Q&A – Would you like eihrul to change the healthboost?

Note: This post contains traces of opinion

Lately there has been discussion amongst the FFA community about changing the Health Boost mechanic. With the current mechanic, it is possible and even common to have games decided by the 5 minute mark due to insurmountable health boost leads. This was the case in the deciding map of last month’s Sauer Duels final, as well as countless other tournaments throughout the years. In addition, because the pickup requires nothing more than for you to touch it and die, and because of its open position on many maps, there is a significant amount of luck that goes into collecting it. The health boost on tumwalk, where you can quickly rush it off of any spawn, is a good example. These two factors seem to many to be anti competitive, as they stifle the potential for comebacks, overweight the significance of the first few minutes, and lead to results being too easily influenced by random chance.


The proposed solution is as follows: HB grants you an immediate +100 hp – the same as picking up 4 normal health pickups – up to your maxhealth. Simultaneously, your max health is increased by 50. However, this only lasts until you die – at that point it resets to the default 100. If you are able to pick up two health boosts in a row without dying, you will have a max health of 200, but any further consecutive health boosts will only grant the +100 hp, with your max health remaining capped at 200 until you are killed.


Here are what some of the players who tested or endorsed this mode said:


<Lokio> currently the HB is more of a frustrating annoyance, and has no relevance to the outcome of the game unless 1 player gets all of them, in which case it almost entirely determines the outcome of the game. with frosty’s changes, players are always incentivized to go for the HB, it actually makes a difference when you do get it, and overall makes the mode more balanced, fun, and skillful

<raffael> after many games on HB test server, I think the HB change would greatly improve the playing experience. Definitely a huge balance to the mode

<Honzik1> It worked good. Game didnt disbalance after any minute. There was still chance to take a lead back. By this way FFA is more about picking and aim than luck.

<Redon> i like that it shifts the focus of the game away from the early game and gives players a chance to come back into the game, it’s just a change that fixes a mechanic that is currently broken in many ways

<Rexus> I would be willing to forego my ffa abstinance if this happened. I quit trying to improve because I would still lose big time to some bad moments always involving HB.And it enrages me more than anything else on this game :p

<lagout> i like this hb so much more than the regular one. it just piss me off so much when some guys spawn and nade jumps on the hb

<notas> The current HB is an infuriating mechanic. There is no reason that your success bum rushing a particular item off the spawn should have such a massive bearing on the outcome of the game 5 minutes later. In the rare instances that a player truly earns their HBs, it only serves to rule out comebacks and make the second half of the game a complete waste of time. The best possible outcome with the current HB is when both players collect an equal amount of them and it ends up completely not mattering.

<Acuerta> it seems like a step in the right direction

 <Frosty> As the admin of the current organization for hosting Sauer tourneys, it’s discouraging for me to try and encourage players to play or watch, but have them refuse to participate or give up in the middle of the game because of the healthboost. It seems that the one player that collects more healthboosts by the 5 minute mark will win the game every single time. I would like to see it have less of an impact on determining the outcome of games, I think this change would make games more interesting to watch until the end, as well as make it more newcomer friendly for weaker players who are learning how to play ffa and have a better chance to win or at least make it competitive.


Connect to sauerduels.me to playtest this mode. If you would like to weigh in on this new proposal for a better HB, you can add a comment or submit your vote on our latest poll.

Sauertracker link for games using tested HB: Link


Do you support the idea of changing the healthboost?

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  1. Alu

    It is possible to create a map where there is no luck taking the HB. a solid accumulation of small advantages throughout the game is something
    the problem is not the HB blame the maps, make new HB, remove the old in the maps where it obviously does not work. replace with the new
    what about ctf, damnation and mbt1 HB?

    1. notas

      You’re right that you can create maps where there is less luck than others, but its extremely difficult. It still doesn’t address the deeper problems. Besides, who is going to create all these new maps?

      Every map in the official sauer duels FFA pool plays fine with this modded health boost, at least according to everyone who’s played them.

      This version of HB would in CTF would simply mean that instead of one team and one player needing to collect every HB to make a difference, one player could collect it, take their teams YA, and make a strong flagrun attempt.

  2. star

    HB mechanics definitely could be revised, but I don’t like your proposal.
    The whole concept of permanent max health is bonkus in a game where you can’t find a single health to replenish propperly. Mappers just fucked this part of the game up.
    Better fix health, too, by setting it’s respawn times down. This way the game gets shifted away from retarded health boost and back to good ol, proven pickup game mechanics.

    1. Frosty

      That’s a fair point, but you should try playing it too and I think you would like it, you’re not taking in account that the boost adds 100+ hp when you pick it up though.

    2. notas

      Have you played this proposal? Because it plays great

      You’re essentially right, but the reason the maps in the current FFA pool stand out is that many of them have more health than your standard sauer pit map. Off the top of my head, nmp8 has at least 7. I think metl4 has more than that. More importantly, this HB mechanic functions as a mega as well as a HB, so if you take it while there’s a lot of health on the map you will be fully overstacked and be able to make use of it. We’ve already seen in playtesting that its not that hard to get up to the full 200 overstack and hold that control if you play your cards right.

  3. notas

    Let me lay out the problems with HB for people to better understand.

    Say you have a perfectly balanced map where HB is completely fair to defend for the player in control. That’s almost impossible because of the lack of knockback and the scale of sauer maps, but lets imagine it anyway. This means that if that player can keep control for a stretch of 3 minutes, or, even easier, manage to have the better stack during just the time when HB comes up for a stretch of 3 minutes, they will have amassed 30 extra damage that the player out of control has to do in order to kill them every time. On a higher scoring FFA map, scores are in the 30s or 40s per player, and the 3rd health boost will come up at the 4 minute mark. If we (unrealistically) imagine that the frags will be evenly distributed throughout, there are still 24 frags remaining to get to a score of 40. For each of those 24 frags, the player will already have to deal an extra 30 damage in order to secure the kill, which adds up to 720 damage, or the equivalent of almost 6 more frags from starting stack. Does a minimum of 6 frag advantage for managing to take a pickup 3 times seem fair? Bear in mind that if the player were to get 4 health boosts, it balloons to almost 8 frags. And bear in mind also that we chose to ignore the extra damage that had to be dealt when the player only had +10 and +20, and also assumed that the player not picking up health boosts was getting any kills at all.

    However, this is too simplified. It effectively ignores map control. In reality, the HB’d player will have the chance to pick up more health boosts, and have the chance to stack back up to their new max health, further increasing the difficulty of killing them. On a lower scoring map, that will happen more often, because players are able to run away and replenish their health. So instead of, or rather in addition to, the primary problem being the cumulative extra damage, the problem is the fact that the more HB’d player has an advantage that can win them each fight, with each fight being much more meaningful, making them more likely to continue controlling the items (including the HB) and put the game even more blatantly out of reach.

    The result is that games are decided by the 4 or 5 minute mark. It is not enough for the player who played worse the first 4 minutes, or who simply had the worse luck, to play slightly better for the second half than his opponent did the first half. They will have to play almost flawlessly to both deal significantly more damage per kill, and get these kills without losing control against an opponent who has an advantage over them, at least until they can (hopefully) equalize the health boost tally. Does this sound fun or reasonable? A PLAYER CAN PLAY THE BETTER GAME OVER THE CUMULATIVE TEN MINUTES BUT THEY WILL LOSE BECAUSE OF THEIR PLAY/LUCK IN THE FIRST 4.

    Remember, all of this was just a thought experiment for a perfectly dependable health boost that could only be won through more talented gameplay. That doesn’t really exist. So you get all these negative effects through a murky combination of skill and luck, further sapping the joy out of FFA.

    As a final thought, consider this duel: https://sauertracker.net/game/623091

    You can also watch it on my stream here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/233190205 at about 1:50:20, if you want.

    This game was played with the new HB mechanic. Looks close, right? But nyamms was up 15-2 near the 5 minute mark after taking the first 3 healthboosts. He could probably have taken the 4th if he had wanted to. There is no way I could have made such a huge comeback against such a talented opponent if he was +30 or +40 max hp after 4/5 minutes. Even though I obviously played extremely well, since i was able to get to 20-19 before he won in the final minute. This kind of exciting comeback is simply not possible with the current HB mechanic. I might as well have ragequit halfway through.

  4. Acuerta

    I’d like to expand on my statement that’s already included in the post.

    it seems like a step in the right direction

    The “step in the right direction” was to implement changes independently. We all know by now that eihrul does not like theoretical suggestions without proper field data and, above all, a consensus among the players.

    The new HB mechanics is not only a step forward, but a 100 percent improvement compared to the the old system.

    Why (does the current HB suck)?
    The 1st HB spawns at 9:00, thus being effective for the remaining 9 minutes (= 540 seconds) of the game.
    The last HB, and this is without factoring in pickup delays (!), is effective for a mere 60 seconds.

    This disparity leaves us with game-deciding healthboosts in the beginning and meaningless crap, or rather idiot-bait, in the end.

  5. h8

    the new mechanic is interesting. theoretically, it seems to make it easier for one player to dominate the game once he gets the first two HB (200 HP) and 1 YA in the first 2 mins of the game. The opponent then has to do 100 extra damage to kill the player which is unlikely if the players of similar skill.

    But given how the stack melts against MG and health bubbles are sparse, it would still be a challenge to hold on to that stack.
    It creates more room for strategy. Notas needs to write another tutorial soon :D

    1. Frosty

      I disagree with that, a player getting the first two or three old boosts is a devastating, almost impossible uphill battle because you have to deal an extra 30 dmg every single life, and possibly more if he can escape with low HP and re-stack.

      Sauer’s guns are deadly enough with the new mechanic that any well-timed sneak attack and smart aggressive play should be enough to take out your temporarily boosted enemy.

      1. star

        that was the point I made above… the whole uphill battle which is impossible. the first one who can get the advantage will keep it. there is just no excitement possible. no comeback, just 10 minutes of pain. one could rather think about reducing ffa time to 5 minutes, so that we don’t have to waste 2x the time.

      2. Frosty

        Then there would definitely be no comebacks because whoever can maintain control for the first couple minutes will win.

    2. notas

      h8 you’re pretty much dead on. With this mechanic there’s a possibility for longer bursts of control, but because of the op weapons and low amount of health you have to really work to make that happen, and there’s always a way back in for the other player.

      1. h8

        well play testing it a bit, I found it hard to hold on to the stack (if I was lucky to get it in the first place). Then again, I only played vs people like nyamms or lokio and that’s quite pointless.

        Secondly, the first HB requires a trade off between the first HB and second YA as they both spawn at the same time, so a player is very unlikely to get both.
        So while one player gets +50 HP, the other gets +200 armour, and if the second player manages to kill the HB taker, the early advantage is completely offset.
        This would not have been the case in the older HB, where the player would get permanent +10 health.

        Finally, making a come back here seems easier. You may need to die a few times to ruin the opponent’s stack but once u manage to kill him, you both begin with the same HP and armour and its a level playing field again.
        So I really want to test this mode with someone more suited to my skill.

  6. An_old_player

    Leave the healthboost the way it is. It’s a shame this game’s dying, and these n00bs think about the healthboost… new generations of silly individuals. >:(

    1. Acuerta

      If you want to give weight to your “argument” (hint: there is none) you should post it under whatever alias you used to use back in the day when Argentinian pros ruled over the “n00bs” in ffa modes (hint: that day didn’t exist).

  7. Aga

    I wish that change the hb and/or any change in game would bring players and clans back to the game. Any change in game is welcomed and expected.


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