It’s nearly Australian Christmas, and it appears Valve has left a boatload of presents under the tree for players the world over, regardless of their Australian citizenship status.
Now, before we get too far into this article, I’d like to preface it with a reminder of my stance on the Mann Co. Store. The verdict? Don’t even think about whining about the Mann Co. Store. Imagine your future self looking back on your present self, whining over something as petty as a virtual, optional item shop.
That’s right: it’s really, really sad.
So let’s skip past the judgment and straight into things you actually enjoy:
Guns and other implements of murder!
Amputator: There is now no reason whatsoever to use the Bone Saw. If you think you know a reason, you’re wrong. The Amputator, much like its cousin, the Ubersaw, is a straight upgrade from the Bone Saw. Unlike the Ubersaw, though, the Amputator has absolutely no drawback, other than not being an Ubersaw. While this is a fairly large drawback, it’s certainly fair to say that if you’re seen using a plain Bone Saw from this day forward, your new name will be Doctor Chump.
Back Scratcher: While it’s debatable if the Back Scratcher is better than the Powerjack, both melee weapons are welcome additions to the Pyro’s arsenal since they give him the option of increased survivability and self-sufficiency. The Pyro often falters as an attack class due to his HP disadvantage against Soldiers and Heavies, so anything that helps him stay alive during and after an ambush can’t hurt. That said, the Axtinguisher continues to be my favorite tertiary Pyro slot choice, though most of his/her options have situational use.
Ullapool Caber: While Valve tried their best to give the Demoman a Celtic flair with their recent longsword additions to TF2, they failed to capture a certain je ne sais kaboom that embodies our favorite demolitions expert. The Ullapool Caber fixes this by being both hilarious in concept and explosively powerful in combat. Paired with the Chargin’ Targe, you can now inflict terrible, terrible AOE damage. And while the Caber is a tad dangerous to use, it certainly does the job as far as desperation moves are concerned.
The Jag: As much as I fear the mighty crit wrench, the fact of the matter is that an Engineer should spend 95% of his wrench-swinging time building things, and only 5% of his melee moments critting Spies.* It only makes sense that a weapon that’s awesome at building things should be valued over weapons that are good at critting things, especially when the Engineer already has other weapons at his disposal. I highly recommend the Jag over all other choices, except for the Gunslinger on offense.
Brass Beast: While this Civil War-era bad boy grants you 25% more damage, it makes you 31,000% more vulnerable to everything that does damage. While you had a slim chance of beating Soldiers and Demomen before, you’re now a painfully slow target carrying a giant, shiny accessory. I’d wager to say if there was anything the Heavy community wanted out of a weapon, it wasn’t “moving even more slowly.” And unless you are capable of routinely performing an Epic Crouch, it’s even easier for Aussies everywhere to throw your ass on the barbee.
Claidheamh Mòr: It’s an Eyelander, but you can’t gain head bonuses. While you do get an extra (and measly) 10 HP and slightly more charging range, this pales in comparison to the bonuses offered by everyone’s favorite head-hunting highland blade. With just one head collected, and Eyelander Demoknight has 5 more HP than his Calidheamh Mòr counterpart, not to mention a speed boost. The disparity only grows as heads are collected. This sword would have had much more utility if it granted 33% cooldown reduction on charging instead of a distance increase.
Candy Cane: Look, Valve. I get it. It’s a candy cane. Like the ones you get at Christmas/Australian Christmas/Secular Christmas. And while its bonus health-generation ability is cool, it doesn’t really make up for being 1-shot by every fucking firecracker that explodes within 3 miles of the Scout.
Boston Basher: What would you say your melee accuracy rate is? 85%? 75%? 20%? The Boston Basher’s enormous downside will be triggered so often, you’re more likely to kill yourself than your target. And with the Scout’s increased melee attack rate, you’re rolling the dice on your own health a million times a minute. For the mathematicians out there, that’s over 30 trillion suicide attempts per hour. If you want to be an hero that badly, you might as well be playing The Witcher 2 on Insane Mode.
Loch-n-Load: On one hand, I have utterly decimated groups on bomb carts and control points using this device. The increased damage applies to everyone in the splash radius, meaning 2 shots is now enough to kill a bunch of 125-HP classes at once. And, of course, you can now bust open other targets more quickly as well, expecially given the increased muzzle velocity. Of course, there are a lot of drawbacks, chief among them the inability to bounce shots around corners. I’d highly recommend Valve remove at least one negative attribute if they expect the LNL to see more play.
Crusader’s Crossbow: While having a long, long range weapon is nice, it’s not really what the Medic needs. Usually when he goes into blitz mode, it’s because someone is too close to him, not too far. Of course, healing allies from far away for 100+ life is great (in concept), but due to the small hitbox and long reload time, it’s often difficult to help dying allies who are understandably flipping their shit while running for cover. The only reason I don’t completely discount the Crusader’s Crossbow is that its set bonus is genuinely useful, as “not dying” is universally considered a prime advantage.
Of course, I haven’t crafted/found/bought several of the other Australian Christmas items quite yet, but I’m looking forward to trying them out. That said, I don’t anticipate anything other than the Fists of Steel to be useful, and even then, only moderately so. Of course if you’d like to prove me wrong by donating hundreds of dollars items to me, I would be obliged to accept. In the interim, I’ll be returning to my attempts to cheat someone out of trade for a Un Party Phantom.
*The wrench is incapable of performing non-critical hits against Spies. Any anecdotal or scientific evidence to the contrary is part of the global NWO agenda and should be disregarded.