On Demoman in General

Some articles sit empty for months or even years, never getting finished. Most of my articles don’t, but this one about Demomen has been ignored. When I wrote the title, I’d played TF2 and played Demoman and my mind was full of thoughts that quickly vanished. Some of those thoughts later appeared as a rant about Demoknights but normal Demomen just sat here.

Things aren't as perky as they used to be...
Things aren’t as perky as they used to be…

So let’s talk about Demomen!

Except… I don’t know what to say.

But I do know what I used to say.

Demoman was the power house of the game. As much as Medic, if not more than Medic, Demoman has always been the guy who gets shit done. Demoman is the guy you call when you need to get into someone’s base and blow up their sentries and all that. But he was so good that he’d destroy whole teams as well. Flanked by the three other best classes in the game, Demoman was an unstoppable monster.

Well, not unstoppable, but definitely strong.

But Demoman has always had problems. Grenades do a lot of damage in a large area. Stickies end up being used more for air-bursting than actual sticky traps. Demoman has straddled the line between attacker and defender and is amazing at both.

The nerfs didn't hamper Mann VS Machine but there's upgrades there and no one cares about MvM
The nerfs didn’t hamper Mann VS Machine but there’s upgrades there and no one cares about MvM

Then there’s the added issue of Demoknight. I don’t like the subclass, but sure, go play it. The problem is that Demoman and Demoknight share the same weapons, so a buff to one weapon could have many unforeseen consequences. Demoknights would love to have stronger melees, but Demoman isn’t supposed to be strong in melee range and he’d end up using those weapons too.

Anyway, back to Demoman

Of course, a super powerful Demoman wasn’t going to last. The question has always been how do you nerf something and retain their skill set? It’s always tricky, and the Love and War nerfs ended up being far over the top. I’m certain that perhaps someone put some numbers in the wrong place and the nerfs ended up being far harsher than they anticipated. Either way, they got reverted and Demoman got more normal nerfs at a later date.

And so we have today’s Demoman. He still blows things up and makes short work of Engineer nests, but he’s not the monster he used to be.

But was Demoman really a monster?

I wonder, was Demoman really as powerful as we thought he was? Okay, the super powerful 40-reserve grenade launchers and things like that don’t count. And every class has had times where they’ve been really strong due to oversights.

Part of me wonders if Demoman’s issues weren’t completely to do with Demoman, but to do with everyone else. Earlier on, between the Engineer update and the Love and War update, Demoman had to be strong because Engineer was strong. On the side though, Scout and Soldier were constantly strong too. You end up with a ‘circle of strongness’ that is very hard to break.

Now though, Demoman and Engineer are weaker. They still do their jobs of creating and stopping roadblocks for the enemy team, but they aren’t so omnipresent.

On the flip side, Soldier and Scout are stronger than ever. Well, maybe not, but they’re perpetually strong. Demoman lost some of his reliability, Demomen have to work a little harder now, so Medics flock to Soldiers and Scouts for more safety. On both the damage and the kill front, the other two generalists are catching up, perhaps pushing Demoman more into his building-destroying job.

Because that is what I think Valve wanted to do. They wanted Demoman to go back to his niche, the same way other classes have their niches.

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