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 disguises and his Invis Watch. It's best to Spy check often.
  • A disguised Spy can't perfectly act like your teammate. For example, he can't attack without losing his disguise and cannot walk through enemies.
Leaderboard class medic.png Health
  • The Spy is quite frail, with only 125 health points. Once he is spotted, he should not be difficult to kill. However, he takes reduced damage while cloaked and may fake his death using the Dead Ringer.
Leaderboard class scout.png Speed
  • By default, the Spy moves at an average speed. When disguised, the Spy moves at the speed of the disguise's class, with the exception of the Scout.
    • A Scout moving abnormally slowly is definitely 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, however, allowing him to decide which of your teammates can be picked off.
  • 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.
  • Most weapons outdamage the Revolver at close range. Unless the Spy is confident he can kill you, consider what routes he might try to escape with.
Ambassador
Ambassador + reskins
  • In direct combat, a Spy with the Ambassador will aim for your head to deal critical damage. Strafe and jump to throw off his aim.
  • The Ambassador is weaker than the Revolver. Additionally, there is a cooldown after each shot where it cannot headshot at all.
  • Spy check teammates that may be looking 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 and vulnerabilities.
    • If you are using items that grant resistances, such as the Vaccinator, play safely if you know a Spy is using the Enforcer.
    • If you are using items such as the Pain Train, you can afford to be slightly more reckless.
Diamondback
Diamondback
  • The Diamondback stores critical hits as the Spy successfully backstabs teammates or saps buildings. It deals less damage otherwise, so successful anti-Spy measures will leave him with an inferior 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. If the Spy loses the element of surprise, he will likely fight with his Revolver or flee by Cloaking.
  • At close range, the Spy may try to trick you into showing your back; be careful if he flees around a corner or up a flight of stairs.
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 and no attack noise. If you die, tell your team!
  • Other than standard anti-Spy measures, watch your backs when traveling in a group. A Spy with Your Eternal Reward can silently take down an entire group that insists on always facing forward.
  • Your Eternal Reward makes the Spy's Cloak drain faster and consumes a full Cloak meter if he disguises manually, forcing him to rely on his disguise rather than his Cloak.
Conniver's Kunai
Conniver's Kunai
  • The Conniver's Kunai reduces the Spy's base health to 70 HP. If he has not backstabbed anyone yet, he should be 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 - he is more vulnerable before landing that backstab.
Spy-cicle
Spy-cicle
  • Ice statues are a clear sign that your teammates were recently backstabbed. If the statues are still standing upright, the Spy killed them less than ten seconds ago - Spy-check nearby teammates!
  • 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 and prevents him from backstabbing your team for up to 15 seconds.

Disguise Kit

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.

Invis Watches

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. These debuffs cure twice as quickly while the Spy is cloaked, so act quickly once you reveal him.
    • Emerging from water also compromises a Spy's invisibility, as water particles will drip off him for a few seconds.
  • Spies can pick up health and ammo even while cloaked. If health kits and ammo boxes are disappearing for no apparent reason, there is a cloaked Spy nearby.
  • Disguised Spies can receive health and ammo from enemy Dispensers. Occasionally Spy-check around Dispensers and check for healing beams attached to thin air.
  • The Invisibility Watch and the Cloak and Dagger will show a silhouette of a cloaked Spy if he bumps into an enemy; if a Spy's silhouette is revealed, press against him and attack to keep him visible.
  • A cloaked Spy still makes sound. You may hear his footsteps from running across hard surfaces, the crunch from fall damage, or voice responses from unknown sources. He also makes a distinct noise upon uncloaking.
  • If you see a Spy cloak, die at suspiciously high health, 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 surrounding ammunition boxes and dropped ammo packs from fallen players to deny him extra cloaking time.
    • Alternatively, watch nearby pickups carefully and attack their location if they disappear, as you may catch the Spy red-handed.
Cloak and Dagger
Cloak and Dagger
  • Spies using the Cloak and Dagger will often wait in corners or secluded areas to recharge their Cloak. Many Spies use the same spots; check commonly trafficked areas or places you would hide in yourself.
  • With the Cloak and Dagger, the Spy can hide nearly anywhere. For instance, he might hide above high-traffic areas, then drop down behind passing enemies and backstab them.
  • When using the Cloak and Dagger, the Spy cannot pick up ammo to replenish his 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.
  • Decloaking with the Cloak and Dagger makes a louder sound than decloaking with the Invis Watch does. Listen closely!
Dead Ringer
Dead Ringer
  • The Spy can choose to activate the Dead Ringer upon taking damage to feign his death, gain a massive damage resistance, and cure fire and bleeding. If you are sure he is still alive, keep attacking him until his cloak deactivates.
    • If a Spy dies in a single weak hit, he is probably using the Dead Ringer.
    • Jarate and Mad Milk are not cured even if a Spy feigns death.
  • The Dead Ringer can only be activated when it's fully charged and cannot be refilled by picking up ammo boxes. If the Spy has uncloaked recently, he will only have a maximum of 40% charge - take him out before he recharges using the effects of weapons like the Big Earner or 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, make sure your team has a way to reveal the Spy when he cloaks.
  • 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.
  • When decloaking, the Dead Ringer emits a very loud, distinctive sound. If you hear it, look for a decloaking Spy immediately!

Buildings

  • When the Spy places a Sapper on a building, even when disguised, they will enter a special animation. Keep an eye out for this to quickly figure out which teammate is the Spy.
  • Pyros with the Homewrecker are excellent for defending buildings; it only takes one strike to dislodge Sappers, compared to the two strikes required by the Engineer's default Wrench.
  • Keep special notice of your team's Teleporters. If left unguarded, a Spy can place a Sapper on one end and continue to replace those that are removed on the other end, eventually sapping more health than what the Engineer can repair and slowing your team's reinforcements.
  • The Spy may put a Sapper on a Teleporter entrance and take it as soon as the Engineer removes it. Do not stand on your Teleporter Exit, as the Spy may attempt to Telefrag you.
Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Sapper
Sapper + reskins
  • A Spy can replace any Sappers removed from a target building faster than an Engineer can remove the Sapper and repair the building; locate the disguised Spy and kill him before removing his Sappers.
  • An Engineer who needs to leave his buildings should have a teammate, preferably a Pyro or another Engineer, guard them while he is away.
Red-Tape Recorder
Red-Tape Recorder
  • The Red-Tape Recorder quickly downgrades buildings to their level 1 version, but takes some time to completely destroy them. You have more time to kill the offending Spy before restoring the affected buildings.
  • When your team's Sentry Gun is downgraded, that is a prime time for the enemy team to push in. Your team should support the Engineer while his buildings are re-upgraded.

Telling Them Apart

See Spychecking for more strategies.
  • Enemy Spies can always be hurt by your team. A stray bullet or explosion may reveal a cloaked Spy.
  • Enemy Spies can't pass through you as teammates can. If you bump into a teammate and can't pass through them, then they are a Spy.
  • Disguised Spies cannot enter your spawn area, so watch suspected teammates passing the door. If the door doesn't open, they are most likely a Spy.
  • Disguised Spies cannot fire the weapon they appear to be wielding. However, they can still pretend to reload that weapon - though most Spies will not bother to do this.


See also