Team Fortress 2 Thirty-Six Rules (No Pictures) v1.42
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Team Fortress 2 Thirty-Six Rules (No Pictures)

by EchelonThree   Updated to v1.42 on

1. Don’t be too aggressive
2. Stand on the point
3. Splashing is better than missing
4. Jump!
Concept Content: Breaking fire
5. If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight!
6. Don’t rely on sentries
       Concept Content: Area Denial
7. Medic combos are NOT invincible
Concept Content: Target Saturation
8. Don’t count on crits
9. Take the high ground
10. Dodge to the right of your enemy
Concept Content: Weapon Bias
11. Watch your deep-dead zone
Concept Content: Indirect Fire
12. Scout, scout, scout
13. A battle on your terms is a battle won
Concept Content: Battle Simulation
14. Get behind their doctor
Concept Content: Target Prioritization
15. Know your effective range
Concept Content: Effective Range
16. Play the decoy
17. Don’t rely on ambushes
Concept Content: Diversions and Ambushes
18. Don’t count on enemy stupidity
19. Don’t endanger your medic
20. Watch your time
21. Heavies, Soldiers, and Medics first
22. Reload, Reload, Reload
23. Metal for Engies!
24. Don’t reload, use your secondary
Concept Content: Weapon Proficiency
25. Don’t turtle
26. Don’t camp
27. Use Ubers wisely
28. Spy check everyone
29. Get creative
Concept Content: Creativity
30. Call your Ubers
31. Backpedal if attacked, turn and run if you’re not in range
32. Don’t charge a heavy. Ever
33. The game is TEAM fortress
Concept Content: Aggression
34. Fool your enemy
35. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em
36. Never take anything for granted until that timer hits 0

Welcome to Thirty-Six Rules of Fighting, this guide was first published on the now-defunct Team Fortress 2 wing of But now, it’s here for your reading pleasure, ain’t that great?
Anyway, let’s jump straight to the point, I’m EchelonThree, the writer of this guide, and one thing which pisses me off the most is how common-sense seems to disappear when it’s most needed.
So I was thinking for a while, and thought to myself, “Hey, what are the biggest mistakes that could have been most easily avoided?”
Then I played a while more, and within a few rounds, “Hmm… we wouldn’t have lost if some people had some basic knowledge of standing on the point”. 
I’ve also considered that clan players aren’t likely to need a guide on how to play, so what I’ve attempted to do here is to shift the emphasis of the guide away from advanced players and on to beginning and improving players.
I guess that’s why I’m here now, writing this guide for all of you to read, enjoy, and perhaps have a good laugh at what I feel are the simplest, but yet most often ignored things...
So, have fun, and enjoy the guide!
- EchelonThree

Introduction or… How to Use This Guide

In a battle, the action often happens too fast for you to see, but behind every fight, there are tactics and strategies working their magic, creating an advantage for one side or the other. This guide will break down some of those principles for you.
The key principle of this guide is that it won’t tell you many things that you “shouldn’t” already know, what you’ll learn is everything that you should know but isn’t ever put into practice, and things that you probably didn’t know, but yet play a major role in-game.
The guide works like this, we’ll learn a few pointers about what to do (or not) in battle through these thirty-six key points and tactics. On the way, there will be mini-guides (the aptly-named “Serious Zones) which teach concepts of fighting, some concepts are simple, such as area-denial, and some are long and complicated, such as battle simulation.
Without further rambling ado, here are thirty six stratagems that seem obvious but are rarely seen in combat.
Oh yeah, at the end, I do give out my mailing address, feel free to send in any questions, suggestions, complaints, or advice to me, thanks!

Do note that this guide does not contain pictures, the versions with pictures are stored on my Scribd.

The Guide
1. Don't be too aggressive

Question: Do you want to end up like this?

Of course you don’t, that’s why you shouldn’t endanger yourself as a medic.

If you remember my defense guide (for playhaven readers, it’s still being updated), there was something I wrote about a rear and a forward guard. The forward defense team goes and kills off any defenses, while the rear guard stays in reserve and pushes forward or covers a retreat for the forward group. (On a public server, a group of 4 can easily accomplish this.)

Now, if you push too far forward, your support players will be too far behind your forces to cover them effectively, and the concentrated enemy offense can break your lines one at a time.

Also see point 5 – If Fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight!

2. Stand on the point

"Offensive point capture may not proceed should one of the defenders be standing on the point; make good use of this fact to prevent and stall for your teammates to come to your aid. At no point must you waver and desert your point lest you grant the enemy the advantage." - Sun Tzu

While you may not be able to stop the capture, you might be able to stall the enemy long enough for help to arrive in the form of a pyro, demo, soldier, or any other class that's good . Even a scout standing on the point could give your team a chance to reach it and assist and make a game saving defense.

A point only takes a few seconds to cap, as such, it helps to apply this strategy at all times and ensure that you have someone on the point at all times, like a heavy.

3. Splashing is better than missing

A good soldier will be able to dodge your rockets in a duel every time if you go for a direct hit. If you go for a splashshot, you're assured of getting a minor hit on him and at least doing some damage. It doesn't take much brain for you to figure out what to do.

Of course, if you are confident of getting a direct hit on a target (think along the lines of your average (that is, dumb) sniper, gunhumping engi, or watch-me-I'm-invincible heavy), then take the shot and you'll be rewarded with excellent damage.

4. JUMP!

A height advantage is crucial in defeating your opponent. You must obtain every possible edge you can get and by doing this you achieve that. As a soldier, jumping can grant you a slightly better firing angle, as a heavy, it gives you the element of surprise when you jump down on someone and rev your gun, as a scout; whatever... let’s put it simply: you'd damn better be jumping.

Jumping also helps you defensively: you can evade splash damage if you time it right. Be warned though, during your jump it's easy to predict your movements.

A smart soldier will "break fire"; that is, instead of timing his shots in a single volley of 1-2-3-4 (which will be easily evaded by jumping), he will 1-2---3---4, taking advantage of the fact that you have jumped too early and are unable to jump to avoid damage, or worse, timing his shot to juggle you.

See also point 9 - Taking high ground.

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Breaking Fire

Breaking fire is better known in the business as "holding fire" or "lifting fire", that is, to stop firing on a certain target and waiting for the enemy to attack or attack someone else instead of mindlessly suppressing him.

This is a very useful technique in TF2, by holding your fire; you force the opponent from being able to predict your shots, more importantly, you conserve your ammunition for a more important target and have time to reassess the situation.

See also 34 - Fool your enemy.

End Serious Zone

5. If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight!

If you see an opportunity to take the fight, you should do so, and attack immediately to win the battle if possible. If defending, you should then pull back to regroup and resupply so as to absorb a counterattack.

On offense, if you see that you will win the fight if you attack, then you must do so; many games have been lost by pulling back to "build up ubers" when there were no sentry guns, then attacking with ubers when there were too many sentries up.

6. Don't rely on sentries

"In Soviet Russia, sentry guard YOU!!" - Leonidas Trotsky

Sentries are the core of any defense, and any defensive team should have at least one engineer, after all, a sentry doesn't miss anything, it sees the sniper hiding in the corner, and it sees the demoman sneaking behind you.

Sure they're easy to take down with an uber, but the very fact that they often cause medics to use ubesr to take them down should be a good enough factor - the enemies have wasted an uber that would have been used to wreak havoc on your team.

So basically, anybody who stands still for more than a few seconds in the path of a sentry gun is very likely to wind up as a kitchen colander if he doesn't think fast.

Many people therefore base their defense on the fact that they have sentries set up all over the place, right?


A simple fact that any good player would know is that sentries are extremely easy to defeat - it's the people covering the blind spots that screw you. More often than not, unguarded sentries wind up like this one here:

A sentry gun isn't supposed to be a miracle solution that kills anybody and everybody who comes into an area; it's supposed to keep anybody and everybody OUT of that area. Your job is to make sure nobody gets an angle on your gun, and to use a counteruber should an ubered demo come in. 
You have four main ways of doing it, to give a quick overview, your four main ways are as follows, in order of decreasing difficulty, but all that’s for another guide (Art of Defense)
a) Make sure nobody gets an angle on your gun, effectively making it impossible to target the gun without being fired upon

b) Stop all Übers that come in with pyros, juggling soldiers, demomen, or counterÜbers

c) Make it such that while the gun is destroyable or bypassable, doing so would entail such a high strategic cost (e.g. allowing the defense to funnel the attackers down a narrow corridor) that it simply isn’t worth it

d) Force the enemy to have to Über in to destroy the gun, then respond with your own defensive Über to push them back off.

In reality, you aren't guarding the point; you're guarding the sentries that are guarding the point.

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Area Denial

Area denial is the concept of keeping a key area out of enemy hands by preventing them from occupying it, that is, having a strong deterrent that assures them of death or heavy damage should they enter.

A sentry or a sticky field is a good example, enemies will have to stay away or be blown up, shot to death, maimed, impaled by rockets, or any combination of the above. Heavies? Not really, a heavy can be outsmarted or evaded, but you can't dodge a sentry gun's bullets if you're in the way.

Generally, when applying area denial, the objective is to defend the most area with the least required manpower, and maybe a bit more for backup. An engineer's sentry is an excellent method, the engineer can lend in his shotgun to the main fight, and the sentry watches his back.

End Serious Zone

7. Medic combos are NOT invincible

No, no, and NO, just because you have a medic on you doesn't mean that you can't be overwhelmed. While it's a general rule that you should engage their med first, doing so is not always possible nor is it practical.

To learn why they are not invincible, we have to learn how to beat them; there are a few primary methods, the simplest method is just that: kill the medic, enough said, point proven. But what if the medic is out of range?

Sometimes, the best way is simply to "saturate” the target zone; that is, hit the target faster than a medic can heal him.

Best example? Heavy vs. Heavy-Medic.
You're the heavy against an overhealed heavy with a medic; they've not noticed you and you can get the first half-a-second of shots in just before he gets revved, what do you do? 

Conventional wisdom tells you that you should go for his medic first, as you can take him out quickly, but it's not always easy; the medic will hide behind the heavy, worse still, the enemy may kill you.

Few players realize that if they go for the heavy and open fire at close range, they can kill the enemy heavy first even though he has a medic. A dumb HM combo will engage you (and lose), but a smart HM combo will cut their losses and run for support. A smart team will only fight back if they are supported.

Now that I've explained that, realize that even though you have 300 health which is being regenned at 24 a second, you are still vulnerable to being overwhelmed by a large quantity of rockets, grenades, baseballs, small-arms fire, arrows, or any combination of the above.

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Target Saturation

Saturation of the target zone means to lay down enough fire to pretty much kill anybody in the zone. Once you reach that point of saturation, there is little need to lay down any more fire on that area.

For example, there are three soldiers and four demomen bombarding the right trench exit on Dustbowl Stage 2.

Do you really need SEVEN people on that little hole? I'd think that three is the most you'll need, maybe less if you have a heavy or a medic helping out.

End Serious Zone

8. Don't count on crits

"Luck is nothing" – Oscar Wilde

If you go out and assume that you can win because you'll crit, then you're doing it wrong. If you base your strategy on luck, you're playing the odds, and as we all know, it's a gamble you'll more likely lose than win.

You can hope for a lucky crit to reverse an otherwise hopeless situation (Soldier on the point, you're a sniper with a machete), but don't expect to come off tops. Expect to see yourself at the respawn room shortly. Nonetheless, luck sometimes does turn out in your favor….

The best endorsement for this rule happens in clan to clan scrims, where crits are disabled entirely, but of course, this guide is mainly for the average casual player, not the clanscrimming person. 

9. Take the high ground

"It's over Anakin, I have the high ground!" - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Taking the high ground is a massive advantage for one reason: you can hit him easily. The opposite is not so.

Let's take Gravelpit point C as our case study, I'm a soldier guarding the point, and my enemy, Bob the blu soldier, is down at point A shooting up at me, while I'm shooting down on him.

Unless I'm standing next to the wall (which is suicide in most cases), I'm nigh invulnerable to his fire since he has no way of hitting me with direct or indirect fire, assuming I have rudimentary dodging skills.

The reverse paints a different story, being blasted from the high ground, he has nowhere to run, if he ducks into the alcove, I can pin him down with suppressive fire and even kill him by bouncing splash damage off onto him. Jumping won't help him, either.

Now let us consider the indirect class, the demoman. A demoman would have no trouble shooting up, however, they wouldn't always be able to reach point C due to range limits, and even so, a grenade would be dodged by a good player.

See also point 11 - watch your deep-dead zone for a way to counter an enemy who has the high ground.

10. Dodge to the RIGHT of your enemy.

"Know your opponent's anatomy you must" - Sun Tzu

The weapon bias means that his weapon travels very slightly to the left of where he is aiming. By dodging to the right of the enemy (your left, if you are facing him), you make yourself harder for him to hit.

Better still, for a right hander, it's easier to turn left than it is to turn right. (You learn this in fighter school by the way; just don't turn into an enemy's attack.)

Just try it; hold a joystick in your hand, and see which direction it's easier to turn in, left or right?

Note that for targeting sentries, the reverse is true. Make it such that you can edge the gun, usually done by going to a "left turn corner" where the rocket launcher can shoot the gun.

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Weapon Bias

Let's say that I'm a medieval knight who's jousting with a really long lance. I'm right handed (and so are 90% of you so I won't likely get bombarded by hate mail).

Which direction will my lance point if I want to hit someone dead ahead of me?

It'll point very slightly to my left (since it's on my right, I have to tilt it to the left at about a 30 degree angle off my arm, the lance is, in fact, acting as my "firing line"), so the weapon will lead from right to left.
As you can see from the screenshot below, my huntsman (I’ve used the huntsman to demonstrate it) is trained perfectly on the head of the enemy, but unfortunately for me, the weapon bias on my huntsman saves the engineer from my long-range brain surgery tool.

What you'll notice is that while small, this miniscule aiming degree change can make up for a lot of error over long distances. If the degree of error is say... 10 degrees (not a lot), that can add up to a lot.

The best way I can put it is this: If you're in Dallas, Texas, and you want to travel to New York on a holiday, a 10 degree error means that you'll end up in Cleveland, Ohio, which should be enough of an incentive for you to get aiming better...

End Serious Zone

11. Watch your deep-dead zone

"Aim low" - Dodgeball

While taking the high ground is good, know that you have a blind spot, directly below you. As mentioned before, a demo would have no trouble shooting up, and he can hit you with no trouble since you're not keeping watch for him. It's an ideal spot to sneak up on the defenders. As demonstrated below, you’ll notice that there’s a small area my revolver cannot shoot at without exposing me to everyone or falling down.

Likewise, when an opponent has height advantage on you, try to sneak up on a side where he'll not be expecting you. Try a rocketjump, stickyjump, or simply launch grenades (or have your teammate do it for you; be sure to have adult supervision if you are under 13).

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Concept Content: Indirect Fire

Indirect fire is any type of fire that is not direct; direct fire involves aiming at the target through the reticule. It is any fire that does not travel in a straight line. The only classes in the game with indirect fire are therefore the demoman and the medic (who uses the syringe gun anyway aside from combat medics?)

One advantage/disadvantage of indirect fire is that such rounds are affected by gravity, giving them the possibility of shooting over cover but also limiting their range.

Grenades are excellent in flushing enemies out since they deal great damage, and they can be bounced off walls to reach the target more effectively, resulting in a better "flushing capability" than rockets.

End Serious Zone

12. Scout, Scout, Scout

"Knowing your enemy is half the battle, the other half is knowing yourself" – Oscar Wilde

If you don't know the enemy team's composition and they know the position of all your guns, you're asking to be defeated since you won't know what'll come at you - an uber demo, an uber soldier, uber heavy - and you won't prepare appropriately.

By having one player call in the enemy coming in, you can be prepared to counter them. This player can be a scout (on Gravelpit), a spy (dustbowl), or any player on your team with an eye for detail.

As a medic, you don't have to aim your gun to heal someone, so use this time to act as a spotter for people. When charging in with an uber, call out targets for your Überee and direct him out of there once your uber runs low.

In an actual battle, everybody should call out enemies coming in - specifically demomen and spies - ubers, intel locations, and many more things.

13. A battle on your terms is a battle won

"Play your advantage against his weakness, bring a gun to a knife fight, bring a machinegun to a gun fight, bring a laser to a machinegun fight" - Oscar Wilde

The enemy is faster than you, but you have more firepower; everything else is even. Obviously, you shouldn't engage him in a fight of maneuvering, but rather try to force him into an area where your firepower matters. A narrow corridor is a prime example, his speed will count for nothing, but your firepower can be concentrated and focused on him.

Likewise, if you are a scout against a demoman, demomen are poor(er) at close range than at other ranges, and they can't always hit you if you evade well, but obviously, you don't want to charge him head on.
So, make use of the area, and lure him to an area where you can dominate him; once again, using Gravelpit as my example, try to force him to point A instead of engaging him in the corridors where your advantage is greatly reduced.

WARNING: Serious Zone! – Concept Content: Battle Simulation
This is the longest concept content section, and for good reason: Before we try to do decide what to do, we must know the kind of situation we want to face the enemy in; therefore, it often pays to try and “simulate” a battle by considering what will happen if you were to engage him, weighing your strengths against his.
Let’s try a real tough fight (not like that scout vs. demo example). I’m a Soldier defending on Gravelpit, I’m patrolling the A to C corridor and run into an enemy demoman approaching from A
To most players, the soldier and demo are often considered *approximately* equal.
What we need to do is to find a situation where I can stack the odds in my favor. 
Let’s review what we all know, and then we can calculate the “ideal” decision; it’s critical that you know that fight conditions are never ideal, and this is only a rough sketch.
Since we have the leisure of time here, we can annotate each factor in this fight. Key points in the fight (i.e. the points which will determine the fight) are in bold. Potential factors (i.e. points which may become important, but currently aren’t) are in italics.
- The demoman is faster 
o He can decide where to fight
- Demoman often prefer to set up stickies if they have the time
o If allowed to do so, he can make maneuvering very hard for me
o I must attack as soon as possible, or retreat.
- The soldier has direct fire, but no indirect fire 
o Open terrain favors me since his advantage is reduced
- I have 25 more health
o It’s not much, but it acts as a valuable insurance policy 
- Demomen can’t attack at close range without splashing themselves
o At close range, I have my shotgun, or my shovel, he has a bottle.
- His sticky launcher holds 8 stickies, against my four rockets
o His “direct” weapon has more ammo than I do, which means that when I’m dry, it’s shotgun time
- I have a shotgun, and he doesn’t
o That last point doesn’t seem so bad, after all, the shotgun is the most versatile weapon in the game, and the demoman doesn’t have that
- Demomen have a limited range
o My rocket launcher can hit him even when he can’t hit me
- Soldiers can rocketjump, demomen can’t do it without blowing all his stickies
o Right now, I’m indoors and can’t rocketjump, but if I can bring him to an area where I can, I can outmaneuver him easily
As shown above, there are actually many factors in a fight between two sides, careful consideration must be taken before you try to attack anyone
End Serious Zone
14. Get behind their doctor!

"Screw the Geneva Convention" – Oscar Wilde

The enemy medic is the most vulnerable part of their formation. He's usually more concerned spotting for targets (as above), and will likely see you, but what can he do about it? If he continues healing, he's an open target; if his medic buddy falls back, he's left his back open; if he turns and defends himself, he's not healing.

Don't be afraid to rocketjump over enemy lines just to kill their medic; he or she should be your number one target in a battle.

If you manage to kill their medic, then it's usually more than worth it; even if you have to die while doing so, killing a medic costs him charge time, spawn time, and time which his team has to do without it. If I had to get a killcam shot, this is what I would want to see on it: 

See point 19 – Don’t endanger your medic.

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Target Prioritization

Target Prioritization is the art of picking out the most important target in a group of enemies, and picking the most effective use of your ammo using a few criteria.

One way involves picking out what will do the most damage in terms of time taken, very useful for defenders.

For example, a medic with an uber is worth 100 seconds (90 secs give or take Übercharge time, 10 sec spawn time), a soldier is worth 10 seconds (10 sec spawn), a level 1 sentry is worth 15 seconds (5 to build, quite a while, I assume 10, to get it safely), a level 3 is worth considerably more since it takes a long time to build safely.

Another factor is the threat factor, where you evaluate which one is the most direct and immediate danger to you, and act accordingly, for example, the demoman firing at you is an immediate threat, the soldier coming up is not.
Finally, there is the position factor, where a player’s strategic position comes into play, if a soldier is attempting to take high ground like the roof of gravel B or containers in granary, he becomes a priority target as opposed to a soldier who isn’t trying to get into a good position.

End Serious Zone

15. Know your effective range

Don't be stupid, that minigun isn't going to do anything to the snipers across 2fort. Stop firing. Yes good job boy, you like suppressive fire. But at this range it’s more "fire" than "suppress". Besides, he'll nail you way before you kill him, and it's a waste of your ammo.

No, really, I've seen many players do this and spray their ammo all over the place, then go onto the bridge (without going back for ammo for some reason) and get slaughtered by me, waiting there with a full barrel of rockets as they try to punch or taunt kill me since they don't have a shotgun either.

Some weapons do little damage at long range, and some do good damage at long range, so, against a heavy, make use of the fact that after you exit the minigun's medium range, he'll only be doing 5 damage a bullet, but your rockets will still do well.

Likewise, don't try to engage a heavy at close range as a soldier in direct combat (if there's cover, then it's fine if you use it to your advantage).

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Effective Range

Your effective range is the range at which you can actually kill your opponent effectively. That may have seemed obvious, but it helps to know the range at which you should be engaging your opponents before giving your position away.
Effective range is the range at which your weapons are capable of dealing maximum damage, in most cases, this is at point blank, however, when self-damage is taken into consideration, it may be medium or even long range.

End Serious Zone

16. Play the decoy

"Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao" - Okay, for once, something Sun Tzu (or Sun Bin, it’s not known) actually did say

You might not be well equipped to deal with the target at hand, but that doesn't mean that you're not useful. You can act as a decoy, drawing enemies away in order to spread out their defense.

For example, a spy stabs a heavy, cloaks, and beelines his way out of there. Which direction should he run in?

A good answer is back towards his lines, to safety, where he can heal up and go on another sortie, but there is a downside - the enemy knows you're gone.

The better answer is to run the long way back to your lines, or to some obscure place (e.g. on dustbowl, run for the trench tunnel). You don't even have to all the way - just pretend to go that direction, and turn around when you're fully cloaked. Why, you ask?

Simple - by running somewhere obscure, enemies will devote time to finding you, send a pyro to hunt you, and check with their medics. This draws enemies away from their posts engaging your soldiers, demos, and heavies.

If they stay at their posts, you are free to do whatever bad stuff you want to them again, lather, rinse, repeat as needed until all flakes are gone.

Of course, on Gravelpit, this can be put to good use. Should you try to attack B and be repelled, you can try to send a decoy scout to A. You have better mobility since you can switch between the two targets easily. However, they have the two unsavory options of either rushing to defend A and leaving B open (and even then they may lose A anyway), or sitting at B and giving A away.

17. Don't rely on ambushes

"Don't use a steak tree, use a ham bush" – Leonidas Trotsky

You can rely on ambushes to give you an advantage over your opponent, but don't count on them to win a battle, and don't obstinately stick with the same trick after it has been proven fruitless.

Many stupid pyros have tried the same thing over and over on me with no effect but their unfortunate and very predictable demise. Yes they win the first time through, but it’s really hard to fall for it again.
Think about this scenario on the map Blackmesa, most people would fall for this trap which involves stickies doing damage through grating. The idea is that people would come through the one way door into the blue corridor, and be stuck as they would have to go through the passage; the demoman is then free to blow them up.
It often works once on most players, but over time people will learn to come through alternate routes. Spies may use the dead ringer to force a premature detonation or simply cloak past, scouts may use bonk to bypass the area (though forcing the enemy scout to use bonk instead of a pistol is a victory in itself), and enemy snipers and soldiers can kill the demoman before moving in.
I’ll come back to this situation later with a slightly different picture

See also Point 18 – Don’t count on enemy stupidity

WARNING: Serious Zone! – Diversions and Ambushes
Despite the bad name I may have given it up there in an actual combat situation, an ambush is an excellent diversionary tactic when used in combination with a larger plan. 
A pyro running straight (or better yet, jumping) into a pack of enemies (preferably while screaming “Allahu Akbar!”, “CHARGEE!” or “BANZAI!!”) is something that will instantly draw all attention away from your team’s follow up (preferably from another angle), and buys you some time to attack.
This gives you a period of time to follow-up while the enemy stops, drops, and rolls (or dies).
End Serious Zone

18. Don't count on enemy stupidity

"Hm... he's a soldier and he's out of rocket ammo, so as a scout, I can run in and get in a few shots as he tries to reload all four." –Famous Last Words

Wrong; you must always assume that the enemy will make the best possible move (you learn this in chess too). Assume that he'll switch to his shotgun, or that he'll reload just one rocket instead of four and fire it off at you to juggle you before finishing you off with the shotgun. Just don't count on him giving you an opening by reloading four rockets.

Always assume that that he'll make the best possible move in response to what you're about to do, assume he’ll reflect your rocket, that he’ll see your stickies, that he knows you’re there. If he does do that stupid thing, you’re on top, if he does the smart thing, then it’s all even.
This is the NUMBER ONE mistake that most players make, and it’s appropriate that it’s right in the middle of this guide, do not ever assume your opponent is stupid. That assumption will cost you

19. Don't endanger your medic

"V. I. D." - Sun Tzu

Look at it in terms of "time cost." If you die, you have a 10 second respawn and a 5 sec walk back to the battle; it's not pleasant, but it's not a huge deal. Your medic has a 10 sec respawn, plus a 5 second walk, plus a 90 second charge time for his uber.

So you should be trying to kill the enemy medic at all costs. If you know your medic has just used his uber, it's semi-acceptable to endanger him since you don't have much to lose and you're going after an enemy who does, but yet you shouldn't charge out without a plan to get your medic back to safety.

If you're an overhealed heavy and you see a rocket heading towards your team, don't hesitate to jump in front of it and tank it out with the soldier; even if it's a crit, you have plenty of health to spare.

To use another example - from Pokemon - Blissey is a pokemon with a ridiculously high HP; she (there are no male Blisseys, don’t ask why) is known as a "wall." That is, she is meant to switch in to sponge up any incoming attacks. Replace Blissey with heavy and you have the same idea; assist by blocking any attacks to your medic.

WARNING: Serious Zone! – Escorting
Escorting a key player is one of the most important things in the game, the most common type of escort relationship is that of a soldier/demo/heavy and a medic. At other times, it could be a fighting class escorting a scout to the intelligence room by clearing the sentries.
The escort has one key role: keep his VIP alive until his aim is accomplished. This can be done by meatshielding (soaking up rockets or bullets), elimination (destroying the threat), or retreating (laying down suppressive fire until you can get support).
In most cases, the escorted class is a medic, engineer, or scout. IT could also be a key attacker such as a demoman to take out a well-positioned sentry gun.
The best way to escort a player would be to physically block the attacker from being able to directly hit his preferred target (the medic) while forcing any attackers to come into his effective range.
Escorting is best seen in clanscrims where the pocket soldier or demoman’s goal is to defend his medic while pushing.
End Serious Zone

20. Watch your time.
“One second is nothing, one million is a statistic” – Josef Stalin

You have a minute on the clock and you're about to respawn as a medic. Don't use the normal uber, use a critzer, there's a high chance that the uber wouldn't even be charged in time to create an impact on the game, but the critzer might.

Don't bother building up and coordinating two ubers if you have 60 seconds left on the clock (come to think of it, if you HAD two ubers, you wouldn't be in that rut in the first place); try to make use of it so that you can cause maximum damage from a safe distance and then sweep in during the final seconds with a big push.

A suicide charge should be used only as a last resort since it will definitely be your last shot. If you want to suicide rush, try to coordinate it so that you can actually take the point.

21. Heavies, Soldiers and Medics first
“Women and children first, then men, then dogs, then cats, mimes, and finally bankers” – Oscar Wilde on the financial crisis


Rude, crude and mean, but very, very logical. Heavies should always be given priority for the teleport; the same goes for soldiers.

Medics are another important class that should be given priority for the teleport. Why? Simple. Although a medic is a fast class, a medic is also a very important class - he needs to be at the front so that he can get health to the people that need it the most - your frontline fighters.

Another special mention of a "fast" class that should be given priority is the engineer, who needs to get to his base faster (because it's in need of repairs or something like that). Especially if it's his teleporter, and you know his stuff is under attack.
To sum it all up, here’s a general list of who should get the tele, in a fight, it may vary.
First priority: Heavies, Soldiers, Medics.
First/Second priority: Engineer. 
Second: Demomen 
Third: Pyros, Spies.
Last: Snipers, Scouts
For your benefit, I’m providing the spray I use below, it works wonders on public and semi-pro servers.

22. Reload, Reload, Reload

"Be prepared" - Sun Tzu

You should spend every second of the fight doing something. If you're not fighting, you should be healing, and if you're not healing up, you should be fighting. If you're not doing either, you should be on the way to the front or heading back from it.

There is one thing you can do while healing or fighting on the move - reloading. You never want to go around a corner - or into any battle, for that matter - with one rocket in the launcher (stupid!). You don't want to rush in, ubered, with just one sticky in the launcher (stupider!), and you certainly don't want to successfully outmaneuver a heavy only to find that you are out of scatgun ammo (stupidest!).

Make sure that your gun is loaded when you reach the front lines, for weapons which have “interruptible” reloads, you should be reloading all the time. 

23. Metal for engies, Healthkits for medics

Do you really need that one rocket that you used to rocket jump? Especially when there's an engineer that desperately needs to upgrade his gun to level 2?
Likewise, a medic can’t heal himself, so do you really need the health to patch up that 5hp of fall damage?

I've said this a million times before, and this will be the last time.


This has been a community service announcement brought to you by me, thank you.

24. Don't reload, switch to your secondary

"Six bullets against your one?" – James Bond

Mr. Bond got it right there: six bullets are better than one.

You've fired off four rockets, and your enemy (a soldier) is still alive. It's close combat, and he's fired off his rockets too, so what do you do?

Some will reload their launcher with a single rocket (I often do this if my opponent is injured), which is alright if you are confident of finishing him off in one. But in a one on one, it's often better to swap to your shotgun and gun him down - you have six shots. 
There is also the situation when, as a scout, you’re in close range against an enemy, depending on the situation, you may see fit to reload your scattergun to finish off your opponent in a single shot

WARNING: Serious Zone! – Weapon Proficiency

Sometimes, you'll find yourself out of ammo for your primary weapon. At these times, it helps to be good or at least have some skills with your secondary or even your melee weapon. You should be capable of doing some damage with a shotgun, pistol, SMG, or even a blutsauger or syringe gun. 

Take the time to study the power and effective range of your weapons so that you can be ready for a situation where you're out of ordnance.

The players who will likely find themselves running out of ammo will be soldiers, demos and heavies (rockets run out fast, and the minigun is a bullet hose), so these are classes who should be well versed in shotgun and stickybomb use. The bottle and the KGB/fists should also be in your arsenal if you need to knockout a weakened opponent at close range. 

End Serious Zone

25. Don't turtle

Defensively speaking, sentries are easier to destroy than set up. An uber can bring down a gun and a dispenser; they can then run in and grab your intel before hightailing it out of there.

If you turtle, it's not a matter of "will you win?” it becomes, "when will they win?"

By the way, don't get "don't turtle" confused with "don't defend." They're not the same. Turtling is concentrating all your resources on defending aimlessly without attacking. Defending is smartly allocating your resources taking into account your need to attack. In English, that means to allocate your manpower in such a way that you gain the greatest benefit on defense from the lost manpower on attack

26. Don't camp

"I see whut you did thar" – Oscar Wilde

You just killed me from that spot. Do you really think I'm going to fall for that trick again when you try to snipe me from the very same spot for the third time in a row?

Short answer: No.

Don't stand still like a bloody idiot! In the end, you'll be the dead, bloody idiot.

Nuff said.
I’ve received a bit of feedback on this from people who tell me that that’s the only way they can use the cloak and dagger, my response is that if you’re a spy who crouchwalks with the cloak and dagger, you’re doing it wrong, go home, learn to play, and stop sucking.
There is a difference between the “good” type of camping and the “poor” type of camping, the good types of campers are those who camp with a purpose or stay in an area because of an overwhelming positional advantage it gives them, the poor types are those who aimlessly wait for someone to come into their crosshairs.
Any camping should be done with a purpose, such as to ambush a key target like a medic. If you’re just camping around waiting for your cloak to recharge, at least try to do it in a strategic place where you can report in enemy movements. Camping around with no purpose is pointless.
Back to that picture I mentioned earlier in the guide:
Once again, I’m up there waiting for a target, but this time I’m dumping a load of pipebombs down to force anyone who comes in to my stickytrap. If my team were busy fighting for control of another point, I would be useless to my team.
However, this is a different situation, our team is under pressure, and this passageway is the most direct route from the enemy spawn to our point; my role is not one of camping and ambushing (everybody knows I have stickies there waiting for them) but one of defensive area denial (they know that I’m waiting for them, that forces them to take a long route.
Better still, I cover the shortest route for my team to reach the center point (this room) and stage a counterattack.
Lesson here? If you must camp, camp with a purpose.

27. Use Ubers wisely

An uber lasts for 10 seconds, so please: do NOT give it to a scout or sniper.

Okay, that was obvious, but medics have to observe and coordinate with their Überee. With good scouting, you can work out what the best uber for the situation is.

If your spy reports that there are lots of SGs, pick a demoman to go in, and work with your spy to take out the guns more efficiently. If your spy sees a player based defense in an open area like dustbowl, then a (skilled) soldier or demo would work well. If it's an area where the fighting is close in, like the intel room on 2fort, few outperform a pyro or heavy. Likewise, if you’re on the defensive and need to guard a point at a time mobility isn’t an issue, a heavy uber can hold the point and remain a formidable obstacle even after the uber has gone.

If you have to defend a point against another ubered pair on the point, uber heavies win, bar none.

In special situations, such as on Gravelpit, an uber scout can be devastating on the points to block it, and you should always be aware of this lesser-used uber. But something like this should only be used as a last resort.

Above all, it's down to the medic to pick his uber target and coordinate with the team. If done well, it's a game changer; if you fail, you won't get another chance for at least a minute, so make it count.

28. Spycheck everyone

"Would you like spies with that?" – Michael Moore

It doesn't take that much ammo, so why not?

A spy behind your lines is a major disadvantage, not only because of the fact that he'll kill all of you, but also because he will likely report back everything you do to his team, and if needed, kill your medic in a suicide attack. Spy checking doesn't even have to cost you ammo; just run through the suspected spy and root him out.

In clan scrims, not every clan may run a spy. Still, running through allies to check them is simply good economics – it takes low effort and time, but it offers you a huge benefit.

29. Get creative.

How many people look up when they are commuting? The fight is on the ground, so why look directly up?

That's the weakness you must exploit. Few expect someone to drop down on them, and for the few that do, they usually can't do anything about it.

Once again, just like in all my guides, a nice conversation on a server. I'm a demoman, and it's alltalk (so I took advantage of it).

Scene: Dustbowl Stage 2
Location: Tunnel with 1-way gate.
Scenario: Red has taken the tunnel, as a demoman, I'm holding the tunnel by lobbing my nades down, but suspiciously, no stickies have been launched

(enemy)"Alright guys, gogo"
A soldier, engi, and medic run start coming in to take the tunnel from me, in response, I go around the corner and retreat
(enemy) "we need a dispenser"
(enemy) "okay, charging uber"
*30 secs later*
(enemy) "oh [censored] look up!"
Six kills and four destruction points, whoopee (: 

Place bombs behind rocks, under your sentry guns (to blow up spies who sap), inside barrels, on ceilings. Get creative with your traps, and you'll be well rewarded.

Likewise, take advantage of this by first getting to an obscure vantage point, and then raining death down on an unsuspecting enemy, or picking them off one by one.

WARNING: Serious Zone! – Creativity
Okay, so I’ve just said a lot about getting creative, but what exactly is creativity?
Well, I can’t really say much, except that you shouldn’t let any conventional wisdom hold you back, you can try putting a sentry up smack in the middle of the battlefield, sniping from an otherwise-poor vantage point, and my personal favorite: Laying stickybombs under shallow water…. Many people in 2fort have died while running through the sewers.
End Serious Zone

30. Call your ubers

Why would you uber a soldier who's out of ammo? You wouldn't, but yet, many people don't bother to find out if their Überee is ready to be charged. You don't want to send out an ubercharge only to find that you aren't backed up, either.

The simple solution involves telling your team that you are charged and ready to begin a push.

Whenever you are about to be fully charged, tell your team to prepare to push up. At once, everybody in your team, led by the uber, should push forward, swarm the enemy, and win the game.

DISCLAIMER: The writer of this guide advises against telling people when you are fully charged. It tends to have the negative effect of causing every single crit rocket, grenade, arrow, sniper bullet and stray syringe gun needle to teleport and miraculously rematerialize with a flight path directed at you, then proceeding to: (hit/maim/perforate/pulverise,vaporise/bludgeon/detonate/slice/stab/impale/exterminate/gib/execute/decapitate/all of the above) [choose one] you.

31. Backpedal if he's attacking you, but turn and run forward if he's out of range

A little known fact is that that you're slower when backpedalling. So what does this mean?

It means that if a pyro is rushing you and you turn around and fire, he'll catch you eventually (if you're not a scout, medics will get caught). However, if you turn and run, that means that he'll never catch up to you. A good pyro will pull out the shotgun and pray that he gets you. 

If he's already within range, you won't escape him, so you might as well fight him. 

If he's out of range, you (as a faster class) are likely to be ill equipped to engage a pyro anyway, since that means you're either an engineer (shotgun vs. flamethrower), sniper (SMG vs. flamethrower), Medic (you're better off running anyway, don't fight if you don't have to!), or spy (you kidding?).

If you're slower than a pyro and he’s closing into range, then you should fight him (and you'll probably beat him), since you won't get away anyway, and fighting is your only real chance. 
But be creative - if you think you can get away with a rocket jump, by all means go for it. 

Thanks to TF2F Nullname who points out that it’s faster to backpedal while strafing (i.e. hold down back while strafing) than it is to simply backpedal.

32. Don't charge a heavy. Ever.
“THIS IS SASHAAAAAAAAA!” – Leonidas Trotsky
You're a pyro and you see a heavy, gun fully revved, down the corridor. Would you charge him?

A few seconds of thinking will tell you the answer is no, but if this is so, then why do so many pyros wind up going w+m1 at heavies?

Maybe it's because a flamethrower is a close range weapon? So is the minigun.

Let's ask this question: if you were a demoman, would you rush a heavy with your grenades?

Once again, no, so if health isn't the reason (demo and pyro have the same health), then it must be the weapon.

So, why does a flamethrower seem to give someone the feeling that accords him the invincibility of extreme capability of being and having superhuman strength, endurance, and leetawsomeness make benefit glorious pyro to charge a heavy?

I don't know, but I do know this: Don't charge a competent heavy, you WILL lose. You're odds are much better if his gun isn't spinning when you fighting, but still, you're best off not attacking him head on. 
I’ve received a torrent of hate mail regarding this point.... yes I know a soldier can beat a heavy at close range, but he wins by using cover, not by charging the shredder.
33. The game is TEAM fortress.

ATTENTION: Halo players, you are NOT the Master Chief, and this is NOT a super soldier game

The enemies are NOT grunts; don't go charging in yourself unless you're sure of what you're doing. This is a team game; no one class is equipped to handle every situation (except the *insert profanity here* overpowered demo).

Unless you're trying to eliminate a key target like a sentry or a medic, you shouldn't be charging in without support.

Until then, I'll be in my bunker, hiding from the flood of hate mail I'll likely receive.

WARNING: Serious Zone! - Aggression

Aggression is how aggressive you are in battle. (doh!)

Well, that means how much you push out against the opponent. How can you define aggression? Well it’s a matter of two sides, one attacking and one defending.

Usually, in a fight, both sides want to avoid opposing fire by one of two methods - evasion or cover. Evasion involves moving to throw off the guns of the opposing force. Cover is... well... cover - put something between yourself and the bullet and you're safe from direct damage. In a fight, cover is generally preferred over evasion.

In any single engagement, the "aggressive" or attacking side is generally the one who is evading, and the defender is seeking cover. It's an age-old matchup between mobile warfare and a static position.

However, being aggressive means that you enjoy the advantage of the “initiative”. This means that you can determine the pace of the battle by pressing or retreating, you can take your time to reload as you can dodge, and you have the first shot. (There are some people who work well on defense, like myself - I HATE attacking)

Now, being aggressive means that you're taking a risk, as you will have to leave a safe covered position, maintain pressure on the defender (to prevent him from taking the advantage), and keep yourself safe.

Foolish aggression involves the ancient fighting technique that can best be described as "Frothing mouth, flailing arm" - charging the enemy recklessly with guns blazing.

There is a thin line between that and controlled aggression. Unlike the foolish attacker, the controlled attacker always has a backup plan to fall back and resupply.

End Serious Zone.

34. Fool your enemy

The M1 Garand rifle (not in TF2, what a pity) made a distinctive "ping" sound when an (automatically) ejected rifle clip hit the ground. At that point, everybody and his brother knew you were out of ammunition and had to reload, including an enemy who would be waiting to shoot you when your clip was empty. As such, many marines were killed because of their ping…. (okay that was a REALLY bad joke)

If your enemy is engaging your medic in direct combat, calling for a doc will signal that you're injured to everyone, including your enemy.

What do the two have in common? Simple: they are both excellent opportunities to turn the fight against your enemy.

In the case of the M1, marines in Vietnam would throw an empty rifle clip on the ground, wait for the enemy to pop his head up, and pop a cap into him. Likewise, by calling out for a medic, you have given him an opening to come at you (while he thinks you are "injured") and finish you off.

Unnecessarily calling for a medic may cause him to be overaggressive and greedy, and you can use this time to plan the perfect ambush. Oh, and of course, it may help you save your medic.

Of course, tell your medic first that you're not calling for him via teamchat or the voicecom.
See also point 18. – Don’t count on enemy stupidity

35. Know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em
“You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.” – Kenny Rogers
You're an engi, and an uber heavy has just emptied a belt or two of ammo into your gun at close range, what do you do? 

Most people will keep on whacking the gun in a losing battle. A smart engi will take the time to escape and set up a gun somewhere else.  As you can see here, our other engineers are falling back, leaving the level 2 sentry to distract the ubered demoman. (my gun has just been finished off by a sniper).
In this other picture below, we see another part of the game, our guns have been destroyed but we’ve managed to bleed a significant portion of their time away, they’re down to one minute now.

We won the game without them taking a single point
The same principle can be applied to you as a soldier caught in the open against a heavy at close range, you have to choose between fighting him (and praying that someone gives you an assist or that you get an assist after you die), rocketjumping away and falling back (you’ll take some damage but live to fight again). In this case, running away on foot is not an option, the minigun will cut you into shreds.

Learn to identify times where the best thing to do is simply cut your losses and fall back.

36. Never take anything for granted until that timer hits 0
“You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.” – Kenny Rogers

Gravelpit point C, 10 seconds left. Red players decide that they'll win for sure and charge forward to get the kills during the humiliation round; in that time, a blu spy gets onto the point and captures it.

You should stand on the point until the end (watch for overtime!) and make sure that when you've won the game, you really have won the game. Even in the last five seconds, we keep a heavy and soldier on the point to prevent any last-second charges.

So that’s thirty-six simple rules which should greatly improve your overall combat effectiveness, no frills, just good strategy.
In traditional style, I’ve not gone into aiming techniques, how to do a rocketjump, or any other technicalities of the sort, it’s my belief that any player can become a strong player if they play smart instead of playing hard, that’s what this guide is about.
I really hope you’ve all found it useful, and that you’ve enjoyed reading this guide as much as I have writing it.
So, see you on the servers!

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Version Data and Changelog
1.0 Guide written for
1.1 Minor updates with engineer dispenser and teleport upgrades
1.2 Updated for Scout update
1.3 Updated for Spy and sniper update
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1.3.3 Added in additional concept “mini-guides” 
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