Custom Card Game Design
Some planeswalkers do vastly different things on each incarnation, while the abilities of others always stay mostly the same. I suspect that Kiora falls in the latter category, should we see more of her in the future. Based on this premise, I designed a new Kiora for my set ‘Overworld.’ Her goals are the same as they were on Theros: Searching for mighty creatures of the sea to help fight against the Eldrazi.
I feel like, when you bring back an old planeswalker, you do not have to explain much about the reasons for his or her presence on the plane. When Theros came out, I thought “Sweet! A new Elspeth!” and “Who the hell is Xenagos?” Only after I read about his backstory I began to like him. In the same vein, the nautical theme of Overworld and “Kiora is awesome!” should be reasons enough for her to be in the set.
Are we at the point where a six mana 9/9 creature with a large upside can be printed? I think we are. Her -4 ability is exactly that. While Baby Kiora needed to reach her ultimate to summon giant Kraken, this incarnation can do it right away. But you can also go a different path and try to reach the ultimate. A challenge with this Kiora was to make this path attractive enough, as a 9/9 Kraken that leaves a planeswalker at one loyalty behind sounds pretty damn attractive. But if you expect the Kraken to just be hit with a cheap removal spell, you would rather plus to protect her, accumulate more card advantage, and threaten her ultimate.
Her plus ability compares very unfavorably with the one of Garruk, Caller of Beasts, both six mana planeswalkers. But this is ok, considering that it is the main ability for Garruk, while it is only secondary for Kiora and her ability does not require a dedicated creature deck to work.
The ultimate can be reached very quickly. It has to be or otherwise it could not compete with the Kraken. And after you have drawn a bunch of cards, what would you rather do than draw even more cards?