Monthly Archives: February 2012

Uber advantage and counting

This comes from a question on reddit, asking how you should count uber in competitive play. Of course, ubercharge isn’t the deciding factor in a push (head count is just as important, if not more important), but it’s still crucial to good gameplay.

  • When the enemy medic respawns, look at your ubercharge meter. This is how far ahead in uber you are than him, assuming you don’t stop building; to keep up the advantage, you need to be healing teammates who aren’t already buffed.
  • If your teammate is not buffed, you’ll build at 2.5% per second. If they are buffed, you’ll build at 1.25% per second.
  • This means that if you have a 40% advantage but you’re only building from one overhealed teammate (which could possibly happen in a worst case scenario if you’re holding last and your pocket is not hurting himself), your opponent could get uber a full 8 seconds before you. Hence the importance to be constantly building.
  • If you constantly build at max rate, you will have uber 20 seconds before your opponent if you have a 40% advantage.
  • If you know the advantage you have over your opponent and you go down, assume that when you respawn they have a (((your respawn time + 2 seconds) times 2.5)+their predeath advantage) lead. This might seem complicated, but if we take an example: -You have a 40% lead over your opponent, but a pesky scout makes you die/drop. -Respawn time is about 12 seconds, so add two to get 14 seconds -For the sake of simplicity, or if you want to err on the side of caution, you can make this fifteen seconds. -15*2.5 = 32.5%. Add their advantage over you (you had a 40% advantage) means you have a 7.5% (or three second) advantage, assuming you both build at maximum rate; pretty much negligable.

That’s pretty much the basics of counting uber. People with very strong gamesense will be able to do this without thinking; i.e they will ‘know’ whether an enemy has uber or not without doing any dumb maths, as above.

Uber/Uber

From the match start, you can assume that you both get charge at roughly the same time, which is pretty unimportant because you’re both unlikely to pop it as you get it due to the timing of it; unless you’re both missing every shot, the midfight will be over by the time you both get uber. If the enemy medic survives, but his teammates die, to all intents and purposes you can treat it as if the medic had died; wait until the first teammate respawns, then check your advantage. If your teammates die, then start counting; take the amount of time taken until you start healing teammates, times it by 2.5, then add their pre-teammates-dying advantage. Remember to constantly build!

Uber/Kritz

The kritz is almost universally used for the midfight only; the problem with being on the receiving end of kritz is that it’s a surprise weapon, true to its roots – it works most successfully if you are not aware that it is being used. The kritz builds 25% faster than the regular medigun (about 3.13%/s), meaning that they will have charge a good 10 seconds or so before you. When you get to about 30 seconds into the round, or are about 75% charged, listen for the medic saying -anything-: he can call ubercharge ready if he’s not masking, or if he is masking, a common mask is calling for doctor. Of course, he could be faking, but be attentive. In either case, it might still be a good idea to get back regardless – you might lose mid, but on the plus side, you won’t die and will continue to build uber. More importantly, get information! Find out if the medic is using kritz, or if he’s acting strangely and holding far back. Either sign is a good reason to get the hell out.

Above all, practice! You can take what i’ve said into account and become a genius at counting uber, or you can totally ignore me; but with enough practice, your brain will subconsciously learn when your opponent has charge, giving you much needed insight into whether you should push or hold position. PCWs, lobbies, whatever – treat them as opportunities to keep on top of enemy uber, and try to predict when they have it and when they don’t. And have fun!

Originally posted: 25/02/12


Australian Christmas weapons are not OP, so please shut up about them.

It seems that everytime I go on a pub, or log onto r/tf2, I get waves and waves of ‘SPYCICLE OP! PHLOG OP! NERFNERFNERF’ Well, no. They aren’t.

This post’ll be fairly short (or concise, if you like), because there’s only so long you can go on about pixels.

Spycicle

With ‘Dr. Enforcicle’ becoming more and more the average spy loadout, one wonders why it’s so popular. I mean, the Enforcer’s biggest downside is that you’re not using the Ambassador, a weapon while makes happy feeling blossom inside you as you plug your victims skull with your throbbing handcannon. It requires no skill to use and is a straight upgrade when partnered with the DR, but if you treat the spy like any other class and actually dodge instead of running straight at him, you’ll do fine. And yet the cries of OP IMBA resonate, but i’m not really here to talk about the Enboreser.

The spycicle gives one solution to the spies biggest question, which is ‘How do I get that pyro to not turn me into a smouldering carcass?’ So on contact with flames, your knife will melt (rendering it unusable); on the plus side, you’re immune to fire for two seconds. Also, when you backstab someone you leave a pretty little statue instead of a death cry. Nice. Three problems arise, however.

On the surface, you can perhaps see why this is OP; taking away the most common form of spychecking is sure to lead to disasters of balance. Except… No. What many, many new players don’t understand is that everything you can hear, EVERYONE ELSE can hear. And from my playtime as a pyro, the ‘TSCCHHH’ of the icicle is very, very distinguishable. From there, the spy is airblasted into a corner for a few seconds until he can be ignited; if he is using DR, continue airblasting until it runs out – then finish with a flare or axtinguisher to the face. You could say ‘IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE, YOU WOULDN’T NOTICE!1’ or maybe ‘HOW CAN YOU HEAR THAT?! HAX!’ My advice is simple; from now on, treat spies in the same way that you would treat a dead ringer’d spy; the uncloaking sound of the DR is very distinctive (unless of course they’re using saharan spy), so just get used to that melting noise.

On a more practical note, the second problem is the loss of your knife. There’ve been many times where i’ve been set on fire, and then either successfully killed/gotten away from the pyro through headshots or a trickstab or being a smartarse or whatever. These times I lived, and even got an awesome kill on that pyro which i can totally brag about later. Without your knife, and against an if only barely competant pyro, you have only your gun to defend yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, this is far from a death sentence, but i’ll be damned if my aim doesn’t suffer somewhat in high pressure situations like this. And this is only in encounters with a 1v1 pyro; there were a number of times where I was just about to make a key pick on a medic when TSSCH! Knife gone. I’ve lost a victim whose life was worth dying for; if I had used any other knife, I would have taken that medic. Perhaps died, but it wouldn’t have mattered; key picks will change the game.

Finally, the third problem not only affects you but also other spies on your team; those pretty statues, while sometimes put into hilarious postures, are basically a flashing reminder to your enemies to spycheck more; on top of that, to expect the spy to use a spycicle and deal with him accordingly (as described above). They’re paranoia generators, and as any good spy will tell you, paranoia is your biggest enemy.

Verdict: Not OP. The statues make it very obvious that there is a spycicle user around, losing a knife is flowbreaking and in some cases detrimental or dangerous, and it’s not even like it’s difficult to find spycicle spies. Stick to vanilla.

The Phlogistinator (Phlog)

Three massive downsides there to the new spy weapon. However, the second weapon gets even more shouts of unfair than the first; the Phlogistinator rewards doing what pyros do with crits and nigh-invulnerability for a short period of time, allowing for pyros to go on a lone wolf rampage.

The phlog acts like the backburner acted when it first came out; no airblasts, more damage. Actually, with how the bb is played now, it just works like a second backburner. W+M1 everywhere. Boom. Charred mess all over the floor.

This weapon is less about fundamental flaws than the spycicle, and more about approaching the situation in totally the wrong way. By removing airblasts from the weapon, you introduce a nice, big, exploitable weakness; spam. Spam down the phlog pyro, who will be totally and utterly helpless against the explosive barage. All the while, make sure you backpedal away so that you don’t get ignited.

The loss of airblast also promotes bad teamplay; without airblast, you cannot reflect rockets or demospam away from teammates, you cannot put teammates out and you can’t juggle the enemy. All of these are -essential- to the pyro; in 6v6 play, a pyro is brought out for the sole purpose of juggling ubercharged enemies into corners to defuse them.

The second part to the phlog is more of a problem; while post taunt, the phlog pyro does crits and also shrugs off 90% of all incoming damage while taunting. Common sense dictates here to -run-. Rocket jump, sticky jump, GRU, whatever. Once the pyros weapon has stopped glowing, resume pelting with projectiles. An alternative approach would be to have a spy backstab him – while in critmode, the phlog pyro suffers from tunnel vision, much in the same way that ubercharge might.

Verdict: Not OP. Keep him at a distance, fire him down if he’s not glowing and run if he is, and above all try not to be set on fire for the good of everyone, just to reduce the chance of crits.

The Pomson 6000

Okay, i’m sorry, i’m gonna have to change the title of this post; this weapon is overpowered. No, really. Even talking about this weapon makes me see red, so i’m keeping this brief:

  • Does not require ammo. This is fairly self explanatory; while the widowmaker could be considered to have unlimited ammo (which is a story for another time! :D), you have to at the very least be halfway decent at aiming, and put yourself in some sort of danger in order to earn that ammo. Not with the Pomson. Which leads me onto my next point:
  • Infinite range. Whereas the other engineer weapons are shotguns and act as such, this weapon can be fired from behind friendly lines, travel happily over huge distances, and hit some unsuspecting bastard in the distance. Coupled with not requiring ammo means spam on a level similar to demoman or soldier, which is -NOT- the point of the engineer. So you could hit that medic/soldier combo from across the map. Oh, and did I mention:
  • Projectile penetrates targets. So you could hit the soldier, have it pass through him and hit the medic behind him. Protecting your medic is integral to the game, and blocking projectiles using yourself as a human shield comes under protection. Thus the weapon is simultaneously promoting bad play, and punishing good play. As of [patch date], the Pomson no longer penetrates players. However, Valve in their infinite wisdom decided this could make Engies decide to not use it, so increased the damage so it now equals Shotgun at mid range damage. gg Valve. Oh, AND DID I MENTION:
  • On hit: Victim loses 10% medigun charge. This really makes my blood boil; suppose you’re almost at uber level, and your pocket is sustaining very heavy fire – you hold m2 and wait for that gloriou–oh wait, you’ve been hit by some idle pomson spam from miles away, and now both you and your pocket are doomed. What makes this part is that due to the nature of the spam all coming from one direction, you’ll never be hit by just one projectile. You’re gonna be hit by four, reducing what little uber advantage you might have had. This is game changing stuff, brought about by a support class with one weapon who put himself in absolutely no danger whatsoever.
  • Victim loses 20% cloak. Powerful in its own right against dead ringer spies due to the watches increased drain rate; one shot and you’ve effectively reduced what little cloak time you had to a few seconds.
  • Projectile cannot be reflected. This doesn’t even need explaining, it’s just kicking you while you’re down.

In conclusion, this weapon actively promoted bad teamplay (by holding back and not drawing fire), bad gameplay (by encouraging spam), entirely changing the point of engineer (the primary weapon is used to defend your buildings, not to go lone wolfing); simultaneously, it punishes good teamplay. There is literally one reason to use the vanilla shotgun over this weapon, and that’s a small damage increase – but the damage difference is only noticable if every single one of your pellets hits. It can be compared to why the Vita Saw is banned in most competitive leagues; it provides a very, very safe alternative – there’s no point in using the situational and risky ubersaw if you can use the vitasaw, which rewards you for doing nothing. In the same way, the Pomson is a very safe alternative to the vanilla shotgun, but instead of a health penalty you have ridiculously over the top power. Use it if you must, but understand that you have my undying hatred if you do.

Verdict: OMG NERF SO OP

Thanks to Aquason for correcting me on the phlog!


Black Rose: A PSA

This post’ll be split into two parts: first, i’ll be showing off my lovely, shiny new knife. Then, i’ll explain why perhaps the lovely, shiny new knife was not worth it.

So, without further ado:

Look at this! :D

Damn straight this thing is good looking! I just wanna rub it all ove–

Ahem.

The Black Rose was put into the game on Monday (14/2/12), with how to earn it only being implemented within the last few hours. To get it, you need to install the f2p game Alliance of Valiant Arms (a shooter not dissimilar to Call of Duty, with hints of Battlefield and Counterstrike in) and play through one whole game. That’s it. It took me about five minutes. The next time you load up tf2, the item’ll be in your inventory.

So what’s the problem? Well, here’s where the PSA part of this comes in; by installing AvA, you agree to install anticheat software (why do they all not just use VAC?), namely nProtect Gameguard.

Now for the above average computer user, the very first sentence will send alarm bells ringing. Gameguard is a rootkit, meaning it burrows into your system nice and snugly, and takes your system like a cheap i’m-not-going-to-continue-this-analogy and dumps the body in the why-am-i-still-talking.

To its credit, the rootkit allows the application to do what it does best, namely sniffing out cheating software (aimbots, wallhacks…) and shut it down. The problem comes with giving a relatively little known company such power. But to what extent does this power extend? Well…

‘GameGuard hides the game application process, monitors the entire memory range, terminates applications defined by the game vendor and INCA Internet to be cheats (QIP for example), blocks certain calls to DirectX functions and Windows APIs, keylogs your keyboard input, and auto-updates itself to change as new threats surface.’

-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NProtect_GameGuard

Really, it comes down to trust. But this has happened before, and means a potentially massive security risk to your computer. Perhaps you think the risk is negligable, and there’s nothing to worry about; well maybe it is tiny, in which case, you don’t have to do anything. Then again, a tiny risk is bigger than no risk at all, so if you don’t want this on your computer, this link will show you the proper proceedure to remove it from your system.

If you want to unlock the knife without installing the program, i am informed that you can use steam achievement manager; i’m told that valve have no official stance on it so it’s unlikely that you’ll get VAC banned, but understand that any consequences are on your head.

It’s a shame because I enjoyed the few minutes I spent playing the game (besides the inordinate amount of time it took to update); it’s well designed and seems like a great free alternative to other popular modern shooters. However, as long as gameguard is implemented with it, i’m gonna have to suggest you stay away.


The Ambassador and You

If you read my post on spy loadouts, you’ll know that I consider the Ambassador (or Amby, as it is affectionately known) to be the revolver most worth using, when given the choice. Not only is the crit entirely worth the downsides (-15% damage penalty, 20% firing speeds), you can totally feel really smug and professional when you get that elusive pyro headshot from across the map. It’s like playing CSS all over again.

First off, the absolute basics. Amby will fire perfectly accurately on its first shot (as all bullet weapons will), and will score a crit on headshot, dealing 102hp worth of damage (assuming no vulnerabilities or resistances). This brings about a cooldown 0.95s long, in which time crits will not be performed (regardless of whether you get a headshot). The reload time is 1.16s long. A shot will range between 56 and 15, depending on how close you are to the target.

Noticing the tiny difference between cooldown and reload time gives a pretty obvious tip; upon firing, reload your weapon (or have it reload automatically, if you have the setting enabled). This will allow you to gauge whether your next shot will tear out the skull of your enemy, or whether it’ll just irk him a bit. However, many people find the reload animation to mess with aiming properly; in which case, a fantastic spy by the name of stabby stabby has graciously donated his scripts, including one which removes the ambassador’s viewmodel so it doesn’t get in the way.

Aiming. Of course, you need slightly better aim than your average spy to use this weapon. But then, the average spy will just use the enforcer anyway. You don’t want to be common, do you? Of course not! And they’ll have it coming to them when they’re unable to see enemy health, which is a nerf being tested in the beta at the time of writing. Haha!

Ahem.

A wonderful thing about TF2 is how every class is roughly the same height, although it’s not something you might immediately notice: this diagram explains further, visually. The great thing about this fact is that centering your crosshair on a friendly teammate and keeping it at about that level will give you a benchmark on which you can aim, assuming that the enemy is on the same level as you.

Alternatively, you can compare the head level of a player with various environmental features. This image shows that the head of the scout is roughly level with the red/white intersection on the wall of pl_badwater, or slightly above the ledge. Basically, you need to realise that you will not have the time to find a friendly to get your y axis aiming set up; if you have your gun out for whatever reason, your aim should default to head level.

Now let’s say you have you gun aimed at the perfect axis on which heads lie. You now have two options for aiming in the x axis: either move your mouse, or strafe. I find that strafing works better with closer enemies, whereas aiming with the mouse tends to be less precise, and ends with you aiming too far left and right. And then you die. Owch. On the other hand, if your enemy is a sniper far away, strafing is not sensitive enough; you will need to manually aim for these enemies.

Now, damage output. The damage penalty and slower firing speed means every shot you fire must count. However, also realise that not every shot you need to fire has to be a headshot, and indeed wasting time lining up to get red mist could cost you your life, when a single bodyshot would take them out. As a general rule, light classes on red health will require one or two bodyshots to finish off; this will take 0.7 seconds, and unless they were already aiming at you, they have no chance to retaliate. If you have time, then by all means go for the headshot, but be aware that the ambassador has a very meaty firing sound, which is distinctive to those familiar with the game. Alternatively, a headshot/bodyshot combo on a light class (e.g a razorback sniper) will be more than enough to take them out. Besides, if they use the razorback then they definitely won’t be expecting it. And they’ll deserve it.

There are three classes I avoid when my ambassador is out, and those are the Heavy, the Demoman and the Soldier. The Demoman’s sticky launcher will make short work of you (as will the Soldier’s Rocket Launcher), and has just enough health that he’ll survive a headshot/bodyshot combo, requiring an extra bodyshot. The Heavy has too much health and is too easily backstabbable to want to shoot; additionally, all of these classes are likely to have a medic nearby, which makes your job infinitely harder.

The Pyro is almost perfect to use the Ambassador on; he struggles with anything beyond close range, meaning the average w+m1 pyro can be backpedalled away from while you pop shots at him – two headshots, or a head and two bodies will finish him.

Of course, you could be the best shot in the world, but you need to know when to use your gun. The following are my suggested times to put away the knife and pull out the revolver:

* Behind friendly lines – there’s nobody to backstab, and your gun can still be used to rack up damage on people in the distance

* Down narrow corridors which leave little room for strafing (e.g the tunnel in pl_badwater)

* When being chased by a class which outmatches you in close combat (Pyro!)

* If using your knife would put you in too much danger (Sentry around the corner?)

To finish off, i’d like to show some love towards a map i have a great fondness for; tr_walkway is, in my opinion, the best aiming trainer besides actually going out and playing against real people in a pub or what have you. The sheer customisation allows all sorts; light class, medium class, airshots, backpedalling… On top of that, when you’ve had enough of the ambassador you can use it to train your trickstabs; there is a wonderful slope which just begs for stairstabs.

I’d also like to show some more love for stabby stabby, who I consider to be a human aimbot. I advise you watch his videos and read his annotations, where he will give additional tips.

Happy spying!

Thank you to Fripplebubby for the suggestion!

Thank you 2C3C for reminding me about the viewmodels!

Thank you j0lian for the height image!


Spy loadout: A quick summary

Copying this across, I realise that I haven’t actually written a proper, in depth summary of the Spy’s arsenal. I’ll do it at some point :) Of course, your loadout is personal taste and you should go for what you enjoy playing with, but these are my opinions on how to maximise kredit. Anyway, without further ado:

First, my personal opinion; go for the amby for your gun, the vanilla for your knife and either the dr or the vanilla invis watch for pda which one will depend on both which you prefer using and the situation. Obviously it’s both down to taste and situation (I know a lot of people who swear by the enforcer, but 102hp in one shot is too good to pass up for me), but i find this is the best allround loadout.

The enforcer is a straight upgrade when you use the DR and it used to be my favourite weapon, but again-102hp with a well aimed amby shot beats it hands down. The Saharan Spy set, once you get the first disguise, is absolutely marvellous at taking out sentry nests, and if you use the DR with it the sets downside is only very rarely relevant.

I know a lot of people consider the spycicle the best thing ever, but those ice statues are distinctive (and call out ‘burn that spy a bit longer!’ to every pyro on the map) and while 15 seconds might not seem like long, that’s 15 seconds without your (arguably) best weapon. But by all means try it out.

Other weapons: The Kunai is still a very viable knife to use, but it’s a love it or hate it thing for most people. The big earner is asking a huge health cost for increased cloak, despite cloak regenerating pretty quickly already. Avoid it. The L’etranger is a better cloak regeneration device (And used in the SS set above), although with the damage penalty it has i know a lot of people avoid it like the plague. The diamondback i find doesn’t rack up crits efficiently enough to be worth using, especially when amby crits are both guaranteed and also give you a really smug feeling.

Overall, just experiment with the loadouts; take into account what i’ve said (or don’t), but choose only what you find fun to play with :) I’ll strongly recommend you watch these videos, because stabby is an absolute spy god and makes fantasticly informative videos.

Also, when you unlock the cloak and do-nothing, throw it in a fucking bin where it belongs because it is the worst watch in the universe and i wish death on every scrubber who decides to use it >:CCCC

Originally posted 14/1/2012

http://www.reddit.com/r/tf2/comments/og83y/im_determined_to_become_a_better_spy_that_stuff/c3gzkhl


Why no self-respecting Spy should use the Cloak and Dagger: An explanation

If you’ve seen me on r/tf2, then there’s a fairly high chance the post was about how terrible the Cloak and Dagger is. Because i’m sick of writing the same thing over and over, here’s one of my more comprehensive explanations. I may come back and add to it at some point, in this current state it feels sort of unfinished.

Why shouldn’t you use the cloak and dagger? Newbs like to use the cloak and dagger because they think ‘Ah! Infinite cloak! I’ll be INVINCIBLE!’ Except, no. You still flicker, and it’s obvious because you’re standing in a very spy-helpful corner; trust me, good pyros know cnds will stand there to regenerate cloak, and will puff a couple flames there to catch people out.

But that’s not why you shouldn’t use it. Everything that cloak can do, other watches can do better. You can travel further with the invis watch, you have more longetivity with the dead ringer, you can’t pick up ammo to speed up regen (as mentioned above).

But the worst part is how passive it makes spies. A CnD spy will cross enemy lines and start counting enemies, waiting for the best opportunity to backstab an enemy. But everytime they see a good pick, they think ‘but something better might come along’. And then you’re in an endless circle of ‘it could be better’, which it never will be. an invis watch spy would have decloaked a while back and stabbed every single one of those people who passed. By having a limit on your cloak time, you’re effectively forced to go and kill threats to you to stay alive, which makes you more credit to team than hiding in a corner.

There’s a reason why people call it the cloak and do nothing. Either use a different watch or change class, if you stay using that watch then you will never get any better.

tl;dr makes you too passive and no advantages over other watches when used aggressively

Originally posted 21/1/12


Medigun usage in Competitive 6v6

The medigun is almost always what you should be using, because the invuln uber is irreplacable and almost game changing; the smaller number of players you need to keep alive (in constrast to the 24/32 pub servers) means that every life counts, so it makes sense to use it.

The kritzkrieg can and should be used a) if the opponent is not expecting it (although this can’t always be judged accurately), b) if you feel like a change of gameplay, or c) if your demoman is especially competant with sticky aim. True to its naming roots, it’s a very quick and aggressive surprise attack; the 25% increase in uber rate means that if a team isn’t expecting it, the sudden pop and crit advantage on a demoman is absolutely huge, to the point where entire, only slightly bunched up teams can be wiped. The counter to the kritz is keeping a fair distance and running away – of course, this is a lot easier if there is prior knowledge of its use, emphasising that this is a surprise tool to use against an unaware opponent. To this end, the medic should hide the kritz as much as possible while still performing heals. After a number of uses, a switch back to the normal medigun is advised, as the enemy will expect and will prepare for kritz, perhaps putting them out of position. The kritz is also advised for use if you have the uber advantage, as there will be no counter invuln to stop you. Be wary of increased medic targetting if using the kritz.

The quick fix. To the best of my knowledge, the quick-fix is banned in most leagues; for that matter, there is absolutely no reason to use it – the loss of overheal is a massive disadvantage – handicapped demo rollouts is a huge loss, as without the overheal the demoman will be unable to reach the midpoint without significant damage or speed loss. On top of that, the uber is sub-par compared to the normal medigun. Avoid at all costs.

Tl;dr kritzkrieg if you have uber advantage or element of surprise, otherwise use medigun.

Originally posted 2/2/2012