Cue an angry mob of Heavy and Medic mains raging at the title. Thank goodness there isn’t that many of them.
Truth is, despite constantly hearing about how Sandvich is the be-all and end-all of Heavy secondaries, and seeing how many players swear by that thing, after using it myself for some time I decided to stop using it. And part of the reason is because of my playstyle.
As I have mentioned here and here, I mostly play as a flanking Heavy. I sneak behind enemy lines and tear enemies into shreds where they least expect it. And most of the time, that’ll be right outside their spawn door. And therein lies the problem with me using a Sandvich.
Considering how close I am to the enemy, being immobile and mostly vulnerable is a horrible idea. Four seconds where I am loudly munching and standing up tall just makes me the biggest target from 2Fort to 5Gorge, especially if I had just killed half their team 30 seconds ago. The Sandvich is simply not practical for me. At that point, I’m better off limping towards a Medkit rather than loudly announcing to the enemy team where the half-dead guy that just killed them is.
But of course, the Sandvich’s main claim to fame is the alt-fire. The Heavy can throw a Sandvich with alt-fire, and whoever picked it up will regain up to 50% health. But here’s the other issue I have with this. I don’t stick around other players of my team. I am essentially playing as a Spy here with less sneaking and more dakka.
So, the Sandvich to me is essentially useless. So what is my Heavy secondary of choice? The Dalokohs Bar.
The +50Hp for thirty seconds is useful for me as it is an extra insurance when I have my Eviction Notice out. I’ll have a rather respectable amount of extra health as a buffer for when I’m a bit more vulnerable than usual. And as a flanker who’s happier grabbing a Medkit than eating a Sandvich, I’ll take the +50Hp I will use over the 100% health regeneration I’ll never touch.
Besides, as a healing item, it isn’t exactly something to sniff at. Although it only heals as much as a small Medkit, it has about one-third of the Sandvich’s cooldown. It doesn’t exactly heal a lot, but in a pinch that bar of chocolate can save a life. Besides, since you can give it out more frequently, it is, in a sense, more reliable since it’s less likely to be stuck in a cooldown when someone needs a helping hand.
But then, that is assuming a Medic will be near me. Or that my team even has a Medic in the first place. What a flanking Heavy needs is some extra insurance while travelling and vulnerable. An ambush from even a quarter-decent Scout can be lethal. Extra health is one form of insurance. Less health is another.
Less health for the enemy, that is.
The Shotgun, or its more dakka cousin the Family Business, is that particular kind of insurance (I just don’t really like the Panic Attack). A gun I can just draw at a moment’s notice and pump a Scout looking for an easy kill full of lead is what I also like to have as a flank Heavy. Since I use the Eviction Notice instead of the Gloves of Running Urgently, I can retaliate with no fear of being Marked For Death.
The Sandvich’s main trade-off isn’t the 4 second consumption time. It is that you lose a firearm that you can draw quickly to defend yourself. As a conventional Heavy who’s leading the team’s assault and supported by a Medic, an ambush is unlikely and will be swiftly dealt with by your teammates before your Minigun has time to wind up. But as a lone flanking Heavy, this loss of a quick and reliable firepower stings a lot. The Dalokohs Bar gets a pass because of the extra health it grants the Heavy. Even the Buffalo Steak Sandvich is a better option since you get a speed boost that’s better than the GRU’s (BSS’s 35% VS GRU’s 30%) and Mini-Crit on melee. The Sandvich, however, really doesn’t offer me anything.
I suppose, in a way, this is the true strength of TF2’s weapon loadout system. A weapon that is more useful 90% of the time can be outclassed by others due to difference in playstyle and circumstances. It can cater for almost every person and every niche. Now, if only Valve can find a way to make Shotgun Heavy viable without breaking everything…