Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Sets

I’ve been going through some life changes recently so when Return to Ravnica (RTR) came out, all I was able to do is to have the bots grab RTR cards and get back to trying to adapt to the other more important things going on around me.

About a week ago, things calmed down a bit and I decided to check on my bots to see what has happened since RTR was released.  Imagine my shock when I saw that not one RTR card had entered my bot empire.

This got me thinking of an experiment: What would happen if I bought a bunch of boosters, opened them up and immediately placed them on the bot?  Obviously the prices would reflect this strategy and few bots would even have cards from a new set. 

So, let’s go through the numbers: There are 101 commons, 80 uncommons, and 68 rares and mythics in RTR.  There are also 10 commons, 3 uncommons and 1 rare or mythic in each booster.  For the sake of arguments, let’s assume a perfect distributionThe point of this exercise is to get a ballpark figure to see if this strategy is indeed viable, not a mathematical proof.

For our purposes, let’s assume we desire a playset, four (4) copies of each card, for each rarity.

101 commons * 4 = 404 cards divided by 10 per booster pack means we’d need 41 booster packs, at $4 each gives us $164 needed to obtain a playset of commons. 

80 uncommons * 4 = 320 cards divided by 3 per booster = 107 boosters *$4 = $428 for a playset of uncommons.

68 rares * 4 = 272 cards, or boosters, as there is only one per pack, costing $1,088.

So, in order to break even, each rare or mythic would have to cost 4 tickets.  (1,088/272)

Uncommons would have to cost $428/320 or 1.34 tickets each.

Commons would have to be prices at $164/404 or .41 each.  (5 cards for 2 tickets).

As we can see, these prices are not sustainable.  Throw in the renting fee for the bot, in addition to fact that there are always undesirable cards and reprints which will never sell for the break even price and it is not difficult to see why bots do not use this approach.

Monday, October 29, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.24 is out

ML Bot 5.24 fixes a number of small bugs of the previous version. Thus, nothing revolutionary under the hood, just a build to improve stability.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Modern Masters!

Wizards has announced a new set - Masters Edition for the Modern format. I have gathered some information about upcoming set, which will be released on 7/6/2013.
  • It features 229 cards (10x Mythic, 53x Rare, 60x Uncommon, 101x Common). Some cards shift rarity for various reasons. Approximately 30 cards will have a new art. All cards will be reprints from Eighth Edition through Alara Reborn. There will be no card, which is currently on the Modern ban list
  • The booster will cost $6.99. Wizards stated that the increased cost, the special packaging, etc. was to prevent new players from confusing this with regular boosters.
  • This set will not be Standard legal, and the level of complexity will be far higher than the core set, or even a set like Return to Ravnica.

  • The paper print run will be limited. Wizards is trying to get more Modern staples into circulation, but without wrecking the prices.
  • Every booster will contain as normally 15 cards, including always one foil card. We won't find there a basic land card. There are 24 packs per box. Masters Edition will be draftable. Available only in English language. There will be 1 Modern Masters Limited Grand Prix next year.
  • Modern Masters will be available online, however not redeemable.
First preview card was Tarmogoyf as Mythic. This announcement lowered Tarmogoyf price from 78 tix to 57. I predict the price will fall more next days, but not so much when this card is used almost in every Legacy or Modern deck basing on green color.  We can only guess now which other cards will be reprinted, but in my opinion we will see cards such as Elspeth, Arcbound Ravager, Vendilion Clique, Eventide/Shadowmoor duals, all good commons and uncommons used in Modern, I mean Remand, Spell Snare and so on. What leads us only to one conclusion: nuts cards combined with limited print run will make boosters more expensive than $6.99.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yard Signs? What Yard Signs?

Unless you live under a rock, you know that there will be a Presidential Election in the United States in under a fortnight.  As I live in the United States, it is difficult to not be bombarded with political advertising via television, radio and in your mailbox.

However, I have noticed something different this election cycle and I would like to ask those who reside in the United States to confirm or deny something.  Don’t worry, I am not going to go into Obama vs. Ramney talk.  That isn’t the point of this blog.  And don’t worry about this off-topic subject.  I’ll return to a bot related topic next time.

Going about my normal life and driving around, I have seen political signs for the local County Commissioners, I’ve seen signs for the Mayoral candidates.  I’ve seen signs for the House of Representative candidates.  But when it comes to the Presidential candidates, I’ve not seen many Obama signage and bumper stickers, and I’ve seen only a trickle of Romney signs and no bumper stickers. 

I find this strange indeed.  In 2008, yard signs and bumper stickers could be found everywhere.  This time around, you would be hard pressed to tell there was even a Presidential election happening.  It’s not like these are the minor candidates either.  Both Obama and Romney will garner at least 46% of the popular vote. 

So what are the US readers seeing?  Are there yard signs galore or is this just a local thing that I am noticing?

Next time, we’ll do a thought experiment.

Other side of the world (Part 1)

Other side of the world
 Most Magic the Gathering Online bot owners and Customers are in the US and this is something that can affect bot owners living in a different timezone. In these series  I'll talk about ways of "shortening" the distance and on how you can provide great Customer Support, Sell/Buy Collections and other services without needing to be awake from 1:00AM to 7:00AM.

Today I'll talk about the easiest one to setup, the Contact options.
Being in the other side of the world (England) means I cannot assist most of my customers while they're online, making my username almost useless as a "contact" option for my bots.
Emails are very easy to setup nowadays and are the very minimum you should have as a contact. MTGO is not perfect and a few occasional bugs (such as displaying "trade complete" when someone cancels on second confirmation window) may lead to lost credit. Without a email address or a contact to fix for example, 0.1 credit lost, you might end up losing a Customer that would give you potentially high profits in the long run.
A Telefone number, IM or even a Facebook Page could be viable second options but you should still have a email address. 

Another Option would be a Web-form on your bots website. That would give your customers the option of just sharing their username (not private email address) and would open up doors for new business possibilities which I will explain on Part 2.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pithing Needle - doubts

Return to Ravnica brings a well-known for older players card named "Pithing Needle". However, I noticed some players find this card troublesome, because of its wording "As Pithing Needle enters the battlefield, name a card. Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities." Some players doesn't know what in fact activated ability is. This article will answer many questions and resolve your doubts.

To start with, let's focus on first sentence of wording. You may name any card you want to. A card without activated ability as well. To make it clear the activated ability are written as [cost]:[effect], and whatever you will see in this form it is the activated ability. It's not complicated at all, but imagine that you are playing on tournament and somehow you forgot the name of one card which your opponent is currenly using. What happens then? Do you look up for the name in your binder or check up in the Internet? No, you don't because it's forbidden during tournament and you may get match loss for such action. The only one solution is to ask judge. The names of the Magic cards are public information. As long as you can uniquely identify the card in question by describing it, you have the right to know its exact name for the purpose of naming it for an effect such as Pithing Needle's. Okay, now we can move on to second sentence of wording " Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities". You may name a card as Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, but it doesn't prevent players from using its mana ability, but it does keep players from using the drawing ability. Furthermore, Pithing Needle affects cards regardless of what zone they're in. This includes cards in hand, cards in the graveyard, and exiled cards. For example, a player can't cycle Eternal Dragon or return an Eternal Dragon from his or her graveyard to hand if Pithing Needle naming Eternal Dragon is on the battlefield. Also it will block Scavenge mechanism from Return to Ravnica.

Nevertheless, the biggest problem with this card is naming the right card in the right moment.

If you have doubts how any other cards work, leave a comment with name of card and I will do my best to explain the rules.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.23 is out

ML Bot version 5.23 has just been released.

It mainly fixes a problem with the reload of the prices after the file PersonalPrices.txt has been modified. Older versions were in fact not able to correctly reload all the items in PersonalPrices.txt, causing some cards and/or boosters to be mispriced or buyable/not buyable.

Server has been down in maintenance for 30 minutes


the server has been down for maintenance for 30 minutes. It is now up again, I apologize for the issue.
Just leave the bot running and it will automatically reconnect


Friday, October 19, 2012

Ebay Auctions (Part 3 of 3)

Last time I began a story where a college student from Thailand was studying over in the United States.  He discovered that the textbooks he needed were cheaper in Thailand than in the US, so he had relatives obtain his textbooks.  Being of the entrepreneur mind, he quickly realized that he could purchase a lot of these textbooks in Thailand, ship them to the US, and then make a hearty profit reselling them on Ebay, to the tune of over $1,000,000.

Here is where the story gets interesting.   The publisher, John Wiley and Sons, found out about this little venture and sued the student, Supap Kirtsarng.  As is to be expected, this court case dragged on and on.  A US Appellate Court has ruled in favor of publisher.

Look man, we are bot owners.  What does any of this legal garbage have to do with us?

I’m getting to that.  See, the Appellate Court’s ruling has several implications when it concerns things like copyright and reselling stuff you previously purchased.

Back in 1908, the Supreme Court ruled that once the initial sale was made, the buyer was free to resell without getting permission from the copyright holder.  That book you purchased a year ago, you could sell on Ebay, Amazon, a garage sale, or simply give it to charity.  This is being challenged now for products that are being made outside the United States and if this Appellate Court’s ruling stands, copyright holders in China, Japan, Spain, Africa, etc would have to give you permission to sell it.

Think about that for a minute.  To sell that book, you’d need the publisher’s permission, in writing.  This is not limited to physical objects like that antique table your grandmother has either.  It would apply to anything made outside the United States.  Quick, can you name anything of substance that is exclusively made inside the United States?

Ebay appears to have taken the cautious approach of implementing this when it concerns things like the Magic Online cards which we all profit from.

So what is the future?  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this case on Oct 29th, and probably will make its ruling in June 2013.  This is a case which goes under the radar until the ruling comes and all of a sudden, well, you get the point.  I for one will be watching and will keep you abreast.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Return to Ravnica Lifetime Licenses

We are ahead of a very exciting period in the history of Magic Online. Return to Ravnica release events has just started out and also the new client (Mtgo v4) is going to be released in the next few months. To celebrate this, discounts the lifetime PRO license to 1380 usd and the lifetime LITE license to 138 usd! offers a second discount too - the lifetime PRO license to 1200 usd and the lifetime LITE license to 120 usd. These extra discounted licenses will be active from the release of Mtgo v4. Of course all the other license will still work and will smoothly work on Mtgo v4.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ebay Auctions (Part 2 of 3)

Back in the dark ages of 1997, Supap Kirtsarng, a native of Thailand, went to Cornell University to study.  Nothing unusual there.

What is unusual is what happened after this. 

He soon discovered that the college textbooks he needed to buy, were substantially cheaper to buy in Thailand than they were in the United States.  So, being the economically conscious person he is, he got his relatives to buy the books he needed , and then to ship said books to him over in the United States.  This in of itself is not unusual.

Like most college students, he sold his textbooks when he had completed the semester.  Nothing unusual there.

Then his entrepreneurial spirit took over.  Why not buy a bunch of these textbooks for very little, ship them over to the United States, and then sell them on Ebay for a nice profit?  And that is what he did.  Very successfully as well.  To at least $1,000,000 according to some estimates.

So what does this have to do with us bot owners?  You’ll have to tune in next time for part 2 of this little story.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to draft Return to Ravnica?

The Return to Ravnica set features 274 cards. Prerelease have already started. New sets bring on new cards and new loves. With RTR 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 Return to Ravnica. 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:
  • White: Azorius Arrester, Eyes in the Skies, Keening Apparition, Rootborn Defenses, Sunspire Griffin, Swift Justice, Trostani's Judgment, Arrest, Azorius Justicar, Soul Tithe.
  • Blue: Inaction Injunction, Runewing, Isperia's Skywatch, Stealer of Secrets, Blustersquall, Faerie Impostor, Hover Barrier, Skyline Predator, Soulsworn Spirit.
  • Black: Stab Wound, Dead Reveler, Sewer Shambler, Launch Party, Terrus Wurm, Assassin's Strike, Dark Revenant, Slum Reaper, Tawern Swindler, Ultimate Price, 
  • Red: Explosive Impact, Annihilating Fire, Splatter Thug, Gore-House Chainwalker, Lobber Crew, Bloodfrey Giant, Goblin Rally, Guttersnipe, Street Spasm
  • Green: Axebane Guardian, Centaur's Herald, Korozda Monitor, Giant Growth, Drude Beetle, Brushstrider, Gobbling Ooze, Golgari Decoy, Slime Molding, 
  • Multi: Auger Spree, Centaur Healer, Sluiceway Scorpion, Frostburn Weird, Dramatic Rescue, Vassal Soul, Azorius Charm, Call of the Conclave, Dreg Mangler, Hellhole Flailer, Izzet Charm, Izzet Staticaster, Korozda Guildmage, Lyev Skyknight, New Prahv Guildmage, Nivix Guildmage, Rites of Reaping, Rix Maadi Guildmage,  Selesnya Charm, Skymark Roc, Teleportal, Thoughtflare, Treasured Find, Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, Rakdos Cackler
  • Lands: gate cards
  • Artifact: Keyrune cards

    Good luck in drafts!

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

When you detain an opposing permanent, until your next turn, that permanent's activated abilities can't be activated and (if it's a creature) it can't attack or block. Activated abilities are the ones that have a colon (:) in them, such as "
Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool" or "Equip 2 Mana(2 Mana: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery.)"

Detain is best in decks which rely on fast small creatures attacking every turn. This is achieved by not allowing your opponent's creatures to interact you or your creatures. Along with creatures you can use spells such as Sleep or Feeling of the Dread, to open the way for your creatures to attack without opposition.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.22 is out

An update on ML Bot 5.21.

Version 5.22 is now able handle Return to Ravnica using the wishlist buying mode

Friday, October 12, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.21 is out

ML Bot 5.21 supports the new set, Return to Ravnica - RTR.

As usual, the updated pricelist is already available online and is available for free during the update process. Happy botting!

Ebay Auctions (Part 1 of 3)

A few months ago I was approached to buy an MTGO collection.  Nothing unusual there.

I used this as an opportunity to expand my budding bot empire. Nothing unusual there.

I then set up my bots to pull from this collection to fill up the holes in each bot’s inventory. Nothing unusual there.

When all of this was done, I looked at what remained. I saw a lot of potential play sets, which I can fill the holes if need be and then turn around and sell some on Ebay.  Nothing unusual there.

I ordered the bots to create some play sets.  I then posted them on Ebay.  Nothing unusual there.

The next morning, I received a pretty nasty letter stating that my postings were taken down, that these postings were in violation of the copyright holder, and that my account could be suspended or terminated if I attempted to repost these items.  I also was informed that in order to sell anything again, I would have to complete a tutorial as what I can sell and what I can not sell.

This is not the first time that this has happened.  I thought that might have been a little misunderstanding, some programmer went a little overboard removing digital items up for sale, or there was a snafu.  Last time, it went away in a few days.  After all, WotC encourages the secondary market.  However, this time, it feels different.

This has not gone away.  At the time of writing this, I checked Ebay for Magic Online items… Only 6 of them are posted and no doubt they’ll be taken down shortly.  This is a far cry when one would easily see hundreds of auctions for Magic Online material.

So what happened?  I think I may have found it.  You’ll have to tune in next time to find out what I discovered.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Frustrated only in Losing (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I told a story where I attended a Magic event where I ran into a local Magic player who playing in the PTQ that weekend.   He has a reputation of being a pretty good player locally but while observing his play for a couple of rounds, I could see where the problem is: the problem is he uses foils.  Let me explain.

Looking at his decks, both at this tournament and at local shops, almost every card is a foil.  He once told me that he prefers foils over regular cards.  While he does occasionally purchases a few, most of the cards he receives are from trades with other players. 

This has a surprisingly interesting effect on players.  They tend to play more conservatively.  By my very rough estimations, about a turn slower.  Against decks of roughly equal strength, that turn is enough to shift the scales of wins towards the player playing foils.

However, this will have no effect on the professional level.  Players who spend the requisite time study and play testing their decks are not going to intimidated by shiny pieces of paper or shiny effects on a monitor.

So how does it affect us?  What is your foil strategy?  Are they just an after-thought?  Are they bonus material?  For those with bot chains; do you have a dedicated bot for foils?  Foils represent approximately 1.5% of all Magic Online cards.  What’s your strategy for this minority market?

The Power Nine on MtGO, part 3

What are the possible ways of introducing the Power Nine on MtGO?
  • P9 as promo cards. It could have be given for reaching certain number of Reward Points. However, it shoudl be extremely enormous number so that only the most persistent and determined player would get it. This line of thought brings us to very similar idea to give it as a reward to top4 or top8 MOCS players.Up till now, MOCS awards were spectacular (like full regular / foil sets of players choice), so the Power Nine suits well here. The mystique would remain, but this scenario would jack up P9 skyhigh. 
  • By account. Everyone would get the P9 as untradable cards. No mystique, no trades, no profit for botters.
  • As FTV: Restricted Cards. The concept behind this idea is that there happens to be 15 Vintage restricted cards that have not seen virtual cardboard yet, such as P9, Regrowth, Fast Bond, Mana Vault, Time Vault. Charging $34.99 won't work here. But on the flip side $500, brings its own set of problems. What if you need just one specific card from this FTV for instance to your EDH deck? You would have to wait ages to get it from market.
I have just listed 5 ways how WotC may introduce P9. I did it quite briefly, because P9 on MtGO seems so unrealistic that we can only dream about it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

MTGO Library Bot 5.20

We are very happy to announce ML Bot 5.20, the first totally https-based ML Bot.

We took the change to redesign the connection to the server and to extend the ssl-encryption (for those who remember - half introduced in version 5.03) to the whole website. For example, just to name one change, if you visit your connection will be automatically encrypted to

Friday, October 5, 2012

Return to Ravnica new mechanics Explained (Part 4 of 5)

You can activate the scavenge ability of a creature card in your graveyard any time you could cast a sorcery by exiling it and paying its scavenge cost. That lets you put a number of +1/+1 counters equal to the scavenged creature's power onto a target creature.

A creature entering the battlefield with this keyword doesnt bring any extras, as it can only be used from graveyard. The best place for this mechanic is on a deck filled with creatures with scavenge and maybe some self mill. Allowing any new little creature to become big by exiling other creatures from the graveyard, seems to be fun, But do you think it has a  potential to be competitive?

On next part we'll be talking about the mechanic detain.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Frustrated only in Losing (Part 1 of 2)

Several years ago, my wife and I went on a weekend jaunt to another city to get away for the weekend.  While strolling through a desperate looking mall, we discovered something… there was a Magic PTQ event going on that day.  My wife, knowing me, told me to go inside and explore while she would go through the rest of mall looking at the things she’d want to, without a bored husband standing nearby.  Sounds like the perfect plan to me.

The event of the day was Extended which I did not know well, nor did I bring any Magic cards with me.  But I did watch a few games, met one of the Magic artists and ran into someone who is from my local area.

Physical Magic in my area is sparse.  One can be from this town, but be 50 miles away.  I had seen him at Pre-releases and some store shops but beyond that, did not know him.  Likewise, he recognized me and said it was refreshing to see a familiar face.

From what I understand, he has a reputation of being a pretty good player.  I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was getting clobbered.  I looked at his deck.  Didn’t recognize the theme of his deck, which I expected.  I didn’t see anything which screamed “threat” but at the same time, I didn’t see any dead cards.

I watched him play his next match, and I didn’t see him make any big mistakes, but I also didn’t see anything where one play would change the course of a game.  Decent play, but nothing spectacular.  Then it hit me…  I realized what was going on.  What was it and how does it affect us bot owners?  You’ll just have to wait until next time.