Monday, September 30, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 6.01

ML Bot 6.01 has just been released, tuning a couple of annoying things of 6.00. In particular:

  • the pause message is now smaller and it placed at the top-left corner (see image below)
  • the correction dropdown menus in the the "Correction Tab" did not show all the options: the scrollbar was missing (highlighted in orange)
  • fixed a minor bug of the OCR causing the bot to withdraw the trade in the final confirm windows because of some wrong read cards (mainly foils and basic lands)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to draft Theros?

The Theros set features 249 cards. Prerelease have already started. New sets bring on new cards and new loves. With THS 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 Theros. 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:

In brackets I put a number symbolizing the power level of card.
1 is for superb pick
2 is for great pick
3 is for good pick

White: Divine Verdict(3), Last Breath(3), Leonin Snarecaster(3), Observant Alseid(3), Wingsteed Rider(2),  Dauntless Onslaught(2/3), Evangel of Heliod(3), Favored Hoplite(3), Heliod's Emissary(2/3)
Blue: Breaching Hippocamp(3), Griptide(3), Nimbus Naiad(2), Omenspeaker(3), Prescient Chimera(2), Vaporkin(2), Voyage's End(3), Dissolve(3), Horizon Scholar(2), Ordeal of Thassa(3), Sea God's Revenge(3), Sealock Monster(3), Thassa's Emissary(2/3), Triton Fortune Hunter(3), Triton Tactis(3)
Black: Blood-Toll Harpy(3), Boon of Erebos(3), Cavern Lampad(3), Disciple of Phenax(3), Lash of the Whip(2), Pharika's Cure(2), Read the Bones(2), Sip of Hemlock(3), Ereboss Emissary(3), Insatiable Harpy(3), Keepsake Gorgon(2/3), Morrgis's Marauder(3), Rescue from the Underworld(2/3),
Red: Borderland Minotaur(3), Deathbellow Raider(3), Ill-Tempered Cyclops(3), Lightning Strike(2), Minotaur Skullcleaver(2/3), Rage of Purhoros(2), Spearpoint Oread(3), Two-Headed Cerberus(3), Coordinated Assault(2/3), Fanatic of Mogis(2/3), Flamespeaker Adept(2/3), Magma Jet(2), Ordeal of Purphoros(2/3), Purphoros's Emissary(3), Stoneshock Giant(3),
Green: Feral Invocation(3), Leafcrown Dryad(2/3), Nessian Asp(3), Nessian Courser(3), Nylea's Presence(3), Pheres-Band Centaurs(3), Time to Feed(3), Vulipne Goliath(3), Centaur Battlemaster(2/3), Nylea's Emissary(3),
Multicolor: Battlewise Hoplite(3), Chronicler of Heroes(3), Horizon Himera(2), Kragma Warcaller(3), Pharika's Mender(3), Sentry to the Underworld(2/3), Shipwreck Singer(3)
Colorless: Opaline Unicorn(3), Burnished Hart(2/3),

Good luck in drafts!

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics 7) Part 16

Personal Percentages:
Last week we talked about how you can turn a Pro bot into a "Hybrid" bot that buys for bulk prices like a Lite bot and sells for individual prices like a Pro bot. This week I'll go into a little more advanced settings of Pro bots and how you can use them to fine tune your bot's prices.

I've already talked about how you can set your Pro bot's corrections in a previous post.
The corrections tab is a great way of adjusting your prices but there are ways of customizing them even further.
For example you might want to buy Standard cards at +10% since they sell quickly, then you start buying Extended and realize that you don't want to pay as generously for these older sets as there isn't as much demand for these compared to Standard. So, what do you do now?
The answer is PersonalPercentages.txt.

PersonalPercentages.txt and how to use it:
In this file you can specify individual correction percentages for each card and also each set and rarity which is a great way of dealing with the problem I just described.

If you open the PersonalPercentages.txt file that is located in your MTGO library folder, you'll see that it describes how to set it up.

You can write the instructions in this file following this format:

Put to use it'll look something like this.
Example: M13;Elvish Visionary;+30%;+35;-30%;-45%

This will make your bot sell the M13 Elvish Visionary for CardsMTGO3.txt(Pricelist) prices +Corrections%(Corrections Tab) +30%(PersonalPercentages.txt).
So keep in mind that it doesn't override the Corrections Tab's percentages, it adds(or subtracts) to them.

Also note that if you don't want to set a personal value in one of the fields you just leave that one blank.
Example: M13;Murder;-30%;;-30%;

You can also set correctional percentages for each set by switching out the card name to a rarity.
Example: ISD;Uncommon;+10%;+15%;-20%;-30%;

This will affect all Uncommons in the Innistrad(ISD) set and is a great way of tackling the problem I described earlier in this post.

You could use this to stay safe and not buy sets that are soon going to rotate out of Standard for too high prices, as the prices sinks rapidly when everyone wants to get rid of these sets to purchase cards from the next block that rolls into standard.

After you have set up your PersonalPercentages.txt just save it and set the bot in the General Tab to
"Use PersonalPercentages.txt".

Next week I'll go through the PersonalPrices.txt file and how to use it, until then, have fun botting!
-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Saturday, September 28, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 6.00

ML Bot 6.00 has just been released, fixing and tuning a number of "little things".

  • The initial part of the trades is now up to 3 seconds faster, resulting in less waiting time for your customers
  • Special Buddies' corrections can be tuned at 1% increments
  • The pause mechanism slightly changed because it was too easy to forget the bot paused and lose a day of trades. This was especially true on slow computers where the pause could take up to 500-600 ms to activate, resulting in multiple pressions of the "CTRL+A" sequence. ML Bot will now unpause automatically after 10 minutes. If a longer paused is needed, please stop the bot and restart it when done

Friday, September 27, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.99

ML Bot 5.99 is another great update, introducing "Special Buddies".
Who are the "special buddies"? These are persons you want to encourage / discourage from trading with your bot by adjusting their selling and buying prices.
An example: you can give a discount to your friends, or to the members of your clan. You can make cards more expensive for cherry pickers.

ML Bot 5.99 is now also able to recover from a "generic crash" (see image below). This is useful, for example, if Explorer (or some other software) crashes and blocks Mtgo.

Finally, the new version features a better mtgo-launching procedure and has a timer that will automatically restart the launch after waiting 3 hours without errors or feedback of any sort.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Quantitative Easing (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I wrote about Quantitative Easing (QE) and why the powers that be justify the vast injection of money   We discussed their justification of this by stating that the fears of deflation and how it can wreck an economy is justification of this unorthodox strategy.  It is along the lines of “We are afraid of dust bowls so we are going to flood the plains so dust bowls can not occur.”

While I understand their thought process, I still have the “what are they thinking” thoughts rummaging around in my head.  It simply does not make any common sense.  Let me explain.

Injecting large amounts of currency into the ecosystem will discourage new money from coming into the game.  Let’s say WotC gave each account 243,586 tickets.  Prices for each card would eventually adjust to match the new level.  This is what you would expect.  However, now imagine a new person coming into the game.  What would their level of satisfaction be if their real $20 could not even buy the cheapest and jankiest of commons?  What if it took $1,500 to get into a draft?  Such a level of entry would quickly discourage new players from joining the Magic community and would also prohibit new money from coming into the ecosystem. 

Over time, players who had a healthy collection value (Defined as the worth of their cards and tickets) before the ticket injection will do well with the hyper-inflated prices while players who had little collection value will quickly be swamped by those with assets.  These players will eventually drop out of the game because they could no longer afford to keep up.  In other words, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

The same thing is happening in the real world.  The banks are receiving this huge injection of cash and bankers want to do something with this money.  Where is the place to put money right now?  Not enough people qualify for loans or are comfortable in trying to get a loan in the current situation.  Bonds are paying close to nothing.  So the money is going into the stock market.  This is why the stock market is at record levels even though the underlying economy is in shambles.

MTGO Library Bot 5.98

ML Bot 5.98 has just been released. This is a big update containing many bug fixes and improvements.
  • First of all, the Autotransfer modes can now take up to 400 cards. Before 5.98 the limit was 75, legacy of the old trading system.
  • The curl crash (image on the right) has been fixed and won't happen again
  • MTGO sometimes crashes displayin a number of "different errors"- all with a white mtgo icon (image on the left). ML Bot 5.98 is now able to close these errors and restart
  • There is an error when launching Mtgo named "Magic the Gathering Online: Start Failure"  (image is missing unfortunately). ML Bot 5.98 recognizes that error too and correctly handles it


Please don't hesitate and report here ( any crash you find, I will fix it as soon as possible and release an update

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics 6) Part 15

The "Hybrid" bot and how to set it up:
Last week we talked about the Pro bot and some very basic settings.
This week I'll talk about something called a "Hybrid" bot.

A "Hybrid" bot is actually not a version of MTGO Library Bot, like Pro or Lite.
It's a Pro bot that runs with special settings making it buy for bulk prices like any Lite bot but sell using the pricelist just like a Pro bot.

This can be very useful when you want to build your collection and want to have some easily manageable prices so you can stay safe and not waste too much tickets by buying junk for pricelist prices.
At the same time it lets you sell the cards you purchase for their actual value which makes it easy to manage and a great way to start out if you don't want to start with one Pro and one Lite.

A "Hybrid" or a Lite bot will usually not yield you a lot of valuable rares (unless you have very high buy prices) but it will stock you up with the junk for prices you can afford and also occasionally brings in some more valuable Uncommon and Common cards like Young Pyromancer and the like.
The only downside with the "Hybrid" bot is that it's not common and therefore might confuse customers, so make sure to explain that it buys for bulk prices and sells for individual prices.

Setting up a "Hybrid" bot:

• Start up ML Bot and set it to Pro.

• Set up all the settings in the General, Collection,
   Buyer, Administrator and Messages tab.
   (I've explained how to do this in previous posts.)

• Go into the Corrections tab and set it to whatever
   corrections you want in the "selling" fields
   and +100% in the buying fields (yes you read
   that right, 100%).

 •  Lastly go into the Limits tab and set your 
    "Buying price limits"
to the prices you want to    
     bulk purchase cards for. For example 0.005 for
     commons (200 per ticket) and so on.

That's it, now your bot will buy cards for the prices you set in the limits tab and sell according to your corrections and pricelist.

That's all I had for today, I'll be back with a new post next week, until then, happy botting and good luck!

-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Theros - new mechanisms

Theros is coming soon and it brings new keywords:

  • Bestow: creatures with bestow can be cast either as creatures or as Auras targeting a creature.
  • Heroic: appears in italics at the beginning of abilities that trigger whenever you cast a spell that targets the creature with the heroic ability
  • Monstrosity: a new keyword action that puts +1/+1 counters on a creature and may cause other abilities to trigger for further bonuses.
  • Devotion: A player's devotion to [color] is equal to the number of mana symbols of that color among the mana costs of permanents that player controls.
  • Scry: means to look at the top X cards of your library, put any number of them on the bottom of your library in any order, and put the rest on top of your library in any order.
Soon how to draft Theros!

Wikiprice will be online again on Monday

We are moving wikiprice to a new server. We expect wikiprice to be online again on Monday.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Problem with wikiprice

We are still having issues with wikiprice, the website gets too much traffic and it cannot process the queries. Probably next week we will move it to a faster server, for the moment it is down for maintenance

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quantitative Easing (Part 1 of 2)

If you were watching the US Stock Market (DJIA) on Wednesday Sept 18, you noticed something a little weird.  Just after 14:00, the DJIA went up about 200 points in about five (5) minutes.  All the experts said that this spike was due to an announcement by the Federal Reserve that they are going to keep in place their policy of Quantitative Easing.  (QE)

So what is this Quantitative Easing anyway?  In a nutshell, it is where the government simply prints money. By this, I do not mean currency which is used in day-to-day transactions.  This money is being created out of thin air, by pressing a button and bank reserves are now increased digitally.

If this sounds unconventional, you would be correct.  This was first tried in Japan in 2007 and three (3) rounds of QE have been done in the United States.

So what is the purpose of QE The purpose of QE is to keep the inflation rate above a certain threshold.  Why keep inflation above a certain point?  Doesn’t increasing prices make it harder for workers to make ends meet and doesn’t it lower the quality of life?  Absolutely.  But the government fears deflation even moreDeflation is where prices fall and if left unchecked, can collapse an economy.

Let’s discuss QE and inflation in terms of Magic Online.  If WotC decided to give every account 261,384 tickets, what would happen to MTGO?  The prices would jump out of whack for some period time but eventually the prices would stabilize.

Such a move would be chaotic but it is far preferable to the alternative: a deflationary effect where each card drops in value every day.  Why buy a card today when it will be cheaper tomorrow and cheaper the day after that?  While we do see such things happen in technology, we do not fear the deflationary effect because there is a new “top end” item that is being produced, be a new car, a new phone, or in MTGO, new sets.

Problem with the servers

**UPDATE** is now up again! is still down, we are working on the server


we are currently having an issue with the server and ML Bots are no more able to serve trades. We are restarting all the services and they will be available soon. Wikiprice is down as well sorry about that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This was ML Bot 1.01

I found a screenshot of the first version of ML Bot, year 2007 :-)
It was like that!!


Monday, September 16, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.97

ML Bot 5.96 was prone to crashes on Windows XP (Windows Vista, 7 and 8 are fine), so I fixed the crash and released ML Bot 5.97.

All the Windows XP user should upgrade immediately.

MTGO Library Bot 5.96 and real time wikiprice

ML Bot 5.96 has just been released, introducing wikiprice realtime support. This means that as soon as your bot receives/sells a card, wikiprice updates and reflects the change.

As botters update their client to 5.96, I expect wikiprice to become more reliable and more "real time". The full real time will be reached when all the botters will have updated their clients, which usually takes some days.

I am also proud to give you some numbers regarding wikiprice:
- response time is <2 b="" page="" per="" sec="">
- average load is 40.000 pages per days (1 page every 2 second)
- more than 9 million unique cards stored
- 100% uptime this week


Sunday, September 15, 2013

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics 5) Part 14

The Pro bot and it's secrets (Part 2 of 2):
Last week I posted the first part of this post about the Pro version of the ML Bot.
Here's the second part where I'll go through how corrections work and then give a "safe" example of settings a new botter could try.

Corrections explanation:
In the "Prices" tab you can find corrections you can set. In here you can set your bot to buy and sell a certain percentage higher or lower than the price list.

Here's an example:
In the pricelist the Blood Artist from Avacyn Restored have a sell price of: 0.249 and a buy price of: 0.137
If you set the corrections of Uncommon to buy them for +100% your bot will buy Blood Artist for 0.274 (0.137 + 100%) and if you set the bot to sell them for -50% your bot will sell it for ~0.124 (0.249 - 50%).

You can set these prices by hand, individually for each card in the PersonalPrices.txt file or individual percentages in the PersonalPercentages.txt in the bot's folder (I'll go more in depth into this in later posts), but the pricelist is pretty accurate and a great way of starting out.

Recommended corrections:
I would suggest you to start out "safe", buy for low prices and sell for fairly low.
Here's some settings you could try and some pointers to keep in mind.

Buy Mythic and Rare for between +10% to -10% and slowly work your way up as you build your collection.

Don't rush it or you will end up depleting your tickets.
No one wants to do business with a bot that doesn't have any tickets. As your collection gets bigger and your ticket count grows you can start buying for higher prices.

Buy Commons and Uncommons for around 0% to -20%. Most people won't care much about commons as there aren't many of really high value, especially not in Standard and will just buy or sell them for whatever not too crazy price your bot suggests.

It's the good prices on Mythics and Rares that will bring people to your bot with the help of the site and your classified advertisement.

Sell Rares and Mythics for between 0% to -10%. In the beginning it's important to start building a customer base so you don't want to be too expensive. Later on when you have built up a big collection and you've increased your buy prices you can increase your sell prices as well.
A lot of people won't mind buying a bit more expensive if the bot they're dealing with have everything they need rather than have to scavenge tons of bots for each card.

Sell Commons and Uncommons for 0% possibly slightly lower.

Limits tab: 
You can use this tab to set a limit so your bot won't buy (or sell) over (or bellow) a certain price.

It might be a good idea in the beginning to limit buying prices so your bot doesn't buy a playset of Voice of Resurgence for 28.14 tickets each which might leave you without tickets to buy other cards for.

That's all for this week, next week I'll talk about the "Hybrid" bot which is a mix between Lite and Pro.

Until next time, have fun botting!

-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Wikiprice.. Tomorrow it will be REALTIME

In one day we will release a ML Bot update able to communicate with wikiprice in real time... You get a card, wikiprice gets it too immediately.... Stay tuned :-)


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Changes that were supposed to kill Magic, part 3


Next change that were supposed to kill Magic was..Magic Online. In 2001 MtG went online. Some argued it would never work, while others feared it would keep players from playing in stores. Anyway, who would ever buy digital card for the same price as paper one? That's not how video games work.

When Magic began, sets were sold in both starters and boosters. Starters were boxes that held seventy-five (originally sixty) cards, including thirty land. When the starters (later called tournament decks) were phased out, it was unclear how exactly new players would be able to get basic lands. Intro Packs and Fat Packs would have land, but what about a player who just bought boosters? The solution to the problem was to replace one of the common cards with a basic land. While this was a good thing for newer players, some of the established players weren't so happy with the change. They felt that they were getting one less card, which would impact both their collection and limited play.

With Magic 2010 significant rule change came, which removed "damage on the stack" and mana burn was removed. The reaction wasn't quite as strong as the last big rules change with Six Edition but it was vocal, nonetheless. Many players felt the changes weren't needed and lessened the quality of the game. With time, as with the Sixth Edition rules, the players have come to embrace them.

Also, in meantime there were numerous widely discussed changes, like new card frame, reminder text explaining what 'flying' is, transform cards, planswalkers and so on.

As you can see, Magic's been through a lot in its twenty-year history. Hopefully, this article allowed you a little glimpse through that history, either to learn some things you didn't know about or let you reminisce if you did.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wikiprice down for 2 hours

** UPDATE: wikiprice is now up again! **

Wikiprice ( will be down for 2 hours. We are migrating the server to a larger one to allow faster queries. Sorry for the inconvenience!



How much profit do your bots make?  Do you even know?  Do you even know how to calculate it?  Why is this even important?  This is important to know because you never know when opportunity will come walking your way.  It is also helpful to track trends and can help you anticipate opportunities.  If you know there is a period of heavy trading, you can increase the prices of your cards.  If you know there is a period of low trading approaching, you can mark down your inventory and advertise a sale.

But first you need to know your bot's finances.  How do we do that?  For this example. We will use a simple LITE bot which buys rares at 2 per ticket and sells them for 1 ticket each.  Now for Monday, this bot bought 20 cards and sold 18 cards.  So what is the profit?  The bot purchased 20 cards, costing 10 tickets and sold 18 for 18 tickets.  10 from 18 yields an 8 ticket profit.  Do this for the other rarities and you have your bot’s profit.

Doing this for the PRO bot is done the same way.  It just is a little more complicated because of the arithmetic involved.  But the math is the same.  If your bot purchases 10 tickets worth of cards and sells 18 tickets worth of cards, then your bot made 8 tickets worth of profits.

I can already hear the objections.  This does not include the rental fee.  You haven’t lost money as the tickets are not lost, just went in inventory,  Your method does not take into account price fluctuations.  Your analysis is not even applicable because one part of my bot chain is used to refill other parts of the chain.  This doesn't even consider computer hardware, maintenance or operating costs.  

All of this is absolutely true.  This is why you need to customize everything to your specific situation.  Fortunately for us, the website has a feature which tells you the value of your collection.  Track your collection total over a period of time and this will give you a rough estimate of how much profit your bots are making.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cheaper than running yourself?

Renting a Server?

I upgraded my PC recently, and yet I am thinking of remaking a PC all together with more attention to energy efficiency.

As all of you know, to get into the botting world of MTGO, many of us are required to do some investments in hardware and waste many man-hours setting all up.
Most Botters PCs electricity usage range between 200 and 400 watt. This is because most of us did not build our pc's exclusively for botting and more likely upgraded our "everyday use" Gaming desktops into accepting (more) bots.

As Albert explained earlier in late August, building a Desktop to run bot(s) can cost between $500 to $1250+, depending on how many bots you wish to run. You might be mistaken that spending $500 on a PC to run, lets say, 2 Bots is a good idea, but there is a cheaper option.

A PC which is not designed to be energy efficient, running 2 bots, usually draws on average about 200-250w (average bots constant low load) while the monitor(s) are off, possibly up to 300-400w while they're on (depending if you dual monitor, screen size, etc). This means that, depending on wattage and your location, a Botting PC will use between $1 to $2 electricity a DAY. Might not sound much, but this is $30-60 on electricity a month, just to run 1-2 bots, which is definitely a number to consider, specially for newer bots with a very little amount of trades.

I am considering building powerful, energy efficient PCs to run more bots, but while I don't have enough capital to invest into a whole new card collection I was wondering if I could use my hardware/PC Building knowledge and software tweaking skills into something new and mutual benefit of me and other botters.
This is when I had the idea of possibly renting Virtual Machines exclusively for MTGO Library botting somewhere around $15 a month or less (while you would have full access to the PC remotely, to pause bot, edit personal prices, etc). This would remove a lot of weight of your shoulders, not having to worry about configuring Virtual Machines, not being able to play games on your PC while bots are running, having to sort out bot updates or quick adjustments while on holiday and so on.

While this is surely not great news for those who already run 6+ bots from 1 PC, but, it can be for the botters out there that run 1-3 bots on their personal PCs(with power hungry graphics cards or so).

Please share your thoughts and let me know if you would be the kind of person that would like to be involved in something like this.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.95 released

ML Bot 5.95 has just been released.
It is an improvement over version 5.94, mainly addressing wikiprice.

Changes that were suppoused to kill Magic, part 2

Starting a new format - Type 2, known as Standard brought huge response from players. Remember, at the time, that there were no formats — just Magic. And from now on part of my cards become obsolete. How could it be? It was widely discussed. Old format was called Type 1 - Vintage.

To start with I must explain that first sets of Magic were printed in small numbers so that some players were not able to get all the cards they wanted. So, WotC thought it would be very kind to release set Chronicles full of reprints. The problem was that Wizards didn't think through the impact that reprinting old cards would have on the value of the existing cards.

Wizards drew a conclusion from this uncontrolled supply of cards and they made a promise that certain cards would never get reprinted - Reserved List. Players booed this decision because access to old would be hindered. Over the years Reserved List has remained and Wizards honor its promise.

Couple of years later, with a release of Urza's Legacy, Wizards introduced foil cards. Of course, even after such change people predicted a near end of our favorite card game. People complained about the look of new cards and fact, that Magic was making a change it didn't need.

However, these complaints were nothing in comparison to complaints about enormous change in rules after Sixth Edition, where we faced for the first time stack, numerous rules went away, and the sequence of the turn was tightened up. It fundamentally changed the way the game was played. I believe this change created the loudest outcry from the public.

More next time!

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics 4) Part 13

The Pro bot and it's secrets (Part 1 of 2):

Last week I wrote about some basic Lite bot settings, and as promised, here's the first part of two about the Pro version, next part will be posted next week.

Pro bots buy and sell cards using a price list that you can download for a fee from MTGO Library.
This list is updated every 2 hours and is a good way of making sure your prices are up to date with the current value of cards as it can dip and rise in a very short time.
In the bot's interface you can set it to buy and sell a certain percentage higher or lower than the price list.
You don't want to buy too high, but you also at the same time must have competitive prices so people actually want to use your bot.

What to buy:
I would recommend starting out with buying only from the sets that are currently in Standard in the beginning unless you have tons of tickets to invest.
Standard cards will be bought very frequently and it's easy to find buyers for those high value cards that will deplete your tickets fast.

Older sets however might take longer sell and while it's still worth selling you might want to wait to buy these sets until later on.

You can set which sets you want to buy in the "Collection" tab in the MLBot Interface.

Remember that you can still sell cards that you haven't chosen in the "Collection" tab, for example cards your Lite bot supply your Pro bot with.

If you want to buy Foil cards I would suggest buying only standard and for a very low price in the beginning for the same reasons why I recommend not buying anything else than standard when you're starting out.

Basic lands can easily deplete your tickets so only buy these extremely cheap if you want to purchase them.

Profit from Boosters are mainly in the form of "Float", which is the leftover credits that users don't end up spending on your bot. Boosters are bought with a very small margin and sell prices are almost identical to the buy prices. I wouldn't recommend buying them in the beginning unless you buy them very cheaply.

Avatars aren't worth much and only a few are actually worth buying for any decent price. The Momir Vig, Simic Visionary Avatar is used for the Momir Basic format and is frequently bought but most of the other ones are rubbish.

This was all for today, next time I'll post the second part of this post where I go through some basic settings.

Cya then!

-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Saturday, September 7, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.94 and wikiprice

ML Bot 5.94 has been released. It offers more frequent refreshes on wikiprice: 2 hours vs 6 hours of versions 5.93.

We also sligthly changed wikiprice results and now we filter out all the prices older than 6 hours. This was necessary because older entries often result in false positive searches (and, if your bot is running properly, 6 hours are enough to update wikiprice with newer data).

The ultimate goal is always the same: eliminate all the false positive results and make wikiprice a 100% reliable tool.

Friday, September 6, 2013

On the previous chapter I briefly introduced that the machine you were to run your Magic Online stores on was one of the largest initial investments. Thus, I think it is important that you only spend the money you need on this so important device. In this chapter I will give a few tips on how to decide what elements are the most appropriate ones for a computer to install bots Magic Online according to your needs.

Step 1: Shall I use an old PC or a new one?

If you do not have enough money to afford a new one as I discussed in the previous chapter, you can recycle an old one. For me the only advantage is the short-term savings, but some of the drawbacks I see include the following:

  • It is more likely that an old PC gets suddenly broken in the short term. Typical desktop systems are used to be voluminous and make a lot of noise due to de forced convection (fans). 
  • They have a higher power consumption.
  • They are not fast nor they have enough memory to run some Magic Online bots at once. Memory can be easily substituted, but this does not happen with the CPU.
If you have no other option you can use an old PC, but this article will probably not be of much interest for you. However, my suggestion is to buy a dedicated PC. If you choose this option, we will continue evaluating which features your new computer should have.

Step 2: Intel or AMD?

AMD CPUs are significantly evolving over the last years, with up to 12 real cores per processor at the professional range, and APU for the domestic sector. All this new technology is offered at a relatively competitive price compared with Intel, its main adversary.

However, I would choose an Intel processor for a computer which has to run Magic Online bots. The most important reason is the relation between performance, number of cores and the power consumption. It is clear that we always want the fastest speed possible and in this respect both AMD and Intel do a good job, but it is the relation with the power consumption and the number of cores what makes the difference.

Each CPU core will be configured to run a store, so the more we have the more bots we can install on the same computer. It is more likely that you initially only open 1-2 stores, but for a small extra charge I think it’s a good idea to overstate this device, as it is the most expensive and difficult to replace in the future (brands switch the socket of the new CPUs, you have to change the motherboard…)

I want to say that I have had personal experience of AMD CPUs and they usually break sooner than the Intel ones. I guess this is because they consume more and therefore heat up but I could not contrast this assumption with any specialist. With this I mean that although initially AMD could be cheaper, eventually you will have to change it sooner than an Intel. Of course this is my personal experience and maybe some of you have had just the opposite.

Step 3: Barebone as the basis system

The computer will be on 24 hours a day, so one of the main goals consists of minimizing its power consumption to save money on electric bills. Fortunately you do not need the ultimate in performance because you are not going to use the computer for playing. Thus, the best choice for the box+motherboard set is a barebone.

These computers usually lack of fans and overheating because consumption is very low, and they are also smaller than traditional desktop PCs. This is an additional advantage for zero noise (you can place it in the hall and, for example, use it to watch movies on TV) and lower accumulation of dust inside the computer itself.

Although there are many models on the market, I will show you a small list of what are the ones that I would consider buying when replacing my current computer.

Model Technical Features Estimated Price
 Gigabyte Brix
Gigabyte Brix
Dimensions: 29.9×107.9×114.6 (mm)
CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-3537U (TDP 17W)
Memory: Up to 16 GB DDR3 (not included)
Hard Disk: mSATA (not included)
Connections: 1x mSATA; 1x Wi-Fi; 1x USB 3.0; 1x HDMI; 1x Mini DisplayPort; 1x Ethernet RJ45
Operating System: Not included
 539 €
Intel NUC
Intel NUC Kit
Dimensions: 39x112x117 (mm)
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-3427U (TDP 17W)
Memory: Up to 16 GB DDR3 (not included)
Hard Disk: mSATA (not included)
Connections: 1x mSATA; 1x Wi-Fi; 1x USB 3.0; 2x USB 2.0; 1x HDMI; 2x Mini DisplayPorts; 1x Ethernet RJ45
Operating System: Not included
 378 €
Shuttle Slim DS61
Shuttle Slim DS61
Dimensions: 43x190x165 (mm)
CPU: Intel® Core™ i3/i5/i7 (not included)
Memory: Up to 16 GB DDR3 (not included)
Hard Disk: mSATA (not included)
Connections: 1x mSATA; 1x Wi-Fi; 2x USB 3.0; 4x USB 2.0; 1x HDMI; 1x DVI-I; 1x Ethernet RJ45; 1x SD Card Reader
Operating System: Not included
 200 €
Mac Mini
Mac Mini
Dimensions: 36x197x197 (mm)
CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-3615QM (TDP 45W)
Memory: 4 GB DDR3 (optionally up to 16 GB)
Hard Disk: 1 TB 5400 rpm (optionally SSD 256 GB)
Connections: 1x mSATA; 1x Wi-Fi; 1xBluetooth 4.0; 4x USB 3.0; 1x HDMI; 1x Mini DisplayPort; 1x Thunderbolt; 1xFirewire; 1x Ethernet RJ45; 1x SD Card Reader
Operating System: MacOS X
 849 €

Prices may have big variations depending on the content. For example, the Shuttle Slim does not include CPU whereas the Mac Mini has RAM and hard drive included, in addition to some extra connectivity and the host operating system license. As I said, I recommend any of these computers with an Intel Core i7, but if you do not have plans to install many shops on the long-term it may be better a barebone like the Intel NUC due to its lower price.

I have not talked about the graphics card because it is not a top requirement to install bots on Magic Online. Besides, you usually do not have to watch the screen of the computer where you install your stores, so it is not something to worry about. In fact, the less this device consumes the better because you will save more energy. The only minimum requirement is to accept a resolution of at least 1280×1024, which almost all current graphics cards of the market allow.

Step 4: RAM memory

Each store will use a minimum of 1 GB of RAM if run under Windows XP , although it is recommendable to have at least 1.5 GB. Each of your stores probably will work with virtualization (we will see what is virtualization in the next chapter of this series), but all virtual systems are managed by another host operating system.

Furthermore, depending on the host operating system, it will require more or less memory. You shall usually leave 2 GB of RAM for Windows 7/8 or MacOS (I even would keep this quantity for usual Linux desktop distributions like Ubuntu). However, there are special operating systems that only serve to manage other virtual systems. These special OS, like ESXi, have a very low memory consumption but only work on computers with a very specific hardware due to the limited number of drivers available. You have a very good series of articles devoted to this operating system through this link.

With these assumptions in mind, I would recommended a minimum amount of RAM of 4 GB (2 for the host OS and another 1.5 for the first store), and 1.5 GB per additional store. As each module of 8 GB can cost around 60 euros, I would suggest you to directly install 16 GB of RAM to have no problems in performance. because this component is one of the most importants to run Magic Online bots.

Step 5: Hard Disk

Some users have studied the impact on performance when using fast or slow hard drives, even by installing virtual machines on the RAM memory. The results indicate that the impact is rather small, so this component is not critical for performance, at least with one bot.

Let me explain the final assertion. The study referenced above is based on the use of a single bot. However, when you have multiple stores on the same computer, the hard disk must probably access to different parts of the disc itself that can slow down your system. In this situation it may be preferable to use Solid State Drives (SSD) over traditional hard drives (HDD) . They are more expensive but the difference is not outrageous. There are also an intermediate solution, the hybrid discs, which are being analyzed by another expert user at MTGO Library.

Anyway, as I have said the hard drive is not as critical as the other components so you can save money in this case. In addition, this device is probably the easiest one to be replaced from the hardware point of view, and obviously after backing up all your data.

Conclusions and some future sight

According to everything we have seen on this article, what computer would best fit your needs? In my opinion the Samsung Brix would be at the top in terms of price-performance ratio. Adding the price of a typical hard disk and all the 16GB RAM it supports, you can install up to 8 stores for around 750€, i.e. less than 100€/store. The Mac Mini can be deceptive at a first sight, but the unofficial memory expansion leaves it pretty close to the price of the Samsung Brix. So, if you are a Mac fan this is definitely your choice. In my opinion, the quality of the assembly and component durability of the Mac Mini cannot be compared with the others, of course if you can afford the extra price.

I have not talked about the new micro-computers of very low consumption like the Raspberry Pi, because unfortunately they use ARM processors. Truth be told, some systems allow installing modified Ubuntus that can run virtualization software, but surely the performance of Magic Online would be insufficient and it is not a real option for the moment.

I don’t want to finish this article without commenting you an option that I find rather curious. It consists of installing Magic Online stores on a Windows tablet Surface Pro. This Tablet/Notebook hybrid has all the requirements for our bots: Windows 8 desktop (allows virtualization), FullHD screen resolution and 4GB memory. The main drawbacks I see for the moment are the high price of this system and its low autonomy. However, the advantage of having no extra equipment for your stores if you use only one tablet at home can be very interesting. Who knows which new technologies are to come that will allow us to install our Magic Online bots…

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why So Sad Hybird? (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I had discussed flash drives and hybrid drives with flash memory and how they could really improve response time for our bots because flash drives would be much faster than platter-driven drives.  I had also mentioned that such drives have really not taken the market by storm.  This was not because of cost nor performance but of an underlying flaw: Flash memory has a life cycle of 10,000 writes.

What does that mean?  You can only write to a flash memory stick about 10,000 times before it simply will not write anymore.  Now, 10,000 writes is absolutely fine for that USB drive in your pocket attached to your keychain.  But for desktop computers, this is simply not enough. While servers would love the performance boost of using Flash memory, they are also not durable enough for such wear.

Then I came across this little article…

So some researchers found a way to get around that nasty 10,000 write limit.  If this indeed is true, and there is no real reason why this is not true, then it should not be too long before flash drives in more reasonable capacities are created and at a price point which is attractive for the performance boost.  I suspect that these new drives could hit the market within a year or so.

For us bot owners, what does this mean?  If you are running a part-time bot or bots on older hardware, this will not mean much of anything beyond some advertising you will see when you shop online, watch television or visit your local bog box store.  But for those who run bot chains, or aspiring bot chain owners, having a dedicated machine makes sense.  When the time comes to contemplate purchasing new hardware, take a look at these new rugged SSD drives and see if the increased cost and increased cost is worth the financial risk and performance gain.

Collection History working again

Collection History stopped working 27th August. We fixed the problem and it is now working again.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.93 released

This weekend wikiprice has been frequently offline due to maintenance. We changed its server and some important portion of the code.

MTGO Library Bot 5.93 is able to connect to the new server, while previous versions are not. If you are using ML Bot version 5.92 or lower, you have to upgrade to version 5.93 to have your bot on wikiprice.

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics 3) Part 12

The Lite bot and you:
In the last article I described some basics of the ML Bot interface and settings. In this blogpost I'll talk about some simple, basic strategies for botting with ML Bot and how to get your first bot(s) running.

I'm planning on going a little more in-depth(but still very basic) into each basic bot type, Pro, Lite and "hybrid" and I'll start off with a post about the Lite bot, the most simple one. I'll explain the differences and how you can set one up with some simple, easy and safe settings to begin with. More advanced tactics and settings will be covered in the future. Just make sure to read and follow the advice I gave in the previous post before you start with these settings.

The Lite bot basics:
A Lite bot buys in bulk. It buys for a set price per rarity, for example: 500 Common, 200 Uncommon or 30 Rares for 1 ticket. These can be set to anything you feel like.
It's not buying strictly 500 commons, it could be for example 250 commons and 100 uncommon. These numbers are mainly to give an example. In the bot's settings you don't set it to buy 500 common, you set it to buy commons for 0.002 tickets each, which adds up to 500 commons per ticket.

It's a good idea to keep these numbers fairly clean, at least with commons and uncommons.
It's not as important when it comes to rares as these aren't sold as much in bulk as junk commons, and pricing is more crucial as it's easier to make the mistake of buying these too high which will make people fill your bot with junk-rares that you overpay for. 
It's best to start off buying rares at around 40/ticket and after you fill up with crap like Search The City and the like, you can decrease it to 30 or so to make people more tempted to sell them to you.

Lite bots are mainly used to fill a Pro bot with stock. You buy cheap cards for bulk prices and then fill your Pro bot so it always has at least 4 of each.
You can of course still use it to sell cards as well and it's a great way of getting rid of junk commons.
Sometimes people will sell valuable cards to your Lite bot(s) with cheap buying prices so make sure to transfer all valuable cards to a Pro or "hybrid" bot that will sell them for what they're worth.
This is easily done by making a deck-file or "wishlist" containing valuable cards to use when transferring valuables.
Lite bot settings:
Decide which sets you want to start buying.
When using a cheap Lite bot I'd say it's worth buying every set while a Pro bot is better off buying only standard in the beginning. Although this totally depends on how many tickets you can afford to spend to build a stock.
You can set this in the "Collection" tab by simply selecting the sets you want to buy and set the amount of each category you want to purchase.
I would recommend not buying Foils in the beginning, or only very cheaply, just very slightly above non-foil. The same goes for basic lands as long as you're not buying extremely low. I would also recommend only buying 4 of each card in the beginning or maybe 8 if you have a big stock of tickets, as you're better off with a large variety of cards than tons of the same one.

I would recommend settings along these lines:
   • Common buy: 0.002
   • Common sell: 0.005
   • Uncommon buy: 0.0555
   • Uncommon sell: 0.01
   • Rare buy: 0.025
   • Rare sell: 0.0333
   • Mythic buy: 0.03
   • Mythic sell: You don't really want to sell these on your Lite bot.

When you've set up your prices make sure to write a fitting classified message your bot will post that advertises your prices and then you're ready to go.

Next time I'll go through how you can set up your first Pro bot.

-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Changes that were suppoused to kill Magic, part 1

Throughout its long history some rules changes were implemented, that were going to kill Magic the Gathering. Human being prefers stability and predictability, hence many players expressed dissatisfaction. However, Wizards of the Coast have never leant towards voice of the crowd. So far, the game didn't die, on the contrary it is doing really well, as last post about Hasbro revenues shows, despite these changes:

First significant change was introduction of sixty card decks and four-card limit. Before, players ran 40-cards deck where they could put any number of the same card into their deck. However later, WotC limited it to four because it allowed some consistency for deck building but wasn't too much to ensure that the card would always be drawn every game. Changes were implemented because during the tournaments were only two categories of decks. The first category was a deck which was able to win on turn one, and the second category was a deck which couldn't win the tournament.

The four-of card limits and the increase in deck size helped, but it didn't stop the degeneracy, so the next step was to further limit how many of a card players could play with. The Banned and Restricted List dealt with problem cards in two ways. Banning meant that the card was no longer allowed to be played. Restriction meant that only one copy of the card could be included in the deck.

More in next part!