Director of Magic R&D Aaron Forsythe posts his thoughts on a variety of cards in Gatherer using the Random function. I wanted to review this because (a) I think it’s a great idea and a great tool for discussion of Magic cards, and (b) Aaron told me he was inspired by my blog, so mise. Also I enjoy talking about stuff my friends create if the stuff they make is sweet. Aaron posts his comments using Gatherer’s comment system, which has flaws but in general does good things, and then tweets that he has posted for maximal distribution. If you want to check out the ones he’s done so far, you can check the #arccd hashtag on Twitter or do the Gatherer search for his comments.
I think Aaron is doing a lot of things right with his series. By posting about 3-5 paragraphs on each card, he’s not drowning out other discussion (as an essay might) and there’s enough room for him to give personal opinions or tell short stories about the card. It’s a great way to release his general thinking about Magic into the aether without the drawing the same ire that an explicit article might; basically, players who care get some insight into his thinking, and I think that’s net positive. Also, by using the random function, no one can read into his selection, so the comments stand on their own. I have seen both the number of comments and the length of comments from other folk go up since his series began. Add to that the fact that the content is perfectly associated with its context (the card) and its audience (Magic players) and you have a big win.
On the other hand, using random means if he did want to theme his comments over a period of time like a week, it would mean breaking the routine. I think it’s also worth noting that Aaron must be having the same issue I have with my blog sometimes, which is that you have to self-censure when you know you are going to say things your audience shouldn’t hear.
Gatherer wasn’t designed for threaded discussion, and it has a variety of bugs that cause trouble now that Aaron’s Comment of the Day is shining light on that feature of the product, but I don’t consider that a negative on the part of his series.
I’m glad Aaron has this series, and I’m mad at myself for not thinking of it on my own!
Frequency of Homeland Cards in Supposedly “Random” Hits: Very High
Expected Ratio of Good to Hidden Information in Aaron’s Comments: Medium-High