Comprehensive spy guide (TF2)

Uploaded by Gattsu5 on 06.12.2011

Playing spy is not solely based on the performance of the player,
but rather on the coordination with the team, as well as on the mistakes of the opposing team.
The most valuable skills of a spy are adaptation, awareness and improvisation, regardless of the situation.
One way to distinguish between a new player to the class
and a player who is familiar with the class is by counting the amount of mistakes made throughout the game.
The more familiar one is with the class, the less fatal mistakes will be seen.
The class and playstyle are heavily influenced by the other players, rather than the actual spy player.
I'll explicitly remind that while video clips are important, they are only complementary to the text written.
And while clips are sometimes specifically designed for different categories,
It does not mean that they should be isolated completely, but thought of as a general guide with focus on specific items.
Let's begin off then, by thinking of the spy in general context.
It should be more of what you can do for the team, rather than what the team can do for you.
If charging an Über would be more beneficial to win, that should be done, rather than playing spy.
The playstyle can also vary greatly between players. I recommend more active,
agressive play, but passive ("camping") is also necessary.
What you should mainly avoid is locking onto a target and pursuing it. That will get you killed. Go after unaware enemies.
So, then, let's revise the Spy's arsenal, starting off with the primary.
Any spy pistol is viable, but enforcer is greatly recommended with the dead ringer (due to free damage bonus).
And the L'etranger only with the whole Saharan Spy set.
For the watch, I'll only be covering the dead ringer, explained later.
With the enforcer, you can take down 150HP or 175HP enemies firing only 3 shots, and 125HP enemies with 2 shots.
If engaging a demoman, it's best to stick in the close-range. Demomen are weak up close (unless demoknight, those should be avoided if engaged from the front)
W+M1 pyros are also an easy target practice with the revolver.
It's also possible to abuse water, as the flamethrower does not work under water.
Unless they switch to the shotgun, you're practically safe.
Spies are the most efficient within maps with the highest amount of vertical space (stairs, edges, houses, crates, etc).
Revolvers are both efficient up close (dealing 68 damage with the enforcer, or 56 with the revolver) and at a distance.
Their major problem is that they are inconsistent. They can have great accuracy, or horrible accuracy (even if aiming at the center of the body of an enemy).
This is a disadvantage of the weapon, and must be dealt with.
Next, we are going to focus on the main gameplay-changing aspect. The enemies.
There are three types of enemies: low skilled players (mostly F2P), intermediate skilled (most playerbase before F2P update) and actually experienced players (people very familiar with the game).
Before activating a dead ringer, I allow to get hit by a rocket (112 damage). Activating the cloak right after is more convincing.
He buys it, and taunts, rendering him inmobile. Wasn't worth it. These kind of players are either in the first or second group.
This pyro has killed me once and taunted. It made him confident. For a long time, he did not watch his back. Got him killed.
While killing (or getting killed by) players, there are 2 factors that drastically change their gameplay. One is anger/anxiety and the other one is fear.
As seen, this pyro goes after me, rather than using the logical escape route to the right (which was clear of the blue team). He gets killed. Second time.
Here is the next encounter. There is a level 3 sentry on the top floor and we both know that. I also know he will pop out of the corner, as soon as I approach.
The sentry got him.
With the enforcer, you can use a more direct approach, due to the high damage per second of the weapon (68 per shot at max ramp-up).
Targeting weak or flanking enemies which are unseen by the rest of the team is very efficient, by providing firepower.
It is time again for another encounter with the pyro. Rather than dealing with the soldier or retreating, he goes for the spy.
This is how anger works. The more he dies, the more he will ignore/give to kill you.
You can easily abuse that, by baiting the player into a group of allied players. The best approach is to not go directly face to face.
Even illogical choices are OK for them, meaning they will die to kill you.
Look at how the dumbass crosses the entire map just to get me, ignoring the enemy soldier/medic/scout combo, right next to him. By not dying, it won't relief the hate, but steadily power it up.
Then there's fear. It's actually both positive and negative for you. On one hand, the more you kill them, the more alert they will be.
This includes turning around, listening closely to decloak sounds, etc.
You can't exactly 'abuse' it, because even the best disguises will be spychecked. However, it does mean they will waste time spychecking most allies and will be paranoid most of the time.
This helps you're team, as they are less efficient in combat and more aware of the surroundings, at all times.
This only affects players from mid to high experience. This is because F2P players either don't know what the spy is, or spycheck everyone but don't recognize the dead-ringer (only vanilla weapons).
Now let's cover another of the spy's basic necessities. Dodging/evading.
Airstrafing and general unpredictable maneuvers are essential to this.
You should not engage targets you are facing up front. If detected, it's better to escape, and come back later.
Activating the dead ringer only when you have already recieved damage is a good idea, but don't push it too much, as it can get you killed.
As a support unit, you should not decimate your enemies with brute-force, but taking out specific targets and exploiting the vulnerabilities of the enemy team.
You must respect the strengths and weaknesses of all the classes you're facing, especially multiple enemies.
Account the distance, and health needed to engange. Don't forget to have a high charge on the cloak.
The dead ringer will not activate unless it's 100% charged. Grabbing enemy weapons and ammo kits will recharge the cloak easily.
Here is an example of airstrafing that practically saved my ass. Note that I only move when spotted,
and tried to go for the unaware heavy, but was too late. It was then time to find a way to avoid dying.
Feigning death right away is always a bad idea. It makes the cloaking too obvious, and attracts more enemies.
For the video, I tried to balance longer footage times with short ones.
This is to show that I don't have 'moments' when I'm essentially "good". It's part of the gameplay. Shorter parts are more of a specific hint.
When detected and pursued, it's best to dive into a sea of friendly players. This way, you have a higher chance of escaping alive.
Since you're diving into enemy territory, it might be better to take down everything you can, before dying, as there will probably not be any allies in the area. Better sap that.
Note how I allow myself get lit before activating the cloak, and afterwards change direction immediately.
Let's pass onto engineers, now.
Sapping like a madman really works for multiple buildings. It's hard to get shot of on top of the buildings.
You're easily spotted but can't be reached by melee weapons, as the hit registry will force enemies to strike the buildings, rather than the spy.
Gunning down engineers or using sap/stab (or stab/sap) are all valid. There are, sometimes,
ways that can be slightly more effective.These are mostly for players who don't know who to spycheck (you should spycheck everyone).
We will cover disguises later. However, the most efficient way to remain undetected, is to either switch the fake-weapons, and/or to reload them.
If an engineer is stuck in a corner, a good idea is to stab him from above. This works for anyone, given the angle to backstab.
Feigning death while having sapped a building is a good idea. The engineer will be busy unsapping that. You can either escape or try again.
For multiple buildings, it is adviced to have backup. Pretty much anyone, especially soldiers and demomen, as they can easily clean the room.
You can also abuse enemy buildings, by recharging you health/cloak at the dispensers, but also using the enemy teleporters.
As I only recorded a few, consecutive matches, I did not have time nor the moment to show a telefrag.
Here, the sapper got bugged.
A telefrag is using a teleporter with an enemy on top of the exit, which kills him.
You can leave the intelligence for other members of the team, if there is a more important sentry to get rid of.
Not certain about level 2 dispensers, but level 3 ones will regenerate your cloak faster than it's used. You can also recharge while invisible.
This is why it's important to spycheck everyone. Once the setup is lost (sentry, dispenser, teleporter),
the defense becomes considerably weaker. It does not mean, however, that there should be more than 1 or 2 engies.
You don't need teleporters nor dispensers if you have medics. Nor sentries, if you have medics with powerful classes (soldiers, demos, heavies).
While evading, take non-linear pathes, but sharp corners and upper/lower levels.
Friendlies can create a sufficient distraction for you to escape.
Heavily guarded areas are sometimes possible to destroy. You need to choose your targets very careful, and time the sentries (their angled turns).
Now, for more advanced stabbing...
There are two effective ways to stab, which are not entirely predictable. You should vary and not attempt these all the time. Cornerstabs and stairstabs.
(nice shot)
You must regulate when to decloak, by keeping a neat balance between cloak charge and health. Think of both as the same thing.
A good way to enter enemy territory is by backpedaling. About fake weapons, changing them is also a good idea.
Think of an appropiate weapon for the class. Don't go melee with pyro. Actually, never go melee, maybe for engie.
Let's now pass onto disguises. There are 2 types of disguises. Disguises and bad disguises.
Bad disguises are Pyro and Spy. Everything else is valid. This is because you should spycheck any pyro (especially if not puffing flames) and any spy not wearing a mask or has a sapper equipped.
Pretty much the reason is because everyone disguises as Pyro and/or spy.
Never look at the enemies into the eye, or directly face them. Always try to lean to the side,
and pretend you're going the other way. Act dumb, stare at walls, stay still. Don't forget to fake change weapons.
Most of the time you'll need speed. Avoid using any heavy disguise (heavy, soldier and demo) unless you really need to mix into a group.
Use a 'dumb' disguise (medic with syringe gun, or scout, due to the speed difference. Jumping might help, though)
if you don't plan infiltrating in too deep, but would rather see yourself getting detected.
That is, to force the enemy to activate the dead ringer.
Why am I insisting so much on the dead ringer? Personally, I believe it's the best watch to use presently. This is because the F2P group is not entirely aware of its function (nor the decloak noise).
The intermediate experienced players are mostly used to kill spies without the dead ringer. This is because new players
usually reject the weapon, as it behaves differently to the default invisibility watch.
You also get a free upgrade from the revolver. As for the experienced players, all cloaks are usually balanced to use. None is too efficient.
But you still have an advantage over newer, or usual players.
These are just some clips where I've encountered spies disguised as pyros. Instead of letting them pass by, spycheck them. They're a spy, most of the time. I have no idea why are players attracted to the pyro.
You should also avoid using the Cloak and dagger at all costs. The spy is the most efficient when active, not constantly passive. It's just a matter of efficiency, and not worth the time wasted.
Remember that it is the only cloak that cannot be recharged with ammo. Most maps have plenty, except push maps (but fastlane, probably).
Here is the reason why you should play on servers without crits, with damage spread disabled (fixed) and no random
pellet spread. Normally, a spy stab does 40 damage, that's why I thought I killed him.
But he survived, just because he got lucky. The more you leave to luck (especially crits), the less you might learn during a game.
And here you can see the importance of spychecking.
I never thought of making the video so long, but due to the amount of content in the game, I'll also have to include something for the YER.
This weapon is much better for consecutive chain-stabs. It is however, most of the time, much more difficult to get the first disguise, and not actually worth to use it.
Silent kills do help, but stabing a heavy is a pain, which punishes the role of the spy (taking out important targets).
It also makes you think twice before pulling the trigger, the lost disguise can get you killed.
It causes there to be less of "those moments" (when a player shines). However, those few that remain, are very rewarding.
Not entirely sure it's worth it. Considerably better using the whole saharan spy set.
It is still, however, not entirely useful against experienced players. Luckily, there aren't many of those, and in your usual pub, you might just find the right situations.
Voice commands, as a whole, serves to communicate with the enemy team. Usually, new players and intermediately skilled players will ignore them.
But some aknowledge them. You can create paranoia among others.
Or, you can get to convience people that you are indeed friendly. As a habit, I always thank medics, or communicate with others.
Not entirely sure if it makes me harder to detect, as these eventually might get you killed. That's why I'd also like to include a mini anti-spy guide as well.
The most important resource against spies is sound. Any backstab can be heard (both the stab and the scream). Voice commands of a cloaked spy might reveal him, too.
Interestingly enough, you can use the DR to make enemies explode by standing in front of them, while they're shooting.
They generally don't notice for the first couple of shots. The explosive self damage kills 'em.
So, back onto the anti-spy thing. Listen carefully for decloaks.
You might wonder, how useful or reliable can sound be? Well, you can hear the footsteps, even if there is mic chat present.
Listen to the dirt steps.
If a spy activates a dead ringer, an easy way to see if he's dead is by grabbing his weapon. No ammo means fake weapon,
or that he lives; no decloak means he's either gone away or has the saharan spy set.
Any 'solid' teammate is a spy, as you can't go through enemies.
Even if 'nothing' is blocking your way, it's probably a cloaked spy (unless a bugged piece of map geometry). Usually a cloaked spy.
Even 'heavies' should be spychecked. You can infiltrate a bit better by using voice commands and changing weapons.