I’d been meaning to talk about this for a while, but back when Tough Break came out, there was an unintended side effect caused by the Flamethrower tweaks, and it doesn’t even refer to the Pyro.
Tough Break’s patch notes mentioned that “The base Flamethrower’s damage fall off over distance has been decreased, resulting in higher damage output at range” and I could write a whole article about how all of these stock flamethrower buffs have elevated the weapon back to a surprising level of viability. But this affected more than just the flamethrowers; the Righteous Bison and Pomson 6000 mimic ‘lasers’ by firing a bundle of flame particles, meaning that they both deal more damage at range now.
Teamfortressguy from SPUF crunched the numbers for me: “Bison will do 14 damage per tick at long range now instead of 12, meaning the bison can do about 98 damage per shot at long range. Max ramp up is still 20. Pomson now does 42 instead of 36. It can’t penetrate so it’s just always 42. Max ramp up is still 60.”
This is huge for both weapons, since they were created in the first place to fill more long-range options in their respective slots. The Bison was always seen as unusual for that reason, since the Soldier could just use his Rocket Launcher to deal accurate and powerful ranged damage, but it’s always seen a popular niche with the Beggar’s Bazooka or Rocket Jumper. And, of course, MvM. And since the Rescue Ranger is the closest thing Engineer gets to a long-range harassment tool, the Pomson becomes even more suited to filling a niche that players can’t even agree he should be capable of choosing. Of course, after the July 23rd update it’s had its Uber-draining capabilities nerfed, meaning that it’s even less of the sentry-guarding weapon it was before. And of course an unrelated but really annoying glitch still exists that lets Engineer use teammates to hide the projectile:
I know this change is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, considering that unlike flamethrowers, which can rack up dozens of hits in seconds, the laser guns can only tag a few extra hits per shot before losing contact with its target. But any buff that improves the primary function of a weapon is one worth knowing, especially when they’re the only weapons in their classes’ respective slots that open up the possibility of dealing relevant damage at a new range. I’ve tried out both weapons since the change, and both of them genuinely seem better suited to direct combat than they were before. The Bison did its job, though it felt redundant with any of my favorite rocket launchers, but as a finisher it held its own against the shotgun enough to keep me from feeling an urgent nagging need to switch out. The Pomson on the other hand is now amazing for Ninjaneers; I played my favorite Eureka Effect playstyle for a time and was genuinely finding it better suited to the solo combats I’d occasionally find myself in, not to mention the ability to dissuade pursuit and block corners was a godsend. If you’re okay living with the shame of having been seen with the Pomson, you can make it work for you.