Home Editorial Australian Christmas’ newest additions: Win/Fail?

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!

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Not-Sure-If-Good-or-Bad

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.

The I-Don’t-Have-It-Yet-But-Will-Accept-It-For-Free

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.

21 replies to this post
  1. My thoughts:

    YER upgrade: Changes are quite welcomed, especially the one where sentries don’t follow you anymore. I wonder if they’ve fixed the ability to regain last disguise? I stopped using the YER now that most players aren’t fooled by it. The big thing that I hate about the YER is that being forced to take on a disguise can screw up a chain stab since you normally will hit a soldier or heavy that will slow you down. Being forced to make an extra swipe to drop the disguise loses too much time and draws way too much attention.

    Natascha nerf: The increased spin up and down time is subtle but noticeable, especially when compared to the Iron Curtain. You can’t get that Sandvich out fast enough and holding a position or area is that much harder because of it. The slow down effect fall off over distance is also noticeable. I used to love holding people in place for snipers, etc. Even at mid-range I noticed that more people are getting away from me, which annoys me so much

    Claidheamohmor: I don’t play demo knight ever, stickies are just way too useful and OP. As far as I can tell, the 10 HP gain and increased meter charge up time compared to the Eyelander is insignificant to the health and damage gain effect of collecting heads.

    Back Scratcher: Same damage as Powerjack with the added bonus of extra heals from health packs AND you still can crit? Definitely an upgrade over the Powerjack in my mind unless you love the speed increase of the Gas Jockey set. However, as others have already said, it’s not the Axtinguisher, which is still my preferred melee for the Pyro.

    Boston Basher: If you rarely engage in drawn out melee fights, this is pretty much a straight upgrade. If you practice enough, maybe you’ll be able to swing in a downward motion and hit the floor consistently whenever you miss (and prevent self-damage). You’ll need to spy check with your scattergun, however.

    Fist of Steel: I’ll take Kazekon’s word that these are fun. You won’t, however, be contributing much to your team. However, a Heavy with and pocket medic might be able to clear out an area filled with ill-prepared enemies pretty handily. Still, getting one-shot by an Axtinguisher is going to be a downer. Additionally, as players get more experienced, they will quickly know to back away from the slow moving Heavy and finish him off another way before the Heavy can spin-up his gun. Might be worth having in your backpack just for the start of a round.

    Amputator: A puregrade of the bonesaw. It has the same speed and power with an added taunt effect. I’m not sure if this can heal yourself as well, but if so, then it is definitely worth considering when not running the Kritzkreig.

    Crossbow: Terrible waste of a class. Technically, the heals per second rate is higher than the regular medi-gun. If a player has been hurt awhile back, the medic can switch to the medi-gun and benefit from the increased rate as well. The biggest problem is that it does not charge the Uber meter. It is also difficult to heal and buff multiple players at a time. If Valve grants the crossbow a bit of Ubercharging, even at a reduced rate, then this would definitely be worthwhile looking at. For now, an offensive Medic is still an unwelcomed sight on your team. A team that can benefit from a non-ubercharging Medic typically is doing just fine without the Medic in the first place.

    Caber: I hate this weapon so much. Only because I don’t have it and I keep dying to it. Can I say the Demoman is OP? Because he just got a even bigger buff. Demomen are typically strong in the mid-range and vulnerable at close-range. But hitting the ground with this weapon will almost immediately kill Pyros and Scouts, which are their usual counters. A simple single sticky bomb + Caber will take out almost anything else and also take the Demo away from their vision and granting him time to lay more stickies down. When I get this weapon, there will be hell If you have it, don’t use it, just hand them over to me and I’ll stop screaming.

    Loch-n-Load: No thoughts on this yet. The usability of this will depend on the speed and accuracy. I’m actually pretty decent with air-pills, but being able to spam rollers is also very powerful. The set bonus of 10% fire resistance for this and the Caber leads me to think that the Loch-n-Load is inferior to the regular launcher. If not, then the resistance is so utterly unnecessary and unfair to Pyro lovers like me

    Buffalo Steak: I agree that this is pretty much a straight upgrade from the Sandvich. I almost never munch on the Sandvich, since I’ll have able half-health after dispatching most enemies and drops are just so much faster. I think the chocolate needs to be droppable as well. Anyways, the option to speed up your rollout and also start a KGB chain quickly at a round start is very welcomed and probably fun to try out a few times. This and the Caber will immediately jump into my regular loadout as soon as I get it.

    Brass Beast: 4 extra damage per hit is pretty crazy. Just think about how fast you die to the regular Mini-gun compared to Natascha and multiply that by 4. However, this looks like a purely defensive weapon, due to the increased spin-up/down times. The fact that you move extra slow while spinning will mean that you’ll need to do more spin ups and downs. I’m already annoyed at the 40% increase for the Natascha, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand 50% except at the start of rounds or on last point defense.

    Warrior Spirit: A straight upgrade from the fists in my mind, but only in melee only maps or at the start of the round when you’re planning to use the Buffalo steak. Otherwise, GRU is better for everyday loadouts.

    Candycane: Healthpacks are cool, but maybe increased fire vulnerability instead of explosive? You’ll basically never use this because of the explosive vulnerability will grant Demos, Engies, and Soldiers the ability to one-shot you even more. Any weapons granting explosive vulnerability is an indirect Demoman buff and we need less of that. What we do need, is more indirect or direct Pyro buffs

    Jag: I’m guessing it’s only wrench damage that is decreased. If so, this weapon is indispensible for hardcore engineers. Redeploying at greater speed is something that everyone should want.

    • Agreed on most points, though most people using Fists of Steel just use it when they are runnning to a cap point or standing on it, since it lets them tank damage. Since Sniper’s can’t 1-shot you while you have it out, you can soak up a ton of damage on the bomb cart. When enemies approach in melee range, you just switch to Shotgun.

  2. Just a few things I’d like to comment on:

    The Jag:

    From this thread:
    From HvC_Terr:

    “After hitting a structure, the structure continues to build at the faster rate (the rate you currently get for constant hammering with a normal wrench) for 3.0 seconds without further intervention. After that the structure goes back to the slower “auto build” rate, unless you hit it again.

    So the Jag isn’t faster that the normal wrench in absolute terms, but it frees you up to intermittently do other things (like fire your shotgun or dodge) while your structures are building.”

    Given that this weapon only really matters when you’re building Sentries at the front line, or if you need to cut the last 3 seconds off building a building to erect another, then the buff on this weapon is negligble. Given that the downside is something which is seen little with better Engineers who prefer the ~90 damage on a shotgunning to the ~50 on a wrenching, then we see that the weapon is more “eh” than “good”.

    The Brass Beast: First off, +20% damage, not 25%.

    The Brass Beast is meant to be a weapon with a strong focus on defense, mainly for those times when you don’t intend to be doing a lot of re-spinning anyway (a fast-capping last point is the most common example), aside from that, it deals a shitload of damage, the 20% is definately very noticable on the receiving end of it. I’ve heard people calling for buffing this weapon and I’ve heard others calling for a nerf, don’t be so quick to call this weapon bad.

    Claidheamh Mòr:

    If you use this weapon like the Eyelander, you’re doing it wrong. This is basically the weapon to make the bottleknight strategy of play useful, a defensive one that involves charging away from the enemy more than charging towards them, but now with a usable melee weapon when things go pear-shaped.

    Candy Cane:

    Even if you get 1 shot by firecrackers, the Candy Cane is still useful on servers with a lower amount of explosive classes, being able to help the Scout’s loner playstyle by giving him a small health pack on every kill is an interesting one. Besides, even if there are a lot of explosive classes, you’re the fastest class in the game, pick your battles and run when you need to and you can minimize the effect of the downside.

    Boston Basher:

    When you have a Scattergun that can deal ~100 damage at melee range, with the added compensation of firing bullets so if you miss you might hit something else instead, there’s little reason to use a melee weapon, so giving the Scout a melee weapon which:

    -Allows you to hit yourself mid-air for an extra boost (allowing triple jumps, and quad jumps with the FaN)
    -Allows you to hit yourself to build ubercharge with a Medic

    Is definately a useful unlock for the Scout (well, unless you’re using anything other than Scattergun-Pistol in any match with more than 18 people when you might need to melee, so it’s a great unlock in any form of competative play).

    The Loch’n’Load:

    Whilst being a very awesome and fun weapon to use, it is absolutely terrible. Regular grenades have 100 base damage, LnL grenades base 110 thanks to the damage boost, what you could achieve from 2 regular grenades (200 damage) is enough to kill just about anything you could with 2 LnL grenades (220), and if you miss with the regular GL or require extra damage, you have another 2 pipes there to back you up. This weapon is horribly underpowered and desperately requires a buff.

    The Crusader’s Crossbow: (Because I think Muffin didn’t realise, it is a PRIMARY weapon, it replaces the NEEDLEGUN)

    Given that with a good team you’ll rarely need to defend yourself with the needlegun, being able to both benefit from increased regeneration and heal allies faster and at a greater distance is a very good trade off. If you look at the wiki page (http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/The_Crusader%27s_Crossbow) it heals 32 health per second at point blank range, more than the Medigun’s base heal rate of 24 health per second, and 65 health per second at max range. It can be useful for Medics (or former Huntsman Snipers) with good aim and a good team backing them up. It is definately good in good hands (not the hands of the Medics that suddenly decide to go 16 DPS battle Medics, god those guys are idiots).

    The Backscratcher: Less of an arugment, more of an additional point.

    This is the weapon that gives the Backburner a semblance of use. Given that the Backburner is most effective operating behind enemies, you won’t find any Medics or Dispensers behind the enemy, only health packs to keep you alive, so a weapon which increases the gain from health packs and reduces the health from the now irrelevant Medics is useful. Not to mention that the lack of airblast and fast weapon switch on the Backburner mean that there’s little need for the Axtinguisher or the Powerjack with a Backburner Pyro. Now if the Pyro had a way to get behind enemy lines, then this loadout combination would be very interesting indeed.

    Another thing to note about the Backscratcher is that it can be used to help Medics build uber, given (iirc) that taking slight fall damage, causing the heal speed to be reset to 24HP/s, takes about 14 seconds for the Medic to heal the Pyro to full, giving 40% uber in that time.

    Muffin, I can’t be stuffed replying to your wall of text too, so I’ll just say this:

    The cause of the YER disguise problem is documented here:

    Natascha only had spin-UP changed, nto spin-down, if you’re experience something like this, that’s because the Iron Curtain was fixed in a recent patch after it gave a weapon switch bonus during spin-down time for some unknown reason.

    If it’s annoying having people run away from you at mid-range with Natascha, remember what it was like for those people when they couldn’t run away? Infinitvely more annoying.

    Stopping myself here before I go through and reply to your whole wall of text.

    • “Given that with a good team you’ll rarely need to defend yourself with the needlegun, being able to both benefit from increased regeneration and heal allies faster and at a greater distance is a very good trade off. If you look at the wiki page (http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/The_Crusader%27s_Crossbow) it heals 32 health per second at point blank range, more than the Medigun’s base heal rate of 24 health per second, and 65 health per second at max range. It can be useful for Medics (or former Huntsman Snipers) with good aim and a good team backing them up. It is definately good in good hands (not the hands of the Medics that suddenly decide to go 16 DPS battle Medics, god those guys are idiots).”

      My only thought here is that 32 HPS is not that much higher than 24 HPS when you consider that the former can miss and the latter can’t, and the former doesn’t build Ubercharge, and the former loses some HPS while the weapon change animation is taking effect.

    • I like Anonymous Coward’s take on the crossbow below. I suppose I’ve just been seeing way too many Medic sticking to the crossbow for a whole match.

      Yes, I am aware that you can carry both the crossbow and medigun at the same time, but what I was saying was that the Medigun should remain the “weapon” that the Medic uses 90% of the time. It’s easier to buff and heal everyone and it builds ubercharge. That said, carrying the crossbow and amputator for the extra 1 HPS on yourself is pretty nice.

      Pyros needs a way to get behind enemy lines, I agree. I used to love the Backburner, but extra damage and fiddley crit registration is not enough for me to give up my puff. As a Medic, I hate Backscratcher Pyros, since they normally come towards off the front lines. Taking longer to fully heal and buff means that other people aren’t receiving their buffs.

      For Natascha, I’m just bitching for bitching’s sake :) I know that it was long overdue for a nerf, but I’m just a fan. What can I say? I suppose tongue in cheek doesn’t translate well online.

      Again, I apologize for the wall of text (yours is looking pretty big there too), but I spaced it out nicely and just gave my thoughts on each item in the update

  3. The crossbow is highly underrated. Stop thinking about it like it replaces the medigun, it doesn’t. It adds.
    It’s great if you come from distance to a fight: Shoot the crossbow and once you’re close enough switch to the medigun. If you miss from the distance, nothing lost, if you hit, you might have given your target up to 150hp , that’s alot, basically putting a solly back to full live!
    Once the fight is over, stop healing for a second to reload the crossbow.

    It’s also nice for long distance healing if you don’t want to run all the way over there. All you need is a mic and teammates that listen if you tell them to stand still for a second. (OK, that second part might be hard to find, but they exist!)

    Yes, you loose pretty much your last bit of self defense (have fun killing anything with 16.5 dps at point blank), but for me the same philosophy like with the blutsauger applies: If I switch away from my medigun, my team needs to get its act together.

    The jag is nice in theory, but in practise it really really isn’t worth it at the moment:

  4. Loch: Terrible. “OH! It does extra damage on direct pipes but if you miss it does nothing!” yeah… but most things die in 2 pipes anyway and then you have to reload while a Grenade Launcher Demo doesn’t need to. He still has 2 more pipes and he can miss and still do damage.

    Jag: Eh… not great. “OH! It builds things 1-2 seconds faster on the INITIAL BUILDING.”. But that frees the Engi up to grab more metal but 1-2 seconds isn’t that much better than the normal building time.

  5. A Crossbow+Amputator Medic should work, mainly because your first priority is the medigun/kritz healing and if you’re moving off of this to attack people, either A) your medic partner is dead or really bad, or B) you just survived a failspy failstab and need to bonesaw him. That +1 health per second means survivability if you can get away. Add the Amputator taunt which is really good for healing the entire team on defence, and it’s a great pure-defence and healing medic.

  6. I do not know if this was in this update, or one before but as an FYI I wanted everyone to know the YER now shows the health on enemies. The ability is no longer tied to disguises but an inate ability of the spy. In some way or another everyone in this thread is right, save for MrScaryMuffin when he says, “When I get this weapon, there will be hell If you have it, don’t use it, just hand them over to me.” Really? In the code associated with this update it states: All cabers be them drops, crafts, or items aquired by any other means (even those Vavle has yet to implement or community based constructs) shall go henceforth from any other players backpack to the backpack of the player shadesnow through one sided trades, or gifting. I can understand how this could have gotten breezed by. Sometimes you just don’t know how to find something, if you don’t know what to look for.

    Seriously I think the soldier needs a kamikaze weapon too. Like an airstrike that does plus two hundred damage, +30 splash radius of a rocket, and is honed using the belt buckle on the soldier which has a GPS chip that leads the rocket. We’ll call it the IIGDYCWM. “If I’m going down you’re coming with me.”

    • I think the only thing the Soldier needs is the ability to start his equalizer taunt in mid-air. That, and he should scream “FAALCCOOOOON PPAAAUUUNNCCHH”

  7. I use the Loch-n-Load in MOST situations now. I find that since I usually am using Stickies to attack anyways that it’s a great weapon for a Demoman who’s practiced getting direct hits on other players. It takes a little more adjusting to get used to the faster projectile speed, but it’s easier than ever to track players who don’t realize you’re there and have a very predictable path. I don’t believe I’ve done any worse as a player using the Loch-n-Load, and having that extra little bit of fire resistance is not something I can complain about. There are DEFINITELY times when I’ve switched back to Grenade Launcher to hit things around corners though.

  8. My thoughts:

    Loch-N-Load: Maybe it’s just my bad aim, but I really dislike this weapon. Needs to have some sort of buff. But then again, I have decimated the cart pushers occasionally using it.

    Ullapool Caber: I freakin’ love this weapon. It’s great for that “last resort” moment. A pyro is running at you, and you have no choice, but to take him and yourself out. Probably will be a permanent addition to my loadout.

    As for the Experts Ordinance bonus…meh. Not much to look at. If you want fire protection, thats the Chargin’ Targe’s territory.

    Brass Beast: Only useful on defense, or if you follow the Soviet’s rule of having the cart push you, to make up for the speed reduction.

    Buffalo Steak Sandvich: Maybe I’m just unlucky, but I’ve died using this so many times. But the times I didn’t die, it was hell-a-fun.

    Warrior’s Spirit: Meh. I’m not really liking them. The GRU are still more useful in my opinion (that’s not to say I use them all the time. I love trolling with KGB sprees.)

    The Hibernating Bear sets crit resistance is really not useful. if you do the math out, you still can’t survive a full charge sniper headshot.

    Crusader’s Crossbow: I’m not much of a combat medic, so in using this weapon, it complements my playstyle. Just tell your teammate to hold still for a sec, and the healing power can be utilized well. It would be nice if it had some affect on the ubercharge.

    Amputator: Like the pyro’s original flamethrower, the bonesaw is useless at this point.

    The Medieval Medic’s bonus is also quite valuable. I’ve noticed an extreme increase in the number of pyro charges I’ve survived. But then again, they were using the degreaser…Is this Valve’s hidden way to buff the original flamethrower?

    Boston Basher: Only use if your aimbotting. In other words, forget it.

    Backscrather: It’s very useful in the new medieval mode, but I don’t use it much outside of that.

    Candy Cane: I’ve never found a good opportunity to use this. Probably because I get gibbed every four seconds.

    Jag: Great for turtling, but the effects (both positive and negative) could be more drastic.

    Claidheamh Mor: Lame. Stick with the eyelander. Or the Caber. Both better options IMO.

    YER Changes: I loved this knife before, and all the nice little additions they made have only made it better.

    Natascha Changes: Why use it anymore? With the slowdown being unnoticeable at long ranges, and the increased spin time, it’s kinda worthless nowadays.

    I just realized I don’t have the Fists of Steel, so I can’t say my opinion on them quite fully yet, but from what I’ve seen (and experienced in-game) they’re a worthy weapon.

    • Now that I have the Steel Fists, I can safely say they are amazing. Being able to cap points and push the cart without fear of being headshot is great.

      And now that I just realized that the Candy Cane’s ability works for the Scout’s other weapons, I gotta say it has saved me (and my teammates) quite a few times from Pyro rushes and what not. I still think the con for the item needs to change. Maybe fire vulnerability (the Pyro still feels a bit underpowered to me.).

  9. I really didn’t like this update. I feel they added in some straight upgrades as “crutches to make newbies more welcome and have it easier” (HAI GAIZ LET’S MAKE A STRONGER MINIGUN since obviously the normal one isn’t strong enough!) and very bad or UP weapons they thought pros would use like the LNL and crossbow. Tf2’s style to me seems gone which makes me cry inside. It’s getting to the point where I only play on vanilla servers since too many unlocks, upgrades, and shenanigans have been introduced…

  10. Detective Noir+Le Party Phantom=awesome. I got them both on a pub server by ripping off two idiots in the span of thirty seconds. Those, to me, are the only good things of the update, although the beak and robin are pretty amazing. So yeah, my consensus is that most of the update stuff is fun to play with but utterly useless in gameplay.

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