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The Unbanning of the Solemn Vow
posted in News
Recurse
July 26, 2020

For the third season of their Traditional Sixes League, RGL made the decision to break from the Global Whitelist and unban the Detonator, Gas Passer, Scorch Shot, and Solemn Vow. While it is not novel for North American leagues, or simply Americans in general, to diverge from the standards set by the rest of the world, this change did mark the first major time the Solemn Vow would be used in competitive 6v6.

Stat comparison of the Ubersaw vs the Solemn Vow. (graphic by mitch)

Introduction

Ever since the Global Whitelist was first unveiled in September of 2016, various arguments for and against the banning of the Solemn Vow have floated around the forums. This discussion peaked in December of 2018, when serious consideration was given toward unbanning the Solemn Vow, alongside the likes of the Soda Popper, BONK! Atomic Punch, and Buffalo Steak Sandvich. On one hand, some argued that the Solemn Vow could increase skill by allowing Medics to call exact health and uber figures at the risk of their personal safety. On the other hand, others argued the opposite, claiming the ability to gain this knowledge passively and more accurately than ever before has eliminated the skill required to do so through inference and good communication. Most recently, as of a poll conducted in May 2019, players are split on the issue, with 39.13% of players for unbanning it, 36.23% for banning it, and 24.64% hoping for more testing.

Nevertheless, all parties largely agree that the difference would be small at best, which was reflected in the testing done. During whitelist pugs conducted first in 2017, then again in 2018, teams concluded that the Solemn Vow had very little impact on overall play, at least compared to the splash the Rescue Ranger and Cow Mangler made upon their debuts. However, given an entire season to experiment and adapt to the new weapon, have things changed over one-and-a-half years later, and could they continue to change in the future?

Methods

To examine how the Solemn Vow’s unban affected the last season of TF2, we looked at how often Medics equipped either the Solemn Vow or the Ubersaw over three sets of logs spanning RGL Season 3. The first covered all 34 Invite matches that took place over the regular season, thus showing what was happening at the highest level of play. The second looked at the logs from PugChamp, which allowed for a much larger sample size. Finally, the third sample covered all logs from na.serveme.tf, which should give a better impression on what North America is running as a whole.

For each of the individual logs in those samples, we recorded what each of the Medics were running as their melee weapons, specifically whether it was the Solemn Vow, Ubersaw, something else, or if the data was missing.

Regarding the latter, it is important to acknowledge, as is evident from the graphs below, there is a huge proportion of missing data. This was one flaw with getting data from logs, since unless a Medic actually takes a swing with their melee weapon, it doesn’t get recorded. As a result, a large proportion of the matches simply didn’t have Medic melee data, which was then recorded under the “Other / Unknown” category. It is very likely that this missing data inflated the Ubersaw numbers in the results, since the Solemn Vow’s effect is completely passive while Medics using the Ubersaw are incentivized to use them in active combat. Thus, Medics using the latter may be more likely to be recorded in the logs. Moreover, according to anecdotal evidence, there were many games played that didn’t use the latest whitelist, meaning that Medics would be forced to use the Ubersaw regardless of personal preference. Whether this had a significant impact on the equip rates is unknown.

Results

Medic melee equip rates across all of RGL Season 3. (graphic by mitch)

Medic melee equip rates in North America over the course of RGL Season 3. (graphic by mitch)

Ignoring the various sections of missing data, it is clear that the Invite scene uses the Solemn Vow much more frequently than the lower divisions, with a 50% equip rate for the former versus 15% for the latter. While the sanction of half of Invite Medics pales in comparison to the near-universal use of, for example, the Crusader’s Crossbow, it does show the top players in the game are slowly beginning to take advantage of the weapon. Slowly, it seems this realization is beginning to trickle down to the entirety of the North American scene, as shown in the graph of usage rates over time. Slowly, as the season progressed, the Solemn Vow went from a 3% equip rate to just under 22% by the end, once again after taking out missing data.

We spoke to a handful of top Invite medics to get their thoughts on the weapon.

skeez ( froyotech):

It doesn’t fundamentally change anything and just gives you free info you otherwise wouldn't have had. I guess it helps focus calls a little bit in scrappy teamfights.

LOLGUY ( Ascent):

More fun than ubersaw; too bad no servers actually have it unbanned

b3arodactyl ( MyAnimeList):

I've just been using Ubersaw all season, because Solemn Vow is mad lame, not fun to use, and doesn't add anything interesting to the game. But my team did make me try it out, and it's definitely broken.

The Ubersaw is only ever useful a handful of times throughout the season (although it is a big advantage when it is useful), whereas the Solemn Vow gives information that is helpful in virtually every situation. In an ideal world where ubers are tracked perfectly and focus fires are communicated perfectly, the weapon wouldn't have much use, but in reality it helps teams improve their focus fire almost for free, gives a lot more room for tight advantage pushes, and prevents medics from being punished if they use the information they gain correctly. Pushing off tighter advantages is arguably a more interesting thing for the game, but it works both ways because the enemy medic has the same info and can easily kite. At the end of the day, it removes an interesting skill based mechanic from the game and adds no real value.

cookiejake ( Dorsia):

Head.

It's a pretty useful utility, and I definitely feel like I get more use out of it than the Ubersaw. It's more all around helpful, whereas the Ubersaw is more for occasional clutch potential. But I feel like there’s been a lot of times I’ve been able to call exactly someone's health on the other team and it changes the whole scope of the fight because it gives our soldiers an easy target to bomb or my scout knows he can just pistol down a guy sacking cuz he's really low. Also, you can see the other medic's uber percentage which has actually had me calling my team to push on like a 10% ad, because I knew for sure that we had it. I don’t think it’s too strong, or that it should be re-banned, but it's definitely the best Medic melee option in my opinion.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Solemn Vow. Perhaps its use in North American leads to its emancipation across the world. Perhaps it will be banned again in RGL Season 4. Regardless of what happens, it will be entertaining to read the latest thread arguing about the latest whitelist.

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#1
payload.tf
29 Frags +

Nice article Recurse!

Nice article Recurse!
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#2
54 Frags +

chad skeez vs virgin bear

chad skeez vs virgin bear
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#3
newbie.tf
6 Frags +

I think another big thing to note is how it may not always affect high level play quite as much, but it can make lower level play much faster and focused.

The medic on the newbie team I'm coaching runs it almost always but sometimes switches to ubersaw on desperation holds (or if ppl dont have the right whitelist).

I think another big thing to note is how it may not always affect high level play quite as much, but it can make lower level play much faster and focused.

The medic on the newbie team I'm coaching runs it almost always but sometimes switches to ubersaw on desperation holds (or if ppl dont have the right whitelist).
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#4
-3 Frags +

Cool read. I prefer ubersaw, Even if head might be better in more situations.

Cool read. I prefer ubersaw, Even if head might be better in more situations.
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#5
28 Frags +

I think the main reason it DOES affect high level play a ton is because of the small ad pushes that cookiejake is talking about, there's always going to be differences in how fast the two meds are building and it gives teams a piece of info they almost always wouldn't be able to know otherwise

I think the main reason it DOES affect high level play a ton is because of the small ad pushes that cookiejake is talking about, there's always going to be differences in how fast the two meds are building and it gives teams a piece of info they almost always wouldn't be able to know otherwise
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#6
-1 Frags +

@the small ad pushes

How often do meds even have line of sight on each other when they're holding a point? Like, how are you going to bot your med through a choke that's getting spammed/is trapped to check if the other med has Uber or not? At that point you're already in. I'm not saying it's never going to happen, it's just a once in a blue moon thing in scrappy fights

@the small ad pushes

How often do meds even have line of sight on each other when they're holding a point? Like, how are you going to bot your med through a choke that's getting spammed/is trapped to check if the other med has Uber or not? At that point you're already in. I'm not saying it's never going to happen, it's just a once in a blue moon thing in scrappy fights
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#7
49 Frags +

no, what happens is two teams are dry fighting (like a mid fight or a second push) and it's kind of stalling out and then medic a realizes medic b is at 80% and he's at 95% and he tells his team and they suddenly go forward and catch the other team off guard

I see skeez do this probably 2-3 times a night at least

no, what happens is two teams are dry fighting (like a mid fight or a second push) and it's kind of stalling out and then medic a realizes medic b is at 80% and he's at 95% and he tells his team and they suddenly go forward and catch the other team off guard

I see skeez do this probably 2-3 times a night at least
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#8
8 Frags +
mustardoverlordno, what happens is two teams are dry fighting (like a mid fight or a second push) and it's kind of stalling out and then medic a realizes medic b is at 80% and he's at 95% and he tells his team and they suddenly go forward and catch the other team off guard

I see skeez do this probably 2-3 times a night at least

Fair enough

[quote=mustardoverlord]no, what happens is two teams are dry fighting (like a mid fight or a second push) and it's kind of stalling out and then medic a realizes medic b is at 80% and he's at 95% and he tells his team and they suddenly go forward and catch the other team off guard

I see skeez do this probably 2-3 times a night at least[/quote]

Fair enough
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#9
-19 Frags +

.

.
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#10
94 Frags +
woodchipchad skeez vs virgin bear

https://i.imgur.com/yhNKy76.jpg

[quote=woodchip]chad skeez vs virgin bear[/quote]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/yhNKy76.jpg[/img]
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#11
0 Frags +

is that skeez there on the right

is that skeez there on the right
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#12
9 Frags +

Make Medic Great Again

pronunciation: mmmh-guh

Make Medic Great [s]Again [/s]

pronunciation: mmmh-guh
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#13
2 Frags +

amputator gang

amputator gang
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#14
33 Frags +

Nice idea for an article, but I feel like these numbers and graphs are pretty much useless cause the part where the data is missing or unknown is just too big. For example is the increase in equip rate for the solemn vow because medics couldn't even use the weapon due to the whitelist on the server, were the medics not open to try something different, or maybe the classic 'the other medic is using it so I have to use it as well'.
Most valuable information are the opinions of the medics, and to make fun of someone who has a different opinion than the others is just stupid, cause he's only giving his opinion.

Nice idea for an article, but I feel like these numbers and graphs are pretty much useless cause the part where the data is missing or unknown is just too big. For example is the increase in equip rate for the solemn vow because medics couldn't even use the weapon due to the whitelist on the server, were the medics not open to try something different, or maybe the classic 'the other medic is using it so I have to use it as well'.
Most valuable information are the opinions of the medics, and to make fun of someone who has a different opinion than the others is just stupid, cause he's only giving his opinion.
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#15
3 Frags +

Hed

Hed
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#16
-6 Frags +

I feel like being able to see an enemy's uber percentage tips it from fair to unfair. One midfight my med was using it and nearing the end of the midfight our medic looked at theirs and said that we had 15% ad so we ubered and killed their med before they got.

I feel like being able to see an enemy's uber percentage tips it from fair to unfair. One midfight my med was using it and nearing the end of the midfight our medic looked at theirs and said that we had 15% ad so we ubered and killed their med before they got.
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#17
-1 Frags +

seeing IMRAD on TFTV just makes me so happy, nice article please more science!

seeing IMRAD on TFTV just makes me so happy, nice article please more science!
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#18
13 Frags +

Great article

Being able to see exact uber percentages is powerful as shit. With uber tracking you usually just have to assume the other med is building at the same speed as you, but what if the enemy med wasn't picked up when respawning and missed 5 seconds of building. That can make a juicy difference

also you can bonk people on the head with a head, so it has that going for it too

Great article

Being able to see exact uber percentages is powerful as shit. With uber tracking you usually just have to assume the other med is building at the same speed as you, but what if the enemy med wasn't picked up when respawning and missed 5 seconds of building. That can make a juicy difference

also you can bonk people on the head with a head, so it has that going for it too
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#19
-21 Frags +

Detonator unbanned i say POGGERS

Detonator unbanned i say POGGERS
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#20
8 Frags +

Feels like this will remove some of the surprise element of kritz. Usually you have to go spy or get close enough to the medic to see if it is kritz or uber. Being able to tell what medigun is used and % from across the map makes kritz way less viable.

Feels like this will remove some of the surprise element of kritz. Usually you have to go spy or get close enough to the medic to see if it is kritz or uber. Being able to tell what medigun is used and % from across the map makes kritz way less viable.
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#21
8 Frags +

Yeah lets just deemphasize yet another medic skill and remove more clutch plays. Certainly this will make medic more fun.

Yeah lets just deemphasize yet another medic skill and remove more clutch plays. Certainly this will make medic more fun.
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#22
0 Frags +
Dr_SpamomanFeels like this will remove some of the surprise element of kritz. Usually you have to go spy or get close enough to the medic to see if it is kritz or uber. Being able to tell what medigun is used and % from across the map makes kritz way less viable.

Doesnt renaming the medigun hide what weapon its being used? Spies could tell because the 3D model in the HUD would show the weapon model regardless. But Im pretty sure seeing the ubercharge data in the HUD that you could also see as a spy doesnt tell you the medigun being used, just the custom name.

[quote=Dr_Spamoman]Feels like this will remove some of the surprise element of kritz. Usually you have to go spy or get close enough to the medic to see if it is kritz or uber. Being able to tell what medigun is used and % from across the map makes kritz way less viable.[/quote]

Doesnt renaming the medigun hide what weapon its being used? Spies could tell because the 3D model in the HUD would show the weapon model regardless. But Im pretty sure seeing the ubercharge data in the HUD that you could also see as a spy doesnt tell you the medigun being used, just the custom name.
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#23
29 Frags +

POG now we will surely get our 100k valve major, thanks banny!

POG now we will surely get our 100k valve major, thanks banny!
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#24
0 Frags +

Kritz beam has yellow particles, it's fairly easy to spot. How is it bad if a med heals better and gets uber faster on midfights and they kill the other med? It incentivizes small ad push instead of stalemating on mid and doing roamer sacs for 10 minutes. Same with calling focus fire, you're constantly trying to check everyone's HP instead of just standing there.

KevinIsPwnI think another big thing to note is how it may not always affect high level play quite as much, but it can make lower level play much faster and focused.
Kritz beam has yellow particles, it's fairly easy to spot. How is it bad if a med heals better and gets uber faster on midfights and they kill the other med? It incentivizes small ad push instead of stalemating on mid and doing roamer sacs for 10 minutes. Same with calling focus fire, you're constantly trying to check everyone's HP instead of just standing there.

[quote=KevinIsPwn]I think another big thing to note is how it may not always affect high level play quite as much, but it can make lower level play much faster and focused.[/quote]
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#25
10 Frags +

I never thought a day would come that the Solemn Vow would be unban. I thought it was too OP.
:/

I never thought a day would come that the Solemn Vow would be unban. I thought it was too OP.
:/
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#26
-14 Frags +
sourcecan someone please explain to me how a little marble statue allows you to see an enemy's health, name, and ubercharge percentage?

yeah dude not really realistic fuck this game stupid fucking idiot developers

[quote=source]can someone please explain to me how a little marble statue allows you to see an enemy's health, name, and ubercharge percentage?[/quote]
yeah dude not really realistic fuck this game stupid fucking idiot developers
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#27
-4 Frags +

.

.
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#28
0 Frags +
sourcescratchhsourcecan someone please explain to me how a little marble statue allows you to see an enemy's health, name, and ubercharge percentage?yeah dude not really realistic fuck this game stupid fucking idiot developerssome weapons in this game are wacky in a good way like the sandvich, some weapons are wacky in a bad way, for example the pretty boy's pocket pistol, how does a regular old pistol gain you back 3 hp? most of the weapons in this game make no sense even in the wacky old world of tf2

thank you

[quote=source][quote=scratchh][quote=source]can someone please explain to me how a little marble statue allows you to see an enemy's health, name, and ubercharge percentage?[/quote]
yeah dude not really realistic fuck this game stupid fucking idiot developers[/quote]
some weapons in this game are wacky in a good way like the sandvich, some weapons are wacky in a bad way, for example the pretty boy's pocket pistol, how does a regular old pistol gain you back 3 hp? most of the weapons in this game make no sense even in the wacky old world of tf2[/quote]

thank you
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#29
-12 Frags +

rgl did something.... potentially good? this cant be real

rgl did something.... potentially good? this cant be real
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#30
7 Frags +

I think good meds are still good and bad meds are still bad regardless of the item. More fun that it's easier to chase in fights tbh

I think good meds are still good and bad meds are still bad regardless of the item. More fun that it's easier to chase in fights tbh
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