The Classifieds section on MTGO is the place to go to buy and/or sell cards. This gigantic market place is very impressive and confusing at first. If you don't (or can't) use any search filters, i.e. using a word with the search tool, the Classifieds is like a gigantic list of offers from which it is almost impossible to find what you are looking for.
Unfortunately, searching the Classifieds with the card's name probably won't solve the problem. Especially with Standard cards, you will still be left with hundreds of offers, whether they are buyers or sellers.
Another issue, when dealing with bots, is that many of them probably have the card you want in stock but are not showing up in your search result if their actual offer does not contain the card's name. Nothing guaranties that the offers you see really represent the best price in town.
Sometimes humans post attractive offers at prices significantly cheaper than bots, but in general, bots have the best prices because they can adjust their prices to 1/1000 of a tix. A common feature of all bots is to save cents of tix left behind as credits for future transactions. But what should you do with fractions of tix you don't use? Does it even matter to leave credits on the table?
In this article I'll cover and discuss the pros and cons of buying by posting your own offer or buying from humans or bots. I'll also mention useful tools and information sources you may want to use in order to find the best potential speculation targets.
As Matt stated in his past articles, research is key when you want to find targets to invest in. The more information you get and the sooner you get it, the more benefits you are likely to make. StarCityGames articles, ChannelFireball free articles/videos, and news and Daily Events deck lists from Wizards.com are great sources of info.
Recent examples have shown the strong speculative impact that Travis Woo & colleagues can have on the market: Disrupting Shoal, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, Shadowborn Demon, Summoner's Egg… how about a 500 % profits in three days? Check them regularly as (almost) everything they touch is transformed into gold in one or two days.
In addition to these websites and others, I'm also regularly checking Mtgotraders Hotlist. Their hotlist provides good insight about the cards in demand at the moment. This list is updated constantly and when I see unexpected cards or cards that have a higher price compared to what I use to know, I double-check with other sources, including mtgGoldfish.com for an history of the prices trend.
MtgGoldfish is probably the best addition since Matt's articles. This website provides free access to a tremendous amount of information, and is definitely a website you have to use, if you're not already.
It used to be limited to rares and mythics but now you can check the price history of all cards on MTGO. MtgGoldfish gives you access to daily and weekly movers (useful to detect spikes), set prices variations, decks that used such or such cards, boosters prices, and more.
MtgGoldfish is very powerful when it comes to what I have called cyclical investments, Modern cards in particular. With a 2+ years of price history, you can easily see the low and high of any cards. Therefore, it becomes easy to predict when is the time to buy and when will be a good time/price to sell.
I check mtgGoldfish around 10 to 20 times a day. Whenever a card grabs my attention I go check its price history.
Posting an Offer to Buy
To be honest, buying cards through my own offers on the Classifieds probably represent less than 5% of my total purchases. Even if you propose good buying prices, it takes hours and hours to collect cards this way.
Try to put yourself among the best buyers, if not the actual best, on the Classifieds. Remember that you are buying cards to speculate on them, not to complete your collection. You would rather make 15% profit on cards you bought at a slightly higher price than potentially 20% on a card you will never get because you are too cheap. If your prices are too low and not attractive you won't make any deal.
Buying cards using an offer works best for mythics of the new set during release events, when players are actively selling freshly opened cards and when buying prices from bots are not quite optimized and too low.
Finally, you probably won't be able to buy cards under 0.5 tix this way. Also, if this method is barely 5% of my total purchases, it is probably close to 0% for non-Standard cards as fewer people are willing to sell them. If you don't have a lot of time to spend on MTGO and are chasing Modern/Legacy/Vintage cards you should directly go for bots.
Buying From Humans
On the Classifieds, offers from humans can sometimes represent the best deal. Either they want to get rid of cards rapidly or they are not aware of the real price of a given card. It even happens that some humans are selling cards that bots on the Classifieds are buying for a full tix more. In any case, these types of opportunities don't last long.
Looking for humans on the Classifieds can be fastidious as they are flooded by bots offers. Offers from humans are usually shorter, have round prices and have no colored icons or small icons in their offers. They should stand out from the bots offers by their simplicity.
Buying From Bots
Let's tackle the problem of left-behind credits. This is a recurring question from people who want to give MTGO a try. What do you do with the unused credits? do you buy junk rares or something else? Do you look for another bot?
Here is how I see it. During your transactions, you will leave an average of 0.5 tix per bot chain, since you leave from 0.001 to 0.999 Tix. If a given bot constantly offers good buying or selling prices, you will find yourself coming back frequently. Your are likely then to use these credits left behind in a near future.
Consider these "unused" credits as a 0.5 tix lifetime fee for the usage of a given bot chain. When you think about it, this represents a very small "fee" in order to be able to invest and speculate on MTGO as much as you want. At the moment I probably have ongoing credits for about 30 bot chains.
Depending on the size of your bankroll this can be a chunk of tix you are not happy to "sacrifice", but the flexibility and opportunities you get should counterbalance the inconvenience.
Mtgo Library Bots
To me there are two types of bots, the Mtgo Library bots and the others.
Mtgo Library bots don't share credits among each other since they have different owners but some people own a bot chain composed of five or more bots that share credits. A lot of bots on MTGO use the Mtgo Library bot system, and all cards sold and bought by the Mtgo Library bots are referenced!
Searching for cards using the Mtgo Library website is easier than ever. Simply enter the card you are interested in in the search window and two tables will open with all the bots selling and buying your card.
Then, search the Classifieds for the name of the bot you want to buy cards from. Double-check the prices once trading with the bot; sometimes prices do not match between the Mtgo Library website and bots, I think due to a lag in updates.
Mtgo Library is comprised of hundreds of bots, not all of them are equal. Some only have couple of hundreds of cards, some are a bot chain with five or six bots with virtually everything in stock.
Below is a list of bots that I use on a regular basis, and therefore don't mind leaving credits on. When I'm looking for a card from a bot that I have never traded with before I generally don't buy it, and wait to see if that bot pops up again for other cards. If it does, I may commit to leave some credits.
This is a list of bots or bot chains that I have found relevant for speculating online. If you are not familiar with them, you can be sure you'll come back again and therefore you can leave credits on them:
- Shop_pearl, Shop_jet and Shop_Ruby
- ______11_____ and the other numbers, belonging to the Worldbot chain if I'm correct.
- GamingBot, XtremBot, Cardcastle and other bots from this chain.
- Mtgo_bazaar bots
- Cardboom bots
- CardStock bots
- QuarterOfSix bots
- ..i.buy.everything and __i_buy_everything bots
- VRTStore bots
- CheapStuff bots
- JBentham and JBStore bots
- Mtgo_resonableprice bots
- stock_market_bot_ bots
- Insane_Smart_Bot bots
- scoopbot bots
- Cardfiend bots
- norntrader bots
- _Tixos.Shop bots
New bots are added frequently, and this list grows a little bit every month.
Other Bot Chains
Mtgotraders, Marlonbots & Cardbots
Two years ago, I was not using these to buy cards, but as the MTGO market and the competition intensified, these bot chains (that do not share credits but have strictly equivalent prices) offer more and more attractive prices.
They will almost never be the cheapest but they will have cards in stock almost all the time, which is where their strength is. Especially for Modern/Legacy/Vintage cards, Mtgotraders, marlonbots and Cardbots are dealers to consider. I keep an eye on Mtgotraders prices frequently.
Goatbots really changed the bot experience this past year. They developed a smooth, fast and efficient bot system. Their prices are very attractive, they are frequently the cheapest regarding to Standard and MMA cards. Too bad they don't sell older formats, Modern in particularly.
Their spreads are also low which makes Goatbots a great bot chain to buy from and sell to. They have a huge stock which allow you to easily buy up to 2x 12 cards/boosters per day.
There's three of them. They use an interface similar to the Mtgo Library bots but their prices are not referenced in the Library. If you want to find them in the Classifieds, typing "Aboshan" in the search bar won't help since many other bots use the word "aboshan" in their offer! However, using "we pay" as a key word you will find their three bots only.
They usually have a high selling prices which doesn't make them a good target to buy on a regular basis. They are, however, one of the best place to sell your cards.
On some specific occasions, Aboshanbots might be the place to go to buy cards. Unlike Mtgotraders, it takes AboshanBots more time to update their prices when a sudden spike happens, such as after a GP or PT results. Since they are not referenced by Mtgo Library it is harder for people to check their prices.
Sometimes AboshanBots still have in stock the card everyone is looking for, and at a decent price! I remember that on the Sunday night after PT Gatecrash AboshanBots were still selling their Falkenrath Aristocrats at 17.5 Tix, while the Hotlist bot from Mtgotraders was buying them at 21!
Thank you for reading,