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Team Fortress 2: Economy Guide
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This document is less a comprehensive buying/selling guide and more a quick
read for the uninitiated on the fine points of the Team Fortress 2 trading
economy. In it I will explain how trading works, how the various currencies
and item types came about, where it all came from, what the economic picture
is, and so forth.

This guide will reference the Team Fortress 2 economy as of late September
2012, with references often made, in the context of economic changes, to the
same economy circa August-October 2011.

For a (relatively) detailed analysis of the Team Fortress 2 economic model, and
a bit of insight into why it works so well, see the following breakdown by an
actual academic economist: http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/economics/arbitrage-
and-equilibrium-in-the-team-fortress-2-economy/

Table of Contents                                                           -1-
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=1=  History of the TF2 Economy
=2=  Economic Principles
=3=  Crafting
=4=  Item Drops
=5=  Currency
=6=  Crates
=7=  Vintages
=8=  Stranges and Strange Parts
=9=  Tools
=10= Genuines
=11= Value Modifiers
=12= Unusuals
=13= Duping and Support Exploit
=14= Other Qualities
=15= High-Value List
=16= Trading with Real-World Money
=17= Useful Sites
=18= Glossary

History of the TF2 Economy                                                 =1=
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Believe it or not, there was a time when Team Fortress 2 didn't have the
extensive economy it does today. Upon release in 2007, TF2 featured a small
number of maps, a few stock weapons, and gratuitous cartoon violence - but
little else. In the five years since its release in The Orange Box, TF2 has
remained alive and well, outliving pretty much every other fps on the market;
ironic given its checkered development history and once oft-cited status as
vaporware!

Fast forward to Septmeber 2010. Successive updates have introduced a small
armory of new weapons, the item crafting system, hats, and other such nicities.
But it's been three years now, and the game is turning into a money sink for
Valve. Enter their clever solution: the Mann-Conomy Update. This update, which
hit platforms on September 30, revolutionized the game, and is a major part of
why the game is still so active, even today. To help get the money rolling
again, Valve introduced the Mann Co. Store, where people can spend real word
money to earn pixilated bling; to encourage trading and valuation of goods,
they introduced trading, allowing people to swap items with one another. Among
a plethora of new hats and weapons, two new qualities were introduced: Vintage,
associated with items crafted before the update hit, and Unusual, an ultra-rare
class of highly desirable particle effect hats. Paint also made its debut, and
Valve started making money again overnight.

Today, the game is still going strong, Valve's pockets flush with profits from
items bought in its virtual store (most especially, keys). December 2010
marked the landing of the Festive Winter Crate, the first of many such event
crates to come. In February 2011, the Genuine quality was introduced,
associated with pre-order promotions; in June 2011 cames Stranges, weapons that
counted their kills. August 2011 added several new unusual effects.

In October 2011, as a one-year anniversary event, a large sale and many new
items were introduced. This particular event caused a real ruckus on the
market. In the past, items bought from the store were untradable and
uncraftable; the update removed both of these restrictions. Alongside the price
cuts in the store, this almost overnight endangered the entire economy, driving
down prices on several previously expensive items through the floor and making
it extremely cheap to craft new hats using 49 cent store items. Amid massive
complaints, Steam retroactively applied Uncraftable tags to items bought during
the event, preventing the crafting exploit and normalizing the market again by
making store-bought items naturally inferior ("dirty" as they have come to be
called today).

Later in October, Valve added a number of new, Holloween-themed unusual
effects. In March 2012, Strange Parts debuted. In June 2012, Valve issued the
real-life Ballonicorn, a plushie that came with an in-game Genuine version that
came to be worth big bucks (and was the first of what will probably be a number
of such items). I'm skipping over some things, but these are the most important
events in trading history.

Economic Principles                                                         =2=
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It's impossible to talk about an economic system as large as Team Fortress 2's
without first understanding how economics works, exactly. If you already have
a grounding in this, skip this short section.

Team Fortress 2 has a barter system: you exchange certain items for other
items. Some items, considered to have an inert value, high use, and limited
number, have come to be used as currency. Nonetheless, prices are still
basically determined by the laws of supply (how many are available) and demand
(how badly the item is desired). If you posess a low-key item, but there is an
extremely small number of them, its value will be driven up by its rarity
(example: Genuine Maul). On the inverse, if you have a very common item, and it
isn't really desired either, it will be worth very little (example: most
Holloween items). The relative levels of these determine the item's price.

Let's look at the economic history of, say, a hat released in a crate. At first
it's value will be precariously high, because it's extremely new, fashionable,
and no one has one yet. Within a few days of crate-opening, however, its price
will start to plummet, driven down by the large number of people that think as
you did, and opened crates and got hats of their own, until it bottoms out a
week to two weeks after release. Once the crate is taken off the item drops,
however, the hat will slowly start to rebound in value again, until stabalizing
at a slowly decaying value once it starts appearing in significant numbers in
item drops and crafts.

Now let's talk about bubbles. TF2 naturally feeds bubbles. An item's value is
rising, and people take notice. They think "well, if I buy it now and sell it
later, I'll make money", so they do that - in bulk. The decreased number on
sale and increased demand combine the balloon the price to an artificially
high value, up until the point where people realize, wait, what are we doing;
then the price falls dramatically: the bubble pops. It happens in the real
world, and it happens even more often in the layman-covered TF2 economy (real
stock traders avoid bubbles). In the past this has happened to the Max Head
(from 4 to 2 buds) and the Genuine Maul (from a bud to 7 to 8 keys), for
instance, along with a number of other, generally more minor, items.

Finally, note that the highest-value version of an item usually sells for
significantly more than those below, driven up by desire to have "the very
best"; for instance, many people agree that Team Spirit looks better on most
hats then white or black does, but white or black is still worth significantly
more, partially because it's more limited and partially because it is the most
expensive paint available, inflating its own value.

Crafting                                                                    =3=
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Before we can start talking about trading, we must discuss the earlier system
of crafting. Crafting allows you to create certain weapons and hats using
certain item combinations, or to melt down weapons to make metal: the basic
unit of the Team Fortress 2 economy. You can make a single scrap metal by
melting down two items from the same class. That scrap metal can, in turn, be
turned into a reclaimed metal when fused with two other scrap metals; and the
resultant reclaimed can be made into a refined metal, the highest grade, by
repeating the process.

To simplify talking about metal amounts, we use shorthand notation that sets
each refined to a value of 1. A regular weapon, then has a value of .5; a
scrap, .11; a reclaimed, .33; and a refined, 1. You can denotate any amount of
metal in between in this convenient way, so instead of saying "two refined,
two reclaimed, and a scrap" you can just say "2.77". Metal is the base
currency in the game, and can be used to buy anything from weapons to low-end
unusuals. However, once you get to the highest price levels, it becomes too
clunky and low-value to be useful, necessitating alternative currencies - to
be discussed elsewhere.

The reason crafting is important is because it's what the values of the hats
work off of. Given three refined, you can craft a random hat. Since there's a
lot of crafting going on, and a limited market, logically, the value of most
hats will settle below the three refined watermark. Crafted hats do, however,
have a tag associated with them, giving them a number based on how far you are
from the first person to craft it (low craft numbers generate serious value, to
be discussed later in this guide) and naming you, the crafter, as its
originator, which is always a little more impressive when you're wearing it,
but a little less when someone else is (although the number and crafter CAN be
wiped, some people are still prickly about it). Additionally, some specific
set hats can be crafted from four refined and an associated weapon, but that's
less of a concern.

From here on, values will most often be refered to in metal shorthand. For
reference, most hats are worth 2 or less refined on the market.

Item Drops                                                                  =4=
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The second major secondary component of the TF2 economy is item drops. At
intervals, while playing the game, Team Fortress 2 will randomly award you an
item drop. There was a lot of contreversy with the system in the past, and even
a halo hat that was given out to players who didn't cheat the system early on,
but that's outside the context of this guide, and besides, the system that's
there now works just fine.

Basically, every Thursday Valve rolls how many weapons you will get this week,
and then, given you play the necessary amount of hours, furfills them. It's not
uncommon to see idling players and servers, where people run TF2 in the
background and don't actually play the game; some people even have a large
number of alternative accounts and computers dedicated to the practice, which
is heavily frowned upon, but what can you do? Five to twelve items are earned
a week, generally representing a value of .25 to 1.33, with eight items (.85)
being statistically the most common.

Item drops is also one of four ways that hats and miscellaneous items are
generally introduced into the game (the others being crafting, crates, and the
store). Every time an item drops, there is about a 1% chance it will be a
random hat or misc. Some paint cans, name and descriptive tags, and the
dueling minigame can also be found this way, although they are more common
than the lusted-for hats.

Currency                                                                    =5=
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The TF2 economy is a barter system, and a very complex one at that. For this
reason, a number of items have emerged of stable value that are used by the
community as currency, listed here. Many will be revisited in later sections.

Metal
Scrap, reclaimed, and refined metal are the basic unit of the economy, and are
covered in detail in the earlier Crafting section. Remember: scrap is .11,
reclaimed (or rec) is .33, and refined (or ref) is 1.

Keys
Keys are the next step up the currency tree. Bought at the Mann Co. Store for
2.49$ apiece, keys are used to open Mann Co. Supply Crates, covered later in
this guide, and are in high demand for that purpose. As of writing in September
2012, keys are 2.55 metal apiece, higher than they were a year ago, when they
were selling for 2.33 each.

Bill's Hat
An all-class promotional item associated with the release of L4D2, this is the
first of the high value promotional items (or promos, for short) that is often
used as currency. As of writing, Bill's sell for 8 to 9 keys. Additionally, 
emphasis is placed on their paint scheme; Bill's painted "tier 2" colors like
Lime and Team Spirit are worth about 9 to 10, and ones painted "tier 3" colors
(Black and White) are about 10 to 11. The Bill's Hat derives its value from its
versatility (all-class), great appearance, and relative rarity.

Earbuds
This is the promo item most people think of when they hear promo. Earbuds are
a miscellaneous item that is associated with buying the game on the Mac during
a promo period from mid-2010, when the game was released on that platform. It's
the base unit for the buying and selling Unusuals, the highest-tier items in
the game. It's fantastically expensive - around 26 keys each - and looks great
on all classes, feeding its value.

Max's Head
The Max's Head is the next promo up on the currency list, and has a checkered
history that is very illustrative of price bubbles, a concept touched upon in
places in this guide. It is a hat that takes the appearance of the top half of
Max's face from Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse, deriving its value from
its great, all-class appearance as well as from its rarity (who actually bought
that game? not many). It was worth 4 buds in August 2011, but around that time
the value bubble popped, and its price plummeted down to its current value of
2 buds straight.

HOUWAR
The most expensive promo item and the highest-value non-unusual item in the
game, the HOUWAR (Hat of Undeniable Wealth and Respect) was given out for
completing EVERY objective in The Great Steam Treasure Hunt, quick required
owning 20 different specific games and completing objectives within them,
religiously following non-steam objectives, and not skipping a beat on any of
them. There are 593 Houwars in the game, they're all-class, and they look
badass. Needless to say, very few people have them, and they're worth serious
money. Currently valued at 9 to 10 buds each.

Crates                                                                      =6=
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Crates are items, granted by the drop system, that serve no immediate purpose.
They contain items that will reveal themselves when the crate is opened with a
key, but since there are far more crates dropped then keys bought, crates
mostly serve as junk, and are next to worthless in value. In fact, many end up
being deleted.

Nonetheless, if you do have a key, you can apply it to a crate to retrieve
the goodies inside. Every crate is part of series: so far, there have been 47
regular ones and a large number of special ones, covered later. Every normal
crate can be opened by a Mann Co. Supply Key, worth $2.49 in the store and
2.55 in metal and detailed in the currency section. Every crate series has a
chance of containing one of a number of random items, determined at the time
that the key is applied and expended.

What these items are depends on the series number of the crate. Early crates
contained msotly regular weapons, and sometimes hats or paints. However this
was not very popular, because getting a dropped weapon out of $2.49 is
rediculous. Starting with the series 19 crate in June 2011, crates started
containing mostly strange weapons (covered later in this guide) and
occassionally hats and miscs, which proved far more popular. Starting with
crate 41 in March 2012, some crates have also contained Strange Parts, to be
covered later in this guide.

Older crates have a higher value then newer ones, mostly out of novelty; a
series one crate can even net 1 to 1.33 refined on today's market! More
valuable than that, however, are unopened copies of the (so far) seven special
limited-time crates that were supposed to disappear after a certain point. They
only dissapear, however, if the account is loaded into the game (ae. connected
to the item server); it can be traded and so forth, so long as the account is
not loaded. Some people then openned new accounts, made them premium, and then
transfered their limited crates to them, storing them for novelty resale later.
The result is one of the stupidest things in TF2: an uponenable, unusable crate
that can go for entire keys!

Every crate has a 1% chance of containing an unusual, which is the only way
of getting one.

There is one more thing to mention, which is salvaged crates. These crates drop
far, FAR less often then regular ones, and contain only strange weapons (and
the odd unusual, of course) that can be obtained nowhere else. There have been
two so far, #30 and #40, and both the crates themselves and their contents
are extremely valuable: #40s are worth nine to ten keys, and #30s, twice that.
Presumably, there will a #50 and so on as well.

Vintages                                                                    =7=
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Vintages is a special quality associated with items crafted before the
Mannconomy update hit in September 2010. Vintage items are significantly more
valuable then regular ones because they're much rarer, but the amount varies
between items, from around 30% of items being Vintage (like the Atomic Punch)
all the way down to less then 1% on the Fan'O'War. The amount they're worth is
determined by availability, which is determined by the amount present when the
update rolled up: some weapons were very new, and thus very rarely vintage.
Most vintages worth .22 to .33 on the current market, with a few standouts,
like the V. Huntsman (.66) and V. Gunslinger (1), being worth more, although
this is likely because Strange version of the weapon are difficult to aquire
(salvaged crates) or non-existant.

The really valuable ones follow:
Fan O'War - 1.5 to 2 buds
Concheror - 1.5 to 2 buds
Half-Zatoichi - 6 to 7 keys
Amputator - 3.5 to 4 keys
Ullapool Caber - 3 to 4 keys
Crusader's Crossbow - 1 to 2 keys
Loch-n-Loasd - 1 to 2 keys
Brass Beast - 1 to 2 keys
Buffalo Steak Sandvich - 1 to 2 keys
Warrior's Spirit - 1 to 2 keys
Sharpened Volcao Fragment - 1 to 2 keys
Sun-on-a-Stick - 1 to 2 keys

Now, on to hats. Hats crafted before the update also got the vintage treatment.
Their value has gone up enormously in recent times, because everyone wants
hats, and vintage hats (and miscs) are better versions of them. I'll quickly
put down the market prices for the really expensive ones and move on, but the
prices on the others not mentioned here are hovering around a key as of
September 2012, but the most expensive ones hit almost up to a Bill:

Tossle Cap - 7 to 8 keys
Physician's Procedural Mask - 7 to 8 keys
Vintage Merryweather - 5 keys
Head Slug - 3 to 4 keys
Whiskered Gentlemann - 3 to 4 keys
Texas Ten Gallon - 3 keys
Vintage Tyrolean - 3 keys
Hound Dog - 3 keys
Hustler's Hallmark - 2 to 3 keys
Killer's Kabuto - 2 to 3 keys
Tyrant's Helm - 2 keys
Towering Pillar of Hats - 2 keys
Modest Pile of Hat - 2 keys
Safe'n'Sound - 4 to 5 refined
Sergeant's Drill Hat - 4 to 5 refined
Tough Guy's Toque - 1 to 2 keys
Ze Goggles - 3.66 - 4 refined
Fancy Fedora - 3 to 4 refined
Hot Rod - 3 to 4 refined
Shooter's Sola Topi - 3.33 refined
Brigade Helm - 3.33 refined
Gentleman's Gatbsy - 3.33 refined

The price of vintage items is on the rise, as fewer and fewer are available and
the pool of people who wants them increases.

There's one other thing to discuss, which is the relation between weapon levels
and vintages. The earliest to-become-vintage weapons were handed out with
random levels attached, the whole level thing being a joke by Valve anyway.
Randomly leveled vintages are far rarer then standardly leveled ones, and are
worth a bit more; if the levels are desirable (1, 42, 69, 99, 100) you're going
into keys of value.

The rarest vintage of all is a level 0 one, created during a short period when
a bug allowed that level to come up. These are extremely rare, and their value
is in Bill's and Buds (especially for hats).

Stranges and Strange Parts                                                  =8=
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Strange weapons count the kills that they make, and change their named based
on how many they have accumulated. Strange weapons are the most common products
of crates, and their prices vary wildly: from .22 for a Strange Eyelander all
the way up to 16 to 18 keys for a Strange Machina. Most weapons in the game
have come out in strange quality by this point, and some have done so twice.
A few of them have come out only in untra-rare salvaged crates (Holiday Punch,
Widowmaker, Mantreads, Sapper, Ullapool Caber, Kritzkrieg, Holy Mackeral, 
Gunslinger, Machina) and are thus extremely valuable, far more than regular
stranges (the most expensive regular strange is the Grenade Launcher at 3 to
4 keys, an aritifical price given that it was last released in crate 19).

Strange Parts are a newer invention, first appearing in March 2012. You can
place up to three on a single strange weapon and they will act like additional
counters, counting things like Heavies Killed, Buildings Destroyed, Projectiles
Reflected, so on. The most expensive one is Full Moon Kills, which is extremely
rare on account of being a hat-level random drop, and is worth ~1.5 keys; the
rest are usually worth between .66 and a key (Projectiles Reflected) as of
writing.

Tools                                                                       =9=
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There are a number of consumable items in TF2, and some of them modify the
value of items in the game (Strange Parts are covered above, and are excluded).

Mann Co. Supply Crate Key - keys were discussed in detail earlier in this guide
and are worth 2.55 metal.

Backpack Expander - Increases maximum slot size, worth 2.5 to 3 keys.

Name Tag - Allows you to name a weapon, although the new name will be flanked
by quote marks "Name"; drops, and is worth 1 to 1.33 refined. A good name tag
can raise the value of a weapon.

Description Tag - Does the same, but with the description; can similarly
increase value if well-issued.

Paint Cans - There is a large number of different colors of paint in the game,
which can be gotten in one or more of three ways: drops, uncrates, or purchase.
Individual paint cans go for between .33 and 2 keys, and can be divided into
three tiers. For a complete list, see this page:
see http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Paint_Can. Note that opinions on paints
vary; you might get back half the value of the paint, or all of it, or none
of it. The paint cans have been rising in value significantly; the same white
paint that is worth 2.5 keys today was worth but 1.5 or so in September 2011.

Tier 1:
Most colors fall into this tier, and are usually available in all three ways:
purchases, drops, and uncrates. They do not add much value to the painted item,
however, as personal opinions differ on their utility; traders will often
enough avoid adding anything at all for these paints.

Tier 2:
The next range of colors is team colors and desirable regular ones: Lime,
Cream Spirit, Team Spirit, Value of Teamwork, Waterlogged Lab Coat, Balaclavas
are Forever, Operator's Overalls, Australium Gold, Pink as Hell. Traders
usually WILL add some metal for the value of the paint.

Tier 3:
These are the stupidly expensive paints: White and Black. Their supply is
extremely limited, basically only consisting of freshly bought cans today.
Each is worth 2.5 keys as of writing, an artificially high value.

Decal Tool - The Decal Tool can be applied to a small number of objects,
placing images onto them. It's worth between .66 and 1 refined on September
2012 market.

Dueling Minigame - Allows you to duel with other players, five uses per game.
Worth .22 to .33.

Gift Wrap - This tool allows you to deliver presents to others, and to box up
items that would otherwise be untradable. It's an additional cost for trading
these items, however, costing 2.66 to 3 refined on the market - so it better
be good.

Most of the time, Gift Wrap reduces the value of the item, attaching gifted
text that cannot be wiped and thus reduces value. However, if you get an item
gifted from someone important, it can actually increase the item's value; for
instance, if Gabe Newell was to gift you something, you can bet your pudding it
would instantly gain several buds of value at the very least.

Genuines                                                                   =10=
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Genuine items are added into the game by Valve to promote upcoming games as
part of Steam's preorder bonus, to compete with other outlets, like Gamestop.
Genuine items are worth significantly more then their more mundane
counterparts, and come before them on the release schedule. For a list of
genuine items, see http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Genuine. There's a lot
of Genuine items, and most aren't worth terribly much, but the highlights are
listed here:

Merc's Pride Scarf - 17 keys (new bubble?)
El Jefe - 14 keys
Balloonicorn - 12 to 14 keys
Mual - 7 to 8 keys (once worth a whole Bud, circa August 2011; the bubble
 popped)
Double Cross-Comm - 6 keys
Sharp Dresser - 5 keys
Dashin' Hashshashin - 4.5 to 5 keys
Ball-Kicking Boots - 4 to 5 keys
Champ Stamp - 4 to 5 keys
Triad Trinket - 4 to 5 keys
Battle Bob - 4 keys
Archimedes - 4 keys
Quadwrangler - 3 to 4 keys
Marxman - 3 to 4 keys
Original - 3 to 3.5 keys
Point and Shoot - 3 keys
Bushman's Boonie - 2.5 to 3 keys
Warsworn Helm - 2.5 keys
Genuine Specs - 2 to 3 keys
Killer Exclusive - 2 to 3 keys
Noise Maker - Vuvuzela - 2 to 3 keys
Human Cannonball - 2 to 3 keys

Value Modifiers                                                            =11=
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This is a list of item value modifiers, including some mentioned before. These
an have a major effect. For instance, a regular Defiant Spartan is worth 1.66;
but I sold a Pink Level 100 Defiant Spartan for two solid keys!

Level
The most common value modifier is a special level. Popular levels are 1, 42,
69, 99, and 100. If you get an item with one of these levels, you can likely
sell it for more, especially a level 100 version.

Note: there are some special level weapons that were created by a glitch
following the Mann vs. Machine update. These are worth multiples of keys, but
market values range wildly.

Craft Number
Craft numbers under one hundred are displayed when an item is looked at, and
will not be wiped when you wipe the crafter's name. This makes them highly
desirable "limited-release" versions of an item. Whenever a new item becomes
craftable, a few lucky people within the next couple of days manage to craft
so-called "craft number" versions of the items. The lower the number, the
better, with 99 being the cutoff for display value. Still, owning a #121
Anger wouldn't be too bad either, would it?

It's hard to price craft numbers, but anything under 100 is going for multiples
of keys. Craft numbers below between 25 and 10 or so go for Buds. A Craft #1
Dragonborn Helm, for instance, would be 2 to 3 buds, and a #1 of a more
valuable hat would be more. The most valuable one, the Craft #1 Team Captain,
is in the backpack of Mattie, a well-known Team Captain hoarder (and one of the
richest traders around) who has stated clearly he will never part with any of
it. It's valued at 20+ buds, but no one has a clue what it's really worth.
Here, have a gander at his bag: http://www.tf2items.com/id/mattie/.

Gifting
Gifting an item gives it permanent gifted text that can't be wiped. Most of the
time this is a bad thing, but is unavoidable when dealing with items that can't
be moved elsewhere: the HOUWAR, for instance. On the other hand, it is
considered the TF2 equivalent of autographing, so if you can get someone
important to "autograph" it to you, the value rises.

For an example, refer to this hat: http://www.tf2items.com/item/629265507. This
unusual hat was gifted by Daimao, original creator of the Team Captain within
TF2, and you can expect an indefinite value increase from it, indefinite
because the value of the gifting is difficult to determine.

Uncraftable
The most common dirty tag, this is associated with items bought from the Steam
Store. Uncraftable items are typical worth about half of their clean
counterparts.

Untradable
Associated with achievement items or items associated with achievements, like
the Holloween hats and the HOUWAR. Untradable items can only be traded if they
can be gift wrapped, associating them with gifting; if they can't then they
have no market value, as they can't be sold.

Paint
Painting was covered in more depth in "Tools" section of this guide. It adds
flavor to an item, but the actual value addition varies between people and
paints.

Tag
Name Tags and Description Tags applied to items only really increase the item's
value at the buyer's discretion. Creative name tagging, especially within item
sets, will raise a weapon's value through theming, but it's still a touchy
issueance.

Strange Part
Strange Parts attached to Strange Weapons raise that weapon's value by the
equivalent of the part, although it depends on the trader and the parts -
you're more likely to get the full value out of Projectiles Reflected on a
Strange Degreaser than Demomen Killed elsewhere.

Duped
Duped items inspire mixed feelings from people. Their value is usually slightly
under their non-duped counterparts: for the details, see that section.

Unusuals                                                                   =12=
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And so finally we arrive at unusuals! Unusual hats are obtained extremely
rarely from crates, occuring but 1% of the time, and provide the majority of
the incentive to open crates for most people. Their value ranges wildly, but
top-tier unusual hats are the most valuable (and most expensive) things in the
game. The most expensive unusual in the game is the Burning Flames Team
Captain. In the few times it has splashed down on the market, it sold for
between 80 and 120 buds, or $3000 to $3500. For a bunch of pixels. Yep. To sate
your curiousity, there are five in the game as of September 2012, and
none of them are for sale. Speaking of which, this is a good example of
best-of-the-best price inflation: it's worth a good deal more than the next
contestant for the title, the Sunbeams Team Captain, is around 50 buds and
$1500. Yep.

The worst hats with the worst effects are still worth about a Bud plus.

Unusual effects sorted roughly by value:
Burning Flames
Sunbeams
Cloudy Moon
Scorching Flames
Purple Energy
Green Energy
Flaming Lantern
Vivid Plasma
Circling Heart
Haunted Ghosts
Stormy Storm
Cauldron Bubbles
Eerie Orbiting Fire
Blizzardy Storm
Searing Plasma
Smoking
Orbiting Fire
Steaming
Orbiting Planets
Bubbling
Circling Peace Sign
Circling TF Logo
Massed Flies
Purple Confetti
Green Confetti
Nuts n' Bolts

The value of the base hat is multiplicative on the effect, and recently has
come to the fore over the effect. Team Captain is the reigning king, hence its
value. However, good unusual hats that work on all classes also have an
inflated value, especially the Killer Exclusive. Other modifiers like the level
and theming (Burning Flames on a Pyro, Peace on Sniper, and so forth) are also
important, but don't let someone loop you into thinking something is themed
when it's not.

Duping and Scumming                                                        =13=
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Duped items are duplicates of an item created using a Valve item server
exploit. A number of them have been found and patched, but new ones reappear
at intervals and are repatched again. Duped items aren't immediately obvious
as such, but if you check the item schema, you will see that the item is duped:
see http://tf2b.com/tf2/item/76561198013585331/945037741 for instance. Duped
items are most problematic amongst unusuals.

The other exploit is scumming, which is deleting items in your bag then sending
a Valve support ticket demanding it back. Valve used to be pretty responsive
to these sorts of requests, and would give it back in Vintage quality to
apologize for their mistake; however, they figured out what was going on, and
are much less likely to do so today. It was a risky proposal - if they didn't
respond to your request you basically lost your item forever - but it worked
enough times to put some vintage quality items on the market that wouldn't
exist otherwise, and are very, very, very rare.

Vintage Max's Head - 55-60 buds (~28-30x regular value)
Vintage Earbuds - ~30 buds (~30x regular value)
Vintage Bill's Hat - 1.5 to 2 buds (~4x regular value)
Vintage Ghaslierest Gibus - ~14 buds

Other Qualities                                                            =14=
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Haunted
Haunted items are purple (but not unusual) versions of Holloween items
collected under special circumstances during the 2011 Holloween event, as well
as the one Haunted Scrap Metal/Haunted Headless Horsemann's Axe during the 2010
Holloween event. Good ones are worth a refined or two, but no more.

Community
These are given out by Valve on extrordinary circumstances to valuable
community contributors. For a list, see
http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/List_of_Community_item_owners. They are
untradable and thus have no market value.

Self-Made
Given to players who successfully contribute items of their own design into the
game, a process now handled through the Steam Workshop. Also untradable and
also has no market value.

Valve
Test weapons owned by Valve employees, the perenniel example being Robin
Walker's Rocket Launcher:
http://steamcommunity.com/id/robinwalker/inventory#440_2_162307172. Not for
sale, obviously.

High-Value List                                                            =15=
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A list of the most valuable non-unusual things in the TF2 economy as of
September 2012, compiled for your viewing pleasure! Cutoff is going to be a
B.M.O.C.

Vintage Max's Head - 55-60 Buds
Only a few exist, see the scumming section.

Vintage Earbuds - ~30 Buds
Only a few exist, see the scumming section.

HOUWAR - 9-10 Buds
Steam Treasure Hunt promo item, 593 extant.

Holiday Headcase - 4 Buds
Extremely rare item occassionally given out during Australium Christmas 2011.

Max's Head - 2 Buds
Currency-type promo item that's above a Bud but not nearly a HOUWAR.

Fireproof Secret Diary - 2 Buds
Rare item that for some reason did not dissapear alongside the other burning
event items.

Strange Festive Scattergun - 1.5 to 2 Buds
A very rare strange festive version of probably the most commonly used weapon
in the game.

Strange Festive Medigun - 1.5 to 2 Buds
Same as the above.

Vintage Bill's Hat - 1.5 to 2 Buds
Very rare, see the scumming section. 1404 extant.

Strange Festive Rocket Launcher - 1 to 1.5 Buds
Same as the other strange festives.

Strange Kritzkrieg - 1 to 1.5 Buds
The first strange on this list that's not festive, found only in ultra-rare
festive crates.

Spine-Chilling Skull 2011 - 1 Bud
This hat is supposed to be dirty, and most copies must be gift wrapped to be
traded (costing 3 to 4 keys). However, a rare bug made a few of them clean,
and the value of these clean ones is through the roof.

Earbuds - 26 to 27 Keys
The standard promo for trading.

B.M.O.C. - 24 Keys
Rare and highly desirable holiday item, its price is on the rise as of
September 2012.

Trading with Real World Money                                              =16=
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Trading with real money is tricky buisness in TF2. It's risky because the
transaction must be completed on two seperate counts: the money through PayPal,
and the item through Steam Trading. Trust is important for these transactions,
and many traders will not take part in them unless the other party has a large
amount of reputation (rep) on their account, because it's easy to find people
that will rip you off and run with it.

A common way to solve this problem is to use a trusted middleman in the
exchange. Either party sends their payment and their goods to his account, and
he verifies that all is in order; he then transfers the PayPal money and the
item(s) to their new owners.

Nonetheless, if you are willing to sink real money into Team Fortress 2, the
payoff is that you can buy things for cheap. This is because there is a limited
pool of people that are doing so - most prefer not to spend too much money on
pixels - and because they must compete with the Mann Co. Store. Still, there
are people looking to cash out their bag, and others to add to theirs.

Here is some technical advice:
"When the user sends you money, you MUST ask him to send it as a gift or for
him to cover transaction fees. If not the fees will be deducted from the
amount you're supposed to recieve from the sender.

Also you must ask the sender to attach a note saying "Goods have been
delivered. I will not chargeback." and the link to the buyer's steam profile.
This is to prevent the buyer from disputing the sent amount and getting a full
refund from what he sent you."

The list of common prices, as of September 2012 (prices are approximate):
Refined Metal: ~$.70
Mann Co. Supply Crate Key: ~$1.50
Bill's, ~$12
Buds, ~$30
Max's: ~$60
HOUWAR: ~$270

High-Value Hats                                                            =17=
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A reference list of unique hats worth more than 2 refined as of September 2012:

Dashin' Hashshashin - 2 to 3 keys
Lumbricus Lid - 2 to 3 keys
Team Captain - 5 to 6 refined (used to be 8 circa August 2011)
Cross-Comm Express - 1 to 2 keys
El Jefe - 3 to 4 refined
Surgeon's Stahlhelm - 3.33 refined
Bubble Pipe - 3 to 3.33 refined
Head Warmer - 3 to 3.33 refined
Battle Bob - 1 to 1.5 keys
Familiar Fez - 2.66 to 3 refined
Infernal Impaler - 1 key
Bolgan - 1 key
Anger - 1 key
Troublemaker's Tossle Cap - 2.33 refined
Hottie's Hood - 2.33 refined
Ol' Snaggletooth - 2.33 refined
Waxy Wayfinder - 2 to 2.33 refined
Conjurer's Cowl - 2 to 2.33 refined
Virtual Reality Headset - 2 to 2.33 refined
Your Worst Nightmare - 2 to 2.33 refined
Fruit Shoot - 2 to 2.33 refined

Glossary                                                                   =18=
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bill        Bill's Hat
Bud         Earbuds
Clean       The definition of "clean" depends on the item and the trader.
            Usually it means craftable and tradable, but it can mean
			non-crafted as well.
Dirty       The definition of dirty varies. But usually Gifted and Uncraftable
            are considered dirty classifications.
Duped       Short for duplicated; items that were created in copies via an
            exploit. See that section for details.
Brain Slug  Easier name for the Triboniophorus Tryannus.
HOUWAR      Hat of Undeniable Wealth and Respect
Max			Max's Hat.
Misc        Miscellaneous item
Promo       Promotional item
Quicksell   Trader term for something selling for cheap to offload quickly for
            a time-sensitive deal; nowadays mostly reduced to cheaps who buy
			items for bottom or below-bottom price, and then turn around and
			sell it for its real price, turning a profit.

Rec         Reclaimed
Ref         Refined
Scammer     Someone who buys items off of noobs who don't know better for very
            low prices. The worst are the kinds that hunt down freshly opened
			unusuals off of newly-minted premium accounts.
Snaggle     Ol' Snaggletooth
Wep         Weapon (usually random).

Contact info                                                             -19-
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You can e-mail me at residentmario [at] g{}(m[]a)i[]l [dot] com. No spam,
hate mail, yada yada. You know how it goes.

Copyright                                                                -20-
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This guide is (C) 2012 jimmythesnowman.  This may be not be reproduced under
any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on
any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written
permission.