Both parts of my Aether Revolt cube review are now up on Gathering Magic. It’s weird because I’ve seen cube updates where they’re just adding like, 3 cards, and it seems kinda odd because the set has a lot of powerful cards, but it seems like one where traditional algorithms of analysis can fail, as cards like Kari Zev’s Expertise still seem relatively underrated by the cube community, and as I assume people are going to outsource evaluations to SCG Opens, GPs/PT and whatever other events, some cards that don’t have a deck for them are likely going to remain underrated by many (like Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, etc.)
As this is, well, a blog, and I’ve not really used it as one, I figured now’s a good time to do so.
One thing that I really made sure to do in this set review was to note that I’ve put these cards through many iterations of cube drafts – I cube weekly (aside from times when we don’t have enough people to draft), make (small) changes to my cube about as often, I seed cards into the draft (when trying new cards out) and aggressively ask for feedback on how the cards have been doing during new card season.
I’ve done this for years, but for some reason, I’ve always failed to note this in the language I’ve used, as, for whatever reason, I’ve stuck to the milquetoast wishy-washy language of “seems good” types of phrasing that I tend to see in writing/postings, rather than “I’ve found this card to be good, this is why” types of language that I should have been using since I had data to back up my findings. I’ve definitely made more of a point to ask for feedback on how the cards are doing, sometimes asking at the place where we draft, other times sending contacting the drafter the next day to see how it went (a lot of the talk about how Rishkar was absurd was from those discussions after the drafter went 3-0 relatively easily with a mostly-green deck.) This is a stark contrast to a recent time when I recommended some cube changes to someone’s cube (for Kaladesh) and he made the changes and after the draft, I asked him how the new cards were and he said that he didn’t know (he drafted another cube that he had) but that since no one complained, that it was fine, which… doesn’t really seem to say much.
Again, I have no idea why, but it seems this change in language and the amount of detail in this set of articles (from the feedback that I have received) have found that people have dug this direction that I’ve been taking my articles, from the few of you who still read them.
For those who’ve been following my work, you’ve probably noticed that my articles on GatheringMagic have mostly been set reviews, aside from an article talking about utilizing a cube expansion pack (which, ironically, I no longer use in my cube as attendance has dropped due to some former regulars being burned out on cube) as I feel hesitant on putting videos content in the same category of articles (no idea why, it may just be a completely arbitrary distinction.)
But yeah, I haven’t done a whole lot of cube design articles in the past few years despite having written, well, a lot of them (I haven’t done a count, but I’m pretty confident that I’ve done more cube design articles than any other writer has.) It isn’t that I’ve run out of ideas, there isn’t space for them or that it isn’t worth doing but I just haven’t really gotten around to doing them in the past few years. Part likely is due to time, it took a few weeks of on-and-off writing of the Aether Revolt article and, although I’m not on a regular writing schedule (nor do I really intend to), it’s not easy to find the time to create that content and it seems that the holistic and historical-viewing way I write is one that’s seemingly going out of style, at least if feedback (views, comments, etc.) is seen as a reliably quantifiable measure.
That said, I do have some ideas floating around in my head that I’ve been making some article drafts for which may manifest in an article or two one of these days (no, I’m not going to post what they are here, I really don’t feel like having my ideas plagiarized, thank you.) It’s a huge stretch to say “I’m back to writing more” or “the writing spark is back” because I don’t think it really is, but I’ve at least got some ideas flowing.
Unrelated, but if you haven’t checked out Turn One Magic’s overview of the cube format, it’s worth checking out. It’s likely the closest we’ve seen to a book written about cube and its resources. Highly recommended, even if it may be going over material you may know already.