Sunday, April 29, 2012

MTGO Library 4.94 is out!

ML Bot 4.94 features a more robust automatic version updater. In some unfrequent cases in fact, the old updater was not able to correctly update the bot, and thus one had to download and use the "installer" from the Online Control Panel


This weekend took place an Avacyn Restored prelease. The prize structure was a little bit different than it usually is. A “Hellvault” box was added. For those who didn’t participate in the event and are not familiar with the Hellvault I have an explanation. Once, WotC announced that there will be a new award in the prelease, but they didn’t display the content of this mysterious box. Few days before prelease boxes arrived to shops organizing event and only what we knew about the content was that it weighs about 1 kilogram. It is easy to deduce that there were supposed to be something heavier inside, cause 1 kilogram of cards is quite a lot and WotC would not give so many cards away.

Yesterday (Saturday), prelease feast begun. Every participant received a check-box paper where you could mark your achievements. In total there were 20 different achievements. Some of them were funny, like “High-five someone who controls a legendary permanent.” Some more serious, like “Win a game controlling exactly one creature.” Players cumulated these achievements in order to break the seals from Hellvault. When the final seal has been broken, Hellvault was opened and its content was distributed among players. What was inside? Dices, token cards, oversized cards. As far as I read on the Internet some Hellvaults contained also judge promo cards, such as Demonic Tutor, Decree of Justice, Exalted Angel. Similar promotion to this one occured when Zendikar was introduced. Then, we could open booster pack with old nuts cards.

Did you very lucky and got a promo card that day? Feel free to comment and share with us about this great news.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Grocery Magic Online

Often I compare the Magic Online bot business to the 'real' world businesses, and I always find a lot of "things" that are much better in Mtgo.

This morning I was at the grocery store, and I realized that the merchant pays a huge rental fee to store the products. The larger inventory he wants to keep, the more space he needs and the higher the rental fees. 

At the opposite, in Magic online you can store a collection as large as you want, and none will ever complaint or make you pay more because you "take room". Furthermore, a real store has to face the aging of the products. Depending on the type of products, aging can be as fast as a day (food) or a year (clothes). It is true that when a new Magic Online set comes out, the previous set decreases its value, but this is the only drop in value and, in general, it's plenty of "old" cards still very valuable and with minimal or zero decrease in value.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MTGO Library 4.93 is out

ML Bot 4.93 is out, fixing some minor bugs of 4.92

Weekly Card Review (WCR7)

This is a new series of articles where I will review a card from the latest set Every week and its influences in constructed Standard, from the top mythic down to common cards that people might be ignoring their full potential. Between each review I will show a example of a deck where that card could fit. Please feel free to add more ideas and discuss the cards on each week!

 Huntmaster of the Fells
This is a card that has proven to be great on the current meta, not just is great as a aggro card but also both transformations gives you control and endurance with lifegain, damage on opponent and opponents creatures and token generation.
Decks around This card get a huge weapon to deal with Delver of secrets, specially as it forces them to cast on their turn, giving you more freedom so you wont fear a counter spell.
This week I will be building a Aggro/Control around this card, possibly using Birthing Pod/Green sun zenith to help reaching this Dark Ascention gem. Be tuned to see the final result!

Monday, April 23, 2012


The profitability of a bot depends on the number of trades it performs.

For experience, I know that 70% of the trades ends up with a withdraw and only 30% with a sale. A minute or two usually occurs between two consecutives trades, thus it's reasonable for a bot to handle 7-8 trades per hours, and to perform only 2-3.

In a day this means about 65 trades, and in a month about 1950 trades . If you get these results (usually after 6 months after launch), you will most likely doing a net profit of 700-800 tixs per month. If your bot performs sligthly worse, your profit will decrease in proportion, still it is very unlikely for a bot with a good collection to go lower than 100-200 net tixs per month.

 Of course you can replicate the thing for any number of bots - the limits depends only on the computational power you have (i.e the number of PCs you can affort) and on the quantities of cards in the collections (of course an empty collection won't sell..)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekly Card Review (WCR6 part 2)

This is a new series of articles where I will review a card from the latest set Every week and its influences in constructed Standard, from the top mythic down to common cards that people might be ignoring their full potential. Between each review I will show a example of a deck where that card could fit. Please feel free to add more ideas and discuss the cards on each week!

 WW Humans on a Budget

23 Plains
4 Champion of the Parish 4 Doomed Traveler
4 Elite Vanguard 2 Gideon's Lawkeeper
4 Gather the Townsfolk 4 Bonds of Faith
4 Honor of the pure 2 Elite Inquisitor
1 Thalia, Guardian of thraben 2 Rebuke
1 Oblivion Ring 2 Fiend Hunter
2 Thraben Doomsayer 1 Mikaeus. the Lunarch 

This isn't the strongest deck arround, but is surely a good choice with a under 50$ budget.
 Tune in next week for another card review...

Avacyn Restored: new mechanisms

This article is going to be about following set – Avacyn Restored being set 3 of 3 in the Innistrad block. Avacyn Restored contains 242 cards. Prelease events(in paper Magic)starts 28-29 April 2012. I would like to introduce you a new mechanics in this sets.

Soulbond (When a creature with soulbond enters the battlefield, you may pair it with another unpaired creature you control. When another creature enters the battlefield under your control, if you control a creature with soulbond that isn't currently paired, you may pair it with the new creature. Abilities—usually abilities on the creature with soulbond—will refer to paired creatures. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)

Miracle [cost]: You may cast this card for its miracle cost if it's the first card you drew this turn. Only instants and sorceries.

Particularly, it is worth paying attention on Miracle mechanism. I glanced at uncompleted spoiler of Avaycn Restored and there are a few terrific cards. One of them is Temporal Mastery (5UU, Sorcery, Take an extra turn after this one. Exile Temporal Mastery. 1U Miracle). A new Time Walk. I bet this card will be banned very soon in Legacy format, where you can manipulate your library and hand very easily, thanks to Brainstorm / Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Temporal Mastery is also responsible for sell out of Personal Tutor card. Quess why. Simply because you search up for a sorcery card and you put it on the top of your library (in this case Temporal Mastery). In next turn you play Temporal Mastery for its Miracle cost. Price of Personal Tutor(paper version) raised from 13 USD to 40-50 USD, for virtual version it is much more difficult to evaluate the real price of this card. It was like 0,5 tix before Temporal Mastery saw the light of the day. Now this card is sold out everywhere. Did you get your own Personal Tutor’s on time?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

MTGO Library 4.92 is out

ML Bot version 4.92 features a better naming convention for the trade screenshots saved in the 'Screenshots' folder. The names now begin with a numerical non-decreasing suffix, thus all the screenshots will be automatically ranked correctly (by name, and hence by date) when viewed in Windows.

How long will it take?

How long will it take to make my bot business profitable? Is there something I need to do to make the growth faster?

The answer to these questions is not unique, but surely there is a common "path" in all the successful case. Firstly, starting from zero, you will need one to two months to gain a bit of popularity and drive some customers to your shop. Most probably during the first days you will see zero trades, simply because your bot will be unknown and your collection will be small.

You will need to patience a little bit more, since it usually take 5-6 months for a bot to grow a decent collection. As I discussed many times in the past, the collection is the key factor that drives customers to your shop, even more than prices, and unfortunately a collection cannot be growth from zero in just a few weeks. Indeed, once you are there, your bot will be doing fine and it will self-sustain.

To make the growth faster, here you are some tips:
- during the first months, regularly put some tixs in your collection, say 100 every week
- choose a good name for your chain, something can be recognized as a chain, such as "StarBot1,StarBot2,StarBot3" or "StarBlueBot","StarRedBot","StarWhiteBot"...
- put a contact email in your welcome message: someone will probably write you and, in any case, it's always a good practice to offer a public "interface"
- run the bot 24/7, on a good and fast computer

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weekly Card Review (WCR6)

This is a new series of articles where I will review a card from the latest set Every week and its influences in constructed Standard, from the top mythic down to common cards that people might be ignoring their full potential. Between each review I will show a example of a deck where that card could fit. Please feel free to add more ideas and discuss the cards on each week!

 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
  This new legendary creature gave me the feeling that a "humans tribe" deck could be build on a budget. A extra turn from Day of Judgment sometimes makes a difference between win or lose.

This week I will try to make a Humans deck that can be made within a budget of 25-30$. Some of the best standard cards to play around with Thalia are: Champion of the Parish, Gather the Townsfolk, Fiend Hunter.

Be tuned in the next few days to see what deck I managed to make around of this new Dark Ascension rare.

Monday, April 16, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 4.91 is out

ML Bot 4.91 fixes a minor crash of the OCR when reading some cards with very long names

Digital economy still growing

The web-based economy is steadly growing. Digital goods and services can be sold, moved and transferred much more efficiently and quickly than the real counterparts. While some goods will of course remain real (food, clothes), many will move and become digital.

We see the trend in the numbers of Magic Online as well. Magic Online v3 is not the perfect software (it is slow, the UI is bad designed, there are still bugs in the trading interface...) still the number of online players is increasing and the popularity of the format is growing.

Being a bot owner in Magic Online is a great way to start a web-based business with few risks and, most important, with a low amount of money (read more here). I found myself in a surprisingly good  position: I started my bot in Magic Online v2, and now it is doing much better than my initial guesses. There are no excuses not to give a try.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Return to Ravnica

I want to share with you about great news from PAX conference. After 7 long years, finally the Ravnica block has come back to Magic the Gathering. The first set from next block is called “Return to Ravnica”, the three letter code being RTR. Ravnica was a set where everything was balanced very well. It gave us powerful cards, but at the same time didn't really have anything that was seriously broken. Cards were powerful because they were average cards that worked well with other cards.

We can assume that shocklands, dual lands which comes tapped unless you pay 2 life, will be reprineted! What is more, we will get new Jace planswalker as we see on the photo. By the way Ravnica was his home land.

Original Ravnica block was one of the best blocks in limited format. Three color decks come back. I can’t wait to see spoiler of Return to Ravnica.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Weekend is worthy

As a bot runner myself, I found that weekends are worthy, because my bots get much more traffic during these days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) compared to the working days.

Thus, if you run a bot on your main pc and you have to stop it to play, to draft, or simply to enjoy Magic Online with your personal account, please consider purchasing a dedicated PC to run the bot - the extra money you'll spend will return in profits in a very short amount of time.

Either, you can virtualize a copy of Windows on your pc and use that one to run the bot - please look at those articles if you want to learn more

Thursday, April 12, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 4.90 is out!

Many thanks to Kim, who suggested a couple of changes to the trading messages. ML Bot 4.90 now features better and more clear messages

Start-up with default settings

If you are new to ML Bot, you would probably wonder what are the best settings to start and grow a decent collection. 

The answer is not unique because a lot depends on the quantity of tixs you can/want spend to buy the cards - of course the larger the amount, the better your collection and hence the future business.

In general the advice is to keep the default settings, since these provide a very balanced bot and do not expose to risks. Running the bot in such conditions is a very safe business, basically because you will never over-pay a card (or under-sell it) and you will never pay a rental fee if your bot does not perform well (which is absolutely likely during the first weeks :-) ).
After you get used to the bot, experiment a bit slightly moving the settings from the default ones.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Momir Basic, part 3

We continue the Momir Basic strategy.

Play or Draw? The advantage for each is obvious: on the play, you get to make the first creature of each converted mana cost. On the draw, you get an extra card, so you get to make an extra creature or land-drop. Which is better? This question is certainly open to debate, but I prefer to play first. Even though your opponent will get the first creature, you will be able to match with a larger creature on turn 4 most of the time. The only time the drawing player has a real advantage is when they get a mana producer or card drawer on turn 2, letting them surge ahead of you in development.

As I discuss later, the 8-drop is the most important mana cost, which means that on the play, you get to make the first 8-drop, and on the draw, you only have to skip one creature instead of two to be able to make 8 drops.

Tips and Tricks
1. Play your creatures before attacking, since you may get a creature with a combat-helping ability, or a creature with haste.
2. If you already have a legend, avoid making more creatures with that mana cost if possible. You do not want to waste two turns when both of your Spirits of the Night go to the graveyard. Conversely, remember that you can remove your opponents' legends by playing copies of them.
3. The first time your opponent uses their avatar, right click on the ability, and choose to permanently auto yield to Momir Vig. It will save you a few clicks throughout the game.

In the last paragraph I made list of best possible creautes. Sundering Titan, Ashen Firebeast, Avatar of Woe, Bloodfire Colossus, Vampiric Tutor, Hoverguard Sweepers and the card we do not want to see is obviously Phage the Untouchable.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 4.89 is out!

The newest version of the bot, v. 4.89, supports the new set "Venser vs Koth" (DDI).

Version 4.89 fixes also a problem with reading the card "Séance" from Dark Ascension.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Total number of bots in the market

When I entered the Magic Online market as a bot owner, back in 2005, I counted 100-200 bots. At the time I thought that was an upper limit - I hardly could see a future with 1000 bots simultaneously online. Not enough money running in Magic Online, I thought.

Nowadays not only I can see more than 1000 bots operating, but I can see that the majority of them make a decent profit. I strongly revised my forecast. 

Where was I wrong? The fact here is that Magic Online is not an ordinary market. The customers of the market are ALL the users (not just a fraction, like in the shoes market, or in the cafeteria market): people log into Magic Online and they know that they will spend some money (drafting, purchasing boosters on the primary market, purchasing cards on the secondary market...) and this makes Magic Online extremely lively.

I am sure that the upper limit is far to come, especially if we consider that the number of players is increasing year by year (in 2006 we could hardly see 800 players connected, now we can easily see 3000)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Momir Basic, part 2

This part is about Momir Basic Strategy. You may ask yourself what strategy could possibly be in deck full of basic lands, but in my opinion strategy is equal to luck in momir decks. Let’s start with deck building. Some basic lands are better than others. Surprised?

Naive manabase might consist of either 12 of each basic land, or 60 or all the same basic land. Neither is ideal. While creatures have activation costs and upkeeps of all different colors, mana cannot usually be spent early using any abilities; you are too busy summoning larger monsters. Later in the game, though, creature abilities get much more powerful. At the seven-mana-plus level, practically no creatures use Blue or White mana. A few use Green, but the most powerful abilities are Red and Black. I would recommend playing as many Mountains early in the game as possible, other lands if you hit creatures needing the mana, and Swamps if you run out of Mountains. My current recommended decklist: 15 Mountains, 13 Swamps, 11 Forest, 11 Island, 10 Plains. When playing your lands, try to keep the option of dropping colors like blue or green back until you get a creature that needs that color of mana, otherwise, you could end up with a landwalking liability and no color-specific gain for your trouble.

While a significant percentage of the time games will be decided by one player out-randoming the other, many games will come down to large creature stalls. In situations like these, generating another eight-mana creature might not be your best bet. You need to know what creatures are available at each mana level, and choose how much to spend based on what you really need. About this in next part. See you soon.