As this Iron Chef season draws to a close, I'd like to say how pleased I've been with the extremely skilled 16 deckbuilders in the ToC. However, in case you enter another contest, here are some helpful hints on what will get you a better grade. NOTE: This contest is highly subjective, and the judge presiding over any given match will almost always choose which deck they honestly feel should win the match. Following this guide well will not guarantee a win, but is a surefire way to avoid a painfully low score. You don't like receiving bad scores, and we don't like handing them out. As you may know already, rounds are decided by who scores best with a given card/theme ingredient within these three categories: DECK: When you're building a good Iron Chef deck, the "DECK" category refers specifically to the list and its sheer quality. Ask yourself these questions during the deckbuilding process... -Is consistency (ex: Pokemon/Trainers/Energy used for setting up) the best it can possibly be? -Does it have the highest quality lines on key trainers, and am I making the right choices overall (example: playing four rare candy in an all-basic deck)? -Does it have the right balance of Pokemon? -Are there any really weak spots with this decklist (while Iron Chef judges should hardly ever factor in the metagame, they should put heavy emphasis on the format which the challenge is under, and what potential universal threats may harm the list)? -Is there a good energy count (too much, too little, or even other issues like playing Holon's Pokemon, etc)? -Do I have ways to protect myself from the game's more basic mechanics, like Stadiums and status (at the time of writing this guide, shockwave/imprison/other markers are not a reason to vote a deck up/down)? CREATIVITY: It is extremely important to play a well-balanced, consistent list, but the competitors are also demanded to make decks that are not necessarily common or unoriginal. While Card Use is very well-defined, and it's usually pretty obvious to judge the quality of a list, creativity is easily the most subjective of all categories. Please keep these questions in mind... -Is this not only a good deck, but a unique one as well? -What can I do in my write-up/list to convince my judge to agree? -Can I make excellent choices on trainers and energy without sacrificing the consistency of the deck? CARD USE: While the above two categories focus on what you do within the deck, the "Card Use" category is much more focused. We're looking at everything you do revolving around the CHALLENGE, and only those things. You should hardly ever address all of these issues, but at least keep them in mind during the deckbuilding process. For Cards... -Has everything that distinguishes this card from others been abused? Powers, Bodies, interesting attacks, drawbacks on attacks, bizarre attack costs, etc... -Has weakness been covered? -Is the unique title/type for the card (Metal, Darkness, ex, delta species, baby, *, etc) properly complimented? For example, are you playing Metal in a metal Pokemon deck (unless unnecessary), Holon-abusing trainer cards in a delta deck, or even "not" playing stuff like DRE in an all-ex deck? For themes, you will be graded only slightly differently. The above will be considered, _plus_ how well your cards work within the theme. GRADING RUBRIC!!! As of right now, the current maximum score is 20 (10/10, 5/5, and 5/5), and the minimum is 3 (1/10, 1/5, and 1/5). While the number I or any other judge would give out is fun to look at, what ultimately matters in terms of the competition is if yours is higher than the opponent's. Keep in mind, though, that the numbers are an attempt to express judge opinion in a technical way. As a quick guide, here's what I consider each grade as: 20-18: Masterful. 15-17: Excellent. 12-14: Great. 9-11: Okay. 6-8: Mediocre. 3-5: Bottom tier. Well, that's about it. I've had the pleasure to work with a wide variety of skilled Pokemon players in my time as Iron Chef tournament organizer, and these are just some of the things to consider while building that new god deck of yours.