Thursday, September 29, 2011


A very interesting post from there (thanks Steve Sammartino). It totally applies to the bot world! Event Tickets do not feel like real money... yet they are.

When I buy something via iTunes it doesn’t feel like money. Especially when it is an app that is a few dollars at most. It’s easy to press a button which confirms a purchase at a value which is lower than anything you can buy in the real world. A coffee or coca-cola is $3.50 these days. it doesn’t end there though. When we get the bill on our credit card it’s the smallest number on the page.

Mobile phone plan $59
Restaurant XYZ $179
itunes $2.99

Again – the comparative spend makes it easy to ignore it as inconsequential expenditure. Yet, for some reasons we’ll switch brands at a supermarket to save 15 cents on the purchase of toothpaste.
There’s an important lesson for entrepreneurs here, and that is the selling environment and immediate comparison.

How can we sell our brand in place where it looks cheaper than everything else on offer, as the biggest barrier isn’t how much money it costs, but how much it costs relative to the things around it? It turns out that what the price is, is not nearly as important as where the price is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Specialty Guy

Hello dear reader,

Let me get introductions out of the way first: my name is Paulo Cabral, to most of you a nobody, since I’ve never made any impressive results previously. Those who play Magic Online regularly may know my name, PauloCabral_br, and if it wasn’t for what happened in the last 4 hours, I would probably be the champion of the POTY (Player of the Year), specialty category.

Now, most players who are beginning to play Magic Online right now have no ideia what that means, so I will try to explain within this article what is the POTY and what are the advantages and disadvantages of playing like this.

The POTY consists of a main format and (up until now) 7 subdivisions, by specialty. Last year, talking to Carlos Alexandre (_Batutinha_)at a PTQ, I had a pleasant explanation about the advantages of playing online and a brief ideia of what was the POTY. Even having most of my funds coming from Magic, I was uneasy to leave paper Magic and go full online, because, as the people who know me personally know, I live by myself since I was 17, with no regular source of money. So, I gave the ideia some consideration, but continued to go with my business as a dealer as usual, since it was my main source of money, although not very efficient.

After making two top 8, one top 4 and one top 9 at regionals, trying to qualify to play in the Brazilian Nationals, I realized I had good deckbuilding skills, but didn’t had the time to practice enough for this tournaments. So, I decided to adopt Magic Online as my plataform of training, although at the time I didn’t had much money to build a standard deck, so I elected to start playing Momir Basic.

At the beginning, the only tournament available to people who wanted to play Momir was the 2-man queues, because the avatar started as a promo avatar and it was only launched as a product in 2011. I started playing in those 2-man queues, the prizes were in m10 packs(wich were about 4.1 tix at the time) and at the beginning it was very hard for me, because I didn’t had enough money, and when I started losing, I had to sell some of my paper cards just so I could continue playing online. After about a month of this, I managed to borrow some constructed decks (Shards of Alara Block) from some of my friends who already played online.

After a while, they started putting Momir tournaments for more than 2 players, and in December 2010 they made a free Momir Basic tournament, in wich me and two of my friends decided to play(PauloCabral_br, neofenix_br and Cordioli). Me and Bruno (neofenix_br) were eventually eliminated, but Cordioli was still undefeated, and since I was the best Momir player of the trio and without any chances of prize, he invited me to play the rest of the tournament. I finished it in second (of 700), and Cordioli gave me a large part of the prize, and so I could finally start practicing standard.

One of the first standard decks I played was featured in a Tom Lapille column on the mothership (, it was a list that my friend Diogo (Hanna_Montana – yeah, he can’t choose names so well) gave me, a Pyromancer Ascension build originally designed by Mike Flores. It was a unusual build, since it used an active Ascension to kill the opponent not with burn, but withArchive Trap, having the support of Trapmaker’s Snare, making it so an active Ascension + a single Snare in hand + an opponent who searched his library this turn was enough for the kill.

Well, after all of that, in February 2011 I had an incident, in wich one of the players who relied on me for cards(in paper) stole all my cards, leaving me with no other sources of income, besides Magic Online. It was then that I started really dedicating myself to the game, and once I realized I could pay my bills and, with some luck, slowly start to build a pool of cards that I could use. At this time, I already knew what the POTY was, but since I was still struggling to make things work out, I decided to not pay it much attention, continued to play Momir, and started playing Pauper, because it was a really cheap format, that I could afford to build decks and play.

I started playing pauper with affinity, to whom I owe much of my 2nd place on the POTY. At the beginning, my list was pretty basic, cheap above all! It didn’t even used Gorilla Shaman, wich at the time was only 3 tix. In a couple of weeks I started winning and managed to use the money I won from the tournaments to pay all my bills, although my economic situation at the time still was pretty delicate. At the end of 2 months, I was already completely familiarized with the Pauper format, managed to buy all the cards I needed so I could customize the list for what I was expecting to face, including the Gorilla Shaman (MVP in the mirror), and all else.

So, one day, in a Daily Event, I played against a singular deck, played by a even more singular player. I was facing the Deluxe Brown deck, played by E. Hustle. So, at the end of 45 minutes, and after drawing 3x Fling, 4x Atog and 4x Disciple of the Vault, I had failed to win…

I was pretty upset with the loss, and I arrogantly said, at the end of the match: “it is the first, and last time that I lose to you, playing that deck.” I was pretty tilted, so I went to the first bot I could find and bought 3 x Relic of Progenitus. In a pretty short space of time, I faced him again, winning this time, and congratulated him for his deck and his skill as a player. A few weeks later, I realized that he was part of a clan, and since I belonged to none( I had created one just so I could control how many packs I had won), I asked him if I could join his clan, to wich he responded saying he hadn’t invited me previously because I already had one. In the end, he not only welcomed me to the clan greatly, he also informed me that I was currently 3rd in the POTY race(Specialty), wich was kinda of a shock, since I didn’t even knew I was doing okay! He asked me if I could beat the guy who was in first place, and it was then that I decided to dedicate myself full time to playing online, started asking the orcs about everything, and started chasing informations and lists about various formats.

A week ago I was 19 QP’s behind the first place in the POTY Specialty, the excellent player Digwen, who usually is pretty active, and wins regularly. So, today, at 10:30 AM here in Brazil, after a friendly talk to him, I decided to stop chasing the 1st place (I know I could do it if I continued trying), since I was so tired both physically and mentally. I think I proved to myself what I was trying to prove – that with dedication, hard work and friends, I could do it, because without them, you don’t get anywhere.

Props to neofenix_br, E. Hustle, Hanna_Montana, Adramaleque, Capoeira02, Digwen(Yes! he is a great player and a great guy), and most of all to my beloved girlfriend, Juliana (July), who has always supported me in all the possible moments.

Monday, September 26, 2011

MTGO Library Bot 4.52 is out!

ML Bot 4.52 is out and supports the two new sets "Ajani vs Nicol Bolas" (DDH) and "Mirrodin Pure vs New Phyrexia" (TD2). As usual, the new pricelist is available online from the Online Control Panel, and it's free during the update from previous versions as well in the installer

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fucking hard !

Charles Versaggi, President at Versaggi Biocommunication, yesterday told me: "it's fucking hard to build a business".
Well, it is. Keep it hard and you will succeed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Prince of the Paupers-Say your Prayers

For as long as I've had a MTGO account, my favorite format has been Pauper. Pauper is Magic in its purest form, not just rewarding ingenuity, outright demanding it. No relying on expensive duals or overpowered planeswalkers, just you, a fistful of commons, and every drop you can squeeze out of them.

One such deck I ended up liking so much I rebuilt it in paper Magic. It's not for everyone, but if you enjoy playing with a tight defense, wars of attrition, or just straight-up greifing, mono-white Clerics might just be worth a shot. The premise of the deck is simple; abuse defensive cleric tribal abilities to build an airtight defense (and royally piss off your opponent) then slowly grind the other guy to death with one point potshots and a few clobbers from the Daunting Defenders. The creatures seem weak and innocuous alone until the game slams shut like a portcullis. It's a very slow, unforgiving deck, but you've got all the time in the world when you're sitting pretty behind a walking wall of "Hell no, we won't go."

Battlefield Medic Daru Spiritualist Whipgrass Entangler Daunting Defender

These are the core clerics, the backbone of your defensive line, the guys who will make your opponent reeeally hate their life. The Medics can absorb a surprising amount of damage on their own just by blocking and tapping (targeting themselves), but paired up with Defenders and/or Spiritualists they become nigh-impenetrable. The Spiritualists are there primarily to absorb burn spells, but in a fit of desperation you can Whipgrass your own creature and pump its toughness sky-high. The other eight clerics are largely player's choice. I recommend Soul Wardens/Attendants. Order of Leitbur is a great offensive option, and Starlight Invoker functions as a defensive wall until she can actually mitigate quite a bit of damage in the upper mana ranges. Finally, round it out with 12-16 other spells. Since you're not exactly going to be dominating the red zone, favor efficient removal and protection instants.

The version I use looks something like this:

x23 Plains

x4 Battlefield Medic

x4 Daru Spiritualist

x4 Whipgrass Entangler

x4 Daunting Defender

x4 Soul Warden

x 2 Starlight Invoker

x2 Soul's Attendant

x4 Oblivion Ring

x3 Blinding Beam

x2 Razor Barrier

x2 Unmake

x2 Journey to Nowhere

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When to Cash Out - Final

A common theme in this series is that by failing to plan, one is planning to fail. This has occurred to me more than once when it comes to running a bot on MTGO. Another one showed its head when I had accumulated more tickets than were necessary for float or a buffer.

What do I mean by “float” or a “buffer”? It is a number of tickets that is in inventory such that if there is an unexpected increase in buying of cards, there are enough tickets to cover each and every purchase. This number is based on how specifically you run your own bot. Assuming a relatively full inventory based on your settings and carry only commons it can be relatively low, say ten (10) tickets. If you have holes in your inventory, and carry boosters, this number can be a couple of hundred tickets. Careful tracking of your daily movements can give you a rough estimate as to what your float should be.

After all, no bot should be seen has not having enough tickets. This makes the bot appear “poor”, under-stocked and generally not a reliable bot. If you are selling, would you sell to a bot with five (5) tickets or five hundred (500) tickets?

So while I know the float on my bots, I had no idea what to do at this point. I never thought of seriously running a third bot. Albert's previous post on the subject of having a buy-only and a sell-only bot instead of two buy/sell bots is very intriguing and one I am going to be exploring in the future.

However, as I do not a plan for how to expand, my choice of when to cash out is easy when one has a wife who desires to see some of the profits. So I'm going to take some profits.

Taking profits is not a bad thing. After all, if one never took profits, the business would expand forever but you would never see the fruits of your labor. Part of the reason many businesses fail is that their owners take too much profit too soon, stifling the business and limiting their opportunities. Since it is so tempting and easy to take profits and requires discipline to reinvest profits, this is why you see every business manual imply that taking profits is a bad thing.

Next time we'll discuss a “Weird” Al Yankovic song.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How prices are calculated (Pro Version)

The Pro version of the ML Bot uses a layered formula to decide the selling and the buying prices.

The Bot formula is calculated as:
  1. load from CardsMTGO3.txt,
  2. apply buying or Selling Price +/- percentage defined in the “Prices” tab and in the “PersonalPercentages.txt” files,
  3. check the modified price versus the price limit,
  4. checks PersonalPrices.txt
Let's pretend CardsMTGO3.txt has the following line:04 000 04 000 045 5DN R Desecration Elemental# 0.230 0.264 0.126 0.144
and that “Foil - Buying price correction” is set to −20%. This means that ML Bot will buy the foil version of Desecration Elemental for 0.115 tickets, that is 0.144 - 20% of 0.144 = 0.144 - 0.029.

It will then check to make sure that price falls within the range of maximum price and then check the PersonalPrices.txt file to see if the card is listed. If it neither exceeds the maximum and/or it is not listed in PersonalPrices.txt it will buy Foil Desecration Elemental for 0.115 tickets. If it is above the maximum listed, it will ignore the card and not buy it. If it is listed in the PersonalPrices.txt file it will buy the card for the price in that file ignoring any modifiers.