….wrenches can be found up until the 100th wrench has gone out. There is no per-day limit on the number of wrenches found, and distribution has been designed to be fair to all timezones. -Official TF2 Blog
It was awfully nice of Valve to institute a totally random system for distributing the Golden Wrench. It seemed so ingenious and fair… after all, I got one.
But I had always wondered to myself, how can a system be both random, and fair to all time zones? How can a system with no daily drop caps sync with Valve’s planned day-by-day reveal of the Engineer update? Up until this point, I had assumed they were either geniuses or sorcerers. Or both.
Of course, that was before the Steam Team Fortress 2 forums imploded with allegations that the system wasn’t random at all. Someone at Valve (supposedly) leaked a list of times, down to the second, when the coveted items would drop. Whoever crafted first after each of these times would receive a Golden Wrench, guaranteed.
But, in the immortal words of LaeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s a a video proving that the Golden Wrench drop times were predetermined from the start.
Wait for it… wait for it… OH MY GAWD!!!
But the drama goes much deeper down the rabbit hole than this video would indicate. The witch man performing the countdown in the video is none other than drunken F00l. Yes, the same drunken F00l who created the Team Fortress 2 idle program (which allowed players to “earn” items without even launching TF2) and indirectly caused the Halocaust (the fallout created when Valve released the Cheater’s Lament halo). He was also the creator of TF2items.com, and one of the 100 owners of the Golen Wrench… until it was stripped from him as part of his permanent VAC ban from Steam.
While Valve has yet to release an official comment, at least 6 owners of the Golden Wrench have been VAC banned from Steam after being implicated in drunken F00l’s predictive shenanigans. While drunken F00l’s culpability is more obvious (obtaining and using the leaked list in conjunction with scripts intended to increase his odds of success), one has to wonder if all 6 of these offenders did anything to warrant a VAC ban other than “try to craft at around this time.” Aren’t VAC bans supposed to be reserved for the use of 3rd party programs?
Mind you, a VAC ban is nothing to take lightly, as being banned from Steam means a complete loss of all Steam games, in some cases worth totals over $1,000. That said, if someone told you “Try crafting at exactly 11:31:06,” would you make the attempt? Would you ever imagine you could lose all your Steam games along with your account? I believe most players would give it a shot.
That’s what Derek, the player in the video who got the Wrench, did before getting banned. As you can clearly see in the video, many people on the server tried crafting at the end of F00l’s countdown, yet Derek was the “lucky” one to get the Golden Wrench. But his luck was short-lived, as his real reward for randomly crafting with a countdown for laughs was to lose the Wrench and all his Steam games.
Assuming Derek wasn’t using a 3rd party program to craft with this countdown, how could VAC ban him? One can only assume it was a manual ban. And yet, have the other players in the video, who tried the same thing as him, also been banned? If not, what justification can be given for Derek’s ban? If Derek or any other player had no clue who drunken F00l was (I certainly didn’t before this fiasco), what reason would they have had for believing the countdown was anything other than a harmless joke?
I don’t expect answers from Valve; these questions serve only as food for thought about the way bans are doled out, and the impact the Golden Wrench has had on Team Fortress 2.
I think it’s fairly clear by now that the Wrench is, in one manner or another, cursed. Which means it’s only a matter of time until the Wrench finds a way to destroy me.