Everyone and their dog seems to hate the Dr Grordbort weapons, what with their fancy, overly sci-fi look, their overly bright lasers and their overly broken stats and abilities. The Pomson is hated by all but the most stubborn of Engineers. The Phlogistinator is only ever truly considered useful for destroying tanks in Mann VS Machine. The Eureka Effect breaks Arena Mode. And the Third Degree is a direct upgrade.
But only one of these weapons has given its name to an illness. Yes, the Cow Mangler 5000. But since it was changed, it’s recovered from its debilitating disease. Almost.
The original stats for the Cow Mangler were a mess. In exchange for an extra ‘rocket’ and an alt-fire with various effects, the Cow Mangler had slapped on it a slower reload speed, 10% less damage, no random critical hits (one of SPUF’s favourite downsides), -80% damage to buildings and the rather curious downside of being unable to be crit-boosted.
Yes, it was a mess. But this summer, in the Move That Gear Up! update, the Cow Mangler got a face lift, and is now a plausible weapon. The downsides of the -5% reload speed and -10% damage were removed, as was the fifth rocket, that many complained made the weapon broken. The Cow Mangler also received a makeover for its projectile, which is quite nice.
The question is though, is the Cow Mangler usable? My answer? Kinda.
Let’s look at the upsides first. The Cow Mangler doesn’t need ammo, which means that you don’t need to worry about running out. This isn’t a major issue though if you’re good at conserving what you have, which most Soldier mains are okay with. The unlimited ammo stat is a nice little perk alongside the other main upside, the Cow Mangler’s ALT-fire. With a full clip and by holding down your alt-fire key (generally right click), your walking speed will slow down to revved-up-Heavy speeds for a moment, before firing a bright, shiny blast. This blast will set enemies on fire and deactivate buildings for four seconds.
What do you get in exchange for this moment of awesomeness? Well, that’s where things get iffy. When using the Cow Mangler, you need to ask yourself, how often will you use that charged shot, in exchange for being the worst patient for a Kritzkrieg Medic ever? Yes, that “Cannot be Crit-Boosted” stat applies to the Kritzkrieg. It also applies for humiliation. You heard me, if your team wins, your CM5K will NOT get crits like everything else. Oh, and there’s also the downside of doing tiny amounts of damage to buildings in general, even if you manage to disable them.
Why are we even bothering with the Cow Mangler then? The Stock Rocket Launcher is fine! Well, firstly, it looks cool. Looking cool has always been a main part of TF2. It also has an awesome taunt kill of sorts, as you can charge up the laser then taunt, firing shiny awesomeness from your hands like a patriotic, slightly less insane Pyro. But that aside, infinite ammo is good to have, particularly on maps with hard-to-reach ammo boxes.
There IS a place for this little-loved weapon though. The Cow Mangler shines when you’ve got a billion Engineers on the other team, and you simply can’t get a Spy in there to start sapping. And since the blast sets people on fire, those Engineers will be hesitant for a bit.
A small warning though, don’t use the alt-fire in humiliation mode. Catch a sentry in the blast, and it might reactivate and start shooting you.