability. Other than that, it's a fine card and would definitely make me reconsider Chandelure as a deck.)
Total: 43/50
Corvisquire - HP 80 - [C]
Stage 1 - Evolves from Rookidee

NO. 822 Raven Pokémon HT: 2'7” WT: 35.3 lbs.

/Ability/ - Pushing Pieces
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn, you may have your opponent reveal their hand. Then, put any number of Basic Pokémon you find there onto your opponent’s Bench.

[C][C] - En Passant 20+
If your opponent’s Active Pokémon was on their Bench during their last turn, this attack does 40 more damage

Weakness - [L] ×2
Resistance - [F] -20
RC - [C]

The lessons of many harsh battles have taught it how to accurately judge an opponent's strength.

My Thoughts

I'm glad you posted! Even if you're not confident in your abilities, you have nothing to lose by posting, and I like to think that it keeps people on their toes to see so many people submitting.

Given that Mawile-GX saw some play for its Ability, it's difficult to know whether or not this Corvisquire would. Mawile-GX is a Basic, which is the whole draw of the card. Without a Corviknight existing in SM era, and with this card not taking advantage of the Pokemon you drop down in the same way Mawile-GX does, it's hard for me to determine if the minimum two spots required would be worth it. On the one hand, Corvisquire isn't subject to Captivating Wink the way Mawile-GX itself is, so you have more freedom to drop it when you think you've got a good chance of disrupting your opponent. It's also only worth 1 Prize, so getting it gusted out and murdered isn't as big a deal as it would be if it were Mawile-GX. On the other hand, I have no real reason to attack with this thing and with no existing Corviknight I can't wonder how filling your opponent's Bench might help it out.

As I posted in chat, I dig the chess references and did notice it after I read En Passant. Doing increased damage to a Pokemon that was formerly on the Bench is about as close to en passant as you can get, but as cool as that is, the bonus damage is difficult to trigger and there is little incentive to doing 60 damage as a meme when your actual attacker is capable of doing way more. I understand that, as an evolving Stage 1, you aren't gonna be a GX slayer or anything, but En Passant seems so much less enticing when you can't score a KO with it and no way to influence your target outside of Boss's Orders. And if you're gonna Boss something up, you are sure as shit not gonna waste it by only doing sixty damage to it.

Wording errors:
Pushing Pieces
- Mawile-GX is a better reference for this, you can copy the wording almost verbatim. [-1 point]
En Passant
- Period missing at the end of the attack [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 14/20
(Reused ability isn't that inspiring. You can't take advantage of the Pokemon dropped. There is little reason to actually attack with this Pokemon, even considering the bonus damage.)
Wording: 13/15
(You did fine, all things considered)
Believability/Playability: 12/15
(With no Corviknight in the format, I have to judge playability solely on Corvisquire's own merits, and Corvisquire itself is kinda underwhelming. Even with the risks involved, I'd probably rather just play Mawile-GX.)
Total: 39/50

3rd Place: doofisconfused’s Porygon2, with 40/50 points.
3rd Place: Falling Skies’s Pignite, with 40/50 points.
2nd Place: ThePigThatCriedRii’s Whirlipede, with 42/50 points.
1st Place: Kaleidophoenix’s Lampent, with 43/50 points.


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Image-Based Results

Judge: @Jabberwock

We asked for Stage 1s that were more than evolutionary filler, and you delivered. Flashy holos and multi-Prizers are all cool and fun, but I love seeing people’s creativity come through on NFE months.

There were two main ways you approached this theme: Stage 1s designed to support their Stage 2s; and Stage 1s that are viable attackers in their own right. Both approaches were valid, and I saw some great entries from each.

That said, one thing I’ve been seeing creeping up recently is the number of minor (i.e. 1 point) wording and font errors. These are catchable on a proofread, but even more catchable by showing your cards to other people before you post them. This is allowed and even encouraged in CaC, and historically our periods of highest scoring have coincided with our periods of greatest card-sharing activity as a community. PMJ and I can’t give feedback ahead of time on entries for the categories we judge, but everyone else can. Don’t be a stranger!

The November round is going up tomorrow. See you there!



We’re kicking things off with an early entry: just seven days into the competition! I’m all for people submitting their entries whenever they feel they’re ready, but I hope it’s not the theme giving you a false sense of simplicity this month.

Fortunately, the card doesn’t feel rushed. You picked a Stage 2 that could have been better and designed a Stage 1 to support it. Tranquill’s effects are clearly well suited to give Unfezant a boost, albeit in the obvious way: fixing coin flips will do the job for pretty much any flippy Pokémon, and recovery is critical in a Stage 2 deck that’s hoping to break even in the Prize trade. Bird Call being able to target other Tranquill gives you a pretty powerful safety net, to an extent that most other decks can only dream of, but you’re guaranteed to burn through a bunch of attackers in a game, so it’s warranted.

For speed, you’re probably right that you’d want to play Rare Candy in addition to this thing, but hey, that’s allowed. What matters is that it’s a Stage 1 that’s basically indispensable in turning its Stage 2 from a filler card into a playable one, and you definitely got that part right. The effects are powerful but not breakable, largely because they can only barely be extended beyond Unfezant, and they do make you give that card another look where you probably wouldn’t have before.

So on the whole, I like it. I’m not sure it necessarily wows me — I think if I glanced at that Unfezant, for instance, my gut would probably lead me to these effects, too — but it’s a tight, solid card that fulfills the brief and begs no questions. Some suggestions I would have if you had wanted to spend the remaining 24 days of the month working on the card further might have been (a) finding a way to enable Unfezant streaming that isn’t straight-up put-back-into-your-hand recovery, (b) forcing the Unfezant player to think a little harder about their choices than “use Winds of Change, do 280 damage, repeat”, and (c) going a little crazy with extra visual effects (I know it’s an uncommon, but you could always spice it up with a reverse holosheet or something for max aesthetics points).

Wording errors:
- “the effect” should almost certainly be “an effect”, since “your Unfezant’s attacks” (in plural) don’t have just one definite effect. This is corroborated on SwSh-era cards like Greedent CRE and Hoothoot ASR. [-1 point]

Fonts and Placement errors:
- On point as usual.

Creativity/Originality: 12/15
(The synergy with Unfezant is obvious, and obviously well thought through. There’s still a good amount of room for creativity, though — these effects seem a pretty natural place to go if you’re wanting to improve that Unfezant.)
Believability/Playability: 15/15
(No issues here. Bird Call is quite a high level of recovery, but it’s warranted here to help you stream Tranquill after Unfezant after Tranquill, and being on a Stage 1 without much else to recommend it, it doesn’t generalize easily to other decks.)
Wording: 9/10
(Minor grammatical quirk.)
Fonts and Placement: 5/5
(On point as usual.)
Aesthetics: 4/5
(It’s clean, it’s crisp, it’s fine. Steff does his work well, and requesting his art puts you a notch above a generic Sugimori-over-stock-image mashup, but I’m not sure it showcases too much artistic talent on your part. I would be looking for something out of the ordinary to give you the last point here.)
Total: 45/50

Seems like character rares have been around long enough at this point that I can expect to start seeing them in CaC on a regular basis! No complaints from me — there’s plenty of Pokémon-and-character art out there, and if people want to make their own illustrations for more obscure pairings, then so much the better!

That said, while the OOYAMA style is compelling in most situations, I’m not sure how well it works here. The thick lines clash with the text on the lower half of the card and make it hard to read on a first pass. I think it’s possible that it could work if the lower half of the art were less detailed, or darker in color — and it would definitely work as a normal, non-FA illustration, though I applaud the initiative to go a step further on aesthetics.

Energy acceleration is a reasonable interpretation for this theme. It’s true that there have been multiple Kommo-o with attack costs of 3 or 4, and [N]-type Pokémon have historically been hard to accelerate to. Apart from that, though, Excited Clanging seems like an Ability I could see on several different Pokémon. Vanilla Energy acceleration is a very vague sort of power-up; it lets you give a Pokémon a boost without really thinking too hard about whether it’s the best boost, mechanically and design-wise, for that Pokémon. I would encourage you to go a little deeper — maybe pick a Kommo-o, maybe design your own, and see how you can support it more directly than just giving it an additional Energy to work with.

Strike and Roar is a similarly good asset, but similarly non-specific. At least here, I can see a line from “I need more time to power up my Stage 2s” to “I need to discard my opponent’s Energy”, but I think you can still get more creative. These effects are tried and true, but I’m always looking for things that push the limits in these contests!

Wording errors:
- “basic Energy” are “basic Energy cards” while not (yet) attached to a Pokémon. [-1 point]
- “to this Pokémon” → “to it”, per Wyrdeer V and Cinderace SSH. [-2 points]

Fonts and Placement errors:
- That “90” in the HP is awfully big — compare it to the Frosmoth character rare, clicking back and forth between them. [-1 point]
- “Strike and Roar” is misaligned from “Excited Clanging” by a pixel or so — small and unnoticeable enough that I won’t dock for it, but keep an eye out for things like that!

Creativity/Originality: 10/15
(You’ve made a clear response to the theme — Excited Clanging helps get some future Kommo-o the Energy it needs to attack, while Strike and Roar can slow the game down a little as needed — but both effects are very non-specific, and would do a great deal to help virtually any deck in any situation. I think it might be hurting you a little here that there are no Kommo-o currently in Standard — having a frame of reference is valuable for generating a clear-cut, cohesive design.)
Believability/Playability: 15/15
(No issues with power level. It’s useful enough that I imagine it would be played to some extent over Rare Candy.)
Wording: 7/10
(A couple of minor errors.)
Fonts and Placement: 4/5
(A couple of even more minor errors.)
Aesthetics: 4/5
(Mostly solid — I like the art, and I think you’re pretty close to nailing OOYAMA’s style, but I think it’s not doing you many favors on a character rare, mostly due to the complexity of the lower half of the art. Still, I applaud the initiative of illustrating your own character rare!)
Total: 40/50

Welcome back, Faris! Feels like a while since I’ve seen you around, and it’s always good to get another visit from your penchant for ex/DPPt-era fakes. The art on this one is beautiful — so much darker than the Colorless texture, but thanks to the moon and the white part of Shelgon’s body, it still blends well with the blank. And is that the constellation Draco I see in the sky next to the moon, with Shelgon staring longingly at it? Man oh man, what a great touch.

But aesthetic astronomical references to the Pokémon’s Stage 2 form aren’t quite enough to fulfill the brief on their own — we’re looking for a middle evo that would see play in its own right, that’s good enough to warrant its inclusion in a deck as more than just an effect-less stepping stone to its Stage 2. I think this Shelgon could go a little further before it achieves that. Ready for Takeoff in particular is ill-suited to giving the Pokémon its own identity as more than a stepping stone — in fact, all it does is make it seem like more of a stepping stone. We want to see Shelgon support Salamence, or even display compelling attacks or powers on its own — not just evolve as soon as possible so we can forget about it.

Sacrificial Provision and Dragon Reprisal are both good, so perhaps there’s a case to be made for Shelgon being its own deck independent of Salamence at all. Using Sacrificial Provision up to four times in a turn, you can boost Dragon Reprisal to some pretty high numbers. It’s an awkward Energy cost, but two Energy is better than the likes of Marowak RG, so maybe it would be achievable. And without a damage cap, it gets scary pretty fast.

So, okay, I can talk myself into a Shelgon-centered deck. But if that’s the goal here, I think you probably don’t need to include Ready for Takeoff at all. It’s at odds with the rest of the card, and I can’t think of any existing ex-era Salamence that would specifically capitalize on it. There may be room for expansion or improvement there, if only as a philosophical design point.

Wording errors:
- There should be a comma in “... show it to your opponent[,] and put it into your hand.” [-1 point]
- “would be Knocked Out” → “is Knocked Out”, per Latias ex and Kabutops δ. [-2 points]
- One extraneous “by” in Dragon Reprisal’s text. [-1 point]

Fonts and Placement errors:
- Looks right to me.

Creativity/Originality: 11/15
(Some synergy between the Poké-Power and Dragon Reprisal enables Shelgon to be a deck with a self-contained strategy all on its own. However, from a design standpoint, Ready for Takeoff — already not a terribly original attack — feels like an unusual choice to include with no other effects that directly support a Salamence.)
Believability/Playability: 14/15
(Balancing seems okay. I’ve docked a cautious point because ex-era cards with Vengeance-like attacks tend to have a cap on their damage output, and even though I don’t think it breaks anything balancing-wise for Shelgon not to have one, it seems uncharacteristic of the effect for the era.)
Wording: 6/10
(A few errors.)
Fonts and Placement: 5/5
(Looks right to me.)
Aesthetics: 5/5
(I love the art. It’s a great blend with the ex-era blank, and the Draco easter egg tips it over the edge into max aesthetics points territory, for me.)
Total: 37/50

Beautiful work as always, Mick — really out here proving that an NFE theme is no reason not to go all out with visuals. It’s dynamic, it’s colorful, it draws your eye all over the place, from the tail to the neck curls to the bright splatters in the background. It’s a gorgeous piece of work, even for your standards.

I like the blank, too; it reminds me of old custom blanks I used to see years ago, when the BW era had just started and people were enamored of the futuristic curved bars in the design. Harkening back to that style seems particularly suitable for a Servine, intentional or not.

On the attacks end, I’m not super sold. I know Baton Pass is an existing attack with an established TCG effect, but I’m not sure it brings much to the card, since it basically just puts your Energy on a different Pokémon and thrusts it into harm’s way, and Energy tends to be a valuable resource that you want to conserve as much as possible. Maybe if the attack let the new Active Pokémon attack again afterward, or had some other nifty effect on top of the 20 damage.

Grass Pledge is really where the excitement’s at, but I’m not sure I’m sold here either. I’ve seen other people’s takes on the elemental Pledge moves before, and they always tend to amount to “If another of your Pokémon used [Pledge move] during your last turn, [do another effect]. If another of your Pokémon used [other Pledge move] during your last turn, [do another effect].” It’s a lot of text, and the effects usually feel disjointed with each other. Here, they seem to be directly inspired by the Pledge moves’ in-game effects, which is cool as an inspiration, but the issue of cohesion is still there. VG effects don’t always translate well to TCG effects, and when a card’s attacks are mostly or entirely based on the Pokémon’s in-game moves, it usually just feels like a miscellaneous grab bag.

I’ve seen you come up with really strong designs before — your Minior and Tyrantrum V come to mind — and I would love to see more of the route you took with those: finding some notable features of the Pokémon, especially related to the theme, and finding new and exciting ways to represent them mechanically in the TCG. I think that will usually result in a more complex and interesting card than you would get by just picking a couple VG attacks and translating their effects into TCG terms.

Still a great work — the art is beautiful, and the blank and even the attacks hit on my sense of nostalgia for the TCG era I started faking in. But I think the attacks let you down a little bit mechanically, and I think you can rework them in more interesting ways — or invent totally new ones — if you think about it. As always, I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

Wording errors:
- In the flavor text, “Grass Energy” should be either lowercase or, if you’re referring to the TCG mechanic, “[G] Energy” (with the leaf symbol standing in for [G]). [-1 point]
- There’s an extraneous space between “photosynthesize” and “and”. [-0.5 point]

Fonts and Placement errors:
- Looks good to me. I think it’s been a while since I’ve seen a card of yours with flavor text, but I like the choice of Sanvito over the more recent Optima.

Creativity/Originality: 10/15
(Gen 5 is clearly a big player in this card’s design, but it’s almost made it too one-dimensional. Translating VG moves into TCG attacks is interesting anecdotally, but it gives you next to no room for synergy or the other card-to-card interactions that make your design really shine.)
Believability/Playability: 15/15
(Three for 110 is probably a little steep to be viable on a Stage 1 in the current era, even with the additional effects, but custom blanks give you the benefit of ambiguity, and there was a time not too long ago when the combination of Pokémon with these Pledge moves would have made quite the fun deck.)
Wording: 8.5/10
(A couple things in the flavor text.)
Fonts and Placement: 5/5
(Looks good.)
Aesthetics: 5/5
(The dynamism of the art is beautiful, and showcases how it’s possible to go above and beyond even on a theme that calls for middle Evolutions. I’m impressed by how much of it you made / edited yourself — all in a few weeks’ work, and the effect is astonishing.)
Total: 43.5/50

Back with another SwSh entry, eh, doof? :p Your fonts and placements are getting a lot better, which is awesome to see. I see you edited your entry to fix a couple problems, but you’ve still missed out a couple wording things. We’ll get to those later, but I want to point out up front that it can be valuable to get additional sets of eyes on your card before you post it — don’t be afraid to ask people to proofread!

Skiploom (its whole line, really) has a niche as an attacker with both low HP and low attack costs. Sometimes this presents itself as a glass cannon, but you seem to have taken the other route: enabling Skiploom to zip around the field so it’s never really in danger in the first place. There’s a long-ish history of Hoppip and Skiploom card(s) that do this, so your Skiploom’s in good company in that regard.

On the other hand, though, you’ll notice in looking through old Skiploom cards that their damage output is never very high. No Skiploom has ever been able to do more than 40 damage before modifiers, and that required four heads to pull off — 50 is astronomical by Skiploom standards.

It has me worried because Swirl Back is a very good effect, and they play into each other a little too well. You take one Knock Out on a low-HP Basic with Cotton Circles, then on the next turn you have a free gust with which to pull up another low-HP Basic and do it again. If you have something like Target Whistle, you can even repeat this on the same Basic Pokémon over and over, while potentially locking your opponent out of their Items using something like Trevenant XY.

This is somewhat an edge-case scenario, but it’s a lot more possible than it would be if Cotton Circles’s damage output was, say, 20 or 30 like a typical Skiploom. Pushing the envelope isn’t a bad thing in general, but push it too far on balancing and you may end up in undesirable territory.

Wording errors:
- Missing a period at the end of the Ability text. [-1 point]
- “your Active Pokémon has no Retreat Cost” should probably be “that Pokémon has no Retreat Cost” — the former implies that any of your Pokémon that happens to be in the Active Spot at any time during your next turn has no Retreat Cost, not just the one you put there with the effect of Cotton Circles. [-2 points]

Fonts and Placement errors:
- Flavor text is right-aligned in SwSh (a change from SM). [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 12/15
(Suitably bouncy for a Skiploom, if not unexpectedly so. The Ability and attack play into each other in ways one wouldn’t usually expect from a middle Evolution, though, including a Prize-generating loop that probably shouldn’t be allowed from a balancing standpoint, but is plenty interesting from a creative one.)
Believability/Playability: 12/15
(50-for-1 is quite high for a Skiploom. This creates the aforementioned balancing concern around Swirl Back facilitating a loop with Cotton Circles.)
Wording: 7/10
(Missing period and one other error.)
Fonts and Placement: 4/5
(Flavor text alignment. Still, getting better every month!)
Aesthetics: 3/5
(Nice whimsical choice of artwork. I think the holosheet is working against you here, though — it’s always hard to apply them when there are other Pokémon in the picture, because then you have to awkwardly holo over them while not holoing over the Pokémon of interest. In any case, you would probably want the holosheet to be either much more visible (and in that case probably not overlapping Hoppip and Jumpluff) or gone entirely.)
Total: 38/50

A new dynamic duo, huh? Glad to see you both making a return to CaC!

I’ll start with the aesthetics, since I assume that was Nyan’s big contribution if Draskk was doing the text. The illustration isn’t unimpressive — it’s always cool to see what people can do given a rendering platform — but I think there’s also room for improvement. A couple pluses: I like the structuring of the image, with its clear vector from the vanishing point to Luxio in the foreground. The color choices are also good and put me in mind of Lost Zone–adjacent illustrations from sets like Vivid Voltage.

But despite the dynamism of the structuring, I think you could probably impart a good deal more dynamism to the Luxio model itself. The back legs are kicking out, but apart from that it looks almost like it could just be standing. Splaying out the front legs might help it look more like a pounce, or a different angle to make the viewer seem like a target. Part of the dynamism might also be down to shading — heavy lightning effects like you have in the background seem like they should imply some pretty high-contrast shading on Luxio.

Effects-wise (Draskk’s bit, I assume), you took some existing effects you liked and put a new spin on them. That tends to be a good design strategy, and I think it works here. Revenge Rush is like a more reliable Top Entry, which eliminates an element of variance, but Rising Voltage isn’t so powerful that the more reliable Ability breaks it. At best, with a well-timed Energy Switch, you get to cheat out a surprise 80 damage. It’s actually possible that you could push this damage higher without breaking things, but 80 isn’t a bad place to be either.

I’m not necessarily sure I agree with the topdeck discard as a drawback for Revenge Rush. It won’t matter in like 90% of situations, but occasionally you’ll discard something you care about, and then it can be devastating. That kind of imbalance is what you were avoiding by changing the Ability away from Top Entry, and it seems an odd choice to reintroduce it now. Discarding cards isn’t the only way to incur a drawback — I think putting a couple damage counters on Luxio would also work here, and there are plenty of other options, too.

Anecdotally, I like that for a theme where you were supposed to highlight Stage 1s that are usually glossed over when players cheat out their respective Stage 2s, you created a Stage 1 that glosses over its Basic by cheating out itself. Ain’t nothing wrong with that this month, but it sure is amusing.

Wording errors:
- Looks good.

Fonts and Placement errors:
- Your “+” seems a pixel or two too far away from the damage numerals. [-1 point]

Creativity/Originality: 12/15
(Starting from existing effects and giving them your own spin is a tried-and-true design strategy. The effects aren’t that out there, but they’re fresh and they’re neat.)
Believability/Playability: 15/15
(The damage output is fine. Since it’s specifically meant to be a comeback card, you could probably push it 10 or 20 higher without repercussions. No issues with the Ability, either.)
Wording: 10/10
(Looks good.)
Fonts and Placement: 4/5
(One minor error.)
Aesthetics: 3/5
(The illustration is well composed, but the execution on the model itself could use some improvement — in particular, the posing could be more dynamic, and it might be worth spending more time on the lighting.)
Total: 44/50

3rd Place: Mick-773’s Servine, with 43.5/50 points.
2nd Place: Nyan & Draskk’s Luxio, with 44/50 points.
1st Place: PMJ’s Tranquill, with 45/50 points.

Nekoban Ryo

aka icycatelf
Here's my entry:

As per tradition (?) the reference list, as well as other incoherent ramblings will be added later here.
This is among the most aesthetically pleasant fakes I've seen! I love it, and it makes me want to get back to SRing for a Shiny Snivy!