Well it’s time for another Reddit Round Robin Highlander Tournament and once more Handbags will be flourished. We’ve a couple of changes in the line-up, but otherwise everything is much the same.
The maps we’re going to play are cp_steel, cp_foundry and koth_ashville. The last two are fine, though ashville isn’t a map I’ve played much. Cp_steel, as ever, is a bit of a concern. We played it in our last Highlander Season with WDG and though we won the match, I was never quite sure where I should be going. Handbags have scrimmed Steel, and once again, I found myself
getting lost spontaneously taking advantage of flanking routes on a number of occasions.
We also scrimmed on ashville and though we lost overall, it was pretty close. We did better than we did at a similar time last season.
Away from Handbags, Swarthy Sean Connery has still only won one match and still my involvement remains light to non-existent. Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty is battling away to schedule matches. So far we’ve had one default win, our opponents had obviously fallen apart beforehand looking at their roster though probably not because of the thought of playing us, and our Gravelpit Victory. Unfortunately, it looks like our opponents for that game didn’t turn up for their following two games, so most likely they’ll drop too. That’ll mean bye bye to those hard won points for us. We’ve been trying to make contact with a third team but have heard nothing. Since they have played no matches so far, I’m not optimistic.
Our best hopes for more actual games probably lie with Facepunch UK (Div favourites) and nervousENERGY Highlander! ne had to reschedule the game we had arranged for last Sunday due to another game they had, but at least both teams are European so won’t have ping and time differences against them.
Since my last post I’ve been playing in the UGC league team, Swarthy Spanish Sean Connery, though playing is probably a relative term in this case as I haven’t participated in a single match. Currently we’ve won 1 match and lost 5 so things are not going as well as they might.
However, I did merc as an engie in a practice match with [équipe] a few weeks ago, asked by one of my fellow Handbags. This was on one of the newer maps, cft_haunt. I’d played on it before with Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty and we’d been completely rolled. We were rolled again this time but during the actual match, [équipe] lost but still managed a score of 3 – 5 so hopefully the practice was of benefit.
However, during warm-up time; it was here that the outrage happened.
On cft_haunt there is a frog. I informed both teams of this. It was news to [équipe]. They all went to have a look. And it was then, at this moment of vulnerability and trust, that RED spy took the opportunity to backstab every member of the team. While they were looking at the frog. He claimed that it was not his fault, he wanted to look at the frog too, there were too many people in the way. No-one bought it.
It’s fair to say that perhaps I should bear some responsibility. If I had not pointed out the frog, the team would not have rushed over to see, but whatever, it does not subtract from RED spy’s behaviour.
Aside from this FNR! have not been doing too well in Season 13 6v6. They have now played all their games and have won 1, lost 9. They’ve escaped automatic relegation to Div 5 because two teams have dropped. Every match seemed to be a replay of insomnia 46; EU vs NA (or to be more precise epsilon vs LG) but never mind. To be honest, bearing in mind how many teams don’t last the season, credit to FNR! for seeing it through.
Finally Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty are ready for Season 4 of Highlander with 3 new members recruited from the community. The line up is now
This season, it looks like we will be putting in some practice sessions which is good. Last season for most of the games we’d just turn up about half an hour before the match began for a quick run through, and that would be that. I felt this put us at an immediate disadvantage against some of the teams. However, looking at the sub-Division we’ve been placed in, 5C;
and it looks like 3 of the teams are US teams. That could make things complicated as ping issues and time zones may become a problem.
I’ve recently made more of a return to Lord of the Rings Online and have been slowly but surely making my way up through the levels with Lhach, my elven guardian. He is now level 73.
It’s been strange coming back. Since I last played properly there have been a couple of expansions, Rise of Isengard (yes it has been that long) and Riders of Rohan which introduced mounted combat (you get your war steed at level 75; 2 more levels to go for Lhach) and raised the level cap to 85.
They’ve also re-worked the legendary weapon system, changed some of the stat mechanics and names and tweaked a few skills and traits. All of which has left me a little bewildered. It’s not unusual for such changes to be made but normally they’re announced and explained in numerous patch notes, FAQs and developer interviews. Having been away from the game to a greater extent, has meant I’ve missed all of that. I play Lhach as a bit of a min/maxer; I like to make sure that all his equipment maximises his skills. I’ve spent ages trying out different combinations to get the best values. Now I’m very aware that he’s not optimised. A couple of hours in his vault with notes to hand will have to take place at some point.
It all goes to show how much you need to know to play the average MMO, much of which MMO players take for granted. We had a thread about it on my kinship forum. There were comments about the complexity of the legendary item system and working out how stats build and fit together however there was an interesting post from someone who had just managed to get her husband to play, and he is a total non-gamer, it was this post that started the discussion off. So far, in her words (thanks Jesriel):
- he can only either walk/run or steer, he always runs into walls and doesn’t get out again.
- to move, steer and fight at the same time is totally impossible
- to move, steer and fight with skills in a sensible order is outright miraculous (her words). And he has only 4 of them so far
- his camera does the weirdest things. Like showing his char directly from above or below, or zooming into 1st person view.
- he doesn’t use skills. Only the one on shortcut 1 occasionally, and the concept of skill cooldowns, focus and other dependencies is absolutely alien to him.
- when he’s lost, he has no idea how to use the map and the minimap and that they essentially show the same thing. Not with all the symbols and colourful circles and arrows and stuff.
- when he has the choice between different quest rewards, he chooses the one with the nicer name.
And he is a very bright guy with a background in physics and mathematics and is a senior program developer
It’s funny how easy it is to forget, how hard gaming can be to someone completely new to the experience.
Can you be a member of too many Highlander teams? Berath’s Brain Burps thinks no you cannot and to prove the point is now a member of a fourth Highlander team (or fifth if you count the mercing for Cats Don’t Eat Haggis). This team is perhaps the largest Highlander team in the world and goes under the rather puzzling name of Swarthy Spanish Sean Connery As far as I understand it, I’m back-up back-up engineer so I’m not expecting the demands made upon me to be great.
The first match has already been played (on Lakeside) and won. I was out at the time. The next map is cp_croissant.
All this is happening in the UGC League. The UGC (United Gaming Clans) League is another TF2 League like ETF2L. It has a Highlander League and a 6v6 League and separate divisions for NA teams, EU teams, South American teams, Asian teams and Aus/NZ teams. Swarthy Spanish Sean Connery (team tag mish) is sitting in the lowest EU division, Euro Steel, which makes sense as many of the members are first-time Highlander players.
In other TF2 news, FNR! has started the new ETF2L Season 14 with a loss. FNR! has been seeded in Division 4B; that’s getting to the position where the majority of your opponents know exactly what they’re doing and have practiced. And I’m afraid it’s the not practicing that let FNR! down. For various reasons, the team had had little opportunity to play any scrims or pcws the previous week or so and it showed. The team didn’t seem to gel, particularly on Gullywash, a map that previously hadn’t been a problem (the first map was Badlands), and their opponents consistently got the better of them, mainly the scouts. Practice has taken place for the next game, so hopefully the team will be back on track. Individually skillwise, they’re already there. So anyway, it’s all eyes on tomorrow’s match.
Goodness me, I can’t believe how long ago the last post was written. So much has happened!
Well actually that’s not true. Not much has happened at all. Handbags at Dawn entered the Round Robin and didn’t get past the first round. In fact we didn’t win a match though I think we won a couple of rounds in the KOTH viaduct_pro match. It was as expected really. We had some good players in Handbags but as I said after the Show-match, we weren’t winnning conclusively and reliably enough against the teams we were facing. I’m not sure what we needed, certainly more practice together and it didn’t help that in the European Round Robin they changed the maps from Viaduct and Barnblitz which we’d practiced for the showmatch to Viaduct_pro and Barnblitz_pro which we hadn’t practiced at all.
However it was fun and such a strange experience playing in an all-female team with only female voices on Mumble. This was commented on by at least a couple of women, it felt so odd when you’re used to every other voice being male and you being often so much in the minority.
After it all, we didn’t disband the team. People enjoyed playing together and we’ve said that we’ll look to H@D entering similar tournaments in the future. We’ve certainly increased the number of women we each have on our Steam friends lists and I’ve a few more Highlander players that I can call upon should KCaLtL need any mercs if we enter the next ETF2L Highlander season.
The Transatlantic Highlander Showdown is over and Handbags at Dawn didn’t do too badly though unfortunately final bragging rights went to the North Americans. We lost on pl_Barnblitz, won on Viaduct (a King of the Hill map) and lost on pl_Badwater.
To be honest I wasn’t that surprised. The payload maps were played on their servers which meant that ping was a bit of an isssue, but over and above this, we hadn’t really been winning our payload games conclusively enough during our practice scrims to be able to be totally confident of victory.
We came close to winning the final map on Badwater though. We managed to hold first until there were just a few seconds left of the game but then they got it with the help of a well-timed uber on the cart. After that, the timer went up after each cap until by the last point we would have had to have held them for about 10 minutes to win.
But whatever, the games were fun (the main reason for it all) and a good time was had by all, and hopefully by the viewers on the stream as well.
It was strange playing in an all-female team and against an all-female team as well. Someone remarked how odd it felt referring to everyone as ‘she’ when ‘he’ is the usual default. So often in teams, the only female player plays Medic whilst the men go out and get the frags (female = healing/support role), there was a joke going round before the match wondering how teams of 9 medics would work. Here fragging, and everything else, was up to us and there could be no snide remarks about girls being carried!
We also had various comments beforehand from the community. On the ETF2L forum, posters stated a desire to tune in simply to hear our comms. This puzzled me. It was later clarified; apparently more than one female in comms = bitching and arguments so the thought of 9 of them blew males’ minds. Alright. There were also the predictable sexual comments in various forums and arguments over the very existence of girls’ teams…basically they were separatist and excluding. An argument I’ve yet to hear over the existence of the national TF2 teams. It’s true that I’d object to an all male team that refused females unless there was a specific reason (gay, male bodybuilders, castratos); why have such a team anyway when 99% of teams are 100% male. If the majority of players were female and a group of males wanted to play TF2 together for fun though, I’d like to think that I’d respect that as some in-game ‘man time’.
In the terms of a serious competitive all-female team, I’m torn. It’d be nice showing females can compete equally with males and be taken seriously but the final goal really is to have many good female Demos/scouts/soldiers etc playing on mixed teams. That in itself would be proof.
(I can see it…last Saturday, an 11 year old girl watching with her Dad, excited by seeing other girls playing games, thinks ’what a bunch of no-name scrubs, I can do better’ and 5 years later is playing in Prem, because of course TF2 will go on forever)
Anyhow, it’s now preparation for the Round Robin on Sunday. We’re with the EU teams and Lady Fortress 2 with the NA teams. In between planning for our revenge match when we’ll send them packing, I wish them luck.
Yes, we have a team logo, and we have a live cast for the first ever All-girl, transatlantic TF2 HL showdown!
Kip finally got her priorities straightened and realised that TF2 was far more important than any paper she needed to write and is going to cast the game live. I’d imagine, if asked, she’d just give some guff about wanting to support female comp gamers and publicising the Reddit Round Robin the following weekend blah blah whatever, but I think we know, in reality, it’s just so she’ll have a frontline view as, once again, EU faces are ground in the dirt by the TF2 master nation. She thinks! (c.f. i46)
It was a toss up between a cast on her twitch channel or eXtv’s. It was decided to go for Kip’s own, going for community rather than traffic.
Date: Saturday 1st December
Time: 9pm (uk time)
I hope it’ll prove entertaining whoever wins. We’ll have fun I’m sure. Viva EU!
The final match in S3 of Highlander ended with a default win. Oh well. We’d all gathered ourselves together on a Saturday evening, prepared to do battle and nothing happened, the other team (Brotherhood) didn’t show. Well actually none of that’s quite accurate. We didn’t ‘all’ gather together, only 8 of us did. There was some frantic last minute trawling of Steam friends lists to fill that last spot and fortunately we managed to come up with a Handbag who stood in as our Heavy (thanks dok). And the other team did show up, sort of. Their leader arrived, 30 minutes late, apologised and officially defaulted the match; all very civilised.
The end result it Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty are now top of the Division, but the other two main teams have matches in hand that’s not going to last forever. I read the rules and I think after a team has two default losses, it has to drop out. This was Brotherhood’s second so they may be disappearing. This will change the results of all the top three teams, I’m not sure how as I haven’t thought about it much beyond that. I suspect we will finish third.
Handbags at Dawn has continued to practice. We’ve been doing better in our lobbies and this evening we won our first matches against another Highlander team which was a bit of a confidence booster as our Reddit Round Robin showmatch with the NA Ladies is on Saturday. There are still hopes that it will be cast live, otherwise it’ll be the stv demo. Our main caster, Kip, is keen. I’m not thinking about it as I’m not too sure about being live-cast with lots of people watching us. My only hope is that ‘lots’ really means ‘a few’…a handful of fond and incomprehending mothers and loyal boyfriends/partners perhaps. There has been very little publicity so fingers crossed.
Finally I’ve been playing Demo in some of fraac’s mixes in his new/low 6v6 mix group. It’s been fun. I’m amazed that people not only remember me when I log on but actually ask and expect me to play Demoman. It’s shows that my play doesn’t ruin their games! It’s also interesting how playing 6v6 has changed how I play on pub servers. I’ve started to time pushes and note when we’ve a numbers advantage. When I play Medic I look for pockets; usually only temporary ones as it is pub after all. Going on from this I now find I have an even stronger preference for servers where comp players play, not because they are more skilled but because amongst them you’re more likely to find a Demoman, Soldier or Heavy who knows what’s going on when he finds a Medic trailing behind him and will wait for uber to build before pushes.
It doesn’t happen that often (especially without mics) but when it does, and I’m the Medic or the Demo, it’s good. You feel in control of your game.
(Update: forgot to mention, on pl_upward we ended up winning one round, losing two, picking up 2 points to the other team’s 4.)
So what’s been going on in the world of TF2 and WDG lately?
Well FNR! had their final 6v6 game in ETF2L, coming 3rd overall and outside the promotion spots. Not bad, but frustrating considering that FNR! lost points gained from two wins due to teams dropping after the matches, a third win was a default win; that team dropped too. This meant that overall, FNR! had 2 draws and 1 loss, none of their wins counting. I’m not sure what can be done about teams dropping. It distorts results; conceivably at least one of the teams that FNR! defeated could have won against one of the higher placed teams, and just messes people around. Four teams eventually didn’t make it through in div 5H and most other divisions lost at least one.
Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty took to the field again in Highlander S3 and so far we’ve lost one game on pl_Badwater (I didn’t play in that) and won the one on cp_Steel which surprised me. I did get lost but managed to turn my losing direction into unexpected flanking manoeuvres. Apart from that I just focussed on each point as we moved up, using regular sentry guns on both attack and defense. I decided doing any fancy teleport placements was probably a bit risky and asking for confusion. Our next game is on pl_Upward. We were steamrolled last time we played this.
Handbags at Dawn, with a full female roster now, have had two lobbying sessions; we need to get better. It’s the usual thing, working out our comms and timing pushes. The first week we played, the opposing team filled up with players who seemed to know various members. Some seemed to take a particular delight in the concept of playing and beating us. ‘Prepare for the rape, I have condoms’ as one said. Hey ho. Anyway, the plan is to organise a Show-match with our North American equivalents before the tournament itself. This should be fun and be yet another chance for the EU to redeem ourselves after i46 and prove ourselves to the US! I don’t think the game will be cast live, but we’re looking to get Kip, a female US eXtv caster (the only one) and either Dolphin, an up and coming US female caster or CSaur, one of our EU team members to to do it.
A Hive of Scum and Villainy have lost a member, one of our keenest who started the newbie mix group, he’s since joined another team formed from some of the regulars there. This has been rather a final blow for the newly formed team. It was already proving difficult to get people together to play matches, we were only managing once a week if that and, to improve, a team of our skill level really needed to play far more often. However it is possible that we’ll be able to pick up more members, we’d be looking at two for each class and in the meantime the ones that want to, will carry on playing in the mix group. There are several mixes every evening. I’ve been playing Demo more in these. I’m still very bad but getting less bad I think, certainly on maps I’m more familiar with; cp_gullywash, cp_process and cp_snakewater now. Certainly, when there’s been opportunity for me to play medic I’ve been kept on Demoman which shows touching faith from the other mixers.
It’s been a while since my last post largely due to the intervention of a significant international event (holiday in Turkey) and much has happened in the world of TF2 and the WDG community. Firstly FNR! has continued destroying Div 5H, a total of four teams have now dropped. FNR! is currently lying third with one game to go, against the team in second place. FNR! will need to win this to be promoted. The last game was a draw; two maps were played, cp_Gullywash and cft_turbine_pro. Yes, a CTF map. And guess which map FNR! lost. Further evidence that the WDG community sucks at CTF maps.
A Hive of Scum and Villainy continues to be rolled but a newbie mix group has now been formed which has given everyone the opportunity to practice with equally bad people even when not all the team is available. I’ve joined in a few mixes and even managed to play Demoman a couple of times, the pressure to play Medic is strong, Medic is a less popular class (scout seems the most). It’s a nice group.
Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty is now signed up ready for Season 3 of ETF2L Highlander…we’re in Div 5 again which makes sense, even though there are no CTF maps, as we never practice. One of the maps is cp_steel, a map I have never played without getting lost.
And finally in December, there is the Season 6 Round Robin one day TF2 Highlander Tournament. This originated on Reddit with the aim to involve players at all levels and all experiences both already in teams and as individuals grouping together, and soon spread beyond. It was suggested on the TF2X sub-reddit, a gathering place of TF2 she-mercs, that it would be fun to form an all-female mix team and so Handbags at Dawn was formed. HaD are an EU team, there is a second NA team. Most of us are already members of clans and teams but have never played in a same-gender team before. It’s unusual to get more than a couple of females together and we want to know what 100% is like, though we have a few he-mercs along too for our delectation and to keep us happy! Anyhow, I’ll be back in my normal Highlander role as Engineer, I think we’ve got the other classes sorted and I think they’re all female.