Ahh.. Welcome back to the conclusion of From Demo Fro to Unusual – One Man’s Epic Journey. I hope you are well rested, and that you haven’t traded your soul to the devil after reading our first installment of From Demo Fro to Unusual. Today we’ll dive deeper into the unusual world of unusuals and discuss what to do and what not to do to be successful in this crazy virtual realm of hats we reside in.
Okay so where did we leave off.. Ahh yes.. The starter unusual. Now I failed to mention in the first post that it’s not essential to have a starter unusual. You can easily obtain a lot of unusuals for a Max’s Set or 8-16 vintage hats (depending on quality).. However I didn’t want just ‘any’ unusual.. I had my heart set on the grand daddy of all unusuals. A Soldier hat with flames *shock and awe*. If it was easy it wouldn’t be a journey now would it..
First thing we’ll discuss is the unusual market itself. Basically there’s 14 possible effects. Ranging from fire to flies in most cases. You’ll find that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure but for the most part the list looks something like this.
- Burning flames (Red)
- Scorching flames (Green)
- Sun beams
- Purple energy
- Green energy
- Vivid plasma
- Searing Plasma
- Tf2 Logo
Now there are some exceptions to the rule when it comes to effects. For instance the Stainless Pot with flies, or the Handyman’s Handle with Flies have a certain comedic value to them. Also there seems to be a population of players (girls?) who REALLY want unusuals with hearts. Not too sure on that one. There’s also hat combination’s that just make sense. The Modest Pile with sunbeams, the Brigade Helm with Flames (Really any pyro hat with flames), Chieftain with flames, Kabuto/Hound Dog with sunbeams, Hot Rod with flames… You get the picture. Basically any hat that looks like it should have that effect on it is worth substantially more. Some people argue sunbeams are the best effect. For me, any hat on fire bodes well, whereas it’s hit or miss with sunbeams.
Also note that certain classes are more sought after than others. For instance soldier is the most sought after class, followed closely by demo. A lot of people consider a nice soldier unusual to be worth 2 of the same effect on a less sought after class (IE sniper or engy). Why is this you may ask? Well It takes a certain type of person to set out in search of one of these unusuals in the first place, and it appears that certain type of person is more apt to want to blow your face off than to play a support role – go figure. Another factor to consider are the polycount sets. The soldier’s polycount set is broker than Owen Wilson’s nose.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse. Owen's plans for the next update include: Grenadiers Soft Visor
The softcrap looks just like it sounds, and the loadout just doesn’t make sense for sentry busting. Don’t get me wrong I love a good black box but 3 rockets in a clip make it exponentially harder to break a SG. This means most hardcore soldiers would rather sport a badass unusual than the polycount hat. This is the opposite for scout whose polycount set is actually pretty good. Most people would rather use the Special Delivery set than have a batters helmet with confetti. Therefore more people want soldier unusuals versus scout unusuals.
Why am I telling you this? Well don’t get me wrong, if you weren’t trading your V. Medic Mask for a V. Ye Olde Baker Boy 1:1 I wouldn’t be telling this story now would I : ) . Even if you don’t ever plan on trading your hats, know which ones are more valuable than others because there will come a day when you think “Oh gee, a Demo Fro how cute – Bill’s hat is stupid anyways..” DON’T BE THAT GUY.
Alright so not all effects, classes, or hats are created equal. I took this knowledge and attempted to exploit that. I found a fellow who enjoyed wearing bunny ears more than having a heavy Bandana with energy. Not a bad trade. Unless you consider the fact that I have 3 hrs logged as heavy.. But that’s besides the point. Energy is a top tier effect. I mean look at it, eating babies while having your head look like a butane lighter.. Badass.
So now what? Trade that beast! AND FAST. Ideally you trade it for the hat that you see yourself growing old in. All you need to do is find someone who LOVES heavy and absolutely hates their Stout Shako with green flames.. Easy right? Unfortunately you stand a better chance of finding a female with good looks who cooks and cleans off of E-Harmony than that trade happening. So my next step was to acquire a mid tier soldier unusual. Applying ‘Soldier Unusual 2:1 Law’ I knew if I got a decent soldier unusual 1:1 for it I would be making progress.
So I come across a fellow with a stainless steel pot with plasma. PERFECT! The soldier unusual of my Dreams!! Wait, did I say plasma? Wait searing plasma?
Ohh yea - cause Nothing says Soldier like yellow and purple beams coming off your spaghetti pan!
Not to be an unusual snob but this just didn’t really sit well with me. Searing plasma? I came all this way for freaking searing plasma? I felt like a medieval knight saving a princess only to find out she’s into girls and alternative music.. Will it ever end? This was definitely a gamble on my part. I downgraded my effect, but I knew that the Soldier Unusual 2:1 Law had my back. I took the next few days off from the trade servers and devoted more time showing your mom how my rockets taste (Was that necessary?). It was nice to have some extra particles next to my head, but I wasn’t satisfied.. Rest is for the weak, and I was so close to unusual epicness I could taste it..
It’s hard to imagine starting with a non vintage Demo Fro and ending up one trade away from unusual immortality. At this point you have all the proper tools to get the hat of your dreams, it’s just finding it and taking it so to speak. So before I blow the motherload on what happened next, I think we should take a moment to discuss how important a good wingman can be in your quest at this stage of the game.
A good wingman. If you’re on a serious journey as I was, you’ll come to meet a lot of people along the way. These people will inevitably share your love of trading and finer things. Unfortunately a good majority of them are douchebags.. You remember Golem in Lord of the Rings? Yeah, I know you do. That’s most people in this fiery underworld of unusuals. They hobble around murmuring about their precious hats, meanwhile holding down ‘V’ while eating their Cool Ranch Dorritos in your ear. However, there’s always a few exceptions. You’ll come recognize some of the regulars in the trade channels, and will inevitably trade a few things back and forth over time. You’ll cry about how you wish you hadn’t of traded your earbuds for a luger now that Poker Night at the Inventory came along and ruined everything.. These are the people who will help you excel when all odds are stacked against you. A lot of trading is having the right items at the right time. For instance, I had a guy wanted to trade me a Soldier stash with burning flames for a Max’s set and a Soldier’s Medal. Oh dear lord, could this be so? Too bad I just traded my Soldier Medal 15 minutes ago.. What to do?! The only thing I could. I called Octo on the other side of the country in a panicked state:
‘Uhhh.. WHATS UP? Uhm.. hope you’re not busy but I Reallllly need your soldier medal for like.. half an hour’.. ‘
“Yeeea.. but this is burning flames here for god sakes”
Boom. Soldier Medal in my backpack. Needless to say that trade failed horribly, but Octo was there in the clutch. He had my best interest in mind, and knew I’d make it right. I gave Octo his medal back along with some compensation for his clutchness and proceeded in my hunt. Not to say some stranger off steam forums is going to do this for you, but I think a few of my good friends would have known I was good for it.
A good wingman can also help you in your search. Specific hats with specific effects are pretty limited, so having someone keeping an eye out for what you’re looking for is a godsend. Speaking of which one of my buddies is looking for a Stout Shako with.. Eh nevermind.
Anyways, back to the story.. So One thing I failed to mention about the Stainless Pot with Searing Plasma was that this individual had a soldier medal. He knew my energy effect was superior, but did not fully understand the ‘Soldier Unusual 2:1 Law’. So in order to make our trade proper he offered a soldier medal in addition to his stainless pot, if I added ear buds and v. medic mask. Ahhh.. I know, I know.. But I can always get another medic mask if I need it.. This soldier medal was going to seal the deal on my final Unusual and I knew it.
To this point I had gone from Non Vintage Demo Fro to this to that to this to that, to two Max Sets with some Soldier Medals.. To an unusual heavy Bandana with energy, to an unusual Stainless Pot with searing plasma – with a spare Max’s Set and Soldier Medal. I advertised that I wanted to upgrade my Soldier unusual and that I would throw in a Soldier’s Medal to get an energy effect and would give Max’s Set for green or red fire. Many days passed, and I wasn’t sure if the Stainless Pot was going to pull through for me.. Until one I got a pm on steam forums stating that he had an Unusual Chieftain with Burning Flames, and would trade me for my Stainless Pot, Soldier Medal, and Max’s set. Wow. Talk about full circle eh? The very hat that started this whole thing. Up until this point I had my sights on a Soldier Stash with burning flames because I didn’t think I had enough to jump into the polycount with good effect realm. (Seriously, polycount unusuals are ridiculous.. See Kabuto with sunbeams). My original plan was to get my unusual and have either the Solder Medal or Max’s Set left over.. What to do? Pshh, the only reasonable thing to do. Get the Chieftain then get another Max’s Set and Soldier Medal haha.
What now? Now you're in trouble. Muhahaha.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Probably not haha. It’s a nasty world out there. Scammers and mic spammers can really take the fun out of the whole process. But such is life. At the end of the day I couldn’t be happier with the process though. It would have been far too easy to start with a great collection of vintage hats, or to have been a part of the Sam & Max release and stock up on 15 sets.. This hat was built from the ground up, and I earned every pixel of it. Some may argue it’s not the best hat in the game, or that you think this effect is better than that one.. But to me the true beauty in this story comes from the fact that I ended up with the very hat that started the whole thing. TF2 poetic justice.
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