One of the things we enjoy here at is counting down lists of cards. While we didn’t start out doing such countdowns, they nearly go back to the beginning of the website in one form or another, even when the only regular contributor was Jason “Ness” Klaczynski. What was once a rare occurrence became a year occurrence and now is a regular occurrence, as we have three major different kinds of countdowns per year for

  • The best cards released that year.
  • The best cards released in an expansion.
  • The best cards lost during that year’s Standard Format rotation.

We usually aim for 10 cards, which is two week’s worth of our Card of the Day reviews. Sometimes there won’t be enough time or cards to justify that long of a list, so we’ll do less like a Top 3 or Top 5 countdown, and when we have both enough time and worthwhile cards, we’ll something larger: I believe “Top 20 cards lost to Rotation” is the current record holder.

The reason we began doing these lists was to ensure we had covered the best, most important cards at least once… and because it is fun. The way we do it in the present is that all Card of the Day Reviewers who wish may submit their own, personal top cards list. We try to give the reviewers quite a bit of freedom in this; even if we are aiming for a Top 10, they can submit a shorter or longer list than that… though some more enthusiastic reviewers have caused me to request no more than a top 25 list when constructing a top 10. For all lists, it is normally one card per entry; exceptions are granted for cards that feel redundant to review separately because they are either closely related or have very, very similar effects. For yearly or expansion based countdowns, reprints are ineligible barring special circumstances e.g. it is not only a really good card but the reprint makes it once again Standard Format legal. For cards lost to that year’s rotation, if we know a card is about to be reprinted, it is ineligible.

The individual lists are then submitted to either Pojo or myself (Otaku); I’ve been handling it for the last few years. I enter all the individual lists into a spreadsheet and then assign “voting points” to each individual entry based on its ranking: this can vary depending upon how many cards are on the lists and/or how many are actually slated for reviews. Cards that show up on multiple lists then have their voting points totaled, and the new list is organized from what received the most voting points to what received the least. How ties are broken have varied in the past. Currently, if it is a tie between two cards and neither made my personal top 10, I break the tie according to which I think is better. This doesn’t happen all that often; usually one or both cards made my own personal list, in part because I like to submit extra long lists for just such reasons. After that, we look at which card appeared on the most lists; it seems more difficult to show up on multiple lists – even lower down – than it is to make a single list in a high position. When all else fails, I get a die and have as many roll-offs as are required.

You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about being a deck’s focus, being general use, winning events, etc. That is because we leave such considerations to the discretion of the individual reviewer. Besides wanting to enjoy the process, it is also very difficult to properly qualify and quantify these things. Should a card that is useful – but not vital – for most decks rank higher or lower than a card that is vital to a particular, successful archetype? What about how a card’s performance varies throughout the year? Should we have been using it the whole time, or did it only become good after a certain point? How do you separate the performance of the card from the deck from the player? It can even be argued that the popularity of a particular Pokémon or mechanic should be considered; if everyone loves [insert Pokémon] it may see more play than its actual potency deserves.

So, with all that said, I hope you enjoy and understand our countdown Card of the Day reviews.