Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Power Nine on MtGO, part 2

What are the possible ways of introducing the Power Nine on MtGO?

  • To release the P9 in MED 5. Although, the MED 5 is not confirmed to be ever released. However, it is the very first way that comes to my mind. In fact, there are not many remaining non-restricted vintage cards to choose from, so actually there are no worthwile cards to make a MED 5... unless MED 5 is a set full of reprints, but then why to put P9 in set full of reprints? MED 5 will be either good reprints or total bulk. WotC must somehow attract players to draft this set, if there are only already existing cards so P9 is really good way to do it. Anyway, P9 should be treated as mythic or even ultra mythic and this statement led me to second idea of introducing Power Nine on MtGO
  • Do you remember Zendikar set in paper Magic? In some packs we could find "treasure" card. Usually it was an old card from the first sets of Magic. In packs were cards, such as Black Lotus or Dual Lands. So the question is, why not to do it in proven way? Addionally,  it definitely would increase sales of any set where we can find such treasures. What is more, I think it will retain the mystique WotC is looking for- but what about the second criteria - the rarity. And we have another open question: how rare they should be. One is sure, it cannot be at same rate as it was in Zendikar packs.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ravnica Returns

So we’re going Back to Ravnica.  What does that mean for us botters? 

[1] I think it will pique interest and draw some players back into the game which have left to play other games.

Magic has been a game you can always come back to.  Players leave Magic for a variety of reasons: too many cards to keep up, finances, and lack of time being the most popular.  The Ravnica block was very successful and many players are interested to see where WotC is going to take this block.  All those who played during the Ravnica block now will be able to return without having to relearn a bunch of weird rules and can even use their own Ravnica cards for the new Ravnica Casual format.  (You know that is going to happen, right?)

[2] One of the writers here stated that he believes that the prices of reprinted cards, like the Shock Lands, will decrease and to plan accordingly.  I disagree.  The Ravnica Block Shock lands are not increasing in number.

But you just stated that they are reprinting the Shock Lands.  How can their numbers not increase?

You are missing the important point: the set which the card came from.  The Ranivca Temple Garden is not being reprinted.  Those numbers are not increasing.  Now, there will be a Return to Ravnica block version of Temple Garden and that card will follow its own path.  Printing different editions of the same card does not mean that their prices will approach a set price for all of them.  A 7th edition Birds of Paradise lists for 2.75 tickets while an 8th edition lists for 1.45, almost twice the price!

The price is determined by supply and demand.  The supply of Ravnica Shock lands will be the same while there may be increased demand for them, even with the reprints.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why Bots Fail (Part 5 of 5)

As we conclude this series on why bots fail, let’s go over a couple of obscure reasons why bots fail:

[9] Balance the collection in your bot chain. 

What this means is that one bot should not have twelve (12) copies of a particular card and another bot only has one copy.  This doesn’t mean that you should balance the collections of your bots every two (2) hours, but you should have a plan to balance your inventory in your bot chain.

[10] Make certain you are on the Wiki:

How do you know if you are on the Wiki?  Just do a search for any card which you know your bot has, and then scroll through the list until you find your bot there.  If your bot is not there, send a note to and we’ll make certain you are on the wiki.

Why would you want to be on the Wiki?  Because it is free advertising.  Even if your bot does not have the lowest price for a searchable card, doesn’t mean you will not get business.  A person may need three (3) copies of a certain card and would be willing to pay a little more to get them all off of one bot instead of three (3) bots.  A person may also want to leave as little fractional credit on the table as possible and maybe your bot fills that need better than a cheaper bot.  If a person is not planning on ever returning, 9.1 tickets is the same as 10 tickets.

Bonus tip: If you do not wish your bot to be on the wiki, you can send an email to and we’ll take you off the list.  Why would this be desirable?  If you use MTGO Library for inventory control or you have a bot which you use as a central repository which is not meant to be for general usage, then having your bot listed will interfere with any transfers which you are doing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Return to Ravnica new mechanics Explained (Part 3 of 5)

The unleash mechanic allows you to have a +1/+1 counter on a creature as it enters the battlefield with the downside which is not being able to block with +1/+1 counters on it.

This mechanic is designed to allow your creatures entering the battlefield a little bit stronger if you plan to just attack. But in the case of Grim Roustabout you can also opt to let it enter without +1/+1 counters and be a strong blocker with regenerate.
 Just like Overload it doesn't make it better than a specific defensive creature to defend, or a specific offensive creature to attack, but gives you the choice of being a decent defending OR attacking one in just one card.

 In my next post I will talk to you about the mechanic scavenge.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Power Nine on MtGO, part 1

Last week a Classic format event fired after long break and it made me wonder about Vintage format on MtGO. The only few missing cards here are The Power Nine ones, also known as P9. So, on this list is Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, Mox Emerald, Mox Pearl and Timetwister. It gives us in total 9 cards from the very first Magic the Gathering sets what makes them very rare. They were printed only in Alpha, Beta and Unlimited set, meaning they were only printed from late 1993 to early 1994 and have never been reprinted through almost 20 years Magic history. Currently, all of the P9 cards are restricted in the Vintage tournament format and banned in Legacy. The Power Nine are considered to be among the best cards in the game. The acceleration, which Black Lotus or Mox grants, leads to extremely powerful plays much earlier than normal. As a result it makes them the most expensive cards which were released in regular set in MtG history. Developers couldn't have foreseen how overpowered cards they have created. However, we needed few sets more to find out this evident fact now

One day, the P9 will arrive online. Will they have the same mystique online? Will they be the most valuable cards in MTGO? Will they be cheap as other cards from Masters edition? How much would that hurt the Mystique?

In next part we will centre upon the possible ways of introducing these very rare and expensive cards on MtGO.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.19

ML Bot 5.19 is out!

Nothing revolutionary, just some bug fixes, stability improvements and a speed up of the csv creation.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why Bots Fail (Part 4 of 5)

Please join us as we continue our series on why bots fail.

[7] Fine tune your classified message.

The classified message is your first chance to make an impression towards a perspective customer.  So having a well thought out, well defined message with a nice graphic will help pull that browser into your store where you then have an opportunity to convince this person to become a customer.

MTGO Library has a section where you can edit the message directly and through the website, you can even remotely administer this message..  There is no need to advertise specific cards.  Of course, MTGO Library can randomly change the cards which are listed in the classified window, it is not particularly necessary. 

The main thing to remember is to have a classified message that looks more professional than the simple default message or a hastily typed message that makes the bot look amateurish than professional.

[8] Name a bot with a consistent name.

This is not going to apply for those who use the bot to fill their personal collections or run the bot part time.  But for those of us who run the bot more professionally, having a consistent name is desired.  For those who run a full fledged bot chain, having a consistent name is required.

What do I mean by a consistent name?  For chain bots, something like Adambot, Adambot2, Adambot3 would indicate that all three of these bots are part of a larger collective and if one bot is busy, another one is probably available, with shared credits and a shared inventory.

For those who only run one bot full time, I recommend having BOT be part of the name.  The reason for this is to distinguish yourself as a bot for those may have a classified message but a customer may not know if a bot or a human will handle the trade.  Many people may moan and complain about having to deal with a bot over a human, but there are times when a bot is preferable.  And shouldn’t it be your bot?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Return to Ravnica new mechanics Explained (Part 2 of 5)


The overload mechanic power up instants and sorceries to huge proportions by taking every instance of "target" in their rules text and replacing it with "each."

Overload cards themselves are not great by their effectiveness of the single target effect, neither on mana cost of overloads but the fact that gives you both options makes them more versatile.
Its also worth pointing out when you pay the Overload cost on cards like Blutersquall it will also affect creatures the opponents control with hexproof.



 In my next post I will  talk to you about the mechanic unleash. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why Bots Fail (Part 3 of 5)

Today, we reach the half way point on this series on why bots fail.

[5] Place an email address in the welcome message.

Last time, I had hinted that the more professional you present yourself to your customers via the bot experience, the better your bot will do.  Having an email address is just another step towards that end.

Before you start thinking the worst, that you’ll suddenly get hundreds of spam messages or dozens of complaints in your mail email address, note that the address you supply does not have to be your primary email address.  You can simply create a free address using one of the dozens of free email providers and supply that address. 

My experience has been positive.  Yes, I’ve had a few customers complain about the bot ripping them off but all in all, I’m sure I had completed more sales because I had a contact email and I know in one case where the customer had a legitimate complaint, I was able to resolve the issue and I’m sure the customer was glad to know that a person was able to deal with their situation.

[6] Have a website dedicated to the bot.

This expands on the previous tip.  By having a website, your bot looks more professional.

Again, before you start thinking the worst that somehow you have to constantly create and maintain a website, realize that even a static website is sufficient for the bot.  You also do not need to shell out a lot of money for a website.  Even a single page website would be sufficient and there are plenty of companies which offer free websites.

You can use the site to advertise upcoming sales, more detail than what can be placed in a few lines of the trading window and make any announcements you wish to make.  Again, it does not sound like much, but every little bit helps.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Return to Ravnica new mechanics Explained (Part 1 of 5)

The populate mechanic puts a copy of one of your creature tokens onto the battlefield.

 Populate itself doesn't seem that powerful as you can only put a copy of one of your creature TOKENS only and not creatures but when you keep in mind that you may have tokens of Acidic Slime and other interesting creatures in play using cards like Cackling Counterpart or Mimic Vat it shows that there is room to abuse and build around this mechanic.

Its also worth saying that Populate trigger doesn't target (making it better than Cackling Counterpart), that way the opponent cannot destroy a token creature you wish to copy as response to avoid populating (unless you just have that one token on battlefield).
If you have two 1/1 tokens on the battlefield and your opponent has only one Doom Blade there is no way he can stop you from getting a new 1/1 Token.

Its also worth saying that if you cast Titanic growth on one 1/1 token before Populating, the new created token will still be a 1/1 and not a 5/5.

In my next post I will  talk to you about the mechanic Overload.

Ten most owned MtGO cards

Basing on one of WotC articles the ten most owned MtGO cards are:

10. Rampant Growth
9. Giant Spider
8. Goblin Picker
7. Mind Rot
6. Gravedigger
5. Giant Growth
4. Lava Axe
3. Pacifism
2. Cancel
1. Naturalize

It is a nice succinct list of the most commmon common cards. We might observe a few regularities here. All these cards listed above were released in Editions. What is more all these cards were printed in several sets too. We can deduce these cards are the most difficult ones to sell. How many Naturalize cards do you have?

These days I cleaned up accounts and I have about 800 uncommon cards from different sets for sale, anyone intrested before I visit any random bulk bot?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why Bots Fail (Part 2 of 5)

In this series, we are looking into ten (10) reasons why bots fail.

[3] Use a fast PC

This one may not look so obvious but it is just as important.  I didn’t realize how important it was until I saw this for myself.  I had done a rebuilding of my home network and noticed that the number of bot transactions had dropped to nearly zero.  I thought that somehow my wife was fiddling with the network or something along those lines.  She assured me had not.  So, while she was out doing errands, I decided to conduct a trade.  The experience drove this point home.

The bot took two (2) minutes to acknowledge that I had entered the store.  It took another minute before I was able to flip a page in the catalog.  While I was eventually able to purchase a card, the entire purchase took ten (10) minutes.  While the bot was able to complete the transfer, I also understood why I was receiving few sales.  Having a slow PC gave the customer a non-professional experience and many players are simply not going to wait to see what is available or how much a specific card is.  Knowing this, I was able to figure out where the bottlenecks were, fix them, and within a week, sales returned to normal.

By the way, by a fast PC I do not necessarily mean a fast CPU speed.   If your computer (or VM) does not have enough memory, or if the hard drive is not fast enough, your customers will have a sub-standard experience and will simply find another for a more professional experience.

[4] Do not go under 100 tickets.

This may seem like a waste of tickets, especially if one is running a part time bot.  However, having at least 100 tickets indicates that your bot probably has a well stocked inventory and that your bot is rich enough to purchase whatever your customers want to sell. 

Back before I ran my bots, I tended to avoid bots with fewer than 20 tickets available and tended to gravitate towards those which had at least 100 available.  It was more subtle that anything else.  It indicates an aura of professionalism and liquidity and available inventory not found on bots with fewer than say 50 tickets.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Bots Fail (Part 1 of 5)

A few months back I was discussing my bot business with an overly pessimistic friend of mine.  During the course of the conversation, we discussed a lot of the technical details of what is done.  Last week, he asked me an interesting question: Why do bots fail? 

As I started looking seriously into this issue, I’ve come up with ten (10) things which I’ll put in no particular order:

[1] Run your bot 24-7.

This may be stating the obvious, but your bot will not make any profits if the bot is closed for business.

You may have noticed a trend where fast food restaurants are now heavily advertising their breakfast menus.  It’s a simple reality.  If these places are open for six extra hours, then there is the opportunity for six extra hours of profits.  Same with your bots: a closed bot will never make any profits whereas an open bot has a chance for profits.

[2] Be patient.

While on a vacation with my wife, we took the opportunity to eat dinner at a national chain restaurant where we enjoy the food but the chain itself was not in our home stomping grounds.  As fate would have it, we had a chance encounter with the regional manager with the chain in question.  So I asked him if there were plans on expanding into my neck of the woods.  His answer stunned me.

We are looking into your area, however when we run the projections, we can’t turn a profit in three (3) years.

Say what?!?  The old business models were that business would be successful if it was breaking even after five (5) years.  Now they are thinking of making a profit on the initial investment within three?  My how times have changed.

My geriatric views aside, you need to be patient with your bot.  You simply can not turn on your bot, let it run overnight and expect 50 tickets of profits.  The reality is that a bot needs to be running full time about a year before consistent profits can be had.

More next time.

Return to Ravnica: new mechanisms and reprints

Return to Ravnica is on the way, hence I decided to introduce you all new mechanics from this set. In the brackets I wrote the guild, which equates with this mechanic.
  • Detain (Azorious) - Until your next turn, the detained permanent can't attack or block and its activated abilities can't be activated.
  • Scavenge (Golgari) - Exile this card from your graveyard: Put a number of +1/+1 counters equal to this card's power on target creature. Scavenge only as a sorcery.
  • Overload (Izzet) - You may cast this spell for its overload cost. If you do, change its text by replacing all instances of "target" with "each".
  • Unleash (Rakdos) - You may have this creature enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it. It can't block as long as it has a +1/+1 counter on it.
  • Populate (Selesnya) - Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.
As you see, players will get 5 out of 10 guilds in the first set and remaining 5 in the second set of Return of Ravnica block. In the old Ravnica players got 4 guilds, in the following set (Guildpact) only 3 and in the last(Discension) 3 again. Don't you know which guild suits to you? This short quiz will definitely help you. Click here.

The full spoiler haven't been published yet, but the shocklands are officially confirmed to be reprinted. Shocklands are the non-basic lands from the original Ravnica set that have two basic land types, and come into play tapped unless you pay two life. This is the equivalent of shocking yourself. So my advice to you all - botters is to sell your shocklands as soon as possible. Price have been dropping constantly and we cannot stop this process. Having shocklands in collection is quite risky now. The price of all shocklands will be much lower soon. No except. Market will get flooded  when Return to Ravnica drafts start. In my opinion the price of the most commonly played ones (Hallowed Fountain) will be about 6 tickets. When the full spoiler will be released expect article about how to draft RTR.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.18 is out

The newest version of ML Bot, 5.18, supports the set V12, PC1 and PC2 (From the Vaults: Realms, Planechase and Planechase 2012). 

As usual, the new pricelist is available for free in the installer and/or during the update process.

Duel Deck: Izzet vs Golgari

The new duel deck "Izzet vs Golgari" comes online on September 7. It is exactly the same date as for paper version. These decks contain six new cards from Return to Ravnica. Prolly, the beginners don't read this webstite thus we will not discuss if this duel deck is good for them to start their adventure with Magic, what is the main intention of duel deck, but we will focus on making money. Right away we will answer the question if it is worth investing several tickets to complement your bot inventory. I have checked the declists (click here to see it) and I prepared the list of cards which are worth more than 1 Event Ticket. This list, though a word "list" doesn't suit well here, because it suggest us that it contains at least several listings and that is not quite true. There are 5 positions in alphabetical order: Brainstorm, Eternal Witness, Golgari Grave-Troll,  Life from the Loam, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. I didn't take into account card Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord because it is from upcoming set Return to Ravnica and it is difficult right now to foresee if there will be any deck built around this card. The listed nuts above are worth about 13 Event Tickets. Therefore, our investment (4x duel deck) will cost us about ~30 Event Tickets (buy prices) and we will get some cards that already exist on MtGO. We freeze our money into not liquid assets. Tell me when your bot last time sold card like Niv-Mizzet. Additionally, for most players there is no difference if they use Eternal Witness card from Fifth Dawn, Theme Deck or Commander. It is only my personal point of view but I don't see why we should buy this specific duel deck, unless your bot politicy is to grant access to every card on MtGO.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

MTGO v4 Preview (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I discussed a fluke occurrence during the 4.0 preview weekend.  Today I am going to discuss the obvious conclusion: that there is going to be a Magic Online 4.0 and more importantly, how that will affect us.

The first thing to realize is that the changes are just cosmetic in nature.  The client, what we see, will be getting a new interface, trade windows, login screens and so on.  Changes on the server side, if any, we will not be seeing.

What this means is that for us, things will not change much.  We’ll simply update as usual and bam, it works.  For a few others, they’ll have to download the new executable, run it, and they’ll be making trades shortly thereafter.

There is another advantage to this interface change: when the change happens, there will be no bots on Magic Online.

But didn’t you just say that all we had to do was update the bot and we’ll be back online?

Yes I did.  See, when 4.0 comes online, all the bots, coded for the 3.0 interface will not work.  At this point, all the bot owners will be demanding that a new version be released immediately if not sooner.

For professional programmers, this should not take a long time.  The bulk of the time will be spent on making certain that the 4.0 bot is rock solid than anything else.

But for the script kiddie bots and poorly coded bots and those part time bot creators, it will take them a long time to get up to speed.  What this means is that the first bot program to make the jump will have a monopoly.   With far less competition around, this means that this will be a golden opportunity to expand our client base as MTGO Library will be the only trade bot available.  I like the sound of that.  Do you?