Backscratching

Picture by Gen. DeGroot.
Picture by Gen. DeGroot.

If I can recall, the Backscratcher was one of the first strange weapons to ever grace my backpack.  Given that I find strange weapons encourage me to use stuff I would normally not care about, I gave the ‘scratcher a chance.  From then on it has stayed in the slot, and has grown to be one of my favorites.

For those whom are unaware, the Backscratcher grants extra healing from collecting health packs.  However, other healing sources, such a medics dispensers, and bomb carts, heal you at a snail’s pace.  The rake also has a slight increase in damage.

The main draw of this item for me is that while most Pyro melees are active, the Backscratcher is more passive in nature.  By active, I mean that you must actually use or wield the item in order to benefit from it.  You need to have the Powerjack out to run faster, hit others with the Axtinguisher in order to score criticals, and so on.  The Backscratcher need not be used even once to gain its passive benefits.  The way this passive nature helps me is that it reduces the need for switching between weapons.  Instead of juggling three weapons, I can just focus on my primary and secondary weapons.  Just press the Q key all day every day.

The niche of this weapon is for the roaming, flanking Pyro.  You’re not going to be near the medics and engineers and stuff, so the passive downside means much less to you.  Now, you may say, that is the point of the Powerjack, and I’d say that you are correct, they both do that.  But, while the Powerjack gives you better mobility, the Backscratcher is for sustainability.

Powerjack is a great weapon for solo play, when you don't have a team around you for support.
Backscratcher is a great weapon for solo play, when you don’t have a team around you for support.

The bonuses from health packs really add up.  Medium packs will more often than not put you at or near full health.  Even the small pill bottles would give quite a bit.  Grabbing a kit can quickly turn the tides of a fight.  The strategy would be to hit and run.  Run in, get a pick, get out, and quickly heal back up.

Overall, the rake is a decent melee choice depending on your style of play.

 

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