I got an Arko shave stick and an alum block in the mail today. Unfortunately I didn't have that great of a shave with the Arko stick, but the alum block was a nice surprise! Arko does produce a thick and slick lather rather quickly like I read about (kind of mediocre smell... honestly it smells like a toilet puck or a janitor's cart, but it dissipates quickly) and it doesn't seem to dry out fast, but I experienced a bit of blade skipping and have irritation now.
I got a solid 3-pass wet lather from the Arko, I had about 2.5 days of stubble, and a brand new blade, but I had a lot of irritation and one tiny cut. This is my first shave soap stick so I'm sure I can make a better lather with practice. I think some factors other than Arko made it a bad shave: going at a slightly rushed pace with a new blade, maybe a few wrong angles of attack with the DE, and I didn't exfoliate like I normally do. I'll also try Arko with a shave oil base next time. I won't give up on Arko just yet!
The alum block was surprisingly mild! I figured since I had such a rough shave this little alum block may burn like hellfire but it stung only slightly, way less than an alcohol based aftershave. It immediately alleviated any burning and acted as styptic for my small cut. I rubbed it on directly after a cold water rinse and towel off. You can buy blocks of this stuff cheap online. Mine was $5 but there's probably even cheaper ones.
Razor: EJ de89
Blade: Astra SP
Brush: Vulfix badger
Aftershave: Cold water, alum block, Nivea Sensitive Post Shave Balm