That Which Has No Life

The other day I noticed I was undercut on cut gems within approximately 30 seconds of posting. Could be a coincidence, right? At the time I was talking within guild about The Undermine Journal and the voyeuristic possibilities (“Hey, your sister posts auctions only between 7pm and 11pm Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat”), so I decided to go ahead and eyeball my competition:

Err… WTF?

I actually knew about this guy for a while, as he is “that guy” on my server who has 3+ different toons with slightly different spellings who runs a Glyph racket. This particular specimen is in the blood diamond gem market and appears to be ran by a bot – even if he was unemployed, there simply is no way that he would be posting ~40 auctions every hour on the hour, seven days a week.

The question becomes: short of acquiring the Sword of A Thousand Truths, how does one compete with this?

Answer: the only winning move is not to play.

More specifically, what you do not do is play the game on someone else’s terms, especially if they are bad terms. Is it possible to combat this seller? Sure. There is a lot of different things you can do to try and counteract addon automation and/or botting behavior. For example, most of these programs/addons have threshold limits you can probe with trial and error – other gold blogs have detailed this specific gambit, in divining a competitor’s threshold and then “tricking” him into posting a bunch of stock at that price, then buying him out and relisting.

My issue is that fighting someone with a competitive advantage is almost never worth it in the long-term. This does not mean you have to give up making any gold in a particular market, it just means you have to start thinking in shorter terms. This guy undercut my five auctions of 275g Timeless Demonseyes with his own three auctions at 274g 99s 90c within one minute of my posting them. I don’t believe this market is deep enough to sell four of them in a given day* so I am left with the dilemma of whether to just leave them up or cancel and repost. What I ended up doing was canceling and reposting them for 225g each. As I talked about in my Foundation article on undercutting, one of the (emotional) advantages of the savage undercut is the fact that even if your competition continues undercutting you, in very real terms you have taken gold out of their bags. In this case, if the bot cancels and reposts, he loses his own deposit fee (which matches mine) + 50g per gem. That 50g doesn’t go into my pocket of course, but by driving down the profit margin I potentially discourage the bot while also reducing my own desire to even be in this particular market.

There is a tendency to look at the Auction House game as being Player Vs Player. In some respects, it certainly can be. As the title of the blog suggests though, I consider it simply to be Player Vs Auction House. Part of that philosophy is to not shoot for Pyrrhic Victories when I am just here to make some gold. If someone wants to be an AH hero, the floor is all yours – I will quietly exit an overextended market and find the lower-hanging fruit elsewhere or start exploring un(der)developed ones.

I am curious as to what other peoples’ gut reactions are though. If you noticed someone like Harry Botter** muscling into a market like this, what would be your response, if any? Would you try to undermine him? Fight fire with fire? Mosey out of town? Go to the mattresses? Let me know in the comments below.

*The first question that should pop into your head after you read that is “Hey, if you don’t think the market is deep enough for 4 Timeless gem sales, why would you post 5 of them?” I wish I could respond with “It was a test to see if you were paying attention” but it was honestly more a combination of oversight and laziness. Or possibly optimism.

**It occurs to me that I might be reading TUJ’s “heat map” wrong and/or having an overly broad definition of botting. My guildie and I figured out that canceling auctions registers as “sold auctions” on TUJ, for example.

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Posted on February 24, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I had a similiar issue on my server, I didn't let it get anywhere near as bad as you've seem to have found though.

    I watched him undercut within 1 minute intervals at any time of the day for about 3 days. I reported him for botting. In less than 1 hour his character went offline, and I haven't seen him in the 3 weeks since.

    Be greedy, be goblin, but don't cheat

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  2. You can always post between 5 and 6 am and have the market to yourself for an hour. LOL

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  3. I am getting the same deal as well, I believe that you could be right with the bots, but also there are quite a few folks with mobile auction house for the “anytime undercut”.

    I recently (last week) chatted up my competition on cut gems, and thats what he does while at work. I hate him for it, but when I am away from WoW, I don't want to think about it, let alone canceling and reposting every hour of every day….

    Strong post, I really enjoyed reading it.

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  4. I would report him as well. Then, when he comes back, report him again. If he's botting, he's likely selling as well, so he'll look at this the same way you do – “why beat a dead horse?” and probably move on.

    Also, he's likely keeping other competition out of the market as well, so if you can get him out of there, even if only temporarily, it could be a nice little window of opportunity to cash in on.

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  5. I have the problem on my server. controls 3 markets. If I ever see him in my market I start major undercutting him to drop the price, then buy up all his item when he undercuts me. works about 90% of the time. And over time I resell for a large profit.

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  6. I had the same issue. Reported him for botting and haven't seen him in 6 days. :D

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  7. I do exactly as the author suggested, except I only post one item below the bot (while they have many posted) – and make sure to post below mat costs. The bot will cancel all auctions and run to the mailbox.

    I repeat single posting, multiple times after being undercut causing increased posting costs (*X) and mailbox runs for the bot.

    After about 2 weeks of the bitter dance, I found the bot not posting in the embattled markets anymore.

    TLDR: Remove the profit margin from their market by provocation with the least amount of effort/investment on your part.

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  8. I posted the comment directly above this and have one additional note. Please delete if too off-topic.

    Sidenote:
    On my server the “Mains” run on one account and the “bots” run on another. Has anyone seen this?? The bots are level 1 accounts (frequently renamed or deleted) parked at the AH for at least 12 hours a day undercutting and reposting any auction that appear below their posts. The main will run instances/farm/craft then go to the AH and TRADE with the Level 1s who then posts the goods. After 5 mos. of battling the level 1s, I had enough of their antics and reported them this week. Haven't seen the bots return, but the mains are still active as of today.

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  9. I don't think you're reading the Heat Map wrong. Like you pointed out, the “Sold” Heat Map is a bit inaccurate as it definitely records canceled auctions as “sold” (I think it just checks to see if an auction ended before its scheduled time), so I went to check my own Heat Map, and it's surprisingly accurate. I've yet to personally encounter any bots that I know of, but reporting them and staying out of the market for a bit seems to be sound advice.

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  10. Oh I know this toon well. I considered faction changing one of my toons and parking him in the IF Auction House with murderous intent. Putting real world money up to solve a virtual problem seems foolish. When I see these toons now in the SW AH I curse the rule that won't allow me to smite him. There are prisons in SW for a reason and the murder of this fellow would be worth the price.

    I've reported these toons on a weekly basis for weeks at a time with no relief. What is a goblin to do?

    In my case, punt. I shifted to other markets and once in awhile revisit the glyph market to if there is hope. In recent days, I've put a dozen glyphs by the machine at his inflated prices which left me all warm inside.

    Do I like being the pilot fish? No, but I have to be since the role of shark has been taken.

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  11. There's a bot on my server who's been working the auction for at least 2 years now. Reports don't help, recently a GM actually told me “the fact that he hasn't logged out for more than a few minutes at a time in over 2 years is not sufficient proof of botting to action”.

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  12. I've seen someone “playing” 20 hours a day for several months (according to many other players) without any kind of action taken against him.

    He was obviously running in circles (AH > Bank > Mailbox) all day long and undercutting a few dedicated markets within seconds.

    In the end, there was no proof, since he would return to his keyboard and write something occasionally.

    There's nothing one can do but move on, accepting that there are players out there that got more money than a normal AH player would ever earn without actually playing. That's life, I suppose.

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