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The term "Damage Spread" is thrown around, specifically in regards to "vanilla" servers in Team Fortress 2. What does this term mean, and how does it relate to server settings and gameplay?

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See the related topic of Weapon Spread: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/3028/… –  Jeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 20:15
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Damage spread refers to the fact that a weapon has a spread, or range, of damage that it can deal on any given hit. By default, weapons generally have a +/-10% damage spread.

So if a weapon has 100 base damage, it might do as little as 90 (10% less than base) or as much as 110 damage (10% more than base) on hit. This amount of damage dealt is simply a random value from within the "spread".

Originally, the spread was +/-25%, but Valve eventually reduced it to only +/-10%.

Note that this isn't the only thing that affects weapon damage, there is also a damage falloff based on range for most weapons (they do less damage at greater distance).

Some servers disable damage spread because they think it makes the game more "skill-based" and more fair, since damage dealt is more consistent. This is similar to the argument used for disabling critical hits.

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"might do" - Is this random? –  Josh K Jul 20 '10 at 20:04
    
@Josh K, clarified my answer a bit. Yes, it is a random value from within the range. –  TM. Jul 20 '10 at 20:10
    
On a side note, crits and minicrits do not have a distance damage falloff or damage spread. However, weapon spread still applies to shotguns, scatterguns, etc... –  user2974 Aug 17 '11 at 23:11
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