Basic Pyro strategy
The Pyro is a moderately tough class that specializes in close range combat and excels at ambushing enemies with his various flamethrowers. The afterburn he inflicts will steadily damage fleeing foes, making him decent at hit-and-run tactics. His compression blast is extremely disruptive and can be used to reflect projectiles, extinguish burning team mates, or forcibly shove enemies around. His flames nullify Cloak and disguises, making him especially effective against the Spy. While easy to learn, mastering how to properly use his various weapons takes time. A good Pyro will often switch between weapons to maximize damage. At longer ranges, the Pyro is vulnerable to unreflectable hitscan weaponry, such as the Minigun or Sniper Rifle.
- 1 Primary weapons
- 2 Compression blast
- 3 Secondary weapons
- 4 Melee weapons
- 5 See also
All of your primary weapons burn through ammunition quickly, especially if you regularly use the compression blast. Frequently collect (dropped) ammo boxes and visit friendly Dispensers to stay replenished.
Flame Thrower + reskins
The Flame Thrower is powerful, hits a wide area in front of you, and causes enemies to suffer from afterburn. However, it has a very short range when compared to the guns used by other classes. To easily approach targets, try to catch them off guard by taking alternate paths or setting up ambushes. Once in combat, take advantage of how easy the Flame Thrower is to aim by circle-strafing around your foes, making yourself more difficult to hit. If opponents flee, don't rely on afterburn to finish them off, as there are many ways to extinguish fire. Instead, switch to your secondary weapon for any enemies at medium range or beyond. Spy-check suspicious teammates by firing short bursts of flame.
- The Rainblower functions identically to the Flame Thrower, but also has the Armageddon kill taunt.
- The Nostromo Napalmer is part of the Isolated Merc item set, which increases Napalmer damage dealt to and melee damage received from Scouts wearing the Isolationist Pack set.
Backburner + reskins
The Backburner deals guaranteed critical hits when attacking from behind, but has a significantly increased airblast cost. To position yourself behind the enemy, favor ambushing tactics and liberally circle-strafe when in combat. Overall, you sacrifice defense for offense; the increased compression blast cost will make it more difficult to disrupt ÜberCharges as well as defend yourself at long range from rockets and grenades.
The Degreaser allows you to switch between weapons very quickly, allowing you to quickly deploy the right weapon for different situations. For example, you might switch to the Shotgun as an opponent flees, or switch back to the Degreaser to deflect incoming projectiles. Airblast cost is slightly increased, encouraging you to combine this weapon with others. After igniting an enemy, you can airblast them into a corner and follow up with another weapon, such as the Flare Gun, Reserve Shooter, or Axtinguisher. Use these weapon combinations to immediately take out single targets, as the Degreaser's significant penalty to afterburn damage makes hit-and-run tactics much less effective.
When using the Phlogistinator, dealing any sort of fire damage to enemies will cause a "Mmmph" meter to fill. When the meter is full, secondary fire causes you to taunt and grants guaranteed critical hits to the Phlogistinator. As tempting as it is, don't blindly charge into a group of enemies hoping that your "Mmmph" quickly builds up. Instead, ambush weak opponents or use fiery long range weapons such as the Flare Gun. The taunt makes you invulnerable and immovable, so there are plenty of uses for it. You could power up before an ambush, endure a burst of damage, or even scare enemies away from weakened teammates. The Phlogistinator is your only primary weapon that cannot use the compression blast at all, leaving you weaker in a direct fight and unable to protect teammates from enemy explosives.
Excluding the Phlogistinator, all of your primary weapons have access to the compression blast via alternate fire . The compression blast deals no damage but forces nearby enemies and projectiles away. It uses a significant amount of ammunition, so it must be used conservatively. Offensively, the compression blast can be used to force ignited enemies into map hazards, out of cover, or into corners, where they can easily be finished off with powerful weapons like the Axtinguisher. Defensively, use it to reflect projectiles, shove ÜberCharged enemies away from your team, and extinguish teammates who are on fire. There is a notable cooldown between compression blasts, requiring good timing to successfully reflect projectiles.
Shotgun + reskins
The Shotgun is your most reliable ranged weapon and helps cover the Flame Thrower's weaknesses. Use it to engage enemies at medium range, especially when they retreat out of the Flame Thrower's short range. Other uses for the Shotgun include fighting enemy Pyros, who can't be ignited, and fighting underwater, where your flame weaponry will fizzle.
Flare Gun + reskins
The Flare Gun fires slow, arcing projectiles that can deal reliable damage to enemies outside the range of your Shotgun. The Flare Gun also deals critical hits to burning enemies, allowing you to finish off retreating foes from a distance. If you cannot safely approach an area, you can duck in and out of cover while using the Flare Gun to harass at range; consistently landing your shots will deal plenty of damage. Mechanically, the Flare Gun can be reloaded even if it's not the active weapon; briefly switch to your Flame Thrower between shots just in case you need to reflect projectiles or fight at close range. Using the Flare Gun or its variants put you at a distinct disadvantage against other Shotgun-wielding Pyros, who cannot be set aflame for additional damage.
Much like the Flare Gun, the Detonator is useful for harassing enemies that are far away or behind cover. Its flares deal only mini-crits to burning enemies, but can be manually detonated to create a small explosion that still mini-crits burning targets. Additionally, the explosion destroys enemy Stickybombs. The Detonator's explosion gives you extra utility; you can attack enemies behind corners, ignite multiple enemies at once, and destroy Stickybombs that the Shotgun wouldn't normally reach. You can use the explosion to flare jump upwards at the cost of some health, which helps in accessing alternate routes.
The Reserve Shooter reduces weapon switch time and synergizes very well with your compression blast; use the airblast to force an enemy into the air, then switch to the Reserve Shooter to deal devastating mini-crits. Its reduced magazine size makes it less reliable as a standard sidearm, especially when dealing with enemies at medium range or beyond. It can be used in tandem with the Degreaser for even faster weapon switching and easy compression blast combos.
The Manmelter functions similarly to the Flare Gun but sacrifices offensive power for utility. It has infinite ammunition and a faster projectile speed, but does not deal guaranteed critical hits to burning players. Alternate fire can be used to extinguish teammates in place of the compression blast, particularly useful if you want to conserve Flamethrower ammunition or are using the Phlogistinator. Each successful extinguishing will cause the Manmelter to store one guaranteed critical hit, allowing it to be used as a strong finishing weapon even if your target isn't already on fire.
The Scorch Shot functions similarly to the Flare Gun, but focuses more on keeping your enemies on fire. Its flares, upon contact with any object, drop to the ground before exploding. This explosion deals mini-crits to burning targets and refreshes their afterburn duration, making the Scorch Shot great for dealing constant chip damage. Direct hits deal additional damage and knock back enemies, with the knock back increasing if the target is already on fire; this is useful for shoving enemies that are outside the range of your compression blast, particularly if they're standing near an environmental hazard. Like with the Detonator, the flare's explosion can be used to flare jump, although its weaker explosion results in a smaller jump.
The Panic Attack is similar to the Shotgun; upon holding the fire button, you load up to four shells. Releasing the fire button will cause all stored shots to fire one-by-one. It is less effective than the Shotgun as a backup weapon, as the consecutive loading and firing can be predictable. The firing rate increases as your health gets lower; you can load the weapon while a foe is pursuing you, then unload all the bursts at once. The bullet spread also increases as you are injured, forcing you to execute this tactic at near melee range. Given that you usually fight within melee range as the Pyro anyway, the Panic Attack provides another execution technique.
Fire Axe + reskins
As the Pyro, you're already fighting at close range with your Flame Thrower. The Fire Axe works best as a last resort, when you're out of ammunition or don't have time to reload your Shotgun. The majority of Pyro players use a different melee weapon to gain some extra utility.
Axtinguisher + reskins
The Axtinguisher has a lengthy draw time, deals less damage, and attacks more slowly, but deals guaranteed critical hits to a burning enemy. After igniting an enemy, quickly switch to the Axtinguisher to devastate him with a critical hit, using the airblast to force him into a corner if necessary. Take note of the weapon's significantly increased deploy time, as it gives your opponent a good amount of time to react if he sees you approaching. The Degreaser's faster weapon switch time can help compensate for the Axtinguisher's weaknesses.
Homewrecker + reskins
The Homewrecker can remove Sappers in one hit, allowing you to effectively defend Engineer buildings from enemy Spies. When the Homewrecker is used offensively, it can destroy any unshielded building in two hits. You may find it difficult to get within melee range of an enemy Sentry Gun if it is targeting you, so approach those with your Flame Thrower before switching weapons.
When the Powerjack is your active weapon, you gain 15% movement speed and take 20% increased damage. The movement speed increase allows you get into an ambushing position quickly, but the increased damage taken discourages you from wielding it out in the open. The Powerjack grants 25 health upon killing an enemy and can be used similarly to the Axtinguisher; after you damage an enemy at close range, execute him with the Powerjack, using an airblast to hold him in place. At melee range, you don't need to worry too much about damage taken; as the Pyro, you hold a clear advantage when it comes to close range combat.
The Back Scratcher deals more damage than the Fire Axe and increases the amount gained from health pickups. However, it heavily reduces the healing received from allies such as Medics. It's best used when fighting behind enemy lines, where you'll regain health from finding pickups more often. In combat, it can be used as a strong melee attack without any drawbacks, unlike the Axtinguisher or Powerjack. When concerning interactions with a friendly Medic, the reduced healing rate makes you a poor Medic buddy but allows you to help a Medic build his ÜberCharge at an increased rate for a longer period of time.
The Sharpened Volcano Fragment deals less damage than the Fire Axe but ignites its victim. This makes it most practical for hit-and-run tactics, which unfortunately your Flame Thrower already is optimal for. Its only niche is in Medieval Mode, where it's the only melee weapon that can ignite enemies.
The Third Degree has no downsides and is a straight upgrade from the Fire Axe. It can deal damage not only to struck enemies, but also to any player healing or being healed by the victim via Medic beams. When targeting a Medic's buddy, you can use this weapon to damage both of them at once, particularly useful if the Medic is difficult to reach or you have some source of critical hits. Barring damage boosts, the Third Degree still only deals damage identical to that of the standard Fire Axe; if the connected targets are within close proximity, it may be best to attack all of them at once with your Flame Thrower.
The Neon Annihilator deals guaranteed critical hits on wet targets, including those covered in Jarate or Mad Milk. It primarily gives you an effective method for dealing with enemies in water, where your flame-based weapons are useless and afterburn is extinguished. While it does less damage than your standard Fire Axe, your Flamethrower should suffice for close range battles above the surface. Like the Homewrecker, the Neon Annihilator can be used to defend Engineer buildings from enemy Spies, destroying Sappers in two hits.