Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MTGO Library Bot 4.75 is out!

ML Bot 4.75 is out. It is faster than previous versions because it is compiled natively for Windows 7

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus is a figure with religious, legendary, mythical, historical origins who, in many western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the workshop and the reindeer who pull his sleigh.I have prepared a few curiosities about Santa.

Well, let’s start with some history. The name “Santa Claus” stems from Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity.

In North American tradition (in the United States and Canada), Santa lives on the North Pole, which according to Canada Post lies within Canadian jurisdiction in postal code H0H 0H0 (a reference to "ho ho ho", Santa's notable saying). However, other nations believe he lives somewhere else. For instance, each Nordic country claims Santa's residence to be within their territory. I see regularity here: everyone wants to have Santa close to their homeland and I’m not surprised with it.

Many people think that the red-suited Santa was created as a marketing tool by Coca-Cola and consider it as a symbol of commercialism. They are wrong. It was Thomas Nast, cartoonist, who first created the red-suited Santa. A classic version of Santa Claus was drawn in 1863 for Harper's Weekly. Before then, most depictions of Santa Claus showed a tall, thin man. Nast drew him as the bearded, plump man known today.

There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus..


Friday, December 23, 2011

Buy it Low or High? Sell it low or high? Profit margin? (Part 1 or 3)

Hello, in these series I will take you around the big dilemma of most bot owners, how high to buy or how cheap to sell. I will explain each one of them and, in the last part, how I've dealt with it on my own bots. Todays topic will be all about buying prices, the advantages, disadvantages, risks and opportunities with each of them.

Buying low:

This sounds like the best option for most new bot owners, the chance of buying cheaply and sell it back at a low price making a quick easy profit sounds great but is not always the best thing to do.

Advantages: Higher profit margin per trade.

Disadvantages: Not attracting to sellers (no suppliers). Costumers that sell to you might feel scammed, not come back, or even spread the word on "how bad" your bot is.
Small / limited collection, not attracting regular buyers.

Risks: None/minimal risk of card value becoming higher than what you paid for it but likely loss of reputation due to the low buying prices.

Buying high:

Bot owners that set higher buy prices look mostly to make sure their regular costumers never need to look at other bots for their needs, having everything in stock, allowing sometimes to sell cards for more than other bots.

Advantages: Higher stock available to sell. Your supplying costumers will come back and recommend your bots to other drafters etc.

Disadvantages: Lower profit margin / possibility to buy cards at a higher value than other bots are selling.

Risks: A sudden card value drop will result in costumers taking advantage of your high buy prices almost instantly, resulting in big losses.

Opportunities: Cards can also go up in value very quickly (as i reviewed before in my fluctuation article). Before Worlds2011 I had 8 Inferno Titan that I've bought for 2.5 each, Hoping to sell for 2.75 (I was buying higher than most bots). On end of the world tournament I was able to sell all 8 of them quickly at a sell price around 9 Event tickets each, resulting in a big profit that I wouldn't get if I was buying cheaply.

On the next part I will be guiding you on the advantages and disadvantages of selling prices.

MTGO Library Bot 4.74 is out!

ML Bot version 4.74 is out, featuring a better connection with the webserver at the end of the trades.

Float (Part 3 of 3)

A long time ago, I was a manager for a retail store. As such, I was responsible for maintaining inventory and cash and doing the bookkeeping for store using company-approved accounting methods. While doing this after a particularly slow day, at the end of the day, there was a negative total. That's right, the store actually lost real money that day.

Not in terms of that the profits were not enough to cover expenses, but in real, absolute terms. Granted, it was not a lot of money, but the profits were less than zero. As the years moved on, I had forgotten about this episode.

Then, I started running my own bots and designed a spreadsheet to track in real terms how much profit I was getting. As the bot was new, the amount of profit was more or less steady with a slight upward tick. But I had days where my absolute profit of a certain day was negative. It actually cost me real money to run the bot that day. I began to wonder why this was happening. Then I realized the problem: float.

Flaot, that concept which many businesses love because people are simply giving a company money for nothing, does have a dark side. When float is redeemed, it causes a negative entry to be entered in the balance-sheet. When the float was given to a company, it is recorded as pure profit. So while in theory nothing really happened that shouldn't, because of the quirks of accounting, I had lost money.

Let's use an example: A new customer comes in, buys a card for .10 and pays with a ticket. Customer now has a .90 credit. As I have no other customers that day, I have gained 1.00 minus the cost of the card, say .06, so profit is .94. Customer returns the next day and uses his .90 on product that cost me .80. Customer now has zero (0) balance. Again, he is my only customer that day. But I gained zero (0) tickets, and .80 of product left the bot, therefore I “lost” .80 for the day.

But if you look at the two days, you see that I gained a ticket, gave up product costing me .86 and my profit is .14. Day 1's profit is .94, day 2 is -.80; totaling .14. So the math works.

I know this can be difficult to follow. But these accounting anomolies do show up when dealing with float.

This concludes this series on float. Next time, I'll tell a story. For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas.

By the way, this weird accounting anomaly is partially to blame for the current economic malaise the globe is experiencing. Profits were unnaturally reported and when the float was redeemed, the losses appeared greater than expected because the profits were never “real”.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MTGO Library Bot 4.73 is out!

ML Bot version 4.73 is out, supporting the wishlist buying mode for the 3 Mercadian Masques set (MM, NE, PR)

Float (Part 2 of 3)

Last time I introduced the concept of float, where a company is given money for future considerations. Today, we'll discuss how this relates to MTGO Library.

MTGO Library uses a credit system, which for all intents and purposes, is float. While there are many customers who prefer the LITE bot system where buying and selling X cards per ticket makes for easy accounting and typically leads to little, if any, float, the PRO bot makes it difficult for those customers who do not wish to deal with minutae. That minutae is what we call credits.

At first glance, looking at these credits doesn't seem like a lot of trouble. Each one is usually under a ticket and customers will simply bookmark any bot they have traded with and come back looking to see if the bot has received that fourth Wall of Omens yet.

But over time and over a customer base, this can really add up. If you look at the credit list of one of my bots, and you total what you see, that total is 20.441 tickets over the top thirteen (13) customers. (The top entry is for my personal account. I want to be able to get whatever I need, whenever I need it.) As you can see, this is not a trivial amount of product. Yes, the credits are still there for those who return to use them but if you look at this list, and your list through the control panel, you will see accounts which have gone dark. More money for you.

But there is a dark side to float, and how this can affect our business, which I will discuss next time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Float (Part 1 of 3)

As we continue on this Christmas season, let's look at something that didn't exist thirty (30) years ago: the gift card. Oh, it was still possible to get gift certificates for other people but this modern incarnation where every grocery store, every bar, basically every place of commerce has a tiny section where gift cards from restaurants, high end stores, Ebay, MMORPG's and Facebook games can be had there. Why is this happening?
Some of you may say that these are profitable, that they take little shelf space, or list shop-lifting reasons.

Yes, they are profitable as the merchant gets a percentage of each sale of a gift card, but that isn't why there is an explosion.

Yes, they take up little shelf space, which also explains why every merchant seems to be selling DVD's on the side.

Yes, who cares if someone takes a handful as they have no value until the register places value on that card. Which is similar to these pre-paid phone cards model.

While all are valid reasons, the reason gift cards have become popular is something the industry calls float. What is float? It is money that a company has been given for future goods and services to be given at a later date. From that definition, it doesn't sound that great. Until you realize the consequences of exposing the real world to this concept.

First off, there is the obvious benefit of being able to draw interest on float. If a company gives $10,000 in gift cards before Christmas and they are all redeemed a month later, that $10,000 can net a company $50, assuming a .5% monthly rate of return. Doesn't sound like much, but it is a start.

Not everyone redeems their gift cards immediately. This just gives a company more float in interest.

But some gift cards get lost. Now that is the real value of float. Not only do you get the interest from the float, but you also get the float itself. A 2009 study reveals that in the United States alone, the value of unclaimed gift cards exceeds $8,000,000,000 annually. No wonder companies love gift cards.

How does this involve MTGO Library? I'll discuss that next time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

MTGO Library Bot 4.72 is out!

ML Bot 4.72 is out, fixing a major issue with the selection of the WWK, ROE and ZEN sets during Buying Mode.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New settings!

Hello there!
I've changed my autotransfer settings very much since i started my bots, and never really known whats the best. Anyways, I've set some new autotransfer settings again and felt for sharing it and some other thoughts i have come up with lately :)

At the moment i have 4 buying bots and 4 selling bots, each of them numbered 0-4
Once a day my 4 buying bots refills my 3 last selling bots, 1-3.
Leaving bot 0 unrefilled. Though, after all transfers are done to selling bots 1-3, those bots refill bot 0, which results in that bot 0 has all cards in stock (That any of my bots owns of course), making it easier for my buying customers.

Every monday, wednesday and friday my last 3 selling bots transfers all their tickets to my first selling bot, Swebot. On tuesdays, thirsdays and saturdays my Swebot spreads the tickets out on my buying bots (At the moment they are set to refill until 75) but usually i keep them refilled to 150. The reason i lowered to 75 is that I've raised my buying prices for mythic and rare cards pretty much latest time, mythics and rares are now set to buy at +10% of ML bot pricelist. Which have been resulting in my bots buying alot more cards, so my amount of tickets are running lower then usual. Though everyone should know that the more distinct cards a bot has, the more customers it will get!

All my buying bots are set to buy up to 4x of each card and they are set to refill up to 4x to my selling bots. I really don't thing that there's any reason to have more then 4x of any card on the same bot. Although, when i refill my buying bots from my stock account i refill up to 8x of all cards. So that the buying bots wont just take 4, transfer them to my selling bots and then buy 4 new of the same card that i already have in stock. Since that's a waste of tickets.

At the moment Swebot has approximately 59.500 cards, with no more then 4x of each card!
That's about 15000 distinct cards! I have seen bots with 70.000+ cards, at first it seems nice. But when you check how many of each card they have in stock it often works out to about 10000 distinct cards or less. A good bot doesn't just have a large stock, a good bot has a large stock with a large amount of distinct cards!

And also as I mentioned in my last post, I've created a forum! But it's still lacking users! It's really hard to start a forum since if having no users no one else will come. But if some people get there and write some threads it will for sure attract more users! So go to, register an account and write a something about yourself! :)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advantages of a bot owner, "the drafter" Part 2 of 2

Hello, today I will be guiding you through part 2 of my review about the advantages of a bot owner, this time as a drafter.

This is not a guide on how to make profit as a drafter, since thats something I can't teach you in a simple blog post. Drafting is almost a form of gambling, where paying around 13-15$ worth of Event Tickets(or packs) will grant you an average of 3-10$ worth in cards and a chance of getting packs as extra. If you're looking for a safe profit, I wouldn't recommend drafting, but if you're already a drafter and regularly sell all you get into a random bot, then this guide might help you get more for your cards.

Bot type
You will be generating many cards, some which might be worth 10-20 event tickets, others that might be worth almost nothing and that you might already have 10+ in stock. Ideally I would recommend you to set 2 bot accounts, possibly one Lite, one Pro. Also, as your main goal is to sell, you might want to tune down your buying prices. You will not get tickets instantly for the cards you just drafted with but, in the long run, you will get more out of them.

Pro version:
This will be the bot that will likely feed (or help to feed) your drafting "addiction". the reason why you need the pro version is to make sure you will sell the expensive cards at a market price, so instead of selling a card to another bot for 16 which he would sell back at 19, you might just sell it yourself quickly at 18.5 on your own bot, making 2.5 extra event tickets that you wouldn't do without a bot.

Booster Packs:
You might also want the pro bot to buy packs at a very competitive price (even if just 0.01 under the usual bots sell price) and this is mostly because of costumers that sell them to you at, for example, 3.71 will come back to deal with your bot with the 0.71 credit they have or, in some cases, forget about it meaning that you might get some packs at simply 3 Event tickets.

Lite Version:
This is likely to be useful for the bulk amount of the same cards you have, wont make a huge difference to what you would get for those cards in comparison to selling them to a bulk bot but at least this one will take them (while most bots wouldn't even pick them, or not pick enough to reach a Event ticket worth).
This will also make bot costumers that like to pick a few cheap common/uncommon cards happy and possibly come back.

Drafting can be expensive if you don't have regular results, but with the help of bots you can minimize the costs or amplify the profits if you're a good drafter. Always keep in mind the costs and if you're not making enough wins, stop, research about the sets you're drafting with and take a break. Drafting straight after your last loss usually results in making bad decisions.
Good luck drafting and selling your cards!

Insert Pithy Title Here

Last time we discussed some of the administrator commands found in MTGO, which are accessed by an administer user entering those commands when prompted when in a trade with the bot in question. Today, we're going to discuss the rest of the commands:

upscreen = takes a screenshot and uploads it

Again, another self-explanatory command. Why would you desire this command? This is more for showing specifically what is going wrong. From a programmer's perspective, things that are not working need to be spelled out. For instance, if you tell a mechanic that your car “makes a funny noise”, it is not very helpful. But if you say that the engine makes this specific sound and these are the other things I've noticed, then the mechanic has a place to start looking. In the same manner, a screenshot helps us find out the error, and fix the bot in a future update.

at = auto transfer

This is useful when you simply want to transfer a bunch of cards from one account to another, with no conditions attached. For example:

Let's say you win an auction on Ebay and the seller gives you the account for two weeks to clear out the 15,000 cards. You can do this manually but it is an annoying thing to do. However, if you give this mule account temporary administrator rights, you can enter trade with your bot, and enter the at command, and a minute later, 75 cards will be in queue for transfer. Yes, you will still have to confirm and such, but you certainly can watch television and not worry about clicking the mouse button thousands of times while transferring cards.

fee = prompts the total renting fee

This can be helpful depending on what method you use to lease the bot. One thing to remember is that one does not need to be be logged into MTGO to get this information if one is on vacation: you can simply enter the Control Panel and not only get that fee, but also make a payment, be it with Paypal cash or MTGO tickets. The choice is yours.

That concludes this series of little-known bot features, and the mini-mini-series of controlling your bot while on vacation. I look forward to that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

How about a forum?

Hello there!

Me and the owner of the BestDeal bot chain have been speaking a bit in the past about where users can turn if they want to contact other bot users, for tips or just simple discussions.
This blog were a really good idea from Albert, but I don't really think it's enough.
Since there was no forum for bot users it I decided to create one. I made it so that the bot community will grow, also so that bot users can get help and tips easier.
I hope that you will think that this was a good initiative and that you will use it. Right now the forum only got the basic features that a forum should have to work. But if people will start using it i will continue the developing of it.
The first things i will start making on the forum is a list of scammers and bot abusers. So if you have had contact of any please write in that specific thread on the forum!
The forum is located on


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Remote Bot Administration

Last time I discussed my experience of bot maintenance while on vacation. I mentioned that I was able to remotely control the bot. Let's discuss that in a little more detail. But first, there are pre-requisites:

[A] Tick the checkbox to enable an administrator mode.

[B] Enter the account which will be able to enter administrator commands

Then, when you need to, just enter the command you wish to execute. We'll discuss a few today and the rest next time.

help = gives a list of available commands

kill = close the bot, close MTGO

shut = close the bot, close MTGO and shut down the computer

m restart = restarts MTGO

b restart = restarts MTGO and the bot

mode = mode 1; mode 2; mode 3; changes working mode where 1 = buying; 2 = selling; 3 = both

Each of these are fairly self-explanatory. Usage is simple. Log into MTGO with your administrator account, open a trade with your bot and when the bot recognizes you as an administrator, then enter the command, and that's it.

Nothing Earth-shattering here I know. Just meat-and-potatoes commands that do nothing flashy, won't directly make you money, but are features that if you need them, you know are there.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advantages of a bot owner, "the casual player" Part 1 of 2

This week I will be guiding you through the advantages of being a bot owner. Starting with the one I use the most, since I play more as a casual player than a professional.

As most casual players, I spend a big part of my time in MTGO tuning, testing and building new decks, trying to bring them a step closer to perfection. Today I will be giving you some tips on how to do it the cheapest way possible.

Having a bot will instantly give you a huge saving when building a new deck since you might have most of  the cards in stock which you've bought under the market's sell price, but sometimes your bot wont have all the cards you need. I will show you how you can use your bot to get them for you, cheaper than buying off another bots and in some cases ending up with profit.

Step 1: Do not buy it

Sometimes we buy cards and after play-testing realize that they just don't work. Buying to test can be avoided and the best way to do it is to test them first on paper with proxies, do some research online by comparing your deck to similar decks or discussing it in forums .

Step 2:  Personal Prices
This is a basic way to just get a card cheaper, this week i needed 4 Sword of War and Peace, instead of buying a playset at 4x 20.5-21.5 at the cheapest bots I took advantage of the higher current buying prices of 17-18.5 Event tickets. Setting my buy price at 19.25 resulted in buying 4 Sword of War and Peace at a total of 77 within 24 hours, instead of 82-86, saving me at least 5 Event Tickets.
Not everyone uses Wikiprice, so if you need a card fast and you're buying it for more than every other bot, you need to advertise it. Players will sell it to you after a quick search if they know you're the highest buyer.

Step 3: Classifieds/Trading Room Message

To make sure I was advertising the card, I could manually type Sword of War and Peace |19.25| between my advertised buying prices. Instead I wrote: #buy_NPH_>19#   this way the bot would always advertise it until having the 4 I needed and then stop, since that was the only NPH card i was buying for over 19 tickets. Another method to do this is using the CardsForAdvertisement.txt in your bot folder.

Buying like this will also make sure you wont have a loss after you sell them for the cheapest market price ( currently at 20.5) giving you some profit while having fun playing casually.

Soon I will talk about the advantages of owning a bot as a drafter.

Hurricanes on Vacation

I have a copy of my bots on my laptop. Purely as a backup. However, I never realized how important that little investment would turn out to be. You see, my company paid for me and the family to take a vacation and we decided to visit the In-laws. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

Before we left on vacation, I shut the power to everything but the bots. I fully expected the bots to remain in operation while we were enjoying mandatory family time.

However, after we left a hurricane decided to visit. Since I went through hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Wilma, I know what can happen and what needs to be done.

The hurricanes were on a direct path for my house. What's a bot owner to do? Simple, I simply started the laptop and started to run the bots, and I remotely shut down the computer running my bot.

But how did you do that 2,000 miles away?

Easy. I opened a trade with the bots and entered the command to shut down the bot using the shut command. You see, if you have set up an account as administrator, you have access to some commands that can be used for a variety of things. In this case, I could use the kill or shut commands to terminate the bots and run the bots off the laptop.

Next time we'll look at more administrator commands. Oh, and how did this episode end? We lost power for a couple of weeks, so I had my family stay with her parents and I came back as scheduled to deal with the cleanup and post-hurricane chaos that exists. When power was restored, my wife shut down the bots on the laptop, and I started up the bots as normal on the bot machine. Downtime throughout this entire ordeal, just minutes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Price drop

Some of you may wonder why prices dropped so drastically last days. Well, two factors caused it. Firstly, Inistrad set is not available to redeem anymore. INI is temporary out of stock and there is no estimated time of arrival. Err..but what is redemption? Magic Online includes an innovative feature that allows players who have collected a complete set of digital cards to redeem it for a complete set of physical cards. To redeem a set, you must have at least one of every card from the set you are trying to redeem in your collection and you can turn your virtual card staples into the paper ones. All cards must be regular(foil) to redeem a regular(foil) set. Only full sets can be redeemed. I would like to point out that majorly redemption accelerate the growth of prices, especially mythics. Consequently, by the time Wizards resume the redemption, prices will be much lower than they used to be. Let me visualize you how prices changed. One week before, the full Inistrad set was worth about 130 event tickets, whereas it is merely 110 event tickets now. Second factor which is responsible for such low prices is release of Mercadian Masques block. As a result, we may observe intensive sales of cards by players who are willing to play drafts, but they do not have spare tickets to do so. Take advantage of that and set lower prices than you usually do. In my opinion INI did hit the bottom and prices will gradually raise in a next few weeks until Dark Ascension(second set from INI) comes online.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

MTGO Library Bot 4.71 is out!

Welcome to ML Bot 4.71, fixing a large number of (small) issues of the previous versions.

Posting message on Classified is now more reliable; the final confirm window is better handled and the chance to "overbuy" (buy too many copies of a card) are reduced to minimum.

Friday, December 2, 2011

MTGO Library Bot 4.70 is out!

ML Bot 4.70 is out, introducing the new sets "Mercadian Masques" (MM), "Nemesis" (NE) and "Prophecy" (PR).

As usual, you can find the updated price list in the installer, in the Online Control Panel, and for free during the (automatic) update from version 4.69 (and older) to 4.70.

Vacation Features

In our continuing series on little-known bot features that can be used on vacation, let's take a look at a scenario:

You're on Christmas vacation, visiting relatives for the obligatory vacation. Since you deck the special events on MTGO, you see that there is a constructed event you wish to partake in.

However, you know that you also need four (4) copies of Garruk Relentless or your deck simply will not be competitive.

You also know that this card is pretty tough to find and you simply do not have the opportunity to spend a couple of hours seeking Garruk Relentless and comparing prices for it. So what is a bot owner to do?

Why not advertise that you are buying it?

But I'm on vacation having one of those obligatory meals with relatives, remember?

So? Are you going to let the fact that you can not access the bot without using some VPN software stop you? Just log into your MTGO Library Control Panel and change your advertising message. (Found here: )

This feature gets lost in the plethora of options listed on Control Panel page but nonetheless, still is quite useful. You simply change your classified message that you are seeking Garruk Relentless and then when a trade comes in, you'll receive notification on your smartphone. (Assuming you've set up the appropriate email filters.) Then you excuse yourself from dinner for a few minutes, pick up Garruk Relentless and return to dinner; satisfied that your bot is working for you while you are enjoying a family meal with your relatives, and ready to kick some arse in that tournament shortly.

There is a caveat though: the advertising messages get updated once an hour so it will take a little time for the message to actually be posted. So while this method won't get you cards in under two (2) hours, it could if you gave it a day or so.

Join us next time when we continue our trip through little known bot features.