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[Discussion] Very basic guide of how economy works in CS:GO

2016.06.14 20:32 naclo3samuel [Discussion] Very basic guide of how economy works in CS:GO

The basics of how economy works in CS:GO

NOTE: Before I delve deeper into discussing the basics of CSGO economy, I would like to point out that this guide is based *solely on my own experience*, and hence I would appreciate if it were judged accordingly ;)

Quick Table of Contents


'Economy' in Counter Strike is simply put, the act of buying weapons and gear in a manner which through various techniques such as 'saving' and 'eco rounds' gives you the largest possible weapon advantage, in the largest possible amount of rounds in a given game of Counter Strike.
For instance, if doing a double save at any point in the game allows you to buy 3 times in a row after that, this is a weapon advantage for 3 rounds for the cost of a weapon disadvantage for 2 rounds. Depending on the amount of money the players have when such a decision is made, different combinations can produce very different outcomes, such as: * force buy, 2 saves after (1 weapon advantage at the cost of 2 disadvantages) * 1 save, 2 buys after (1 weapon disadvantage at the cost of 2 advantages) * double save, 3 buys after (2 weapon disadvantages at the cost of 3 advantages)
Side-note: when I say 'advantage' or 'disadvantage' I don't mean to say that you have an advantage or disadvantage over the other team. What I mean to say is that a buy offers an advantage in that it allows you to buy *better weapons than you would otherwise be able to afford in an 'eco' or 'save'*.
In other words, in this guide I will try to cover as many different ways of buying as I can think of, as well as the ways in which combining these methods allows us (as players) to gain the maximum weapon advantage in the largest possible amount of rounds at the cost of the least possible amount of rounds where we are forced to save.

Part I: First round, Second round & The $1000 Rule

A typical game of CS:GO consists of around 16 to 30 rounds of gameplay, with a team switch after the first 15 rounds of the game. As far as economy is concerned, the majority of these rounds are identical, meaning the same set of basic rules works for every one of these rounds.
The exception to this rule, however, is the first and second round of the game, as well as some other 'important' rounds (last round, last round in half, e.t.c.). In this article, however, I would like to focus more on the these first two rounds, because in my experience these play a far more significant role in the outcome of the match, and a good economy in the first two rounds of the game, regardless of whether you lost or won them, sets you off for a very solid advantage in the rest of the game.

First Round (aka Pistol Round)

The first rule you should remember is that unless you are playing with a premade (more on that later) or you have a very good reason not to, you should always try to avoid buying anything in the first round of the game (aka pistol round).
There are a couple of reasons for this, in particular, the weapons you can buy on pistol round offer a miniscule advtantage to the default starting pistols, and if you lose the pistol round with less than $500 in your pocket it leaves you with a very probable $1900 second round, and being forced to save your money, your gross for 3rd round will be $3800, which still isn't quite enough for a buy.
If you don't buy anything on pistol round, however, even after a loss, by third round your money will be at $4100, which is already enough to get back in the game with the chances of winning evened out. Now personally, I wouldn't recommend doing a full buy on third round, but as you can see you already have the choice unlike if you would have bought for pistol round.
Before someone comes along saying that you aren't necessarily left with $500 after a buy on pistol round, I would like to point out that flashes and nades (the only other things you can buy on pistol leaving you with more than $500) are only really useful if you are playing with a team (premade) and as I pointed out earlier, this particular part of eceonomy is so complex, it deserves it's own section later on in this guide.

Second Round (Round after pistol)

As we've learned so far, in most cases nothing should be bought on first round. The second round, however, is much more complicated. To illustrate all the possible outcomes you may have for second round, here is a simple demonstration:
It would appear to be incredibly simple if it weren't for the bomb. The complex part about whether the bomb was planted or not is that it gives both teams more money. While it may appear reasonable to allow the T's to plant the bomb and then defuse it to get those extra $250 as a CT, this is a very serious mistake. First of all, because simply allowing the T's to plant the bomb gives them an extra $800 which even provided you get $250 sets the enemy team for $550 ahead in cash (compared to them losing in any other way). Frankly this means they will be able to do a full buy on third round with a minimum of $4900.
So to sum it up, As a terrorist: * If you lost pistol -> save second but try to get a bomb plant at ALL COSTS * If you won pistol -> standard second round buy
As a Counter-terrorist: * If you lost pistol -> save second * If you won pistol -> standard second round buy but try to prevent a bomb plant at ALL COSTS
Now that we've got that out of the way we can talk about what I commonly refer to as a 'standard second round buy'. The first thing to realise, is that the enemy team will hopefully have around $2200 (if you successfully prevented the bomb plant as a CT), which means they either: (1) are full saving, (2) bought armor and a pistol or (3) didn't buy armor and bought an SMG.
Now, the best way to get an advantage over them with the least cash spent is to buy Armor+Kevlar and an SMG/Shotty, Scout or Galil/Famas. This is best because it will kill: * people who are saving (because of high unarmored damage) * people with armor but a pistol (because of their superiority against a pistol) * people without armor and an SMG (because of high unarmored damage)
Technically, you can buy anything for second round, but always make sure there is at least $1000 left after buying armor and whatever weapon you decide is appropriate (this naturally makes SMGs and the Scout prefered). Also keep in mind, that 99% of the time the enemy team will not be able to afford armor, so AK-47 buys and anything you would usually buy for a 'buy round' for that matter offers no advantage to the much cheaper SMG weapons.

The $1000 Rule

The 'thousand dollar rule' is something I have thought up on my own (at least so I think [criticism appreaciated]) which really helps you make quick buy decisions in less than 2-3 seconds on all other rounds apart from first and second.
Before I continue I want to make it clear that this rule does not apply if: * Your team calls a save or more than one player on your team happens to be saving * You are playing first round of either half, second round of either half, 14th round (before half) or last round
Alright, now that I made that clear I can formulate the rule for you: Whatever you buy, at least $1000 must always be left over.
This ensures that even if you lose, you will only have to save once before you can full buy again. Now for some people $1000 may seem a bit strict, which is reasonable (you can lower it to $900 or more), but if you're generally not very good at economy I suggest simply following the rule perfectly. And do not ever under any circumstances leave less than $500, because that would mean you will have to double save to be able to buy again.


Ok, now to finish off this part of the guide let's look at basically what an intelligent player is going to do in a game of CS when following these rules compared to what happens if the rules aren't followed. As a sample we'll take the first six rounds of a game where 4 rounds are lost and compare them. Keep in mind that these assume that the player in question doesn't get any kills.
Intelligent Player Buys * $800 on pistol -> doesn't buy anything (no disadvantage or advantage = 0) -> loss * $2200 on second round -> save (1 disadvantage = -1) -> loss * $4100 on third round -> save (1 disadvantage = -1) -> loss * $6500 on fourth round -> Armor + AK47 (-3700) (1 advantage = 1) -> win * $6050 on fifth round -> All Nades (-1000) (1 advantage = 1) -> loss * $5450 on sixth round -> Armor + Ak47 (-3700) (1 advantage = 1) -> ...
Total Advantage: 1
Not-So-Intelligent Player Buys * $800 on pistol -> buys flashbang (-$200) (very slight advantage = -0.2) -> loss * $2000 on second round -> Kevlar + P250 (-$950) (disadvantage = -0.8) -> loss * $2950 on third round -> P250 (-$300) (disadvantage = -0.8) -> loss * $3050 on fourth round -> Finally saves (disadvantage = -1) -> win * $6300 on fifth round -> Armor + AK47 (-$3700) (advantage = 1) -> loss * $4000 on sixth round -> Armor + P250 (-$1300) (disadvantage = -0.5) -> ...
Total Advantage: -2.3
As can be clearly seen from this comparison, the 'intelligent' player by following the very basic rules of economy by the sixth round has already accumulated very stable starting cash, which allows him to buy even after a loss.

Part II: Teams and Economy

This entire part is dedicated solely to discussing how economy works within a team, which basically means that if you only intend to play solo que/matchmaking or you aren't currently part of a team you don't really need to read this next part.
In most teams there is a predetermined in-game leader, and the economy of the team is ultimately determined by the leader, who is usually someone much more experienced in the subject in general, and is wise enough to bend even some of the basic laws of economy in CS:GO.
Because of the leader's constant need to analyze everything that is happening on his own team, the enemy team, common spots, repeating strats, fakes, double fakes, e.t.c. It is best to follow the basic rules of economy at all times if your leader doesn't tell you what you should do in advance.

Basic Principle of Saves & Buys in a team

Apart from the basic rules of the very first three rounds of the game (in each half) covered in the first part of this guide, there is a very important distinction to make when dealing with teams: in most cases it is best when a team either saves as a team or buys as a team.
What I mean by as a team is that either every single member on the team saves, or every single member of the team buys. Now this would appear ridiculously simple, just buy whenever every single player can buy and save in any other case, however, because all the players in a team have different roles, and hence the amount of money each has and requires usually various a ton, 'drops' which is basically dropping a teammate a weapon you bought come into play, and this is frankly where it becomes much more complicated, especially when roles such as 'AWPers' and 'riflers' are parts of the team.

Drops - basics

As far as economy is concerned, for now let us assume there are only two possible roles in a team: 'Awpers' and 'Riflers'. Basically an Awper is someone who is dedicated to using an AWP (in other words the sniper), while everyone else prefers the rifle when possible.
The problem with Awpers is that for them to operate properly, they require a minimum of $6750 (to satisfy the $1000 rule) which means that in order to get an active Awper on the team, you will have to make an exception to second round: an awper will have to save second round, because otherwise he won't be able to buy an awp on third round, which could be crucial because there is a possibility the enemy team can full buy on third round (if they plant one or more bombs).
The problem is, one saving teammate on second round means one potential kill for the enemy team, which could mean an increased chance of a potential win for the enemy team on second round, which is generally a disaster for any team.
One of the ways of dealing with this, is having the top-scoring teammate drop him the cheapest SMG ($1200) and buying the same SMG himself. The reason this would work, is that at least one player is bound to get at least one kill on pistol round, which gives him an extra $300. If he didn't buy anything on pistol round this should give him a total of $4350, and if he obeys the thousand dollar rule, he should be able to buy two $1200 SMGs (currently the UMP-45) and even afford body armor himself.
An important thing to note here is that both players are vulnerable. The Awper doesn't have armor, and the dropping player doesn't have a helmet which is why this approach should be considered very carefully, and most certainly should not be adopted without the leader's call.
After digesting and thinking about this scenario for a while, I have come to the conclusion that because the awper's needs for money are so much higher than everybody else's, in most cases in a team, at least in the first few rounds: * The AWP player will always recieve drops (not give them) * The rest of the players need to make sure that when everybody buys, the awper can buy too (for this to happen the AWPer has to have $1650 (CT) or $2050 (T) more money than everyone else)
Another thing that has to be considered by the in-game leader is using up the 'money reserve' the awper has accumulated for allowing the players in the team who are down on money to at least get a rifle. So for this particular scenario, the awper should be able to at any point instead of buying an awp, buy two rifles and armor for himself.
Once this basic principle is mastered, the rest of the economy concerning drops is determined by how the IGL (short for 'in-game leader') decides to govern buys.
For example, there might be a default strat, which requires two players to buy a flash and a smoke, which naturally means that the $500 difference will have to be compensated via drops later on in the game.
In general, the basic rule regarding drops is to try and compensate for the difference in money between players (note that the awper needs more [see above section]), without inflicting too much damage on your own economy.
The $1000 rule can be bent if a drop is required, which would bring down the reserve to say $900, but bending it too much will result in an even bigger gap the next round (if it is lost), which brings us to the next subject:

When you MUST save

As we've discussed above, sometimes dropping for a player requires another player to drop below the $1000-limit, which means he will need to double save before another buy. While this isn't necessarily true in a team (they can drop him next round), it does not solve the problem of balancing the money, because now a player that has dropped needs to be dropped, which may not even be possible (if no other player has spare money for instance).
So here is a list of scenarios to watch out for: * If any player has less than $1000, this means he CANNOT BUY ARMOR so a drop is very risky. * If dropping requires you to bend the $1000 rule, only do so if the other teammates can also drop you if necessary.

Cutting down on money usage

Now because of some aspects of the engine that counter strike is built on, there are a few neat little tricks which allow you to cut down on money usage significantly.
First of all there is a known, but not too common method for cutting down on armor: if you are playing as a CT and you know for sure that the enemy team is buying, you can get away with only buying body armor. The reason for this is that body armor will work the same way full armor will against AK-47 players on bodyshots, and on headshots you will die regardless of whether you are using helmets.
While this may appear like a really neat trick, you should always be very careful adopting it, in particular because the enemy team might not be full buying, in which case they will be able to one-tap you with all the pistols on most ranges, and EASILY get a kill on you with even the most basic SMG rifle.
Another method, but for cutting down on rifle cost is if the enemy team did a full buy with flashes two or three times in a row early on in the game, or generally if you know they are very likely to be saving, you can get away with purchasing a Galil/FAMAS instead of a primary rifle, because against unarmored opponents it doesn't make a big difference. This is actually one of the rare cases when you are allowed to buy save weapons ('eco weapons') when the rest of the team may be using primary rifles.
Eco-rounds and their application in a team
Another interesting aspect of economy which is introduced when teams come into play are rounds where the team doesn't save fully, but leaves enough money for the next round to be a buy. I like to consider these situations 'eco rounds' but adopting this strategy should be done with the utmost care, in a way that will not affect the buys of the following round.
It is usually a good idea to give one-shot kill pistols (such as the P250) to good pistol players on your team (AWPers are usually superior in that regard), because getting even one kill without significantly affecting the buys of the proceeding round is going to mess up the economy of that player on the enemy team, forcing the rest of the team to drop him a gun, and as we discussed earlier, in some situations dropping can lead to a disasterous increase in the 'money bill' required to even out the economy of the team.

Summary of points covered (team)

Part III: Planning ahead, wins, losses and some statistics

This section is basically a collection of data some players/team members and even team leaders may find helpful:

Round awards

Weapon kill awards

Source from CSGO wiki
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