Schlagwort-Archiv: comparison

The Misery of German Magic by Numbers

During the first day of the World Magic Cup, a tweet caught my eye.

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I immediately thought: This can surely not be a tweet of pride, right? After just five rounds, all the German team had achieved so far was reaching day 2 with (almost) absolute certainty. So this had to mean that we had failed to make day 2 in each of the preceding three years! I looked it up, and yes, that was actually the case. That is no reason for pride, but for shame.

Now, of course, Magic is a game of luck and variance, but being among the most successful 32 nations in the World Cup is still a very reasonable outcome to expect for a large and wealthy nation with a rich Magic history, and missing that goal three years in a row seems quite significant. I decided to compare Germany’s results with that of other nations, looking up 24 countries overall, including the most prestigious Magic countries in the world, the biggest nations from Europe, and our closest neighbors. This is what I found:

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To better compare these results, I decided to give 1 point to each country for each time they reached stage 1 of group play on day two, another point for reaching stage 2, a third for being in the quarterfinals, a fourth for playing in the semis, a fifth for reaching the finals, and a sixth for taking the trophy home. Then I sorted this table by total points and got this here:

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Admittedly, we’re not the only nation underperforming at the World Cup, but being at the very bottom of those rankings is still nothing short of embarassing!

But how much have we really been underperforming? Maybe we have actually gone from playing second fiddle internationally to being outright Magic backwater? (I admit I’m not that great with metaphors in English…)

To put things in perspective: There used to be a time when Germany was one of the four big Magic nations. The United States were – Kai Budde notwithstanding – clearly the overall number one for obvious reasons; Japan safely secured the number two spot after a few years; and France never quite gave up the headstart they had when cards had been printed in French before they were available in German; but noone else would oust us. We were (and, I believe, still are) one of the biggest markets for the game worldwide, and as a consequence were among the most succesful countries in competitive play (even excluding Kai). But alas, we have taken a big fall, and I decided to find out just how big that fall was. So I looked up the number of players who had secured gold and platinum status during the latest four seasons for the countries above.

Two caveats: For one thing, Wizards have consciously rigged high level play during the last few years to massively favor North American players, so it is not exactly fair to compare the rest of the world to the United States and – to a little lesser extent – Canada. Of course, density of organized play has always been a factor, but things have gotten ridiculous lately.

Secondly, while I did my best to find out the correct thresholds for gold and platinum in those earlier seasons, this proved to be a much harder task than I expected it to be, and I might have gotten something wrong. To the best of my knowlegde, those point thresholds were 25/40 in the 2011-2012 season, 30/45 in 2012-2013, 35/45 in 2013-2014, and 35/46 in 2014-2015, and I applied those to the final Player of the Year standings each season. If I missed the mark here, any consequential errors are at least not systematic.

To produce a ranking, I gave each country 2 points for each player who achieved platinum status during a season, and 1 point for each who made gold.

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The picture is clear: We count among the also-ran Magic nations nowadays, despite our large size and proud history. Of course, getting no high level events on our home turf anymore hurts, but as there are still a lot of Grand Prixs happening each year in driving distance, it’s hard to see why we should be so extremely disadvantaged compared to, for example, Sweden or Slovakia.

I still hold that the downfall of the German Magic internet community is a factor here (although causality probably goes both ways): No tournament reports, no strategy articles, no active forum appealing to competitive players anymore – and what’s worst, almost noone but me missing these things! A small circle of road warriors is still regularly hitting Grand Prixs and PPTQs, but with little reward in relation to their effort. Some even seem to have given up on the idea of own success, contenting themselves with being part of the playtest groups of succesful players from other countries, having lost any sense of belonging to a German Magic community. The desire for both disseminating and absorbing knowledge among fellow Germans is dead.

The current season is still young, but so far it really does not look as if Germany would get a gold pro again, while smaller countries like Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic have reasons to be optimistic. (Actually, Denmark’s Martin Muller has already secured gold during the World Cup!) But hey – it’s probably my fault in some way, right? Oh, and Germany’s Magic glory is probably not even really gone at all – it only hides in places where I can’t see it, just like its community. Or its common sense…

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But enough ranting for this time. I finally finished my set of 100 Battle for Zendikar drafts with an overall disappointing tournament win ratio of 21%. These are my latest winning decks:

BeyondOrBlademaster

(I sided out the green splash for a red splash to run the Blademaster in two matches.)

DimirAlways

(Here I always sided out Green because I felt my deck was much more powerful anyway and would only lose to bad mana draws.)

NoWarcaller

(No, the Warcaller in the sideboard isn’t a mistake. This deck didn’t want it. Note that I never played the Hydra or the Greenwarden, but Sower and Ulamog were great, and I won two close games with massive Rumbler attacks thanks to Sower or Woodland.)

Simic

(No color combination is truly weak if you’re in the right seat for it!)

SowerNoBreaker

(The Breaker never showed up, but the Shepherd brought back the Sower once, which was one of the more absurd things I’ve ever seen a draft deck do.)

DidntWinButShouldHave

Okay, that last deck only went 2-1, but the match it lost was due to MTGO freezing on me in this situation:

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Considering the utter absurdity of this deck, and the egregious injustice of the situation, I present it among the winners. Sue me!

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My Recommendations for Magic Online Buybots

This is one of the topics I wanted to write about for quite some time, but couldn’t do so on Magic Universe for reasons that should be obvious. Maybe some of you will find my experiences helpful, and maybe you will even have something to add. There are a lot of MTGO trading bots out there, and it is very possible that I have missed a really good chain so far.

I write this mostly from the point of view of someone selling cards for tickets. Great buying bots may be bad selling bots and vice versa, but I wouldn’t know much about it. I will list those bot chains with which I have a trading history, starting with some I no longer use:

1. SupernovaBots

It is very long ago that I did business with that chain (and I am actually not even 100% if I ever really traded with them or only looked up their prices). They have a very unassuming website, which is not user-friendly at all, but is allegedly updated every 15 minutes.

I stopped visiting them because I found the way they displayed their offers too confusing – there always seemed to be an additional calculation involved which wasn’t properly explained, and which made, for example, a ticket cost more than one ticket. Since their offers weren’t good anyway, I did not bother to find out what this was all about.

Judging by a quick check of the more expensive Battle for Zendikar cards, their buying prices are still not competitive today, so I see no reason to give them another chance.

2. The MTGO Bazaar

I used to do business with that chain for a while, but I do not anymore, and I do not recommend them.

It has been quite some time that I sold cards to one of their bots, but in my memory their offers were usually not competitive at all. Once in a while, though, they unexpectedly would give you the best deal (this is also true for every bot chain I mention hereafter, and shows that it pays to compare prizes). However, this chain committed one of the cardinal sins of buying bots: They were often not stocked with tickets! You could still trade away your cards for other cards, but I usually would not want to do so (and I’m sceptical about their selection and selling prices, but I cannot say anything definite about that). Of course, you could just sell stuff to them for credit, but I really want to warn you against trusting any bot in that way. Losing up to a ticket is acceptable, but anything more it is an unnecessary risk. Some reputable bots will not even allow you to build up more than 1 ticket credit.

It is really annoying having to remember to check if a bot is actually able to buy your cards each time. I finally gave up on this chain when their bots were online for a few weeks without having ANYTHING in stock, but were still offering to „buy“ your cards. They have restocked on cards in the meantime, but I still didn’t see any tickets, so I decided to spend my leftover credit on a few rares I might be able to resell, and deleted them from my buddy list.

Another thing I remember is that their bots would quite frequently accept your trade offer, then do nothing and also not respond to your commands until you realized you had to give up and close the trade.

They have a website, but that contains practically no information and has not been updated for many years. All in all, everything about them looks really unprofessional to me.

3. AboshanBot

As far as I can tell, this chain is now defunct, since I haven’t seen any of its bots online for months. (It still owes me a little over half a ticket…)

AboshanBot used to claim that they paid the highest buying prices, and in my experience that was almost always true (and in the very few cases where I found a better offer that was just a bit higher, and it was only a single one). The flip side, however, was that they only bought a few select cards currently on their buying list. It definitely paid to check them out, though!

I cannot remember if there used to be a webpage for this chain (I think there was, but I’m not sure). If so, it does not seem to exist anymore. That does not bode well for a possible return of this chain, which is a pity.

One more thing: This info might be completely outdated and/or wrong in the first place, but I once stumbled upon a rumor that there were a number of fake accounts pretending to belong to this chain (with corresponding bot names) which would screw over their customers. I have no idea if those ever really existed or still exist, but I wanted to mention it. The real accounts went by the names AboshanBot, AboshanBot2 and AboshanBot3.

Now about the bots I visit regularly at the moment:

4. MTGOTraders

If you do not like to take the time to compare prices, and just want to sell all your cards in one fell swoop as fast as possible, this is the bot chain I would recommend. However, unless your time is really valuable, it is always a better idea to invest a couple of extra minutes and look at the offers of several different chains.

Prices

The offers from MTGOTraders‚ buybots are frequently the best I can find, and with most cards they do at least not underbid the competition too spectacularly, but you can get clearly better deals a lot of the time nonetheless. A big plus is that they usually will buy all cards you can reasonably expect any bot to buy. All bots in that family will offer you the same price for the same card.

Service

I am fine with MTGOTraders clearly differentiating between their sellbots and buybots, but it is quite annoying (and a bit greedy) that those two bot groups do not share credit with each other (but bots in each group do). Other than that, their service is good. They immediately take your cards and list their prices, much faster than with any other bot I know. Also, you can have them put back cards you do not wish to sell for that price, so that you do not need to cancel trade, remove those cards from your trade binder, and reenter trade. This should be a standard feature of every buybot, but some do not offer it. A small minus, however, is that their comparably few bots are often busy, and sometimes you have to try ten minutes or more until you can successfully initiate a trade with one of them. Most of the time it doesn’t take that long, though.

Contact

They do have a very user-friendly and large website allowing you to filter and sort cards according to several criteria, and their prices also seem to be mostly up-to-date, although they do not always make perfect sense (for example, I often wonder how prices for items they do not have in stock can continously go down). There is also a non-bot MTGO Traders account which is online frequently, and where you can talk to real persons. This might be the most professional MTGO bot chain.

5. GoatBots

Prices

On average, they pay less than MTGOTraders, but their offers are still comparable, and frequently they outbid the competition. This is the chain I have been using for the shortest time, so I may be a little off in my evaluation, but it seems to me that they are willing to buy a bit fewer cards than MTGOTraders, although they always make an offer for rares from a newer set. All their bots offer the same prices.

Service

It takes a few seconds for their bots to grab your cards, but not excessively long, and you can have them put cards back. While their bots are rather busy, they have such a large number of them that you should always be able to enter trade successfully with one in a few seconds. All their bots share credit.

Contact

Their website looks very nice and user-friendly and seems to get updated frequently. However, their filtering/sorting options are a bit poor, and you can not look at the cards like you can at MTGOTraders. Still, everything looks quite professional, and I consider them the number two among buy bot chains.

6. ClanTeamBooster

Prices

This chain is a valuable asset if you are careful. For cards in great demand, their offers are usually at least okay, and sometimes they pay best by a considerable margin. I also found that they tend to pay premium on foil uncommons for some reason. On the other hand, for cards in less demand their offers are often so bad that it feels like a scam, and you should never unload cards blindly here. Sometimes they will make you a stepped offer – a better price for the first 2 copies of a card, for example, and a slightly worse for the rest. All bots offer the same prices. They claim they buy absolutely everything, which I find more of a minus than a plus, since it means they will spam your chat window with tons of ridiculously low offers.

Service

These are bots you have to explicitly tell that you intend to sell cards, and it takes a moment until they are ready for that command, and then again some time while they pick your cards. Especially if you offer them a lot of cards, this can take so long that you will be tempted to do stuff in other windows on your computer while you wait – and then, you suddenly get the message that the trade was cancelled because the bot had finally been done and not detected activity by you for a minute! That is mildly annoying. Also, these bots do not enable you to make them put cards back, which is even more annoying. Lastly, they sometimes make you wait and nothing happens, forcing you to cancel trade, or cancelling it themselves after several minutes. This happens rarely, though.

Contact

Their website gives a semi-professional impression, with limited sorting options and no card pictures. I am not sure how often it gets updated; they say nothing about it, but since they trace stock per bot it SHOULD be rather frequently.

7. TheCardNexus

This is a rather large family, and I do business with them for just a few weeks so far. I only use those whose name start with TheCardNexusBooster. In theory, everything I say should apply to all their buying bots, but I have no experience with the other members.

Prices

The offers from this chain are distinctly lower than that of the competition all over the spectrum, but most noticeably with older cards. When I sold my collection a couple days ago, I found that MTGOTraders offered the best price for ca. 40% on the cards, and GoatBots and ClanTeamBooster for ca. 30% each, while TheCardNexus did it for every 40th card or so. Furthermore, their offers were most of the time the lowest among all bots I checked for newer cards (for older cards in less demand, ClanTeamBooster would often take last place instead) and would even regularly cross over into „feels like a scam“ territory. Finally, those bots often were not interested at all in cards every other bot would buy (for example, Shambling Vent a week ago). But at least all their bots make the same offers.

Service

These bots take extraordinarily long before they take your cards, citing Magic Online lag as the source of the issue (which somehow seems to only affect them). Also, I already had a few cases where I waited several minutes and nothing happened. You do have the option to have them put cards back, though. While there are quite many bots in this family, they seem to go offline rather frequently and erratically, which means it may take a little longer to enter a trade with them than you would suspect with so many bots. They all share credit.

Contact

The bot owner has a twitter account where he is online and active quite often, which is how I found this chain. He also has a website, which (by his own admission) is quite the mess, with Khans of Tarkir the newest set which can be filtered and sorted, a woefully incomplete list of their bots, links which do not work, and generally an unintuitive and impracticable outline. I have a bit of a hard time to believe that the info shown there is actually correct and up-to-date, but this is just due to the generally bad impression it makes.

The only reason why I still use this bot chain is that I haven’t found anything better so far, and that I want to have at least four chains to compare offers. Overall, however, the (very) occasional better deal does not seem worth the hassle, and I will gladly replace this chain with anything reasonable. Does anyone have a good suggestion?

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