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!
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.
Thank you to Fripplebubby for the suggestion!
Thank you 2C3C for reminding me about the viewmodels!
Thank you j0lian for the height image!