Ever since Demoman lost the WAR! under some pretty spotty rationale regarding a propaganda contest, many people have asked that Valve migrate the Gunboats over to the Demoman, either through a wholesale migration, release of a Demoman-only reskin (the ginboats?) or a reworking of the Wee Booties. Sometimes this wish extends also to the other weapon tailored to explosive-jumping, the Market Gardener. After all, Soldier and Demoman already share the BASE Jumper and orange-painted Jumper weapons, why not go all the way?
As a Demoman main, I’d adore them on a basic level. A Dapper Apple found the concept super powerful when he messed around with items.txt (something you can no longer do, by the way) and while I freaking suck with the Market Gardner I can only imagine what a professional Demojumper could accomplish with the thing.
However, I have to disagree with giving these weapons to the Demoman on a conceptual level, and here’s why.
The Soldier has always been the “precision” explosive class; his rockets go exactly where he aims them and allows him to perfectly control his jumps and directions. If a soldier can imagine it, he can do it, with enough skill on his end. The Market Gardner as a concept emphasizes this precision, and you can argue that the Gunboats do as well because they allow the Soldier to rethink his jumping ability and longevity to a statistical degree. Looking at a few of his other rocket-jump oriented unlocks like Mantreads and Liberty Launcher reinforces the focus on precision.
In contrast, Demoman’s weapons are neither precise nor perfectly controllable. His stickies/pipes arc and send him careening in a less-predictable arched direction. As a concept they are more clumsy and emphasize the “explosive” part over the “jump” part. The simplistic “+25 health” booties and “another explosive” Caber fit that concept of drunken careening through the air. The closest thing he has to an explosive-oriented unlock (other than the BASE Jumper he borrowed from Soldier) is the Loose Cannon, which is even worse in every one of these regards. It’s rather telling how few unlocks Valve even gives him for explosive jumping, heavily preferring to explore his demoknighting subclass instead.
In a way, Demoman already has his own Gunboats and Market Gardner: the Booties give him more health to tank the high-self damage, and the Caber gives him the high-damage melee to pick a single enemy. Neither are as refined as the same options given to soldier, but that fits the Demoman’s concept. Look at the two classes from a core perspective; stock soldiers were rocket jumping everywhere even before unlocks came out, but a single sticky jump and a stock demoman is already looking for a healthkit. He really doesn’t have the ability to revolve his playstyle around explosive-jumping without equipping the Sticky Jumper. Perhaps that’s another reason I consider the Sticky Jumper viable in its own right.