Greedy Goblin

Monday, January 31, 2011

Disabling neutral AH snatchbots

The Pug update:
1 tank, 4 healers, placing us to the #16800 position on Wowprogress, reaching it without voice chat, attendance rules, DKP or any other HC stuff.

If you arbitraged between horde and alliance AH, you surely met with neutal AH-campbots. People post their items for very cheap to decrease the AH cut, as they are not actually selling, they are just transporting. The "buyer" is their cooperating partner.

Buying something on the neutral AH is legitimate. Buying something terribly underpriced is smart. Catching someone transporting goods and buying up their wares is very profitable and funny. Having a bot doing it is against the ToS, but who cares? No one in his right mind would do it without a bot, as sitting at the common AH watching real-time scan in the hope that you can catch something is possibly the most boring and lowest G/hour business.

So what can you do if your transport business is risked by a campbot? You can whine, cry and report him, all have zero effect. On a PvP server you can pay someone to gank him (the ganker will be killed by bruisers, but it's in the price), but it needs you to identify the camper. If a known camper/bot is there, always pay a hitman. For lvl 1-2 bots you can even pay level 30-40 players questing nearby. To make sure that no one camps the neutral AH, you must check all 3 and still there can be both false positives (random guy checking the AH, transporting himself) and false negatives (bot is running away sometimes to be less obvious).

The solution is having an extra banker in a neutral city, doing one thing: selling Coarse thread. It is sold in Booty bay, Gatgetzan and Winterspring. You buy like 50 stacks. Before you start the transfer, list them on the neutral AH as singles for 48 hours, 10G each. 50 stacks cost 1G.

What's the point? To snatch an item, you must first find it, so the bot must scan the AH. The neutral AH is usually 2-5 pages long, so you can fully scan it every second. However the threads elongate it to 50 pages, so the scan takes 10-20 secs.

If your item is before the threads in the list, the bot is totally disabled as there are two possibilities: the scan is already over the threads, so the most recent results will not contain your item, or the scan just found your item, but will run for 10-20 more secs to complete and your item will be taken by your cooperator.

If your item is after the threads, the bot have a chance to just finish scanning the threads when you list the item, so it finishes in a sec, containing your item, but it's a rare bad luck.

If the bot is better configured, it can just check the last page of the AH. This case you need cooperators, who flood the AH with such items at the same time.

Please note that the threads only disable broad spectrum bots that want to catch everything. If the bot just scan categories like epics or ores or herbs, the threads do nothing. This case you can flood the AH with similar items, but nothing stops the bot that searches for one item (however such bot is rare). Also it doesn't work with human goldsellers who camp 24/7 and figure out what do you want to transfer. That's easy as his scan shows your item, despite your partner already completed the purchase. So he can manually seek for that item.

Why do you need an extra banker for this? Because your thread auctions will expire, flooding your mailbox. With the extra banker, you can ignore the mailbox, letting the single threads reach 30days and disappear.

If you want to be sure, pay the 15% transport fee and post on market price.


lancore said...

That won't work.

I don't have a bot, but sometimes my second account is running with auctioneer doing the sniping.
The realtime search only scans the last page in a given interval and WILL see new items within that interval no matter what. It was named "Bottomscanner" for a reason ;)
Those bots don't care how many auctions there are, the scan will always cost the same time. Or, at least a good configured auctioneer will. No idea how those bots are written...

Anonymous said...

Don't AH scan tools have a 'most recently posted' scan option? Wouldn't that completely defeat any attempt to do this asynchronously? You would have to post the extra auctions at the same time and hope the thread pushed your real auctions off the front page before the scan caught it. Doesn't sound like a reliable method to me. Assassinate is the way to go.

Squishalot said...

Presumably, this would only work for white items. Transferring Truegold, gems and other uncommon-and-higher items would be caught out by bots scanning only for uncommon/higher items.

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Nerdrager said...

The last time I checked (it was before they merged bottomscanner into auctioneer) that addon didn't scan the whole ah, but just the most recent auctions so your trick might be useless.
The thing is, you can't fight them in a practical way, just try to post something to lure botters, but if they did their work they're going to have a proper snatch list filled with epics and valuable items.

Regarding how those bots work, sniping auctions can be made even with an autoclicker since having an advanced pathing system and combat routines is overkill for this job.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the way to do this now a days, for small volume items, is with the RemoteAH.

You don't show up in anyone's friends list so they don't know when you are on. Since you are not on, you can't be ganked. Although, you could hire people to kill the neutral AH NPC at a specific time to insure that only other remoteAH users would have access to the AH when you were doing it.

Zazkadin said...

I never transferred anything through the neutral AH, but you need two accounts to pull it off right?

Can't you just fight fire with fire then? If your second account is also an AH-bot, but then one specifically configured to look for and buy your item only, it should almost always be faster than any generic AH-bot.

madgus said...

Simply concerning how blizz acts on bots, I spotted one last week on my server. The bot was killing, looting and skinning charscales along the Ashen Lake in Hyjal, then mounting up, reaching a repair vendor, doing something (probably selling trash, greens and leather if not transformed into something else) then repeating everything again. It was also trying to skin my already looted kills, but I'm a skinner myself and was able to be faster than it. After wispering it and not getting any answer I realized it could be a bot, so I started skinning its killed mobs and didn't see any reaction.
I opened a ticket explaing this and the two exact coordinates of the two waypoints the bot used to go up and down. After 3 days it was not there anymore, and I didn't see it anymore since.
Something may be working better.

Anonymous said...

IIRC auctioneer looks at the last page (I think you can say it to check the one before too). So your strategy could work putting your item then putting 2 pages (+ enough to fill the page of your item) of threads.

Bobbins said...

When using this method for transfering goods the risk involved in transfering the goods should be included as a cost. Just as you don't farm for free you don't transfer without risk.

How do you value that risk?

Anonymous said...

Other option is to just pay the 15% success fee as insurance. No one will buy at market rate or above. This is a real cost to do Arbitrage and should be included in your costing when deciding on wat to arbitrage. Your profit should not include this operation cost in the same way self herbing does not equal free herbs.

Medea said...

Gevlon read this:

It will give you a better understanding of what is happening and how to stop it. It is not bots just Auctioneer and someone spamming a button.

Gob said...

I've moved thousands of small and big ticket auctions in the past two years and have had my share of bad luck with bots and campers. I've since taken a few precautions to minimize the risks such as: 1) posting only a few items at a time, 2) using a macro for fast buyout and 3) posting 1-2 decoy auctions (any cheap armor or trade item) for 10c before my valuable goods. I also routinely do a /who for neutral AH areas and add to my friend's list any suspicious characters, and only do the transfers when I feel it is safe to do so

Anonymous said...

Auctioneer's real time scanner is easily configured to only scan for any type of item (epics, blues, tradegoods, etc).

Then its just a matter of a simple autoclick program, not even a bot. I would imagine that applescript would work to I guess and that is not detectable at all by warden.

Gevlon's idea to combat the neutral AH sniping only really works with someone who has not set up the AH addon correctly I would guess. Better than nothing.

Although the best thing is always sell the item over vendor price. Yeah, you loose a few gold, but save yourself in the long run.