Sunday, December 30, 2012

S.M.A.R.T model


It is time to make a new year's resolution. Assigning goals should be done by S.M.A.R.T model. The first known uses of the term occur in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. According to the acronym aims must be:
  • Specific: they must tell exactly what is expected and how it will be achieved.
  • Measurables: concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal
  • Ambitious: the aim must be a challenge for you, but at the same time realistic, what leads us to next term.
  • Realistic: is it viable?
  • Time-oriented: to accomplish aim within specific time-frame.

    So put behind us such obvious and dull new year's resolutions like giving up smoking or loosing on weight and let's focus on our day-to-day activity - botting. Assume, that you are making 10 event tickets profit every day and in 2013 you would like to generate 15 event tickets. So, it is 50% raise of profits. It is definately ambitious goal, but viable. However, when you normally have 100 event tickets profit daily and you would like to have 50% raise it would be much more complicated and requiring more effort. How could it be accomplished? For instance, by adding foil cards to your bot offer or by increasing your bot number. Of course, bot doesn't produce every day the same number of event tickets. Every taken action requires some time. If you add one bot to your chain you won't see significant raise in profits on the very next day. One day you may have 2 event tickets profit, another day it may be 20. Personally, I have an Microsoft Excel file where everyday I write down my profits. Then, I can count how many tickets I earn on average and I observe if I'm making any progress. When, the year is about to end I see if I fullfilled my goal or not. Your homework for today is to think about your botting goal for the incoming new year and stick to it!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.50 is out

ML Bot 5.50 has just been released, fixing a problem with the update of the Messages in the Online Control Panel.

The bot (version 5.48 and 5.49) was not able to update the Control Panel with his messages, and was unable to download the messages from the Panel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Future Proofing: Selling (Part 2 of 2)

Today is Boxing Day.  For those who are not acquainted with this holiday, it is not a day of celebration of the sport of boxing, but rather a day where everyone takes the presents they received on Christmas and returns them to the store and tries to exchange them for something more desirable to the recipient. 

In our continuing series on Future-Proofing, I asked an important question last time: When are YOU getting out of the bot business?  First, let’s go over why this is an important question:

Last time I said that successful people answer questions long before other people consider asking them.  Successful people know when they are going to leave a job before they accept the position.  Successful people know when they are going to sell a car, stock, etc before it is purchased.  When bidding for auctions, successful people know how much they ultimately will bid.   Impulse buyers get caught in the hype and bid emotionally.  The same principle applies to businesses.  Successful people know when they are going to leave the business before they decide to start one.

But when most of us got into this, we were not thinking that way.  When I started, YATbot was the bot I used.  I got into the bot business as a way to get cards so that I would not have to purchase them from bots or WotC.  In this manner, I could continue to play the game without spending any currency.  If I made a profit, well, that was a nice bonus.

Turns out that bonus from YATbot was enough to expand to have multiple copies running and grew enough to make a nice little part time business out of it.

When MTGO v3 came out and it became apparent that YATbot would not be upgraded, instead of simply trying to sell off my inventory for pennies on the ticket, like so many others were doing, I decided to find another bot program, MTGO Library is what I settled on and I am glad found it.

That’s all well and good, but what does this tell us about when to quit the bot business?

This incident told me that I was willing to fight to stay in this business.  Which means that I am not going to want to give this up any time soon.

But I have since drawn up a succession plan.  My wife can run this business.  If my kids get interested, I could pass off this business to them.  If I wanted to sell, I know a few people who could be interested in learning about this business and I could unload that way.  In a sense, this business could go on, even if I am not around to do anything about it.  But that hinges on one final thing, and on that, we will conclude this series on Future-Proofing, next time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Managing your bots from distance Part 1




Managing your bots from distance
Hello everyone, I did not manage to post in the last few weeks as I've been working 80 hours a week and my PC isn't at my living home at the moment. With as little interaction as 15 minutes every 2 days on my bots to tune pricing, settings and so on this gave me the ideal topic to talk about with every bot owner.

Whatever your reasons are, such as holidays, extra work, stress, lack of free time, being away from your MTGO Bots can bring some undesirable effects. This week I will show you the problems we all face when we're away from the PC and possible solutions on how to deal with it.

I will give more details about this in part2, till then enjoy your Christmas day and have a great new year!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Chrismas!

Merry Christmas to everyone!
Do you have presents for your relatives? If not, it is high time to got one. Wizards of the Coast has already made special holiday-themed cards as a gift for employees and associates. To see cards from previous years click here.

 And you, were you naughty or nice?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wizards gives 4-pack sealed the axe

If you were with us before, we were talking about how 4-pack sealed has the best return on investment of all limited MTGO and is a great way to build your bot's inventory while also having fun playing.  Wizards is putting a stop to all that on Dec 26, when it cancels 4 pack Sealed queues.  This is just another move that makes it harder for us botters to build inventory while playing.

Think about it.  Thursday Night Magic Online less than a year ago had 3-booster drafts with 0 ticket entry + promo, and sealed queues with bigger than normal prize pools.  Huge return on investment.  Now TNMO uses phantom boosters where no one takes home any product.  And Cube drafts are taking place where no one takes home cards either.  All these modes use tickets only for entry which basically means more money going into Wizards' pockets and less cool cards going in your collection.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Future Proofing: Selling (Part 1 of 2)

With all this talk of the world ending on Friday, at least to those who believe the Mayan Calendar.  One of the unintended consequences of this quirk of time keeping is that many people are taking long views of their lives and asking questions that they had never really considered before.

Some of them are the obvious, the meaning of life, what am I doing with my life, why am I in this relationship, why am I living in this situation, etc.

Couple this with the traditional New Year’s Resolutions that people will inevitably make, stop smoking, lose weight, start a diet, write a book, read more books, etc, there are a lot of questions that are being asked and answers few and far between.

One of the strategies that some do is read what successful people do, and then emulate their thoughts and conduct and hope by osmosis or formulaic behaviors will bring them success.  (I do find it funny that many of these people will not even define success but that’s another story.)

One of the patterns that  separate successful people from those who are not is successful people ask questions:  When buying a stock, successful people answer the question “when am I going to sell this stock”?  This implies a strategy for buying and selling where unsuccessful people will simply open an account and buy stocks not thinking of when they should be sold.

Many people start businesses and never answer the obvious question, “when should I get out of this business which I am starting up?”  Usually the answers are death, forced retirement, or when some random person comes around and makes an offer to buy the business.  As you can imagine, this leads to unsuccessful results.
 
So, in our series on future-proofing, let’s go over this question: When are you going to leave the bot business?  I will expound on this topic next time.


Monday, December 17, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.49 is out

ML Bot 5.49 has just been released, containing a couple of minor improvements over 5.48

Sunday, December 16, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.48 is out

The newest version of ML Bot, 5.48, has just been released. It contains a couple of minor fixes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Starting a Bot From Scratch: Part 1


I'm sure if you are visiting this website you either currently have a bot, or are at least considering starting a bot.   It can be a seemingly daunting task at first, but the rewards will far outweigh the initial work.  I have finally decided to start botting myself, and plan on documenting my experiences for all of you to read!

Starting any project without a plan is usually a bad idea, especially something you are investing your hard earned money on.  Here I want to go over a few things you will have to decide when starting your bot empire


How Much to Invest.


Whatever you decide to invest will affect what you will be able to do with your bot, and how profitable it will be.  The more product you have, the more money you will be able to make.  Essentially if you are buying product at buy prices, it won't be hard to unload them at said prices.  Even if you never sold a single card you would only be out a small percentage of your investment, if any at all.

What to Buy/Sell.


It makes sense to invest the most you can, but I plan on starting small and growing as I become more comfortable with the program.  The best way to start out with a small investment is to only deal in boosters, which according to my calculations could still be very profitable.  The next logical step could just be only dealing in new formats such as Standard, or even Modern.  Buying and selling anything you can make money off of should be the end goal, but starting small and building your collection is the safest way to handle your investment. 

Choosing a Name

The name of your bot could be very important and I considered several things when naming my bot.  Do you want the word "Bot" in its name?  I think that makes it very clear what you are doing, and helps avoid any confusion with the customers.  Adding words like "Buyer" or "Seller" could work as well, just as long as you get the point across.  You also want something short, easy to memorize, and catchy.  Anything to keep your customers coming back and giving you money!  I ended up going with CoolBoosterBot as my name because it meets all of the criteria I considered and more.

In my next post I will talk more about actually setting up the bot, and even some ways to get your bot's name out.

Thanks for reading!
MTGO - AndyBurden, CoolBoosterBot.

Friday, December 14, 2012

MTGO Library Bot version 5.47 is out

ML Bot version.5.47 is out, fixing a number of minor bugs. V 5.47 slightly changes the welcome messages too

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Future-Proofing: Surviving the Apocalypse

If you are reading this today, then we have survived the 12/12/12 apocalypse that was scheduled for today.  (Did anyone have any doubts about it?)  But in our continuing series of future-proofing, let me talk about an apocalypse of a different kind…  instead of a catastrophic event affecting the world, how about an event which affects just you?

Let’s look at how traditional business owners generally operate: The owner spends the first three (3) to five (5) years doing virtually every aspect of their budding business.  Oh, they may hire some help to ease the load but the owner does everything of consequence.  They rarely take a day off, much less do anything like take a real vacation.  All this work ensues a greater possibility of survival for a fledgling business.

After five years or so, the owner is burned out by all the sleepless nights, the stress of growing a business and all the unexpected that occurs, the owner is convinced to hire someone to assist in managing the business.  This gives the owner a chance to take a much needed mental break and a vacation is taken.  Another added benefit is that the owner starts to take a day off here and there. 

When the business owner hires a manager who can run the business in the owner’s absence, this gives a level of stability to the business.  No longer can the business be disputed by an unexpected event because the owner is nowhere to be found.  The manager can handle minor situations.  This is a good thing.

We bot owners need to look at what we do as running a business.  Most of us have contingency plans on how to run our bots should a hard drive crash or a motherboard burns out.  If we use virtual machines, we have backups of their configuration so we can get a bot back up and running quickly.  Some of us even have backup computers just in case.

But what about YOU?  What if you were unable to manage your bots for an extended period of time?  What would happen?  The bots are designed to run 24/7 with minimal interaction so the bots can run fine for the short term.  But once you get past a week, little quirks start to appear.  As much as Windows was designed to be a stable operating system, in my experience, Windows likes to be restarted once a week.

What about changing the settings?  The bot is not able to select cards from a new set automatically.  (Nor should it as we all run our bots differently)  What about changing advertising messages?  (Would you do business with a bot where the classified message reads “Now selling Zendikar!”?)

So what do I do?  My wife checks on the bots status and can restart the bots when Windows has a hiccup.  She knows how to start and stop the VM’s that the bots are on.  But doing this post made me realize that she should know how to change the messages, how to have the bots select cards based the business model I use so when a new set comes out, she can do it if I am unable to.

In the business world, this kind of planning is called long term contingency or a survival plan.  My wife is part of my survival plan.  What is yours?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.46 is out

ML Bot 5.46 disables Aero (the layer of graphical effects for Windows) for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

In fact we found that Aero slows down the performances of ML Bot of a factor 4x. By simply disabling it, the bot runs faster and is more reactive.

MTGO Library Bot 5.45 is out

ML Bot 5.45 fixes a minor crash of the previous version, 5.44

Monday, December 10, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.44 is out

Version 5.44 overcomes a severe bug of Magic Online.

If someone opens a trade with your bot (but in general with your account) when you are logging in, Magic Online displays the usual "trade request window" but immediately logs you into the game, in fact hiding the window. At this point your account is no more able to receive trades - it will appear as constantly "in trading", even if it is not. In a nutshell, your account will be locked and unable to trade, until Magic Online restarts and you pass the login screen without bizarre trade requests.

ML Bot addresses the bug in two ways:

  • it closes the "trade request window" when appearing during the login. This has been proven to avoid the lock.
  • if no trade occurs in 45 minutes, the bot restarts Magic Online, assuming it is locked and it was unable to prevent it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Magic Online PTQ - Dragon's Maze

Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze will take place May 17-19, 2013 in San Diego, USA. Qualifiers for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze in MtGO start on December 23, 2012 and run until March 17, 2013. In total it is going to be 16 events in Sealed Deck (4) or Modern Constructed (12) format. Every event has a limit of 1024 players. The top8 is draft, 3 rounds, single elimination. The winner takes Pro Tour Dragon's Maze Invitation, Pro Tour Dragon's Maze Challenge Invitation, 1 complete premium foil set, and 54 Booster Packs.

Modern is a quite healthy format. Meta is diversified. However, you will see more often a Jund deck around. Last unbanning of Valakut showed that the ban list was created too rashly. There are several cards which wouldn't affect much on current meta. Remember how good Hypergenesis decks were in old Extended? Me neither. Golgari Grave-Troll? Seriously? Is its dredging power that much better than Stinkweed Imp. Glimpse of Nature is banned and it probably doesn’t need to be. Wirewood Symbiote and Priest of Titania aren’t even in the format! What is more Green Sun's Zenith is banned so Glimpse is not a broken at all. There are more examples. I think WotC noticed it too and in near future will be slowly and gradually unbanning cards.

There is a very clear trend here: WotC is promoting Modern Constructed. These days only Standard, Block Constructed, Pauper and Modern events are firing in MtGO. No love for Classic or Legacy. But it is going to change when it will be a little bit closer to Legacy GPT.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.43 is out

The new version of the ML Bot, 5.43, has just been released. It fixes a minor bug of the "wishlist" Buying mode (when the wishlist is used to select the cards). The bug consisted in the inability for the bot to remove unneeded cards from the "You Get" column, resulting in overbought items.


Future-Proofing: Intellectual Property (Part 4 of 3)

From the comment section:

Milagre:  Hi. I follow your blog and i was wondering could the legal action against WOTC be connected to the ebay ban on MTGO card sales?

The short answer is no.  But I suspect you’d like a detailed explanation.

[1] Wildcat’s lawsuit is based on a patent for online card games.  The Ebay ban is on digital objects.  The Ebay ban is not just limited to tickets or online cards.  If you look on Ebay, you will not find items for World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2, or any other online game.  (You’ll find the games themselves, but not any of the items found inside the game.)

[2] I did a series on Ebay auctions a couple of months ago, http://mtgolibrary.blogspot.com/2012/10/ebay-auctions-part-3-of-3.html where I postulated that Ebay was taking down these auctions as protection against copyright and patent lawsuits.
[3] I suspect there is more to Ebay banning digital items than simply copyright violation protection.  What could that be?  Sales tax.  Let me explain.

Here in the United States, there is talk of the fiscal cliff and how the US will fall into it if some deal is not made.  As we all know, there are two (2) ways to balance a budget: reduce spending (Not likely with the re-election of President Obama) or increase revenue.  This means raising taxes, seeking out revenue enhancements, increased fees, or whatever politicians wish to call them.  It means more money into the Treasury.

One of the ways that has been proposed is an Internet sales tax.  This has cropped up every now and then so the idea isn’t new.  It is just that there is so much opposition that it is politically unpopular and no politician who wishes to be re-elected will vote for this. 

But there are other ways such a tax could be levied.  One of the proposals was on the sale of digital items.  As you can imagine, this has far-reaching implications, even for us.  Diablo 3 was to have a real money auction house; where you could purchase digital items for real world cash.  As controversial as this is, Blizzard had plans to do this.  But even the mighty Blizzard buckled at the legal quagmire that would ensue.  For instance, is a digital item new or used?  I don’t mean just in the pedestrian way, but in the legal sense of when the tax was imposed on the item.
These and many more questions need to be answered and will eventually be addressed by the US Supreme Court.  But this is many years away and will not affect us bot owners for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Faster than ever TradeLog

We delivered a new and faster version of the Tradelog in the Online Control Panel.


You can now search among your bots and your customers in a fraction of the time. For example,  queries that usually took 10-15 seconds are now processed in real-time and immediately rendered on screen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.42 is out

ML Bot 5.42 is a small improvement over 5.41, containing a couple of bug fixes.

The final part of the trade is now faster.

Future-Proofing: Intellectual Property (Part 3 of 3)

I began this series with an introduction to patent law and last time I discussed the nuisance of patent trolls, companies which exist solely to get patents and sue anyone else who makes a work which violates their monopolistic idea that they are just squatting on.

MtgoSoS did a post about Wildcat’s suit against WotC and makes the claim that nothing major is going to come from it.  Let’s analyze that claim.

Wildcat has a patent for online electronic card games.  So this would mean that WotC could easily have MTG in paper form, but could not have it in online form.

But doesn’t having a patent imply you actually have to do something with it?  Wildcat has had this patent for over a decade now and has no products or services to show for it.  Shouldn’t a court take that into consideration and toss out this lawsuit over revoke the applicable patent?

Sadly though, Wildcat will simply make the claim that they are “still in development” of their Ultimate Electronic Card Game.  They’ll say, look at Diablo 3.  That took over eight years to make that.  How long was Starcraft 2 in development?  This is not just limited to Blizzard either.  Duke Nuk’em Forever was in development for fifteen years. 

Now, to many of us, we can see the flaws in that logic.  But to a judge who is not well versed in technology or the subtleties and nuances of game development, those arguments will not hold much weight.

So what normally does happen in these cases?  It depends on the target.  Smaller companies or those with inexperienced legal representation tend to be forced to pay, which usually means bankruptcy.  Since it typically costs at least $1,500,000 to defend such a suit, some companies will negotiate a settlement.  Larger companies with some backbone in management will fight these suits.  They figure that you can always negotiate a settlement based on how the trial goes.  Plus, larger companies can hire better legal representation which helps their cause in court.

So what is the long term prognosis?  WotC may win in a trial.  Wildcat may win in a trial.  Other card game makers may join this suit as this patent is the only reason why they have not made such a game.  (Did you ever wonder why there are no other card games online?)  But typically a settlement is reached.  Terms of such agreements are confidential.  If WotC has to pay a substantial amount to Wildcat, players may have to pay extra for their booster packs. 

But the bottom line, it is unlikely that MTGO is going to be shut down because of this lawsuit; and that is good news for us bot owners.  Knowing that MTGO is going to be around and alive and kicking makes it easier to do what we do.

http://www.cardboardconnection.com/news/law-of-cards-wildcat-files-lawsuit-against-wizards-of-the-coast
http://www.google.com/patents?id=tEIfAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4#v=onepage&q&f=true
http://www.patentarcade.com/

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.40 and 5.41 are out

The newest versions of ML Bot are out. Version 5.40 and 5.41 fixes a crash of version of 5.39 (again at the final confirm window - but totally uncorrelated to the previous issues).

Monday, November 26, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.39 is out

ML Bot 5.39 has been just released. It fixes the problem of the withdraws at the end of trades, sometimes occurring on specific usernames.

16:9 Aspect Ratio and Botting Issues

As you may know from reading the MTGO Library Manual, the bot requires a minimum of 1280 x 1024 screen resolution to function properly.  1280 x 1024 correponds to as 5:4 aspect ratio, which is a thing of the past as most all new laptops are now a whopping 16:9 (widescreen).  The same thing has happened in the land of televisions, as you see all new flatscreens conforming to these new dimensions. 

The important thing to consider here if you are botting is the minimum height the bot requires (1024 pixels).  The bot needs to be able to see the entire MTGO window, which is why on smaller monitors you need to hide your dock to get a few more pixels of space available.

Here is the problem.  Newer laptops with their 16:9 screens will usually have a top resolution of 1280 x 720 or 1366 x 768.  That 720 or 768 height is not enough for the bot to run.  Even higher end laptops with 1920 × 1080 resolution barely meet the 1024 height requirement.

So if you were planning to run your bot on a cheap, newer laptop, it may require a workaround, such as attaching an extra monitor.  Post your other ideas on how to circumvent this problem in the comments section.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.38 is out


We recently suspended the updates to the "Collection History". ML Bot v. 5.38 now restores the functionality back again!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.37 is out

We have just released a new version of ML Bot, (5.37), containing a couple of minor fixes and improvements "here and there"

Friday, November 23, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.36 is out

ML Bot 5.36 eases the problem of the withdraws at the end of the trades. Now it is very unlikely for the bot to abort the trades at the final confirm window

Thursday, November 22, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.35 is out


There are about 100 users in Magic Online that are not able to trade with the ML Bots.

Version 3.53 fixes the issue so they will be able to trade again. 
Since some of these users has credits left on the bots, my suggestion is to upgrade as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.33 and 5.34

Today we released in a short amount of time the version 5.33 and 5.34, fixing some minor issues.

Among the others, we are currently addressing an issue at the of the trade. Occasionally the bot detects the Magic Online client as "frozen" and restart it, de facto aborting the trade.

MTGO Library Bot 5.32 is out

The new version of ML Bot, 5.32 is out! It fixes a couple of minor issues, among the other some random withdraws at the end of the trades.

The issue may still not be fixed completely. If you are a customer of the ML Bots and experience it, please write me at staff@mtgolibrary.com


Sincerely,
Albert

Future-Proofing: Intellectual Property (Part 2 of 3)

Last time I gave an introduction to copyrights and patents.  It is through this mechanism that many advances in technology and culture are made because through this encourages people to take risks and profit from ideas which prove beneficial to mankind.

But patents are not as objective as other laws, like theft and murder, which are much more objective.  There exists a lot of “wiggle room” when it comes to defining what is a violation of a patent and what is not.  Here is where the lawyers and law-makers work their magic.

In the United States, patent law and intellectual property laws in general, are considered too strict.  What I mean by this is that it is considered too easy to sue a company for violations.  This has created a cottage industry where companies exist, which never make a product or offer a service.  But these companies will rent out a small office space, put a name plate on the door, but are “never open for business”.  They hire no employees.  But they are extremely willing to sue someone else for alleged patent violations.  As one of their slogans puts it, “Look at many ideas.  Pick an outstanding one.  Patent it.  Commercialize it.  Reap the rewards.”  They are known as Patent Trolls.

Note that making a product or making significant improvements to an existing product is never mentioned.  Just patent an idea, and wait until someone else independently does something with this idea , the patent troll will sue.

This has led to some pretty silly lawsuits over the years, but because patent law is this way, these suits have merit.  Namco has a patent which prevents playing mini-games during a loading screen.  Simpson’s Road Rage had to change an arrow which points where you should go in a driving game to a finger because the arrow violated a patent. 

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/130122/the_trouble_with_patents.php?print=1

Clearly, this kind of patent abuse is not what Thomas Jefferson and others had in mind when they founded the patent laws.  Next time, I’ll wrap up by going into the Wildcat lawsuit against WotC in detail.

Monday, November 19, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.31 is out

ML Bot version 5.31 is out with a couple of fine-tunings over 5.30.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.30 is out

MTGO Library Bot will be up again in few hours and version 5.30 is out.

The new version is able to communicate with the new server structure, whereas previous version are no more able due to a number of internal changes performed during the downtime.

We hope you will enjoy 5.30 and that you are ready to get back into the bot world!

Reflection


Tomorrow, server will be up again. These several days without botting made me wonder. I reached a conclusion how I'm addicted to MTGO. How big part of my life botting is. As well, I have realized how time-consuming setting prices is. How much spare time I have without bots and so on. I could catch up with all home duties, which I have all the time postponed to 'later' and this 'later' usually have never come until the day the server stood still. So, it looks like MTGO is a pain in the ass, nothing further from the truth. Indeed, it takes a lot of time, BUT remember we are not doing it for fun. We do botting because it generates extra money. In fact, easy money. It is the goose that lays the golden eggs. Take a look, full-time job requires from us at least 40 hours weekly, excluding overtime. Whereas, botting is merely circa 14 hours weekly and it may bring similar wage to this one from regular job. These are the two core advantages and it is not my aim to point others. You know them very well. I just want to remind you to:

Set alarm clock on 6:00 AM GMT +0 and get back to work, comrades ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Schedule for restart !


Hi all,

we finished the work on the server, and we are ready to restart :-) Still, we want to run the last tests and be totally sure that everything works as intended.

Since the weekend is in the middle, we scheduled the restart on:

Monday 19th , 6:00 GMT+0 

All the licenses will be automatically extended of 10 days.
Thank you again for you patience during these days! This has been the longest downtime in the history of mtgolibrary.com!
Feel free to contact me at staff@mtgolibrary.com

Sincerely,
Albert

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Future-Proofing: Intellectual Property (Part 1 of 3)

As we continue our series on Future-proofing, I thought I would take this opportunity to look into the recent blog post by about WotC being sued by Wildcat Intellectual Property Holdings and do a little research and throw in what little I know about such topics.

First off, the name of company is a little weird. “Intellectual Property Holdings”.  A quick internet search revealed a plethora of lawsuits that this company has filed against other companies, not just WotC.

But first, we need a little background.  When normal people think of copyrights and patents, we think of artists and inventors who make something and want protection from vultures who simply want to copy their work.  For example, MGM/United Artists holds the rights for the James Bond series.  What copyright law is intended to do is to prevent me from making a Single-O 9, who works for Special Branch in Scotland Yard or Interpol.  This makes sense to most people.

The same thing applies for products.  If I make a device that turns sludge into potable water, I should be allowed to profit from it.  This is an important point The reason that patents were permitted was to give incentive for people to create new products that over time will improve all of mankind.  This is one of the main reasons why the United States went from a fledgling nation to a Superpower in a century and a half.  Contrary to what many people and world leaders believe, profits are not evil.

Generally speaking, countries respect patents from other countries.  So that smartphone I create and patent in the United States will be respected in Europe.  However, not all countries respect patents and copyrights.  When Mitt Romney stated that he would get tough on China, he was referring to the well-known fact that China routinely ignores other countries’ patents.  Basically whenever a new product is introduced, you can find a clone of that same product, made by a Chinese company, on the streets of China for pennies on the dollar within weeks of the product’s release.  Even sooner if that product was made in China.

So how does this affect us?  I’ll get into those details next time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Downtime quick UPDATE

Hello,


just a quick update regarding the downtime. The work is proceeding and tomorrow or at worst on Thursday you will be able to launch the bot again.

Thank you again for the patience. If you want to talk to me, feel free to contact me on these boards or at staff@mtgolibrary.com


Sincerely,
Albert

ML Bot for MTGO v4 and downtime - under the hood

Hello,

considering the larger than usual downtime of the service, I would like to explain what we are doing "under the hood".

As the majority of you will probably now, the bot for Magic Online v4 is currently under development, and will fix a series of bottlenecks of the current bot. This unfortunately requires some extra work server-side, to adjust the code and to change parts of it.
It's an intensive work we prefer to accomplish with all the bots down, just to be totally sure things are ok and have all the time to run the tests.

We could have waited some weeks, but recently the server has been very slow and thus we took the change to halt it and work on it.

Next months you will also see a restyle of the website, in order to make it clear and responsive on tablet and mobile devices!


Sincerely,
Albert

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Server down for maintenance (*UPDATE)

Hello to everybody,

the server is currently down for maintenance. We are having some performance issue and we are working on the it. It will be up as soon as possible

Sincerely,
Albert


12-11 4pm:
the server is still down. Nothing particular has happened, we are just changing some portions of the code and this is requiring a little more time than extimate.

I apologize for the issue, tomorrow morning everything should be running fine as usual.

WotC sued for Magic: The Gathering Online

I found a quite interesting information and I would like to share it with you all.


"Wildcat Intellectual Property Holdings of Dallas, Texas has sued Wizards of the Coast in Federal Court claiming that the Hasbro subsidiary has violated its electronic trading-card patent by publishing "Magic: The Gathering Online." While Wildcat is suing Wizards of the Coast, it does not name Hasbro in its lawsuit.

Wildcat claims the popular online collectible trading card game infringes on at least seven aspects of its Electronic Trading Card patent. Those infringements include "making, using, selling, hosting, and/or providing access to within the United States, and/or importing into the United States, at least Wizards' 'Magic: The Gathering Online' game, infringing one or more claims of the '216 Patent."

Wildcat says it uses the patent on its own game Unit Commander which it calls "the ultimate mercenary trading card game." The company is asking the court for "injunctive relief to stop the alleged infringing activity."


The only thing they are suing about is that Wildcat have a patent that says they have the exclusive right to make  Electronic Trading Card games, and MTGO fits the definition given in the patent, so they believe they can get WotC to pay money for their 'idea'. The suit will cost Hasbro hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend it and Hasbro would have to prove that the suit is frivolous. The patent was granted in 2001. and MTGO started in 2002. I have seen no litigation for ten years against WotC from this firm. What's interesting the Wildcat's game is still in the beta process according to it's website. That is almost 11 years after the patent was granted. For better or worse, WotC probably will be looking for a settlement. 

Don't panic. This suit is almost certainly not a big deal : )

Thursday, November 8, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.27 is out


ML Bot 5.26 is out, fixing a minor issue with formatting the trading interface on slow computers.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MTGO Library BOT 5.25 and 5.26 are out


We have just released ML Bot v 5.25 and immediately after ML Bot v.5.26 , containing some minor fixes and a better interface of connection with the webserver

mtgolibrary.com server down for maintenance


Hello everybody,

we took down the mtgolibrary.com server for maintenance.
It will be up again right after the usual Wednesday downtime :-)

Sincerely,
Albert

Future-Proofing: Windows 8

With the release of Windows 8, I thought I would step back from the day to day grind of botting and take a look at a long view of what we do.  Businesses and countries talk about five year plans; why can’t us botters have a five year plan?

For this part of the series, I thought I would look at Windows 8 and see how the latest release of the Microsoft operating system affects us.  For my study, I went to a Big Box store and looked at a couple of laptops which had Windows 8 installed.  So what are the takeaways?

As you may know, Windows 8 was designed for the tablet and phone markets.  Microsoft will say that Windows 8 was designed for touch screens.  The reality is that none of this is going to matter when it comes to botting.  Since the bot runs automated, there is no human interaction or touch needed.  So the main selling feature of Windows 8 is useless for us botters.

Windows 8 also has one interesting feature designed to save memory: if a task has been unattended for too long, Windows 8 will auto-close the application.  This feature is also enabled by default.  Even though this feature can be disabled, it is not something we would desire as botters.  Can you imagine our transaction logs if Windows 8 is shutting down Magic Online or the bot program?

So what is the bottom line?  While we may be forced to run the bot on Windows 8 in the future, we should avoid it as long as possible and when we do, remember to turn off the auto-termination of idle programs.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Commanders Arsenal

The Commanders Arsenal goes on sale in paper Magic today - Nov. 2, 2012. There is no word on the online date. The MSRP is $74.99 and for this money we get: 18 premium foil cards, 10 oversized premium foil cards, 120 Ultra PRO foil card sleeves, 20 double-sided Battle Marks (+ and –), a life counter that goes up to 99. Premium foil cards are: Kaalia of the Vast, The Mimeoplasm, Edric Spymaster of Trest, Maelstrom Wanderer, Vela the Night-Clad, Diaochan, Artful Beauty, Loyal Retainers, Duplicant, Dragonlair Spider, Decree of Pain, Chaos Warp, Desertion, Mirari's Wake, Sylvan Library, Rhystic Study, Scroll Rack, Mind's Eye, Command Tower. Oversized premium foil cards are: Sliver Queen, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, Mayael the Anima, Zur the Enchanter, Grimgrin, Corpse-born, Brion Stoutarm, Glissa, the Traitor, Godo, Bandit Warlord, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Karn, Silver Golem.

I have checked the SCG prices on the Commanders Arsenal and no suprise here. It is going to cost much more than MSRP. Take a look here and do a little study. There are only 18 premium foil cards listed, excluding all other things inserted to box and it is over 300 USD. It looks incredible if we could get it for MSRP price what is totally unrealistic. However the very same 18 cards in MTGO cost definitely less than MSRP. For instance card which in paper is 79.99 USD (Loyal Retainers) basing on SCG is merely 0.10 Event Ticket in MTGO! I think WotC should decrease the price on this product in MTGO if they want to introduce it online. Otherwise they sell many Arsenals.

I would like to mention that there will be a commander product every year and Premium Deck Series has been cancelled.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Other side of the world (Part 2)

 Other side of the world

Most Magic the Gathering Online bot owners and Customers are in the US and this is something that can affect bot owners living in a different timezone. In these series  I'll talk about ways of "shortening" the distance and on how you can provide great Customer Support, Sell/Buy Collections and other services without needing to be awake from 1:00AM to 7:00AM.

Website
 Today I will talk about the advantages of having a website dedicated to your bots. A form of comunication, such as a webform is only one them. You can also attract more Customers by having a strong MTGO Community visiting your website, forums, deck discussion, webcasts and so on. Having a website also opens doors to a another whole new business model, instead of automated trades within MTGO you now have the chance of working just like a normal MTG Cards Store. You might ask yourself: "yes we all know that but what is that to do with being on the other side of the world?", the answer is very simple, being on the other side of the world you will need a method of delivering online orders and although MTGO Library bots weren't exactly designed to be used as delivery bots they can do the task without much time and effort into setting it all up.
 In a few days I will show you how to do this, step by step.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Sets

I’ve been going through some life changes recently so when Return to Ravnica (RTR) came out, all I was able to do is to have the bots grab RTR cards and get back to trying to adapt to the other more important things going on around me.

About a week ago, things calmed down a bit and I decided to check on my bots to see what has happened since RTR was released.  Imagine my shock when I saw that not one RTR card had entered my bot empire.

This got me thinking of an experiment: What would happen if I bought a bunch of boosters, opened them up and immediately placed them on the bot?  Obviously the prices would reflect this strategy and few bots would even have cards from a new set. 

So, let’s go through the numbers: There are 101 commons, 80 uncommons, and 68 rares and mythics in RTR.  There are also 10 commons, 3 uncommons and 1 rare or mythic in each booster.  For the sake of arguments, let’s assume a perfect distributionThe point of this exercise is to get a ballpark figure to see if this strategy is indeed viable, not a mathematical proof.

For our purposes, let’s assume we desire a playset, four (4) copies of each card, for each rarity.

101 commons * 4 = 404 cards divided by 10 per booster pack means we’d need 41 booster packs, at $4 each gives us $164 needed to obtain a playset of commons. 

80 uncommons * 4 = 320 cards divided by 3 per booster = 107 boosters *$4 = $428 for a playset of uncommons.

68 rares * 4 = 272 cards, or boosters, as there is only one per pack, costing $1,088.

So, in order to break even, each rare or mythic would have to cost 4 tickets.  (1,088/272)

Uncommons would have to cost $428/320 or 1.34 tickets each.

Commons would have to be prices at $164/404 or .41 each.  (5 cards for 2 tickets).

As we can see, these prices are not sustainable.  Throw in the renting fee for the bot, in addition to fact that there are always undesirable cards and reprints which will never sell for the break even price and it is not difficult to see why bots do not use this approach.


Monday, October 29, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.24 is out

ML Bot 5.24 fixes a number of small bugs of the previous version. Thus, nothing revolutionary under the hood, just a build to improve stability.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Modern Masters!

Wizards has announced a new set - Masters Edition for the Modern format. I have gathered some information about upcoming set, which will be released on 7/6/2013.
  • It features 229 cards (10x Mythic, 53x Rare, 60x Uncommon, 101x Common). Some cards shift rarity for various reasons. Approximately 30 cards will have a new art. All cards will be reprints from Eighth Edition through Alara Reborn. There will be no card, which is currently on the Modern ban list
  • The booster will cost $6.99. Wizards stated that the increased cost, the special packaging, etc. was to prevent new players from confusing this with regular boosters.
  • This set will not be Standard legal, and the level of complexity will be far higher than the core set, or even a set like Return to Ravnica.

  • The paper print run will be limited. Wizards is trying to get more Modern staples into circulation, but without wrecking the prices.
  • Every booster will contain as normally 15 cards, including always one foil card. We won't find there a basic land card. There are 24 packs per box. Masters Edition will be draftable. Available only in English language. There will be 1 Modern Masters Limited Grand Prix next year.
  • Modern Masters will be available online, however not redeemable.
First preview card was Tarmogoyf as Mythic. This announcement lowered Tarmogoyf price from 78 tix to 57. I predict the price will fall more next days, but not so much when this card is used almost in every Legacy or Modern deck basing on green color.  We can only guess now which other cards will be reprinted, but in my opinion we will see cards such as Elspeth, Arcbound Ravager, Vendilion Clique, Eventide/Shadowmoor duals, all good commons and uncommons used in Modern, I mean Remand, Spell Snare and so on. What leads us only to one conclusion: nuts cards combined with limited print run will make boosters more expensive than $6.99.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yard Signs? What Yard Signs?

Unless you live under a rock, you know that there will be a Presidential Election in the United States in under a fortnight.  As I live in the United States, it is difficult to not be bombarded with political advertising via television, radio and in your mailbox.

However, I have noticed something different this election cycle and I would like to ask those who reside in the United States to confirm or deny something.  Don’t worry, I am not going to go into Obama vs. Ramney talk.  That isn’t the point of this blog.  And don’t worry about this off-topic subject.  I’ll return to a bot related topic next time.

Going about my normal life and driving around, I have seen political signs for the local County Commissioners, I’ve seen signs for the Mayoral candidates.  I’ve seen signs for the House of Representative candidates.  But when it comes to the Presidential candidates, I’ve not seen many Obama signage and bumper stickers, and I’ve seen only a trickle of Romney signs and no bumper stickers. 

I find this strange indeed.  In 2008, yard signs and bumper stickers could be found everywhere.  This time around, you would be hard pressed to tell there was even a Presidential election happening.  It’s not like these are the minor candidates either.  Both Obama and Romney will garner at least 46% of the popular vote. 

So what are the US readers seeing?  Are there yard signs galore or is this just a local thing that I am noticing?

Next time, we’ll do a thought experiment.

Other side of the world (Part 1)

Other side of the world
 Most Magic the Gathering Online bot owners and Customers are in the US and this is something that can affect bot owners living in a different timezone. In these series  I'll talk about ways of "shortening" the distance and on how you can provide great Customer Support, Sell/Buy Collections and other services without needing to be awake from 1:00AM to 7:00AM.


Contacts
Today I'll talk about the easiest one to setup, the Contact options.
Being in the other side of the world (England) means I cannot assist most of my customers while they're online, making my username almost useless as a "contact" option for my bots.
Emails are very easy to setup nowadays and are the very minimum you should have as a contact. MTGO is not perfect and a few occasional bugs (such as displaying "trade complete" when someone cancels on second confirmation window) may lead to lost credit. Without a email address or a contact to fix for example, 0.1 credit lost, you might end up losing a Customer that would give you potentially high profits in the long run.
A Telefone number, IM or even a Facebook Page could be viable second options but you should still have a email address. 

Another Option would be a Web-form on your bots website. That would give your customers the option of just sharing their username (not private email address) and would open up doors for new business possibilities which I will explain on Part 2.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pithing Needle - doubts

Return to Ravnica brings a well-known for older players card named "Pithing Needle". However, I noticed some players find this card troublesome, because of its wording "As Pithing Needle enters the battlefield, name a card. Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities." Some players doesn't know what in fact activated ability is. This article will answer many questions and resolve your doubts.

To start with, let's focus on first sentence of wording. You may name any card you want to. A card without activated ability as well. To make it clear the activated ability are written as [cost]:[effect], and whatever you will see in this form it is the activated ability. It's not complicated at all, but imagine that you are playing on tournament and somehow you forgot the name of one card which your opponent is currenly using. What happens then? Do you look up for the name in your binder or check up in the Internet? No, you don't because it's forbidden during tournament and you may get match loss for such action. The only one solution is to ask judge. The names of the Magic cards are public information. As long as you can uniquely identify the card in question by describing it, you have the right to know its exact name for the purpose of naming it for an effect such as Pithing Needle's. Okay, now we can move on to second sentence of wording " Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities". You may name a card as Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, but it doesn't prevent players from using its mana ability, but it does keep players from using the drawing ability. Furthermore, Pithing Needle affects cards regardless of what zone they're in. This includes cards in hand, cards in the graveyard, and exiled cards. For example, a player can't cycle Eternal Dragon or return an Eternal Dragon from his or her graveyard to hand if Pithing Needle naming Eternal Dragon is on the battlefield. Also it will block Scavenge mechanism from Return to Ravnica.

Nevertheless, the biggest problem with this card is naming the right card in the right moment.

If you have doubts how any other cards work, leave a comment with name of card and I will do my best to explain the rules.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.23 is out

ML Bot version 5.23 has just been released.


It mainly fixes a problem with the reload of the prices after the file PersonalPrices.txt has been modified. Older versions were in fact not able to correctly reload all the items in PersonalPrices.txt, causing some cards and/or boosters to be mispriced or buyable/not buyable.

Server has been down in maintenance for 30 minutes

Hello,

the server has been down for maintenance for 30 minutes. It is now up again, I apologize for the issue.
Just leave the bot running and it will automatically reconnect

Sincerely,
Albert

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ebay Auctions (Part 3 of 3)

Last time I began a story where a college student from Thailand was studying over in the United States.  He discovered that the textbooks he needed were cheaper in Thailand than in the US, so he had relatives obtain his textbooks.  Being of the entrepreneur mind, he quickly realized that he could purchase a lot of these textbooks in Thailand, ship them to the US, and then make a hearty profit reselling them on Ebay, to the tune of over $1,000,000.

Here is where the story gets interesting.   The publisher, John Wiley and Sons, found out about this little venture and sued the student, Supap Kirtsarng.  As is to be expected, this court case dragged on and on.  A US Appellate Court has ruled in favor of publisher.

Look man, we are bot owners.  What does any of this legal garbage have to do with us?

I’m getting to that.  See, the Appellate Court’s ruling has several implications when it concerns things like copyright and reselling stuff you previously purchased.

Back in 1908, the Supreme Court ruled that once the initial sale was made, the buyer was free to resell without getting permission from the copyright holder.  That book you purchased a year ago, you could sell on Ebay, Amazon, a garage sale, or simply give it to charity.  This is being challenged now for products that are being made outside the United States and if this Appellate Court’s ruling stands, copyright holders in China, Japan, Spain, Africa, etc would have to give you permission to sell it.

Think about that for a minute.  To sell that book, you’d need the publisher’s permission, in writing.  This is not limited to physical objects like that antique table your grandmother has either.  It would apply to anything made outside the United States.  Quick, can you name anything of substance that is exclusively made inside the United States?

Ebay appears to have taken the cautious approach of implementing this when it concerns things like the Magic Online cards which we all profit from.

So what is the future?  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this case on Oct 29th, and probably will make its ruling in June 2013.  This is a case which goes under the radar until the ruling comes and all of a sudden, well, you get the point.  I for one will be watching and will keep you abreast.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/your-right-to-resell-your-own-stuff-is-in-peril-2012-10-04

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Return to Ravnica Lifetime Licenses




We are ahead of a very exciting period in the history of Magic Online. Return to Ravnica release events has just started out and also the new client (Mtgo v4) is going to be released in the next few months. To celebrate this, mtgolibrary.com discounts the lifetime PRO license to 1380 usd and the lifetime LITE license to 138 usd!

Mtgolibrary.com offers a second discount too - the lifetime PRO license to 1200 usd and the lifetime LITE license to 120 usd. These extra discounted licenses will be active from the release of Mtgo v4. Of course all the other license will still work and will smoothly work on Mtgo v4.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ebay Auctions (Part 2 of 3)

Back in the dark ages of 1997, Supap Kirtsarng, a native of Thailand, went to Cornell University to study.  Nothing unusual there.

What is unusual is what happened after this. 

He soon discovered that the college textbooks he needed to buy, were substantially cheaper to buy in Thailand than they were in the United States.  So, being the economically conscious person he is, he got his relatives to buy the books he needed , and then to ship said books to him over in the United States.  This in of itself is not unusual.

Like most college students, he sold his textbooks when he had completed the semester.  Nothing unusual there.

Then his entrepreneurial spirit took over.  Why not buy a bunch of these textbooks for very little, ship them over to the United States, and then sell them on Ebay for a nice profit?  And that is what he did.  Very successfully as well.  To at least $1,000,000 according to some estimates.

So what does this have to do with us bot owners?  You’ll have to tune in next time for part 2 of this little story.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to draft Return to Ravnica?

The Return to Ravnica set features 274 cards. Prerelease have already started. New sets bring on new cards and new loves. With RTR there is no different. Basing on acronym B.R.E.A.D which is very useful way to grade cards in limited  I have selected commons and uncommons worth drafting in Return to Ravnica. I ignored rares and mythic cards, because these cards are quite easy to evaluate and to point out the best possible pick. Every letter from this acronym symbolize one group of cards. Therefore, B is for Bombs, R is for Removal, E is for Evasion, A is for Aggro, D is for Dregs. Basing on B.R.E.A.D  Here we go:
  • White: Azorius Arrester, Eyes in the Skies, Keening Apparition, Rootborn Defenses, Sunspire Griffin, Swift Justice, Trostani's Judgment, Arrest, Azorius Justicar, Soul Tithe.
  • Blue: Inaction Injunction, Runewing, Isperia's Skywatch, Stealer of Secrets, Blustersquall, Faerie Impostor, Hover Barrier, Skyline Predator, Soulsworn Spirit.
  • Black: Stab Wound, Dead Reveler, Sewer Shambler, Launch Party, Terrus Wurm, Assassin's Strike, Dark Revenant, Slum Reaper, Tawern Swindler, Ultimate Price, 
  • Red: Explosive Impact, Annihilating Fire, Splatter Thug, Gore-House Chainwalker, Lobber Crew, Bloodfrey Giant, Goblin Rally, Guttersnipe, Street Spasm
  • Green: Axebane Guardian, Centaur's Herald, Korozda Monitor, Giant Growth, Drude Beetle, Brushstrider, Gobbling Ooze, Golgari Decoy, Slime Molding, 
  • Multi: Auger Spree, Centaur Healer, Sluiceway Scorpion, Frostburn Weird, Dramatic Rescue, Vassal Soul, Azorius Charm, Call of the Conclave, Dreg Mangler, Hellhole Flailer, Izzet Charm, Izzet Staticaster, Korozda Guildmage, Lyev Skyknight, New Prahv Guildmage, Nivix Guildmage, Rites of Reaping, Rix Maadi Guildmage,  Selesnya Charm, Skymark Roc, Teleportal, Thoughtflare, Treasured Find, Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, Rakdos Cackler
  • Lands: gate cards
  • Artifact: Keyrune cards

    Good luck in drafts!

Return to Ravnica new mechanics Explained (Part 5 of 5)

Detain
When you detain an opposing permanent, until your next turn, that permanent's activated abilities can't be activated and (if it's a creature) it can't attack or block. Activated abilities are the ones that have a colon (:) in them, such as "
Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool" or "Equip 2 Mana(2 Mana: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery.)"

Detain is best in decks which rely on fast small creatures attacking every turn. This is achieved by not allowing your opponent's creatures to interact you or your creatures. Along with creatures you can use spells such as Sleep or Feeling of the Dread, to open the way for your creatures to attack without opposition.
 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.22 is out

An update on ML Bot 5.21.

Version 5.22 is now able handle Return to Ravnica using the wishlist buying mode

Friday, October 12, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.21 is out


ML Bot 5.21 supports the new set, Return to Ravnica - RTR.

As usual, the updated pricelist is already available online and is available for free during the update process. Happy botting!

Ebay Auctions (Part 1 of 3)

A few months ago I was approached to buy an MTGO collection.  Nothing unusual there.

I used this as an opportunity to expand my budding bot empire. Nothing unusual there.

I then set up my bots to pull from this collection to fill up the holes in each bot’s inventory. Nothing unusual there.

When all of this was done, I looked at what remained. I saw a lot of potential play sets, which I can fill the holes if need be and then turn around and sell some on Ebay.  Nothing unusual there.

I ordered the bots to create some play sets.  I then posted them on Ebay.  Nothing unusual there.

The next morning, I received a pretty nasty letter stating that my postings were taken down, that these postings were in violation of the copyright holder, and that my account could be suspended or terminated if I attempted to repost these items.  I also was informed that in order to sell anything again, I would have to complete a tutorial as what I can sell and what I can not sell.

This is not the first time that this has happened.  I thought that might have been a little misunderstanding, some programmer went a little overboard removing digital items up for sale, or there was a snafu.  Last time, it went away in a few days.  After all, WotC encourages the secondary market.  However, this time, it feels different.

This has not gone away.  At the time of writing this, I checked Ebay for Magic Online items… Only 6 of them are posted and no doubt they’ll be taken down shortly.  This is a far cry when one would easily see hundreds of auctions for Magic Online material.

So what happened?  I think I may have found it.  You’ll have to tune in next time to find out what I discovered.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Frustrated only in Losing (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I told a story where I attended a Magic event where I ran into a local Magic player who playing in the PTQ that weekend.   He has a reputation of being a pretty good player locally but while observing his play for a couple of rounds, I could see where the problem is: the problem is he uses foils.  Let me explain.

Looking at his decks, both at this tournament and at local shops, almost every card is a foil.  He once told me that he prefers foils over regular cards.  While he does occasionally purchases a few, most of the cards he receives are from trades with other players. 

This has a surprisingly interesting effect on players.  They tend to play more conservatively.  By my very rough estimations, about a turn slower.  Against decks of roughly equal strength, that turn is enough to shift the scales of wins towards the player playing foils.

However, this will have no effect on the professional level.  Players who spend the requisite time study and play testing their decks are not going to intimidated by shiny pieces of paper or shiny effects on a monitor.

So how does it affect us?  What is your foil strategy?  Are they just an after-thought?  Are they bonus material?  For those with bot chains; do you have a dedicated bot for foils?  Foils represent approximately 1.5% of all Magic Online cards.  What’s your strategy for this minority market?

The Power Nine on MtGO, part 3

What are the possible ways of introducing the Power Nine on MtGO?
  • P9 as promo cards. It could have be given for reaching certain number of Reward Points. However, it shoudl be extremely enormous number so that only the most persistent and determined player would get it. This line of thought brings us to very similar idea to give it as a reward to top4 or top8 MOCS players.Up till now, MOCS awards were spectacular (like full regular / foil sets of players choice), so the Power Nine suits well here. The mystique would remain, but this scenario would jack up P9 skyhigh. 
  • By account. Everyone would get the P9 as untradable cards. No mystique, no trades, no profit for botters.
  • As FTV: Restricted Cards. The concept behind this idea is that there happens to be 15 Vintage restricted cards that have not seen virtual cardboard yet, such as P9, Regrowth, Fast Bond, Mana Vault, Time Vault. Charging $34.99 won't work here. But on the flip side $500, brings its own set of problems. What if you need just one specific card from this FTV for instance to your EDH deck? You would have to wait ages to get it from market.
I have just listed 5 ways how WotC may introduce P9. I did it quite briefly, because P9 on MtGO seems so unrealistic that we can only dream about it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.20


We are very happy to announce ML Bot 5.20, the first totally https-based ML Bot.

We took the change to redesign the connection to the server and to extend the ssl-encryption (for those who remember - half introduced in version 5.03) to the whole website. For example, just to name one change, if you visit www.mtgolibrary.com your connection will be automatically encrypted to https://www.mtgolibrary.com


Friday, October 5, 2012

Return to Ravnica new mechanics Explained (Part 4 of 5)

Scavenge
You can activate the scavenge ability of a creature card in your graveyard any time you could cast a sorcery by exiling it and paying its scavenge cost. That lets you put a number of +1/+1 counters equal to the scavenged creature's power onto a target creature.

A creature entering the battlefield with this keyword doesnt bring any extras, as it can only be used from graveyard. The best place for this mechanic is on a deck filled with creatures with scavenge and maybe some self mill. Allowing any new little creature to become big by exiling other creatures from the graveyard, seems to be fun, But do you think it has a  potential to be competitive?

On next part we'll be talking about the mechanic detain.