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The primary objective of ASF is to farm as effectively as possible, based on two types of data it can operate on - small set of user-provided data that is impossible for ASF to guess/check on its own, and larger set of data which can be automatically checked by ASF.
In automatic mode, ASF does not allow you to choose the games that should be farmed, neither allows you to change cards farming algorithm. ASF knows better than you what it should do and what decisions it should make in order to farm as fast as possible. Your objective is to set config properties properly, as ASF can't guess them on its own, everything else is covered.
Some time ago Valve changed the algorithm for card drops. From that point onwards, we can categorize steam accounts by two categories: those with card drops restricted, and those without. The only difference between those two types is the fact that accounts with restricted card drops can't get any card from given game until they play given game for at least
X hours. It seems that older accounts that never asked for refund have unrestricted card drops, while new accounts and those who did ask for refund have restricted card drops. This is however only theory, and should not be taken as a rule. That's why there is no obvious answer, and ASF relies on you telling it which case is appropriate for your account.
ASF currently includes two farming algorithms:
Simple algorithm works best for accounts that have unrestricted card drops. This is primary algorithm used by ASF. Bot finds games to farm, and farms them one-by-one until all cards are dropped. This is because card drops rate when farming more than one game is close to zero and totally ineffective.
Complex is new algorithm that has been implemented to help restricted accounts to maximize their profits as well. ASF will firstly use standard Simple algorithm on all games that passed
HoursUntilCardDrops hours of playtime, then, if no games with >=
HoursUntilCardDrops hours are left, it will farm all games (up to
32 limit) with <
HoursUntilCardDrops hours left simultaneously, until any of them hits
HoursUntilCardDrops hours mark, then ASF will continue the loop from beginning (use Simple on that game, return to simultaneous on <
HoursUntilCardDrops and so on). We can use multiple games farming in this case for bumping hours of the games we need to farm to appropriate value firstly. Keep in mind that during farming hours, ASF does not farm cards, therefore it also won't check for any card drops during that period (for reasons stated above).
Currently, ASF chooses cards farming algorithm based purely on
HoursUntilCardDrops config property (which is set by you). If
HoursUntilCardDrops is set to
0, Simple algorithm will be used, otherwise, Complex algorithm will be used instead.
There is no obvious answer which algorithm is better for you.
This is one of the reasons why you do not choose cards farming algorithm, instead, you tell ASF if account has restricted drops or not. If account has non-restricted drops, Simple algorithm will work better on that account, as we won't be wasting time on bringing all games to
X hours - cards drop ratio is close to 0% when farming multiple games. On the other hand, if your account has card drops restricted, Complex algorithm will be better for you, as there's no point in farming solo if game didn't reach
HoursUntilCardDrops hours yet - so we'll farm playtime first, then cards in solo mode.
Don't blindly set
HoursUntilCardDrops only because somebody told you to - do tests, compare results, and based on data you get, decide which option should be better for you. If you put some minimal effort into that, you'll ensure that ASF is working with maximum possible efficiency for your account, which is probably what you want, considering that you're reading this wiki page right now. If there was a solution that works for everybody, you'd not be given a choice - ASF would decide itself.
What is the best way to find out if your account is restricted?
Make sure you have some games to farm, preferably 5+, and run ASF with
0. It would be a good idea if you didn't play anything during farming period for more accurate results (best to run ASF during the night). Let ASF farm those 5 games, and after that check out the log for results.
ASF clearly states when a card for given game was dropped. You're interested in fastest card drop achieved by ASF. For example, if your account is unrestricted then a first card drop should happen after around 30 minutes since you started farming. If you notice at least one game that did drop card in those initial 30 minutes, then this is an indicator that your account is not restricted and should use
On the other hand, if you notice that every game is taking at least
X amount of hours before it drops its first card, then this is an indicator to you what you should set
HoursUntilCardDrops to. Majority (if not all) of restricted users require at least
3 hours of playtime for cards to drop, and this is also the default value for
Remember that games can have different drop rate, this is why you should test if your theory is right with at least 3 games, preferably 5+ to ensure that you're not running into false results by a coincidence. A card drop of one game in less than an hour is a confirmation that your account is not restricted and can use
0, but for confirming that your account is restricted, you need at least several games that are not dropping cards until you hit a fixed mark.
It's important to note that in the past
HoursUntilCardDrops was only
2, and this is why ASF had a single
CardDropsRestricted property that allowed to switch between those two values. With recent changes we noticed that not only majority of users require
3 hours in place of previous
2 now, but also that
HoursUntilCardDrops is now dynamic and can hit any value on per-account basis.
In the end, of course, decision is up to you.
And to make it even worse - I experienced cases when people switched from restricted to unrestricted state and vice versa - either because of Steam bug (oh yeah, we have many of those), or because of some logic adjustments by Valve. So even if you confirmed that your account is restricted (or not), do not believe that it'll stay like that - in order to switch from unrestricted to restricted it's enough to ask for a refund. If you feel like previously set value is no longer appropriate, you can always do a re-test and update it accordingly.
By default, ASF assumes that
3, as the negative effect of setting this to
3 when it should be less is smaller than done the other way. This is because of the fact that in the worst possible case we'll waste
3 hours of idling per
32 games, compared to wasting
3 hours of idling per every single game if
HoursUntilCardDrops was set to
0 by default. However, you should still tune this variable to match your account for maximum efficiency, as this is only a blind guess based on potential drawbacks and majority of users (so we're trying to choose "lesser evil" by default).
At the moment two above algorithms are enough for all currently possible account scenarios, in order to farm as effectively as possible, therefore it's not planned to add any other ones.
It's nice to note that ASF also includes
Manual farming mode that can be activated by
play command. You can read more about it in commands.
Cards drop algorithm does not always work the way it should, and it's entirely possible for various Steam glitches to happen, such as cards being dropped on restricted accounts, cards being dropped on closing/switching the game, cards not dropping at all when game is being played, and likewise.
This section is mainly for people that are wondering why ASF doesn't do X, such as rapidly switching games to idle cards faster.
What is a Steam glitch - a specific action triggering undefined behaviour, which is not intended, undocumented, and considered as a logic flaw. It's unreliable by definition, which means that it can't be reproduced reliably with clean testing environment, and therefore, coded without resorting to hacks that are supposed to guess when glitch is happening and how to fight with it / abuse it. Typically it's temporary until developers fix the logic flaw, although some misc glitches can go unnoticed for a very long period of time.
A good example of what is considered as a Steam glitch is not that uncommon situation of dropping a card when game is being closed, which can be abused to some degree with idle master's game skip function.
- Undefined behaviour - you can't say if there will be 0 or 1 cards being dropped when you trigger the glitch.
- Not intended - based on past experience and behaviour of Steam network that doesn't result in same behaviour when sending a single request.
- Undocumented - it's clearly documented on Steam website how cards are being obtained, and in every single place it's clearly stated that it's obtained through playing, NOT closing games, getting achievements, games switching or launching 32 games concurrently.
- Considered as a logic flaw - closing game(s) or switching them should have no outcome on cards being dropped which are clearly stated to be obtained through gaining playtime.
- Unreliable by definition, can't be reproduced reliably - it doesn't work for everybody, and even if it did work for you once, it might no longer work for the second time.
Now once we realized what Steam glitch is, and the fact that cards being dropped when game gets closed is one, we can move on to the second point - ASF is not abusing Steam network in any way by definition, and it's doing its best to comply with Steam ToS, its protocols and what is generally accepted. Spamming Steam network with constant game opening/closing requests can be considered a DoS attack and directly violates Steam Online Conduct.
As a Steam subscriber you agree to abide by the following conduct rules.
You will not:
Institute attacks upon a Steam server or otherwise disrupt Steam.
It doesn't matter whether you're able to trigger Steam glitch with other programs (such as IM), and it also doesn't matter if you agree with us and consider such behaviour as DoS attack, or not - it's up to Valve to judge this, but if we consider it as exploiting/abusing non-intended behaviour through excessive Steam network requests, then you can be pretty sure that Valve will have similar view on this.
ASF is never going to take advantage of Steam exploits, abuses, hacks or any other activity that we see as illegal or unwanted according to Steam ToS, Steam Online Conduct or any other trusted source that could indicate that ASF activity is unwanted by Steam network, as stated in contributing section.
If you want at all cost to risk your Steam account for idling a few cent cards faster than usual, then sadly ASF will never offer something like this in automatic mode, although you still have
play command that can be used as a tool for doing whatever you want in terms of Steam network interaction. We do not recommend taking advantage of Steam glitches and exploiting them for your own gain - not only with ASF, but with any other tool as well. In the end however, it's your account, and your choice what you want to do with it - just keep in mind that we warned you.