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Writers, Unblock! 10 Proven Topics for Quality Magic Articles

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To the casual observer, and I will emphasize that I do not mean your parents, writing Magic content for money may appear a noble and glamorous career. How wrong they are, those observers, and how cursed this life of mine! Okay, fine, so it is pretty great. But for me, a big part of rendering weekly article crunches sustainable came down to identifying the types of content that resonate with readers.

When it comes to pumping out the goods, I've found the most success in putting together lists of go-to topics to consult during a bout of writer's block. Now, with my own editorial responsibilities growing, I've increasingly felt the need to redraft and consolidate those lists into a handy document for anyone else interested in the challenging and rewarding field of Magic writing.


Without further ado, here are ten tried-and-true subjects generic enough to slip into but juicy enough to yield a great article. Whether you're a prospective content creator, an embattled scribe like ya boy, or just a lover of great Magic writing who's itching for an inside look, I hope they can prove useful. Each comes with a short description, some helpful tips, and an example article from my annals (complete with an excerpt for context). I've split all the topics into three categories depending on where a writer's head is at. Quills out!

Play More, Say More

Nothing gets my writing gears spinning like putting my nose to the Grindstone. The more I play, the more I've got to share. Talk about a virtuous cycle! Playing a ton of Magic? Start here.

Tournament Report

Into the thrill of slinging spells under the pressure of a packed room? Bring a notebook to your next event, spend 5 minutes jotting down some notes after each match, and end up with more than just an article—I’d say my own play has improved substantially since I took up this tournament habit.


You don’t need a Top 8 finish to muster a piece full of valuable information, and it’s good fun for many of us too busy for trips out of town to live vicariously through a food-truck-raiding tournament grinder.

Include sideboarding decisions and explanations, matchup analyses, sick plays, and of course your own mistakes: not only do these imbue your piece with a crucial humility, acknowledging them directly contributes to your next finish!

After a lengthy hiatus from playing the deck, I brought Colorless Eldrazi Stompy to SCG Regionals last weekend, and duked it out with around 250 players over nine rounds of Modern. I ended up finishing in 9th place. Despite my Top 8 miss, it was exhilarating to again play Colorless at this level. This report seeks to give an idea of how the deck performs in the current Modern metagame and my thoughts on the list going forward.

Brew a Deck

Spot a unique interaction between cards, or come up with a great idea for the potential Next Best Thing? There's no time like the present to put that hypothesis to the ultimate test! Include decklists, deck development, matchups analysis, testing results, the pros and cons of this build over other strategies, or more, and you’ll hit that word count in no time.

Noah Walker's breakout Legacy performance with post-ban Grixis Delver at SCG Worcester inspired me to reach out and pick his brain about the Construct, a conspicuous 4-of in the build. I spent the following week obsessively testing Bomat Courier in Modern Delver shells. This article explains my choices and offers insight into how Courier plays alongside the format's most efficient combat creatures.

Strategy Share

If you write Magic content, chances are you possess some type of strategic expertise. Be you a limited buff, a competitive brewer, or the guy who loves wowing the local Commander pod with nutty combos, there’s bound to be some type of mastery you can share with the world. Zone in on that with a deep dive on the intricacies of how it all works.

Primers often feature a little list of helpful tips at their closure. It turns out my list is 4,000 words long. Today, we'll look closely at the individual roles played by Stompy's more challenging cards, as well as the interactions between them that must be learned to succeed with the deck.

Theory-Oh!

Playing a lot of Magic can lead to flashes of insight about game dynamics. Think you’ve made a cool connection? Hit up the big sites (including Quiet Speculation itself) to see if anyone else has come up with something similar, and bake that research into your own piece.


Where can you take the idea next? What did other writers miss? Which of their points bear reiteration? The research phase is key with theory, as you don’t want to end up producing redundant content.

I’ve touched on archetype theory before (a few times, in fact), and have since crystallized my vision. The aggro-control archetype in particular merits further discussion, and even a comprehensive text of its own. As I see it, tempo is one of two subsets of aggro-control... in addition to being a mostly-unrelated in-game mechanic! Confused yet? In this article, I'll do my best to clear the smoke hanging over the murky waters of tempo and midrange.

Reading Reporter Rainbow

Of course, we're not always jet-setting around the tourney circuit. I've had dry spells of not playing Magic for months. Getting away with murder and holding down a gig as a content creator regardless? Take my advice and read, read, READ those new articles! If you're scrolling QS over TikTok at least some of the time, inspiration is just one point of damage away from Lightning Striking. It turns out the best newscaster is also the spiniest Bookwurm.

News & Spoilers

Today’s Magic is chock-full of spoilers, but why stop there? We’ve also got rules changes, banlists, and Wizards’ wacky ideas for the future of the game to cover.

The latest banlist announcement did a number on Modern's top decks, decimating the Uro piles which week and again would claim top of the heap as well as the new bullies on the block, cascade-powered decks abusing the latest Tibalt cards. In order to solve for these displays of power, though, Wizards took an unconventional route in extending their ban hammer the likes of which we've never seen. The nuke included hits to Simian Spirit Guide, Field of the Dead, and Mystic Sanctuary, all key players in the aforementioned powerhouses. And all ones employed by far tamer tamer decks.

Tracing Trends

Take a gander at top-performing decks, most-played cards, or another source of data. Try to identify trends in the data, then figure out why those trends are underway. Surprised by your findings? Us readers will be, too!

To me, the breakout Modern development of 2019 wasn't the long-awaited Stoneforge Mystic unban, the rise and fall of Arclight Phoenix, or the frightening flash of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Rather, it was the introduction of cheap planeswalkers on a massive scale. Beginning with War of the Spark, Wizards unleashed on the format gameplay the likes of which we'd never seen: matches decided by hard-to-answer value machines with relevant static abilities resolving, sticking, and grinding opponents to a halt.

Tech Exposé

Plunder the decklist dumps of MTGTop8 or Wizards’ own site to find new and exciting decks, or novel tech being adopted by existing strategies. Explain why it has a place in the format… or doesn’t! For instance, my Brew Report series does a quick-and-dirty recap of recent format innovations; Spell Spotlight tackles virgin ground broken by specific cards. (Side note: coming up with an article series like these is a great way to ensure a stream of content, so keep that in mind while writing in case you end up with a piece you can repurpose into handy templates!)

When it was first spoiled, Prismari Command wasn't particularly exciting to Modern players. But this month, we're seeing the card on a noticeable uptick, with players registering two to even the full four copies in archetypes as strategically diverse as value, combo, and control. Clearly there's something to this three-mana instant! Today, we'll take a look at the various roles Prismari Command can play for different decks, how it compares to sister spell Kolaghan's Command, and some of the lists that are taking advantage of the Strixhaven newcomer.

Think Before You Type

Sometimes, a nagging idea just won't stop popping into your head. Or you encounter something that really knocks you sideways. Just as Magic is a thinkin' man's game, sitting with your thoughts is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.

Get Nostalgic

Remember back in the day? Revisiting old content in light of new developments is ideal for writers with deep format knowledge or a pool of articles to cull from. Heck, you can even grab a piece by someone else if it resonates with your experience… or really doesn't!


Some tried-and-true nostalgia prompts: how have recent shifts changed what used to be true? Alternatively, the more things change, the more they stay the same… does the exception really prove the rule? Oftentimes, digging up and reading through an old article is all it takes to bring the taken-for-granted world of today into sharp relief.

In "What's in a Goyf? Benchmark Creature Playability in Modern," I considered the bar creatures must meet to make the cut in this format. Aether Revolt gave us Fatal Push, and that bar has since changed—but no creature has felt the shift like Tarmogoyf. Today, we'll zone in on Goyf's fall from lofty heights and examine the creature's current applications.

How Do You Respond?

Everybody wants to be a content creator these days, and the glorious internet makes that possible. Of course, you can’t believe, let alone agree with, everything you read online. Have a bone to pick with a popular discourse or train of thought? Perhaps something to add on a hot topic? This one’s great for those who consume a lot of Magic content, as they’ll have tons to talk about.

Yesterday, Brian Braun-Duin published "When Playing to Win Is a Loss," an article detailing the dangers of getting caught up in the competitive spirit. It admonishes angle shooting and makes a case for sportsmanship in a gaming environment. Brian's thoughts resonated with some of my own, especially as relates to the place of ethics in Magic and the virtues of refining one's own tastes. Today's article responds to some of the points he made, examining the balance between ethics and ruling ambiguities and stressing the worth of self-knowledge.

Listicle

We might agree that the virulent Buzzfeed dumps circulating aggressively during my college years exemplify lazy content. But they're also undeniably popular. So what if we made them not-lazy? Introduce a numbered metric to give sense to your rankings, or sort its entries into groups, and voila! I always go top-down with these, deciding what kind of list I want to make or cards I want to talk about before establishing a category or metric that will help me rank them.

Today's article owes its existence to the fact that, for the second-ever time I can remember outside of a Tier 0 ModernMTGGoldfish lists Lightning Bolt as displaced from the number one spot for most-played card in the format... and by a bullet card, no less! This development illustrates just how inextricable bullets have become from our contemporary Modern landscape.

The Words Less Travelled

When I'm really stuck on what to write, playing a couple games of Magic or heading over to one of the big sites to down some content puts me back into the headspace needed to write a great article. More often than not, I'm soon workshopping topics in line with the ten above. To the writers reading, I wish you all the success putting a pen to this game we love.


Feeling inspired? Quiet Speculation is always looking for new team members who share our vision for producing engaging content. Shoot us a writing sample and show us your passion!

Jordan Boisvert

Jordan is Assistant Director of Content at Quiet Speculation and a longtime contributor to Modern Nexus. Best known for his innovations in Temur Delver and Colorless Eldrazi, Jordan favors highly reversible aggro-control decks and is always striving to embrace his biases when playing or brewing.

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