Wednesday, 26 September 2012

GUIDE: (Video) In-Depth Look at Team Fortress 2's Spy

As promised, here is the second in my series of nine class guides for Team Fortress 2, this time featuring the Spy! I've also got a special treat for you guys today: I'm giving away a Fancy Fedora to one lucky reader! To enter, send me the following tweet (without the quotes) on twitter:

"@StevenBogos I want a Fancy Fedora! #stevesgameblog"

A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday, the 29th of September. Enjoy the video!


So my in-depth heavy guide quickly became my most-viewed video I’ve made since starting my blog, meaning I must have done something right, so I’m doing it again! This time I’m having a look at my second favourite class, and the class that, in contrast to how easy the heavy is to learn, is probably the most complicated for beginners to get the hang of – the Spy.

He does draw some similarities with the heavy though – proper positioning is incredibly important and the element of surprise is your greatest weapon.

Let’s have a look at what the spy keeps in his bag.

We’re going from the bottom up this time, starting with sappers. There are only two spy sappers, the vanilla sapper and the ‘red tape recorder’. Stick with the vanilla sapper. As far as I have seen, the ‘red tape recorders’ gimmick of reversing construction in no way makes up for the damage penalty it receives. The vanilla sapper is better in every situation.

Next up is watches. Watch choice is quite significant in that different watches can completely alter your playstyle. This guide is built around the dead ringer, which even after its numerous, numerous nerfs, Is still the most versatile watch out there. It lets you feign death and become invulnerable for a short time, with the only downside of not being able to cloak at will and making a louder noise when decloaking – both of which are fairly easily remedied. This watch allows you to safely fall behind enemy lines, quickly retreat, and fool your enemies into thinking you are dead. After all, simply evading your foes by hiding and cloaking means you still remain a threat, but if you provide them with a ‘realistic death’ you can drop off their radar.

The cloak and dagger has its uses if you are a much more patient man than I am. I feel it’s better than the vanilla watch in that you can remain cloaked indefinitely, and don’t feel tied to seeking out ammo pickups.

Let’s talk knives. While technically equipped as your ‘secondary,’ they are pretty much your primary weapon. You can’t go wrong with the vanilla knife. It’s remained pretty much unchanged from Team Fortress Classic and most of the unlocks that have come along since pale in comparison. It gets the job done and what I recommend for about 90% of spies. Looking at the other knives, I honestly can’t see a use for the big earner and the connivers kunai. They both have some interesting effects, but the downsides are too drastic to recommend them over the vanilla knife. Your Eternal Reward is an interesting mechanic, but again, not being able to disguise at will is such a huge detriment to the disguise-as-killed-enemy feature.

There is one knife that I can recommend the use of outside of the vanilla knife, and that is the spycicle. It functions pretty much exactly the same as the normal knife, but has ‘silent’ kills that don’t show up in the enemy’s killfeed, and gives you two seconds of fire invulnerability if set on fire. The downside is that if you are attacked by a pyro, it ‘melts’ and takes a full ten seconds to regenerate. Using this knife with the dead ringer is a tad overkill, as getting hit by a pyro will pop BOTH your DR and your knife. I suggest using it in conjunction with the cloak and dagger.

If there is one mistake I see novice spies make time and time again, it’s forgoing the use of their revolver. You revolver is actually quite powerful, it can drop the lighter classes in three hits and can make you a threat even if your cover has been blow. I recommend the vanilla revolver, because it has no drawbacks and will preform the best in most situations. The enforcer used to trump the revolver before its nerf, but these days I see it as pretty much a straight downgrade to the revolver. The ambassador can be better than the vanilla revolver if you are very confident in your aim, but if you can't consistently get that opening headshot it's not worth it. I can see value in the L’tranger. When your cover is blown and your dead ringer is on cooldown, you can use it to quickly fill up your cloak so you can escape.

So, there’s our loadout settled. Used the dead ringer with the vanilla knife, and either the vanilla revolver or the L’tranger, OR, use the cloak and dagger with the spycicle and vanilla revolver. Let’s see what you should know about the spy.

Our first lesson begins before even leaving spawn – what class should I disguise as?

Of all the classes, I feel that The Spy, Sniper, and Scout are the best disguise choices. Of the three, I feel that the spy is the most potent. He doesn’t arouse as much suspicion by preforming ‘strange’ actions, such as running the wrong way or not firing on the enemy team.
Snipers are another good choice because they spend most of their time at the back of the team. They are also less spatially aware of enemies in close proximity, so they are less likely to spot you.

The scout seems like a bad disguise choice, but it’s actually one of the best ones. While people are quick to point out that you can’t double jump and you run slower, players tend not to notice these things because the scout, unlike the sniper, is constantly mobile. He’s more like a buzzing fly in teammates peripheral vision.

A couple of quick disguise tips – constantly change your disguise. If you kill someone, change your disguise. If someone spots you, change your disguise. If someone pops your dead ringer, change your disguise. While I did detail the three most believable disguises, don’t be afraid to use your own judgement on using the other disguises if the situation calls for it. If you know for sure that the enemy team doesn’t have any members of a certain class, DON’T disguise as that class. Lastly, changing disguises gives off an identifiable puff of smoke so try and remain hidden while disguising.

Ok, with that out of the way, we can get down to actual point-and-shoot (and point-and-stab) tactics. First and foremost, the spy is an assassin. That means he specializes in taking out priority targets. Unfortunately, priority targets are usually the most difficult to kill. Let’s have a look.

Your top priorities are:
1.    Medics with full uber
2.    Engineers with a full sentry nest
3.    Demomen with a sticky trap set out.

While the easiest targets to kill are
1.    Snipers
2.    Heavies firing on your team
3.    Engineers without a sentry nest

Being a good spy means keeping these priorities in mind. Use your judgement to determine wether to go after a high priority target, or play it safe and eliminate the easiest targets. For example, while it is tempting to try and take out that medic on full ubercharge ready to turn an enemy heavy into a big glowing red ball of hurt, medics, especially with a full uberchage, are faster than you, constantly moving around, and more that likely actively looking out for spies as they don’t really need to be looking directly at the heavy’s back to heal him. In this case, just kill the damn heavy. Sure, the medic might get away, but best case scenario your teammates pounce on him and worst case scenario you avert an ubercharge your team is unprepared for.

Another tip that I just can’t stress enough is to use you revolver. So many spies forget they even have a gun, yet in reality, anywhere from 25-50% of my kills are from shooting people in the face. If you spot an obvious spy running towards you, shoot him in his dumb face. For whatever stupid reason, most spy vs spy fights involve both spies running in circles trying to desperately backstab the other. Fuck that, blow his head off.

While the general rule of thumb is to not mess with pyros and scouts because they are faster than you and are quite good at killing you, feel free to take pot shots at them when you see them retreating with low health, or are distracted with other targets. Taking out an enemy pyro makes taking out the rest of their team so much easier.

When your cover is blow and they are chasing you out of their base, try to backpedal and fire shots. If your dead ringer is fully charged, looking like you tried to put up a fight before using it makes your ‘death’ a lot more believable than a spy that just dies instantly.

Just like in my heavy guide, to master the spy you really need to know the ambush points of every map. Think about how you would run through a map as any other class, what areas are you likely to skim over. Take this example. As players run over this ledge, they actually fall a little bit ahead of where the lip is. That means, while hiding in this location, most enemies will jump right over your head without even noticing you there.

Once you’ve gotten yourself into an ambush spot, have patience. Players spawn in ‘waves’, so it’s safe to assume that they travel in said waves most of the time. Don’t stab the first person to walk by, give it a few seconds to make sure he doesn’t have any team-mates following him that will notice you slithering out from your hidey-hole. Now that you’re running with the team is the time to strike! Remember your priorty and easy target lists, choose your target, kill him, and most of the time, retreat. Don’t get greedy. Sometimes you can grab two or three kills in quick succession, such as when players are occupied with a payload cart, but most of the time it is much safer to get the one kill and then get out – activate your dead ringer and high-tail it to the closest ammo pack to recharge it.

Oh, quick note on that. NEVER ENGAGE THE ENEMY IF YOUR DEAD RINGER IS NOT CHARGED! This is suicide. Even if it’s a single enemy, he might have an unseen ally in the background that will ruin your day. Remember that you can pick up ammo packs and fallen guns to make the dead ringer charge faster, or extend its cloak duration if it’s already active.

Lastly, a quick note on engineer nests. If the engineer is nearby, but not actively whacking on his gun and there are no other enemies around, sap the gun kill the engineer when he comes to repair it. If the engineer is sitting right behind his gun, you can actually backstab him, and quickly sap the sentry before it turns around to shoot at you. If he’s not really in a position where this is possible, or if there are a lot of enemies around, just try constantly applying sappers to the gun and hopefully your team will notice and push into the nest before you get found out.

I feel that’s about all I can teach you. Let’s recap
1. Use a believable disguise – Spy, Sniper, or Scout
2. Remember your priority and easy target list!
3. Use your revolver. A lot
4. Learn good ambush locations.
5. Make sure to wait for all enemies to pass when attacking
6. Never engage the enemy if your dead ringer is not charged.

Thanks for watching guys, be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel and check out my twitter and blog for more content like this. There are links in the description. I update my blog every Wednesday, and plan on making guides for all nine TF2 classes!

Liked this article? Check out my TF2 heavy guide!

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