Category Archives: Think Twice

Magic Online’s Bots

By: Camden Clark

This is part two of my series on Magic Online and its financial implications.

The economy of Magic Online is “made” by the official Wizards store (and events) and the unofficial bots. This dichotomy permeates throughout every facet of Magic Online. Unofficial prices on things has to be lower than the official Wizards price or they are not competitive.

This is especially common with booster packs.

Unlike in paper, where Wizards sets an MSRP and store owners set their price, all normal set boosters cost four tickets and are adjusted to some amount lower based on supply, demand, and the price of the cards in the boosters. Some booster’s unofficial prices drop to under three tickets (Dragon’s Maze) while others stay quite close to four tickets. I have never seen a booster pack price rise over four tickets while its set was still in standard rotation. 

It might not make sense why pack prices are under four tickets if there is no way to bring them into circulation outside of Wizards’ events or store.

Constructed events provide the surplus of booster packs that drive the economy. Thousands play in constructed events such as Daily Events (Swiss 4-round, prize support to 3-1 and 4-0) and 8-mans (single elimination three round, like the Top 8 of a GP). All of these provide payouts in booster packs.

When you get booster packs from doing well, you can either keep them or sell them for event tickets to get back into constructed events. The vast majority of people do the latter. This generates massive surpluses.

The people who buy booster packs use them for draft events. If the draft format is popular, the demand is huge. They will keep buying packs to use. However, draft events also give out packs as prizes. As this happens, supply will eventually outstrip demand as the draft format falls out of favor. This means booster prices will decrease as constructed players continue to enter into events.

After the next set has its release events, constructed events will switch to the next set as prize support (there are exceptions).

Why is this all significant?

It means booster prices swings are quite easy to predict. If the second set of a block’s draft format has the previous set in it, you can expect prices of the previous set to increase. This is because there will be little supply coming in from constructed events as they switched to the next set.

Boosters are a very good investment target because they are extremely liquid and have small margins. A booster pack like Theros, which was at three prior to the release of Born of the Gods, is an extremely safe target for a bulk of cash. Margins can be as low as a tenth of a ticket, which means the price only has to go up by ten cents for you to profit. They are extremely easy to sell, there are hundreds of bots devoted to boosters that will buy on demand.

Let’s talk about another facet of the Magic Online economy, the secondary card market.

The developer of Magic Online attempted valiantly to create a mechanism for players to trade with each other. However, the same problems with person-to-person trade exist. Players often get rid of cards they don’t want instead of holding on to them for trade binders. Often you will want a niche card for Modern that scouring several player’s trade binders will not yield. Card shops can hold an inventory.

These issues are magnified when card shops don’t have to mail you your cards, have little overhead for maintaining their shop other than cards, and provide instantaneous access to the cards you need for your deck.

Thus, bots were born.

Bots provide the liquidity on Magic Online. There are small bot chains of a single bot all the way up to chains of a dozen. They are quick and transactions usually take less than a minute.

This quick trading speed is the allure and downfall of Magic Online. It is easy to speculate on cards but you are almost entirely dependent on bots who set margins similar to buylists in paper.

Speculating on Magic Online is a bit outside the scope of this article; however, it’s important to know these things for paper investment. You aren’t getting the whole picture of which cards are getting bought if you aren’t on Magic Online. Knowing your way around the bots is a great way to be cognizant of the inventory of different bot chains and make buy decisions in paper.

Many run-ups happen on Magic Online before they happen in paper. More importantly, inventory changes happen first on Magic Online. Similar to the inventory data here on MTGPrice, the inventory data that is visible on Magic Online is invaluable for investment on Magic Online.

Even better, the major bot chains keep their inventory data online. Speaking of major bot chains, why don’t we go through them (objectively) as they are such an important facet of the economy:


MTGOTraders is the largest and most public bot chain. It (probably) has the largest inventory but also has much higher prices. It is one of the easiest places to find a card. They allow you to purchase cards from their website using PayPal (you don’t have to use event tickets) and you get a significant discount.

They have over a dozen bots. They have quite a few bots with normal inventory, along with buy bots. They also have some bots that serve niche roles such as bulk cards.

Although they often have the highest prices, they do a lot of volume. Often, they have the highest buy prices for older cards and pauper staples.

MTGOTraders is a very good resource to see whether you are being ripped off. It also publishes its inventory data online, updated instantaneously. That’s valuable for a variety of reasons.

They also have some decent casual-ish articles at I recommend them.


MTGOAcademy is the main competitor of MTGOTraders. They have similar prices to MTGOTraders, and some similar features.

In all honesty, I have rarely used MTGOAcademy so I cannot say anything specifically about their bots or prices.

MTGOAcademy also has great strategy articles at Michael Hetrick used to do videos for them.


SupernovaBots is another major bot chain. I have some limited experience with their bots. I have only been disappointed a few times by the selection that they have, but the prices are quite good.

There is little special about this bot chain, in my opinion.

The MTGOLibrary Bots

MTGOLibrary provides a service that allows people to run their own bots. They have a pay-as-you-go service for small bot owners to pay small amounts per trade that the bot makes.

There are hundreds of MTGOLibrary bots. They all have similar user interfaces.

If you are looking for a specific card, I highly recommend going to They have a price look-up tool that searches all of the bot’s inventories for the bots with the best prices. Although sometimes not updated, you can try to search out the bots that have the lowest prices.

One of the MTGOLibrary bots that I have used a LOT due to their low prices is MTGOBazaar. I am not affiliated with them but I highly recommend them for old cards as they have some of the lowest prices (I found a Primeval Titan for four dollars cheaper than the going price). They also give free prize support to some of the Player Run Events on Magic Online which is a good reason to support them.

The F—ing Annoying Buy Bots

Annoying buy bots.

They are a plague on Magic Online.

There are hundreds of these bots that have similar formatting for their “classifieds” posting. There are maybe a few people running two or three chains. They post insultingly low buy prices for thousands of different cards and prey on players who don’t know their way around the system. They are not fair with their pricing. Under no circumstances would I sell to one of these bots. Someone else always has a better price.

A great way to spot these is if they don’t sell cards (unless they are a buy bot for a major chain of bots, like the MTGOTraders Buy Bots). They are simply going to flip your cards to a different bot. Or, do your homework and see if the prices they are giving you are reasonable or not.

I hope this evaluation of bots and how they deal with things was educational. These are important to know even if you never boot up Magic Online. Follow me on twitter:\ I’d love to chat with you and you can see what I’m going to write about next.


Magic Online and You: An Intro

By: Camden Clark

Many people have little understanding of how important Magic Online is to MTG finance.

They are really missing out. If you fail to take full advantage of Magic Online, you too are missing on some valuable opportunities.

Think about it: Magic Online is where all the pros play. Moreover, it is the de facto deck testing platform for anyone heading into a competitive event. These are people who will pay any sum to have an opportunity to test a deck or just play high-level Magic. This means that there are huge speculation opportunities on Magic Online, as well as having one of the best platforms to determine the progression of cards in paper.

Let’s go over some basics of how the Magic Online economy works.

Event Tickets are the currency of Magic Online. They are used to purchase cards from bots and enter into events. Each one is worth a little less than a dollar, but you can buy them for a dollar from the Wizards store on Magic Online. However, almost everything can and should be purchased outside of the Wizards store by trading with bots or other players.

Bots are what drive Magic Online’s economy. They provide the liquidity for players who want to buy cards. They make their money through occasionally absurd buy/sell margins (especially on eternal cards). They automatically perform buy and sell orders and are basically an automatic cash cow for whoever is running the bot. More on this later.

Most things are cheaper to buy from a bot than buy from Wizard’s store. The most notable example of this is booster packs. Boosters get into the system as rewards from constructed events and draft events, and are used to enter into drafts. Rarely does a current draft set booster pack cost the official four tickets from a bot. Usually, they are at least twenty cents to a dollar cheaper.

Typically, Magic Online card prices are significantly cheaper than their paper counterparts, with a few exceptions (most notably Force of Will).

So how do you get started with utilizing Magic Online?

Magic Online is unforgiving to mistakes. It is quite easy to buy a seemingly perfect speculation opportunity but make some serious mistakes and lose money. That being said, let’s go over some pitfalls first:

Investing in cards with high buy/sell margins

This is a major pitfall of online investment.

Many eternal stapes have extreme margins between the buy and sell prices on the bots. This is because of their low volume. Bots trade standard staples at an exponentially higher rate, thus holding eternal staples is a liability.

Let’s say you purchase a Legacy staple at fifty tickets (essentially dollars). However, the buyback price on the bots is currently thirty-five tickets. That means the sell price would have to go up at least fifteen tickets to be profitable. Those are huge margins that could leave you with significant deficits. Moreover, these cards don’t move in price very quickly. Your money could be tied in a fifty dollar spec for months. That’s not good value.

This is why, in general, I don’t recommend investing in Legacy yet online, especially with the looming Vintage Masters set.

Buying event tickets from the store

This is a small issue, but can be important if you are moving a large volume of event tickets. If you are inside the United States, last time I checked, you pay a dollar per event ticket with no tax at the Wizards store inside Magic Online. This is subject to being changed, of course. For many who aren’t in the US, there can be insane upcharges with tax. Thus, it’s almost a necessity to purchase event tickets outside of the Wizards store.

There are many places to buy event tickets. A quick google search will give you the best ones (I don’t want to endorse one over another-you be the judge). You can often get event tickets for $.97-$.99 per ticket. That’s not too good to be true, that’s just the going rate.

Under this section, I might as well put some general tips when starting out on Magic Online. Don’t open any product you get when starting. Sell your booster pack; you can typically get about two to three event tickets for it.

Don’t play cube unless you want to throw money away.

Getting screwed by the bots

It is very easy to let yourself lose a ton of value by dealing with bots. You will always round up the amount you are paying for cards up to the next event ticket (you cannot have a decimal of event tickets on Magic Online). However, the bot will save your credit. Obviously, this requires trust on your part that the bot will correctly log the amount of credit you have and stay online. I would recommend keeping a word document of the bots you have credit with and searching those for your cards first. That’s a mistake I made.

Make sure to shop around for the best prices of cards. It is certainly possible to pay a dollar or more than you would at a different bot. I have also paid up to five dollars less than the going rate because of an error in bot maintenance. Be mindful of the going rate (MTGOTraders is a ceiling, look for prices above this).

To be honest, the best way to make money directly from Magic Online is to maintain your own bot. That is a topic that goes far beyond the scope of this article. Stay tuned for that.

Those were some pitfalls. It will be confusing at first, and you may make some mistakes.

The key question is: how does this translate into paper investment?

All of the best players play on Magic Online. They test their decks here. They play with other high level grinders here. Where else can you face this kind of competition virtually twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week?

An invaluable gauge for where prices will be is the Magic Online tournaments called Daily Events. Although the name implies they are “daily”, there are Standard tournaments that fire several times a day, with Modern having about half as many of these tournaments.

You can pick up on the latest technology by looking at the tournaments results that are posted every week on dailymtg. Being cognizant of this will vastly improve your ability to make good decisions.

Another useful feature of Magic Online is being able to see good inventory data.

One of the greatest features of Pro Trader here on MTGPrice is the inventory data from retailers. It allows you to see when certain cards are experiencing a buyout and to move in on those cards.

However, Magic Online is a good supplement to this data.

Once you get a “feel” for how much stock major bots have in cards, it is quite easy to see when that stock is being depleted or is simply too low.

This provides you with a barometer of which cards are going to see price swings in paper too.

It’s difficult to quantify, unfortunately. There is nothing like MTGPrice for MTGO, so it’s mostly up to you to gain the understanding and utilize it.

This is constantly what I’m talking about in my articles. There aren’t any silver bullets for MTG finance, you have to use your intuition as a player to make money.

That is the essence of why you should be on Magic Online. You need to be a part of the culture of Magic in order to be effective in investing in it. Would you invest in a company where you knew nothing about the product it sold?


The same goes for Magic. If you are playing in the same events that the pros are, you will develop your sense as a player and investor. The difference is that the people you are playing with aren’t looking to make money, they want to get better at the game. If you are looking for opportunity while playing Magic Online, it will begin to present itself.

I can go over hundreds of cards that might see drastic increases in price. Is that the most helpful thing to you? Does that help you become a better investor?

Not for the long term.

If I spent this article telling you my picks for the next months, it may help you for the next few months.

How about five years?

You can only become a better investor by investing a bit of yourself, especially when your money is going into a game. In our hearts, we are all still players.

So load up Magic Online. Take it for a spin. It’s mediocre (read: shitty) technology, but it’s the platform that Wizards has made for competitive players to test decks. If you’re not on there, you are missing out.

Birth(ing) of a Cycle

By: Camden Clark

Let’s talk about the previous GP from a long term perspective.

All of the short term gains are mostly over. Some cards will still see a rise, but it’s too small to have a large effect. The best returns will be over the next few months.

But first, let’s do a quick retrospective for educational purposes on the cards I expected to see a riseHere’s the quite bountiful returns:

Birthing Pod

Wow! Birthing Pod rose by almost threefold. To me, this seemed like a no brainer. I shilled this one pretty hard in the article. There has been a tremendous response from the community towards this card and I’m glad I could help at least a few people make a whole bunch of money.

I don’t think it’s done rising, or that this is a ceiling. Pod was a HUGE part of the T8. Wait for activity to die down on this one and people sell out of their copies. If there is a price dip, move in.

Let’s take a look at another one:

Restoration Angel

This saw some impressive gains. It’s not done. There isn’t a Modern GP for a while. As people move into the format, they will see Kiki-Pod that placed first in the GP. That’s the reference point for where we go into PTQ season in the summer.

I’m a strong hold on these if you already have positions. We will see 20 dollars on this one easily by the summer.

Aside from bragging, this GP has solidified that WOTC will do anything to make this format survive. They have put ENDLESS effort into moulding this to have a variety of decks for every playstyle: a new Legacy.

This should give you more confidence in card values. Cards that were really good in standard but not good enough for Legacy (Birthing Pod) can shine in this format. Scars block and Innistrad block set a new precedent for a new easy to invest in cycle of card values.

What cycle is that?

Cards that rotate out of standard go WAY down in value as the players of standard start trying to sell out of the format before rotation.

Unfortunately, there is little data from Scars block. However, if you remember, cards like Primeval Titan and Birthing Pod experienced significant decreases right after their rotation. This was the time to pick them up, as the eventually gained a lot of ground and rose tremendously with the popularity of Modern.

However, data is much more accessible for this trend after Innistrad block.

The graph of Geist of Saint Traft is very telling. There were few copies of this card at the GP (or the pro tour for that matter). However, the card was a standard powerhouse. It was extremely powerful. Eventually, its day came, and the price grew to obscene heights.

How about lands?

Sulfur Falls experienced the same near-doubling situation. Even though the enemy colored buddy lands aren’t exceptionally popular in modern, they have seen a dramatic increase in price. There is SO much potential in these sets come rotation. You have to be looking towards this for your goals in the near future.

What does this have to do with the GP and long term?

It’s the most important evaluation when looking at how past events reveal probable trends. Pay attention to the cards that are good in RTR block and move in on them once rotation happens.

There’s a bigger lesson here.

Magic is inherently a cyclical game. With standard causing the inevitable incline and decline in prices of new cards, it’s easy to predict when cards are going to lose value and gain value.

One finance cycle that is easy to profit off of is where cards of the current block will lose value going into rotation, even though they aren’t rotating. Cards that may have seen little play will see more play as powerful analogues rotate. This has been a common theme throughout every standard block and is quite well documented.

However, there is a new finance cycle that is easy to predict. That’s the one I just described.

Modern creates a new home for otherwise useless standard staples. They find a home in decks with powerful synergies. With Modern, WOTC created this new home and fixed the problems with extended that were extremely damaging to that format. It offered incentive for players to pull the cards out of their binders again and play.

GP Richmond should give any investor faith in this format. The largest constructed event of all time is a major indicator of the power of this format and the amount of people who want to play it.

How do you invest in this cycle?

It is quite simple.

Pay attention to when Modern season begins and ends.

We are in the middle of new opportunities. There are quite a few staples of the format that simply have not gone up enough. As we near the summer, PTQ season for “Huey” will start ramping up. More and more cards will see major rises until there are few opportunities left.

You as a player have to look for the opportunities that no one else has looked for. I can guide you in the general direction where opportunities lie, but you ultimately have to use your sense as a player to determine whether a card is a good investment or not.

That is what the best people do.

Otherwise, you will get caught up in hype and not make much money. You have to see where the player’s money is, not just the speculator’s. It is clear to me when a card will be difficult to sell in large volume and is just a hyped card. It should be clear to you too based on your sense as a player.

Predicting Modern seasons also helps for saving money as a player too. It is easy to forget that Modern PTQ season creeps and creeps until cards are double the price they were a month ago. If you are planning to play in a PTQ, you should get in NOW. Prices have already increased to hilariously unseen heights. Who knows what the going price for a Snapcaster Mage, Liliana of the Veil, or Marsh Flats could be in 3 months. I don’t want to find out. I want to move in if I plan on playing and secure the staples for my playstyle.

Which cards am I targeting?

Slaughter Pact

(Full disclosure: I have a dozen copies of this card)

This card showed up in 4 decks’ sideboards at the GP. It provides another kill spell against the Twin and other combo decks to hate out a combo with no mana. I see this card as a bit of a no-brainer. I think Twin and Pod are undoubtedly going to be two major decks going into the PTQ season. Get in on these sideboard cards that have so far seen relatively little movement.

Raging Ravine

For a card as versatile is this, it has seen little price movement compared to Celestial Colonnade. A little birdie (the MTGPrice inventory data) told me that sets of this have been disappearing from retailers. Shameless (but honest) plug: I can’t tell you how valuable the inventory data has been to speculating. A card like Raging Ravine might never have appeared on my radar. When I got my inventory update a few days ago, I see that copies of Raging Ravine have been being bought out.

Besides this data, I also think this is a good pick due to the popularity of Celestial Colonnade. All manlands will see a major increase due to their versatility and playability. Mark my words.


This is a 2 dollar card and is in so many different UR decks. I can’t see this one not seeing a major price increase. It is so good against the field. Let’s list the creatures it can kill in Modern:

Delver of Secrets, Pestermite, Eternal Witness, Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, Viscera Seer, Melira, Orzhov Pontiff, Kiki-Jiki, Vendilion Clique, Signal Pest, Steel Overseer

Do we get the point now?


That about does it for this article. However, I’d like to bounce an idea off of everyone. I’d like to do a twitch stream where I play magic poorly and we can have a discussion with the MTGFinance community. Does that sound like a good idea? Follow me on Twitter: if you’d be interested in something like this.

Thanks for reading! What modern cards are you targeting?

MTGFinance for the Average Player

By: Camden Clark

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” – Benjamin Franklin

Many players don’t realize this. They think that speculation is just a game that people play and drives up prices. Only “those people” can make money as the market is too complex.

In actuality, understanding the card price market is much simpler, and more important, to the average player.

Few of us are millionaires or billionaires. Even if you are, there’s still an incentive to saving money. It’s not that hard to save money on this game. The fact is that most people are too lazy.

Here are three tips for saving money as a regular player of Magic.

1. Know your needs before they’re needs

This is one of the most important methods. Especially for an occasional PTQ or GP player, you need to plan out your needs in advance in order to save the most money?


Magic is a cyclical game. PTQ season rotates. Standard begins and ends. New sets are added.

It’s quite easy to predict where cards will go.

For example, let’s examine the summer PTQ season. If you want to play Modern during PTQ season, there’s never going to be a better time to buy the expensive staples for your deck than the next two months. The only way they are going into the summer is up as everyone will want to buy Modern cards around the summer. Because YOU anticipated YOUR needs, you are already set up for the most expensive cards and probably saved around 100 dollars on that deck. That’s food for a week.

One way to keep track of this is to track the staples that you are hoping to pick up using the wishlist module on One of the great things about this feature is that you can see if the cards you are watching have gone down or up. If they dip a little bit, buy in, and you have just saved yourself potentially quite a bit of money.

You have to see what your Magic game is going to be looking like in 3 months. If you are going to be playing Modern in 3 months, you have to be cognizant of that and act upon it. Don’t wait.

Another example is rotation. Often, people who are playing standard forget to sell or buylist their cards until a month before rotation. This is lazy and a waste of money. If you are going to be participating in Modern PTQs anyways, forgo the 500 dollar Standard deck and play something budget at FNMs. If you sell off your expensive rotating staples before everyone else decides to, you’ll be in great shape, and potentially save hundreds here again.

Inventory data is amazing here. Card shops can’t react quickly enough to dramatic shifts in inventory. This is where protrader comes in. The emails you get EVERY DAY from protrader show you cards that are being bought out. You can jump on that bandwagon if you see a card that was bought out that you want to play in the future. Otherwise, you would have missed that opportunity.

If you fail to pay attention to the price status of the cards that you are playing, you will pay FAR more than if you had even taken five minutes out of your day to keep track of what they are doing

2. Keep track of buylist prices

If you have a large collection, the mtgprice collections feature is invaluable. Spend a day organizing your rares and inputting them into the collections feature. Not only does this give you pricing data, but you can see where your cards have moved in price in the past few days.

I know Magic players who have binders and binders full of cards. If you just put them into the system, you can see when the prices of those cards goes up and you can cash in! A lot of times, you aren’t and will never play with these cards again. Other than collecting dust, you can turn these into cash or store credit.

Let’s look at a card like Restoration Angel. I’ve been shouting off of every mountaintop that this card is too cheap. Regardless, let’s look at the buylist price change:


Let’s say you had a playset of Restoration Angels in a trade binder. Nobody at your LGS really wanted them; few of them play Modern outside of PTQ season. You catalog them in your collection on mtgprice. Suddenly, you notice the price of the Angel creep up…and up. You would then be in a great position to buylist them and make a not-small sum of money.

When organizing, we sometimes overlook cards that have immense value as casual staples. Who would have thought that Helix Pinnacle is a 6 dollar card? Even if you were just organizing your trade binder, you would look over tons of cards that potentially have some value.

If your cards are in the system you can see what price they are going for and buylist the ones you will never use again. That is smart. That’s not just saving money. That’s making money you otherwise would not have had.

This also figures into rotation. You can find the optimal time to liquidate your standard staples before they rotate and before they lose buylist value. How about a journey back to the time of the tusk?


Standard staples are already going to be on their buylist descent, especially if their playability is only in one format. Another good card to evaluate is Falkenrath Aristocrat. Played in the Aristocrats deck, it had little playability outside of Standard.


As you can see, the latest you could get out was around June. Let’s keep investigating.


This one was falling in buylist right around now! That’s insane. This one had lots of playability in various aggro decks, but it too fell victim.


This one was played in control decks. Ominously, it decreased significantly…starting around now.


And Bonfire decreased starting now. These are undeniable realities-the window for selling these for max price before rotation is slipping. You need to get out soon, the longer you wait, the less you get.

But, how about lands? I don’t think the RTR lands will decrease all that much going into the summer. Their playability in Modern will keep them afloat. If anything, they’ll be double their current price in a year. I would hold.

3. Focus on saving money, not making money

As a player, it’s easy to get swept into the vortex of making big bucks by buying Magic cards. It is possible. It is not easy or for the faint of heart. If you are sick of speculation and don’t want to be a part of the game, I understand. That doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the things that will save you money as a player. One of those is buying into the future standard staples while they are cheap.

Did anyone really think that Restoration Angel wasn’t going to be an important card just because the Delver staples were cycling? How about Snapcaster Mage? Geist of Saint Traft? Huntmaster?


Nobody thought that.

It’s about becoming aware of these realities when everyone has sold or held out on cards that are not even rotating!

It’s about saving money and paying half what you would have had to pay in 6 months.

If you’re an average player, you don’t have time to predict every run up. You can, however, follow Sigmund or Jason or any of the other personalities in the mtgfinance community (or me) to see what the general themes and feelings are about cards. Above all, you need to use your instincts as a player and mold them in a way that allows you to save money and play at the same time.

What are my long term picks?

Assemble the Legion

This is an amazing card and hilariously undervalued. Any control deck will want this, and any midrange deck will want to side this in against control decks. Moreover, cards like this have nearly zero risk into the long term. This might as well have Commander stapled onto it. It’s flavorful, fun to play with and wins the game by itself. There was some movement on it but it’s still quite low. Move in.

Armada Wurm

I have heard the Brainstorm Brewery guys talk about this one a lot before the previous rotation. It has not had any time in standard but it’s got casual long term appeal. I’m a buyer of foils or as throw-ins in trade.

Prime Speaker Zegana

Commander card. Wait for it to drop to a dollar around rotation, pick it up, let it sit in a box for a year. It’ll be five dollars before you know it (keep track using the collection feature).

That about does it. Follow me on Twitter (, I’d love to chat. If you want me to write an article about something, feel free to hit me up.