Anti-Spy strategy

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Ohhhh... merde.
That's what my daddy taught me to do to backstabbers.
The Engineer

The Spy is a cunning espionage agent bent on deceiving and frustrating your team. He will use his Cloak and disguises to maneuver behind friendly lines, then use his signature backstab technique to instantly kill any target in one strike. The best defense against a Spy is observation; he only has so many ways to infiltrate your team, so experienced players can usually identify when the situation feels suspicious. When caught, most Spies will try and escape rather than engage in a fight because of their weak offense. Keep in mind the Spy has many methods of deception, including the ability to fake his own death. The Pyro, with his flames, is generally considered the best defense against the Spy.

General

Attributes Anti-Spy strategy
Spy emblem RED.png Role
  • The Spy will try to sneak behind your team using his various tools. It's best to Spy check often.
  • A disguised Spy can't completely act like your teammate. For example, he can't attack without exposing himself and can't be walked through.
Leaderboard class medic.png Health
  • The Spy is quite weak, with only 125 health points. Once he is spotted, he should not be difficult to kill. However, he may fake his death using the Dead Ringer.
Leaderboard class scout.png Speed
  • The Spy moves at the speed of the class that they are disguised as, unless that class is faster than they are.
  • A Scout moving abnormally slowly is most likely an enemy Spy.
Leaderboard class soldier.png Power
  • In direct combat, the Spy's weapons are weak. He can see the health of enemy players, allowing him to better decide which of your teammates are worth fighting.
  • If the Spy passes by undetected, he can kill players instantly with a backstab.

Weapon-specific

Main article: Spy weapons

Secondary weapons

Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Revolver
Revolver + reskins
  • The Revolver fires quickly and accurately; make yourself a more difficult target by strafing from side to side.
  • Increase the distance between you and the Spy so that his Revolver deals less damage.
Ambassador
Ambassador + reskins
  • In direct combat, a Spy with the Ambassador will aim for your head. Make erratic movements to avoid being headshot.
  • The Ambassador is weaker than the Revolver in a direct fight. Additionally, there is a cooldown after each shot where it cannot headshot at all.
  • Spy check a teammate that is suspiciously aiming at your head.
L'Etranger
L'Etranger
  • A Spy using the L'Etranger gains 40% additional Cloaking and can attack to refill his Cloak meter, making him particularly elusive. Once you find a Spy, light him on fire or douse him in Jarate or Mad Milk to render cloaking useless.
Enforcer
Enforcer
  • The Enforcer deals bonus damage when breaking disguise, but fires 20% slower. If you survive the first shot, counterattacking should be easier.
  • The Enforcer ignores damage resistances. If you rely on items that grant resistances to survive, know that they can be bypassed.
Diamondback
Diamondback
  • The Diamondback stores critical hits as the Spy successfully backstabs teammates or saps buildings. Successfully thwarting his attempts to do so will leave him with a weak weapon.

Melee weapons

Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Knife
Knife + reskins
  • If you hear nearby teammates scream or notice them dying to backstabs on the kill feed, turn around immediately to avoid being the next victim of a Spy ambush.
  • The Knife does less damage than most other classes' melee weapons.
  • Keep an eye on the Spy when fighting him at close range; he may try to trick you into showing your back.
Your Eternal Reward
Your Eternal Reward + reskins
  • Your Eternal Reward allows the Spy to instantly disguise as his victim, with no death notice given in the kill feed. If you die, communication is vital!
  • Other than standard anti-Spy measures, watch your backs when traveling in a group. You don't want your team to be picked off if traveling in a line.
  • Your Eternal Reward makes Spy's cloak devices drain faster and consumes a full cloak meter to disguise manually, overall slowing down Spy.
Conniver's Kunai
Conniver's Kunai
  • The Conniver's Kunai reduces the Spy's health to 70 HP. If he has just respawned, his low base health makes for an easy kill.
  • Spy check a teammate who is suspiciously overhealed, especially if there is no friendly Medic nearby.
Big Earner
Big Earner
  • The Big Earner grants the Spy a Cloak refill and speed boost upon successful backstab, making his escape much easier.
  • This weapon reduces his health to 100 HP, allowing him to be picked off before he lands that backstab.
Spy-cicle
Spy-cicle
  • Look out for frozen corpses, a clear sign that a Spy was nearby.
  • A friendly Pyro can use fire to temporarily melt the Spy-cicle. Upon doing so, you can hear a loud extinguishing sound that identifies the Spy.

PDA weapon

Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Disguise Kit
Disguise Kit
  • Walk into your teammates; if you cannot pass through one, he is an enemy Spy in disguise.
  • Occasionally attack your teammates, preferably with fire, Jarate, or weapons that cause bleed damage; disguised enemy Spies will still be hurt.
  • For more info, see Spy checking.

Cloaking devices

Main article: Cloak
  • Cloaked Spies can be revealed if they are doused, lit, or bleeding. Try using Jarate, Mad Milk, fire, and weapons that cause bleeding in areas where you suspect a Spy is hiding.
    • Emerging from water also compromises a Spy's invisibility. Try chasing a Spy in and out of water.
  • Spies can pick up health and ammo even while cloaked. If health kits and ammo boxes are mysteriously disappearing, there may be a cloaked Spy nearby.
  • Disguised Spies can receive health and ammo from enemy Dispensers, even while they are cloaked. Occasionally Spy-check around Dispensers, and check for healing beams attached to air.
  • The Invisibility Watch and the Cloak and Dagger will show a silhouette of a cloaked Spy if he bumps into an enemy or is hurt (even by a fall); if a Spy's silhouette is revealed, press against him and attack to keep him visible.
  • If you hear voice responses near you from an unknown source, check the area around you for invisible Spies trying to confuse you.
  • Spies make a fairly loud, distinct noise when they uncloak. You can even hear their footsteps while they remain cloaked.
  • If you see a Spy cloak, die suspiciously, or otherwise escape your sight, alert your team and tell them exactly where they are.
Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Invisibility Watch
Invis Watch + reskins
  • If a Spy tries to flee with the Invisibility Watch, grab all surrounding ammunition boxes and dropped weapons to prevent him from increasing his cloaking time, and thus shortening the distance he can run before his Cloak deactivates. If you see ammo boxes and weapons disappear without reason, you may have a Spy around.
    • Alternatively, instead of grabbing ammo boxes, watch them carefully and attack their location if they disappear, as you may catch the Spy red-handed trying to replenish cloak.
Cloak and Dagger
Cloak and Dagger
  • Spies using the Cloak and Dagger will often wait in corners or secluded areas to recharge their Cloak. Check those areas if you think a Spy is nearby.
    • A Spy may also choose to hide near you, yet at a different elevation; anywhere you can reach, a Spy may be lying in wait, trying to catch you off guard. As thus, you must always keep your guard up.
  • The Cloak and Dagger cannot pick up ammo to replenish its cloak meter while cloaked; while this limits the distance he can travel, it can also make it harder for you to notice a Spy's presence.
Dead Ringer
Dead Ringer
  • The Spy gains a huge damage resistance bonus while cloaking with the Dead Ringer. Try to isolate and/or continuously inflict damage on him until his Cloak deactivates or he dies.
  • Jarate and Mad Milk are not lost even if a Spy feigns death. Inflict one of these effects on a Spy before he activates his Dead Ringer.
  • The Dead Ringer can only be activated when it's fully charged. When a Spy wielding the Dead Ringer uncloaks, he'll have between 0% to 40% charge remaining. Finish him off as quickly as you can, making sure he doesn't collect ammo, backstab someone with the Big Earner or shoot anyone with the L'Etranger.
  • If you are fighting a Spy and he suddenly stops attacking, he is probably waiting for you to trigger his Dead Ringer. If you don't have the time or opportunity to simply wait until he attacks again, (have nearby teammates) prepare a way to reveal the Spy when he cloaks.
    • When a Spy dies in one hit while running towards you, assume that he has used the Dead Ringer.
  • The Dead Ringer can replicate or fake many in-game mechanics, but not all. For more information, see the "Feign death effects" section of the Dead Ringer article.
  • The Dead Ringer's cloak meter cannot be refilled with ammo. Expect the Spy to be out for a few moments once he triggers a feign death.

Buildings

  • Keep special notice of your team's Teleporters. Left unguarded, a Spy can place a Sapper on one end and continue to replace those that are removed by the other end, eventually sapping more health than what an Engineer can repair and destroying both ends; this can deal a huge blow to your team.
  • Pyros with the Homewrecker equipped are a great counter against Sappers; it only takes one strike to dislodge the device from a building, as opposed to the two strikes required by an Engineer's Wrench.
  • Spies can put Sappers on the teleporter entrance and stay on top of it. If the Engineer doesn't pay attention, he can suffer a Telefrag.
  • When Spies place a Sapper on a building, including in disguise, they will play a custom animation where the Spy or "teammate" slaps the Sapper onto the building. Keep an eye out for this if someone is sapping your team's buildings, as it can help you quickly figure out which teammate is the Spy.
Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Sapper
Sapper + reskins
  • A Spy can quickly replace any Sappers removed from the target building(s); locate the Spy (who is most likely in disguise) and kill him before removing his Sapper(s). An Engineer who needs to leave his buildings should have another Engineer or a Pyro guard them while he is away.
Red-Tape Recorder
Red-Tape Recorder
  • The Red-Tape Recorder's ability to reverse a building's upgrades can leave many Engineers' creations vulnerable to destruction, and can ruin a team's defenses within seconds. Make haste in killing the offending Spy (or Spies) and restoring all affected buildings to their former efficiency.
  • The Red-Tape Recorder does take a while to work. Instead of destroying the building, it downgrades it and eventually destroys it. This is used when a Spy wants to soften up the enemy's defences, instead of destroying them.

Telling Them Apart

See Spychecking for more strategies.
  • Disguised Spies cannot enter your spawn area, so watch teammates passing the door. If the door doesn't open or they cannot enter, they are most likely a Spy.
  • Disguised Spies cannot fire the weapon they appear to be wielding. However, they can still appear to reload that weapon, so don't be fooled.
  • Disguised Spies will not be hurt by their teammates but they can be hurt by you. A stray bullet from your team may reveal the Spy.
  • Conflicting items such as the SMG and the Razorback may be applied at the same time on disguised Spies.
  • Enemy Spies can't pass through you. If you bump into a teammate and can't pass through them, then they are a Spy.

See also