Basic Sniper strategy

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I'm gunnin' for ya, you mongrels!
The Sniper
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The Sniper excels in picking off enemies from great distances. His ability to headshot lets him deal severe damage to foes before they can even get close. His effectiveness increases exponentially with the player's skill; one experienced Sniper can be worth three or more. Important targets for a Sniper include enemy Snipers, Medics, Heavies, and Engineers, enemies that tend to withstand or avoid direct assaults. The Sniper is one of the weakest classes at close range combat and is often targeted by classes that operate alone, such as Scouts and Spies. If cornered and alone, he is likely to be killed. A good Sniper roams around the battlefield behind his team's combat classes and does not camp a single spot for long.

Primary weapons

All of your primary weapons rely on precise aiming, so experiment with your mouse sensitivity until you feel comfortable. If it is too low, you will have difficulty aiming at enemies who actively dodge. If it is too high, you will have trouble aiming at more specific targets, like your enemies' heads. If you are firing from a hidden position, remember that the deathcam reveals your location to the enemy. Switch positions often and keep an eye out for any enemies that try to flank you, especially Spies.

Sniper Rifle + reskins

Sniper Rifle Festive Sniper Rifle AWPer Hand Silver Botkiller Sniper Rifle Mk.I Australium Sniper Rifle

The Sniper Rifle is 100% accurate and capable of zooming in on faraway enemies to headshot them. However, it is weak in direct combat due to low base damage, only damaging a single target, and long reload time. When zoomed in, the Sniper Rifle accumulates charge that causes it to deal extra damage. Additionally, headshots while zoomed result in guaranteed critical hits. While a quick, uncharged headshot is significantly harder to land, it will deal as much damage as a fully charged bodyshot. Weigh your options; it may be easier to eliminate a dodgy Scout with a charged bodyshot instead of a headshot. Although you typically hide away from enemies, your weapon projects an obvious laser dot; if you want to hide it, aim elsewhere or take cover while charging. When unscoped, the Sniper Rifle is still completely accurate and deals uncharged bodyshot damage, so don't bother to scope if you have to fire immediately.

Huntsman + reskins

Huntsman Festive Huntsman Fortified Compound

When compared to the Sniper Rifle, the Huntsman cannot zoom in and fires relatively slow arrows. These arrows can headshot without needing to zoom, but travel slower than bullets in a slight arc. Overall, you are encouraged to fight close to the front lines so that aiming is easier. It still takes a long time to reload, so continue to stay back and take cover after each shot. The Huntsman cannot be used to camp an area as easily as the Sniper Rifle, as an arrow that is drawn for longer than five seconds will go wide of the crosshair and do minimum damage. Alternate fire will let you stop charging your arrow and avoid this penalty. Certain allies, such as friendly Pyros, can light your arrows on fire, allowing you to ignite enemies from far away.

Sydney Sleeper

Sydney Sleeper

The Sydney Sleeper applies the Jarate debuff when you land a scoped shot, but cannot headshot. While you will lack some firepower, a weakened enemy covered in Jarate is easy prey for either your teammates or an unscoped follow-up shot. Without the ability to headshot, you are vulnerable to enemy Snipers that use the standard Sniper Rifle and your fully charged shot will only be able to kill the weaker classes. Overall, you sacrifice powerful headshots to improve your weaker, imprecise bodyshots.

Bazaar Bargain

Bazaar Bargain

The Bazaar Bargain rewards consistent Snipers that are able to land headshots and stay alive. While the weapon begins with a heavily reduced charge rate, every headshot kill increases the gun's charge rate to a maximum of 100% faster. You might find it difficult to initially deal with bulky classes, such as the Soldier, without landing headshots. Focus on acquiring headshot kills against weakened enemies, then enjoy being empowered with quick-charging shots. You lose all bonuses if you die, so don't complacently stay out in the open even once you're on a roll.

Machina + reskins

Machina Shooting Star

The Machina's fully charged shot deals 15% bonus damage and, while tricky to line up, can pierce through multiple enemies. However, it cannot fire when unscoped and its tracer rounds reveal your position after every shot. It becomes increasingly more difficult to aim with your scope when enemies are closer, so keep a moderate distance from the main battle. Because your position is revealed after each shot, continuously switch your sniping location. The fully charged shot is best utilized when aiming at the bodies of clustered enemies, as a fully charged headshot from the standard Sniper Rifle is already capable of instantly killing an overhealed Heavy.

Hitman's Heatmaker

Hitman's Heatmaker

When using the Hitman's Heatmaker, you will build a Focus meter as you acquire kills and assists. Pressing the reload key will drain any Focus acquired to activate a meditative state where you charge shots 25% faster, don't unscope after each shot, but use tracer rounds similar to the Machina. These boons let you fire off stronger, more accurate shots that should take out enemies before they see your tracer and take cover. Bodyshots from this weapon suffer a 20% damage penalty and are unable to instantly take out any of the weaker classes, even if fully charged. The more accurate you are, the more you can ignore this downside.

Classic

Classic

The Classic is a callback to the old Sniper Rifle of Team Fortress Classic. It allows you to charge your shot while unscoped, at the cost of moving slowly while charging. However, it can only headshot once fully charged and deals less damage on bodyshots. Most significantly, the Classic cannot be used for quick-scoped headshots, leaving you at a disadvantage against enemy Snipers. The Classic's charge mechanics allow you to view your entire, unzoomed screen at any time, useful when tracking a target or watching for flanking enemies. Overall, you gain additional vision at the cost of damage.

Secondary weapons

Submachine Gun + reskins

Submachine Gun Australium SMG Festive SMG

The Submachine Gun is stronger than your melee weapon and fairly accurate, but still not great for direct combat. Nonetheless, it is one of your best close range options. Use it to finish off weakened foes or fight enemies that are difficult to hit, such as Scouts. It is easier to defend yourself with than Jarate when you're operating alone or away from teammates. It pairs well with the Huntsman, due to its close range nature, as well as the Machina, which is difficult to use at close range.

Razorback

Razorback

The Razorback will protect you from one enemy backstab before breaking, emitting an electronic sound and disabling the Spy's equipment temporarily. The main tradeoff is that the Razorback deprives you of a secondary weapon, making it much harder to fight against any foes who get close. A Spy will typically switch to his Revolver upon seeing the Razorback, which can still kill you before you react. Thus, the Razorback works best when fighting near allies, where an enemy Spy would risk revealing himself to your entire team if he were to attack you. The Submachine Gun or Jarate might be better anti-Spy choices if you're operating alone.

Jarate + reskins

Jarate Festive Jarate Self-Aware Beauty Mark

Jarate is thrown like a grenade and inflicts a debuff upon its victims, causing all soaked enemies to take increased damage. In large firefights, keep a moderate distance, douse multiple enemies at once, and let your teammates finish the job. You can pair it with the Bushwacka to quickly dispatch foes that get too close. Additionally, Jarate can be used to extinguish burning allies, including yourself, and easily nullify a Spy's Cloak and disguise. Jarate does replace your Submachine Gun, making it harder to fend off enemies alone.

Darwin's Danger Shield

Darwin's Danger Shield

Darwin's Danger Shield grants increased health and bullet resistance, useful when dueling enemy Snipers. These defensive bonuses mean that you won't instantly be killed by an enemy Sniper's uncharged headshot or charged bodyshot. However, even slightly charged headshots are still fair game. Additionally, the increased explosive vulnerability leaves you just as weak to the close range classes, such as the Soldier and Demoman, as before.

Cozy Camper

Cozy Camper

The Cozy Camper is a secondary weapon that enhances long-ranged sniping. It prevents flinching when scoped, great when your enemies are harassing you with minor attacks that would otherwise affect your aim. The Cozy Camper also lessens all knockback experienced, further aiding precision when aiming. Its innate health regeneration can help negate damage from afterburn or bleeding inflicted by various long range weapons. The lack of a secondary weapon encourages you to camp away from the front lines (hence the name!).

Cleaner's Carbine

Cleaner's Carbine

The Cleaner's Carbine is a weaker backup weapon than the Submachine Gun, but brings potential for more offense. The Carbine builds up a "CRIKEY" meter as it deals damage. Alt-fire when the CRIKEY meter is filled grants guaranteed mini-crits for eight seconds. Find opportunities between sniping, such as killing weakened enemies or dealing chip damage, to build up CRIKEY. Once the mini-crit boost is acquired, pick a weapon to rampage with. If you switch weapons, the Sniper Rifle or Bushwhacka work well with mini-crits. If you stick with the Carbine, focus on accuracy instead of firing rapidly, as reloading will consume a little over a second of your mini-crits.

Melee weapons

Kukri + reskins

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The Kukri is your go-to weapon when dealing with enemies at close range, especially Spies. If you don't need to directly approach an enemy, use your ranged weapons until you are forced to enter melee combat.

Tribalman's Shiv

Tribalman's Shiv

The Tribalman's Shiv deals reduced damage but inflicts bleed. When including the bleed effect, one hit from the Tribalman's Shiv does more damage than the Kukri, but over a longer period of time. The low base damage will encourage enemies to not stop fighting you. Land one hit, then back away to supplement the bleed with ranged attacks. The Submachine Gun or Jarate can be used alongside this weapon for consistent, moderate damage. The bleed effect can also be used to track down Cloaked Spies, as they will flicker each time they take damage.

Bushwacka

Bushwacka

The Bushwacka deals critical hits whenever you would normally mini-crit. It can be combined with mini-crit boosts from your various weapons, including the Sydney Sleeper, Jarate, and Cleaner's Carbine. Out of all of these, using the Bushwacka in combination with Jarate to quickly dispatch nearby foes is most consistent. If it less effective alongside the Sydney Sleeper, as enemies will rarely charge directly at you upon being affected by Jarate. Be wary when approaching your vulnerable target, as the Bushwacka's low melee range and increased damage vulnerability leaves you disadvantaged as well.

Shahanshah

Shahanshah

The Shahanshah deals 25% less damage when you're above half of your maximum health and 25% more damage when you're below half of your maximum health. Use other weapons, such as the Huntsman or Submachine Gun, for close range combat until your health is low enough that you can use the Shahanshah as a strong last resort.

See also