What is Wrong with Trivium

I should begin this with a preface. Right now I am shaking; shivering, unable to focus in any way shape or form or really, write much of a coherent review. This is because I am listening to the release (AT LAST OH MY SWEET NOTHINGNESS) of Heathen's long awaited. The Evolution Of Chaos. I will do a writeup about this – and it will be glorious. Suffice to say that right now though, I am the happiest I have been with Heavy Metal in any form for at least five years. I do not exaggerate in any way when I make this statement.

Right, down to business. Why Trivium annoy me and all that relevant information. I feel it is important to indicate that the majority of Critical Extreme Metal music fans don't have as much respect for Metallica as others do as a beginning, in order to give some context to this discussion. This is driven by my sincere belief – and as will be explained throughout this article, that you simply cannot accurately put the stakes through Trivium without firstly targeting Metallica. In this way I hope to establish a more understandable context – one that the reader can easily “fall” into. With this in mind, remember Aa expressed by UltraBoris's Review, Metallica's so called 'greatest' album brought Thrash to its knees, and castrated it mightily.

Without anaesthetic.

Herein begins the first of my problems with Trivium. They have traditionally expressed a connection, if you will; with this era of Metallica. This is the cornerstone of my attempts to establish context with talking about what I perceive as flaws here. They picked an album, a moment to worship, that I firmly believe was the beginning of the end for that era of thrash. So, for a band such as Trivium to attempt to harken to this age of 'metal perfection' and wax nostalgic, isn't a particularly appealing starting point to begin with. It is attempting to copy the imperfect. As anyone with experience in trying to do this any sort of photocopying equipment can inform you, the results are less than satisfactory. If you hold up to a pedestal an album that epitomises the concepts of unoriginality, lack of brilliance, you will struggle to provide any sort of fundamentally enjoyable experience at all. Bland repetition with a lot of 'modern thrash' ala groove aka post-thrash riffing. Copying a “meh” album will only result in mediocrity, and I firmly believe mediocrity is not something the claimed “Saviors of Metal” can be seen to be happy with.

Not only this, but in terms of Metallica worship I express a firm believe that this is something they can't even accomplish with a degree of creative proficiency. When I hear of a band that is critically and commercially acclaimed to high levels, I expect well beyond 'above par', I expect fucking class. Being called the 'Saviors of Metal' is a pretty damned high bar to set (and I'll get to why that is such a unintelligent and blatantly deceiving label later). When people come to me and spout off all sorts of nonsense about Isis's intelligent concept albums and constant musical change, I believe them because Isis backs up the hype in at least some of their work. Isis are pretentious, arrogant and self-assured because they are everything they claim to be. They will melt your brain with albums in the vein of Panopticon and riffs that FLAC was made for. While arrogance is always a dangerous road to go down – even moreso for artists, you have to possess a little to carry power, and authority as musician. That strength, belief and energy must flow throughout your work.

If you're going to embody all that is good and pure about the metal movement and be the next 'Metallica', (presuming that Heafy meant Metallica as in the Metallica before they went downhill in reference to everything Thrash stands for), I do not think it is unreasonable as an avid music listener to go "well, that's a big statement, I need something to back that up". However, I would argue not only does Trivium fail to meet these (supposedly) exceptionally high standards, but they fall well below anything acceptable in their quest to be acknowledge as a standout metal band. And I hold any such claimaint to high standards – as I believe I should and anyone else that wants to be critical of music. And fundamentally, many of Trivium's riffs, rythmns and soloing styles are exceptionally similar to more-critically-acclaimed 80's thrash albums. There is something very wrong about a “standout” band that uses such derivative material.

Trivium has received a fair amount of criticism for perceived similarities to Metallica among with many other thrash bands, so I feel this attack upon them is not a problem of my own imagining. I quite enjoy some of the opinis raised Here And Here. This band receive a great deal more hostility not only because of their reputation as 'saviours of metal', but also because of Heafy's rather amusing Metallica worship and his attempts to bring back a 'golden age'. Many people I have met are amused at this reference to bringing back a golden age of metal, and as what golden age? Once again, when you speak with authority (or attempt to) about the music you “love” and produce, you must show a level of understanding, passion, interest. Yes, the era of Pleasure to Kill/Darkness Descends/Reign in Blood was important for Thrash Metal and defining the sound and yes, Master of Puppets also put Thrash Metal out into the public consciousness. Nevertheless, there was a consistent movement of underground thrash that was always present and many mainstream bands. Heathen, Blind Illusion, Witchery, Aspid ... there was such an incredible breadth of good thrash material it's impossible to pin down a true 'golden age'. Furthermore, since the Trivium legacy seems to ignore that many progenitors of this “Golden Age” (The Big Four spring to mind) were also responsible for much of the commercially driven destruction of such an era. If you acknowledge the successes of your heroes – acknowledge the failures.

Beyond any historical revisionism associated with “Golden Ages” however, there is one rather large elephant hiding amongst us that must be confronted with this term. Why are we even attempting to talk about a golden age? Thrash metal has not ingratiated itself into the human consciousness with the fastidiousness of the Roman Empire, nor has thrash “died” or evolved into something recognisable (as the Golden Age of Arcade Games came to be labelled). This notion of trying to create a “Golden Age” of thrash is the phrase from people who think as Trivium do that concerns me the most. It sounds rather like creating a market – a commercial market; one created by those who seek to profit from it the most. The last time I checked the “Golden Age” was a term used by historians – or at least psuedo-historians. You will have to excuse me when I guffaw at the thought that Trivium can be called either. So not only do have a divisive label that attempts to highlight an era that may have doomed the original incarnation of thrash; it's being done by a series of idiots. All Trivium are attempting to do is resurrect an overrated era and champion themselves as paladins of a cause that is all image.

If you want to harken back to the past, take the style and reapply it to the future with modern production, ethos and attitude. Trivium has some genuine instrumental talent, yet all they make is albums that feature Detonation ala "another Testament song", or Anthemn, packing a scarily Iron Maidenesque chorus. Lyrics such as "and In arms we'll turn way/From there ways/We'll live like no other/Together we're hope" don't inspire confidence either. This approach simply does not work with Thrash Metal. It's the opposite of it's father, Sir HardcorePunktheThird and as such, there's an element of cynicism in there. By simply existing as a genre of primarily inaccessible material, Thrash embraces the hardcore punk philosophies. All the wannabes and the pretending are torn away by the speed and the purity of purpose. That's why when a great many Thrash bands lose it, they never get it back. That is why Trivium never had it in the first place. You cannot try and save a genre that would not have cared about Salvation in the first place – nor can you do such a thing by ignoring all the flaws of the previous incarnations. There is a reason Teddy was just as significant as his brother Kennedys. While the others were held up as marble statutes that never aged or showed flaw, he was the opposite.

To summarise.

1. Trivium are doing it wrong.
2. Even if Trivium are doing it right, they're making a copy of an imperfection anyway.
3. Imperfect Copy of an imperfect copy = clusterfuck

It's impossible, thanks to the internet for any cultural paradigm to stop the growth of a good, honest attitude to making music anymore. There's no excuse for being content with average bands. There is absolutely no excuse for any one of you reading this blog, any music-lover (with access to the internet mind you) to put up with music that only half captures them in rapture.. Sure, there's a lot more crap, but that's more to do with distribution anyway, which is easily ignored. Bands such as Trivium and BFMV become the springboard into later Slayer, which then goes into South of Heaven Slayer, and then all sorts of obscure nuttiness in both modern and past eras like Cyclone Temple and Gullitone, Heathen, Aspid and Watchtower etc. For the sake of your own musical appreciation, you cannot afford to buy into 'Golden Age of metal', else you're being lead around as much as the next average consumer. The Golden Age of Metal is (according to magazines such as Kerrang) right now, and I don't doubt that in five years from now, that'll be the Golden Age of Metal. The internet finally gives the medium to add more range and breadth to reach people than ever before. Modern Music listeners can to rediscover what they missed and realise that Trivium are not all they claim to be.

The 'saviors of metal' aren't some overrated half-thrash band such as Trivium, which pander to commercialist magazines and continue to publish shoddy Metallica worship Hell, they're not even absolute thrash legends such as Watchtower, Cyclone Temple, Exodus, the big four, Witchery, or Artillery. I don't even believe in such a phrase - only that people who love the music are the ones prepared to support these bands and keep one of the most diverse genres in the world afloat as it's basis continues to expand and grow. The same people who demanded a better melodeath album, so Unmoored went and made songs such as 'Phase of Revulsion', with groove-metal surrounded by an amazing clean vocalised mid-break. The same listeners who supported the excesses of the Avant-Garde-Metal band Kekal, who took the hardcore-punk of Indonesia's anger at the excess of the suharto regime, and added an intellectual touch to the drudgery in Jakarta every day. The same absolutely nutty fuckers who turn up at Unexpect shows every time they tour. The people who demand more. Always more. The chorus of demands for 'more' that broke some of the greatest bands in the world. The 'more' demand that slayed rockstars and ushered in new eras of musical development.

Which also means that the people with the ability to keep this silliness up is

= You.

When a band you love releases an album you thought wasn't everything it could be, let them have it. Always demand more, otherwise they'll be content to push out the same material every year for your dainty little ears. Get crushed by Drone Doom in between your thrash listening, even if you hate it. I'll teach you exactly what a breakdown in modern thrash should be like in terms of making your ears bleed, in pure sonic assault – abusing your ears. Get out and listen to a jam with a free-jazz outfit for a few hours, if only to know what chaos (and hence, techthrash/techdeath) should try to emulate.

Every moment people spend trying to convince me Trivium aren't as bad as their detractors say they are, you're only proving my point that you could instead, be listening to something that is indescribably awesome and stuns far more proponents of the genre.

And if you actually think Trivium are the best music in the world ever, more power to you.

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Why I do not give a damn about Dawn of War II.

Right, I suppose this entry has been a long time coming. This topic - this game, is something that still evidently seems to mean a lot to people with whom I maintain strong links in the Dawn of War community. I've tried to put this one off for months and the reason will be explained in the evaluation I give of the game - that being I find it rather unworthy of attention. However recently a number of people have been very insistent that I write it ... so as much as I don't want to spend time on DoW II, I do want to stop people harassing me about it. With this in consideration, I suppose I should write a small primer on why I believe I am qualified to talk about this and why I feel I less biased than most.

Since Dawn of War I've moved onto other competitive games- I still play Starcraft on ICCUP and have a fairly decent account there (no, I will not list the name or rank other than to say it's above B. Go away.) and that I have been playing Team Fortress 2, spending the last 3-5 months in top five clans in Australia. I'm over Dawn of War - in fact, I've un-installed all of them, the original games. I'll summarise the major problems with the game briefly. many a top tier competitive player - or even a lesser skilled person often moaned about the balance. It was consistently highlighted as one of the most disgusting examples of balancing ignorance available, and while this analysis has some truth to it, these were not the core problems. Those fundamentally wrong mechanics which undermined the original Dawn Of War came down to three succinct problems. Those are ... 1. Not Listening. 2. Not Learning. 3. Slow updates with the core of the community.

The not listening one is important to address- part of this is linked to balance concerns. This comes down less to the subjective nature of balance however and more due to the ignorance of warnings. Let me use the original IG as an example - time and time again the top IG players who did not use broken units expressed their opinion gutting the bugs would gut the race. These concerns were ignored completely. This is not to say that that viewpoint was correct - merely that the ignorance of that viewpoint was complete and total. Not listening also comes into the repeated statements by the Dawn of War community that bugs had to be picked up early and often - and the worst dealt with ASAP. The frustration expressed by custom banners for Necrons and Tau being accomplished by a modder when Relic could not even spare the time to type out a "get buggered, okay?" response.. Not over a six month period in which an entire addon pack's competitive community is systematically annihilated. Fundamentally there's Not listening to balance arguments and not listening to balance issues - you need to cover the latter at least, which was never done. That's on top of the many changed gameplay mechanics.

Once you understand this core complaint then not learning and slow communication with the community pretty much fall into place - they really are after all only derivations from the first one. It is after all why I see this statement flying around that Buggo felt DowPro was a more appropriate way to go about balancing and restructuring gameplay in Dawn Of War. . The process was more open, more responsive and less opaque - which makes the community feel like things are actually getting through.. The debacle of absolutely no support for Soulstorm (nicely expressed in this thread here) was what made me quit the game for good, despite being a top player in both Dowpro and Dow. There really did feel like there was nothing to play with or have faith in.. I really just felt as if the game was dead to me - and not believing in making a fuss, I quietly decided to bow out.

I'm not going to get drawn into the Dawn of War Pro versus Dawn of War Arguments either - I lost all interest in that a long time ago, even if Korbah is a man I'd stretch out my hand to assist even now. These things are really beyond me - but I felt it's important to establish what were felt as the primary concerns by the community in the Dawn Of War era. I understand and acknowledge that posters such as my finnish compadre Slow Runner and company raised a number of fair counterpoints which address a lot of the specific issues - and of course, that there is emotion on both sides. However, the impression given to the community was a strong one - and while the efforts of that side of the community to clarify Relic was nowhere as bad as the worst of the detractors claimed, it was still a pretty sub-par effort, regardless of circumstances.

Essentially what we had was a PR disaster for the core competitive community and many users on the wayside. Something un-fulfilling which caused many to bow out - Larkin, a chief example.

And that now brings us onto Dawn Of War II.


So, shall we go through the discussion on those three criteria? Not Listening. Well ... and I had to tread into the l waters of balance again, but Relic have arguably gone backwards in this direction. Now ... some might argue that given a new game, problems might arise and the balance might not be that much improved - fair point. But getting worse? Well, one thing you have to remember when we talk about Dawn Of War II balancing is that the game occurs on a smaller scale. That is to say less units, less unit mixes, less problems associated with "weight of units". This covers a broad area of topics from critical mass, to irrelevant/overlapping unit roles . All of these should be easier to balance in DoW II's system, but they are not. We have trimmed down the game's scale with the only benefit being simplification. Games by numbers. If this was going to mean something beneficial for for the game - a successful bloody effort would have been made. When you make your central game mechanics something which is fundamentally easier to balance and then botch a job of balancing it even worse than your original dubiously balanced game ... what does that say about the care you put in your work?

But they are not. The smaller-scale does not translate into balancing improvements or less useless units. Both were complained about in Dow. Neither improved despite the easier to manage mechanic. Relic did not listen to the complaints of Dow 1 - and if they did, they did not learn, and improve them. No Listening. No learning. More contact though - and this is quite scary. As Jaimas has expressed, DOW2 has received considerable support. It has received more effort than WA and DC and SS combined - but that its balance is still this bad in spite of this. This to me implies that Relic is not listening - so while they have improved on three, two and one are worse.. And this to me is boring. Community-placation by numbers, pure lip service. Yes they've "tried" more, but that "trying" which is supposed to be improved through "past experience" has gone backwards. Also known as "nobody really cares, throw them a bone to quiet down". Or tl;dr reric still maek bug. Reric maek bug a rot.

In truth, Dawn of War II - through it's failure to achieve one and two, feels to me like a passionless game. This arises in the "sincere" efforts to make Dawn of War II easier for the casual gamer or more like CoH II which either lapse into buggy idiocy (ie, they make the game harder to play because of their schizophrenic tendencies) or seem to run counter-intuitive to their original purpose (ie, they are supplied with so little tool tip documentation/relevance that it seems they want you not seeking to use your units better). Retreat mechanics, the auto-cover-seeking, from the stance system, Marine Heavy/Special weapons, "Oh crap what did that Carnifex have on it?" Syndrome, the list is quite endless. This is on top of the "well they were supposed to be improvements" (aka WA/DC/SS path-finding sydnrome) ... I could carry on for a while, and I don't even play the game - but I do know that there are balance issues that have been around since Beta Reric has still not deigned to address.

Pair this with an engine that is supposed to be created after CoH but has less effect on the environment, inferior AI to CoH, inferior pathfinding to CoH, etcetera. we have here an engine with far, far more possibility than CoH ever had - yet so little has been irked out of it. This surprises me because it seems to be both a contradiction of the bold claims of the pre-release advertising and a fundamental betrayal of potential and possibility. With such a seemingly powerful and multifaceted tool, isn't it a simple matter of pride to make as much use of the engine itself as possible? From my perspective there's simply no excuse not to make maximum use of the engine - yet the standard is so far below CoH it boggles me. Relic continue to insist this is a viable competitive title, they continue to exist everything will be fixed - and I don't believe many people honestly believe them any more. When you have such a powerful tool as this new engine ... to make so little effective use of it; when you have so many more resources than your previous failed exploits ... yet cannot hit a home-run, this all drives that central motif that I see present in this little enterprise.

Dow II is completely passionless.

Yeah, I said it.

And I know that is a big call to make. It is one of the greatest insults you can put into a developer. People make games they hate. People make games they are proud of. And when a company makes a game that relies on add-on packs to fix the game; when they essentially force consumers to spend cash so their previous purchases remain "fixed" and "viable", that speaks to me plenty. I see a company that likes their cash cows feeding in happy abandon, and does not care about the maintenance of their products nearly as much as they claim. Do I expect Relic to really care all that much about support? Christ no, in no way at all. Reric are a company - their first loyalty is to making money and I've got absolutely no problem with that. It's a good policy to have and they wouldn't be making more games (I'm looking foward to HW3) if they did not put their profits first. However, to try and claim that they do care when their conduct thus far suggests otherwise strikes me as rather dishonest. Community placation. Game-selling by numbers. Keeping people happy without telling the truth. Same old, same old. Perhaps Relic got worse at number 3 after all - at least the lack of "get fucked" in the original Dawn Of War was seen as a clear message in itself.

I suppose that's the sad thing. Dawn of War II seemed to have a lot of potential - and this is coming from someone as jaded as me, who still firmly believes Starcraft II will not only be underwhelming, but also fairly average. It did not make the most of that potential and in doing so, has pissed a lot of people off. Sadly I've seen a lot of Relicnews posters and official forums posters - surely there's many others too, who try and write some critics who have been critics from the start off as fair-weather friends, people who only rage at this new game because they hate Relic. I think this is quite unfair and I still believe a lot of those "haters" love this series and love Relic.

This is the reason why it pains them even more to see that potential wasted - why they reach for their keys and rage just that bit harder, in a way that many don't have the ability in words to accurately expressed. They complain, they whine, they lose support. But to write them off as passionless relic-hating internet e-thugs is unfair. I'm not putting forth some internet conspiracy here that relic is running a counter pr campaign, I just feel I'm pointing out the obvious. They are clearly pissed the fuck off about something - it takes in so many situations, a firm belief that something is wasted potential to hate it. Dawn Of War II has done the impossible. I don't consider it as bad as Dawn Of War I, that much is true. However, I really don't care about the game at all. It may be in the vein of Gordon Ramsay to state this with authority but I consider the entire game series long gone, long lost. Congratulations Relic. You have managed to in the eyes of the original crowd, make Dawn Of War II irrelevant. Does that tickle your fancy or even make you care? I doubt it. But let me assure you about this.

I actually care just that little bit more about this game now - just enough to get the hell away from it. Fundamentally, that is because I have been forced again, by anger fans who hate the game to rethink how this series is viewed through my own perception, just to shut them the hell up.


Wolfmother have always been an enigma to me, because I have never really seen them as anything worthwhile listening to - I think they're not a particularly notable band at all. There's none of the 70's sparkle and energy of Blue Cheer (which I personally feel they are closest to) and much of the passion and "energy" modern fans associate with them is not present to me. A perfect example is The Joker And The Thief - where is the passion? It's loud, it's proud, it's angry ... and it's inarticulate and boring. And by passion I reference evident angst and energy; along the vein of MC5 some connect them to or the classics like Zeppelin. The lyrics of their previous works may attempt to be whimsical in a psychedelic style but the music does not support the premise - a poor man's Steppenwolf or Kyuss, with no willingness to push the envelope. I felt precious little passion in the writing of their Self-titled début, that this lack of “care” for the structure of the songs themselves undermined the “energy” of their presentation. . With this context established Cosmic Egg was another album I expected to be a fundamental disappointment – and I was not surprised in any way. It has some definite promise in areas but is again ruined by a lack of willingness on Wolfmother’s part to challenge themselves as artists, and generally disappointing song writing that makes many of these “epic” tunes overstay even the Grecian choir’s welcome.

I read a lot of reviews and opinions on Cosmic Egg, the same returns resonate with me. It is a consistent litany of music critics trying vainly to reach for their musical past and ending up as confused as the band. I see lines like "Wolfmother still parties like it's backstage at a Uriah Heep show", "like one of those crazy Black Sabbath stories" and "powerful and poignant rock n' roll record with all the ingredients of a modern classic" and I fume inside. This has to stop. This has to stop now. It is not good, it is not standout, it is not exceptional when a band is merely like someone else. If you want to make Rock and Roll - (and I would dispute that they actually do), it is not sufficient to be like. That's not conviction or passion - that's confusion. If someone becomes typecast by how they compare to other bands rather than having metaphors applied to them. It may be something of a trope-ridden line; but Wolfmother need to push themselves into a new direction and extend on what they are throwing homage to. I'm not expecting them to invent a new direction, they just need to actually step out of the comfort zone and write something non-derivative, to take risks. When you make a great album, you make it one of two ways. The first is you make it original and new and fresh - and that means people describe it in metaphor. This is not metaphor, and the album remains about as far away from a Modern Rock Classic as Australian music can conceivably arrive..

And that leaves only one other way for this to be brilliant - the "Persuader" Direction, to make a truly amazing album that embraces it’s own influences entirely instead of ending up stranded between the middle ground. Wolfmother however fail even at this. The music is unfocused, the solos don't feel like they have any power - and bereft of context, Andrew Stockdale's voice is just annoying New Moon Rising's hooks don't sound infectious at all, Sundial has none of the atmosphere that makes those "Crazy Black Sabbath Stories" so powerful (nor does it have iommi's sheer power). Pilgrim's and Sundial feature none of the "unforgettable" riffs I was told to expect - rather they feel pretty underwhelming given the standard set. When I hear "unforgettable" I think something powerful, convincingly - possessing an almost unnatural energy akin to Sabbath's Symptom of the Universe, not overlong pieces of 1970 worship. In one of the truly quite transcendent victories on the album - In the Morning, songwriting undermines concept. It remains huge, aggressive, wielding a monster tune and hitting the right spots - until the band refuses to end the bloody song. Queue a good concept ruined by overstaying the welcome and you have another audible sigh echoing from this critic's consciousness . The bass is not killer - it's about as effective as an Irish injury, it works against the music. Unlike bands that try and really wholeheartedly embrace their influences and rework that into something new, sharp, cutting and passionate - they stumble around.

If you want to re imagine a 70's style that was so iconic, important and varied (especially psychedelic) you have to have a clarity of purpose - because you must stand out from the contemporaries and those that came before you. A good example is the Gaslight Anthem - They are simple, They are (not just sound) sincere, and they kill you every time. Wolfmother are never this consistently enough. They do have some pretty damn good moments - all of the things above that I criticised are actually quite solid, they just needed to be taken further. A definite gap exists between what they seem to be capable of at their peaks and what is presented in LP form. As mentioned previously with the example of In the Morning - most of their music feels over-long and yet too short. Personally, I’m operating under the feeling they try to accomplish too much in a four minute song (hello Sundial, I’m looking at your attempt at an epic-yet-concise “story”) and that makes the whole experience end so soon - yet sound so dense. Amidst this bipolar dichotomy of a song attempting to accomplish too much in space too little, I’m struck with the feeling the subtlety that could give Cosmic Egg real power is completely eclipsed. Violence of the Sun is actually excellent and a real savior for the labum- but they just consistently fail to push the envelope. They get a 7/10 and have never improved that score - if anything losing Chris Ross brings them down a .5.

They're a bunch of confused Australians honestly misguided enough to say they quit because of "irreconcilable personal and musical differences". Nobody should ever claim such legalese when they clearly sound like they don't even know what they want to be playing, let alone what they disagree on. For the love of god, people are calling Cosmic Egg VINTAGE Wolfmother. Vintage. VINTAGE. What the hell? As if their records mean something already in the grand scale of contemporary music. How long is it going to take before someone else other than me stands the bloody hell up and shouts it to the crowd that the emperor has no clothes? We obsess over Wolfmother, Ben Lee, we ignore Architecture In Helsinki, Machine Translations, Virgin Black and drove Destroyer 666 away? Now with the Return of Wolfmother we are prepared to let them get away with this twice.

Goddamnit. Australia.



PS:. To those who still enjoy a very opinionated and passionate 1970's era punk styling, actually grab yourself both albums by the American Quartet The Gaslight Anthem, those being Sink or Swim and The 59 Sound. I doubt you will regret it. They even managed to make PitchforkMedia's reviewers sound like human beings again. Truly something special.

Next up who knows? Maybe Nickelback (Grizzlies).

First steps.

This entry attempts to be as close to a fundamental entry point to competitive team fortress 2 as possible for new players - although not an enormously extensive write-up. Okay, the first - and easily point of greatest important with any kind of pursuit, is you need to have a clear idea of how far you want to go and what you want to acheive. If you intend to get to the very top, have that clearly established - and if you are less sure, then acknowledge that fully. Having a clear idea of what you want to do - or what you aren't very clear about at all, is always helpful in the beginning.

I know a lot of people who are attempting to get into competitive tf2 are familar with this article on gotfrag or this link , and for the most part it provides a simple, easily understood guideline to the beginning of tf2. There's nothing entirely specific here - but it gives you a semi set idea of what competitive tf2 is going to look like, and the tools required to get involved. Read these - understand them, and understand their limitations because that is a concept I'll get back to later. Understanding limitations and being able to draw your own experiences and conclusions from in game is everything. Furthermore, there are a lot of people in this game who will state "I want help" when in truth, this isn't true. Try and be as honest with yourself as possible - on a personal level most competitive players I know don't mind if a person is happy where they are, but if you act with arrogance above your station - don't expect much assistance, or to really achieve anything. Be honest with yourself, your team, and your community.

I know a lot of other people like to preface these kinds of discussions with personal anecdotes about how they "got good" and the tools or skillsets involve. You will experience testimonials when you play this game - that some players play this game relentlessly and tirelessly, putting in raw hours of any form of the game. Some scouts will duel nonstop or practice in ammomod servers, and you will encounter demomen who get tr_rocket_shooting out for an hour each day to familiarise themselves. There's a lot I can talk about with respect to pickups, bball, aim training and all those other concepts - it's something you can debate the finer points on for hours. But I won't - the tl;dr is this simple.

Try them all, and if it works for you, then do it. Personally, I find any kind of activity (Duels/Bball/Pickups/Scrims) to be helpful for my soldier - but I have to be constantly pushed and extended, playing against superior opponents or opponents who are equally motivated if I want it to hold my interest. However, it will be different for you - as it is different for everyone, so find what you enjoy and what provides your comfort zone. My opinion on this also extends to whatever little configuration changes you want to make - invisible models, different weapon viewmodel field of views (although for the love of god, please use fov_desired 90). Here's a competitive config of sorts if you want to take a look at how they might be set up.

Now, for links and concepts that can actually be universally useful.

Demo files - these are critical. Both Personal/Point of View Demo files, as well as those of sourcetv, these are excellent tools. It's a lot harder to gloss over your mistakes - or a team's mistakes, when evidence is presented to you, and they can be purely entertaining to watch as well.

If you have a server, there are autorecording tools for sourcetv files out there - I'll leave you to chase that down. As for recording your own Personal point of veiws - this requires diligence. Or being lazy and clicking around on this link. Make sure you watch those.

Firstly I will start with the ESEA - EsportsEA website. This is a league which uses their own servers to provide sourcetv files of every single game played for their leagues. As ESEA happens to have the invite level competition - which is more or less the top tier american teams, there's always opportunity here to pick up

http://esportsea.com/index.php?s=league&d=standings&division_id=1365 - Record of Past Invite level EsportsEA american games.

http://esportsea.com/index.php?s=league&d=standings&division_id=1364 - Same as above but for Open.

http://esportsea.com/index.php?s=league&d=schedule&date=&game_id=43&division_level=all - Schedule for the upcoming games in EsportsEA league.

Unfortunately a lot of the past files aren't availible for loading/get broken every update, but you should check these religiously.

www.etf2l.org - European TF2's main league. Can be difficult to track down demo files worth watching here - but generally viewing the "Tables" and looking at all the division one matches is a place to start.

vanillatf2.org- This is the place for European TF2 at the high level, and thus links to all those sourcetv files. There's a handy little matchticker, and over time you will familiarise yourself with who is worth watching.

I may update this with more links as necessary or provided.

last edited - 24/6/2010 ;; fixed some links, improved clarity.


Possibly a strange place to put blog entries, I know. Perhaps people expected me to use a livejournal or something similar.

Nevertheless, I digress. I will probably use this as a primary blog from now on - links on methods to reach me are provided, since I have had correspondence on those matters before. There may be some relevant video gaming (mostly Team Fortress 2 at the moment) related links posted to games, etcetera. Ultimately the purpose behind this is to give a little insight into my thoughts on tf2, even if they are not coming from a particularly fantastic standpoint. This means that I will attempt to write a few articles - provide a few links, cover all my bases if possible.

I may also post other thoughts here, perhaps. Anyway, I suppose it is irrelevant for now.
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