This chapter talks about how to improve blockbuilding. We'll go over orientation, first block, second block, and alternative blockbuilding stragies.

General blockbuilding strategies

Read about blockbuilding for examples and explanations of the basic blockbuilding strategies.

First block vs. Second block: A brief overview

Coming from the beginner's method, you might be employing similar techniques of loading the edge and pairing it with the corner for both FB and SB. However, going forward, you should realize FB and SB are fundamentally different steps that give rise to different sets of challenges:

  • FB planning is static

    • You use inspection to thoroughly examine the cube and carefully craft an efficient solution.
  • SB solving is dynamic

    • You track pieces in real time and make decisions on the fly, and you might sacrifice efficiency for better fluency and lookahead.

Choosing your Orientation

Orientation describes what FB locations you would consider in inspection, i.e. what are the possible bottom and side colors for your FB. Orientation is usually denoted by one or two rotations: once you fix a particular FB you solve, all the other FBs you use can be reached by a combination of these rotations. For instance, x2y means all FBs that are {y, y', y2, x2, x2y, x2y', x2y2} away from the reference point.

Among the commonly seen orientations, x2y offers 8 FB options, while both y and x2y2 give 4. x2y is highly recommended. It is the minimal orientation that enables you to use ANY premade pairs. If you have to adopt y or x2y2 instead, the probability is reduced by half, so you'll get more difficult cases on average, but it's still somewhat acceptable. Anything below y or x2y2 would heavily limit your choices, and is recommended against.

Regarding CN: it gives you 24 options for FB, which is definitely a plus over x2y, but the benefits have not been proven as there has yet to be a world class full CN Rouxer. Some speculate the benefits would be minimal because there is limited time during inspection to analyse all 24 FB options. However, a counterpoint would be that for any first square, you have two choices of last pair to extend to a FB, making the last pair case much better on average. Therefore, once you find a good first square, you can usually settle on it and make better use of your inspection time by looking further into the solve. TL;DR: CN Roux is worthy of exploring, but don't force yourself.

If you are interested in the average movecount comparison of FB or FB + DR under different orientations, use the following resource:

  • Movecount statistics - Notice how x2y boosts the chance of an easy first square compared to y from 60% to 80%.