The Pros and Cons of Class Limits

We’ve all seen it before, the four Snipers on a team of twelve, taking up a third of the team, all being useless. People, especially newbies, drift towards Sniper because he is just like the characters you see in other shooters. Cool, collected, headshooters with powerful rifles. It’s familiarity in a world where giant Russians shoot down gas-masked lunatics for killing their friendly German doctors.

But anyone with TF2 experience knows how useless Snipers are the more of them you have. They see these stupid team compositions and scream things like “F2PERS MUST BE SEPARATED FROM PREMIUM PLAYERS!” and “WE MUST HAVE CLASS LIMITS OF 1 FOR SNIPERS AND SPIES!” While the first idea is stupid and I dislike any form of separation and segregation, the second idea has a potential use. Potential.

Class limits are very good. They work amazingly in competitive gameplay. Overwatch is planning to limit classes to 1 of each kind in their competitive mode. Overwatch though has 22 characters, Team Fortress 2 has 9. Casual play consists of 12 players per team so a class limit of one makes no sense.

“JUST MAKE THE CLASS LIMIT OF ONE FOR SNIPER THEN!” I hear you scream. Well, no. We can’t do that, it’s unfair to both Snipers and players of Sniper. It sucks wanting to play Sniper and finding that the slot is currently filled by a gibus-toting troll who just wants to SMG everyone to death, and being unable to play your main. But it’s also unfair because if Sniper is worth a class limit of one, so are Spy, Medic, Engineer, Heavy and Demoman.

So how about we put a class limit on every class? One is too little for 12v12 casual. A class limit of 2 would do wonders for competitive, but that wouldn’t really stop the Scout/Medic combos dominating 5CP, you can still have two Scouts, two Medics and two power classes. It’s better than six Engineers on last, at least.

There are downsides to class limits though. Team Fortress 2 has always prided itself on being free and easy, not just in a monetary sense but in a gameplay sense. You’re free to pick whatever map you want and whatever class you want. I can completely understand why people would be reluctant to remove some of those freedoms by restricting what you can play, when. People complained about it when Casual Matchmaking came out, and class limits in Casual would make even more people want Quickplay back. Because we’re fickle like that.

There is one other issue though. To throw class limits on everything is to ignore the imbalances of classes. Community competitive was forced to have class limits, limits of 1 or 2 depending on class, because the community is unable to balance the game themselves. But Valve have their fingers all over balance, and if you just have class limits, it does nothing to fix the fact that Scout/Medic combos are now really strong, that five Engineers are fucking stupid. Or that class stacking in general can be really awful. Of course, in a game with such varied classes, it’s impossible to balance class stacking in general, but when people are picking classes in specific ways, it is a big warning that things need changing.

Of course, class limits would help in the mean time, for competitive, and probably for casual too, but let’s not go overboard with it all.

After all, some Snipers are very good.

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