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By: stsung, Jaroslava Stefankova
Jul 03 2018 12:00pm
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When I ask people what I should write about next there is a recurrent topic and that is Trading and bots on Magic Online. I already wrote a few tips about trading but never really wrote one dedicated article to actual trading. I will give it a try this time.

This is what the trade window actually looks like. I recommend setting the display to card view instead of pile view because then you can see which version of a card you are getting or trading away. I loan decks and getting back the correct versions of cards is something I can't take for granted - many players just put some version of a card in the trade binder.

Magic Online is a client that allows us to play the game - Magic: The Gathering - online. We can look at it as a simulation of the paper game in a digital world. With that Magic Online also brings an economy that it shares similarities with the paper game. We have to understand that there is a secondary market. In paper, we buy our singles from online or brick and mortar stores, but also from other players. On Magic Online, we also have the possibility to buy singles from online stores or players. During our trades most of the time we won't be dealing with an actual person (referred as human) but computer scripts that operate Magic Online user account (bots).

Bots use some kind of price lists and behavior and change prices accordingly, they increase a price when they sell too many copies of a certain card etc. For those players that actively trade, knowing how a certain bot functions and within what time frame it changes its price lists, is something that will make it easier to figure out when to sell or buy cards.

There are different levels to trading depending on what kind of a player you are (value-centric or not) and how much time you actually have (a student with a lot of free time or a father of two kids). Many players when introduced to competitive Magic often complain about not having a degree in economics because keeping up with prices, selling, buying and trading is something that scares them and eats up a lot of time. On the other hand when a player is fully invested in the game they usually know how the Magic economy works. It is not a required of us to buy and sell cards in order to profit but if we don't do this to some extent we might end up losing a lot of money - or rather Magic becomes a very expensive hobby. New players are usually totally overwhelmed with this aspect and players that do not have much time because they have kids and wish to play a match or two during the evening will usually do the minimum trading possible (they usually have the money to spend).

On Magic Online we can also find traders. There are many in the real world and for some trading on Magic Online can be appealing. Trading on Magic Online has its pros because you don't need to physically handle cards, you don't need to physically locate them, pack them, ship them, wait for them to arrive etc. You also don't need to worry about condition. You also do not need to pay any kind of commission for sold items, deal with any other kind of fees, meet people to be paid in cash etc (and I don't even talk about preparing you inventory - opening boxes, sorting cards, pricing them and putting them up for sale, dealing with people at events etc.). On Magic Online we can trade daily even though there are certain times one should be really active and times when it's pretty much useless. In order to become a good trader we need to know how the economy works, how Magic Online works, how the bots work. That also requires a lot of knowledge. You need to be checking prices pretty much all the time, be fast at selling/buying etc. A competitive player will find this easier because they already know what causes cards to spike or lose their value and when that generally happens.

In this article I will cover the basics of trading.

Currency - tix and credit

On Magic Online what we use to pay for items on the secondary market is event tickets known simply as tix. When you buy them from an official store you will pay 1 USD for 1 ticket if you are US resident (otherwise you may be required to pay more). Tix can be also bought from other sources and the price will vary, it will still be close to that 1 USD. Cards (or anything else you can buy) on Magic Online can cost way less than 1 tix though. A bulk common can cost 0.001 tix. If you buy a card from a bot for that price you will end up with 0.999 credit at the bot. 1 tix may not seem much but in the digital world many cards cost between 0.02-0.2 tix. Just keep in mind that you can't divide tickets and if you turn a fraction of tix into bot credit you should remember which bot has the credit so you can use it later. Also, bear in mind, that many bots come to existence and are gone very fast. Keeping credit at certain bot chains is safe but be aware that 'no name' bots may disappear and with them your credits.

Note that there is also something called Play Points. Those are used to enter events but are otherwise untradeable. If one wants to turn them into tix one has to enter an event and win non-play point prizes.

Note also that opening booster packs to grow your collection on Magic Online is not the way to go. Sell them and then buy the cards you need, many cards can be bought for the tix you will get from selling a pack. As for Treasure Chests, those can be opened. Just remember that opening Treasure Chests means getting a lot of Play Points in the process. If you don't have use for them or need tix, consider selling the Treasure Chests instead. Opening them will get you to roughly 2 tix value but part of it will be in Play Points that are worthless as a currency when you want to trade.

Trade binders
Even if you won't be a trader that wants to earn money by trading you will have to set up your binders so you don't trade your cards by accident. By default you enter a trade with Full Trade Binder that contains all tradeable items in it - cards, tickets, avatars, treasure chests, packs etc. If you have something interesting some bots may automatically choose that because they want to buy that. Removing those items may be troublesome in some cases (some bots don't have a way to remove all items at once but rather item by item) and in some cases users submit a trade and trade off what they wanted to keep (to be honest it happened to me too and I've done a lot of trades). To avoid this happening the best practice is to create a new binder and put something useless in it, for example an avatar or unplayable common. I keep tix in my binder but note that if you will be conducting trades with other players they will have access to those tix so it can be a liability to have them in your binder. I'm mentioning this because I still read posts about players losing their tix when trading with other players. Beware of players that try to initiate a trade with you, some try to do shady trades and rob you of what you have, I encountered some of those myself so I know it's truly happening. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Otherwise, when you have something you want to trade put it into a new binder (or the one you created containing 'nothing') and trade.

Trading
Trading is done in the client and can be initiated from different areas. There is a Trade tab that shows a list of bots and humans with description of their listings. Human listings start with HUMAN and there won't be that many of them, the rest of the listings are bots. So in order to look for trading with other players you should type 'HUMAN'. They may be bots that pretend to be people but you can distinguish those easily since they list prices in fractions of tix. If you will be looking for known bots like MTGOTraders you will see that it will take a bit of searching even if you type the name of the bot because other bots will have something like 'faster than MTGOTraders' in their description to make it harder for you to find them. If you want to look for MTGOTraders specifically you should search for 'Official MTGOTraders' (see screenshot below to get an idea how many bots show up when you search for MTGOTraders). To initiate a trade you can double-click or right-click on the account name and click on Trade, choose a binder, and click on OK.

The trade will be either accepted or not. Note that most bots show if they are busy or not. If you have troubles initiating a trade because someone was faster, you can keep the window with binders open and click on OK when the bot is no longer busy. This will save you a little bit of time. If you want to trade with a MTGO Library bot you can their experimental feature on MTGOWikiprice.com. There you can click on the bot name and then Request a trade from: [bot name] (see screenshot below). This means that it does not need to be you waiting for the bot to be available and then try to trade it (and often unsuccessfully). The bot will trade you itself after it finishes a trade (or relaunches Magic Online) so you don't need to stare at the trade screen at all, just wait for the notification that the bot is sending you a trade request.

This feature saves a lot of time if you are trading a lot

Trade can be initiated with your buddies from the home screen by right-clicking their avatar and choosing Trade, similarly you can trade anyone that is part of a chat conversation by right-clicking their username and choosing Trade (both of that includes bots).

 

When you don't have time to trade

New players or those that don't have much time to trade and want to play constructed usually want to buy a whole deck at once. That can be easily done in a very short time. The downside? It costs a little bit more money. There are different stores online that you can use which usually means that you go to their site, order what you want and pay with either cash, paypal or tickets in client. Each store is done differently so payment methods and delivery may differ. The most used are MTGOTraders.com, Cardhoarder.com and Goatbots.com but there are others as well (for example dojotradebots.com, mtgoacademy.com). Both Cardhoarder and MTGOTraders allow you to load a decklist and buy the whole deck right away. All you need to do is fill your credentials and pay. This can be done either via their own respective sites or via MTGGoldfish. If you go to MTGGoldfish you will notice that each decklist shows 'Buy from ...'. The first two are for paper cards and Cardhoarder and MTGOTraders are for digital ones. If you click on the respective store will fill your cart with the items as it see fit (usually first available lowest price version of a card). If you want cards from a specific set (or foil) you can create a decklist in Magic Online with the exact cards you want and export the deck in the native format (.dek). This you can upload to either MTGOTraders or Cardhoarder site and buy it, it will put the correct versions in your cart. After you submit your order, you will get a message from one of their delivery bots. You trade the bot and take your items.

 

 

When you have the time

If you have free time that you want to dedicate to trading there are several ways of how to trade and earn money. For some finding the best prices and saving few tix is ok, for others trading allows them to earn a certain amount of tix. Earning money can be done by buying a card from a human or a bot and selling it to another bot for higher price, speculating - buying larger quantities of a card you know is likely to spike, redeeming sets, hoarding mythic and rare foils and selling them before redemption ends for a specific set, buying/selling cards before the change of a season, major events, banlist announcement etc. If you want to earn money this way you need to know the prices. For the first example all you need is to check the actual price. Otherwise you need to learn to see trends and see how the market works. It shifts way faster on Magic Online than in paper and actually precedes the changes in the paper market. So where can I see the prices and trends?

 

Prices
Magic Online cards' prices can differ vastly from their paper counterparts and for that you need to use Magic Online price lists. This seems pretty obvious but many players tend to think that even when the cards are usually cheaper they follow the same tendencies from paper. That does not need to be true. There are different sites that you can use. I personally use MTGGoldfish to get the general idea of what is going on in different formats. There are price lists for sets and formats but also lists that show the weekly or daily price change.

When I'm interested in buying or selling a card I check the big stores - MTGOTraders, Goatbots, Cardhoarder etc. - and MTGO Wikiprice.com. That shows card prices from MTGO Library bots. There are thousands of them. For big money cards I usually tend to buy them from one of the MTGO Library bots because there is usually a few bots offering lower price than the big stores (ManaTraders for example).

Prices can change because of Standard and Modern "season". PTQs and other premier events usually are played in a certain format in constructed and we have Standard events or Modern events. They don't change each week but rather we have a several month period of Standard/Limited followed by another period of Modern/Limited. This actually changes the overall prices of cards on MODO. Modern prices will go up right before the first Modern PTQ and will stay up during the Modern 'season'. Prices will be relatively down during Standard season.

Standard card prices are very volatile and change depending on tournament finishes of certain decks or favorite content creator. For example if there is a major StarCityGames event and a deck X wins many people will buy the cards for the deck during the day and the day after the event. This makes cards spike a lot. This way UW Spirits when it won for the first time cost almost 200 tix. The day after the same deck could have been bought for 120 tix and few days later for about 58 tix where the price settled. If you'd look just at the best cards in the deck - Spell Queller cost 13 tix vs 2 tix and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar cost 28 tix vs 15 tix. Standard metagame shifts fast, especially on MODO, so one week a certain deck is popular and next week it falls out of favor. This way we could see spikes of prices alternating between Chandra, Torch of Defiance and The Scarab God.

Prices change a lot when a new set is released. If you are a limited player, when a set is released uncommons and playable commons have a very high price. Sell those as soon as possible.

Foils and Promos
When players come to Magic Online they wonder why foils are cheaper and some players even buy them before finding the answer to that question. The thing is that foils on Magic Online that are not from a redeemable set are cheaper. The reason is that they are very difficult to sell. The difference between a foil card buy price and sell price are often very big unlike for their non-foil counterparts. The same is applicable to both non-foil and foil promos (note that when a promo is going to be distributed on Magic Online the price of the regular card goes down by a lot, the promos themselves will be very cheap). If you want to buy a deck or cards that you are certain you'll keep and won't need to sell, you can buy foils. If you are certain that you will want to sell the cards at some point buy the more expensive non-foil non-promo versions. Exceptions are foil rares and mythics from still redeemable sets. When the redemption comes to an end these cards spike. Mythics can go from a tix to 70 tix easily. I wouldn't recommend buying cards like this if you are not careful and mindful about the price changes but if you open mythic foils in limited events keep them, they will eventually spike one day.

Speculating

When a new set is coming there are many people that just decide to buy a big amount of a certain card so they can resell it when the card will start to see play in a tournament winning deck. For example when I was doing that with physical cards I bought a hundred Pack Rats and Phantasmal Images. Phantasmal Images I bought for around 1.15 USd spiked to 15USD almost immediately. Pack Rats I bought for 0.1 USD I was selling for 7 USD but it took a very long time for this to happen and I even almost forgot that I still owned these cards. On Magic Online you can do this as well and you can usually profit way earlier from selling the cards. The prices of rares and mythics are usually start way lower than in paper at first but those that start to see play will cost more than in paper (for example during prereleases it was very common to be buying mythics for around 4 tix, if you bought the ones that people started to play their price often started at 30 tix when the set was released on Magic Online).

This shows what was happening around the Banned and Restricted List Announcement in which Jace, the Mind Sculptor was unbanned in Modern

Banned list and Restricted List announcement time is also the time when prices of certain cards change a lot. If people expect a certain card to get unbanned they start buying it. That alone makes the card spike before the announcement and depending how it ends up the card in question either spikes a lot or will return to its original price before the hype. It is often safe to buy some of those cards in question and sell them before the announcement when the price is at its peak. If the card gets unbanned, it will spike way more, but that is already a risky business because most of the time the cards won't get unbanned (you can do the same with cards people expect to be banned). Usually it takes a while before the price settles so even buying the card for a lot fast means that you can still get 20-50% of profit on it. Bloodbraid Elf and Jace, the Mind Sculptor got unbanned recently and many people anticipated that. I bought Jace, the Mind Sculptors for 8 tix each and sold them for roughly 27 tix right before the announcement. This time there was 'No Changes' but rather the card got unbanned and spiked to little over 100tix. I still bought a few Jaces for 35 and sold them for over 100 tix a few hours later. Stoneforge Mystic is for example one of the cards I was buying and reselling at this time because the card fluctuates between 1 tix and 7 tix. Maybe it will get unbanned eventually?

 

Bulk

Having over 60,000 items on your account does not need to be a problem on your computer, but if you log in from a different computer that is not that powerful it can surprise you how slow Magic Online will load. I once waited 20 minutes for Magic Online to load and any kind of search or change in the Collection tab meant that I had to literally wait minutes for it to happen. That's when I decided to keep the number somewhere around 12-15 thousand cards.

If you are a limited player sooner or later your account will be flooded with cards. On my older computer when the number hit 20,000 my client started lagging a lot and reconnecting when the client crashed took around 9 minutes and half which wasn't really helping me stay calm. That is when I started to offloading my cards. There are several problems with that. In a single trade you can trade 400 items at once which means that if you need to get rid of 20,000 cards you'll have to trade many times. Also, not all bots are buying bulk. Most bots are buying cards that are at least fringe playable. Actually only a fraction of bots that advertise that they buy bulk really do. To get rid of your cards without any kind of value, search for 'shred' in the Trade tab. These bots will just take your cards away. Before doing this make sure the cards you are getting rid of are really worthless. You can export your collection and use MTGGoldfish Deck Pricer or Cardhoarder's Collection Appraisal Tool.

 

The second possibility is to create a second Magic Online account and store the cards there. The only disadvantage of this is that you creating a Magic Online account comes with a 10USD fee. Buying it though has several advantages. First, you can trade at any time you want and you can trade at your own pace (which is usually faster than when you trade with a bot). Second, the cards you dump on your account can sometimes gain in value. When that happens you can just sell them in big quantities (I'm still talking about small fractions of tix so you still need many copies of a card to make 1 tix out of it). You can use that account for speculation. For example if you feel like Devoted Druid could be a card that can spike one day, you'd just dump all your copies of it on that account and when the card suddenly spikes you can sell them. For example I kept all the cards from Lorwyn to Eventide and later on sold then for a few hundred tix. For a bunch of (un)commons this was way unexpected. This was most probably an exception since this contained cards like Heritage Druid (sold for 13), Nettle Sentinel (7), Devoted Druid (0.980), Gleeful Sabotage (1.4), Manamorphose (2) or Slippery Boggle (3). Sometimes you will discover that the one of the picks you were doing among the last five picks actually costs about 0.2 tix. Since there will be like 60 on your account you can sometimes get few tix from it. One of such surprises for me was Wandering Tombshell. This card sells for 0.55 tix which hardly means you can sell it for that price, but if you will search for some time you might stumble upon a bot that would buy them for 0.2 tix (usual buy price being 0.05 or less).

Since there are too many cards no one wants that also means that there are bots offering cards for free (you should be able to find them if you type 'free' in the search box). They either offer few cards per day or month. Sometimes you will find relatively useful cards that you can sell for 0.005 or something to another bot. This may not seem huge but when you are stuck with 0.995 credit somewhere it makes a difference.

Complete Sets and redemption
I'd like to mention one more thing. Through Magic Online we are able to redeem a full digital set and get it in paper. This is something that can be lucrative for those that know when to redeem and when to buy the cards. The quantity of redeemed sets can also play a role because you will be paying for shipping and tax (declared value is 75 USD) and also a redemption fee which is now 25 USD per set. Complete sets can be won at events, bought from bots selling them (search for 'complete', dojotradebots have a dedicated bot for sets for example) or collected by playing or buying singles. For players that trade with both digital product and paper product this can be a good way to get hands on paper cards relatively cheaply - cheaper than buying boxes/cases for end user price and cracking them open. Note that only regular sets can be redeemed and there is a certain period for redemption (if the period is ending and you still have a set on your account you should sell it).

This concludes my basic information about trading. I'll try to summarize my points in points to keep in mind. If you have questions, just ask in the comments section.

 

  1. Do not open booster packs, sell them.
  2. Create a blank trade binder in which you put something worthless that bots will ignore (blank binders are automatically deleted) to avoid trading away something you want to keep.
  3. 1 Event ticket is the only currency used, prices can be in fractions of that. Bots usually save that as credit. Try to keep the credit as low as possible.
  4. Prices change quickly.
  5. Use trust-worthy bots.
  6. If you trade a bot that doesn't have tix, try a different one. If it is a part of a bot chain see if any of the other bots have tix. If yes, trade. If not, stay away.
  7. Use MTGGoldfish or MTGOWikiprice to check prices.
  8. You can buy whole decks from different big stores like MTGOTraders or Cardhoarder (this can be done via MTGGoldfish). MTGOTraders and Cardhoarder allow you to upload a .dek file and thus buy cards from specific sets.
  9. There are bots providing free cards for players that can be found if you search for 'free', certain bots give even tix to new accounts (cardhoarder does this for example).
  10. There are bots that work as shredders. Search for 'shred' instead of bulk. Bulk bots pick only cards that are in theory playable. Shredder bots will take all your cards so you don't need to have them on your account - high number of items on an account makes the performance of your client worse. Make sure you check all the cards in the trade are worthless!
  11. You can also store cards on a different account. The downside is a 10 USD fee which comes with creating a new account.

     

I made a video with Magic Online Tips and Tricks which also shows how to import, export, trade, and buy decks. I recommend watching it if you struggle with the client.

S'Tsung (follow me @stsungjp on Twitter)