POV: you’re in a 1v4 clutch with only a Classic. The enemy have Vandals, Spectres, and a Yoru with a Shorty. However, because right-clicking exists, you easily win the 1v4 but are left with a crucial choice that may decide the outcome of the game: do you plant the spike or pick up the Vandal?

This happened to me when I was playing Fracture on the PBE. Here’s the clip in question:

Plant the bomb or pick up the rifle?

Background info

This is round 2 of the second half, where my team is on attack. The outcome of the pistol round is unknown; I don’t press tab so I’m not sure if we won or lost the previous round. This makes it so there are four possible scenarios: winning pistol round and planting, winning pistol round and getting a rifle, losing pistol round and planting, and losing pistol round and getting a rifle.

From watching the clip again, I’m going to make an educated guess: we won the pistol round. My reasoning behind this is that the enemy came into the round with classics and pistols, which indicates a save round. The enemy Sage didn’t buy the Vandal because she was using a Classic for the first kill in the clip, even when the vandal had 23 bullets left (Sage likely walked over the gun without realizing, thus picking it up and not using it). Another indication is me coming into the round with 4 out of 6 ultimate points, which suggests I did well last round and/or planted the spike.

However, some things don’t line up. Where did the Reyna get a Spectre from? Why do I have light shields and a Marshall when I like to force second round with full shields? (Trust me, there are very few things more tilting than hitting someone for 130 on round 2 and they survive because they have full shields.) How did 3 teammates die at tower when we had a gun advantage? Regardless, I’ll also be consider what I should do if we lost the pistol round.

Finally, I’ll be going over a few more important details. I am playing Skye, with one of the most farmable ultimates for its price (planting the spike gives an ult point). I had a Spectre and Sheriff right when the round ended. A Vandal costs 2900, Spectre costs 1600, and planting the spike gives 300 for every team member. The map is Fracture, where the map itself is big but most sightlines are medium range. Now, onto the actual comparisons!

(Writer’s note: maybe I’m overthinking this.)

Scenario 1: winning pistol and planting the spike

First of all, winning the pistol round and the subsequent round means the enemy team gets a loss bonus, so they receive 2400 credits going into the third round. My team gets 3000 for winning and another 300 for the spike plant. I get an ult point, putting my total to 3/6. However, I also go into the round with only a Spectre, with two(?) of my teammates also not being able to buy full rifles (because they invested earlier). This scenario sets us up for a half-buy round, with a good chance of me being able to have Seekers (my ultimate) the round after. I also picked up a sheriff which I can give to someone (although it’s not ideal). Overall, this scenario has a pretty low chance of winning round 3, but sets us up nicely for round 4.

Scenario 2: winning pistol and getting a rifle

Same as above, the enemy team receives 2400 credits going into the third round while my team gets 3000 for winning (no extra 300 for planting this time). My ultimate is at 2/6, making it unlikely to get Seekers by the start of round 4. I have a rifle along with two other teammates, which is slightly better than Scenario 1 with only two rifles total. I think this scenario is better because the initial engagements on Fracture are pretty long range (A halls, A dish, B stairs, B tower). An argument can also be made that having a rifle ensures easier kills, which means I get ult points regardless. Additionally, the 1500 credits (5 players times 300 credits each) is more than the difference between a Spectre and Vandal (2900 - 1600 = 1300 credits). Overall, this scenario has a higher chance of winning round 3, but will be worse going into round 4 if we lose.

Scenario 3: losing pistol and planting the spike

This time, the enemy receives 1900 credits (no loss bonus) and my team gets 3300. This scenario is very similar to Scenario 1, where my ult is at 3/6 and I go into round 3 with a Spectre. Losing pistol would also mean my team didn’t buy the guns, so round 3 would (likely) consist of four rifles and a Spectre from my team. Additionally, the enemy receives 500 less credits than the would have in Scenario 1, but that doesn’t make a difference since they won pistol round and didn’t invest in guns. However, if the Vandal and Spectre were in fact bought by the enemy team, they’d be more broke than a college student at USC (sorry private school tuition heheheh). If my team bought the guns, we’d have a fairly even chance at round 3, while if the enemy team bought the guns, we’d have a very good chance on round 3, likely letting me get Seekers by round 4.

Scenario 4: losing pistol and getting a rifle

Same as above, the enemy receives 1900 credits going into round 3 while my team gets 3000 credits. Assuming that my team didn’t buy the guns (since we lost pistol), this lets us full buy on round 3 against a half-buy or eco, which heavily shifts the round in our favor. It’s also reasonable that I could farm 4 ult points on round 3, since the orb fights are mostly medium-long range and there are 4 orbs scattered across the map. If my team did buy the guns, we’d be at a slight disadvantage just like in Scenario 2, with three rifles and two SMGs versus a full buy from the enemy team. I actually think this scenario is better than Scenario 3 because if my team didn’t buy, we’d have a huge advantage going into the next two rounds with a full buy and (very likely because I’m second fragging) Seekers on round 4.

A confession

Okay, halfway through writing Scenario 2 I realized that the clip paused at just the perfect moment to show the scoreboard: we lost the pistol round, so buying Marshall and light shields makes sense. However, I wanted to write out all scenarios just because I can, and also it’s more fun this way. Also looking back at the scoreboard, I was the only one that bought on round 2, which makes Scenario 4 the optimal play.

What I ended up doing was the optimal play due to a lot of factors: weapon prices, economy in the subsequent two rounds (and previous round), map sightlines, weapon dynamics, agent ultimates, and player skill. Before writing this, I thought that planting the spike would be much better due to the money difference and ultimate point. Regardless, the outcome of the match wasn’t really affected - we won 13-5 or 13-6.

Obligatory relevant xkcd below:

xkcd 1592