Once upon a time, in the earliest days of my TF2 experience, I was an avid user of the typical “Puff-and-Sting” Pyro loadout. I wandered about flailing my postal pummeler at anything that crossed my path or flinging flares haphazardly across the map. It wasn’t effective in the slightest, but it was what made me happy.
One day, this changed. I was randomly given a Strange Shotgun, and I was suddenly a dedicated shotgun jockey. Engineer and Soldier, both shotgun-wielders, quickly rose to second and third place in my most-played classes. I didn’t even notice this at the time, but it is obvious now that the fact that I had a kill counter was heavily influencing my decisions on what to play. Just a number that goes up and occasionally announces things to you, and my entire Team Fortress 2 career was influenced in a huge way.
In the above example, the influence was mostly positive. However, that is not always the case. For example, the relatively recent Strange Scorch Shot became a bit of a hindrance to me. I wanted that counter to go up, which is mildly difficult to achieve with a weapon that does damage as low as the Scorch’s. The result? Inefficient spam. Enemies who would normally fall to direct flames or a blow from my Powerjack instead got knocked around at length, either opening an opportunity for my own demise or irritating them as they struggled slowly through the bouncing flares. Regardless of the outcome of a fight, I was not playing optimally and I was using the Scorch Shot in entirely the wrong way.
I know that I am not the only person who is affected by this, because I have observed it in others too. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (by which I mean I think it was 2012) I gave a friend a Strange Detonator as a gift, and it proceeded to become the only secondary he used for quite a long time. If you own a strange weapon, think hard: Have you ever gone out of your way or done something odd or dangerous simply to get that +1? I would be willing to bet that the majority would answer yes.
My never-ending fondness for making numbers go up has not been dimmed in the slightest, so I am in danger of falling into the Strange Behavior trap again. Sitting in my backpack is a shiny and hardly touched Strange Rescue Ranger, which I desire to raise in rank. The problem here is that as far as I am aware (though I must admit to not being an expert engineer of any sort) the optimal use of the Rescue Ranger does not include violently wiping out the enemy team by spewing projectiles into them. In fact I am given to believe that this is a remarkably bad idea. Will I be able to remain strong in the face of temptation and play Engineer in a strategically sound fashion?
We shall have to see.