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.
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!