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The Mannconomy: Can you profit from Mann vs. Machine?

The Mannconomy: Can you profit from Mann vs. Machine?

There is a lot of Mann vs. Machine loot trading  going on in the world of Team Fortress 2 since the big co-op update with its grand loot drop system. The TF2 item market has definitely benefited from this flourish of new items, and players are lining up for their chance at more. Speculation abounds that a dedicated player might be able to use their in-game skills to come out monetarily ahead on a Mann vs Machine Tour of Duty. Let’s take a look at what would be involved in doing so.

TICKETS, HATS AND BOTKILLERS

The Stealth Steeler for TF2's Spy

Robot Killing Time!

First of all, to gain even a chance at any Mann vs. Machine items, a player must spend $0.99 on a Tour of Duty Ticket. Each ticket grants them access to Mann Up mode, which takes them to their choice of six maps on Valve-hosted servers. If the player beats the map in Mann Up mode, their ticket is consumed and they receive a random item. This is not guaranteed to be a valuable item—quite the opposite, actually. There are only nine Rare Drop items, out of over 400 drop possibilities. A player has somewhere in the range of 1:44 chance of a rare landing in their backpack. Players can also purchase a Squad Surplus Voucher for $1.99 and put that up in any given match. When a team wins with a Squad Surplus Voucher in play, they are each granted an extra item with the same chances of a Rare Drop. If each of the six players ponies up a Squad Surplus Voucher, each player gains seven items (one plus an extra six). When a player completes all six maps (which requires six Tickets), they are awarded a special Botkiller weapon. During a full Tour of Duty, each of the six players buys six Tour of Duty Tickets, six Squad Surplus Vouchers, and nets forty two items. At the same time, Valve has made $107.28 on that run, but we are focusing on a single player who has now dropped $17.88 to get this far.

RARE IS GOOD, RIGHT?

As explained above, the rare drops are rare in the sense that you could get one of hundreds of other items instead—you actually have a better chance of unboxing an Unusual Hat out of any given crate—not rare in the sense of low supply. At the time of writing this article, there are about two hundred of each Rare Drop item—about 1800 in all. When the Mann vs. Machine update was first released, no one knew the drop rate of the hats, and many were traded for multiple keys—multiple times more than other random drop hats. As days pass, more have come into the Mannconomy and they have plummeted in cost. Because of the constant supply, the Rare Drops will soon be just another craftable hat worth less than two refined metals. Currently, it is still easy to trade any one of the items for a key.

SO, THE BOTKILLERS HAVE TO BE WORTH IT…

A player’s trophy for completing the Tour of Duty is a randomly selected Strange primary weapon with a robot head attached—a Botkiller weapon. There is less than one hundred of each of these in the game currently and traders are asking between ten and fifteen keys for them. There are Gold variant Botkillers that are randomly awarded in place of the normal Botkiller weapons. The Gold Botkillers drop at a rate of about 17%, based on the fact that only around 180 of these have dropped so far. Traders are selling these for the equivalent of $30 to $60 worth of TF2 items. Again, as time goes on, the Botkillers and their gold equivalents will continue to be given to players as they complete Mann vs. Machine tours and, along with the constant supply, they will drop in price.

I love Goooooold

I Love Gooooooooold

IN A PERFECT WORLD

Ideally a player gets extremely lucky and two out of their seven items on each map were Rare Drops. Say this streak continues and a Gold Botkiller lands in their lap: They’re familiar with the trading sites and easily trade the twelve robot hats for a key each, and take a quick trade of an Ear Buds for the gold. Our ideal player is well connected in the TF2 black market, so they quickly sell the Buds for $30 and each key for $1.30 profiting $28.92 overall. That is enough to pay for their next tour and celebrate with a double burger, large fries and a pop.

DOWN IN THE DUMPS

An average player will get zero Rare Drops and a normal Botkiller. They can spend hours trying to find a buyer for their Botkiller, and even then may get frustrated and sell it for less than it is worth. Maybe someone offers them eight keys for the weapon, which seems close enough to what others are selling them for, and accepts that. They are not familiar with the trading community or don’t have the reputation for cash trading, so they use the keys to open crates. Bad luck turns worse when they end up with a pile of weapons with a total value of less than one key. They may or may not have had fun in the process but to define worst case scenario, this player is still in the hole $17.88.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO PROFIT ON MANN VS. MACHINE?

With a lot of luck and some connections and/or reputation in the TF2 trading community, you can come out slightly ahead in the short term. The Mannconomy is a living being that will not provide such an easy route to profit though. Did you ever scratch two winning Lotto tickets in a row? Yeah, neither have the thousands of other players Manning Up in TF2’s Mann vs. Machine.

Comments

  1. RyanFodder
    RyanFodder If only we all knew a well informed, trusted Icrontian who could manage all our trades for us for a modest 20% cut off the top (30% with a nominal fee going to donations to a certain community website) to barter our trades for us!
  2. Koreish
    Koreish I don't know about anyone else here but I seem to get about 2-3 drops a sessions plus whatever I get at the end of Mann Up Mode, which when playing with Icrontians is usually another 5-6 items.

    Just right now I got two crates and a Scout pistol then 5 more items at the end.

    BTW @BobbyDigi I have 4 more crates if you want them.
  3. BobbyDigi
    BobbyDigi
    If only we all knew a well informed, trusted Icrontian who could manage all our trades for us for a modest 20% cut off the top (30% with a nominal fee going to donations to a certain community website) to barter our trades for us!
    Been doing exactly that for Rexxar (who this article was based off of BTW. that is currently his gold Medi Gun) for a few days now. If you got stuff that you don't want, why let it rot in your bag? Hit me up by PM or on my Advice thread. I love helping Icrontians.

    Thanks for the inspiration and the crates @Koreish!

    -Digi
  4. Preacher
    Preacher We appreciate the help, Bobby!
  5. BobbyDigi
    BobbyDigi 48 hours later and the amount of Botkillers (both silver and gold) have more than doubled. There is now more than 200 of each of the silvers and between 30-38 of each of the golds. Constant supply...

    The only way these will go up in value is if Valve cuts off the supply and as they are making money hand over fist with the MvM tickets, that is not happening any time soon.

    -Digi
  6. midga
    midga Awesome article, dude.

    Curious, do you know what the refined-to-key worth ratio is?
  7. BobbyDigi
    BobbyDigi
    Awesome article, dude.

    Curious, do you know what the refined-to-key worth ratio is?
    Currently a key goes for 2.66 refined and vice versa.

    If you are lucky you may be able to get keys for 2.3 refined.

    -Digi
  8. fred
    fred eh the supply will eventually eb, it does take a lot of work to get a decent party to actually mann up and not waste your time, and many people are cheap and won't spend on tickets or bother, those that do won't do this forever, so the supply, is not as unlimited as one would think.
  9. BobbyDigi
    BobbyDigi Update: Less than 2 weeks since I wrote this article and the Rares are down to craftable hat level. They are going for 1.66-2 refined as of now. I'm going to put up some offers of 1:1 with some spare craftable hats I have and see what I can get.

    There are 1250 - 1350 of each of the botkillers out there now and 150 - 185 of the Golds. Regulars are still being asked 3 keys for, holding their value due to holding demand. I've seen open offers to sell golds for 10 keys. Average sellers are asking 15 keys for them. The price for Golds is still on a down trend.

    -edit- I'm seeing lots of botkillers listed for 2 keys. Demand must be going down.

    -Digi
  10. midga
    midga
    eh the supply will eventually eb, it does take a lot of work to get a decent party to actually mann up and not waste your time, and many people are cheap and won't spend on tickets or bother, those that do won't do this forever, so the supply, is not as unlimited as one would think.
    It's not that hard when you have a good group like Icrontic ;)
  11. BobbyDigi
    BobbyDigi It seems quite a few people Manned Up over the US Holiday weekend. There are now more than 1600 of each Botkiller. 150-250 more than 2 days ago. There are about 30 more of each gold. The normal (silver) Botkillers are less than 2 keys now. I picked up a Rocket Launcher (Soldier is a higher tier, lots of people play him, usually lots of demand) for a key and 2.3 ref. Seen quite a few listed around that. 2 key / 5 ref. I was able to pick up a Flamethrower for 1 key + 1 ref but that was by luck of seeing the listing first though I can see all of them leveling out around that price.

    The hats are confirmed at craftable hat level, 1.33 ref each. I've traded for 7 of the 9 in the last two days at that level.

    -Digi

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