Community Spy strategy

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The Spy

The Spy is a class dedicated to trickery and deceit. Specializing in espionage and sabotage, he can backstab, cloak, and disguise. He can also sap an Engineer's buildings. Enemies that are Spy checking should be avoided, and to escape suspicion, a little bit of acting on your part can go a long way. With some skill and luck, Spies can even fool these Spy checkers.

Quick tips

  • Typically, you should cloak when heading towards an enemy objective. A teammate running in the opposite direction is suspicious and a prime candidate for Spy checking.
    • While disguised, enemies are much less likely to Spy check you if you head in their direction with your back turned to them as if running from a battle with your real teammates.
  • Learn to play other classes first. Once you know how each class acts, you will be able to more easily trick your enemies.
    • Pay attention to which class you are disguised as. Snipers and Engineers normally stay in one area while Pyros can often be seen patrolling a base.
    • The Scout disguise is generally bad for fooling enemies; you will not move as fast as a real Scout does. However, you can use the Scout disguise to hide, as his body is much smaller than other classes.
    • The Medic disguise is generally bad for fooling enemies; Medics who are not healing are suspicious to many players. However, it does give you a reason to be behind them.
    • The Engineer disguise can be good. Stand next to Engineer buildings with the Wrench out; when the coast is clear, sap enemy buildings and make your escape.
    • The Sniper disguise can be good for surveillance, as you won't attract too much attention behind enemy lines. However, you can't scope, so make sure to not stand in one spot too long.
  • Disguise while you are cloaked if you are behind enemy lines. Doing so will prevent your enemies from seeing the smoke of your disguise animation.
    • Press (by default) B to automatically change the weapon that your disguise is holding, matching the weapon slot you are using. For example, if you are holding the Revolver (or whatever primary weapon you are using) and click B your disguise will also change to their primary weapon. So if you are acting like a Sniper sniping, make sure to change to your Sniper Rifle. Changing weapons can also make yourself look a bit less suspicious. If you are not disguised, it will disguise you as the last person you disguised as.
  • If you are using the Invisibility Watch or the Dead Ringer you are able to regain Cloak, both while cloaked and uncloaked, by picking up ammo boxes and dropped weapons.
  • Unless you are using the Dead Ringer, cloaking will take about one second. Cloak before you enter enemy territory, as you will always show as your team color when cloaking and uncloaking, thus revealing yourself to the enemy.
  • Be aware that the sounds of you decloaking and backstabbing (unless you are using a Silent Killer knife) are rather loud. Enemies will likely hear these sounds and react. Using the sounds of gunfire from the battlefield can mask this.
  • Always work with your team. Despite your abilities of backstabbing, cloaking, and disguising, you are still very vulnerable and working in conjunction with your team will improve your ability as a Spy.
  • If you know you will die to an Ubersaw, try to Cloak or disguise to deny the Medic extra Über.

General

  • When disguising or changing disguises, your body will be covered by smoke puffs that are visible to everyone. When cloaked, this smoke will not be seen by the enemy. If you have the Dead Ringer equipped, the smoke will linger if you disguise shortly before you are "killed", making it immediately obvious that you are still alive.
  • Disguising as the same class as enemy players around you can be dangerous because your disguise may show their name, revealing you.
  • Always have a plan with decloaking, as it takes 2 seconds before you can attack or use the Sapper.
  • When using the Invisibility Watch, you have about 9 seconds (13 seconds if you are using the L'Etranger) of effectively full cloaking (unless you find an ammo pickup) and recharging from an empty Cloak takes 30 seconds. Keep this in mind when penetrating and hiding in the enemy base.
    • Memorizing ammo spawns and shortcuts will make your Cloak much more effective.
    • You can also use Dispensers to recharge your Cloak, including enemy Dispensers if you are disguised as an enemy.
      • Level 1 Dispensers will lengthen your cloaking time with the Dead Ringer, and maintain your level of cloak with the Invisibility Watch.
      • Level 2 Dispensers will lengthen your cloaking time with the Dead Ringer to a much greater degree, and recharge your Cloak with the Invisibility Watch.
      • Level 3 Dispensers will recharge both the Dead Ringer and the Invisibility Watch.
      • The Payload cart will not refill your cloak meter while cloaked.
  • Use blind spots (areas where the player's view is cut off, normally a corner or other 90 degree angle) to recharge your Cloak if you are not using the Cloak and Dagger. An example of this is on 2Fort in the corner just inside the enemy fort entrance. Most people will run past these areas without even looking in the corners, allowing you to recharge your Cloak or surprise a group heading out towards the bridge.
  • Cloak while surveying an area, if you can. Disguises are not always reliable, as Spy checking is a common practice.
  • Try to make an indirect approach on enemies through predicting their movements; it will attract less attention and will surprise them. Also, try not to bump into your enemies; it will alert them to your presence. If you are following an enemy and they look back, turn around as if you were checking for a Spy behind you; it may fool them.
  • When you are disguised as an enemy, enemy Sentry Guns will not attack, and you can use enemy buildings. Enemy Medics are also able to heal you.
    • Teleporters do not require a disguise to use.
    • If a Sentry Gun locks onto a teammate and you are between him and the Sentry Gun, you will still be harmed or killed.
    • A Sentry Gun will not stop shooting at you if you have disguised after it sees you unless a teammate comes closer than you or you break line of sight or you leave the Sentry Gun's range.
  • DO NOT stab someone in front of an enemy Sentry, unless you have to make a pick that is worth dying for, you can utilize your Dead Ringer, or you are using Your Eternal Reward.
  • Avoid enemy Pyros if you can, for they can easily Spy check you. If you are ignited while cloaked with a watch that isn't the Dead Ringer, uncloak so you are able to fight back, preferably with a Revolver. Also be on the lookout for Health kits to douse the flames and increase your chance at survival, or use the Spy-cicle to extinguish yourself and cover your tracks.
  • Be prepared to use the Revolver in several situations. These include: being spotted, attacking a Pyro, and picking off low-health enemies.
    • The Ambassador is especially good for Revolver-sniping, and will do 102 damage on a Headshot.
  • Try to pick high value targets, such as Medics and Heavies, to kill first. Killing a Medic is worth your life - it can stop an enemy push that might change the way the game is going.
  • Try to not always use the same disguise. For example, if an enemy player always sees you as a Pyro, they will soon begin to Spy check any Pyros they come across.
  • Use good judgment to pick targets. If you see a Heavy-Medic pair, it may be better to take down the Medic first if there are multiple enemies to prevent the Medic from simply healing another enemy who would kill you. If the pair is alone, it may be better to kill the Heavy first and leave the Medic nearly defenseless.
  • Snipers and lone Heavies are generally easy targets due to their low movement speed when zoomed in or spun up, respectively. If the opportunity arises, eliminate them.
  • You can set up a large killing spree by positioning yourself behind enemy lines and following a group of enemies into battle. Once they are focused on a fight, start backstabbing one after the other, starting with the enemy farthest back. Be aware of the time between backstabs and don't run past an enemy; they will notice and kill you.
  • Be aware that if you step on to the enemy Intelligence, you will lose your disguise and pick up the Intelligence. Sentry Guns will lock on to you if they are in range and the enemy team will be notified. You can use this to lure enemies into checking on the Intelligence and killing them when they arrive.
  • If you know an enemy has seen you cloak, head in one direction while you are partially visible, and when you are fully invisible, change your path to trick him.
  • Your disguise health will mimic that of the player you are disguised as at the time you applied the disguise. You can increase your disguise health through a variety of methods, including being healed by a Medic, standing near the Payload cart or an enemy Dispenser, or by picking up a Health kit. Be aware that if you are not at full health but you are at full disguise health, you will still pick up Health kits.
  • Try not to uncloak within proximity of an enemy; they will likely hear the sound of your Cloak.
  • Try not to fall too far while cloaked; your enemies will be able to see the blood and hear the sound of you taking fall damage. If it is unavoidable (or simply faster), try finding railings or other platforms to serve as a median for your fall.
  • If you are being Spy-checked, try to act as if it weren't hurting you; enemies will likely give up if you don't react as if it were hurting you through running or stuttering. However, if you are afflicted with a large amount of damage from a Spy-checker or you are being checked by a Pyro, run or use the Dead Ringer.
  • You can switch your disguised weapon by pressing the 'Last Disguise Used' button (default key B). This will change the weapon that your enemies see based on what you are currently holding. Use this to your advantage by 'equipping' weapons that are appropriate to your location - a melee weapon may be more appropriate for a class like the Sniper in a compact, enclosed space.
    • Pressing the Last Disguise Used button with the Revolver will change your disguise weapon to a Primary, with the Sapper will change it to a Secondary, and with the Knife to the tertiary weapon.
    • Note that weapon switching looks identical to the class switching weapons normally. It may help you blend in better.
    • You are unable to fake holding the Disguise Kit.
    • By disguising as an enemy Medic and switching to their secondary weapon, a Spy can check if the enemy Medic is using the Kritzkrieg, Medi Gun, Quick-Fix, or Vaccinator.
      • While not as essential as checking an enemy Medic's Medi Gun, one can also do this to other classes to have a heads-up of what's incoming.
  • You can fake reloading if you shoot with the Revolver, disguising with a Primary or Secondary weapon, and then reloading (default key R). This is very effective for tricking enemies.
  • When you are disguised, you will wear the same equipment as your target. This includes Hats and Miscellaneous items.
    • This gives more reason to avoid enemies that you disguise as - they may recognize their own equipment if not their name.
    • Some Hats, such as the Hotrod, will carry effects that it normally has to you. That is, the Hotrod will flip down over an Engineer's face if he is holding blueprints or carrying a building. Your disguise will flip the Hotrod over your face if you pull out the Sapper, which can be used to detect you.
  • You are able to see enemy names and health. Use this knowledge when making a plan or predicting movements. Injured players will look for a Health kit or a Medic. while enemies at full health will be heading for the battle. You are also able to see the Health and upgrade level on an Engineer's buildings.
    • You can also see the Medic's Medi Gun charge status. Relay this information to your team - if the enemy is near full charge, they are probably planning on pushing.
  • If you know an enemy Spy is in your base, disguise as a friendly Pyro. Many Spies will turn and flee, enabling an easy backstab if you are within range or giving you the first shot if they are at medium range. You can also chase the enemy Spy into a group of your teammates or simply out of your base.
  • You can trick enemy Medics into using their ÜberCharge on you, usually by disguising as a Medic buddy. If an enemy Medic starts healing you with an ÜberCharge, run towards the objective the enemy Medic is going for. With luck, he may believe you are on his team and use his ÜberCharge, effectively wasting his charge.
  • If you want to make a quick escape, try turning a corner and quickly activating your Invisibility Watch. When your Watch is active, turn around (avoiding the enemy) and go back past him. It will likely make the enemy think you've continued running in the same direction, despite the fact that you have actually turned around.
  • Using voice commands like 'Help!' or 'Incoming!' may lead the enemy into believing you're on their team, provided you do it in the right situation. For example, when you are backpedaling away from the battle.
  • If you are disguised as a slow class, such as the Heavy, it can be helpful to stab the air with your Knife just before coming up behind somebody. You'll begin to run at your normal speed, and if you do it just before you go for a backstab, you can reduce your chances of being spotted by the enemy before you get the kill.
  • Be aware that players on defense are much more likely to Spy check you, as they are likely not focused on anything except defending.
    • Also take note of the Spy-checking habits of the enemy team. If you recognize that a certain enemy always Spy-checks players, try avoiding the area that player is in.
  • If possible, try using different loadouts. Some players will try to memorize enemy equipment, but switching up yours, especially your watch, may throw them off of their mental game. As the Spy's theme is based around deception, this is a great way to manifest deceit in-game.
  • Even if enemies start Spy-checking you, unless it is a Pyro with a flamethrower, just ignore the attack. Oftentimes, the enemy will ignore you, and even if they don't, unless you're using the Conniver's Kunai or the Big Earner, you can often survive enough damage to allay suspicion.
    • Even if you die, a dead Spy is much less of a detriment to a team than other classes, and the presence of a Spy, dead or alive, is enough to keep the enemy on their toes and off of their best game. Just make sure that you're actually contributing while alive, or you'll be better off as another class!
  • It is worthwhile to disguise in most circumstances as one of the faster classes, such as a Pyro, Medic, Sniper, or Engineer. While each class can be used as a disguise situationally, be wary in general of slower classes which are less mobile.
  • Use the terrain to your advantage; there are shortcuts scattered through the maps that can help you conserve your Cloak and catch up to enemies.
  • There are many different maneuvers you can use to make a successful stab; for example, you can fall off of a high area and stab your enemy as you are falling. This can surprise some players and can let you flee from battle and prepare for another infiltration.
  • If you see an unattended Sentry Gun, check for Engineers who might be hiding before you sap it.
  • With the Cloak and Dagger, find small nooks or other obscured places near doorways. You can either sit and wait for your Cloak to fill before continuing on into the enemy base, or you can wait for a target to exit or enter the building.

Weapon specifics

Primary weapons

Revolver / Big Kill

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Revolver
Stock
Revolver
Killicon revolver.png 6 24 55-60 35-45 16-25 120
Big Kill
Promotional
Big Kill
Killicon big kill.png
  • The Revolver is the Spy's primary weapon. While not as powerful as the Knife's backstabbing capabilities, it is still an integral part of the Spy's arsenal. It is moderately accurate and has a fast reload time.
  • Use the Revolver for killing low-health classes and when backstabs are not easy or possible due to the location of the enemy. It's also viable when you are being chased; 6 medium range shots will take down most classes.
  • Due to the Scout's quick movement, it can be better to shoot Scouts rather than try to stab them.
  • Use the Revolver against Snipers who use the Razorback. While the Ambassador can deal critical damage on a Headshot, the Revolver is also a good option because of its fast rate of fire. It is also better against Huntsman-wielding Snipers, as they tend to move around more.
  • Use the Revolver in conjunction with the Sapper. Sap an Engineer's Sentry Gun, and when he returns to repair it, shoot him. 3 to 4 hits will kill him, after which you can shoot his buildings if necessary.
    • If the Engineer has just begun building his Sentry Gun, Dispenser, or Teleporter, 1 to 2 shots will take it down - use the Revolver instead of the Sapper for a long-range destruction. This will help prevent you from being discovered as well.
    • Alternatively, the Revolver has the best damage output against buildings of all Spy primaries; let chaos ensue on a paranoid Engineer or sentry nest with a mass sap strategy. Use your Revolver to take his buildings out before he knows what hit him.
  • Remember that the Revolver is 100% accurate if you allow 1.25 seconds between shots (approximately how long it takes to reload your Revolver). Use this to pick off wounded enemies or to snipe buildings from a distance. Long range shots, despite only doing about 20 damage to players, will deal full damage to buildings.
  • When navigating narrow corridors, keep your Revolver out. If they are fooled by your disguise, run by them and backstab them. If they begin to attack you, begin to backpedal while side-strafing and shooting them.
  • If you are being chased by a Pyro, this gun is useful, aim and fire him while running backwards.

Ambassador + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Ambassador
Unlock
Ambassador
Killicon ambassador.png 6 24 46-56 31-37 15-19 102
Killicon sniperriflehs.png 6 24 102 102 102 102
Australium Ambassador
Two Cities Reward
Australium Ambassador
Killicon ambassador.png 6 24 46-56 31-37 15-19 102
Killicon sniperriflehs.png 6 24 102 102 102 102
Festive Ambassador
Uncrate
Festive Ambassador
Killicon ambassador.png 6 24 46-56 31-37 15-19 102
Killicon sniperriflehs.png 6 24 102 102 102 102
  • At the cost of weaker bullets and slower firing rate, The Ambassador deals crits upon a headshot.
    • The Ambassador will only headshot if the crosshair is at its smallest size. Allow just under one second in between shots to ensure your ability to headshot.
  • The Ambassador can also be used to snipe Engineer buildings from a distance, similar to the Revolver, as an alternative to sapping. Remember, if an Engineer is working on the building, killing the Engineer first is preferable.
    • Headshotting the Engineer may lead him to run away to find a source of Health. Use the time that he is away to destroy his buildings.
  • With good aim, the Ambassador can be deadly against a Scout. If you manage to headshot him at close quarters, he will only have 23 health left (8 with the Sandman, 38 with the Pretty Boy's Pocket Pistol); therefore, you can finish him off with a single slash of the Knife or another shot, depending on your range.
    • This strategy can be used on Snipers, Engineers, and other Spies because they start off with as much health as a Scout, 125; be careful, though, as these values can vary. Snipers with a Darwin's Danger Shield or Tribalman's Shiv, an Engineer with a Gunslinger or Southern Hospitality, and a Spy with a Dead Ringer or Enforcer will be as difficult as most other classes like the Soldier or Heavy.
  • Razorback Snipers have resistance against backstabs, but not against bullets. Take the time to headshot enemy Razorback Snipers. Assuming the Sniper is not overhealed, a single headshot followed by a simple body shot - which can be fired faster than the Sniper is able to react - is enough to kill him.
  • The ability to see enemy health is invaluable when equipped with the Ambassador. When it drops below half of its base value, the health meter is shown in red. Against all classes except the Heavy, this means a guaranteed kill upon a headshot.
  • If you miss a backstab on a low-health class (but still get a hit), switch to the Ambassador and a headshot will likely dispatch the enemy.

L'Etranger

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
L'Etranger
Craft
L'Etranger
Killicon l'etranger.png 6 24 44-48 28-36 15-18 96
  • The L'Etranger converts firepower into potential fleeing power. It allows you to turn scenarios where scoring a kill with the Revolver or Ambassador is too difficult into the ability to run away - and save your life.
    • Be aware that the L'Etranger has a very distinctive "crack" sound when fired, which will alert nearby enemies to your presence.
  • The +15% Cloak per hit is applied regardless of the amount of damage you do to the opponent or your distance from him. Remember that the L'Etranger is 100% accurate 1.25 seconds after shooting and use this to recharge your Cloak safely from a distance.
  • The L'Etranger increases Cloak duration by 40%; this allows more breathing room when Spies want to get behind enemy lines.
    • When equipped in conjunction with the Invisibility Watch, the duration of time spent fully invisible is increased from 9 seconds to 13.
    • In addition, the Cloak duration of both the Dead Ringer and the Cloak and Dagger is increased to 9 seconds, making them equivalent to using the Invisibility Watch without the L'Etranger.
  • Keep in mind that both the Invisibility Watch and Dead Ringer's Cloak timers can still be replenished by picking up Ammo boxes or weapons or standing next to a Dispenser.
    • As the Cloak and Dagger is not recharged by sources of ammo, the L'Etranger can be very effective when used with it.
    • Nonetheless, always be aware of your surroundings when using the L'Etranger. It is not recommended for you to try and regain Cloak via the L'Etranger if there are many enemies around with no allies. In a case like this, it is better to hide instead.
  • Remember that the L'Etranger does less damage than both the Revolver and Ambassador. If you need more firepower, consider using one of those alternatives.
    • The L'Etranger also does less damage to buildings, making a Sap-n-Shoot technique harder.
  • Though the L'Etranger can be used effectively with the Dead Ringer, be aware that once players realize both items are being used, they will likely Spy check around your fake corpse and try to make sure you are actually dead.
  • Positioning is key as Spy, and when using the L'Etranger is no exception; when shooting from a relatively hidden position, you are less likely to be found while regaining your Cloak.

Enforcer

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Enforcer
Craft
Enforcer
Killicon enforcer.png 6 24 70-72 41-55 24-26 144
  • The Enforcer is a Revolver replacement that trades stealth for extra firepower. In exchange for a bonus 20% base damage inflicted while undisguised, the Enforcer fires 20% slower, and cannot deal random critical hits.
    • This functions similarly to the L'Etranger, except the Enforcer trades Cloak Recharge for Damage. If you lose your disguise after backstabbing an enemy or missing your backstab, you can use the Enforcer to take out any additional pursuers rather than flee from them.
    • The reduced firing speed of the Enforcer can be offset by the increased damage as long as you undisguise first, then try to make your shots hit the enemy.
  • If you can, pair this with the Your Eternal Reward, since you'll be undisguised for the most part and therefore make the Enforcer more helpful than ever.
  • The Enforcer allows you to kill low health classes in 2 shots at point-blank range. Therefore, you can kill Razorback Snipers or Engineers trying to remove a Sapper easily.
  • The Enforcer will destroy any Engineer buildings faster than the Revolver, taking 5 shots for a Level 3 Sentry Gun. You can use this to take down enemy buildings faster, by sapping them and then shooting at them while they're disarmed.

Diamondback

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Diamondback
Promotional/Craft
Diamondback
Killicon diamondback.png 6 24 47-51 30-33 14-21 102
  • The Diamondback is a promotional weapon for the Spy. It does less damage per shot than the Revolver and is incapable of random Crits, but has the ability to store Critical hits when your Sappers are involved in the destruction of enemy buildings, as well as when you backstab an enemy. Each destruction or assist involving your Sapper will give the Diamondback one guaranteed Critical hit. Successfully backstabbing an enemy will grant you a Critical hit as well.
  • Consider using the Diamondback if the enemy team has several Engineers. When you have several Crits, you can drop any non-overhealed class in 3 shots, thus becoming a major threat.
  • You can use the Diamondback's rather loud firing to lure enemies into a backstab trap.
  • Even if you lack Crits, the Diamondback is still a relatively viable weapon. It does the same amount of damage as the Ambassador, but with no firing speed penalty.
  • The Diamondback is 100% accurate if you allow 1.25 seconds between shots. When combined with the Crit boost, the 100% accurate bullets can effectively snipe enemies at long range. Most enemies will die in 2 to 3 shots.
  • Engineers with the Gunslinger can build Mini-Sentry Guns. These Sentry Guns are great for racking up crits to use.

Secondary weapons

Sapper

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Sapper
Stock
Sapper
Killicon electro sapper.png 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Festive Sapper
Uncrate
Festive Sapper
Killicon electro sapper.png
Ap-Sap
Promotional
Ap-Sap
Killicon ap-sap.png
Snack Attack
Uncrate
Snack Attack
Killicon snack attack.png


  • The Sapper is a tool used to take down an Engineer's buildings. You have an unlimited supply of Sappers, and there is no "reload" delay between placing them. A Spy can continuously sap a building until it has been destroyed even if an Engineer is repairing it, since as soon as the Engineer knocks off a Sapper, a new one immediately replaces it. Sappers still do damage during the two Wrench hits it takes to remove them.
  • Holding MOUSE1 when approaching a building will place the Sapper as soon as you are in range. This also allows you to replace a Sapper immediately after an Engineer removes it.
  • In many instances, you can sap a building from well below or above it, allowing you to confuse its Engineer. This can also allow you to more safely retreat from the Engineer's nest if your sabotage efforts are interrupted.
  • The Homewrecker and Neon Annihilator allows Pyros to remove Sappers from Engineer buildings. This, combined with their Flamethrower's Spy checking ability, will make your job much harder. Therefore it is strongly advised to either eliminate these Pyros before attempting to sap any buildings or to avoid them completely if possible.
  • When sneaking up on an Engineer who is using the Wrangler, stab first and then sap. Killing the Engineer will cause his Sentry Gun to become disabled for one second, which will be enough time to place a Sapper.
  • It is possible to stab an Engineer and then quickly sap the Sentry Gun. When attempting this, it is recommended that you circle strafe away from the Sentry Gun's turrets to have more time to sap.
  • If an Engineer has his Wrench out and you sap his building, he most likely will attempt to repair the Sentry first instead of trying to kill you. Since it takes two hits to knock the Sapper off, this gives you a window of opportunity to stab him. This can be easier than the stab and sap method because you don't have to account for which way the Sentry is facing and circle-strafing the opposite way.
  • When dealing with Teleporters, it may be ideal to forgo the Sapper and use your Revolver. If the Engineer is not near either end, it will attract less attention if you destroy one end as the Engineer will not automatically know a Spy was the culprit. Additionally, you can combine both to ensure one end is destroyed, while the Sapper encourages the Engineer to leave his other buildings unprotected.
    • Sapping a teleporter entrance can force Engineers to remove the Sapper on the exit. If they are partially standing on the teleporter exit while doing so, they can be telefragged by standing on the entrance and waiting for the Sapper to be destroyed. This only works if nobody sees the Sapper being placed and if the Engineer is not cautious. If the exit leads to a small or crowded room, it is more likely to work. Telefrags do not produce distinctive killfeeds, noises, or visuals.
  • An interesting feature of the Ap-Sap is that it doesn't leave gibs for the Engineer to replenish metal with. You can use this to your advantage during a push to deny him metal, and if the Engineer has the Widowmaker or the Short Circuit, it denies him Shotgun ammo or a defense from projectiles.

Red-Tape Recorder

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Red-Tape Recorder
Unique
Red-Tape Recorder
Killicon red-tape recorder.png 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A
  • Rather than damage buildings, the Red-Tape Recorder causes them to go through the building process in reverse. Upgrade levels are removed and the building eventually unbuilds, leaving a collectable toolbox in its place.
  • The rate of damage is based on the time taken to construct the building. As such, Sentry Guns go down faster than Dispensers and Teleporters.
  • The toolbox dropped acts as a large ammo pickup, which is very useful for boosting the regular Cloak or the Dead Ringer.
    • Even if your Cloak is full and you have plenty of ammo, take the toolbox anyway. If you leave them where they are, an Engineer can use them to rebuild his buildings. If you have max ammo, simply fire your Revolver, reload, and take the toolbox.
  • It takes 3 seconds to degrade one level of a building. This makes the Red-Tape Recorder more useful than the Sapper for entrenched positions where a sapped Sentry Gun can easily be repaired, as upgrading takes longer than repairing.
    • Working alone, this is generally less effective than the regular Sapper, as you will most likely only manage to downgrade the buildings rather than destroying them. However, it is possible to convert a highly defended sentry nest into all level one Sentry Guns, allowing your teammates to destroy it far more easily.
  • Conversely, the Red-Tape Recorder is worse at destroying buildings outright, as unbuilding takes longer than the Sapper's destruction time. The Red-Tape Recorder can very rapidly remove the first few levels of a building, but takes a very long period of time to completely pack up a building. As of such, it's better to kill the Engineer first before applying the Red-Tape Recorder.
    • However, it makes sap-and-stab tactics a little easier. Even if an Engineer manages to remove your Red-Tape Recorder just as he gets backstabbed, the building still will have to complete its upgrade animation before becoming operational again, thus giving a little extra time to re-sap it.
  • Due to the fact that they only have one level, the Red-Tape Recorder can be surprisingly effective against mini-Sentry Guns. However, it should be noted that it takes just as long to destroy as with a normal level 1 Sentry Gun.
    • It should also be noted that any Engineer removing the Red-Tape Recorder will cause the mini-sentry to return to full health, undoing both Sapper and other damage (despite Mini-Sentry Guns normally being unrepairable).
  • Make sure to sap more than one building, preferably 3; this will cost the Engineer time and metal rebuilding, leaving him vulnerable for assault.
    • On the HUD for the Engineer, the Sentry Gun has the biggest icon compared to the others. Sap the sentry first before you sap other buildings. Chances are the Engineer will save the Sentry Gun, due to the fact it costs the most metal to make (unless the Engineer is using the Gunslinger), leaving the other buildings in greater disrepair.
    • Engineers with the Widowmaker or Short Circuit will likely pay more attention to their Dispenser than their Sentry Gun. As long as multiple buildings are sapped, these Engineers will be more vulnerable than others, due to their weapons consuming metal.

Melee weapons

Knife / Saxxy / Sharp Dresser / Festive Knife / Black Rose / Botkiller Knife

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Knife
Stock
Knife
Killicon knife.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Saxxy
Promotional
Saxxy
Killicon saxxy.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Sharp Dresser
Promotional
Sharp Dresser
Killicon sharp dresser.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon sharp dresser backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Festive Knife
Uncrate
Festive Knife
Killicon knife.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Black Rose
Promotional
Black Rose
Killicon black rose.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Item icon Rust Botkiller Knife.png Item icon Blood Botkiller Knife.png Item icon Silver Botkiller Knife.png
Item icon Gold Botkiller Knife.png Item icon Carbonado Botkiller Knife.png Item icon Diamond Botkiller Knife.png

Botkiller Knife

Killicon knife.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Australium Knife
Two Cities Reward
Australium Knife
Killicon knife.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
  • When you are in range for a successful backstab, the Spy will ready his Knife for a stab with a reverse-grip stance. If the Spy doesn't have his Knife in a reverse-grip, you may perform a low-damage slash instead. Look for the change in grip before attempting a backstab if you're unsure if the backstab will actually register.
    • Although a backstab grip guarantees a backstab, many other pokes will register a backstab as well. As long as your stab connects with the enemy's rear-facing half, any swipe or poke should kill him.
    • The Knife does nearly no damage when it's not a backstab. Only attack with it if you are certain it will backstab, or else you will deal minimal damage and give away your position.
    • The Saxxy does not have a backstab stance.
  • In most scenarios, you should switch to the Revolver to fight enemies once you've been discovered. Even in close range, the Revolver is significantly more powerful than non-backstab Knife swipes.
  • Because a backstab is always a critical hit, enemies killed by a Knife backstab will always emit a blood-curdling scream upon death. It is important when killing an enemy that you have a plan to either run from or kill nearby foes as soon as you perform your first stab.
  • A quick stab with the Knife into the air is generally the fastest way to silently drop your disguise. This can be used to perform covert Capture Point captures.
  • If you encounter a Sniper with the Razorback, it is generally a good idea to shoot him with a Revolver, rather than trying to stab him.
    • If a Sniper equipping the Razorback is standing near a corner, it is much quieter to stab his Razorback, turn the corner, and cloak. When the Sniper either finishes Spy checking or doesn't react, backstab him. If he returns to a Resupply Cabinet, shoot him; even though it's louder, he will quickly catch on and possibly find you.
  • Be aware that the Saxxy and the Spy-cicle leave very noticeable corpses, the former being made of shimmering Australium Gold, the latter being an ice sculpture. They are very likely to reveal your presence.
  • When discovered, an advanced technique to help fend off the pursuer is to run up a slope, jump over the head of the pursuer, do a 180 degree turn, crouch, and backstab him. This is commonly called the stair-stab. [1]

Your Eternal Reward / Wanga Prick

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Your Eternal Reward
Craft
Your Eternal Reward
Killicon your eternal reward.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
Wanga Prick
Craft
Wanga Prick
Killicon wanga prick.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
  • Since you cannot disguise at will if using Your Eternal Reward or the Wanga Prick, you will have to rely more heavily on efficient cloaking and teammate distractions to acquire kills.
    • This restriction also means that in most scenarios, at least one person (your last victim) will know what your disguise is at all times. Because of this, it is important to continue to rely on your Cloak as a primary stealth tool.
  • Kills with Your Eternal Reward are truly silent; the victim will not scream and their bodies disappear upon death whether they are backstabbed or not. Also, the enemy will not see their kill notification.
  • This weapon is extremely well-suited for taking out Sentry Guns when you already have a disguise. The Stab-n-Sap technique is made easier and kills in front of Sentry Guns are safer because the Sentry Gun will not detect you between disguises.
    • If you do not have a disguise and an Engineer is still guarding his Sentry Gun, you can uncloak behind the Engineer and use him as cover as the Sentry Gun turns around to face you. Stab him, and then sap his Sentry Gun.
    • Consider switching back to the original Knife when you need to quickly take out a sentry nest and don't have time to get a disguise. If you are quick, you should be able to sap his sentry after stabbing him, so the ability to disguise at will is helpful and the quick-disguise is unnecessary.
    • However, when taking out large sentry nests with multiple Engineers, stab-and-sapping will be suicidal, and if you sap first, the Engineers will Spy check and likely kill you before you can take out a significant number of their buildings. Instead, with Your Eternal Reward, once you have a disguise, which can be obtained from a player waiting to go through a teleporter, you can slowly whittle away at the Engineers until there are none left, and then sap all of the buildings. The Teleporters may be a priority so you are not interrupted when they respawn.
  • Your Eternal Reward is very good when dealing with a crowd of enemies. After backstabbing the enemy farthest back in the group, you are able to continue to push forward without raising suspicion from those around him. Continue stabbing until you kill all of the enemies or you need to escape.
  • Using the Dead Ringer alongside Your Eternal Reward can be a particularly tricky combination, since the inability to Cloak or disguise at will will render backstabs much more difficult. However, once a disguise is acquired, the Dead Ringer can make an excellent escape plan should anything go wrong.
  • Be aware that successful backstabs with Your Eternal Reward will not stop enemies capping a Control Point or pushing the Payload Cart. It will, however, slow them down until there are none left. It may be a better choice to shoot enemies with the Revolver so that you can inflict damage while stopping the enemies from capturing.
  • When using Your Eternal Reward on Control Point maps, be wary when defending the final control point. Because the Eternal Reward disguises instantaneously, stabbing enemies capping your last point will not disrupt the cap (it will, however, slow the capping with one less person, or two if any of the following occurs; a Scout on point or if a Soldier or Demoman has the Pain Train equipped). This can allow for survivors to continue to cap while you frantically try to stab them. Pulling out your selected Revolver at this time to stall for friendly backup is usually the best response.
  • Try finding lone targets to gain your first disguise.
  • Try to prioritize disguise over kills. While getting a lone, low-health Heavy seems good, you'll be restricted in your movement and will likely want to lose your disguise anyway, to regain that speed.
    • Remember that if you cloak with a slow disguise, you will run at your normal walking speed until you uncloak.
    • Consider ditching a slower disguise in order to catch up to another nearby target if you're sure nobody will notice you. Depending on the distance, you can afford to be without a disguise for the short time it will take to replace it.
  • If you accidentally overrun an enemy Medic but retained your disguise, simply run past him and go for other enemies. It is possible that, because Your Eternal Reward dissipates enemy ragdolls with very little sound, the Medic will not notice you stabbing his allies until it is too late.
  • The Cloak and Dagger works well with this Knife because you can wait for people to backstab without having fear of being exposed. This works especially well on commonly used paths - wait for a straggler, then begin your attack.
  • Remember that in close encounters, even if you or a teammate kills your target, unless you finish the enemy with a backstab, you will be left without a disguise.
  • If you backstab the target of a Medic, you will become the new heal target. This is best applied when the Medic is not watching his target, as the Medic may notice a player disappearing when you backstab an enemy.
    • Due to the instant disguise, you can backstab enemy players while being Übercharged without stopping the Übercharge, unlike any other knife.
  • Be aware that weapons will not disappear when you kill an enemy. If your Revolver or Cloak (except for the Cloak and Dagger) is not at full ammo or charge respectively, you should instantly pick a dropped weapon up, hiding the evidence.

Conniver's Kunai

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage Healing
Point blank Critical From backstab
Conniver's Kunai
Promotional/Craft
Conniver's Kunai
Killicon conniver's kunai.png 0.8 seconds 40 120 N/A
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health. Target's current health, capping at 180 health.
  • The Conniver's Kunai decreases your default Health to 60. However, backstabbing with the Kunai will leech all of the victim's health and overheal you to a maximum of 180 health, which decreases at 2 health per second back to 60.
  • Prime targets for the Kunai are Heavies and Soldiers. A backstab on one will fully overheal you, assuming they have taken little (if any) damage.
  • Be aware that many weapons can kill you in one hit while you are at 60 health. Choose your initial targets carefully to ensure that you don't die before gaining any overheal via backstabbing. A successful backstab will keep you in the fight much longer than other Spies.
  • Be careful when you exit your spawn room or turn corners - one stray rocket, grenade, or other attack can easily kill you.
  • You can be a bit quicker to getting behind enemies and stabbing them, because even if you begin to take damage from another source, you can out-heal it with a backstab.
  • Remember that effects such as afterburn and bleed can be instantly negated by a successful backstab. However, you cannot heal from health packs if you are overhealed. Therefore, if you have one of these effects, you will not be able to use Health packs to stop these effects until your overheal has ended.
  • It is generally a bad idea to use your Revolver in a 1 on 1 confrontation with an enemy. Due to your low health, you will likely not survive. If you run out of overheal often, try using the Ambassador, where you can deal better damage safely at a distance.
  • The Dead Ringer gives you vastly improved survivability, so it helps to make up for the decreased health of the Kunai. For maximum effect, try to keep the Dead Ringer out at all times. After use, try to find a secluded spot to recharge, or you may be caught undefended.
  • Try to avoid this weapon on Arena maps, as you and your enemies will not respawn, leaving you extremely vulnerable unless you can consistently backstab enemies and avoid being caught without overheal.

Big Earner

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Big Earner
Craft
Big Earner
Killicon big earner.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
  • The Big Earner reduces your overall health to 100, but grants a 30% Cloak refill for any watch upon a melee kill.
  • The Big Earner will generally allow for easier escapes due to you getting your Cloak back in exchange for riskier assaults, as you lose 25 base health.
  • Consider using the Dead Ringer or Cloak and Dagger over the Invisibility Watch in conjunction with the Big Earner. As you have reduced health, your survival may depend on the use of cloaking.
    • The Big Earner's ability to regain Cloak faster and the Dead Ringer's survival ability can negate the health loss caused by the Big Earner by significantly reducing damage when activated.
    • Normally, the only way to regenerate your Cloak and Dagger is through waiting or visiting a Resupply Locker. The Big Earner bypasses this hindrance.
  • Remember to pick up the enemy's dropped weapon after you kill them. The combination of the Big Earner and a dropped weapon can nearly refill your Cloak entirely.
  • Note that non-backstab and taunt kills will still reward you with a 30% bonus to the charge on your Cloak. If you're in a desperate situation or the enemy is low on health, try to stab any way you can if you need Cloak. If you do not need charge on your Cloak, it is generally a better idea to use your Revolver and shoot the enemy.
  • Although you have more base health than you would with the Conniver's Kunai, its' best to avoid arena maps with this weapon. Equip the Dead Ringer to prolong survival.

Spy-cicle

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Spy-cicle
Uncrate/Craft
Spy-cicle
Killicon spy-cicle.png 0.8 seconds 40 120
Killicon backstab.png 0.8 seconds N/A 6× victim's health.
  • The Spy-cicle causes any backstabbed players to leave a frozen ragdoll, but causes a relatively silent death. There is still a rather distinct sound emitted whenever you backstab an enemy. Upon any contact with flames, the knife provides a two-second fire immunity, but requires a fifteen-second recharge period before it can be used again.
  • This knife allows for a nearly silent kill like Your Eternal Reward, but leaves a unique corpse not unlike the Saxxy; as a result, it draws minimal immediate attention, but alerts anyone finding the body to your presence, requiring the player to employ hit-and-run tactics to remain undetected.
  • Be aware that once Pyros notice you are using the Spy-cicle, they may begin to follow you for an extended period of time to ensure your death.
  • If you are disguised or cloaked and a Pyro Spy checks you, be aware that you'll be instantly extinguished and are immune to fire for two seconds, but you will still exclaim that you're on fire, so it's unlikely you will be ignored. Use the fireproof time to put some distance between you and the Pyro.
  • Since any contact with fire renders your knife temporarily useless, you may have to rely on your Revolver to defend yourself. Consider picking a gun that doesn't suffer from a damage decrease, like the L'Etranger.
    • Try to avoid the Diamondback with this knife; since it comes with a damage decrease and requires a successful sap in order to grant guaranteed crits, players without a knife will be unable to stab-sap an Engineer near a Sentry Gun, temporarily trapping them with a weak gun and no crit bonuses.
    • The Enforcer is a good choice with this knife; not only will you have a damage bonus useful when dealing with lone enemies, but to attack you need to be undisguised, which is when the Enforcer's damage bonus sets in. The slowed firing speed is counteracted by the damage bonus.
  • Note that any Heavies equipping the Huo-Long Heater become incredibly risky targets with the Spy-cicle; backstabs are limited to when the Heavy is not attacking, or by an incredibly risky jump-stab (i.e. stabbing the Heavy mid-air before making contact with the fire).

PDA Slot

Disguise Kit

Weapon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Disguise Kit
Stock
Disguise Kit
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
  • The Disguise Kit is the Spy's major infiltration tool. Most of your time spent disguised will be done pretending to be an enemy. Each plays differently when trying to blend in.

Scout

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 100% (25% slower than actual Scout.)
    • Stature: Short, Skinny
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: Medium
    • Believability: Low

The Scout disguise is best applied when you are trying to hide or when you will only be visible to the enemy for a short period of time. The Scout's character model is very small and is rather useful for hiding. Due to the height differential between a Scout and a Spy, if a Sniper aims for the head of a Scout, it would shoot the torso area of a Spy. However, it is not very believable, as you will not gain speed to match that of the Scout and because you cannot double jump. As Scouts tend to wander for extended periods of time, the Scout disguise is usually viable for quick glances, especially from long distances. If the Scout you're disguised as has the Baby Face's Blaster equipped, consider showing it consistently, as its initial speed reduction might help your disguise's credibility. The Scout disguise is common in competitive play due to the nature of team composition and the fact that disguises do not work well for blending in against coordinated teams, regardless of disguise.

Soldier

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 80%
    • Stature: Normal
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: High
    • Believability: Medium

The Soldier disguise is useful for blending in when stabbing a slow-moving target, as most people do not suspect Soldier Spies due to their slow movement speed. However, you will likely have trouble dodging enemy fire and avoiding blocking enemy movement. If your target starts moving at full speed, unless it is a Heavy, you might not be able to catch up to him without losing your disguise. You may be able to infiltrate enemy lines by simply walking in backwards, as it is common practice for Soldiers to retreat this way - you might even get an enemy Medic healing or ÜberCharging you. Try not to have your disguise weapon as the Equalizer or the Escape Plan; enemy Medics will still be able to heal you, easily giving you away. The latter also won't give any additional speed, thus giving away your disguise if it appears as wounded, nor will it mark you for death.

Pyro

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 100%
    • Stature: Normal
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: Low
    • Believability: Medium

As a class with 100% move speed, no need to reload primary weapons, and reasons to hide by himself among teammates and near Sentry Guns, the Pyro disguise is fairly well-rounded. Pyros aren't expected to attack until they get close to others, and they commonly patrol their own bases. Therefore, a Pyro disguise can get in and out of enemy areas nicely. However, the Pyro disguise has a couple of flaws that make it less than perfect. The Pyro disguise is common and very easy to Spy check (Pyros don't catch on fire, but you will). Also, Pyros are expected to Spy check constantly, so enemies may attack you once they realize you are not doing so. If you are trying to hide, switch to a secondary or melee weapon, as all Flamethrowers have long weapon models and can sometimes be seen through walls or props. The Pyro disguise's fake Shotgun reload is arguably tied with the Engineer's for being the best in the game.

Demoman

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 93%
    • Stature: Normal
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: Low
    • Believability: Medium

The Demoman disguise is very average, with slightly reduced move speed counteracted by a Demoman's reasons to stay in his team's base. However, if Stickybombs are not placed and your disguise does not include a shield, you will easily be discovered as a fraud. While the Demoman is used in both offense and defense, he is generally expected to constantly use his weapons. The disguise has average body and weapon size, and is therefore good for quick glances. However, enemies are generally not fooled if you stay in one location for too long. Both fake reloads are moderately believable.

Heavy

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 77%
    • Stature: Tall, Wide
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: High
    • Believability: Medium

Because of its severely reduced move speed, a Heavy disguise is rare. This disguise hinders your ability to chase for a backstab, to move around the map quickly, and to hide. However, due to its rarity, many players won't expect it. The Heavy disguise is a great choice if you want a Medic to heal or possibly ÜberCharge you regardless of your health level. The Heavy's primary weapon is not usually fired on a whim, due to its spin up and spin down times; therefore, an enemy Medic will not immediately Spy check you if you don't shoot. While this disguise is good for backstabbing enemy Heavies that are revved up, there are other, better alternatives, and the large model size and extremely slow move speed make the Heavy disguise generally a bad choice.

Engineer

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 100%
    • Stature: Short
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: Low
    • Believability: Medium

The Engineer disguise can be useful for taking down enemy structures. The Engineer has 100% move speed, small character and weapon models, and a reason to stay around his own base and buildings. However, Engineers tend to be Spy-checked if they don't swing their Wrench for a while, if they don't have any buildings constructed, or if they're hanging around a different Engineer's buildings for no apparent reason. Engineers are rarely seen outside of their base unless they have the Gunslinger equipped, so be aware of which melee weapon your disguise has. Also be aware of your disguise's secondary weapon, as while the Pistol and Short Circuit are viable for Engineers to be wandering around with, the Wrangler is not, and holding it without a Sentry Gun following along is highly suspicuous. The Engineer disguise's fake Shotgun reload is arguably tied with the Pyro's for being the best in the game.

Medic

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 100% (7% slower than actual Medic.)
    • Stature: Tall
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: High
    • Believability: Low

The Medic disguise is not very good for maintaining believability. While most enemies will not notice the lack of increased move speed, the Medic disguise is incapable of healing. Because Medics are expected to heal whenever they're with a teammate and are rarely alone, your disguise quickly loses credibility. Another thing that has the potential to quickly give you away is the fact that, while disguised as a Medic, your fake Übercharge meter will always show 0%; more experienced players will know that Medics will never have 0% Übercharge unless walking out of spawn due to the Medic's frequent healing. One benefit of the disguise is the ability to lure enemies into thinking they can get healed by you, and then you may dispatch them any way you like (preferably by a backstab, though if they are badly wounded, simply shoot them). You can also use the disguise to come from behind an enemy for a backstab, as it is completely natural for a Medic to be behind his patient. The Medic disguise also has a rather good fake reload.

Sniper

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 100%
    • Stature: Tall, Skinny
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: Low
    • Believability: High

The Sniper disguise is generally effective if you are standing on a balcony or other common sniping location. It is not suspicious for Snipers to stay within their base for extended periods of time, and are not expected to Spy-check allies. However, you are unable to zoom in, which can reveal your identity after a while, and if you stray too far from Sniper posts, you are likely to be Spy-checked. If you plan to lurk around sniping spots while visible, beware if the enemy team has a Sniper - odds are they will be headed to the same sniping spots as you are, which increases the chance of running into the one enemy who will instantly know you're a Spy. Also be aware of enemies attempting to light your arrow if you are disguised with the Huntsman. The Sniper disguise is relatively small with 100% move speed.

Spy

  • Statistics
    • Speed: 100%
    • Stature: Tall, Skinny
  • Inconspicuousness
    • Element of surprise: Medium
    • Believability: High

The Spy disguise can work, but it primarily relies on the Spy-checking habits of your enemies. It is the only disguise where you have a reason to be with your teammates without attacking. Be aware that the enemy Spy disguise will not affect the color of your disguise smoke or your Cloak, so enemies can still recognize those effects. Upon choosing the Spy class from the Disguise Kit, a random disguise will be applied to the Spy. The Spy disguise can be risky because many players instinctively fire at all Spies, even friendly ones. The Spy disguise has a good fake reload.

Friendly disguises

Friendly disguises can prove handy in a variety of situations. Friendly disguises are useful at the beginning of rounds, especially during setup time, because they will avoid giving away there you are a Spy, while making the enemy team prepared for a class that isn't necessarily in use. If you're having trouble getting behind enemy lines, a friendly disguise can be used to scare enemies (for example, a friendly Pyro disguise in close quarters) or to feign a death more convincingly. If an ally needs help, you can use a friendly disguise, such as a Heavy, to draw enemy fire. Your hit box is not the same as your disguise class, so you can draw Sniper fire with some disguises with a reduced risk of being Headshot. Friendly disguises, particularly Medic and Sniper, are good for baiting, as many enemies will not expect a friendly disguise. Use this bait to prepare for a stab or by shooting the target with your Revolver. These tricks can be used more safely and repeatedly with the Dead Ringer, as you can fake friendly deaths.

PDA2 slot

Invis Watch / Enthusiast's Timepiece / Quäckenbirdt

Weapon Cloak
Cloak type Duration Activation time Deactivation time Recharge
Invisibility Watch
Stock
Invis Watch
Standard Recharge 9 seconds 1 second 1.8 seconds 30 seconds
Enthusiast's Timepiece
Promotional
Enthusiast's Timepiece
Quackenbirdt
Promotional
Quäckenbirdt
  • Cloaking is an ability exclusive to the Spy, which renders him fully invisible to enemy players. Your teammates will still be able to see you, albeit faintly. While cloaked, you cannot use any weapons, but you can still switch weapons and disguise. Taking damage or running into an enemy will make you flicker for a brief period of time.
  • When your Invisibility Watch runs out, you will automatically uncloak, revealing yourself. While you are cloaked, pick up ammo packs or weapons to recharge your watch.
  • The Invisibility Watch is most useful on offence when there are ammunition sources available.
  • When compared to the other watches, the Invisibility Watch allows for the farthest distance traveled while invisible.
  • Cloaking can be pivotal when attempting to infiltrate an enemy base. Be aware that cloaking will take 1 full second while uncloaking will take a little over 2 seconds, during which you can be recognized by the enemy, even if you are disguised, but cannot attack or use your Sapper. Therefore, you should attempt to look for a safe, hidden spot to uncloak.
  • Plot your course and approach targets carefully - being spotted may result in a quick death, as you cannot feign a death, as with the Dead Ringer, or hide in one spot until an opportunity arises, as with the Cloak and Dagger.
    • Always try to move while you are using the Invisibility Watch. You will only regain Cloak if you are not cloaked or if you pick up ammo boxes or fallen weapons. However, the Invisibility Watch lasts longer than the alternative watches.
  • If you know an enemy has seen you Cloak, head in one direction while you are partially visible, and when you are fully invisible, change your path. The enemy will likely believe you are going the same direction you were while visible, and will continue down that way, allowing for your escape or even counterattack.
  • Do not rely on the Invisibility Watch's natural recharge, as it takes about twice as long compared to the other watches.
  • Grab dropped metal whenever you can while cloaked. Some enemies will notice an ammo box disappearing for seemingly no reason, but even if they do (and realize it was a cloaked Spy who took it), you should be able to escape, if you remain invisible for long enough. If they do still try to chase you, their efforts will likely only divert their attention from the game objective.
  • Hiding near an enemy Dispenser of any level will maintain or lengthen your Cloak's charge if you are disguised. This will give you as much time as you need to wait to strike an Engineer's sentry nest, whether you need the Engineer to leave or you are waiting for your team to make a push in.
  • Knowledge of a map's layout, especially locations of ammo boxes, will prove very useful for crossing the map quickly while invisible. Take note of shortcuts and the locations of ammo boxes as you learn a map.
  • All the watches make a distinct noise when decloaking, and will make your presence known if you decloak right behind someone if things are otherwise quiet. If you must decloak that close, try to do so in tandem with other sounds, like someone else's gunfire, to mask your noise and remain undetected when you appear.

Cloak and Dagger

Weapon Cloak
Cloak type Duration Activation time Deactivation time Recharge
Cloak and Dagger
Unlock
Cloak and Dagger
Motion Sensitive 6.2 seconds 1 second 2.2 seconds 15 seconds
  • The length of time the Cloak and Dagger lasts, while constantly running, is shorter than the Invisibility Watch.
    • This time can be elongated through crouch walking. If you stand still or uncloak, your watch will regenerate to 6.2 seconds of cloaking time. You cannot extend the Cloak and Dagger's length through picking up ammo sources of any kind, but Dispensers will hasten your Cloak regeneration.
  • Although the Cloak and Dagger promotes laying in wait, it can be useful to travel through maps that lack enough ammo boxes to get you past a group of enemies, such as if the enemy controls the center of Turbine.
  • Use of the Cloak and Dagger can fool a team to Spy-Check various hiding places while you escape.
  • Learn the best hiding spots of the map you are playing, and the fastest routes to them.
  • Use this watch when you need to time your attack, defend a chokepoint, or on maps with few ammunition boxes.
  • The speed at which the Cloak and Dagger drains depends on how fast you are moving, but is capped at the Spy's normal walking speed (being launched by Stickybombs will not increase your drain rate, for example). Taking fall damage will still cause you to make sounds associated with falling.
  • While you can go further without having to wait to recharge if you crouch-walk, it is generally more efficient to run to a low-traffic area and recharge rather than slowly progressing with a crouch-walk.
  • When using the Cloak and Dagger, you can report information to your team, such as Sentry Gun placement or when an enemy is pushing, with a much lower risk of being caught.
  • Usually a Spy wants to remain out of sight for when their Cloak runs out. However, this watch's indefinite Cloak allows you to hide anywhere, and most enemies will not expect you to hide out in the open.
    • Even though you can hide almost anywhere avoid standing still in narrow hallways and chokepoints.
    • Standing on top of objects or rocks will prevent many enemies from bumping into you while you wait for them to go past or to recharge.
  • Because you can Cloak indefinitely while not moving, it can be useful to lead an enemy around a corner, cloak while out of sight, and then hide to the side. If the enemy is a Pyro, it may be better to simply run.
  • Consider using the Your Eternal Reward with this watch; you will have to rely more heavily on your Cloak, as you cannot disguise on command.
  • Using this watch, you can assist teammates in destroying Sentry Guns hidden behind proximity-activated doors. If you cloak and stand near one of these doors, it will remain open while a teammate, such as a Soldier, can safely destroy the Sentry Gun from a distance.
  • The Cloak and Dagger can be used for 'Spy capping'. To Spy cap, sneak past enemy lines and wait, while cloaked, on a Control Point. Once the Control Point is open, uncloak (making sure you are not disguised), and capture the final point.
  • Even though you can stay cloaked indefinitely, it doesn't mean you are being helpful to your team. Try to avoid staying cloaked in one location for too long, as you will end up being useless to your team in the long run.
  • The L'Etranger's 40% extra Cloak time and ability to add Cloak on hit will all but nullify the Cloak and Dagger's faster drain speed and inability to be refilled from ammo pickups, so consider using both together.

Dead Ringer

Weapon Cloak
Cloak type Duration Activation time Deactivation time Recharge
Dead Ringer
Unlock
Dead Ringer
Feign Death 6.5 sec 0 sec 1.8 sec 16 sec
  • When deactivating, the Dead Ringer makes a loud, distinctive sound which can reveal your location. Try to uncloak in a safe area, then move in for the kill.
  • The Dead Ringer is best used when you cannot get by the enemy safely. This makes it useful for getting by chokepoints and crippling defence from behind. Just be sure that there is a safe area to decloak in.
  • You cannot activate the Dead Ringer again until the Cloak is completely full. Make sure to have a way to refill it once you've escaped.
  • The Dead Ringer allows you to perform 'Suicide' captures, using the watch as an escape plan.
  • If the enemy are aware you are using the Dead Ringer, consider switching to a different watch to be less predictable.
  • You can use this uncloak sound to your advantage. Uncloak behind an enemy, and circle strafe around them so their back is exposed for the kill once they turn around. Make sure they did actually turn around, however, as simply walking in front of a Heavy as a Spy is not the smartest of tactics.
  • Try taking damage for about a second before pulling out the Dead Ringer. It will make your feigned death appear more realistic.
    • Upon activation, the Dead Ringer removes afterburn. Cloaking right after you run out of the flamethrowers' range protects you from spychecking, and makes for a very convincing fake death if you already took significant fire damage. Pyros might continue to spray fire around, so avoid obvious hiding spots. If the Pyro believes you burned to death, the entire team will forget about you.
    • If you kill an enemy but were left with an afterburn or bleeding effect, use the Dead Ringer to remove the effect if you can't find a medkit. Make sure to decloak immediately to save some meter and find a medkit or get a Medic to heal you as well as an ammo pack to refill your Cloak.
  • While cloaked with the Dead Ringer, you take 90% less damage and you do not flicker if you take damage or bump into an enemy. Use this to your advantage when crossing choke-points.
    • Note that these effects only work for the Dead Ringer's initial duration.
    • You can recharge your Cloak with ammo while cloaked; however after the Dead Ringer's initial duration has passed, you will resume taking full damage and flickering if you take damage or bump into an enemy.
  • Disguising as a friendly offensive class, such as the Demoman, at the beginning of the round will make for a more convincing death and easier passage into enemy territory.
    • This can also be used to cause a Demoman to trigger his Stickybombs unnecessarily, clearing the way for your teammates to come in, especially at the beginning of rounds.
  • You can hold the Dead Ringer out while capturing a Control Point, carrying enemy Intelligence, or pushing the cart on a Payload map. Use this in combination with a friendly disguise to cause for a convincing death while helping out your team. You will need to uncloak to continue capturing an objective, however.
  • If ignited while you are cloaked, you can run to your teammates, as the Pyro will either not follow, or will be killed when he does.
  • Jarate and Mad Milk will not wash off if you use the Dead Ringer while covered in it; you must enter water or wait for it to wear off.
  • If you are waiting or you are in an open area, keep the Dead Ringer held out if you aren't fighting. An enemy Spy or stray enemy fire could kill you while you aren't ready.
  • When using the Dead Ringer, try choosing friendly disguises while heading into enemy lines and then switching to an enemy disguise once you have infiltrated the enemy base.
  • Try to disguise after you use the Dead Ringer. If the watch activated in the middle of you disguising, you will still emit smoke visible to the enemy team.
  • If possible, don't pick up the nearest Health or Ammo pick-up. Many enemies will look to see if the pick-ups disappear. If you are low on Health or are on fire, however, go for the pick-up and then escape.
  • If you need to take a long fall but don't have the Health to survive it, hold out your Dead Ringer to negate a large portion of the damage. You can also use fall damage to trigger your Cloak to get behind enemy lines.
  • You can prevent enemy movement for a short period of time by Dead Ringing and standing in front of a doorway or hall. This may allow your team enough time to regroup.
  • Disguising as a friendly Medic, staying on the outskirts of your team's territory, and then Dead Ringing may trick the enemy team into pushing forward.
  • Be aware that if the an enemy has the "Display damage done as text over your target" advanced option or hud_combattext 1 console command has been enabled, then they may see the small amount of damage needed to "kill" you, and guess you were using a Dead Ringer.

Taunt Attacks

Fencing
Kill icon Weapon Damage Duration Details
Fencing
Fencing
Killicon fencing.png Knife
Saxxy
Your Eternal Reward
Conniver's Kunai
Big Earner
Wanga Prick
Black Rose
500 4 seconds The Spy transfers his weapon to his left hand and begins to practice a deadly Fencing maneuver, resulting in damage or death for anyone in the way.
  • This taunt can be used with any of the Spy's knives (except the Sharp Dresser and the Spy-cicle) to kill distracted enemies with one hit; however, due to the taunt's long duration and the minimal damage dealt by the first two swings, using a taunt kill is a very risky strategy.
    • The Fencing taunt is a viable last resort during the Humiliation round.
  • It can be effectively used to destroy Engineer buildings with one hit, so the Engineer won't have time to see his building being sapped or damaged and return to save his buildings. However, do not attempt to destroy an enemy Sentry Gun in this way, because you must remove your disguise in order to be be able to perform the taunt, and attempting to do so will cause the Sentry to target and kill you.
  • If a Sentry is close enough to a Dispenser, then you can hide behind it without being detected and perform the taunt. The extra reach of this taunt means that it can often destroy both buildings.
  • Also, keep in mind that, even if you are able to catch anyone unaware, the Spy speaks during the taunt, and this may give your presence away. This can be negated by quickly performing a voice command, preferably a short command, such as "No."
  • Fencing with Your Eternal Reward is not recommended, as you have to remove your disguise in order to taunt, and you won't get a disguise even if the taunt kill succeeds.
  • Successfully Fencing with the Big Earner will still grant the 30% Cloak bonus, but it is still not advised, as it also requires no disguise and your lowered health may put your life at risk if you fail.

Weapon Combinations

Against Engineers

Most, if not all, tactics concerning Engineers will only work if the Engineer is not surrounded by allies. Use these tactics wisely.

  • A tremendously useful ability to have is the power to surprise an enemy Engineer. The worse the Engineer is at Spy checking, the better. An excellent way to check if an Engineer is in the vicinity is to Cloak, run in, and survey the area before retreating. However, this technique is less effective with the Dead Ringer equipped, as you cannot Cloak at will. When a lone Engineer is blocking an objective with a Sentry Gun, you can use the Ambassador to attempt to take out the Engineer at long range first, using nearby objects for cover.
    • An alternative strategy is to use the Engineer's own buildings against him. This can be done by disguising as a player with low health, and crouching near the Dispenser to heal your disguise, while simultaneously using the Dispenser as cover from the Sentry Gun. Using this strategy will allow you to eliminate the Engineer at close quarters, while being safe from his Sentry Gun's fire.
  • A lonely Engineer building a Sentry Gun can be easily killed by the Ambassador. Shooting him first in the head and then on any body part will kill him; afterward, you simply sap the building. Very useful if the Engineer is busy wrenching said building.
  • If an Engineer leaves his buildings unattended, some players may simply rush in and sap everything in sight. It is advised you do not do this, unless you are totally sure that the Engineer is dead or too far away to respond in time. What you should do is shoot at a building once, and then hide in cover to defend against the Sentry Gun. The Engineer may come rushing back to hit it with the Wrench, allowing you to then follow him back to wherever he was previously. Wait at the area and backstab him as he attempts to return to his buildings.
  • A similar tactic is to find an enemy building outside of the Sentry Gun's field of vision and sap that, then pull out the Ambassador and wait. When the Engineer comes to remove the Sapper, quickly headshot him then shoot him, as the headshot on its own is unlikely to kill him. Since it takes two whacks with the Wrench to remove a Sapper, you should have ample time.

Sentry Guns

  • A sapped Sentry Gun cannot fire. If the Engineer is standing next to them, you have several options:
    • Sap the Sentry Gun and then run out of the room with the Intelligence or try and cap a fast-capping/partially capped point. Remember, if you accidentally touch the Intelligence while disguised, you will lose your disguise, and the Sentry Gun will attack you.
    • Sap the Sentry Gun and stab the Engineer if he goes to repair it. If he is already in position and repairing the Sentry Gun, the Sapper will be removed before you can switch to the Knife and backstab. If he is out of position, you will have time to make the attempt. If he is in position and is repairing the Sentry Gun, all you can do is run for it, or keep putting new Sappers on the Sentry Gun. He will keep removing them as you place new Sappers, but it takes a long time to destroy a Sentry Gun this way. You will almost certainly be spotted by a teammate of the Engineer and be killed without destroying the Sentry Gun.
    • Your Revolver can destroy Sentry Guns at long range well due to no damage falloff against buildings. Firing at a Dispenser first is the key to succeeding; once it's down, fire at the Sentry Gun. When an Engineer first deploys a building, it's vulnerable to damage. One or two Revolver shots will take it down quickly before the Engineer has time to set it up. Your Revolver does more damage against buildings that aren't sapped, so if you find a lone Teleporter or Dispenser, and an Engineer isn't far off, shooting it without sapping it is the best course of action. However, when there are no Engineers near by, sapping a building and fleeing is the best way to avoid being spotted.
    • In certain situations, a Sentry Gun may be built so close to the cap point that you can reach it while capping. In this instance, you can quickly sap the Sentry Gun, undisguise, and resume sapping the Sentry Gun over and over. However, watch out for the Engineer breaking the capture with his body. This video goes into more detail on how it's done.
    • Communicate with your teammates asking them to tell you via voice commands or voice chat when they need a Sentry Gun disabled, and then repeatedly sap the Sentry Gun.
    • A Sentry Gun takes about a second to execute a full 180° rotation. If you are directly behind a Sentry Gun and the Engineer is close to and facing his Sentry Gun, it is possible to take out the Engineer and then the Sentry Gun. As soon as the Knife hits the Engineer, use the quick switch key to change to your Sapper and place one before the Sentry Gun locks on. Strafe with the Sentry Gun's rotation (remember that the Sentry Gun will attempt to rotate as little as possible to shoot its target) so that you will have more time to place your Sapper. Note that due to lag, it is possible for the Sentry Gun to shoot you between the actual placement of the Sapper and the Sentry Gun being shut down. A Level 3 Sentry Gun will not always kill you immediately (although it has a good chance of doing so unless your reaction time is superb); however, it will still be sapped and most likely destroyed.
    • If the Sentry Gun and Dispenser are in such a position that you cannot reach the back of the Engineer for a backstab, try jumping on the Sentry Gun or Dispenser and sitting on the Engineer's head. This is an ideal spot, as it is in your victim's blind spot and will allow you to backstab him from above (and apply the stab and sap trick above). However, if the Engineer is crouched and tries to stand or jump, they will be unable to do so and suspect a Spy. At that range, a Shotgun blast or two will kill you instantly. This trick also works well against a Heavy taking the role of a makeshift Sentry Gun.
    • A difficult trick is to take advantage of the fact that Engineers take damage from the gunfire of their own Sentry Gun. Stand in a position where the Engineer is between his Sentry Gun and you, then uncloak. You will die, but hopefully so will the Engineer. This is useful if the Engineer is in a position where you simply cannot backstab him. Use this technique carefully, as it can easily backfire on you.
    • A variation of this trick can be used against a common Engineer Sentry Gun/Dispenser setup. Some Engineers like to sandwich themselves between their Sentry Gun to the front and a Dispenser to the back. Disguise as a Pyro (as if you are helping the Engineer Spy-check) and walk up behind him, so the Dispenser is between you and the Engineer. As quick as you can, fire a few rounds into the Engineer with the Revolver. Duck as soon as the Engineer dies from the combined damage of your Revolver and the Sentry Gun's fire. If done correctly, the Sentry Gun will lose you as you hide behind the Dispenser. Re-disguise, sap everything, and leave. Watch this video for more tips on how this is done.
    • The Engineer's Wrangler weapon permits the Engineer to control his Sentry Gun entirely. Take extreme caution, as many Engineers will Spy-check with this, and it will make sapping the Sentry Gun much harder. Killing the Engineer while he is using the Wrangler will give you a few crucial seconds to sap his Sentry Gun bullet-free.
  • The Sap and stab is mainly for baiting. In this tactic, one must approach a sentry with an Engineer nearby while cloaked and disguised. Uncloak where the Engineer cannot see and sap the Sentry Gun. Quickly cloak and back up behind the Sentry Gun. Any Engineer with half a brain will come to knock off the Sapper. Uncloak as his back is turned and stab. Occasionally this may be done without having to Cloak inbetween.
  • Stab and sap -- while disguised, approach the Engineer, preferably when he is upgrading the Sentry Gun, and backstab. Now use your quick reflexes to take out your Sapper and sap the Sentry Gun. Note that circling the sentry often allows more time to take out the Sapper, as the sentry will have to rotate to get you. This tactic is really about how quick you can stab then sap. This method requires much practice, an unaware Engineer, and a great deal of luck to pull off.
  • Long range takeout -- in this tactic, it is recommended to use the Ambassador. First, uncloak in a safe hidden spot outside the reach of the Sentry Gun, but make sure that you can see the Engineer and Sentry Gun. Wait until the Engineer is standing still, then headshot the Engineer with the Ambassador and quickly follow up with either another headshot or bodyshot. This should take care of the Engineer. Now you can either disguise and approach the sentry to sap it, or simply shoot it from long range with the Ambassador until it goes down.
  • Remember that there won't always just be one Engineer. In that case, it is recommended that you use the sap and stab and be patient. Wait until both Engineers have their back turned (note that if both Engineers are striking the same Sentry Gun, it will take half as long to remove the Sapper).
  • With Your Eternal Reward, you can backstab someone in the range of the Sentry Gun, including the Engineer behind it, without being detected. Just remember that you need a disguise equipped before you can do this, otherwise the Sentry Gun will kill you as soon as you step in range uncloaked.
  • If you are using Your Eternal Reward and lack a disguise, you can get an easy disguise on an unsuspecting Engineer; wait for the Sentry Gun to be in a good position (similar to Stab and Sap tactics), uncloak (preferably with a quiet watch), and immediately stab the Engineer repairing it. If done correctly, you will get your disguise before the Sentry locks on you, and you will get both a free disguise, and a destroyed Engineer position. Just make sure to use the attack button only one time, or you will drop your disguise and be at the (nonexistent) mercy of the Sentry Gun.

Dispensers

  • Keep an eye out for Dispensers once you infiltrate the enemy base. They will still heal you and you can use them while your Cloak is still active (when using the default Invisibility Watch or while cloaked with the Dead Ringer). In fact, all Dispensers above Level 1 can recharge your Cloak even while you're cloaked. Level 1 Dispensers don't recharge your Cloak but your Cloak won't drain, either. Instead, it'll stay at the same level, giving you time to plan your next actions. Level 2 Dispensers recharge it slowly and Level 3 recharge it much faster, so Dispensers can be crucial to your plan. Note that the healing beam CANNOT be seen when cloaked and when next to a Dispenser - but be sure to watch out for Engineers, as they will constantly run back to their Dispenser, possibly running into you and revealing you. To avoid the Engineer, jump on top of the Dispenser instead of standing beside it. Be careful though, as his teammates can still run through it and, if they do, reveal your location.
  • Note that on maps with narrow corridors, like 2Fort, Engineers may place superfluous Dispensers in locations that block your path. They also use these Dispensers to lure you into sapping them, thus alerting him and his team of your presence. If this is the case, you have 3 options: Crouch behind the Dispenser and use your Revolver to take it out or at least damage it (Provided there aren't any enemies around, they will hear the sound of your Revolver), crouch jump over the Dispenser (unless the Dispenser is placed in a position where you would've normally jumped on to the platform to reach it) or simply take another route.
  • When uncloaked, avoid standing on Dispensers. Because most players (except the Engineer who built the Dispenser) will clip through buildings, being spotted in this position will instantly ruin your disguise, unless you are disguised as the Engineer, but he will almost certainly see a clone of himself and kill you. Unless the Engineer is dead and you are disguised as him, it is highly recommended to not stand on top of a Dispenser while uncloaked.
  • If you have no other option, using a Scout disguise and crouching behind a Dispenser while uncloaking may minimize the odds the Engineer will spot you instantly. This can be useful in small, commonly camped areas.

Teleporters

  • If you're disguised as an enemy and take one of your team's Teleporters, the glowing ring and trail effect will not show up. Using friendly Teleporters with friendly disguises will give you a ring and trail but these are removed when you next use an enemy disguise.
  • Walking over an enemy Teleporter exit when someone uses it kills you, a term called telefragging.
  • When you find an exit Teleporter, watch it to see which way players come out. Then stand behind the Teleporter and wait. When the next player comes out, backstab him instantly. He should report this to his team, but he'll be dead for a bit, so you can risk waiting a little for a second Teleport and kill, or you can just sap the Teleporter and leave the area. This is called telecamping, which is usually frowned upon by most players.
  • Due to the August 13, 2009 Patch, whenever a Teleport Entrance or Exit is sapped, the other automatically has a Sapper placed on it as well, regardless of their distance from one another. However, the Engineer can now remove Sappers from both the entrance and the exit by using his Wrench on either. Although this makes it much harder for Spies to get cheap points by sapping Teleporter entrances outside the enemy spawn, a successful Sapper on an active Teleporter will now give two points.
  • If you're trying to telefrag enemies with their own Teleporters, either step over them while cloaked or use a slow disguise (Heavy and Soldier are the best) in order not to draw too much attention towards you.
  • If you see enemy Teleporter entrances and exits in unusual places (often near their objectives), it could mean you are walking into an Engineer's trap - many Engineers place their Teleporters inside their base as an early warning system, hoping that you will be unable to resist sapping them and will thus alert the Engineer to your presence. (One way you can trick the Engineer in this scenario is by firing 2-3 Revolver shots at it, or if the Engineer is close by, hit it with your Knife as it is much quieter, but not enough to destroy it. Engineers will almost always expect a Spy to sap it if anything, so this may throw off the Engineer who built it)
  • As of the Sniper vs. Spy Update, the Spy is now able to use enemy Teleporters. This can be useful for getting into well-defended Sentry Gun nests and/or nests that would otherwise be unreachable.
  • If you can time it just right, it's possible to sap an enemy Teleporter entrance just as it teleports you. However, due to the August 13, 2009 Patch this is rather pointless as you can achieve the same effect by taking the teleport and then sapping the exit. However, it does allow you to harass the Engineer as he attempts to knock your Sapper off.
  • If you are lucky, you may manage to telefrag an enemy upon taking an opposing Teleporter. While this normally applies to your own team's Teleporters as well if an enemy somehow stands on it without destroying it, the likelihood is higher as a Spy, as enemies may be clustered around the exit on the other side. In some cases, you may even be able to telefrag the enemy Engineer on the other side. However, be aware that telefragging will immediately alert the Engineer as to who took their Teleporter.
  • A clever Spy can sneak his way to the enemy's Teleporter Entrance, sap it, and then stand on it, waiting for an Engineer on the exit side to knock off the Sapper. Once the Sapper has been knocked off the Spy will teleport to the other side, telefragging the Engineer if he is close enough, and is free to sap any buildings the Engineer has built. This is a risky but effective way of taking down forward bases built by one Engineer.
    • However, the above strategy becomes obsolete if there are two Engineers babysitting their buildings in the same location. The second Engineer will no doubt see/hear his buddy trying to repair his Teleporter and dying. There is usually no way to fight the second Engineer without the Sentry Guns swiveling and shooting you dead once you uncloak/remove your disguise. Your best hope in this situation is to either run, or sap BOTH the Sentry Guns as fast as you can, while avoiding the Wrench. If you're VERY lucky, you'll be able to get both of them, and then deal with your hard-hatted assailant. Assuming he doesn't just repair the Sentry Guns or Shotgun you to death, you could also try the continuous sap strategy.
  • Another way to deal with Teleporters is to simply sap the entrance, and then put another back on immediately after it gets knocked off, and repeating. As the Engineer cannot repair the Teleporter while it is being sapped, you can slowly wear down the entrance and take out both sides with little to no risk; this is one of the safer courses of action if the Engineer is smart enough to stand off of his exit and Wrench whoever comes through right after he knocks the Sapper off. However, beware that this takes a long time, and in the case of spawns with only one exit, greatly increases the risk of an enemy seeing you and killing you. In this case, you can simply take out your Revolver and empty it into the entrance after sapping it, this will usually destroy the entrance in most cases. If the Engineer is quick enough to knock off your Sapper before you can destroy the entrance, simply place a second one on immediately and repeat, though repeatedly sapping will probably work better as your Revolver may be out of ammunition. This method is faster and reduces the risk of being discovered by the enemy in their spawn, but leaves you more vulnerable as you will not be disguised.
  • You can quickly destroy Teleporters by sapping them and then shooting them a few times with your Revolver. Although this will attract more attention than just sapping, it may destroy at least one side of the Teleporter before the Engineer can remove your Sapper thus reverting the other side of the teleport to level 1.
  • Hitting a Teleporter with a Wrench will only remove Sappers from the other end if the end being hit has finished building. If you sap a teleport early in its build, the Engineer may not have enough time to save the other end even if they're able to remove the Sapper.

Infiltration

  • You can disguise as your own team by hitting - (or E if you have the simple disguise menu enabled) at the top of the keyboard after bringing up the disguise interface. As a friendly non-Spy class, players on the other team are much less likely to alert each other to Spies entering the base if they see you. However, the best way to get in and out is to Cloak properly.
  • While it may not seem immediately obvious to the Spy, as you slowly decloak you take on the color of your team until you are 100% visible. It is vital to let the Cloak come on fully before entering into areas where you would be seen. Try to decloak around a corner where an opponent can't see you. It's very obvious that you are a Spy as no other class is able to Cloak.
  • While cloaked, remember to avoid all enemy fire - if you're hit, you flicker visible. The same is true if you bump into an enemy. If you plan to rush out, tell your team-mates to let you go first (cloaked), so that stray fire from the enemy team at your visible team-mates doesn't reveal or kill you.
  • If you are discovered and must Cloak to run away (assuming that you are not using a Dead Ringer), use misdirection to break away from your foes. If you are running in a certain direction while you Cloak, your enemies will usually head in that direction, so you can immediately make a radical turn after becoming completely invisible, or even turn in the immediate opposite direction to get behind them for a backstab opportunity.
  • While cloaked, avoid giving away your position, especially to Snipers or, if you have been busted, your pursuers. So do not:
    • ...pick up medkits (unless you're burning) or ammo crates.
    • ...enter the enemies' line of sight before your Cloak is fully active. (See above)
    • Also, if you go through an automatic door while cloaked and no one else is around, it is obvious that there is a Spy. If the door is very narrow, you still will become a very easy target, as you only have one direction to run in. Also, if you come out of swimmable water, water will be visible dripping from you.
  • You appear to have the same health as the target of your disguise did at the moment you took on that disguise.
  • Get a friendly Medic to heal you while you are disguised, because your disguised health level also rises to 100%, thus making you less suspicious when disguised while around the enemy spawn however appearing to be injured may be a good idea so you can get an enemy Medic to heal you. Note that overhealing will also be visible on your disguise, and if the enemy team has no Medics, walking around with an overheal may be a dead giveaway.
  • If your disguise has an overhealing weapon equipped(Powerjack, Conniver's Kunai, etc.), then you may be able to fool some players with the weapon equipped and a full overheal.
  • Avoid walking over medkits unless your real health is injured, your fake health level will appear to be injured and if you don't pick up a medkit when walking over it, it is a dead giveaway that you're a disguised Spy. You can only increase your disguised health level from Dispensers and Payload carts if your real health is injured. So if you're receiving a healing beam, and your health is not appearing to increase then those that know this telltale sign will know you're a Spy, so it's best to use a Dispenser and cart only if you're truly injured. But against less experienced players, being healed by a Dispenser or cart can makes you seem less suspicious. As of the May 21, 2009 Patch, in the PC version, walking over a medkit will add to your disguise health. You will also pick up medkits if your disguise health is down, even if your real health is full.
    • Note that picking medkits makes the cross icon appear above your head even if you're cloaked or disguised, and it will be of your team's color, so it can be a serious giveaway for players who will notice that.
  • Alternatively, if you have the Cloak and Dagger equipped, you can deliberately grab medkits in order to deny them to the enemy. While they will probably know that an enemy Spy is in the area, you can assist your team in this way by making your opponents easier to kill if your teammates are also relatively close by; however, this is also a double-edged sword since you can accidentally deny the medkit to a teammate who needs it.
Friendly disguised Blu Spy calling for a Red Medic
  • Remember that you can call for and be healed by enemy Medics while disguised. This is a great way to hold your cover, and also a good opportunity to backstab the opponent's support. Beware that this also risks drawing undue attention to yourself, especially if your alter-ego notices his own name calling for a Medic. For these reasons it is probably best to do this as a retreating maneuver.
    • In a similar manner to calling for Medic using any voice command while disguised as an enemy will be shown to the enemy team as from the person you are disguised as.
    • Do note that if you are in a situation that you may think it is safe to call a Medic, such as separation from the other members, there is one giveaway that a person paying attention would notice. As a Spy, your Medic call copies your health, not the health of that who you are disguised as. Therefore, if the person you are disguised as has above half health, but you have below half health, then your Medic call will be red or vice versa and the deadly wounded teammate will call Medic in pure white, therefore if the Medic pays attention to the signs, calling Medic at the wrong health may be a dead giveaway that you are a Spy. If you notice that you might give yourself away, such as medicalling while almost dead while your disguise is healthy, then call Medic and look at them for signs. If they pull out a weapon like the Ubersaw or Syringe Gun and look at you, this may be a sign that you have just revealed your disguise to them.
  • Once in the enemy's base, communicate with your team. Talking might not move you up on the Scoreboard, but reporting Sentry Gun placements if a group of enemies are taking an alternate route or building a minibase can make a big difference and bring your team closer to victory. Note that on alltalk servers, your speech bubble is your own team color even when cloaked.
  • You can walk backward while heading for the enemy base, or look backwards occasionally while walking forwards. Retreating into an enemy base while disguised looks much less suspicious than running into it at full tilt (unless your disguise health is relatively low), but as this trick has been done so many times, it can appear obvious to the astute observer.
  • When you disguise yourself, you take the name of an enemy player that is playing the same class as the disguise. It is crucial that you try to use a class that is well represented by the enemy side to decrease the risk of coming face to face with the person you stole the name from. As of the May 21, 2009 Patch, you can see whose name you have taken on on your disguise nameplate.
  • If you disguise as a class not represented by the enemy team, you take on a name randomly. This can be a dead giveaway as a glance at the score table will make your trickery obvious, so try to disguise as a class that you know the enemy has.
  • Try to act natural. Many times, an enemy will shoot you and not notice your health go down. If you do react to their shots, you can be certain that they and the rest of their team will hunt you down. If you continue heading in the same direction and if you seem to ignore the attack (assuming that it doesn't kill you), many times you will be left alone.
  • Expanding on the above, standing still while in the enemy base is highly suspicious, and most players will try to Spy check you. Making it seem like you were NOT harmed by this attack is the key to getting sneaky backstabs when they turn away. Be incredibly careful of Pyros however. If you see one heading for you, and he is actively Spy checking, RUN!
  • Another thing to note on the above is that certain weapons WILL give you away, even if you pretend it didn't hurt you. Weapons like the Widowmaker, the Black Box, and certain weapons with on hit effects will give you away, because they will vary in their triggers; with the former replenishing metal on hit, and the latter replenishing health on hit. Take note of what weapons the enemy is using to Spy check.
  • Before the Sniper vs. Spy Update, when disguised as a Medic, the ÜberCharge percentage did not show up when an enemy targeted you. This was a big giveaway. This was fixed in the May 21, 2009 Patch, and now disguising as a Medic you appear to have a ÜberCharge percentage that the Medic you're disguised had when you took on that disguise. If there aren't any enemy Medics you will simply have a random ÜberCharge meter.
  • You may, while entering the enemy base, notice that an attack force is heading for your base. Running in the opposite direction of them will likely result in a Spy check. A great method to single-handedly stop this attack is trying to run with the group towards your base. This works well as it appears to the opposite team that you are not a Spy, and you can slow yourself down a little bit to get to the rear of the pack and backstab most, if not all, of them. Just be sure the person you are disguised as is not among them, or you will be very dead very quickly.
    • This is one of the main techniques for a Your Eternal Reward / Wanga Prick users, since even a quick behind-glance from one of the enemies will less likely reveal you, not to mention the screams and bodies won't be a problem either.
  • A dead giveaway that you're a Spy in disguise is the fact that your enemies are unable to walk through you. Once they bump into you, they will try to kill you immediately. When in small enclosed spaces, e.g. the sewers in 2Fort, walk close to the walls and be sure to leave enough room for enemy players to run past you.
  • Deliberately trying to avoid people in corridors is like saying, "Hey! Here I am! Shoot me!" and will likely get you Spy checked and possibly killed. If you see someone barreling down a corridor at you, it is usually a better idea to open fire on them then to risk bumping into them and being melee'd by them. Remember, your knife isn't exactly fantastic in a face-off. It is only good for backstabs and taking out already weakened enemies; you cannot count on facestabs to save you.
  • Keep an eye on the enemy players that are about to respawn. When did they die? What class did they play? What is their skill? Remember, these are the players that are going to be on your back in a few seconds. Use this knowledge to time your actions. If you know that the opponent's #1 Scout will respawn in a few seconds, let him pass by before you take any backstabbing/sapping action. Also remember, if you've just killed the same player twice in the exact same spot, they are going to be checking the area the next time they come through in order to find you.
  • Most importantly: There are many people (Pyros) who will Spy check anyone they see, regardless of team affiliation, just as a precaution. Because of this, you must remember to keep moving, change disguises frequently, and, whenever possible, avoid being seen by the enemy entirely.
  • As long as there's a damage indication on your HUD, you are semi-visible. Wait until the damage indicator clears before moving to ensure that you're completely invisible.
  • A good idea to make your disguise more believable is to get behind or near the enemy spawn, put on your disguise, wait until no one is around/not watching you, and then run forwards so it looks like you just respawned. Not only can it put you behind players leaving said spawn, but it also makes enemy players less likely to Spy check you thinking that you're someone who just came from their own spawn.
    • Be cautious to not get into players casual fire though, as it is rather common for some people to spend some of the ammo shooting in the air (or teammates) while running to an objective that is too far away. Also try to avoid spawns with automatic doors (see above).
  • Picking up the enemy Intelligence does not yet make you a suicide flag runner. You can drop the Intelligence anytime (L by default), put on a disguise, or Cloak to recon ahead for danger and/or clear out an ambush. Afterwards, return to the Intelligence and resume carrying it when the path is clear. This is especially useful against Sentry Guns, which you can sap and then return to the Intelligence and Demomen, who like to block your path with stickies, essentially trapping you between themselves and anyone pursuing you from the enemy base. It's also a good way to lure other classes out of ambush, as they will move from their spot to check why has the Intelligence been dropped.
  • Disguises only fool enemies "at-a-glance". It's best to avoid being seen altogether and use cloaking more often.
  • While disguised, try to use voice commands such as Battle Cry. It will make your disguised player speak and do some mimics, and therefore it can fool some enemies who don't think about Spies being able to do those mimics.
  • Reloading the Revolver and its variants will reload the weapon equipped by your disguise. Use this for added realism.
  • If you are using the Cloak and Dagger, try to jump up on obstacles and ledges as you move through the map. Players use the obvious running pathways and will run right past you if you are cloaked. Standing on a crate allows you to recharge your Cloak without being bumped into and giving away your position. Standing on top of obstacles is also a good place to avoid Spy checking and escape pursuing players as they often forget to check the top of boxes and ledges.

Backstabbing techniques

For more information, see Backstab

Approaching the target

Approaching your victim for a backstab is difficult without getting caught. It is common for an enemy player to randomly Spy check hiding places and teammates. You can expect the enemy team to Spy check more often if they are alerted to the presence of a Spy.

The easiest targets to approach are distracted players who are busy with another task. Common targets are Engineers that are building/upgrading and Snipers who are looking through their Sniper Rifle.

There are a few things to keep in mind before going in for the killing blow:

  • Determine who your target is, and if they are a good target, before you approach.
  • Don't panic when you are discovered.
  • Make sure to double check the routes behind you before decloaking, especially in routes which are commonly used. A recently spawned enemy player might catch you decloaking.
  • Check your surrounding first before cloaking. An enemy player might be looking at your general direction. If you are lucky, they might not be suspicious of you, but if they start shooting at you, run and hide.
  • Check the Scoreboard for dead enemy players so you can be aware if someone will come out from spawn.
  • If you know that someone has just spawned, you can wait for them to pass by you. You can also try to delay their movement to the front line by timing your kill so they would be forced to look for you.
  • Your disguise protects you from passing glances, but only until they get suspicious. Kill your target as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of the speed of your Heavy and Soldier disguise. While enemies may be less suspicious of these uncommon disguises, you will have a much harder time trying to hunt down your victim.
  • A common mistake is to Cloak when the target is attacking you. Even if the target is aware of you, you can still kill them with techniques like stairstabbing, sidestabbing, or shooting.
  • Be careful on approaching the same target too often. Even the most inexperienced player will start checking their back after being stabbed too frequently.
  • When attempting to backstab during an enemy push, be sure to wait until they have engaged your teammates. Be wary of enemy players who are watching their team's back.
  • When you see a friendly Spy approaching a target, choose another target. If your teammate targets an Engineer, sap their buildings while they are distracted. You can also watch your teammates' back by targeting approaching reinforcements.
  • Use elevated areas to your advantage. With good timing and positioning, you can get your target within a couple of seconds.
  • Avoid chasing and staring when closing in. Looking directly at your target while running after them gives you away to anyone watching, but watching in your periphery (by aiming the crosshair a few steps to their side) and running parallel with your target looks like you're running with them, arousing less suspicion.
  • Since players rarely look upwards, consider using elevated areas and stairways to jump around your target and confuse them.

A Spy's weapons and gadgets can drastically change how a Spy has to approach his target. Keep these tips in mind when choosing your loadout:

  • If you have the Dead Ringer, refill the watch as much as possible before going for your target. It makes for great insurance in case you fail to catch your victim and you start becoming the enemy's target. Make sure your death is convincing though or the area will be double-checked.
  • The L'Étranger can help quickly refill the Cloak meter in areas without ammo boxes, therefore you can Cloak in order to hide in case a backstab attempt fails. Be careful if you decide to shoot unaware players as they will turn their attention toward you.
  • With Your Eternal Reward, you cannot disguise until you backstab someone. You will need to proceed with caution when attempting a backstab.
  • Be aware of the level of noise each of your cloaking devices make. A common mistake is decloaking too close to your target, thus enabling them to hear you.
  • Also, when using Your Eternal Reward try to predict and calculate your enemies movement and patterns to look for an opening in getting the first kill.

See also