There Once Was a Caber from Ullapool

Whose explosion was quite unbelievable

With a loud angry bang

It’d throw off Sniper’s aim

By removing his head from his clavicles

Now that Valve has, in their infinite wisdom, removed the ability of the stock bottle to shatter on a critical hit, the Ullapool Caber remains the only TF2 melee that is actually a bottomless supply of identical melee weapons as opposed to a unique item. It’s also a point of contention among the sub genre of TF2 players who enjoy going on SPUf and criticizing the game’s balance. For some reason they aren’t too hot on a melee weapon that deals 180 damage at close range, meaning it can one-shot every class that isn’t a soldier, demoknight or heavy.

Certainly that’s one of the reasons I love the thing. Who wouldn’t love their melee weapon all but assuring them one final kill before you die? Not to mention this often means you’re taking yourself down and denying them the frag. It’s like killstealing from your murderer and sending them to the grave with you. Glorious.

I also like it because it’s one of only two Demoman melee unlocks that don’t come with passive downsides, the other being the loathsome Half-Zatoichi. When equipped, I can grenade all I want, sticky bomb all I want, replenish ammo through ammo kits and enjoy the base 175 health Tavish was born with. Then whenever I do finally feel pressured into using the thing, I can die.

Is this balanced? I can’t in good faith say so. But should it be nerfed? I truly don’t see the point. I have never seen the weapon serve as enough of a problem to set my teeth gnashing when it kills me. I accomplished my goal of removing the Demoman, and in the chess-style order of value amongst the classes, a dead enemy Demoman is worth the death of any other class on our team except medic. And the only time Demomen caber me as a medic I’ve either been outplayed or were almost certainly going to die to any other melee weapon. In addition, the most common complaint of “hit the ground anywhere, get area-of-effect kills” has truly not panned out for me when using the stick grenade. Whenever I whack the ground in desperation, the explosive range is so small the target almost always survived. It’s truly not an effective use of the weapon unless you can manage to land a body shot on your opponent, which differs in no way from the other melee weapons.

Am I biased? Decidedly. But at the end of the day, I find that the Pain Train is a better melee weapon anyway, and its downside is even more inconsequential than those of the Ullapool Caber. If you’re going to complain about Ullapool Caber Demoman, just be glad they aren’t capping points and pushing carts at the same speed as a scout.

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