Past, Present, Future

Posted in NEWS on March 21, 2005

By Scott Johns

It's been just over a year since we launched the redesigned and folded in the content that had previously lived on and the Magic Online page. Over the course of that year we've had a couple author switches along the way but the actual schedule of columns on the site has remained the same. As you may have noticed with today's articles, that schedule has changed a bit. For this article, I'm going to take a moment for a quick look at; past, present, and future. Along the way I'll let you know the new column schedule, and, because we like you (and, well, because we can!) I've also got three very cool sneak peeks. But that's the future, so first things first...

The Past

Back on January 19th, I wrote "A New Chapter" to let people know who would be stepping into Aaron's shoes as Content Manager, and to announce that we were getting close to the new site launch. In that article, I wrote the following:

In the coming weeks we'll soon be launching our new content site, one which will combine the content that previously was spread out across this site,, and the Magic Online site. As we continue forward you're going to continue to see the great things you've come to expect from this site and, I strongly believe, have even more to look forward to.

About fourteen months ago we launched the new combined, and I think it's safe to say at this point that the audience has gotten used to having all their Wizards of the Coast Magic content in one place. During that time we added five new columns to the original lineup, as well as the weekly feature article, bringing the grand total of weekly articles to twelve (and that's before you start counting all the other features like Magic Arcana, Card of the Day, Ask Wizards...). During that time we've also added some very popular new features. Magic Online is now able to read and export text files (making it much easier to do things like offer all of the Top 8 deck lists from 2004 Champs as a download), we recently began posting Top 8 deck lists from Pro Tour Qualifier events on a level never remotely seen before, and in September we released Gatherer, Wizards of the Coast's searchable (and wildly popular) online database. Back in January of last year I promised we'd be adding new content and features, and that there were great things to look forward to. A little over a year later, I hope we've lived up to that promise so far.

The Present

Which brings us to the present. First, as you may have noticed, we've moved the "Building on a Budget" column to Mondays, which will now be written by fan favorite Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar. (With JMS on his third column here he's catching up to record-holder BDM, the only writer to head up four different columns on!) Whereas previously this column was just a budget deck list plus a quick write-up of said deck, under JMS the new version of Building on a Budget will be a more comprehensive column that goes beyond just decks. The new column will often focus on Jay's extremely popular approach to customizing preconstructed decks with an eye toward improving specific decks while also learning how to become better at the deck building process itself. Other features will take different angles on how to "Build on a Budget", such as recommendations for cards to acquire, how to build analogs of competitive tournament decks using the cards in your collection, general strategy articles on how to become a better deck builder within the constraints set by the cards you actually own, and much more. Jay and I have been setting up this content-driven approach to the column for some time and I'm greatly looking forward to where I think the column will be heading. I can't wait to see what you think as well.

Starting today, here's what the new weekly column lineup looks like:

Making Magic – Mark Rosewater Mark Rosewater
Building on a Budget – Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar
(Plus the weekly feature article)
House of Cards – Mark Gottlieb Mark Gottlieb
Limited Information – Scott Wills Scott Wills
Serious Fun – Anthony Alongi Anthony Alongi
Single Card Strategies – Adrian Sullivan Adrian Sullivan
Swimming With Sharks – Michael Flores Mike Flores
Into the Aether – (see below!)
Latest Developments – Aaron Forsythe Aaron Forsythe
The Week That Was – Brian David-Marshall Brian David-Marshall
Saturday School – John Carter John Carter

The main reason we've shifted the schedule is because of the time-sensitivity of The Week That Was and especially Swimming With Sharks. Both of these columns deal with events from the previous weekend, and by shifting them both back a day in the week it gives the writers enough time to get their articles in without having to cram it all in at the last minute. That, in turn, allows us here at the site to get the articles prepared on a timeline that's more in keeping with the way the rest of our articles are handled. This is particularly crucial for Swimming With Sharks, as under the old system once we started adding the PTQ Top 8 deck lists to the column Michael Flores was having to write his articles with almost no time at all to work with, which doesn't help him, us, or you for that matter. The PTQ deck lists feature has been extraordinarily popular both in terms of traffic and response, but trying to pull it off under the old schedule wasn't reasonable to ask of anyone writing that column. By moving both columns back a day I'm confident that we can ease up the stress for both these writers and give you better articles in the process.

One of the other reasons for the scheduling change was to move Magic Online's Into the Aether column to Thursdays. Each week Magic Online has scheduled downtime on Thursday morning for updates, so it made more sense to move that column to Thursday to give players something to do in the meantime. With JMS moving to Building on a Budget we'll be starting a new author on Into the Aether starting this week. You'll have to tune in Thursday to find out who we've added to the lineup, but I will say that he's written for the site before, he's had very good response from readers both here and elsewhere on the Internet, and that I'm confident he'll do a great job picking up the ball from JMS and running with it.

The Future

Where do we go from here? We're currently in the process of giving a facelift to the Magic Online and Tournament Center sections of the site, as well as some tweaks to the layout of the front page. There's still quite some time before any of it goes live because we want to make sure we get it right, but it's on the way. Also on the way are more info tools that I am sure you will appreciate. For now, I'll say that Gatherer is only one step in the direction we'll be taking features on this site. More is on the way and I have no doubt you're going to love what we've got in store.

But that's not all. Sometime later this year, if all goes as planned, we'll be bringing a new column to the site that I've wanted to see on since the day it launched. The new column will take you inside the process of making Magic cards in a whole new way that's never been done in a column on this site, and I'm sure it's going to become one of the most read parts of the site right from the get-go.

I know, it's a lot of teasing, but come on, it's the future, what did you expect?

Speaking of the future, how about winding up this article with some sneak peeks into the three Magic sets coming out later this year?

First up, Saviors of Kamigawa. Pictured below is a first look at a snippet of the deck box packaging for the new set:

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Look nasty? Believe me, you have no idea. To find out more, make sure to catch our Saviors previews, which begin May 9th. In fact, we'll be previewing this specific card in all its glory in the Maro column Monday, May 16th!

Next up, Ninth Edition. For this one I've got new artwork for a Magic card that I've always loved. In fact, it has even more meaning for me now as I was part of the flavor text team for Ninth Edition, and this particular card will be one of the first to appear that I had a part in working on. Have fun on the message boards guessing this one!

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Ninth Edition will be releasing in late July and you can bet we'll have plenty of great sneak peeks in the meantime.

And, lastly, we come to Magic's next standalone, Ravnica, City of Guilds. So far we've only published one image from that set, which caused quite a stir. Ready for more?

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Like I said, there's lots to look forward to, but I have to admit I also envy you all – you still get to see everything that's coming for the first time! It's been a great year here on, but trust me, the best is yet to come.

- Scott Johns
Content Manager,