Adventures in Running a Magic Online Bot – What I Learned from the Innistrad Release

by on January 24th, 2011
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The release of the Innistrad set on MTGO was the first release I’ve experienced since the launch of my bot, TheSavvyGamerBot. It was a very exciting and busy time, especially the first few days of the Prerelease. I knew that business would definitely pick up with the release of a new set, but it turned out to be even busier than I had thought. My bot went from around ten people using it per day, to constantly trading around the clock the first two days of the Innistrad Prerelease. My bot’s collection was sitting at approximately 2400 cards the day before Innistrad, and it has now almost doubled in size to over 4400.

Timing Is Everything

My plan for using the Innistrad release to dramatically grow my bot was simple: be one of the first bots to have Innistrad cards in stock. To accomplish this, I had to play in the expensive Prerelease Sealed events, which cost 30 event tickets a pop. I jumped into one soon after they became available, and was fortunate enough to get a decent pool of cards to build a strong deck. I ended up going 3-1 and winning an extra three Innistrad boosters for my trouble.

Opportunity Costs Of Stocking My Bot

I now had a decision to make: open the three Innistrad packs for more cards to put on my bot, or sell them to offset some of the 30 event ticket cost of the Sealed Tournament. Ultimately I decided to open them and got nothing spectacular in them, but I figured it was better to have more of the new cards on my bot.

Prerelease – High Risk, High Reward

The prices of cards in new sets are very volatile the first few days of a Prerelease, with serious tournament players scrambling to get the new cards they need for their decks. The prices of most cards tend to steadily drop by the hour, so I decided to move any valuable cards I acquired as quickly as I could through the Classifieds. If your bot can’t move cards fast enough, then you can lose lots of money if you buy at the inflated prices and then they drop way under what you paid for them. One of the biggest bot chains didn’t even deal with Innistrad cards the first day or two, very likely for this reason.

Plan For The Future

Now that I have a better idea of what to expect for future releases, I can plan accordingly. I will be expanding by adding another bot, which will help the massive demand when new sets release. A side benefit of this is that I think it will instill more confidence in potential users of my bot(s), since it shows that I’m not just some fly-by-night operation that may just disappear one day.

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