Saturday, August 31, 2013

New wikiprice is online

The new wikiprice is officially available online now. Please visit it here:

Wikiprice offers now faster searches (the average search takes less than 2 seconds) and more frequent updates - a total update takes 6 hours while the old version took 24 hours. Under the hood there is a technology able to go real time - right after a trade wikiprice will update and will reflect the changes in the collection.
The times where you found an item on wikiprice and the listed bots didn't have it are going to finish soon. 

A problem of the old wikiprice was the unreliable update algorithm: some bots weren't able to update properly and after 48 hours their inventories rotated out. The update mechanism has been totally redesigned and the issue won't repeat.

Still not perfect, I am sure you will fall in love and get addicted soon :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.92 released


I have just released ML Bot 5.92. It addresses the same problem of 5.87 and 5.88, the dark-grey "confirm button" unable to work properly.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why So Sad Hybrid? (Part 1 of 2)

There is a Chinese proverb; a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  There is a similar saying when it comes to the speed of computers; its speed is determined by its slowest component.  In the past, the bottleneck would be the CPU itself.  It has also been the bus or pathway between various components.  Today, the slowest component is the hard drive. 

While other components are chugging along at the speed of light, hard drives have to wait while a spinning platter reaches its proper placement so a magnetic thingamajig can read some random 1’s and 0’s and attempt to make sense of it.  Various strategies have been developed in an attempt to solve this problem.  One attempt is to use multiple hard drives and combine them into one monster hard drive which while it increases the storage capacity linearly, the read and seek times increase geometrically.  But this RAID solution is fairly expensive and not really applicable in small servers, desktops or personal machines.  It’s just not cost-effective.

So you can imagine the cries of joy when flash memory was developed.  Not quite ROM (Read-Only Memory) and not quite RAM, but a memory which would hold its state like ROM but can be written to and hold its state, like RAM, and can hold its state without the need for constant electricity.  It is best known as USB drives, thumb drives or flash drives.  By whatever name it is known, this type of memory is found in all of these portable drives, and has allowed for the explosion of growth in the tablet market.

The next logical place for this memory is to try and make an entire hard drive based on this flash memory.  The technology is fairly simple.  RAM disks were popular in the early days on the personal computer and one could really detect the performance increase.  While no one really expected to replicate the performance increase, people did expect to see a performance increase when this type of flash technology was made into a stand-alone hard drive or even its cousin, the hybrid drive, a drive with an SSD partition as well as a traditional platter for additional storage.

Billions of dollars have been spent in infrastructure to build the drives that experts said there would be a demand for.  Yet SSD drives and hybrid drives have not really taken off.  It is not the cost of these drives, although that is a small factor.  It is not the performance as every independent test shows that these drives perform as advertised.   Why haven’t flash memory drives taken off and more importantly, how does this affect us bot owners?  I’ll discuss that next time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.91 is online!


we are glad to announce ML Bot 5.91, the first bot to fully exploit the new wikiprice, available online in one day ! More info will follow... for now just upgrade and your business will thank you :-)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bots: costs and initial strategies

So far in this series of Magic Online bots, you have learned the economic fundamentals of the digital card game. We have also reviewed how to create a bot store that automatically manages your collection so it gets benefits for you. If you decide to start this quest and build your own store, it is important to know some marketing strategies that can determine a great success and a better relation between cost and benefits.

Initial costs and maintenance for Magic Online bots

You should not create a Magic Online stores without wondering how much the initial and maintenance costs will be. Besides, you have to take in mind ​​the benefits you will get from each store depending on what cards it will have in stock. First off, you must know that for every digital store on Magic Online that you are creating, it will have the following rough expenses:

 Magic Online account $9.99
 Compatible computer with CPU Intel x86 ~$400-$1200
 Windows 7 Professional OEM license (allows a Windows XP license) ~$125
 Virtualisation software (optional) $40-$70
 Energy consumption for a PC of 100W with fee of 0.2$/kWh ~$15/month
 Investment on initial stock $100 or greater
 MTGO Library account and software FREE
 MTGO Library renting fee 2.5% or Lite/Pro license

Except the Magic Online account, all prices are estimations and may vary depending on where you live. With Magic Online version 3 you should use Windows XP as it consumes fewer resources than their successors. The problem is that official licenses for this windows can no longer be officially purchased. The only way is to buy Windows 7 Pro OEM and request a downgrade to Windows XP (this is supposed to be valid until 2014), although I have not checked this because I use my old operating system licenses.

Additionally, you can see that there are some initial fixed costs and others for maintenance. To decide how much you should spend on the computer I will write a sepparate article, because I think it is a very important topic to ensure the smoothness and scalability of your future chain of Magic Online bots.

On the other hand, you can check that I have highlighted the possibility of buying virtualization software. These applications allow you to run more than one operating system on the same computer, and they are the basis to have several Magic Online bots on the same machine. Although there are some companies that offer free versions, sometimes you may prefer to use the payment option in order to gain extra performance. Like the selection of PC, I will make a comparative analysis for a future article that will allow you to choose the program that best suits your needs.

Previous suggestions to plan the setup of your Magic Online bots

As you have seen, the initial cost of a Magic Online bot is relatively affordable. For this reason it is very important that you plan the growth of your business based on the resources you have. Below I give you some tips that may save you some time and money.

  1. If you have an older computer, certainly this is the cheapest option in the short term to start testing bots Magic Online. Of course, this PC will probably have high energy consumption problems, it will be outdated and with limited hardware expansion capabilities. These factors reduce the capacity expansion of a bots chain in the long term, but it would be useful for you to take some practice with bots at almost zero initial cost.
  2. You might also have the Windows XP license of any old computer you no longer use because probably your current PC will be updated at least to Windows 7. However, if you are planning to setup several stores this initial cost increases linearly. Therefore, you should only create the stores you really need or you will be losing money.
  3. For virtualization software, there are some free programs but with the disadvantage of being slower than the payment option. For this reason you should choose it depending on the number of stores that you are going to install on your bots machine. 
  4. You will need an initial investment for each store. The greater the value, the higher the growth rate of stock but you will also spend more money. If you make a large investment on each of your stores they may evolve rapidly, but if that investment is low in the short to medium term, then you will spend more money on the maintenance of your Magic Online bots than the benefit obtained, because initially the flow of customer will be low.

The relevance of having a strategy for the future expansion

From the tips mentioned above, I will give my recommendation assuming you want to create a chain of Magic Online bots for the long-term. Everything will mainly depend on how many tickets/cards you are willing to invest for the initial stock of each of your stores. In this way, you have two options:

  • Low initial stock (~$100 per store): In this case you should have 1-2 stores. The main one should have a Pro license (buy/sell any card with unique prices) with 2.5% renting fee and buy/sell cards just from the latest expansion available in Magic Online. This limitation is very favourable because that set will be the most drafteable one, so there will be huge quantity of cards at a very good buy/sell rate. If you choose to have a secondary store, it should buy cards in bulk through a Lite license (all rarities at same prices) also with a renting fee of 2.5%. This second store must buy the cards cheaper than the main one, and it should be configured to refill the main stock because clients are more interested on pro stores that are always full of stock. As new sets are becoming available, your store should accept them to slowly go expanding your business. 
  • High initial stock (~$500 or more per store): For these quantities the store should not have many problems to grow quickly (obviously with a good marketing). With amounts between $500-$1000 I would start buying/selling standard, and from there I would include Modern and even Legacy. The Professional version is required for these types of stores, but it would also be a good idea to have one or two Lite stores to maximize profits. Use the monthly license fee or better when you move amounts greater than 90 tickets/day (these licenses cost 63 tickets/month or less), and 2.5% commission per transaction otherwise. One strategy that can combine any of the above options is to use, for each store you are planning to create, two stores instead: one that exclusively buys cards and another that only makes sales. As this alternative would double the computation costs of your computer and limits you to create new stores, this strategy is only recommended whenever you have a high traffic of customers. Thus, you avoid your Magic Online bots from being always busy (remember you can only trade cards with one customer at once, so if a customer is waiting for trade he would probably go to another store).

Final thoughts

Although the growth stock of the strategy (a) is slow in time, it is also safer and with a relatively low initial cost. Therefore, this solution is favorable for those who cannot afford high investment and for those who will not spend much time maintaining their Magic Online bots.

Unlike (a), in case (b) the growth is much faster but you have to be careful and keep the prices updated. If you have cash, your stores will be targeted by customers who hope to also make some profit with the most expensive cards. The problem is that those cards leave your store/s without tickets and until sold you do get zero benefit (in fact it is a temporary loss state). The main problem is that those cards can vary greatly over the cheap price and generate losses due to these fluctuations. Thus, with this strategy you must be much more aware of your store to avoid short term buys/sells that may provoke loses.

Now that you have a long-term idea of ​​how you are going to expand your chain of Magic Online bots for profit, in future articles I will comment more technical aspects related to mount your stores, such as the required hardware and software.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.90 released

ML Bot 5.90 has just been released. It supports the new wikiprice, up next week.

Yes, you understood correctly :-). After years, finally wikiprice gets a major revision and a new improved version will be online soon. Expect it to be faster, easier to search, and real time............

Duel Decks: Heroes vs. Monsters

Heroes vs Monsters is a new dual deck, which will feature six Theros preview cards in addition to a lineup of powerful creatures and spells, as well as the leader for the Heroes, Sun Titan, and the leader for the Monsters, Polukranos, World Eater.

Duel Decks: Heroes vs. Monsters will be available for purchase in the Magic Online store for $19.99 on September 6, 2013.

Decklists here

Saturday, August 24, 2013

MTGO Library 5.89 released


we have just released ML Bot v. 5.89.
This is mainly a maintenance build with some minor fixes over 5.88


A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics 2) Part 11

MTGO Library Bot part 2:
Last time I talked about some basic preparations and basic information about ML Bot.
This time I'm going through the settings tabs of MTGO Library Bot.

Getting started:
First of all you should register your own account on and then log in and click "Register new bot" and register your first bot. If you're going to run more than one bot, go into "Sharing credits" with each bot and add them to the same chain. This ensures that your customers can use any leftover credits on each of your bots.

General Tab:
Now start MTGO Library Bot and insert your bot's name into "Username" and the bot account's password into "MTGO Password" and lastly the password you use on the mtgolibrary site in "Bot Password"

I would recommend setting it to restart every 2 hours or so as MTGO can get a bit sluggish.
Mtgo also has a bug where it believes you're in a trade even though you're not, which will give potential customers a message that states that you're busy even though you're not when they try to trade.
A restart fixes this.

Make sure to uncheck "Make all tradeable". It automatically makes all cards you own tradeable which means your Lite bots will be selling valuable cards at bulk prices.

"Free download prices at update" should always be checked as even Lite bots use the pricelist for certain things, otherwise it won't be able to buy new sets that gets released.

Also make sure to set the Bot type to whatever you're planning on using it for. Some people prefer to have one bot that buys and one that sells, in that case set the selling bot to only be a "Seller" and vice versa.
A "Trader" is a bot that allows a user to both sell to your bot and purchase at the same time.

Most bots have all these checked at the same time and that's what I would recommend.

Collection Tab: 
Here you can choose which sets to buy and how many of each rarity within each set to purchase.
For a Pro bot that is just starting out without a huge collection I would recommend buying only Standard and only 4 of each Common, Uncommon, Rare and Mythic. Foil is something I would recommend buying further down the road, the same goes for other sets. I would also recommend you to not buy basic lands or boosters in the beginning.

You can select set-categories in the "Quick selection" box and then choose rarities and quantities and lastly hit "Submit to collection". This is great for changing a lot of collection settings at once.

Buyer Tab: 
I wouldn't recommend you to change anything here except for maybe "Buyer Search Order", for example if you're not buying Foil you might as well move them down to prioritizing stuff you're actually buying.

Prices Tab:  This one differs depending on which bot type you're using and I'll go through this one for each type in upcoming posts.

Administrator Tab:
Here you can set your own account as Administrator which gives you privileges to execute commands for certain bot tasks as well as setting up automatic transferring of cards between your bots.

I wouldn't really recommend you to use the auto transfer as it's not very good at the moment and I think you're better off spending maybe 5 minutes every day to transfer them by hand.

Messages Tab:
"1st welcome message": Is the message your bot will greet a new customer with.

"General welcome message": Is the message your bot will post to returning customers upon opening of a new trade.

"Additional info message 1,2 and 3": These can be used for anything you would like to tell your customers. For example an email address where they can reach you on, or which bots are part of your chain.

"End of trade message": This message will be posted when a trade is completed.

"Display WIKI price message at the beginning of trade": This one should be checked. It will advertise the wikiprice site where they can find bot prices, but it also reduces the fee you'll have to pay to MTGO Library for each transaction from 3.5% to 2.5%.

"Classified message": This is the message the bot will post in the classifieds tab in MTGO. A good idea is to write either your bulk prices here or advertise cards you have for sale.

"Buy class. message": here you can set if you want to use a different message when your bot is busy. For example you could put (Busy Trading) or something similar in front of your normal classified message.

"Trading room message": this determines what your bot will post in the trading room.

Store and Accounts Tab:
Here you can find some licensing information about your bot.

Next time I'll go through how you can set up your first Lite bot and start botting for real.
Until next time, have fun!

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You Can't Get What You Want 'til You Know What You Want

While trying to come up with an idea for my next topic, I looked at recent topics mentioned on this blog and went back in time.  The list of topics is fairly impressiveESXi, VMware, how to operate a business, economics, and market trends.  We’ve had discussions on how to draft, how to construct a deck, and how to market to clans.  We’ve had discussions on computer hardware, computer software and how to integrate them when configuring your bot.  It’s been quite an education.

But in all of this is that the reader can get lost.  After all, this blog exists for you, the reader.  While it is the responsibility of the writer to make the articles interesting and entertaining, we do not always hit the mark. Topics will be brought up that are of little interest to some botters.  Those who only run one (1) part time bot does not particularly look forward to reading VMware articles meant for bot chains.  In the same manner, bot chain owners do not particularly care for the Botting 101 articles.

So I ask the readers, what is it that you want us to write about?  Do you wish discussions on bit coin and how that might affect our business?  Do you wish a more business oriented blog?  Do you wish feedback on the viability of a wish list of bot features?  (Suggest a feature and we comment on it)  Do you want some real life examples of how to deal with irate customers? 

Write down your thoughts and suggestions in the forum below and we’ll go from there.  After all, this blog is for you, the reader.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Manual intervention (Part 2)

Giving Away Freebies
While giving away free stuff doesn't sound like the right thing to do, many businesses owe their success to this practice. "Freebie Marketing"(link), also known as the razor and blades business model, is a business model where one item is sold at a low price (or given away for free) in order to increase sales of a complementary good, such as supplies (inkjet printers and ink cartridges, "Swiffers" and cleaning fluid, mobile phones and service contracts).

Freebie Marketing in MTGO
While many might think that giving away free cards isn't beneficial within a MTGO business the reality is, after I done some tests, I had some positive results which I will share with you.
Many of my sales out of the client (such as on my bots website and others) are made by MTGO users that never traded with my bots and many of which are quite new to MTGO. While this seems like a perfect combination to have a bit of a chat and introduce them to my bots (and hopefully get a new regular Customer), the reality is that only about 10-15% ended up using my bots after their order.

The Test
My test was to give every customer(that never used my bots before) that made any order above $10 or so a few cents credit on my bot (such as 0.5 - 0.75), explain them my bots unusual pricing and see what happened. While my sample isn't the biggest, I can tell that within one week of giving the "freebie" at least half of my "test subjects" done at least trade with my bots worth over 1 Event Ticket.

Examples of this marketing strategy can be seen all over MTGO. From "free bots" (easily over half of new players hear about mtgotraders "free bot" within 1 month of playing MTGO) which give a massive advertisement to their chain, to discount codes on first orders, etc.
Remember to be wise if you are trying this path as part of my success could be due to the Customer trust made from a very fast delivery and clear helpful communication on their purchased goods in the first place.

On next week, I'll talk about card transfers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.88 released

MTGO Library Bot version 5.88 has been released to public. It is an improvement over version 5.87 addressing again the "confirm button" problem.

While I am not sure this release will fix "once for all" the problem, it surely provides a better and more reliable work around of the MTGO bug.

For reference:

From the Vault: Twenty

Due to 20th anniversary of Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast introduced a new FTV product featuring 20 cards, each card is from different block of MtG. Additionally, this card appeared in a winning deck of either Pro Tour or Worlds. Take a look:

1. Dark Ritual
2. Swords to Plowshares
3. Hymn to Tourach
4. Fyndhorn Elves
5. Impulse
6. Wall of Blossom
7. Thran Dynamo
8. Tangle Wire
9. Fact or Fiction
10. Chainer's Edict
11. Akroma's Vengeance
12. Gilded Lotus
13. Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
14. Char
15. Venser, Shaper Savant
16. Chameleon Colossus
17. Cruel Ultimatum
18. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
19. Green Sun's Zenith
20. Kessig Wolf Run

Pretty exciting?

Friday, August 16, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.87 released

Hello to everyone,

ML Bot 5.87 has just been released. The build contains three improvements:

  • the function to click the "submit button" is now more reliable and should prevent the "white-gray-dark" bug. The bug, essentially, is related to Mtgo and prevents the submit button to be clicked correctly - the button becomes dark-gray, then white, then dark-gray again and so on... never changing to the "lite-gray" color that means a successful click.
  • when you pause the bot, the GUI pop-ups. When you unpause the bot, the GUI goes minimized. This is a defensive mechanism to avoid clicks on the bot GUI when Mtgo crashes. If Mtgo crashes, in fact, the bot could perform some clicks on the Desktop assuming that Mtgo is "still there" 
  • added a function to dismiss the "try  v4" message

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Finally! ESXi Finale

Last time we wrapped up the virtual machine requirements that are needed to optimally run Library.  What we have not discussed so far as how does it perform?  What has my experience been like?  What advice do I have for others who wish to delve into this?

What has my experience been like?  It’s been better than I had hoped for.  Not only have I been able to remove the virtual machines from my wife’s desktop and place them on their own dedicated server; something I have been meaning to do for quite awhile now; management of the bots is much easier.  With VMware, whenever I need to make a change to one of the bots, I need to physically go to the machine and peer inside each window and make the changes.  With the VSphere tool, I can remotely do those functions.  This has the benefit of being able to run my bots in a “headless” fashion.  By headless, I mean without a monitor.  I could also run it without a keyboard theoretically.

What advice would I give to others?  First off, get a license key.  There are various free and paid versions of VMware products.  For some reason the key I had would not work with this version of ESXi. 

Tip: Get a 64-bit version of ESXi.  I am running the 32 bit version and there is a maximum of 3.5 Gigabytes which can be allocated.  This is enough to run two (2) bots.  The hardware I received can not be expanded so this is not a problem for me.  But for those who have twenty bot amalgamations and can build a 24 Gigabyte machine to house their bots, 32 bit will not be sufficient.

Tip: Make certain your hardware is compatible with ESXi.  The first time we attempted this project, ESXi did not like the network card we were using and the only network card which was compatible with ESXi and the motherboard we were using cost over $150 US.  Since money was tight at the time, this was an expense I was not willing to incur, especially on donated and unknown hardware. 

Conclusion: This has been a worthwhile project for us.  We’ve learned a lot and this will help us professionally.  While ESXi is not exceedingly difficult to install or use, it can be daunting for those who are uncomfortable with installing and configuring operating systems or get squeamish whenever things do not go as planned.

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (MLBot Basics) Part 10

MTGO Library Bot:

Last week we talked about VMware and how to set it up. This week we'll start talking about some basic ML Bot information and preparations.
I'll start off with some very basics about MTGO Library Bot and then in later blogposts I'll go through more in-depth stuff.

Bot Versions: 
The MTGO Library Bot has two different versions, Pro and Lite.
The difference between these two is that the Pro bot can buy and/or sell cards with individual prices that it fetches from either a pricelist you can download for a fee, or your own home-made one.

While the Lite bot only buys and/or sells with set prices per rarity. For example 0.002 tickets per Common (1 ticket per 500 commons). These are called Bulk Bots because they buy and/or sell in bulk and don't individually price each card.

Then there's a third basic option other than Pro and Lite known as "Hybrid" which is usually a Pro bot that buys for bulk prices and sells for individual card prices. I'll go through how you can set up one of these later.

These are all completely free to use and will only charge you a 3.5%(2.5% if you accept to advertise the Wikiprice site) of each transaction's value every time someone either buys, sells or trades with you.

There are however licenses to purchase for those that would prefer to pay for a one time or subscription based license to get rid of the small fee.
This is something that might be interesting in the future when you're selling a lot and the overall fee in any not so distant future cost you more than a license would.

Which version to choose:
When starting out I would recommend starting with either one Pro and One Lite bot, or if you prefer to start with just one bot I would recommend a Hybrid(Pro) bot, as it will ensure you don't spend all your tickets on expensive cards in the beginning and still sell them for the right prices instead of bulk like a Lite bot would.

Basic Windows preparations for the bot:
Of course first you need to have the bot and MTGO installed. 
After this you should set the screen resolution to 1280x1024. 
Do this by right-clicking your desktop background and click "Screen resolution", then use the drop-down list to choose 1280x1024 and then click "Apply".

Next you need to go to the "Start Menu" of Windows, then go to the "Control Panel" and then click "Mouse".
When in Mouse Properties click the "Wheel" tab and change "The following number of lines at a time:" to 4.

Now it's time to change some settings in MTGO:
First start up Magic The Gathering Online and log on with any account then click the "Menu" tab in the bottom. Then click "Settings" and lastly "Game Play", in there click "Disable Card Tooltips".

Next click "Menu", "Settings" and "Game Play" again then click the "Speed vs. Quality" tab and choose "Prefer Speed".

Lastly go to "Menu", "Settings" then "Display and Sounds" and click "Software rendering".

Now your computer and MTGO is ready to run a bot.
Next time I'll start talking about tactics and how you can customize your bot's settings.

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pop up advertisement after downtime

Hello everyone,

Quick note on today's Magic online downtime. They are trying to promote Beta, they have added a pop up advertisement before you can fully log on. The ML bot is unable to minimize this at this time,  it will need to be done manually. Also there is an extended down time next week, who knows what we have in store?

Happy botting!


Remote Control of the ML Bot

We host a series of articles from our friends blog , a blog dealing with mtg and mtgo economics.

You can read the original article here:

Previously we took a look at all the settings of the bot. The main problem is that you have to be in front of the computer which is running the bot in order to make any changes in their behavior. To solve it, in this article I will explain how to view the status of your robot, statistics from sales/purchases and even how to make a remote control of the bot.

Control panel on the web

MTGO Library provides an additional service to the software that controls our digital cards store. This control panel can be accessed through our session on the bot website. Upon entering, you will see a page like the capture below.

This section is the “Dashboard” or main desktop where you can access to all available information remotely. As you can see there are 3 different areas:
  • Top menu: Access to all bot updates and its price list, as well as the renewal of the licenses (Lite and Pro). 
  • Side menu: Mainly displays performance statistics of the bot, however you can also make some changes from here. These options will be discussed in a future chapter because it is more related to strategies when creating your own chain of bots. 
  • Main section: Here it is shown the corresponding section selected from one of the previously commented menus. 
Within the left side menu options, firstly there is a series of display options with both, bot information and statistical data:

  • Dashboard: Displays a screen capture with the operating system of the bot. Below it is a bar with connection status of that computer. On the right side you can see a summary of the following information from bot: bot status (online/offline and if it is with a customer); status of the Magic Online client (online/offline); 
  • Transaction fee or commission due to the bot transactions; date and type of the last transaction; license type (Free/Lite/Pro) and expiration date; and the total value of the collection managed by the bot.
  • Trades log: on ​​top of this page there are diagrams with the latest sales statistics representing the total value of trades, number of trades of the most frequent customers, percentage of buyings against sales… Afterwards, there is an advanced search engine transaction, and below there is a list of the transactions for the last 24 hours. In the summary of each transaction you can see its mode (buy/sell/trade), total value, customer name and its date. If you want to see the details, you just have to click on the bar of the transaction to see the following information: 
    • List of cards exchanged with their individual price 
    • Total value and the value without the customer accumulated credit 
    • Tickets received 
    • Previous and current customer credits 
    • Tickets available on the store after this transaction 
    • Fee generated by this transaction 
    • Total fees after this transaction (debit to MTGO Library) 
    • Links to screenshots generated just when the bot confirms the transaction
  • Cards Log: This section is very useful when you want to track the benefits of a specific card. After searching a card, this section shows all its buys and sales with their values attached. The site also summarizes the profit or loss made by this card. Thus, by using this information you can decide, for example, to change the prices of a particular card. 
  • Collection History: Summary of the total value of your collection divided by rarity. It is updated every 24/48 hours and, although it is useful to get an idea of ​the value for your stock, often these data are not very accurate. For example, there are some days that I have had almost no sales and my collection changed its value around +-200 tickets. 
  • Transaction Fee: List with each renting fee generated and deducted by one of the official MTGO Library accounts. These accounts remove fees by taking tickets from your store every time its the renting fee exceeds the value of 1 ticket. 
  • Multimonitor: Current screenshot from each of your bots. It also shows their online status and the commission generated by each one independently. Remember that for every bot you have to pay the fees generated by their respective transactions.
Below these statistics options there are some sections which modify the data the bot works with:
  • Credits: Displays the available credits for each client who has done transactions in your store. Each customer on the list offers an option to show all his transactions, as well as the possibility to edit their credits for any reason. 
  • Messages: Allows you to change the text of the advertisement shown in the “classifieds” section on Magic Online. This option is very useful if you want to remotely change your advertising. Changes are made every hour, so it may take you a bit to see the update of your advertisement. 
  • Sharing Credits: If you have more than one bot, from here you can make to share the credit between themselves. This means that a customer will have available the same credits in your entire chain of bots. 
  • Blacklist: Finally, your session on MTGO Library website allows you to add users to a blacklist. Thus, a client on the blacklist cannot trade cards with your bots. You must be very sure to add someone here, and you should only do this if that customer has persistently abused from your stores. This explanation covers all the options you can handle from MTGO Library site to control your stores without being in front of the computer which runs the bots.

How to make a remote access to your bot

As you can see, although the control panel of MTGO Library website has many functions, it may happen that you wish to directly manage any of your bots for pausing, restarting, changing the custom price of a card… There are many methods to solve this problem, however I will explain in detail the one I use: LogMeIn.

Why I use this service? There are many reasons, but the most important are:
  • Its basic version is offered for free 
  • Very fast and easy-to-use interface 
  • Easily manages a lot of computers from a single place. It may be used from different platforms (PC Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad) 
The last point is very important for me, as it allows the remote control of the bot from your phone when you are far from home (obviously you should have an internet connection).
The steps to start using LogMeIn on the computer you install your bot are the following:
  1. Create an account at LogMeIn
  2. Login to your account on their website and, from the “Home” section, select “add computer” 
  3. Download their application (Free version) and install it on the computer which runs the bot. It will ask you the computer name and if you use a proxy for your connection. 
  4. That’s it! In order to use the remote control of your bot, go again to your “Home” section and you will see your computer on the list. Click over it and type the username and password of the user of that computer. 


With these tools you have a complete remote control system for your bot, so you can manage its behavior at any time. This feature is very important because sometimes you have to fix prices of cards, pause the bot, perform maintenance tasks, know the sales/purchases of your store…

The next chapter of this series will show you some of the most common strategies to create your own chain of bots.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.86 has been released

ML Bot 5.86 has just been released, including the CatID(s) for the new set M14 (Magic Online 2014) .
This means that your bot will be able to purchase M14 using the wishlist buying mode.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Finally, ESXi Part IV

Last time we discovered that inside a virtual machine, a bot utilizes 1.6 Ghz and that a faster harder drive is necessary for multiple bots where there is lots of activity.  Today we will continue looking at the reports that ESXi generates.

As the network graph shows, there is not a lot of internet traffic while using a bot.  Even using multiple bots should not significantly show down an internet connection.  Basically this means that you can play World of Warcraft while your bot chain is happily working away. 

However, do not mistake a lack of internet traffic as permission to use your internet connection to its full extent.  As many others have reported and I have seen, using a Bit Torrent client will degrade the performance of the bots.  Skype will affect bot performance.  The short answer is that ir is not so much the amount of traffic transmitted, but the number of packets that they generate has a tendency to overwhelm these home routers. 

The question we all want to know is how much memory does each bot really need.  I had allocated 1.5 Gigabytes of memory to each virtual machine.  I’ve been able to successfully run bots on 800 Megabytes of memory.  But what does ESXi say?

As the graph shows, the bot was actively utilizing 1.2 Gigabytes of memory for each bot.  This surprised me.  I’ve successfully ran bots with 800 Megabytes of RAM and I’ve heard others running them with even less. 

But then I realized how Microsoft designed Windows way back when.  Microsoft’s core customer is not the home user but businesses.  As such, businesses require that all computers run properly.  Way back in Windows 3 and even earlier, Windows has a mechanism where if a program requires more memory, Windows will swap out RAM memory and put it on the hard drive.  This will avoid the “Out of Memory” error which drove technicians crazy back in the day. 

But this also drastically slows down performance as RAM is thousands of times faster than Hard drive memory, commonly known as the Swap file.  This explains why we can successfully run a bot on minimal memory.  But the cost of this is that the customer experience is degraded, leading to lost sales.

In summary, what is required to run a bot in a virtual machine; apart from adequate disk space and Internet?

1.6 Ghz of CPU
1.5 Gigabytes of Memory.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (Virtual Machines) Part 9

Virtual Machines:
Last week we talked about some basic things to keep in mind when setting up your bot server and installing its operating system. This time I'll talk about setting up your virtual machines.

I assume you've already installed your host operating system on your computer.
First I would recommend you to get the very basics ready, like installing your web browser of choice and making sure you have internet connection and maybe installing an anti-virus software before we start.

Installing your virtual machine(s): 

It's time to install and set up your virtual machine(s), for this I would recommend using VMware Player which is free to use or VMware Workstation. You'll have to purchase a license to use this one though and I think it's pretty unnecessary for what we're going to do.

1. Start by installing whichever version you prefer.

2. Start VMware and press "Create a New Virtual Machine".

3. Choose either "Installer disc" if you have your OS on a DVD or "Installer disc image file (iso)" if you have a .iso file of your OS on your computer.

4. Type your Windows product key and your name and password (you need a password to be able to connect to your botting computer with Remote Desktop).

5. Choose a name of your virtual machine. I would recommend choosing the same name that you're going to use for your bot so you don't mix them up.
Also choose to install your virtual machine on your SSD if you purchased one and make a folder called something like Virtual Machines to keep things organized.

6. Choose how much disk size to allocate for your virtual machine. I would recommend something between 5 and 10 GB and choose "Store virtual disk as a single file", then click next and finish and the virtual machine will start up and start your Windows Installation.

You only need to do this once as I'll show you how to copy your virtual machine later to use for more bots. It's best to do it later when it's set up and ready so you don't have to install stuff like MTGO again.

7. After the installation is done power off your virtual machine just like you power off any Windows installation and then right click it in the list in VMware Player and click "Virtual Machine Settings".
First choose "Memory" and set it between 2-3 GB for Windows 7. This can easily be changed later so you can see what works best for you. This totally depends on how slim your Windows 7 installation is and what applications you choose to run.

8. Next select Processors and select one processor core.

9.(Optional) Then you can delete devices you know you won't use but this is not necessary. I for example disabled the CD/DVD reader as my server doesn't even have one.

Setting up your pagefiles:

This is instructions for those who have chosen to use more than one hard drive.

1. Start up your virtual machine.

2. Go into the Control Panel and click "System".

3. Click "Change Settings" to the right Click the "Advanced" tab and then "Settings..." under "Performance" and then the next "Advanced" tab and then "Change..."

4. Now select your C: drive (which should be your SSD if you have one) and then select "Custom Size" and  write 1024 in the initial and maximum size and click "Set". Then select your second hard drive and choose "System managed size" and click "Set".

This will give you two pagefiles, one for the OS (windows requires around 1gb) and then a larger one for the rest of your applications that lies on your second hard drive where it doesn't slow your computer down.

Final installs:

After this you should install service packs and drivers using the windows updater and then you just need to install .Net Framework 4.0 from Microsoft's site and DirectX9 (to be able to run MTGO) and of course install and update the MTGO client itself and the MTGO Library Bot.
After that you should install any other softwares you want to use, a backup software for example and then you're almost ready.

Multiple Virtual Machines:
If you're planning on running more bots you can now follow these short instructions:

1. Shut off your virtual machine and then shut off VMvare.

2. Locate your virtual machine on your C: drive and then just copy the folder and rename it to something fitting.

3. Start VMware again and choose "Open a virtual machine" and locate it on your hard drive. When you power it on click "I copied it" and that's it. Now you have an exact copy of your first virtual machine to use for your second bot, now you can do this for any number of bots you want to use.

This was all I had for today.

Next week I'll talk about setting up your bots and getting them ready for action.
As always I'll gladly answer any questions you might have in the comment section.
-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Manual intervention (Part 1)

Buying and Selling to other Bots

Running MTGO Bots wasn't always all about clicking "launch" and seeing the money coming in.
Although manual intervention wasn't in most botters minds when we started running MTGO Bots, eventually, we found the need to intervene and do some things by hand, not as a necessity but as a way to get an edge or advantage against other bots.
From card transfers between your bots, give-away freebies, fix possible buggy trades, eBay sales or to sell and buy directly to other bots, which is the one I will be talking about this week, manual intervention can be positive, if used correctly.

There are many (good and bad) reasons to trade with other bots.
Taking this wikiprice search as an example, Bot A will be a "zero risk" bot, it clearly aims to buy low, and sell low. This means he wont have much stock but that any buy he makes, he can quickly pause the bot, visit Bot B and sell his 15tix bought card for 30tix, making an instant 15tix profit. The advantage is the instant 15 event tickets profit and restock but it comes with the disadvantage of making new customers (using a cheap sphinx as a "lure").
Bot C would be the kind of botter that wouldn't mind visiting Bot D manually and grab himself a sphinx for 30 event tickets as he knows it will sell it sooner of later for 31.5-32.5.

There are many other ways to intervene manually with other bots which involve controlling the value of cards (such as buying every copy of a specific card to boost its value, then selling it), but I just want to hear from you guys if this is something you do and how often you do it.

On my next post I will talk about Giving away freebies.

Hasbro's growing revenue.

The Hasbro company announced on Monday that its games unit, which includes Magic, Monopoly, and Twister, among others, reported a 19% sales gain in the second quarter. Hasbro executives say Magic is the biggest brand in its $1.2 billion games portfolio, without drilling into specifics, and said in its annual report that 2012 marked Magic’s fourth straight year growing revenue by 25% or more. It’s a phenomenal performance for a game celebrating its 20 anniversary, and much of that is thanks to Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast’s ability to successfully take Magic from a physical trading card game into the digital world since 2008. Wizards of the Coast, which is also behind Dungeons & Dragons and the Duel Masters franchise, may make $445 million in sales this year, estimates Sean McGowan, an analyst at Needham & Co. Hasbro bought Wizards in 1999.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

MTGO Library: Bot Customization

We host a series of articles from our friends blog , a blog dealing with mtg and mtgo economics.

You can read the original article here: 

Previously I introduced the MTGO Library bot and all its advantages for increasing your collection. In this chapter of the series I will roughly explain how you can make the bot customization, so that you can differentiate your digital card shop from the rest at Magic Online.

Before we begin, I remind you that in the MTGO Library home page there is a link to the bot manual in PDF format. This document describes all the required steps to start using the bot, however in this article I will focus on the most important functionalities so you know how to make the bot customization.

MTGO Library versions: Pro and Lite

The first thing to know is that you can install two versions of the bot: Pro and Lite. The Pro one lets you customize the price of each card separately, whereas the Lite one sets prices which mainly depends on rarity. To set these prices, the bot Lite version features an additional tab in your control panel entitled “Prices”.

Which version should you choose? Well, it depends on the sales and marketing strategy you have. Either way, the answer to this question needs a separate article that I have plans to publish soon.

From the bot customization of both versions point of view, almost all features are the same, thus I will comment them indifferently for both cases and I will only clarify the version when an option is only available for such version.

General features

I will assume you’ve installed the software and you are in the control panel, from where you will make all the necessary changes to the bot configuration.

The “General” section includes the information of the user account on MTGO Library as well as the Magic Online one. Besides, from here you can change certain bot behaviors like:
  • Maximum duration and inactivity period of a trade 
  • Automatically reload MTGO price lists 
  • Operating modes of the bot (buy, sell and/or trade) 
  • Management of the screenshots of your trades 
  • Usage of prices and/or percentage changes stated by you on an aside personal price list 
  • Set corrections for the buy prices never exceed sell prices 
  • Also, you can force the bot restarts Magic Online periodically, which is a good practice because the longer MTGO client is running, the easier it stops from receiving new trades.
Finally, it must be said that there is a function that allows the robot to go faster than normal, but requires that the computer also reacts very fast. From my experience, this mode would only be used with an OS that is not run on a virtual machine (VM) neither it runs other VMs, and despite this fast mode the difference in performance is not too high in practice.

Choosing which cards to buy and sell

The “Collection” section introduces all sets that are available at Magic Online. When choosing one of them, you can limit the number of copies for each rarity on both, normal and foil cards. If you want to buy only some specific letters of a set, then you should put those cards on the personal price list instead. You can also choose to buy boosters of collections you want.

But these are not the only options available for customizing the bot regarding to the price list. You can also modify (for all cards and using percentages on the “Limits” section), the prices of all the cards in a certain rarity, as well as limit their minimum/maximum price. One of the benefits of using this option consists of avoiding bugs on the MTGO Library price list. For example, we may want to not buy common cards for more than 2 tickets (although there are some with higher value) to avoid price peak of a card that is not worth that amount. This way, all cards that have a higher price will be bought at a price of 2 tickets instead.

Bot customization on the classifieds

For me, “Messages” sections is one of the most important ones. Here you will be able to customize your store ad and messages sent to a client who is performing a trade.

There are two possible texts for the ad: one is shown when the bot is available for customers, whereas the other one appears when the bot is busy. Also, you can automatically add a text at the beginning to indicate this state (OPEN or BUSY). It is important to maximize the usage of the 255 character limit on each text in order to achieve two main goals:
  1. Users shall find your store on the classified with the search engine. Ask yourself which are the words that someone would use to find a store of cards/boosters/sets… and add them to your ad. 
  2. Shines against the rest. Some people are directly looking for stores by scrolling down the classifieds list, so it is important to highlight from the other ads. For this purpose, you can add special codes that draw typical Magic icons (you can find a list here). 
  3. Clearly state what your store offers. Do not lie or give inaccurate information about the offer on your store. Customers will soon realize and will not return.
To meet these assumptions you have special tools and icon codes I just mentioned above. However, MTGO Library also offers the option of submitting the current prices of your cards, which can be published in your ad. Typically most bots show the most traded cards of the moment because there will be many people looking for them. But you also have many other options, for example:
  • Buy/sell price of a card at random 
  • Price of cards with a minimum/maximum value 
  • Random cards from specific sets 
  • Specific regular/foil cards…
The format to show a card with its current price is found on the bot manual. If you don’t select one specific card, the bot changes it periodically so the ad does not always show the same card. The more you show, the more likely it is that someone will find the price you have for that card. But keep in mind that there are competitors that will do the same. Thus, if your prices are visible they should be one of the best because people can easily compare them.

MTGO Library… Online

Once you have configured your bot, you can track the status and trades performed by your store if you login to your account on MTGO Library site. Full details on what you can do within your personal page will be discussed in the next chapter of this series.