Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

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Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

Post  Segno on Wed May 28, 2014 11:30 am

I changed it a bit to use it as a script, but here it is.



Hello everyone, I am Segno and I've been playing Spy since mid 2011, Spy being the class that basically made me love Team Fortress 2 in the first place.

I started out TF2 playing about 430 hours of Arena, and while that game type is not well liked, I picked up habits that are pretty necessary to being a good competitive Spy (revolver usage, taking your life seriously, backstabbing distracted people, etc) because of how that gametype works.

I am a firm believer that Spy is a class that does not rely on luck, at least no more than any other class does. Like Medic, he is really a class that at its core is all about interpreting advantages/disadvantages and playing off of those, alongside figuring out how the enemy team plays and being as big a nuisance as possible to them.

The Spy is a Specialist class who excels at assassinating people up close and personal. He can instantly kill people in areas that a Sniper might have trouble doing the same thing. He can also sap buildings and provide information to the team while cloaked.

Before you get too far into this guide, here's a couple of terms to know, not everyone might know them but I'll probably be using them a lot:

pick: another word for kill. e.g.: a medic pick is a medic kill.

approach: your approach is essentially the path/method you approach the other team.

juke: some kind of movement you use to avoid dying/getting caught.

Spy is a weird class in that unlike every other class in the game (except Medic) he's way different from how he's played between public servers and competitive play. This makes a class that is already kind of hard to get into (so many nuances on Spy mechanics, nothing quite like it in any traditional FPS, etc) even harder to pick up.

Don't forget that a lot of what you'll see in this guide can't cover every situation, but I'll try. Spy is a class that is all about playing against specific mindsets, and so the viability of certain actions can completely change depending on how the enemy team acts or their skill level. This guide really can't cover everything because of this, but I'll try my best.

Remember, spies can't carry bad teams, they support good ones!

1.02 - The Secret to Minimizing Luck
As I said in the introduction, I'm a firm believer that Spy doesn't require more luck than any other class.

When people talk about Spy being more about luck rather than skill they are usually talking about two aspects: backstabbing people and "random" Spy deaths.

As far as these "random" deaths go, I don't believe you can blame luck if a Pyro spychecks you or if you turn a corner without knowing what is around it and die. You can always play around a Pyro regardless of how good they are, and you can just simply not turn corners that are known danger zones without knowing it is safe, or turn corners more broadly instead of so close.

As far as backstabbing people goes:

No matter how good of a player someone is, they have to expose themselves to kill somebody.

To play a Spy not based around luck, you have to identify a weakness that any player regardless of skill suffers from. No matter if you're a newbie or the greatest player in the universe if you want to kill somebody you have to look at them, which means your back has to be exposed. They want to kill the person so bad that they can't possibly fight your teammate and look behind them at the same time, and that is what you have to take advantage of to stab really good players. Recognizing when people are going to be distracted (or setting up the distractions with your team) and approaching them at the right time is the "skill" of Spy.

Before I get into taking advantage of this, I'm going to highlight the mechanics of all the Spy's items in the next video. I am also going to be including some lesser known tricks here as well and some advanced stuff. So even if you aren't completely new you might want to have a look.
1.03 - Revolver
Notes:

* All revolvers have the same spread (contrary to what some would have you think!). This spread means the Revolvers are best at close/mid range, and make poor long range sniping weapons.

* All Revolvers reload in 1.16s and reload all their shots at once.


Revolver



The stock Revolver is still somehow the Spy's best kept secret. If you want to instantly become better than most of the spies in this game learn to use it properly - seriously.

The stock Revolver is a solid all-rounder, it hits for 40 base damage, max of 60 up close (without damage spread), and crits for 120. If you can't land Ambassador headshots and do not want to practice getting better at them (or want to be a bit more up close and personal), use the Revolver.

This is your mainstay regardless of if you are pubbing or playing competitive, unless you are utterly amazing at Ambassador or want to use the Enforcer.

Due to the spread of the Revolver, try to aim for center of mass of your target as much as possible.

Abuse the fact that as a Spy you can see enemy HP by hovering over them and only pick gun fights you know you can't lose as much as possible.
1.04 - Ambassador
Ambassador



The Ambassador is only superior in sustained damage output to the Revolver/Enforcer if you can land headshots with it constantly. You need to pretty much have a 75+% headshot accuracy to make the damage dealt better sustained wise. If you feel confident in your headshotting abilities, then go ahead and use it. The Ambassador is unique in that the spread on the gun shrinks as it heads towards becoming perfectly accurate, and at its worse it has the same spread as every other Revolver.

However, ignoring raw DPS values (which aren't completely useful in TF2 to begin with), the Ambassador essentially trades sustained power for burst damage, allowing you to 2 shot 125 HP classes or Razorback Snipers if you land the headshot first. You can also get picks on somewhat wounded medium health classes at long range which is nice.

Since spies pretty much revolve around burst damage, this makes it the superior revolver as long you can land headshots up close, but Revolver is more reliable if you're just trying to gun someone down ASAP.

Ambassador is a great revolver in pubs and competitive, however don't try to force yourself to use it in matches if you really aren't capable of hitting a headshot if your life depends on it. Feel free to practice in pubs and scrims, though!
1.05 - L'etranger
L'etranger



After the recent balance update, the L'etranger has gone from the most useless Revolver in your arsenal to one of the best. While the L'etranger does awful damage and is thus harder to get picks with, the fact that it gives you +40% cloak meter synergizes quite well with the Cloak and Dagger.

Here's why the L'etranger is so good with the Cloak and Dagger: it turns the Cloak and Dagger into a watch that without stopping almost matches the same time of the Invisibility Watch without getting extra pickups, which corrects the one major weakness of the Cloak and Dagger (especially in Highlander) which is that specific instances on maps where the C&D doesn't have the energy to make an approach without stopping (for example, a mid fight on cp_gullywash). This allows the C&D to make the approach, and gives you much less reason of running the Invisibility Watch in competitive Highlander in my opinion, especially if you get really good at managing your C&D’s cloak and can play aggressive with it.

Before, I thought L'etranger & Dead Ringer would be a pretty bad combo since you're losing deathmatch power and making yourself more predictable and if you use Spycicle you can wind up being very weak at everything, but against less coordinated opponents it is an amazing distraction setup and it can be really annoying since a couple L'etranger shots get your Dead Ringer back. I would never recommend this as a full time loadout, but it is situationally good. I still think Ambassador with Dead Ringer is the better choice most of the time. (Note: L'etranger only extends the normal cloak of the Dead Ringer, not the super cloak that doesn't flicker and gives your damage resistance)

I still think L'etranger & Invisibility Watch isn't that great and you're probably better off running Revolver/Ambassador most of the time, the extra cloak on the Invisibility Watch does give you quite a bit of leeway but the extra damage is just too useful on the Invisibility Watch since you can't just feign away like with the Dead Ringer or pick perfect moments like with the Cloak and Dagger.
1.06 - Diamondback
Diamondback



The Diamondback has a great firing sound (especially the crits - that is how the Ambassador should sound like), and was recently updated. In pubs or anything where you're getting away with way more than you ever should, the Diamondback is amazing. In the highest levels of Highlander where you are lucky if you ever get more than a 1 KDR and sapping buildings will get you shut down if the other team hasn't wiped, the Diamondback remains a situational tool.

The main drawbacks to running the Diamondback are you lose on demand 102s and unlike other weapons it doesn't provide any persistent utility to make up for that to keep it balanced. This means the Diamondback is only useful if you're going to get a lot of safe saps (very map specific, e.g. Ashville), the other team isn't shutting you down properly (unreliable against a good team), or if you play really inefficiently to farm crits, which means missing important picks when they're needed most.

If you are more of a Revolver user, you will miss kills because of the lower damage, and how useful the Diamondback is depends on if you get most of your Revolver kills before stabbing or after stabbing. If you mostly use L'etranger you definitely won't want to use Diamondback much since you rely on the extra cloak time.

Just like the Spycicle, this weapon is a crutch most of the time and only situationally superior on certain maps or in certain lower levels of play If you are really good at Spy, especially Ambassador, this gun will only hinder you almost all of the time since you will forfeit a lot of on demand 102s which can lead to picks and trade them for enemy reliant 102s.
1.07 - Enforcer
Enforcer



The Enforcer is banned in Highlander and is likely to stay that way forever barring a severe rework.

The Enforcer allows you to two shot one of your greatest weaknesses - the Scout, and on top of that when you are playing optimally the only times you use your revolver are generally on low health targets or Razorback snipers, things that the Enforcer is better than the Revolver at killing.

Furthermore, the Enforcer does basically the same damage over time as the Revolver and for no apparent reason its spread returns to perfectly accurate in 0.95s - the same time as the Ambassador - instead of the standard 1.25s on every other gun that isn't the Ambassador.

To put it bluntly, the only time the Enforcer is worse than the Revolver is when a target would require 2 Revolver or 2 Enforcer shots to kill (or if you are trying to revolver down a 300/450 Heavy). This situation is so rare when playing Spy that it will hardly ever come up and isn't worth thinking about really.

If you are trying to win to the max and do not care about "honor" you should use the Enforcer over the Revolver 100% of the time.

Everyone will hate you for it, fair warning.
1.08 - Sapper
Sapper



You walk up to a building (hopefully disguised) and left click with the Sapper out. The building is disabled but the Sapper can be removed in 2 wrench hits or 1 Pyro Homewrecker hit. You don't have to stand near the building after you put the Sapper on.

Really basic stuff I know but this was a mistake I made when I was new.

The Sapper is really interesting in that it tends to promote this idea that "Spy is the Engineer's counter class" when in reality a good Spy generally can't touch a good Engineer without help (distracting the Engineer, etc). It's a strong support item though that can help your team push without wasting their Ubercharge if you can get a bit of help landing the Engineer pick from your team.

Of note is that you can shoot buildings while they are sapped to destroy them quicker, however Sentry Guns (not Dispensers or Teleporters) take half damage from the Spy who sapped it while Sapped.
1.09 - Red Tape Recorder
Red Tape Recorder



The Red Tape Recorder was, for quite some time, blatantly overpowered and a straight upgrade compared to the Sapper (hence why it was banned in Highlander). After the latest nerf though I wouldn't really recommend it over the Sapper most of the time in Highlander.

After the recent nerf, it takes 3.4s for a building to downgrade one level. In pubs this can be pretty overpowered I'll agree since you don't really have anyone covering or helping the Engineer. In competitive settings however you almost always have people helping defend the Engineer's nest, so they can kill the Spy while the Engineer unsaps the Sentry meaning you won't ever downgrade a Sentry Gun which is, in my opinion, the most important part of this sapper.

You can probably downgrade the Dispenser or Teleporters though, but in my experience you would just outright destroy those with the standard Sapper anyways.

However, the RTR is really strong if the enemy Engineer is spamming mini sentries. Since an Engineer can't put down another Mini Sentry until his is destroyed (and you can't destroy tool a sapped building) and the RTR takes a very long time to destroy a Mini Sentry, you essentially force a Gunslinger Engineer to either wrench his Mini Sentry (which he probably won't even be very close to if he's roaming) or wait for it to get destroyed.

This is just my opinion though, I'm just not fond of the sapper after the nerf but I'm sure there's plenty of people out there who would still use the RTR. I just feel like the Sapper is far more noticeable and reliable outside of King of the Hill where it would shut down minis.
1.10 - Backstab Mechanics
Backstab Mechanics

Backstabs work in a special way. Basically if your cursor is within a 180 degree arc behind the target's crosshair, you can backstab them. This leads to interesting circumstances, like being able to backstab someone by hitting their head while on top of them while they look slightly down.

If you are interested in a more in-depth look at backstab mechanics, there is a video from Stabby Stabby on it in the description.

1.11 - Knife
Knife



Not much to say - by far the most reliable knife in your arsenal. You should be using this most of the time.

There isn't a single situation where it is bad.
1.12 - Your Eternal Reward
Your Eternal Reward



The YER is an interesting concept - can't disguise and must backstab someone to get a disguise alongside silent kills, however now that the Spy set is removed this knife is just way too niche and needs a tweak or two to make it really viable imo.
1.13 - Big Earner
Big Earner



Same problem as the L'etranger really, unless you're using this to spam Dead Ringer the knife is just really bad. You already get a lot of cloak meter for killing someone if you pick up their item, getting 30% more at a cost of 25 health really isn't worth it 99.9% of the time (especially since you'll most likely run this knife with the Dead Ringer, that is 250 health your Dead Ringer isn't tanking now). You could maybe justify this in a pub where your life generally isn't as useful, but I wouldn't recommend it.
1.14 - Conniver's Kunai
Conniver's Kunai



The Kunai is a high risk, high reward Knife that basically demonstrates the stark difference between pub Spy and competitive Spy. This knife isn't half bad in pubs since your initial life doesn't matter so much and it helps you go on longer stab sprees/stay alive longer. Competitive spy however revolves around making important picks and if you die before you get the pick it's really bad and if you live after the pick it's not necessarily as important. Essentially, the Kunai is really awful for a competitive Spy mindset since it supports things you basically don't care about. After trying it out in Highlander a few times, I still haven't found the niche situation where I would want to run this in a serious game.

It sure is fun in pubs though!
1.15 - Spycicle
Spycicle



So here comes the somewhat controversial opinion to the greater Spy/Pyro community at large I think:

IMO, the Spycicle is a completely overrated knife. It dominates in pubs since it (like the Kunai, except easier to use) excels at giving a pub Spy what they need to own, but once you start playing in higher skilled games the knife winds up being less reliable and becomes pretty situational. Potentially losing a match cause your knife gets melted 0.1s before you stab a Medic with full uber who is about to pop is an awful feeling that I have personally experienced. It is annoying to play against, I'll give you that much, but this knife really does limit a Spy in higher tier games and IMO all it winds up doing is padding the user's stats often - they die less, probably wind up getting the Medic less, but they are probably going to get more garbage frags cause of the Silent Killer bonus/Pyro weakness, so your K:D with the Spycicle winds up looking pretty good. I will get more into this later, but K:D isn't that important in the grand scheme of things as far as being a good Spy goes. Pretty much if you're in a pub - give this knife a try, sure. If you're playing Highlander, be careful with it and don't use it if you're trying to suicide pick ever.

That said, the Spycicle is, to be completely honest, a Knife that helps you do some work for free if you're completely outclassed or failing really badly. This means that if you're doing really badly, you can switch to it and do better. This makes it seem like a great knife, but the reality is is that when you're playing against people of your skill level it will hinder you, so getting used to the Spycicle is a bad idea that will only hamper you in the future.

If Pyros are giving you trouble you need to make better approaches so that the Pyro is too distracted to really bother you.

If you're someone who gets frustrated when playing against this knife, you need to get out of the mindset that you have to kill everything. Burning the knife makes the Spy pretty much a non-issue for 15 seconds and also makes his follow up approach pretty predictable generally, and triggering DR over and over is essentially the same as killing the Spy in the first place and also makes his follow up approach pretty predictable. It's a distraction tactic intended to get you out of position, so don't fall for it or get mad at it. Burn the knife/trigger the DR, be ready to deal with the Spy in ~15s. Most spies will trigger Spycicle/DR at the slightest bit of trouble, and this is a really easy way to keep them "out of the game" and relatively a non-issue in my opinion.

Interesting tidbit: If a Spy isn't disguised and has the Spycicle out, even if he is cloaked you can see the icy aura around the Knife.
1.16 - Trickstabs
I will preface this section by saying while you should know how to do trickstabs, don't rely on them. They work very well against those who don't know about them, but against the best players in the game they will really only work once or twice (if that) in a game and then fall flat, as they are all pretty predictable tricks once you've seen them a few times.

I've met my fair share of pub Spies who rely far too much on trickstabs, to the point where their actual gamesense is pretty weak. Some of them rely on trickstabs so much that you can just kind of walk up stairs then walk back a bit and they will try to stair stab you over and over again while you just watch them.

If you want to make stair stabs more successful, you have to do something harder and actually initiate the stair stab without your opponent seeing you initiate it. This requires you to have high gamesense and know when your target is going to be going up the stairs in the first place. It's more prone to fail, but the reason jump stabs work so well is because the target doesn't see you initiate it in the first place.

They're handy to know, but you can be a great Spy without doing them, and they're really only useful for getting out of bad situations as a last ditch effort. Generally against smart players you will only trickstab when you have put yourself into a situation where you can't survive normally and have no other option but to attempt one.

The videos below are all made by RJ if you want to see how the 5 most common types of trickstabs look/how to do them.

Jump stabs

Corner stabs

Stair stabs

Matador stabs

Under stabs
1.17 - Invisibility Watch
When you cloak/uncloak you fade in/out during which period you can be seen temporarily. If shot or bumped into while cloaked with the IW/CnD, you blink in and people will see you as a faint image of whatever you're disguised as. You can't walk through enemies while cloaked.

Invisibility Watch



Lasts 9 seconds without ammo pickups.
Takes 1.2s to cloak in (note: You appear fully cloaked in before you actually are by 0.2s).
Because of the above, try to cloak before going around a corner.
Takes 1.8s to uncloak. (note: To you this appears to take 2.2s)
Can't attack for 2.2s after you start the uncloak.
Refills meter off of ammo pickups/dropped weapons/Dispensers. A Level 2 Dispenser can sustain this watch indefinitely.
Takes 30 seconds to recharge from empty to full with no pickups etc.
Has a 3.33 recharge:duration ratio.

The Invisibility Watch is a great cloak in both pubs and competitive. I highly recommend everyone starts with it when they are learning Spy so that you can learn how to juke properly and learn good cloak management, two skills that are basically essential to be successful with IW/CnD.

After the recent L'etranger buff, the strongest part of the IW over the CnD is that you can use a high damage revolver like the Ambassador or Enforcer with it, but really I feel like the more and more I play with it the more L'etranger/Cloak and Dagger has replaced the Invisibility Watch for me for most situations, personally.

I only use Invisibility Watch in Highlander when I want to be really aggressive but don't want to limit myself with the Dead Ringer at the moment. That is just me though, there are people who use Invisibility Watch much more heavily - really just like the stock Revolver and stock Knife there really isn't a situation where it is bad, but there are situations where the other two are better.
1.18 - Dead Ringer
Dead Ringer



Right click holds it out, trigger by damage.
Lasts 6.5 seconds without pickups.
While cloaked you take 90% less damage from all sources.
If the cloak is extended past the 6.5 seconds, you take normal damage and blink in like normal during that extended period.
The cloak has no fade in time.
Takes 1.8s to uncloak. (note: To you this appears to take 2.2s)
Can't attack for 2.2s after you start the uncloak.
Refills meter off of ammo pickups/dropped weapons/Dispensers. A Level 3 Dispenser can sustain this watch indefinitely.
Makes a louder uncloak noise.
Uncloaking will always use at least 40% of your meter if you uncloak before you have used 40%. If you use 40% and collect more cloak meter it won't consume anything.
Takes 16 seconds to recharge from empty to full with no pickups.
Has a 2.46 recharge:duration ratio.
Your "super cloak" (damage resistance/no flickering) time is reduced by damage, but your actual cloak meter is not.

The Dead Ringer is really good but serves a different role than the IW/CnD really as it excels at "psychological warfare" by attemping to clog the enemy team's comms and being a nuisance with Dead Ringer. It's also a very strong watch to use if you need to be a heavy Revolver user or if the area you're going to be in is more chokey.

The main downsides to the Dead Ringer at a higher level of play are that it is much more predictable than the IW/CnD so you really want to focus on making your decloaks and approaches much more irregular, the watch is more reliant on disguises which don't work as often against good players, and due to the nature of the watch you can't recon like you can with the C&D.

Using a friendly disguise is very helpful for the Dead Ringer as long as you make your "death" more believable and don't just hold it up as you take one stray Scattergun bullet.

Due to the recent nerf in the balance patch, you actually have to learn how to avoid damage while cloaked to fully take advantage of the Dead Ringer. This nerf only really affects low skill spies in pubs who would just walk into anything, but also makes blocking people a less viable strategy.

In high level play the Dead Ringer is a situational watch that you will generally swap to for one life or a very specific purpose. If you swap on to it very rarely the other team will have a harder time knowing if you are dead or not which helps make it more believable.
1.19 - Cloak & Dagger
Cloak and Dagger



Lasts 6.2 seconds while straight running.
Takes 1.2s to cloak in (note: You appear fully cloaked in before you actually are by 0.2s).
Because of the above, try to cloak before going around a corner.
Takes 1.8s to uncloak. (note: To you this appears to take 2.2s)
Can't attack for 2.2s after you start the uncloak.
Doesn't refill meter off of ammo pickups/dropped weapons/Dispensers.
Takes 15 seconds to recharge from empty to full.
When the meter is empty you don't uncloak, rather you shimmer while moving as if permanently blinked in.
Has a 2.41 recharge:duration ratio if you just run while cloaked.

This one is longer than the other two simply because the Cloak and Dagger gets a lot of hate from the Spy community at large that is not warranted really. Yeah, the Cloak and Dagger is kinda awful in pubs since you don't really need to be slow (your life isn't worth much) and you don't need to recon anything (it's a pub, they probably won't listen to you and if they do they won't react properly generally).

In Highlander though where your life is worth quite a bit, getting a great pick is very important, and communication is essential for a Spy? Oh man, the Cloak and Dagger is fantastic. Such a wonderful watch in an organized environment, yet it gets so much hatred from inexperienced spies that you see people new to Highlander turn away from it, when it really is a great asset there. Learn how to use it if you want to play Highlander, you won't regret it! It's pretty fantastic in 6v6 too, though you can usually make fine with just the Invisibility Watch there.

The other great part of the C&D is you are free to go wherever you like and your routes are not based around weapon drops/ammo packs, making you much less predictable, especially combined with the faster recharge rate of it.

The biggest thing you can improve while using the Cloak and Dagger is how to play it not just as a recon Spy, but also how to use it more aggressively and not just get forced to sit in one spot on low cloak all the time.

It is honestly pretty much the best watch in Highlander in my opinion - the only weakness is that it can't go very long distances on certain mid fights (like Gullywash mid), although with the recent L'etranger buff this is no longer the case.

On a side note, for the IW/CnD users out there, a little juking tip: when you want to juke a Soldier or Demoman you should try to juke to their left (if they are using right viewmodels, which they probably are). This is because it is much easier for these classes to hit things to their right, so players will typically try to hit things by turning clockwise as it is easier for them out of habit.

Also, jumping while cloaked is extremely useful! Enemies can hear your footsteps while cloaked, and if you spam jump they have less chances for footsteps to be heard.
1.20 - Disguises or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Scout Disguise
"The art of disguise is knowing how to hide in plain sight."



Disguises take 2 seconds to apply during which you create smoke around yourself.
Smoke doesn't appear while cloaked. You should almost always Cloak -> Disguise, rather than Disguise -> Cloak (smoke will be around you while cloaked) unless you're sure you wont be seen at all.
While disguised you are immune to all knock back and enemy on hit effects don't work (Blut, Ubersaw, Black Box, etc).
Disguises do not change your hit box etc to match the disguise, meaning several disguises make it harder to headshot you.
Picking up health/getting healed heals your disguise too.
Sapping doesn't remove disguises.
Disguises don't let you run through enemies but you can still run through allies.
If you disguise as someone with an unwearable item (i.e.: Sniper with Razorback) you will have that on your character but still be able to use a disguised SMG, which will give yourself away. Be careful.
You can't taunt while disguised.
You can change your disguised weapon by changing your real weapon and hitting B (by default).
Disguises break when you attack.
Be careful, if you apply the same disguise while disguised your disguised weapon will change to its melee weapon, so make sure to change the disguised weapon back.
Be extra careful, if you touch a resupply cabinet while disguised not only does your disguised weapon change to a melee weapon but your disguise loses its hat & misc items making it incredibly obvious sometimes that you are a Spy. Almost no one runs vanilla loadouts anymore.
While being immune to knock back while disguised seems like a good thing, be aware that intentionally breaking your disguise so you can ride an enemy projectile into the air can be an excellent escape maneuver when spotted.
You can fake reload your disguised weapon by reloading your Revolver. If your active disguised weapon can be reloaded, it will reload. A lot of weapons do not work well with this however. Weapons that reload one shot a time can reload multiple shots by reloading your Revolver, but canceling it right after by switching weapons back and forth and re-reloading over and over to be more believable.


When you first join a server you need to make a pretty big (especially now that the game is F2P) starter assumption: assume the people on the server are 100% competent. If you discover otherwise you can always adjust your play later, however assume they are good for now. Good players, if not distracted, will spy check you regardless of what you disguise as. No matter what style you're playing you really shouldn't be hanging around people who aren't distracted. This means disguises serve 3 purposes:

Not getting shot by Sentry Guns and letting you be healed by Dispensers.
Not getting instantly shot at by distracted people.
Tiny gameplay advantages.

These three purposes mean that the best disguises have a few qualities:

they let you move at your normal speed
they don't look odd in many (if any areas) when viewed by a distracted eye
they have a small stature that make you harder to see when you blink in while cloaked and allow you to hide better around map geometry like corners and such
the small stature makes it harder for you to get headshot and hit in general because the classes hitbox doesn't match up with your hitbox
it makes sense for the disguise in question to come towards the team (or Dispensers) for heals
nobody keeps track of this disguises class
lets you fake reload well as a side bonus.

If you read the title of this section and correctly guessed the Scout disguise has all these qualities, you are a winner!

The benefits of the Scout disguise are:
Small & thinnest class, enables you to hide better than the other classes in most map geometries. This also means if you fade in from chip damage, enemies might miss seeing your outline.
Isn't odd for you to not be shooting anything for a bit (unlike Pyro/Demo).
Teams don't keep the best track of their Scouts...
Which ties into the fact that Scout as a class makes sense being almost anywhere and can come back for heals. This means if people are somewhat distracted, they might not check you immediately.
All of his weapons play nice with fake reloading.
Due to his small nature, Snipers have to aim above your disguised head to headshot you. Snipers not familiar with this (because they don't play against Scout disguise spies) will fail to headshot you.
Even if the Scout disguise does look odd, if you're around distracted people the speed difference is hard to notice at a glance.
If you walk backwards the speed difference is even harder to notice.

I never really understood the logic behind why people think Scout disguise sucks. You're playing a class where your entire purpose is to get picks without getting noticed. If you do get noticed, you most likely already messed up, and if you're against aware people you're possibly dead because of it. So the best general disguise becomes the one with the most ancillary gameplay advantages, which is the Scout disguise.

Scout disguise is basically the "best" (least situational) disguise in the Spy's entire disguise kit. It's the most common 6s disguise, amongst Gold/Plat highlander spies it's pretty much the most common disguise, and in pubs it's pretty amazing if you know how to use it properly so long as the other team has a Scout (or if the enemy team is composed of people who won't notice that they don't have a Scout).

All I ever use disguise wise really is Scout, Medic (to check Medigun) and Soldier (more situational, it slows you down which contradicts what I said above sort of, however I am finding it a very effective disguise so long as your positioning/movement is smart).

Everything else is niche in my opinion, Pyro is a really bad disguise 99% of the time (it's cliche, good Pyro's are always doing something a disguised Pyro can't do, fat model makes you more obvious if you get bumped/blink in, hitbox matches yours near perfectly, in Highlander Pyro's are almost always with the combo, etc), Demomen are tracked relentlessly by good teams and are either spamming or reloading, Heavy is far too slow but is an even more situational version of the Soldier disguise, Engineer only makes much sense if the Engineer you're disguising as is using Gunslinger and thus is probably roaming (so on 5CP maps especially it is great), Sniper is just usually out of place though it can work if the enemy Sniper is known for playing more forward, and Spy is a pants on head dumb disguise in my experience since everyone I know hates spies so much they will just instantly shoot at or call out any Spy they see pretty much instantly even if they are slightly distracted (but it is a great disguise if this isn’t the case for the people you are playing with!).

That said, these disguises do still serve a purpose, they're just far more situational than the Scout disguise and have more tangible shortcomings than the Scout disguise. You should experiment and use disguises the way you feel is best or is relevant to your skill level/playstyle. Just because I don't like to use most of the disguises often doesn't mean that you shouldn't.

That isn't to say that disguises don't work sometimes against really good players, just you shouldn't rely on them and should only try to fool distracted people really. An example of a disguise working well in a Platinum game is here:

2.01 - Becoming A Good Pub Spy
Spy is an interesting class in that it is one of the only classes that is completely different from a pub and an actual competitive match (the other one being Medic). In a pub you don't have people you know who will listen to you (most of the time) so the whole "communicate with your team" aspect is lost, most pubs don't really do pushes/holds off of ubercharge so the whole "picking the Medic" aspect isn't nearly as important, and in general people aren't going to capitalize on whatever you provide most of the time - because of all of this your life also means very little. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what a competitive Spy is, and means that in a pub you can be pretty care free if you die prior to a stab, and usually you will go on very long backstab/kill streaks. All of this means things like the Kunai, Spycicle, Dead Ringer, etc are all extremely great in a pub even though they fall off in viability against better teams.

However, if you are new or trying to pick up Spy I am going to suggest you don't use any of those things - seriously. If you want to learn how to be a good Spy you need to learn the mechanics of it and optimize what you're doing. Stick with the Revolver (Ambassador if you think you can do well with it), stock Knife, and Invisibility Watch. I have seen so many spies who start out with the Dead Ringer and their actual Spy mechanics are almost always just atrocious. They have no sense of their cloak meter, are not very good at being unseen, and are insanely predictable most of the time.

Cloak somewhat before the enemy team -> Disguise while cloaked -> Uncloak somewhere safe -> Backstab distracted people -> Revolver if you ever get caught out and can't juke away. Rinse and repeat - do this until you get really good at it. If you get caught out in your cloak, position yourself better. If you miss backstabs, time your approaches better. If you miss people with your Revolver, keep practicing your aim. Once you have a solid grasp of how the stock loadout works (and can contribute to top 3 with relative ease), experiment with all the other spy items.

This isn't a very long section because being a "good" pub Spy is not especially difficult. Here is a list of tips that will help though:

Whenever you die, analyze why you messed up. Think about what you could have done to prevent the death that you just received, and try to not place blame on luck.
Every pub is different. Figure out who the best players on the other team are and shut them down. Figure out what is wrecking your team and shut them down too.
Even if your team wont capitalize off of what you do, try to avoid going for "garbage frags" as much as you can. Try to get rid of the important players on the other team instead of padding your stats.
The #1 Rule to being the best pub Spy ever: if there are 2 or more spies on the team, don't play Spy. Play another class, preferably Scout (will help your revolver aim & selling Scout disguise to others), Medic (do your best to not get backstabbed!), and Pyro/Engineer (for the interactions with spies and how you deal with them as each). Playing as any class will up your Spy game though since you will get a feel for how every class fits into the game and acts.

Pub Spy is really just about knowing the basics and exploiting the lack of awareness/communication/gamesense on the other team the best that you can. Honestly, if you can think about how you are playing and where you are failing and what you can attempt to improve you can be a great pub Spy without too much time invested in the game.

Class Interactions

Something to keep in mind is that the relationship between the Spy, Pyro, Engineer, and Scout are pretty different between pubs and competitive play or bad spies and good spies.

In a pub, you generally can approach an Engineer and single handedly backstab him and sap everything and nothing will stop you. In competitive, almost every good Engineer will shut you down single handedly - and if he doesn't, his team will. You need to work with your team to distract him and then get the sap.

When you're new to the class, Pyros will completely destroy you generally, but once you get better at avoiding them, playing smarter, and generally just going for smarter approaches you won't have that much trouble with the Pyro - in fact as you play against better players you'll discover that a good Scout is more fearsome than even the best of Pyros. You can't fight them (unless you use Enforcer) 1v1, you can't juke them very easily, and they will make you cry.

The Engineer thing is the most important one though as you head towards Highlander, don't think that just because you have a Sapper you're the #1 Engineer counter - that is the Demoman's job. A good Engineer will just two shot you with his Shotgun and then unsap and won't get backstabbed hardly ever when you try to lone wolf him. It's a situation you can't win on your own. Work in combination with your team to kill the Engineer and sap his gun. Smile
3.01 - Introduction to Highlander Spy
This section is only going to be helpful if you can consistently top MVP almost any standard pub and are currently trying to make the jump to Highlander Spy. As mentioned above, competitive Spy is an entirely different beast from pub Spy. Often your opponents are much more aware and are constantly talking which makes your job far more difficult, but on the flip side your team will (hopefully) listen to you so you can actually communicate a lot (which you should be doing) and make plays happen. Pretty much pub Spy is a lone wolf class, a good Highlander Spy is extremely teamwork oriented.

Your jobs as a competitive Spy are:

Communicate extremely often. (especially the uber % of the opposing Medic)
Get important picks (Medic/Demo/Sniper, whatever is wrecking your team)
Be in the heads of the enemy team as much as possible.
Work with the Heavy/Medic combo & your Scout/Soldier to setup picks. (i.e.: say when you are going to go for the Medic so that your Soldier can jump him and create a distraction for you)

Typically you are in one of two modes as a Highlander Spy - recon where you try to stay alive a lot more and communicate enemy positions while cloaked, or suicide picking where you try to get a very important pick (usually a Medic) and then (probably) die right after. Knowing which you should be doing at any point is very important and is really all about if you need to be more defensive (recon) or aggressive (suicide).

At the start of a round you should check the enemy Medic’s medigun (disguise as Medic -> switch to Sapper -> hit last disguise key). This is a pretty common tactic that helps out at most levels of Highlander to try and prevent a surprise Kritzkrieg or whatever - make sure you have 3D models enabled in order to see what the actual Medigun is regardless of Name Tags. Feel free to check out other important class slots (Engineer wrench to check for Gunslinger, Scout/Sniper secondaries, etc) and communicate anything important with your team.

Just like in pubs, every team is different. Part of being a great Highlander spy is recognizing the weak points of the enemy team and consistently abusing that hole in their play. An example relevant to my games for example is in one of my matches I noticed early on that the other team's Engineer was not very good with dealing with spies unlike most of the other teams we played against, so I focused him to remove him as a threat to the rest of my team. This is especially important since against really good organized teams there is very little a Spy can normally do against an Engineer on his own, so if you can exploit a big weakness like that you wind up freeing your Medic's ubers and your Demoman to do other things instead of just wasting a lot of the time on Wrangled sentries.

What loadout you use is extremely dependent on the situation - for instance if you are trying to suicide pick, running the Spycicle is a poor idea as it can ruin your pick on its own. If you are playing a more passive recon role, using the Cloak and Dagger is a fabulous idea. Personally, if I need to be super aggressive I use Revolver (or Ambassador)/Knife/Invisibility Watch, if I need to be more recon style I use L'etranger/Knife/Cloak and Dagger and if I need to be a distraction tool (for whatever reason) I use Ambassador or L'etranger/Spycicle or Knife/Dead Ringer - that is just me though, you should use whatever you feel would best help you contribute to your team.

Communication wise, focus on saying 3-5 word sentences to minimize drowning the voice chat out. You should honestly be one of the most talkative people in the game, with really only the Heavy/Medic/Demoman talking more than you. Call enemy positions ("their combo is choke"), call enemy Medic uber % ("their med is 85%"), call when the enemy team is going in/where they are falling back to ("they are all pushing flank"). Pay attention to when your teammates are going to push and time your approaches to that as well, but also feel free to call when you want to approach so your Soldier can bomb in and distract for you.

Do not focus on your KDR, as a Spy you can be near the bottom of the scoreboard in an organized game and be one of the most useful people in the entire match. Focus on quality of your kills over the quantity of them - one dropped Medic uber is easily worth 10 Soldier kills or whatever. Some of the most important picks (Medic, Demoman, Sniper, Heavy, Engineer in A/D & PL) you make can decide the fate of the entire round and most of your communication calls can help turn the tide of a fight by giving your team positional advantages.

Try to get into the enemy team's heads. Distractions work both ways, if the enemy team is focused on you your team will have an easier time - for instance if you become such a threat to the Medic that the enemy Pyro dedicates his entire life to focusing on you, your team's Soldier will have an easier time bombing people. Harassing the enemy team or getting consistent picks leads to the enemy team getting distracted with you very quickly.

If you are getting caught out by Pyros a lot, call when you are going to do your approach and have people on your team distract the Pyro while you go in.

If you really want to up your game and climb divisions past Iron fast you are going to want to look over maps with your team and discuss strats and what to call places in the map, or have someone help you go over the map - also scrim often with your whole team.

Highlander Spy is very versatile, really as long as you are trying to contribute to your team in whatever way it needs you are doing great - fill the holes in your team and exploit the holes in the other team. Bear in mind that high level Spy has mostly become a passive recon role with well time aggression, communicating is extremely important for a high level Spy.
3.02 - Getting into Highlander
So you just read the above section and are a pubstar who wants to improve even more - "where do I go to play Highlander?" you will probably ask yourself. Don't worry, finding how to get started in competitive TF2 is pretty hard and no one has really done an easy job explaining how yet. This is my best attempt.

If you just want to get a taste of what Highlander is like, http://www.tf2lobby.com is a decent place to go and is INCREDIBLY simple to pick up and play. However, keep in mind that the attitude of people on TF2Lobby is usually pretty awful and it isn't a very honest Highlander experience either since people will rarely communicate or know what they are doing. Don't let the negativity in TF2Lobby make you think that is how all competitive players are like if you do go there.

Before you get started into more serious stuff past TF2Lobby, you're going to want to download and setup Mumble which you can get here: http://mumble.sourceforge.net/

Mumble is a Voice over IP client (think Skype, Ventrilo, etc) that is top notch and basically the best VOIP client and what almost all of the Team Fortress 2 competitive community uses for VOIP.

After that, if you're interested in just jumping into the real thing, you have two options:

1) You can go to http://www.ugcleague.com and sign up for the forums and post a looking thread (in your correct continent and in the Looking for Team sub-forum) for a (most likely) Iron or (if you're really good) Steel team.

Note: UGC plays matches on Mondays at 8:30 PM Central US time. If you can't make this time, then you can't really play because that is when 99.9% of the games are going to be.

1b) If you're a European, you can also try signing up for http://www.etf2l.org Highlander leagues instead.

2) If you don't have the time to do a 2 month league or just want to get your feet wet, you can go to http://webchat.geeksirc.net/ (or join GeeksIRC's IRC!), pick a nickname, and then do "/join #tf2.mix.nahl" without quotes. This is the Highlander PUG channel. You can get Mumble info by doing !mumble, and you can add up by typing !add [classes here] (e.g.: !add spy scout will add you as you wanting to play either of those classes) You can remove by doing !remove. Once enough people are added, the 2 captains will pick teams. If you get picked, join Mumble using the Mumble info! You'll be given connect information via a bot if you get picked that you can just copy and paste into your TF2 console (~ key) to join.

Afterwards, it is as simple as just playing with your team over the course of the season and having fun. (though, try to remember you have to record demos for each match by doing "record [unique name here]" for each game!)

However, the hard part of all of this is you have picked Spy, a completely oversaturated in population class. No team is going to have difficulty getting a Spy if they need one, they are a dime a dozen. In order to get on a team you either need to have a lot of friends, REALLY stand out (or be famous), or make yourself known by playing a lot of PUGs. So imo, I would look for a team and then play a ton of tf2.mix.nahl's while you wait, streaming also helps as well. I'd also start looking for a team early, as it's difficult to find a decent team as a Spy regardless of all of that, because even if you are really good you might only get a couple offers just because every other team already has their spies, so looking early will give you the most offers.

This is probably a lot to take in, but if you have any further questions you should feel free to ask on the UGC forums for help!
3.03 - Improving at HL Spy & Critical Thinking
So now that what a Highlander Spy even does and is has been covered, we have to talk about how to actually improve at it.

Revolver aim

The best way to practice Revolver aim in my opinion is to either pub and play battle Spy (I would actually recommend not playing Spy legit too often in pubs once you get into Highlander unless you're really good at not letting the bad habits get ingrained into your playstyle) and practice that way, or play Scout MGE/DM. If you have good Scattergun aim, you'll have beast Revolver aim.

Juking

This is really weird advice, but go into a 32 man pub with the Invisibility Watch and just try to not get hit by random stuff on approaches and avoid getting caught out. If you can get really good at this in a 32 man pub, Highlander will just feel easier because of how less congested it is.

Approaches

Approaches are really just something you get better at by having "gamesense", or an understanding of what is going on in the game and what people are about to do.

You should practice communicating with your team when you're ready to go in so they know when to push and distract for you as well.

In the below video there is an example approach by me, I knew our team was going to push B at the start so I got in position, waited for them to distract the Engineer, then uncloaked and backstabbed him.


Picks

Your picks are by far the most important aspect of Spy - not the amount of them, but the quality of them. The best way I could suggest someone to get better at this is to record demos of your gameplay, and then actually go over them as unbiased as you can. Think about what each of your picks actually did for your team or how they affected the game and if you could have made better picks or better decisions.

A few examples (that are all real situations that have happened to me!):

While picking a Medic is almost always extremely useful, there are situations where it is basically a useless pick or accomplishes nothing (your team didn't have strong heals and can't push cause of a good Wrangler nest defense for instance, making the uber advantage pointless really), so if you died getting that pick then you basically made a bad play.

Getting a single Engineer pick opened up your Demoman to rotate to his Medic and your Sniper to throw Jarate, leading to the Demoman getting a 4k and transitioning to a strong spawn camp and match win.

Killing a Demoman is usually a good pick, but if I would have went for the Sniper instead the Sniper wouldn't have got a 4k on important classes and we would have defended better.

These are all things that can and do happen, and if you don't go over your demos and think critically you will never really improve that much. Anyone can go around and frag a Sniper 10+ times, but did it actually matter and help your team win the most?

Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer I can give on what is the best here, as what are the best picks you could make is completely situational based on teams / how the match is going. Does the other team have a Medic notorious for getting destroyed by spies? Going after him might be an excellent idea over anything else then unless he's also notorious for getting wrecked by say, Snipers/bombs. Does the other team have an Engineer that gets wrecked by a solo Spy? Be all over that. Is, for whatever reason, the Soldier on the other team by far the best player? Taking him out might actually be a superb idea then.

Does your team have massive disadvantage and needs the other Medic to die? Maybe forgetting about the really good Sniper and attempting that pick is a better idea.

The important thing is to just think about what you're doing. If you do this you will be better than most spies out there which seem to just kinda herp derp around aimlessly and hope for the best.


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Re: Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

Post  Almaironn on Wed May 28, 2014 1:18 pm

i cba to read, but i am sure its awesome Very Happy

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Re: Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

Post  SilentNinja on Wed May 28, 2014 2:22 pm

Dat wall of Text tho <.<
Nah, gonna read it when I have the time, busy with learning for oral exams atm

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Re: Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

Post  Segno on Wed May 28, 2014 10:43 pm

Exams are a bitch. Just did two today, doing the other two tomorrow. This guide has really helped me out. Sucks that Darknecrid deleted it on steam.

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Re: Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

Post  Segno on Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:53 pm

I bothered him enough for him to reupload it ^.^

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Re: Darknecrid's Deleted Spy guide.

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