Tuesday, 11 October 2011

AH PvP - Cleaning out bots

If you've been reading my blog for very long you've probably noticed auction bots are a pet peeve of mine. I can tolerate farm bots they don't really hurt the economy much and they can't stop anyone else from farming. In fact in some ways farm bots actually have a positive effect on the economy. They keep material supplies up, keep prices from becoming astronomical and save the rest of us from having to farm too much ourselves. Auction bots on the other hand can really dominate a server's economy, they can stop other people from selling much and after having fought a long drawn out war against one for the last 2 years I really hate them.

One of the more effective, most satisfying and just plain FUN ways to deal with an auction bot is to clean him out of stock whenever he leaves it running unattended. That forces him to stick around monitoring the bot and turn it off when he's not around to watch it. Most of the botters I've run across are actually there watching the bots work much of the time anyhow but they'll leave them unattended for hours at a time too. In particular they'll often leave it running overnight while sleeping which is perfect.

All the bots I've found have been left running unattended until after being cleaned out a few times. I don't think they even realized what happened the first few times. Here's how I do it.

You can be reasonably sure it's a bot if it's consistently online 12-16+ hours a day and cancels/reposts almost as fast as he gets undercut the whole time he's online.  If it's online 24/7 you can be almost completely certain it's a bot.

Once you've decided it's a bot you're dealing with the first thing you need to do is determine his thresholds (the lowest prices he'll post items at) and when he leaves it running unattended. Many botters will leave the bots running unattended overnight so 2 - 4 am is often the best time to clean them out.

If you can identify the bot master's main by watching login/logout patterns or from "crafted by" lines in item tooltips even better. Watch for when he raids or engages in some other activity that requires most of his personal attention. If the bot is online while he raids it's most likely running unattended so just wait till he's raiding and clean him out then.

Once you're reasonably certain the bot is running unattended find his thresholds by posting single items lower and lower until it stops undercutting. If you're already in a price war with him he may have you blacklisted. If he does that's even better since all most blacklists do is ignore thresholds. You can get a bot posting really stupidly low if he's blacklisted you.

Get him posting as low as possible and then start buying him out. Clean out his entire stock and resell it for more. Nothing will annoy him more than to return from afk/raiding/etc only to discover he's been cleaned out at well under cost by a competitor who's making a killing reselling his stock.

For example using a real example of one of the best cleanouts I pulled off back in Wrath:

One night while the bot was raiding ICC with his guild I bought out all 180+ of his Purified Dreadstones 10 at a time for under 20g each, reposted them for 240g each (180-220g was the usual price at the time) and sold nearly all of them within the next 48 hours for over 40k in profits. Purified Dreadstones weren't the only thing I cleaned him out of either, just the most profitable thing. When his raid finished that night he hearthed to SW, checked the auction and logged out about a minute later. He didn't log back in on any of his characters until the next evening. That was the first time in months he'd been offline for than a few minutes at a time.

If you have an auction bot on your server, find out when it's unattended and give this a shot. It's a great way to get some really cheap items to flip and teach the botter a lesson.

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