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TF2 catch-up

So what’s happening in TF2?

Earlier this year, Valve changed the Quickplay system. Before, a player would be given an option to ‘Start playing’ (Quickplay) after logging in. They would automatically be sent to a random server with, theoretically, a standard configuration. However, the ‘theoretically’ part showed the problem. Many of these servers were, in fact, commercially run and had game-changing modifications for subscribers ranging from extra ammo to invulnerability  and the ability to fly.

This was generally considered bad.

Valve decided to change this. They made it so Quickplay automatically sent players to offical Valve servers only. There was an option to select community servers (again with a standard configuration) but this was off by default. It soon became apparent that most players didn’t bother to select. Community servers found their Quickplay traffic dropping (you can get plugins that indicate the method a player has connected to a server).

I’ve seen it myself. Many of the servers I play on are far emptier, some rarely fill up at all now.

So what did this mean for Who Dare Grins? We always relied a bit on Quickplay traffic to keep us ticking over during a session. Now, we could stay in Quickplay, but we’d need to remove our Class Restrictions (avoiding no-fun teams of 7 snipers and 4 spies) and wouldn’t be able to run custom maps (once we got round to installing them) neither of which were included in the standard configuration. We decided to leave Quickplay and rely on our community and use of the original TF2 server browser, a clunky thing but which gave more search options. The overall reduction in Quickplay traffic to Community servers would mean we wouldn’t loose much.

This meant that community building for the server has become even more important. As part of this, I do a lot of posting on forums, advertising the server, usually in response to requests for server recommendations. After every session, players who seem likeable are invited into our Steam Community Group. On the server we try to be as welcoming as possible. Gradually we’re building up.

Our two TF2 nights are going well. The server fills up from about 8ish for a couple of hours, sometimes longer. We’ve a good selection of regulars. We get a sprinkling of newcomers too. Some of them even come back a second time; a positive vote there for the server, I think.

Outside this, Comp is quiet. There are a few people involved in various teams that are about. I was asked to be Demoman in one which was nice but I had to say no. I still think being involved in comp is incompatible with running a Community and a community server. We have three community nights now (the TF2 evenings and a general gaming one) and I like to be around as one of the Clan Leaders and Server Admins. It’s also good to have tagged players on the server, helping to mark it out as a community server and not just a collection of randoms to a new player.

Finally, we’re preparing for i52 in August. It’s a new venue at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. There are issues regarding accommodation; most is not on-site and requires transport. However the venue is said to be superior to Telford. To be honest, I’d rather have a handy hotel room but we’ll see if they’ll put on a shuttle bus which they did for the Spring LAN. Again TF2 will have NA and Australian teams there; again the community has been fundraising to help get them there.

TF2 WDG Comp news: lukewarm off the presses!

I thought I’d just give a bit of an update here.

So far She’s ‘effing Grey! (quote: “See? Violence. You’ll get the hang of it.” – Chiana; Farscape; official muse) have played 3 matches in ETF2L S17 with 3 matches to go.

There has been one loss overall loss (loosing to a golden cap on granary), one default win (opponents’ server was incorrectly set-up plus some pre-match flaming) and one draw. This is all very good news because it means that the team won’t finish bottom of their table (6C). Feedback from the players has informed Berath’s Brain Burps, that progress has been slow but progress is taking place as the team learns to work with one another and gets the hang of 6v6 play. Starting 6v6 can be daunting and some tenacity is required to get through the early setbacks and losses, though having an experienced mentor as part of the team helps; She’s ‘effing Grey!  has this. Our first team Hive of Scum and Villainy never did, though we had support, and so, like many new 6v6 teams, just petered out. Anyway, it’s to be hoped that She’s ‘effing Grey! continues to be a thing and gets to the end of the Season.

It also looks as if FNR! might be stirring. Practice matches have been played and a special place made in the forum for FNR! members. An eye on, will be kept.

Final update at end of season: SFG romped home and achieved 4th place in their division with two default wins overall, one draw and two losses (but only one of those resulted in 0 points).

 

Possibly a return to TF2 Comp?

A while ago I wrote about the competitive TF2 prospects for Berath’s Brain Burps, here .

Nothing really happened going on from that. Handbags  remained dormant, FNR! never restarted, Hive is still sleeping and KCaLtL is still over. Only Leftism continued flying the competitive flag in the WDG TF2 community.

However, now there are stirrings. Lefty is now looking to organising a Div 6 team for the forthcoming ETF2L 6v6 season. Community members have already been recruited including some new to competitive TF2. The team doesn’t have a name yet and I think the last couple of positions are being filled at this moment but it’s looking good.

Unfortunately due to general ineptitude and incompetence at TF2, Berath’s Brain Burps will not be playing on the team however Berath’s Brain Burps will be delightedly covering the adventures of the new team though unfortunately none of the prospective members stream matches so blow by blow accounts will be unavailable. Or maybe not so unfortunately. I don’t know.  

Anyhow, Berath’s Brain Burps awaits with baited breath.

i49 Almost over

i49 is nearly over. People are packing up all over Hall 3, but here the gaming carries, on for a little while at least with the last bit of energy I have remaining. There’s been lots of intense TF2 action and lots of community mingling.

A full report will be submitted; later

040

TF2 End of Season; Final Season

There’s been a long gap since my last post. I’ve actually been pretty busy but I’ll write about that another time. In the meantime, though, we’ve finished ETF2L S15 and it’s time to catch up with FNR!

They finished 3rd in their division, only one point behind the second finishers; just outside the automatic promotions but well enough positioned to go for for Div 4 next season with appropriate screenshots from games against Div 4 teams.

In the end they dropped three maps, one they felt they should have won. The other two were against Killswitch, who also play Highlander but in Division 1. It’s generally felt that the skill level in Highlander is lower than that in 6v6, so a Div 1 HL player would be less skilled than a Div 1 6v6 player. However, even considering this, surely Div 1 HL players are not equivalent to Div 5 6v6. Certainly Killswitch didn’t loose a map in their division.

However FNR! didn’t do too badly against them. I’ve seen steamrolls and this game quite definately wasn’t one with FNR! making some nice plays including a wonderful kritz on badlands mid which I think wiped Killswitch. In fact all through the season FNR! improved and became tighter and more co-ordinated, though errors were still made with mistimings and wrong positioning. You could see the practice scrims and VOD reviews paying off, you’ve just got to do that stuff.

So it looks like FNR! will be playing in the next 6v6 season but the same can’t be said for Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty in the next Highlander.

Last season was most likely the last and with it goes the direct participation of Berath’s Brain Burps in competitive TF2, but a good time was had and I loved having the opportunity. Quite simply, there is no-one to organise KCaLtL. After successfully leading it for the last couple of seasons,  the indomitable Lefty has moved on to another team with no organising responsibilities. As I found when I organised the Raid roster in LoTRO being the organiser of something can bring headaches and take away the fun. Hive of Scum and Villainy, our (baby) 6v6 team is still in hiatus and I don’t fancy trying to get myself recruited into anything else. For 6v6 I’m just not good enough and for both, being female and older reduces the likelihood of finding compatible team mates. I’d be worrying about restructures at work, they’d be worrying about A’Level homework and considering 25 as old and past it; and probably be right too!

Handbags at Dawn remains of course. Hopefully we’ll be entering the next Reddit Round Robin and from time to time I may still be asked to merc for various teams. There may also be opportunities for the odd 6v6 game for a bit of fun (I still think it’s my favourite TF2 mode). So anyway, it’s wait and see and in the meantime focus on playing pub and in HL lobbies, working on those rollouts (I will do Badlands), enjoying casts, helping keep WDG ticking along and, of course, playing other games!

TF2: End of Season, Start of Season

Well ETF2L Highlander S4 is now well and truly over. In the end Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty came second in their division 5C. A good result and one which meant we could stay safely in Division 5 away from teams that did stuff like practice lots. The last match was against nervousENERGY, a community HL team with a profile and history similar to ours. They said they weren’t Div 5. We weren’t sure if that meant they were brilliant or that they were rubbish; we thought we might be more rubbish.

The maps were cp_gullywash and koth_Lakeside_Final. We’d played Lakeside before and won, so we were quite confident. We hadn’t practiced on Gullywash. We were heartened when, 5 minutes before the start of the game, nE hadn’t made up their minds about their line-up. We’d decided 30 minutes before. This meant that nE were more rubbish than us at line-ups. Go us!

nE told us they hadn’t practiced. Nor of course had we. Joint rubbish.

Once on the server, we did a bit of Trash talking, psyching each other out, nE vs KCaLtL.  It was quickly established that no-one had slept with anyone’s mother. In fact, we were informed, the mother of one of the nE team was a very nice lady who had bought them ice cream at one point. She regularly shopped at car boot sales and here it was agreed by both teams, that some remarkable bargains could be had at these events if one went early enough. I think this  may have been:  at trash talking- rubbish.

After this, play commenced and we won 5 -0 on Gullywash and 3-0 on Lakeside. The games were fun. Despite the results, nE made us work and I think they had a good game as well. So they weren’t rubbish and nor were we.

So goodbye S4 Highlander and hello to S14 6v6 and For No Raisin! After their slightly wobbly performance in S13, they are now in Div 5, probably better at the moment particularly as they have a slightly tweaked line-up including a new scout Dohjan (a reg from the WDG server) who hasn’t had that much experience in 6v6. A season in Div 5 should give them the opportunity to get themselves sorted, refocused , and see what happens. They’ve already been practicing more this past couple of weeks than I’m sure they did most of last season.

It’s credit to them that they’ve stayed together. One of the main features that has stood out for me observing the competitive scene, is how unstable teams are. They form for one season (if that) and then fall apart. Referring to my previous post, I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the consequences of having teams that form just to compete and haven’t grown from a community. It could be that Community based teams are more inclined to stick together and keep on going, with changes in name, line-up etc, but keeping the community in common.

Stop press: FNR! drew in their first game against Player Haters of the Year:  Badlands 1-6; Gullywash 2-1 (winning Gullywash). At least 10 avid viewers on the Twitch stream (a record) were treated to two intense matches yesterday evening. PH seemed to be the stronger team on Badlands with a very effective scout pairing but it evened out on Gullywash which is a less scout friendly map, Power playing the Heavy card.

Handbags in the Round Robin

Well the Round Robin is over and Handbags were flourished with style, if with not total success. In the end, five maps were featured in the tournament; cp_steel, koth_ashville, pl_retawdab, cp_croissant and cp_foundry.

The first three were played in the first round, I’ll give a spoiler here and say we didn’t get to play the last two.  We lost cp_Steel which was no great surprise. We hadn’t practiced it much and it’s a map which can be played using many different tactics, as well as being intrinsically confusing with various doors and routes opening up depending on points capped. We talked through a couple of strategies, but our opponents obviously had too, and had already set up counters, so it was hard to work round them on the fly.

We more-or-less rolled the other team on Ashville. We’d practiced this more and koth maps are pretty straightforward anyway. To be honest, the other team wasn’t very good. We’d rather have played against a stronger team since it was our best map and we would’ve liked to have tested ourselves more (though of course it was nice to win). Mid-game they actually asked us if we’d ever played against a worst team. This of course made us feel a bit bad, so we said we’d played against lots (not sure how true this was) and that they were doing fine; which they were as they did manage some time on the point. I’ve been on pubs where one team hasn’t managed any.

Pl_retawdab (mirrored pl_badwater) was a bizarre experience. We’d practiced it once before and found it totally disorientating. Playing it actually gave me a sensation very similar to motion sickness. You’d find yourself running the wrong way, placing your sentry gun in the wrong direction and just generally feeling totally back to front and upside down. In our practice session we’d played against Equipe and won, but things went less well in the official. This time they’d got a very good sniper with them who more-or-less managed to hold us off last on his own. We’d struggled a little to take the first point, but then had managed to steam through the next ones, so it was annoying.

So that was that, one game won, two lost. An improvement on the last Round Robin. Again, it was fun. We enjoyed the tournament and I certainly enjoyed the scrims we managed to set up together. More would have been good, but most of the Handbags were in other HL teams in both ETF2L and UGC,  and so various officials with those teams, took them away. However, it looks like we’ve managed to set up a nice network of HL contacts amongst us all which is useful and we’ll be staying in touch. Here’s to the next Round Robin.

Handbags to the Breach once more!

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.

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/eutf2x/members

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.

Moar Highlander team!

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.

Handbags are bashed but fun was had

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.

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