So last week I introduced you all to my new goals for speculating in MTGO, and talked a bit about how to formulate goals. This week I begin my dive headfirst into my new focus, and there are a number of items to put in place before I hit the water. If my goal is to be drafting week in and week out and speculating to make that more affordable, I need each step of the way carefully planned so that I can do things as efficiently as possible.
The economy of MTGO revolves around Event Tickets. These quasi-dollars function similarly to actual dollar bills on MTGO except they can’t be divided into pennies. Anyone who has dealt with bulk before in cardboard cards knows how quickly dimes and nickles add up. That being said, there isn’t really a mechanism to fill that void built into MTGO, but the users themselves have solved this problem over the years by employing Bots.
Tickets can be bought directly from the MTGO store, at $1 each, but for many foreign players, they are imposed an additional tax (as discussed in the comments last week). Further, players (and bots) also must find a way to convert excess tickets they’ve earned into cash. As a result, you can often buy tickets directly from other players in the vicinity of $0.95 each.
Finding a trade partner for this is not always easy. I often use twitter to poke my head around for people selling tickets. This is fairly safe because I can usually track that person down, at least if they are well connected on Twitter. Twitter can be my credit check, in those cases. Of course the fear is sending someone money on PayPal and then they just disappear on you. In theory, filing a claim on PayPal should resolve that.
A bot is simply a piece of software that controls an MTGO account and will trade products for tickets and vice-versa with customers. They are your ‘dealers’ of the MTGO community, making a small profit on each trade. These bots will hold credit for you if any fractional tickets are owed back to you as change, and you can use them at a later date. I’m sure there are some bad bots out there, but I’ve used tons of different bots over the years and I’ve never had a problem. As of now, my interaction with bots will be to obtain at least one draft set of RTR so I can start drafting.
Further, I’ve got to get some cards into my speculation portfolio, but I also have a smattering of essentially worthless unplayable cards (also some good ones I’d like to keep) sitting in my collection online that I’d like to clear out so that I can more efficiently manage my portfolio. To do this, I’ll want to scour for any cards that have value above bulk level, and then start bulking out the rest. The other important thing about Bots is because you slowly stash up pennies worth of "bot credit" its wise to re-use the same bot (as long as their pricing is consistent) so you're always able to use up that credit on the next sale. The buddylist feature is a good way to keep track of them.
Bulking out on MTGO is the only aspect of trading, buying or selling that is actually much more difficult on MTGO than it is in paper. The issue here is bulk commons/uncommons sell for tiny fractions of a ticket, so you’ll have to sell tons to get any actual value out of them. Further, trades on MTGO are limited to 75 cards at a time, and each trade does eat up a bit of time. So each time they’re only paying you a fraction of a ticket, and until you give them enough cards to make up the entire ticket you get nothing.
It’s hard to find good bulk buyers on MTGO, but they do exist. Often times they’ll advertise in the classifieds that they buy all commons, but once you enter the trade you find out that they only cherry pick decent Pauper playables. If you use search terms like “Bulk” or “All Cards” you can likely find something that will work. The rest is just time consuming. Be sure to make all the cards you want to dump tradable (and the ones you don’t untradable).
So Away we go!
This week I’ve just scratched the surface with my speculation, I bought 6 copies of Deathrite Shaman, and 8 copies of Nephalia Drownyard. In total, this cost me about $12. Deathrite Shaman I bought because I may try to build the Reanimator deck on line, and I thought at just over $2 was it a great price to get in.
Drownyard on the other hand I plan to take a little bit deeper. As it appears Jace-centric control decks are likely here to stay, I think the Drownyard could be a great tool to fight the mirror. On MTGO it’s under a nickle, and in paper they sit around a quarter. When Dimir comes around in Gatecrash we can expect mill to have some additional support as well, and a U/B control deck could be feasible in its own right.
Further, I’ll be firing off my first drafts of RTR and start coming up with a way to track what cards I have and need to build a Standard collection and set up a spreadsheet to track speculations. By this time next week I hope to have a handful of drafts under my belt as well as my portfolio organized and active.