Random Crit Balance

Random crits favor not just the people already doing well, but also certain classes, or more accurately, they don’t favor certain classes.

It will never feel fair to drop a hype bar, banner, mmmph, heads, ubercharge, while moving a sentry, while being spychecked, or just die in general to a random crit in general, but some classes get more use out of random crits than others.

Information on crits in this article come from the 2009 TF2 Blog Post on the same, and the TF2 Official Wiki entry on crits.

Random crits scale from 2% to 12% as a function of damage over the last twenty seconds. If you do 800 damage you can cap this out.

From TF2 Blog
Source: Official TF2 Blog

Explosive classes get the most boon from random crits. Between high damage output in the first place maxing out your crit chance, and then high base damage and splash making your crits deadly, it is a potent combination. This already favors Soldier and Demo.

For classes with any amount of issues with close range fighting, melee crits come in. They have a higher base rate, and scale higher to boot. They start at 15% and scale to 60%, meaning you have better than average odds to crit with one. Since they kill most classes in one shot, especially most classes that would try to pick a class weaker at close range, they’re especially potent.

This means a Demo can defend himself when he’s blown up half your team with explosives of course, but he could probably kill you with close range pills anyways. But a Sniper getting headshots/chargeshots will have a very high melee rate to defend himself, just like an Engineer defending his sentry nest will have crit wrenches for days, and Medics with their boosted move speed will be able to reliably hit you with a crit Ubersaw since they also count crit chance from their patients.

Shotguns come in next. They fire relatively fast to get more chances at that crit rate, and do enough damage that a crit can kill or seriously harm many classes in the right situations. This is especially great for the damage boosted Scattergun, but also good for high damage classes defending themselves like the Soldier or Engineer.

You also have the Spy’s Revolver. Now the Spy can’t get random melee crits, but they can do large amounts of damage via backstabs which will easily cap out their crit chance. Of course, if you have an Enforcer, Diamondback, or Ambassador you won’t get random crits at all. But a Revolver crit will seriously injure anyone, such as a pursuing Pyro, and even a L’Etranger crit might make an enemy flee while you cloak. Still, the Spy gets the short end of the stick from random crits in many situations.

Rapid fire guns like the Minigun, Syringe Gun, Flamethrower, and Pistol check for their crit chance every second, rather than at a rate of whenever fired like the 0.625 second fire rate of the Shotgun, then gives crit for two seconds.

This is a great thing for the Minigun, which has a high damage rate for a user who will likely survive long enough to deal the damage, and the range and damage to highly benefit from critical hits.

This also isn’t as bad for the Syringe Gun and the Pistol. Either one is likely to miss single shots and have low base damage in the first place, and also are typically longer range weapons where a crit boost greatly benefits them as well. Additionally they’re on classes with decent damage output potentials who will typically be pulling these items out either to heckle or finish off an enemy.

The Flamethrower however is an ambush weapon where you’re unlikely to deal 800 in twenty seconds without taking a lot of damage. You’ll more often than not get random crits against the air when you do basic Spy checking, or area denial. You will very often run out of crits just before you get to an enemy.

And when you do get to your enemy, they have a melee weapon with a crazy high crit chance to negate any advantage you have as a close range class. Now you’re tiptoeing around what should be your favored range, and you still have to dodge critical explosives and shotgun blasts.

But at least you can benefit from those Shotgun crits… and you have a Flaregun. Well, that still randomly crits right? Well if your enemy is on fire, that doesn’t matter. Plus you have a low fire rate and they might dodge it anyways. If you did bring a Shotgun, you probably don’t have as high a crit chance either, but you might be sporting better than D&D odds of one.

Pulling out a melee yourself negates what is supposed to be your big advantage, the Flamethrower’s extended range, for a crit rate very likely to be lower than your enemy’s, and if you choose Powerjack or Homewrecker, you are either taking more damage or dealing less damage. Axtinguishers don’t get random crits and no longer crit to your enemies face while they can still randomly crit to yours. But maybe you have a Backscratcher and can somehow dodge getting instantly killed by a crocket or preemptive melee crit, and hope your 15% base rate is enough.

At least you can reflect rockets right? Too bad reflects only ever minicrit and don’t get their own random crits. A minicrit won’t kill most ambushing Soldiers, and you will miss a rocket reflect at some point, probably to a random crit.

Soldiers, and Demomen of course benefit from random crits, but so do Medics, Snipers, Engineers, Heavies, and even Scouts. Spies and Pyros get the short end of the stick.

If the only option on the table includes keeping random crits, how do we even fix this?

For the Spy, this is a very hard one. Every random crocket spammed in your direction, every random Shotgun blast, they eat you alive. A start would be allowing the Enforcer to get random crits when not disguised with the higher base damage. But doing more than this, such as increasing the ceiling for crit chance on Revolvers risks hurting the Pyro even more against a class he is at best a soft counter for now. Spies still can trickstab aware enemies ultimately, and still have that one hit ambush kill. Another potential bonus that might help could be that getting failstabbed by a knife floors your random crit chance, meaning a Spy could have a fighting chance against a Sniper or Medic in a melee duel.

For the Pyro, random crits actively counter you in your best range, and by chance work to prevent you from getting there. Your crit chances in return are terrible. A start would be allowing reflects to also randomly crit with a crit chance independent of the Flamethrower’s fire. A boot to the head against Pyro’s mortal enemy would be to make afterburn negate self-triggered crits. This would not affect crits that come from stored crits like the Phlogistinator, Diamondback, or Frontier Justice, or come from a teammate like Kritzkreig, or a debuff like Jaratee. But self-trigged crits like headshots, shield charges, and random crits would be impossible for players on fire. This would mean that at close range you’d fry up Snipers for breakfast, and Medics would have to actually weigh running or standing behind their patient as an option.

One thought on “Random Crit Balance

  • November 28, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Great article! This is incredibly in-depth, and I’ll definitely use it as a reference. I already knew a lot about random crits, but your analysis here provides some interesting insight that I wouldn’t have considered, like how even though every class can get random melee crits, some classe are actually favoured more by them simply by normally being weaker at close range.


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