So let's say you just got TF2 and purchased an upgrade to premium. What do you do now? How do you trade? Well the answer to this is nothing right now. In order to efficiently trade, you must have a decent amount of TF2 riches (aka Hats). So, in order to obtain those hats, I have found a good guide good guide on how you can become a TF2 Bill Gates.
Well, now you have the glorified phenomena of Team Fortress 2, hats. What do you do now? Well, you can sell them for other hats, weapons, or metal (the three of which represent trader types [which I will explain later]).
Next step in being a trading guru is to become experienced. This will come gradually, but being exposed to trading servers and environments discussing trading will aid you even greater. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH because if you aren't experienced, you are a target for a scammer (bad.). Knowing your status quo prices of any item helps you greatly, because
You won't get scammed.
You'll be independent during trades, and won't have to focus on spreadsheets.
You can give pricechecks more accurately, which looks good.
At this point, you shouldn't be involved in the unusual dimension. All your trading skills should be invested within weapons, hats, vintages, genuines, and other low-income items. But we'll get to unusuals later.
Alrighty, now we can get a little deeper into the functionality of traders. Well, as I mentioned before, there are mainly three types of traders. The first being a "noob" that you will find on achievement_idle servers and Valve cp, ctf, etc. servers. These traders, if you would call them that, is what you will, unfortunately, start off your trading career as. They value weapons higher than hats, they think stranges are worth buds, and they're prices for EVERYTHING is skewed. Now, if you followed my first section, you can skip this position completely by being experienced.
From there, you branch off into one of the other types of traders. The first of those types is the casual, yet experienced trader. This person loves hats, and buys them for wear. They know their prices, and won't buy anything they won't need. On occasion, they will purchase strange weapons to level them up in a legitimate manner to Hale's Own for bragging rights. These are the traders that are beneficial to TF2 in my opinion, because they don't treat items as simple currency, like the next type does.
Moving on to the last type, the hardcore trader. These guys will shark you all day and won't give a hoot because you had a valuable item he wanted to sell. People of this nature have been trading for years, and have had a boat load of experience in the marketplace. They feel no mercy, and don't value hats on looks. All they care about is money. Profit. That's it. These people only buy unusuals to turn around to sell.
So, in conclusion, you start out as the noob. How fast you evolve is up to your experience. Then, you can either enjoy hats for their look and join the casual club, or become immortal and immoral by joining the hardcore traders.
Stranges and Strange Parts
Ok, so I know what you're thinking. Stranges? Really? Are you really going to include a random part of the economy and not hats, vintages, or genuines? My answer: Yes. The reason I want to touch on this topic is because this subsection of the economy is always changing, especially when a new crate comes out. So first of all, let's talk about what stranges and strange parts are. Well, stranges are simply weapons that track kills, or in certain instances a specific action. Take the razorback, which tracks backstabs prevented instead of kills. Makes since, a razorback that counts kills won't get to Hale's Own anytime soon. Strange parts simply add another modifier to that strange. For example, a Strange Part: Domination Kills will not only track normal kills, but track kills that have achieved a domination on a player. Now that we know exactly what a strange is, let's talk about prices. When it comes to stranges, you've really got 5 categories. And hunker down too, this sections a biggy. 1. Crate #30 or #40 Stranges When it comes to stranges, these are truly the diamond in the rough. These babies cost butt-loads more than the normal strange bat. Why? Because the crates 30 and 40 are salvaged crates, and only drop once every now and then. Stranges from 30 cost more than 40 generally, due to the fact that 30 no longer drops. At the time of writing, 40 still drops. Some examples of these stranges from salvaged crates are the Strange Huntsman, Strange Holy Mackeral, and Strange Kritzkreig. 2. Old crate stranges (#19 - #21, #28) These three crates contain the most expensive 'common' stranges. The 19 has the grenade launcher, the 20 has the shotgun, and the 21 has the minigun. Now, you might ask what's with the 28? Every single strange in the 28 is worth at least 1.33 refined at time of writing. These crates cost a lot, but not as much as salvaged crates. 3. Run of the mill stranges These stranges are very cheap, as the maximum strange from the recent crates might only catch a few keys. These are the least expensive stranges. Good for low income traders to test out the strange feature. 4. Strange Festives (oboi) These hands down are the most expensive stranges. These only came from crates in the Christmas Event, and fetch a high dollar. The most expensive right now goes for (approximately) 2-2.5 buds. That's right. 2.5 freakin' buds. Never thought stranges could be so expensive eh? 5. Botkillers Well, these are only obtained through MvM, and in my opinion are completely underpriced. These are stock weaponry with a chain and a bot head attached. There are 8 types, 4 of which are common and inexpensive(silver, rust, carbonado, and silver mk.II), the other 4 are more dollar-worthy(gold, blood, diamond, and gold mk.II). My reasoning is that you can pay for 6 MvM tickets (which are still overpriced at 3/8/13) and only get a strange silver botkiller sticky that only fetches 2 rec. And, you spend all that effort on Expert mode (which can take weeks to complete, if not months depending on skill), and you end up with a carbonado worth a ref. Really guys? This is how you value gameplay? Also, on a different note, when a recent crate is released into the economy, the stranges inside are highly inflated, and cost a shiz ton. For example, you had to buy the Strange Baby Face's Blaster for 2 keys initially, and now it costs a rec. Whew, that was a typefull. Big section, a lot to learn, but if you know how to capitalize on stranges you can make bank.
So we find ourselves within my least favorite topic. Scamming. What exactly is it? How can it happen to me? Well take heed of what I am about to say, for I once was one of these despicable, putrid, mongrels.
The first type of scamming is known as sharking. This is technically 'legal' scamming, so this makes this the most commonplace method. Let's say you have a key and a crate. Then, you unbox an unusual Burning Team Captain (you lucky devil). Then, this other guy on the same server tells you "Hey, I can give you a Huo-Long Heatmaker for that. You can actually use mine!" So, being the unfortunate noob you are, you take the deal. Well, let me now tell you the price of a Burning TC is 3,500$ U.S. Dollars.
So, use this scenario to learn that if you unbox an unusual hat, DO NOT SELL IT. DON'T. More than likely the offer presented by the offerer will be a shark attempt.
Nextly, there's middleman scamming. This is less common, but occurs when PayPal is involved (don't use PayPal in TF2). Basically, a trusted middleman was supposed to take both of the items/offers, but an imposter took the place unnoticed and takes both of the items, then bugs out. If you don't use PayPal, you'll be immune to this.
Also, don't forget about quick-switchers. Although this was mainly common during the days of TF2 trading, this involved quickly switching (see where the name comes from?) an item of great value to the same item, but a lower tier quality. An example would be an unusual Gym Rat to a normal one. Nowadays, the trade alerts you what the trader does in the chat, so this prevents it somewhat. But beware; they are still in existence.
There aren't many scammers out there, and if there is anything I didn't touch on, leave it in the comments so others may know. And yes, I was a sharker, but I have from then shed my ugly past and have started anew.
Unusuals / Promo Items
Once you have had enough experience and have accumulated enough revenue to purchase an unusual, you are now considered the wealthy class. Congratulations! But be wary, you are now a MAJOR scam target. Progress at your own risk.
Basically the definition of a promo is an item that was obtained from a period of time by buying a game. This includes any genuine, but in the unusual spectrum this is limited to Bill's, Buds, Max's, Big Kills, HOUWARS, BMOCs, and Holiday Headcases. These items have a Buds value, which I will display here with a ratio as of 2/23/13. (Item : Buds)
Bill's hat: 3:1
Max's Severed Head (not duped): 1:2
Big Kill: 2:1
Hat of Undeniable Wealth and Respect: 1:10
Holiday Headcase: 1:4
Big Man of Christmas: 2.25:1
It's important to note as well items can be duplicated, a glitch when there was TF2 trading AND steam trading. This drops the value of the item generally.
When it comes to unusuals, each one has a specific value associated with the hat and effect. There are a plethora of combinations of hats and effects, so it is paramount not to be confused. Research your hat you're about to buy beforehand to know if you're getting the short end of the stick.
If you follow all of my tips and warnings, you should survive the TF2 trading world. Ensure you won't be scammed, and always, thanks for reading. And also, check out my YouTube channel as well, MrQualityGames. I'll be uploading some TF2 stuff soon. http://youtube.com/user/KatanaKaster Also, join my Steam group TFTEG, an educational group dedicated to reducing the amount of TF2 sharkers by educating the public. http://steamcommunity.com/groups/TFTEG Good Day Kind Sir, Katana