Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cherry Pickers (Part 2)

Last time I shared with you an email we received over at MTGO Library Central, one where the writer is concerned over the possibility of a “cherry picker.”  (A person who goes around to ‘LITE’ bots and ‘cherry picks’ the good cards with the intent of selling these same cards for a massive profit.)   So this series will touch on several ways to deal with these parasites.

One of the easiest things you can do is simply raise your prices.

The parasites will have to work harder to find jewels in your inventory.  They’ll swipe fewer cards, and thus, make less profits  Another side benefit is that you will make more profit for each and every card that you sell.

The raising of prices will only slow down and not deter any vultures from pilfering your collection.  While human vultures would simply find other bots which would be more worth their time, it is not all that hard for a vulture to write a custom program which will search your collection and takes your gems.  Raising your prices in this scenario simply means the vulture-bot will simply take fewer cards.

This strategy also has an unintended effect: it will deter customers.  More successful bots may be willing to make that sacrifice but smaller or newer bots won’t be able to compete. 

Bottom Line:
This is a one-time low effort that will have limited results.  This strategy will have better results when dealing with commons because the variance is smaller than with rares.  The psychological affect is much larger than any monetary effect.  The difference in the price per card from 10 per ticket to 8 per ticket is pretty small, only .025 per card, but for the customer reading the classified section, they’ll visit the 10 per ticket before they’ll visit the 8 per ticket bot.

What is the best license for me to pick? (Part 2)

On my last post I let you know that I use one of each of the four options when it comes to licenses, Proving that there isn't a best option, all depending on what type and quantity of trades you do.

Firstly you need to understand that all my bots don't use the same pricing. Its part of my marketing strategy to attract all types of customers and the way I setup my bots gives both the option of selling bulk commons for 0.01 tickets as bulk (attracting new players that don't intend to spend a lot into MTGO) and at the same type buy a specific top Mythic for more than any other bot.

So how are my bots set up in terms of Licensing?

On my fourth bot (BestDeal4) I set it up as the Cheap BulkBot with a Lifetime Lite license buying all bulk for a minimum and selling it all cheaply as well. Because 80% of the stock on all 4 bots comes from here, this bot buys in high quantity and regularly usually refilling whats sold on not just on BestDeal4 but also the other three bots.

BestDeal3 is also a BulkBot but this one buys for more and also sells for much more. Although it seems that this bot would buy much more bulk than BestDeal4 that doesn't happen. BestDeal3 runs on a rental Lite license.

BestDeal2 is my entry Pro bot with a rental license, this bot sells cheaper than BestDeal but also buys for less, because this bot refills BestDeal, it has much lesser trades involving high valued cards making it the reason why it doesn't compensate the lifetime pro license.

BestDeal is the main bot, it has the most stock, buys for the highest (up to 30% over price list) and in this bot I don't aim to be the cheapest selling bot (selling +5%~). Due to the high amount of trades involving big cards, the Pro lifetime license on this bot is a "must".

How do you think I've set it all up in terms of buying and refilling to avoid buying bulk at high prices? What have I done to get most trades happening on BestDeal and BestDeal4, the 0% fee bots? This and any questions you ask on comments will be answered in the next few days.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.15 is out

Version 5.15 just contains some minor fixes here and there :-)

Magic Online New Account Starter Kit - changes

With a release of every new edition WotC updates the content of the Magic Online New Account Starter Kit. It has been slightly modified from the previous well-known one. Let's take a look and remind you all what is inside.

After you have opened the “Starter Pack” you will have several items in your binder.
A Magic2013 booster pack: here is my advice not to open this booster, because it's the most valuable item in the Starter. You may resell it on the classifieds for 3-4 Event Tickets. You may be lucky and open card worth 20 tix, but generally opening boosters in longterm wouldn't pay off.

In Starter Pack you find five Vanguard Avatars as well. Avatars have two main functions in MtGO. They allow you to play a special format called “Vanguard.” In this format (meaning a specific way to play game based on various criteria), one of the Avatars represents you in game, modifying your starting life total and hand size, as well as adding special abilities that you may use.

Third item is the Planeswalker Deck Pack containing hundreds of gold-bordered cards that you can use to build your first decks and play them against other beginners in the New Players Room. The cards cannot be traded, and they cannot be removed from your account after they have been opened so my advice is not to open it, unless you want to have a mess in your account. Additionally, you get 2 Event Tickets. By the July 25, all Magic Online New Account Starter Kits looked like that, but from the 25 July it aslo includes 4 New Player Tickets. These special, untradeable tickets will let new players enter the special tournament queues.

These days, WotC pampers us with all bonuses around.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cherry Pickers (Part 1)

We recently had a question appear in our Inbox:

I have a general question about mtgolibrary bot.  I typically ran in Pro but have started messing around with Lite doing a bulk bot.  What I am trying to figure out is if there is a way, say I have someone sell me a rare worth 5 tickets, but my bot is set up to sell 20 rares for 1 ticket, is there any way to stop someone from just picking up that rare out of my collection for .05 or is that something only Pro can do?  So it would be buy bulk on the lite and sell on the pro?  Or a way to set up the pro correctly that it can sell at market value but buy as a bulk bot?  Or is this something that transfer collections would have to be set up to work correctly to have both bots working at the same time.  Thanks

So basically, the reader doesn’t want to get ripped off.  (Who likes getting ripped off?)  I use the term “cherry-pickers”.  These are people/dealers/bots who go around to these LITE bots, scan their collection for jewels and then pick all the good cards, leaving the chaff behind.  These people/dealers/bots then turn around and sell those cards for a massive profit.

So, how do you deal with this situation?  How would you advise this email poster?  Possible solutions to this is the subject of this series, one of which will be discussed next time.

MTGO Library Bot 5.14 is out

The newest version of ML Bot, 5.14, supports the set M13 (Magic 2013). As usual, the new pricelist containing the M13 cards is available for free in the installer and/or during the update process.

For the first time, the new pricelist contains all the M13-related boosters and drafter packs, such as:

- Magic 2013 Draft Pack
- Magic 2013 Foil Set
- Magic 2013 Set
- Magic 2013 Sealed Event Pack
- Magic 2013 Release Event Pack
- Magic 2013 Intro Pack: Depths of Power
- Magic 2013 Intro Pack: Mob Rule
- Magic 2013 Intro Pack: Path to Victory
- Magic 2013 Intro Pack: Sole Domination
- Magic 2013 Intro Pack: Wild Rush

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.13 is out

ML Bot 5.13 is out now, fixing a problem with the loading of PersonalPercentages.txt .

Basically, the bot was unable to load properly if one error occurs in PersonalPercentages.txt (a single error was enough to prevent the load).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SPAM (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I asked a question: With Internet Service Providers seeking ways to reduce their bandwidth costs by eliminating spam, computer security companies working feverishly to create a product or service which eradicates spam, and email recipients who are not fooled by their messages for one reason or another, why is there spam at all?  What is in it for the spammer?

Let’s use the recent “Yahoo! Breech” for our analysis.

As mentioned last time, approximately 400,000 accounts were compromised.  Let’s assume each account has fifty (50) contacts.  Why fifty?  To make the math easier and to somewhat distinguish from actively used accounts and sparely used ones.  If we sent a spam email to each address, we’d would be sending 20,000,000 emails. 

Now let’s assume that one (1) in a million are gullible enough to respond to these kind of tactics.  This leaves twenty (20) positive responses. 

Now let’s assume that $1,000 is actually exchanged.  Why $1,000?  To make the math easier.  I’m also factoring in the costs of doing “business”, no matter what form that takes.

This leaves a “profit” of $20,000.  Not bad for a single email blast.

Law enforcement and ex-spammers say that 1-3 per 10,000 emails will generate actual money.  If use the 1 in 10,000 ratio, this leads to 2,000 payments of $1,000 each or $2,000,000 in profit; from a single email blast! 

How much spam is in your inbox?  No wonder why spam is such big business these days.


Monday, July 23, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.12 is out!

ML Bot 5.12 is out, fixing a couple of minor fixes with 5.11

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sneak Peek - read to get free booster pack!

Magic Online Sneak Peek is available now! Some of you may ask yourself what's the hell is that? Therefore, here is a very brief explenation. WotC is working on a new software client, that is going to replace MtGO V3. Beta tests have been already running for quite a long period of time. Thus, to encourage more people to test the new client, WotC is giving away free Avacyn Restored booster packs. You just need to launch your MtGO client and make sure you are in the "HOME" tab. There is a link where you can download Sneak Peek. Then log in to the new Magic Online Sneak Peek beta client and play in any Constructed or Limited (booster draft or sealed deck) tournament with at least 8 players. Afterwards, you will be asked to fullfill questionare and leave feedback. Avacyn Restored booster pack will appear in your collection by July 26. This is your chance to become involved and make sure your voice is heard as we, players, decide the future of Magic Online. The Sneak Peek ends on July 25.

Friday, July 20, 2012

SPAM (Part 1 of 2)

Unless one is purposely avoiding the news, one has heard about the recent SQL injection attack which compromised approximately 400,000 user names and passwords on various email providers, Yahoo! being the most prominent. 


Once this happens, it does not take long for the various email scams to start another wave trying to catch unsuspecting people.  I know as one of my friend’s email accounts got her password compromised and as such, I received such an email: It stated that she was on vacation in the Philippines and got mugged and all her valuables were taken, couldn’t pay the hotel bill and could I send $1,900 to an address which ended in a .RU (Russian) domain. 

As my friend really was on vacation, this had a modicum of plausibility.  But then I realize that she is with her husband, hotels are reserved by credits cards in advance of checking in, and she was not in the Philippines.

But it does beg the question: Why does Spam email still exist?  Hasn’t that scourge been eradicated yet?

You’d be wrong.  According to Symantec, 90% of all email sent is Spam.  Think about that: for every 10 messages sent, 9 are spam.

So why don’t we see more spam in our email boxes?  Because internet providers have a vested interest in making certain that spam doesn’t flow through their servers.  If you have internet metering, you totally understand.  Internet Service Providers have to pay for the bandwidth they provide and all bandwidth that is wasteful is wasteful to the customer and themselves.

So we have spam messages that are totally unbelievable, and Internet Service Providers intent on saving bandwidth and computer security companies dedicated to creating a product or service which will remove the scourge of Spam.  But spam exists despite these efforts.  So why do the spammers do this?  I’ll answer that next time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Failure (Part 4)

Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.

In this series, I am dissecting all the objects an acquaintance of mine had why he’d never be successful in running a bot.

[2] If he bid on a collection of cards on Ebay, he’d be overpaying for them.

I would disagree, I find that this is an unlikely scenario.  Something is worth only what someone else will pay for it.  A baseball card may have a book value of $1,000,000; but until someone actually is willing to spend $1,000,000 for that baseball card, it is not worth a million dollars.

Similarly, auctions work the same way.  The winner pays just a little more than what someone else is willing to pay.  So while one may feel as if they have overpaid for an item, the reality is that someone else would have paid almost as much as you did for said item.

Naturally, this assumes that you are bidding on auctions and not using a Buy It Now feature.  With that, it is difficult to gauge what the auction is really worth.  A 20,000 card auction sounds impressive but if it is 20,000 commons and the buyer wants $2,000 for it, well, you get the idea.  Do not bid on Buy It Now unless you know the value of what you are bidding on.

[3] Wouldn’t be able to sell the cards at cost, much less at a profit.

There are two (2) aspects to this.  There is an emotional and somewhat irrational aspect to this line of thinking.  Yes, emotions and feelings are powerful and need to be taken into account, but one must not let their emotions and feelings dominate their lives.  People get into trouble when not thinking clearly and calmly.

The real valid point of this complaint, when you boil it down, is what to price the cards at as to maximize profits.  That’s a tricky question and a moving target.  Companies spend a lot of money trying to answer that question.  It depends on competition, scarcity of the cards in question, level of demand, and what level of profit are you comfortable with.  That one is not so easily answered.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.11 is out!

ML Bot version 5.11 is out, fixing a bug with the PD3 set (Premium Deck Series: Graveborn), supported from version 5.10.

How to draft Magic 2013?

The Magic 2013 Core Set features 249 cards. Prerelease is starting July 26 and Magic 2013 will be on sale in the Magic Online store on July 30. New sets bring on new cards and new loves. This injection of awesome into our Magic lives keeps us going until the next dose of new arrives. We have to get our Magic fix, and M13 is no different. With another set comes another cavalcade of cards. I have prepared  list of commons and uncommons worth drafting. Here we go:
  • White: Attended Knight, Griffin Protector, Pacifism, Healer of the Pride, Knight of Glory, Oblivion Ring, Prized Elephant, Serra Angel, War Priest of Thrune.
  • Blue: Faerie Invaders, Encrust, Wielkin Tern, Wind Drake, Artic Aven, Sleep, Talrand's Invocation.
  • Black: Murder, Liliana's Shade, Bloodhunter Bat, Sign in Blood, Cover in Fear, Harbor Bandit, Knight of Infamy, Public Execution, Vampire Nighthawk.
  • Red: Searing Spear, Rummgaging Goblin, Turn to Slag, Arm Dealer, Cleaver Riot, Crismon Muckwader, Flames of the Firebrand, Furnace Whelp, Volcanic Geyser.
  • Green: Prey Upon, Sentinel Spider, Yeva's Forcemage, Primal Huntbeast, Acidic Slime, Flinthoof Boar, Garruk's Packleader, Rancor, Roaring Primadox.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.10 is out!

ML Bot version 5.10 is out, supporting the PD3 set (Premium Deck Series: Graveborn).

The updated pricelist (CardsMTGO3.txt) is available as usual for free during the update process, for download from the Online Control Panel and in the installer.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Failure (Part 3)

The only real failure in life is the failure to try.

A couple of months ago, I was listening to a pessimistic acquaintance of mine   In his rant, he stated several reasons that running a bot would be unsuccessful for him.  I’ve learned that when one has questions, others do as well, so I would take these questions and go through each of his failure fears and address those directly.

[1] He fears that the bot would never make a trade.

While that is a possibility, the likelihood of that happening is extremely low.  I know that on my first bot’s first day, I made several trades.  I also did nothing special to increase its appeal. 

Never making a trade?  The only way I can see that happening is that if the pricing of cards on the bot are not even close to reality.  If you have the bot set to sell commons for two (2) tickets each, or to give a ticket only after receiving 1,000 cards, then I can see the bot not making many trades.  So keep your prices reasonable.

Look at it this way: You have semi-professional drafters who are looking to unload their 500 copies of certain cards.  So any new bot which happens on the scene means that it is easier to unload those 500 copies.  So getting an inventory should not be a problem.

On the flip side, MTGO rotates the listing of bots on the Classified section and whatever you place as its message will be searchable.  So people will find your bot, even if it is by accident.  You will find customers. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What is the best license for me to pick?

This is one of the big questions to most of MTGO Library bot users.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Failure (Part 2)

Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk -- and to act.  - Maxwell Maltz

There have been many books written about how to achieve success.  That’s because success does not come naturally.  There has not been much written on failure for a similar reason: failure is easy to achieveYou have to work to succeed.  You do not have to do anything to fail.

Last time I mentioned a conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine  about how I am making a profit running bots and how he can do the same as well.  His emotional response I posted last time.  However, it did get me thinking…  if we know why bots fail, we can not do those things and therefore, be more successful.

However, we also need to be careful.  We simply can not use a simplistic definition like “not being a success” or unrealistic expectations like “The bot business is a failure if the bot does not make 600 tickets in profits within the first hour.”  Just like we have to define success, we also need to define failure.  Fortunately for us, my acquaintance defined some of that in our initial conversation and I will address those next time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cube draft is back

The Magic Online Cube will start after the downtime (Wednesday) on July 11 and ends on July 18. For those who are not familiar with the Cube, it is some kind of phantom draft where all the most powerful cards ever printed are in draft pool. Furthermore, fifty new cards have been added to the Cube, including additions from Avacyn Restored such as Griselbrand, replacing cards from the previous version. If that weren't enough to get you excited, you should also know that this is the exact Cube competitors will be playing at the 2012 Magic Players Championship in Seattle! Entry option is 7 Event Tickets. This time prizes will be given in Onslaught block boosters. On top of that WotC is launching on July 11 Onlaught drafts queues as well. The Onslaught Block booster draft queue ends with the following week's downtime on Wednesday, July 25. Treat this post as a warning. Dozens of new cards from Onslaught block are going to flood the market causing drastical drop price.

Setting up Mouse Scrolling for MTGOLibrary bot

Here is a small walk-through on how to set your mouse wheel scrolling
to work with MTGOLibrary bots.

Windows XP
Firstly Go on Start Menu and Control Panel
 Printers and Other Hardware (or straight to mouse if classic view)

 Click on Mouse and go to the tab "Wheel" at the top

 Change the number of lines from 3 (default) into 4

 Windows Vista / 7

Firstly Go on Start Menu and Control Panel
  Click on Hardware and Sound

 Click on Devices and Printers

Identify your mouse, right click on it and choose "Mouse settings"

 Go to the tab "Wheel" at the top and change the number of lines from 3 into 4.

You have now setup your mouse to work with MTGO Library bot. Happy Botting

Saturday, July 7, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.09 is out!

We have a new shiny version of ML Bot out now, version 5.09. The version features a better connection with the webserver - in fact you will see that the webserver is currently running very smoothly.

As minor features, we added the possibily to erase the screenshots' trades every week, every 2 week and every month (in addition to the old choices - 2 months, 4 months and 6 months). You will find the new option included in the related dropdown menu in the "General Tab".

Friday, July 6, 2012

Failure (Part 1)

McDonald’s is the world’s most successful franchise.  98% of all new restaurants will be successful.  This is touted during their franchise sales pitch, especially when you consider some of the considerable and expensive hoops that McDonald’s corporate require from every applicant for a franchise.  When you consider that 80% of all new businesses will fail in the first five (5) years of existence, seeing an opportunity to virtually not fail is highly attractive to those wishing to start a business.

We who run bots are not all that different.  We run our own online store, but MTGO Library is the heart and soul of our franchise business. 

These two thoughts kept swirling in my head while I was trying in vain to explain what I do to an acquaintance of mine who has a very annoying trait: he is exceedingly negative.  I don’t mean legitimate concerns and questions one has, but of the more annoying and pessimistic variety.  He would emotionally declare that if he ran a bot, he’d never make a trade.  That if  he bid on a collection of cards on Ebay, he’d overpay and wouldn’t be able to sell the cards at cost, much less at a profit.  Then he’d be forced to sell those same cards at fire sale prices.  If you think this was annoying, try listening to this for about fifteen (15) minutes.

But this negative rant also got me thinking about businesses.  They all tout the successes of businesses and never even mention the prospects of failure.  Again, we’re not all that different.  This series will look at how bots can fail and in so doing, make certain we do not emulate those mistakes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Server is very slow


the server is currently very slow. We are fixing it, and it will be running again smoothly soon

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

For those in the United States, today is July 4th, Independence Day.  It is a day of hot dogs, barbeques, going to the beach, going to a baseball game, watching fireworks, and getting together with friends for a nice summer day.
Note the commonality of the things listed above, virtually nothing is done indoors.  Until WotC comes up with an app that allows trading, or a client where you can play MTGO on a smartphone, Magic Online will continue to be played indoors and online.

Oh great.  Another dead day where I won’t be making any money.

Not necessarily.  There are those who prefer indoor activities and will not be playing Diablo 3, KOTOR, or WoW.  Some may be unwilling or unable to go and risk skin cancer.  In any event, while the majority of people will be doing festive summer activities, it does not mean that MTGO will be offline as there will be more users on MTGO than on a normal Wednesday.

So, why not use this information to your advantage?  Change your advertising messages; and even offer a sale celebrating the birthday of the United States!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.08 is out!

ML Bot 5.08 is out.

It fixes some issues with the recent redesign of the UI and fixes a problem when loading ''modified'' CardsMTGO3.txt (sometimes resulting in crashes)


Invasion was released in September 2000. Twelve years passed, but we still can enjoy drafting IPA thanks to 10th MtGO anniversary. If you have ever drafted either Shards of Alara or Ravnica, you know that multi-color blocks can be difficult. You end up with a lot of cards in different, usually 3-4 colors. Next step is to build a mana base, which might be not easy task, especially there are not very much fixing in Invasion. As a result, the drafts are a complicated balance of picking powerful cards, without stretching your mana too much.

Do you remember times when Pernicious Deed or Orim's Chant was about 100 Event Tickets? By now there have been plenty of IPA drafts and price of cards gradually dropped. These days IPA draft set costs only 13 Event Tickets to comparizon with 30 Event Tickets few years ago. For players that don’t play in a lot of eternal formats, it may be difficult figuring out what the best money cards are. I have heard several stories of people being passed these cards during IPA drafts, which is just silly. It’s like handing a two twenty dollar bills to the person on your right. One of the problems is that there are few stores on MTGO that advertise the prices for these cards in the classifieds. If you see an Orim’s Chant, and look it up in the classifieds, you probably won’t even see an ad, and you certainly won’t pick it because it is terrible in limited. Additionally, IPA has a lot of commons that see a lot of play in Pauper, such as Ancient Spring, Crimson Acolyte, Exclude. IPA commons are worth definately much more than normal commons.
Some of them are even worth a few tix, which is a really good price as for a common.

The moral of the story is to check the value of unknown to you cards from drafted edition :)