Thrax did a flowchart explaining Mann Vs. Machine’s slightly confusing “Tour of Duty” ticket system.
To clear up any confusion: You do not need to pay to play Mann Vs. Machine.
If you want to participate in a “Tour of Duty”, a multi-map campaign similar to the way campaigns work in Left 4 Dead, you need a ticket to play each mission on the official Mann Co. servers (Valve servers). This ticket buys you into a single mission. If you complete it, you get a special reward, and your ticket is consumed. If you want to play the same mission again, you do not have to pay for it. If you want to play the next mission in a Tour, you’ll need to buy another ticket.
A Tour of Duty in the Mann Up (paid) mode consists of six missions:
This means Valve will be getting $6 per person for a Tour of Duty; $36 per game. This is fascinating from a game monetization standpoint.
You get a random item drop at the end of each mission. If you buy a Squad Surplus ticket ($1.99), every member of the squad gets an addition extra random item at the end.
This is all subject to change while we’re figure all of this stuff out. The Valve servers are slammed right now, and as I write this, I saw queues of over 10,000 players with 40+ minute wait times.