Bye February! Nice knowing you!
The last week of February has always been a popular time for TF2 updates, possibly because of the natural progression from Winter to Spring leaving Valve feeling optimistic and energized. Or random chance. Who knows.
February 28, 2008 saw a reduction in the comically oversized reserve ammunition carried by the Soldier and Demoman. Before this update, Soldier had 36 reserve rockets, and Demoman had a whopping 30 Stickybombs and 40 Grenades. If only the Persian Persuader had existed back then… Tournament mode also became a thing, which disables autobalance and map objectives like flags and control points until the match starts. Years later, this mode would be used by griefers to prevent MvM robots from picking up the bomb, turning it into more of a tank-stopping mode than “Stop that Tank!” is.
February 24, 2008 brought us the Scout Update! Brand new to TF2 were the Force-a-Nature, Bonk! Atomic Punch, and Sandman, but none of them were the weapons you know today. The FaN dealt significantly higher knockback to enemies and affected disguised spies, and the Sandman completely halted stunned players at any range (even through Ubercharges) with the sole laughable downside of removing your double-jump. Bonk! is the one weapon that’s since been heavily buffed; originally it had a longer cooldown time after wearing off and slowed the player to a heavy’s speed before it finished recharging. It also gave health when picked up after a dead scout dropped it. I’m not sure why that last bit was changed, but this video has a possible explanation. Also newly added were several community maps: Egypt, Watchtower, and Junction. Real winners this time around, clearly.
Two years later the maps Lakeside, Frontier, and Nightfall joined our fair rotation, and this time Valve remembered to add Map Stamps for them the same update. In the past they had a habit of forgetting the new Map Stamps until a few days later. Related fun fact: Have you noticed Valve has been adding new Strange filters for every officialized custom map since Koth_king? Go check out those new available prefixes!
First-person shooter Homefront came out in 2011, and if you preordered it after February 28, 2011 you could get the Hero’s Hachimaki. The next day the Sharpened Volcano Fragment and Sun-on-a-Stick were updated to be tradeable and craftable. They were not added to the Mann Co. Store, and to this day are two of the three regularly-dropping weapons not purchasable from the Store, along with the Vita-Saw.
February 23, 2012 saw the release of the Fast Learner, which is still equipped on more scouts than some of his weapon unlocks are, as well as the two most recent paints added into TF2: After Eight and Mann’s Mint. Players said goodbye to Crate 34, whose signature weapon was the not-sentry-kill-tracking Southern Hospitality (until today!), and hello to Crate 39, who contained the coveted Strange Loch-n-Load and the rerelease of the strange knife. This was the first rerelease of a strange weapon (not counting the shotgun and pistol, who appeared in multiple class crates) and foreshadowing for the downfall of the strange Rocket Launcher and Scattergun soon.
Other than adding the Teufort Tooth-Kickers, March 1st, 2013 didn’t see much more than a very large amount of slight changes to the cosmetic quality of unlocks, full list here. The most notable was that the bauble of the Wrap Assassin no longer sounds like a baseball when it hits the ground. Join a quiet map and listen to the baseball and bauble when they hit the ground after you’ve batted them; they make different sounds. Some of the little details in TF2 are so wonderful.