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Expert TF2 Spy Guide

by: Alex Newth ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

The TF2 Spy is the most devastating character in TF2. When used properly he can infiltrate enemy ranks, pretend to be on the other team’s side and then one-shot anybody. This guide will discuss how to use the Spy properly.

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    TF2 Spy Controls

    spy   The TF2 Spy controls are straight-forward, but he is very easy to mess up. If you are an experienced player, this section will be a refresher on how to use the Spy.

    The Spy has three weapons, his pistol, knife and zapper. He also has an invisibility watch and a disguise kit. The watch is activated by pressing Mouse2, which makes the Spy invisible for a set amount of time.

    His zapper is used to destroy the Engineer’s creations: sentries, teleporters and dispensers.

    The Spy’s pistol, which is weak, is one of the most accurate weapons in the game, so it is good if you can’t sneak up behind an enemy.

    The Spy’s knife is his main weapon. If you manage to sneak behind an enemy and literally backstab them, this will be an instant death to anyone, even a fully buffed Heavy.

    In the fourth slot the Spy has a disguise kit that allows him to disguise as either friendly or enemy units.

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    TF2 Spy Disguise Kit

    Disguise Kit   The first thing a Spy has to do is disguise. Commonly, you will disguise as an enemy unit, but as which one? Of the nine, there are five that move at the same speed as the Spy: Demoman, Engineer, Pyro, Sniper and the enemy Spy.

    The best to disguise as is either the Demoman, Engineer or Sniper. Being an enemy Spy is ineffective because there is rarely a Spy walking around without a disguise, so this will instantly alert the enemy. Of the three left, the best is the Engineer. This is because 95% of the time, the enemy team has an Engineer.

    Don’t disguise as Pyro, because Pyros are known to be trigger happy Spy-checkers. When they notice you aren’t Spy-checking, this is going to cause some confusion.

    Never try to disguise as a Medic or Scout. You will move slightly slower than the Medic, but what is really going to alert the enemy is that you aren’t healing everyone. If you’re the Scout, it’s going to be a dead giveaway that you are moving incredibly slow.

    The Soldier and Heavy, which both move slower than the Spy, can be effective for gaining access into the enemy’s side because they are rarely checked, but they are terrible when trying to attack an enemy, because every other class moves faster and you won’t be able to catch up.

    The best overall disguise is the Engineer, followed by the Demoman and Sniper.

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    Infiltrating the Ranks

    kit   In every map there are two main sections: one for the BLU team and one for the RED. After disguising, you need to run over to the other side to meld in with your enemies. During this stage, it will look odd to the RED team, for example, if they see a RED player coming from the BLU base.

    Expert Spies normally disguise as a friendly unit (press “-" when the disguise kit is active), and then disguise as an enemy once they infiltrate. This will confuse the enemy because they will expect to find an enemy that they can't find, which is helpful in causing some chaos to disrupt the enemy's flow.

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    Invisibility Watch

    watch   After infiltrating, you should go invisible for a second to safely disguise, so the enemy can’t find you. There are three different watches (really there is four, but one of them is the same as the stock watch): Invisibility Watch, Cloak and Dagger and Dead Ringer.

    Unless you just started out, you shouldn’t use the stock Invisibility Watch. It has the longest cloak time (nine seconds), but has no special features.

    The Dead Ringer would be the second choice. This watch has six-and-a-half seconds of invisibility, but only activates if you are attacked. It will drop a fake dead body, making it look like you died. This can help you get a quick backstab, or to really confuse your enemy. Only take this watch out if you have sustained some damage, otherwise an experienced enemy will know what you did and will expect a backstab.

    The best watch for the expert Spy is the Cloak and Dagger. It has the least cloak time at 6.2 seconds, but the cloak only goes down if you move.

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    Expert Spy Sneaking Around

    After getting into the base and disguising yourself, you can scope out the defenses. What you are primarily looking for is sentries. If you find one you can use the zapper to destroy it, but that’s not enough for an expert.

    Here’s what the expert Spy does when he finds a sentry. First, give the Engineer a reason to go over to the sentry. The easiest way to do this is place an initial zapper. Engineers, even if they know you’re a Spy, will usually first try to destroy the zapper.

    Stab the Engineer in the back. Now, before the sentry has time to turn around, place another zapper on it to destroy it. This is best done if you have the knife out and have the zapper as your quick weapon (press “Q" to switch between the weapons).

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    Survive the Spy Checkers

    onfire   An essential part to any Spy guide is covering the looming topic of Spy checking. Most TF2 players, new or experienced, know enough to check for Spies by attacking units dressed in their colors. Your worst enemy here is the Pyro, because he can set you on fire. If you see a Pyro, do your best to avoid him without seeming suspicious.

    Any other character will attack you once or twice. When they do this, don’t turn towards the character in surprise. Nor should you turn and run. Just act as if nothing happened. This is the best method. It won’t work all the time, but it’s all you can do during this phase.

    If you are coming under heavy Spy checking, and have the Dead Ringer equipped, use the Dead Ringer to escape death. If a Pyro comes after you, no matter what watch you have, run for the nearest health kit or water source. If you go invisible, and it's a knee jerk reaction for many Spies, it won't help because everyone will see your invisible body on fire.

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    Killing Enemies

    backstab   The best way the expert Spy takes out players is he hides, with the Cloak and Dagger, in a shadowy corner near an entrance or exit of the base. As soon as you see someone leave, follow him and take off the cloak. The cloak takes a second to go away, and during this time you can’t attack. Keep this in mind, and decloak before you are directly behind the enemy.

    Stay behind the enemy and backstab him, then quickly disguise again so no one can find you. It’s simple, but if you don’t move fast, or if the enemy turns at all, you may not land the backstab.

    If this happens, keep stabbing or shooting the enemy until he is dead. If possible, follow the enemy until they encounter your friendly units. While he is distracted by fighting them, pop up and backstab him.

    Primary targets for the Spy would be: Medic, Engineer, Heavy then Soldier in this order. Medics are top-tier and should be taken out first if at all possible.

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    Spy Real Time Strategy

    Here is how everything in the Spy guide goes together. Disguise as one of three classes with friendly colors. Infiltrate the enemy, disguise, then change into enemy colors.

    Search for sentries, or any enemies standing still. If the former, attract the Engineer then kill him and the sentry. If the latter, sneak and backstab.

    Run over to the Sniper positions and kill them. Since they will be looking through a scope, they will never see you.

    While you are being Spy-checked, just keep moving as if nothing happened. If there is a real chance of dying, go invisible.

    Get to the goal (the briefcase or control point). Do one of two things. Either go for the capture, or go invisible and wait for enemies to come by and check. If the latter, backstab them. If going for the capture, be prepared to fight your way out.

    If you have a briefcase, you can’t disguise and you can’t go invisible. All you can rely on is the gun, knife and zapper. It is best to run and shoot. If getting a briefcase, use the pistol to fend off the defense best you can.