Monday, May 16, 2011

About timing

The timing of a purchase can be a huge factor in how much profit you turn while perating a bot on MTGO. I’d like to hit on a few points about this using a three-set block as the basis for my ramblings.  This is by no means as lucrative as identifying trends in the stock market - Magic cards can be far more predictable. 

The majority of bots on MTGO follow a simple protocol to establish a refill level, and buy any cards that you need to get back to that refill level. Actually, the majority of bots even use the same exact refill level - FOUR.  For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the sets in our imaginary block as A-Set, B-Set, and C-Set.  Here is the basic premise: in a nutshell it is ideal to buy a large amount of low-value cards when there are a ton of them on the market, allowing you to pay a minimal price because very few bots need the cards despite the fact tons of people are trying to get rid of them. The window of opportunity for these low prices is different for each set, but I can at least give a rough guide for predicting these trends. Like almost everything else in the MTGO economy, it all stems from limited players and their preferences.  
When the block starts, drafts and sealed events will be entirely A-Set product, resulting in a large flood of A-Set cards onto the market. Next up is the B-Set release. For this there will be the option of events using only B-Set, or events using both A-Set and B-Set. The split drafts will be A-Set, A-Set, B-Set: two thirds A-Set, one third B-Set, furthering the flood of A-Set onto the market. After B-Set releases, the AAB format becomes the only drafting option. Finally, C-Set release events will give the option of events using entirely C-Set, or an ABC setup. After that, the block is fully released, and the only option is ABC.

What about that stands out that the main set, A-Set, is going to be churned out onto the market very heavily. Of course this is offset by the fact it is a much larger set than either B or C, but it still ends up overproduced compared with the other sets. If you are going to buy any large quantities from this set, it is ideal to do so... pretty much anytime before the next block hits. I find it to be best to snatch it up en masse while AAB events are going on, while most are focused on the newer set.

Set also gets a nice flow of quantity onto the market due to entering the market far sooner than C-Set, but it’s nothing like what happens to A-Set.  It’s ideal to buy up B-Set about two months after it hits the market. The “normal protocol” bots have already generally filled up on it, so if you have a bot willing to buy it in bulk, you will see plenty of business without having to pay significantly well.    

Finally, C-Set is the only set which you really need to worry about. It hits the market and before you know it, the next block is out and C is not entering the market at a significant pace, causing the price you need to pay for it to climb right back up to par. As soon as C-Set prices finish dropping  - generally after about five to six weeks -  you should buy all that you’ll need. It doesn’t take long for the minimal flood of C-Set cards to dry up, and then they fetch a normal price at almost any rational bot.

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