Time-zone appropriate salutations and welcome, unwashed masses. It’s me, sultan of suggestions and imperator of being just a little bit irritating, Gent, and today I’m coming to you with a warning. Did you know, that you could have in your inventory a far more valuable hat than you realise right now? That indeed many unusuals, some very common and frequently traded, have worth that far exceeds their “backpack.tf price,” and could make you richer than Bill Gates’ recipe for triple-chocolate pudding? Honestly, two mouthfuls of that stuff and you’re so done…
I’m sure you have many questions; “How can this be?” “What have you been smoking?” “How deep IS my love?” But don’t despair, for the answer is in fact very simple. Many hats possess a mysterious, pervasive quality that backpack.tf does not recognise or account for in their pricing: themes. A “theme” is when an unusual effect suits a hat so well, it instantly and unquestionably makes it worth double, triple, even quadruple what its price would suggest, and what many “sane sensible traders” would tell you it's worth. All you have to do is identify and aggressively force the theme your hat definitely possesses, and soon you’ll have some many keys you’ll need a big Scrooge McDuck-y vault to keep them all in. Below are just a few examples of some very, very themed hats;
“But Gent!” You cry, with a surprised pitch to your voice, refusing to admit the future of trading is here, “that’s just a crummy Noble Amassment of Hats with a low-tier effect! That hat’s been around for years!” And first of all, lower your voice, I’m only here. Tinnitus is a serious problem. And secondly, o uncultured bumpkin, you’re simply not thinking the theming way. What you’re looking at here is what I like to call, a “Noble Peace Prize.” And unlike the real Nobel Peace Prize, which only gets awarded to really, really boring people, this hat looks the complete opposite of boring. Moreover, there’s only 31 of this unusual in existence, which makes it WAY rarer than, say, the Sumatran Tiger, and people are always on about how rare those are. Realistically I’d put an estimate of 80-100 keys on this hat, and that’s only if the scalpers don’t beat you to it.
Now you’ve got the basics down, let’s try something a little trickier. Here’s a concept I’d like to introduce to you: anti-theming. That is, an effect and a hat that clash so badly, that they BECOME themed. In the example above, the Disco Beat Down Modest Metal Pile of Scrap (try saying THAT three times fast with a mouthful of snooker balls), the effect doesn’t seem to match the hat at all. But this is the thing; robots hate disco. Can’t stand it, it reminds them of the 80s, all those people doing those awful impressions of their ancestors. In fact I hear the robots are working on time travel just so they can go back and erase that dance from human history – and when they do you can bet they won’t be wearing these. I expect this hat to be selling for at least 200 keys once the theme market takes off.
Why have I linked to a generic unusual hat page? Am I insane? Fear not; my parents had me tested. The reason couldn’t be simpler: because every effect on this unusual is themed.
Remember that time Mario went to space? Bam, Orbiting Planets, themed as heck.
Remember that time Luigi fought all those ghosts? Boom, paint it green, Haunted Ghosts has got you drowning in keys.
Orbiting Fire? Mario throws fireballs. Purple Confetti? Mario Party is a thing. Bubbling? Water levels. The possibilities are literally limited only by your imagination. People are already selling these hats for a great deal of money for stupid reasons like “it’s rare” or “it’s assassin grade” or “it genuinely looks pretty good,” so imagine the astronomical sum your themed one could sell for.
Here’s our final challenge for today; nobody would initially look at this hat and say it’s themed. We’re gonna have to use every last trick in the book. Firstly, paint that bad boy green; paint is a very important tool in making hats more themed. Secondly, combine it with some misc items; a Professor’s Pineapple, painted Team Spirit and named “Health Potions,” and a Toowoomba Tunic, also painted green. Finally, name this about-to-be-infinitely-themed beast “Hey! Listen!” and what have you got? Suddenly that’s no normal cowl. It’s the hat of Ocarina of Time’s Link, and with it, his fairy Navi! By pushing the limits of theming, we’ve created something magnificent; and at just 5 in existence, if this hat doesn’t hit a four-digit sum the next time it hits the market I’ll be surprised. Surprised I tell you.
Do I see this new boom in themed hats having any negative repercussions on the delicate Team Fortress 2 economy? Maybe. Obviously the price of Name Tags is going to skyrocket, as they’re bought up in droves like Madonna buys up African children. But alas, there’s no better way of making your themes known. Secondly, this revelation I have made greatly rewards the creative – those who are too thick to think up a theme for their hat are going to suffer in this new market. Finally, I suppose you could argue that if every hat is themed, then it wouldn’t affect the overall value of hats at all – but honestly this just sounds like people who are resistant to change. If the Luddites of society always got their way you’d still be squatting in a mud-hut in candlelight. That just about covers every reasonable argument against theming, and they were some of the worst arguments I’ve ever heard. Bring on the themes.
In conclusion, you’re welcome. I have single-handedly made your unusuals significantly more valuable, and will be expecting your gifts and letters of thanks in the post. My PO box is [REDACTED]