The Problem with Hatchet Runners isn’t the problem you think

Anyone who plays reserve sees the exact same thing game to game. Hatchet boys sprinting for loot, ramming it in their prison wallet, then getting sprayed down by the chads that run in behind them. Then the chad complains “These hatchet runners took all the best loot!” and want solutions. BSG has tried a few, from damage after death to scavs going nutty, but none of them have worked. Hatchet boys still run around, gobble up the best loot and either dip or die but either way they don’t care because on average they turn an immense profit while the rest of us chads and rats are risking money to make money and, if we’re very good, do well for ourselves. But the problem isn’t that the hatchet runners are playing the game wrong or screwing up the system, the problem is they’re playing the game “optimally.”

Now “optimally” is a subjective term in a sandbox because it relies on certain opinion based premise: that the goal of the game is to make as much money as possible. Everyone plays this game for different reasons but the one thing EVERYONE brags about is their fat stacks in their THICC cases. So if the goal is to make as much money as possible once tasks are complete the unfortunate truth is: the optimal way is to either hatchet or pistol run.

Veritas did some science here over a year ago where he discovered that, on average, optimal earnings of a pistol runner on labs was significantly greater than the average earnings of any other method of play. But even his pistol runs represented a modicum of investment relative to our hatchet boys. So, have things changed since then almost a year later? Well lets do some SCIENCE and talk to some hatchet boys.

On reserve I did 50 runs fully kitted (total investment roughly 800k); 50 runs with just a Five-Seven, an extra mag, and a rig (total investment roughly 34k); and 50 hatchet boy runs. On the kitted runs I averaged a 62% survival rate and an average net earnings of -4.2 million. On insurance returns I made back roughly 1.1 million in equipment making the loss roughly 3.1 million. No that negative is not a typo I lost 4.2 million across the runs. On the pistol runs I averaged a 58% survival rate with a rough net total earnings of 4.37 million. On insurance I always got my rig back and occasionally got my Five-Seven. On my hatchet runs I averaged a 36% survival rate making a net total average earnings of 5.5 million. I ended up getting a bunch of graphics cards but even on most deaths I’d get out with between 50 and 100k. In summary: kitted runs averaged a 4.2 million loss, pistol runs averaged a 4.2 million gain, and hatchet runs averaged 5.5 million in gains. As we can see, if your goal is to make money the optimal way to play is to be a hatchet boy.

How did our hatchet boys fair? The ones I spoke to could make 4.6 million in about an hour and a half. They make YIELD because they do it A LOT.

The problems are multilayered, the most glaring issue is that all the great loot on the map is tiny one to two slot items that will represent the mass earnings regardless of how you play. There's no big loot worth a lot of money that makes you WANT to bring a backpack. There are the occasional weapons cases but as someone that has run reserve A LOT I’ve seen them in marked rooms twice. Realistically the loot you really want is: bit coins, graphics cards, GP coins, AESAs, etc. And they’re all tiny, and even on geared runs most of my “profits” came from these.

Second issue: killing PMCs is not a good way to make money for the average player. Personally, I have a 2.72 KDA after all these hatchet runs so I wouldn’t consider myself average when it comes to fragging PMCs but even for me it's not a great way to make money. Let’s assume you kill a solo kitted PMC. You’ll probably grab his 300k gun, his attack 2, and his armored rig for about 500k in earnings. The first problem you’ll immediately run into is all that crap is really heavy and the new encumbrance system discourages this mode of play heavily. The second issue is, assuming you survive, once you get out of raid you have to replenish all that expensive ammo and any expensive painkillers you used in the fight from Surv kits to propital cutting into your profits. That’s IF they’re kitted, and most of the time you’ll run into budget boys rocking 200k to 500k kits and you’ll only get about 150k off of them if you're lucky. So PMC hunting for profit isn’t a great idea if the goal is to make money.

Third issue: the best loot is concentrated in very small spots discouraging endurance runs. You’ve got tech room, tech building, and the marked rooms (you could make an argument for the technical crates underground but that’s so far from other locations that the average yield is relatively minimal). That’s where you’ll make the big bucks, the fat stacks, the “wow it’s worth it to run reserve” money when you grab up two graphics cards and make an easy 700k. So all the hatchet boys sprint there, grab the crap, and then die or dip while everyone else is left picking up the crumbs.

So, what’s the solution? Make the loot BIGGER and BETTER in EVERY map. Imagine you opened up a marked room and found a THICC case. Imagine if every time you found an ammo case it was FILLED with ammo. It may not be amazing ammo, but every time you found one filled with ammo would be crazy. Imagine if you found a weapons case with a fully kitted M4 inside. Imagine if there were four marked rooms with this kind of crap. Imagine there was great LARGE loot spawns spread out everywhere encouraging exploration and staying on the map.

The way the loot is structured currently in the game dissuades investment and encourages hatchet running. The spawn rates of valuable items is too small and pack filler that spawns ubiquitously is absolute crap. Hatchet running is faster than running kitted and makes vastly more money. The average kitted run took me about half an hour, the average hatchet run lasted three minutes. I did the fifty hatchet runs in an afternoon. If I just spammed that over and over again I’d make a ridiculous amount of money. And if that’s the goal of Tarkov then that’s the way to play currently because the way loot is structured in this game does not incentive geared runs.



Some notes about the SCIENCE: I did not include costs for medical supplies in the totals as largely its a wash since I craft all my own stuff. The reason I chose reserve: I know it like the back of my hand and its fantastic for making money. I do own a red rebel, and I have almost all the keys in a SICC case when I run so if you don’t own the keys your profit yield will be significantly lower.

Before I even finish this article I can hear the naysayers “but what would that do to the economy?” I don’t know, and neither do you. But what I can say for certain is everyone I’ve talked to, every streamer I’ve seen from Pestily to Veritas, is completely dissatisfied with how loot works in this game. I don’t see how getting bigger and better loot, with more bigger and better loot spawns spread out throughout the map, could somehow magically make the game worse. And if your complaint is “well the more people could run kitted and that would devalue the kitted guns” then I would say what on gods green earth is the point of having a kitted gun if you can’t use it in some intense pvp fights. I want a challenge, not some slap fest as I wade through pistol and budget boys. But I suppose there are those who just want to lord it over other players.


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