Basic Pyro strategy
The Pyro is a hardy class that specializes in close range combat with his Flame Thrower. He excels at ambushing individual targets, using various weapon combinations for quick kills, or flanking the enemy backline, where the wide spread of flames will affect multiple targets and disrupt healing from Medics. Enemies that escape slowly suffer from extra afterburn damage, allowing for hit-and-run tactics. The Pyro also brings plenty of utility - the compression blast can be used to reflect projectiles, extinguish burning teammates, or shove enemies around. Additionally, fire nullifies the Spy's Cloak and disguises, making the Pyro an effective deterrent against espionage. While the Pyro is easy to play, mastering when to switch between and properly use his various weapons takes time. The Pyro is most vulnerable at long range and when facing unreflectable hitscan weaponry, such as the Minigun or Sniper Rifle.
- 1 Primary weapons
- 2 Compression blast
- 3 Secondary weapons
- 4 Melee weapons
- 5 See also
All of your primary weapons burn through ammunition quickly, especially if you regularly use the compression blast. Frequently collect (dropped) ammo boxes and visit friendly Dispensers to stay replenished.
The Flame Thrower is powerful, hits a wide area in front of you, and causes enemies to suffer from afterburn. However, it has a very short range when compared to the guns used by other classes. To easily approach targets, catch them off guard by taking alternate paths or setting up ambushes. Once in combat, take advantage of how easy the Flame Thrower is to aim by circle-strafing around your foes, making yourself more difficult to hit. If opponents flee, don't rely on afterburn to finish them off, as there are many ways to extinguish fire. Instead, switch to your secondary weapon for any enemies at medium range or beyond. Spy-check suspicious teammates by firing short bursts of flame.
- The Rainblower functions identically to the Flame Thrower, but also has the Armageddon kill taunt.
- The Nostromo Napalmer is part of the Isolated Merc item set, which hugely increases Napalmer damage dealt to and melee damage received from Scouts wearing the Isolationist Pack set (this interaction rarely occurs in normal play).
Backburner + reskins
The Backburner deals guaranteed critical hits when attacking from behind, but has a significantly increased airblast cost. To successfully flank the enemy, take ambushing routes and liberally circle-strafe once in combat. Overall, you sacrifice defense for offense; the increased compression blast cost makes it more difficult to disrupt ÜberCharges as well as defend yourself from rockets and grenades.
Equipping the Degreaser causes you to switch between weapons very quickly, allowing you to always deploy the right weapon for the right time. For example, you might switch to the Shotgun as an opponent flees, or switch back to the Degreaser to deflect incoming projectiles. Airblast cost is slightly increased, encouraging you to combine this weapon with others. After igniting an enemy, you can airblast them into a corner and follow up with another weapon, such as the Flare Gun or Axtinguisher. Use these weapon combinations to immediately take out single targets, as the Degreaser's significant penalty to afterburn damage makes hit-and-run tactics much less effective.
When using the Phlogistinator, dealing any sort of fire damage to enemies will cause an exclusive "Mmmph" meter to fill. When the meter is full, secondary fire causes you to taunt and grants guaranteed critical hits to the Phlogistinator. As tempting as it is, don't blindly charge into a group of enemies hoping that your "Mmmph" quickly builds up. Instead, ambush weak opponents or use fiery long range weapons such as the Flare Gun. The taunt makes you invulnerable and immovable, so there are plenty of uses for it. You could power up before an ambush, endure a burst of damage, or just scare enemies away by taunting in the open. The Phlogistinator is your only primary weapon that cannot use the compression blast at all, leaving you unable to protect teammates from enemy projectiles. Consider equipping the Manmelter to once again allow you to extinguish teammates on fire.
The Dragon's Fury launches short-range fireballs that ignite enemies and deal bonus damage to already-ignited enemies. Landing a shot increases the reload speed of the next shot; land consecutive shots to maintain these damage and reload bonuses. Overall, the Dragon's Fury rewards good aim with massively increased damage, but is very unforgiving if you have poor aim. Additionally, the reload penalty you suffer upon using the compression blast makes the Dragon's Fury unreliable when defending against large groups.
Excluding the Phlogistinator, all of your primary weapons have access to the compression blast via alternate fire . The compression blast deals no damage but forces nearby enemies and projectiles away. It uses a significant amount of ammunition, so it must be used conservatively. Offensively, the compression blast can be used to force ignited enemies into map hazards, out of cover, or into corners, where they can easily be finished off with powerful weapons like the Axtinguisher. Defensively, use it to reflect projectiles, shove ÜberCharged enemies away from your team, and extinguish teammates who are on fire. There is a notable cooldown between compression blasts, requiring good timing to successfully reflect projectiles.
Shotgun + reskins
The Shotgun is your most reliable ranged weapon and helps cover the Flame Thrower's weaknesses. Use it to engage enemies at medium range, especially when they retreat out of the Flame Thrower's short range. Other uses for the Shotgun include fighting enemy Pyros, who can't be ignited, and fighting underwater, where your flame weaponry will fizzle.
Flare Gun + reskins
The Flare Gun fires slow, arcing projectiles that can deal reliable damage to enemies outside the range of your Shotgun. The Flare Gun also deals critical hits to burning enemies, allowing you to finish off retreating foes from a distance. If you cannot safely approach an area, you can duck in and out of cover while using the Flare Gun to harass at range; consistently landing your shots will deal plenty of damage. Mechanically, the Flare Gun can be reloaded even if it's not the active weapon; briefly switch to your Flame Thrower between shots just in case you need to reflect projectiles or fight at close range. Using the Flare Gun or its variants put you at a disadvantage against other Shotgun-wielding Pyros, who cannot be set aflame for additional damage.
Much like the Flare Gun, the Detonator is useful for harassing enemies that are far away or behind cover. Its flares deal only mini-crits to burning enemies, but can be manually detonated to create a small explosion that still mini-crits burning targets. Additionally, the explosion destroys enemy Stickybombs. The Detonator's explosion gives you extra utility; you can attack enemies behind corners, ignite multiple enemies at once, and destroy Stickybombs that the Shotgun wouldn't normally reach. You can use the explosion to flare jump upwards at the cost of some health, which helps in accessing alternate routes to ambush your opponents.
The Reserve Shooter deals mini-crits to targets launched by explosions (but not your airblast), making it effective against enemy Soldiers or Demomen who seek to blast themselves out of your reach. The gun deploys 20% faster, so equip it the moment you see an opponent go flying and fire away. The reduced magazine size makes it less reliable as a standard sidearm when compared to the Shotgun.
The Manmelter functions similarly to the Flare Gun but sacrifices offensive power for utility. It has infinite ammunition and a faster projectile speed, but does not deal guaranteed critical hits to burning players. Alternate fire can be used to extinguish teammates in place of the compression blast, particularly useful if you want to conserve Flamethrower ammunition or are using the Phlogistinator. Each successful extinguishing will cause the Manmelter to store one guaranteed critical hit, allowing it to be used as a strong finishing weapon even if your target isn't already on fire.
The Scorch Shot functions similarly to the Flare Gun, but focuses more on keeping your enemies on fire. Its flares, upon contact with any object, drop to the ground before exploding. This explosion deals mini-crits to burning targets and refreshes their afterburn duration, making the Scorch Shot great for dealing constant chip damage. Direct hits deal additional damage and knock back enemies, with the knockback increasing if the target is already on fire; this is useful for shoving enemies that are outside the range of your compression blast, particularly if they're standing near an environmental hazard. Like with the Detonator, the flare's explosion can be used to flare jump and destroy Sticky bombs.
The Panic Attack deploys 50% faster than the Shotgun, making it useful for a few panicked shots when you need a backup weapon. However, the Panic Attack's pellet spread widely increases as you fire consecutively, making it far less effective in prolonged combat. Combining the Panic Attack with the Degreaser makes it deploy extremely quickly; switch to the Panic Attack for a single shot once you are sure the enemy will be finished off.
The Gas Passer fills up over time and as you deal damage. It starts empty, so you should be fighting to gather fuel faster. When filled, it can be thrown to leave a gas cloud that douses enemies inside, who are then ignited when attacked by any ally. Use the gas cloud to control zones that you don't want enemies approaching. If enemies insist on staying inside your cloud, take advantage of weapons that deal extra damage to burning opponents, like the Dragon's Fury or Axtinguisher. You sacrifice a damaging secondary weapon, encouraging you to fight closer to teammates that can take advantage of the gas cloud.
The Thermal Thruster launches you in the direction you're looking when firing. It is great for reaching objectives faster and making a quick escape when in danger. In particular, it allows you to access places that have to be reached using another class's special jump option, such as the Scout's double jump. Upon landing, you deal triple your suffered fall damage to nearby enemies and push them back. This is an impractical way of killing enemies, so have your Flame Thrower ready when landing. If you take the Thermal Thruster, you sacrifice the Shotgun or Flare Gun, making your dueling much less potent. Use the Thruster's mobility to ambush opponents instead.
Fire Axe + reskins
As the Pyro, you're already fighting at close range with your Flame Thrower. As with many other melee weapons, the Fire Axe works best as a last resort, when you're out of ammunition or don't have time to reload your Shotgun. The majority of Pyro players use a different melee weapon to gain some extra utility.
Axtinguisher + reskins
The Axtinguisher is meant to finish off burning enemies, dealing mini-crits to burning targets and additional damage proportional to their remaining afterburn. After igniting an enemy, quickly switch to the Axtinguisher to deal a powerful blow, using the airblast to trap them in a corner. Upon killing an enemy, use the Axtinguisher's granted speed boost to reposition. The Degreaser's faster weapon switch time can help you quickly attack a burning enemy before they can escape.
Homewrecker + reskins
The Homewrecker can remove Sappers in one hit, allowing you to defend Engineer buildings from enemy Spies. When used offensively, the Homewrecker can destroy any unshielded building in two hits. You may find it difficult to get within melee range of an enemy Sentry Gun if it is targeting you, so approach those with your Flame Thrower before switching weapons.
When the Powerjack is your active weapon, you gain 15% movement speed and take 20% increased damage. The movement speed increase allows you to chase foes and get into an ambushing position quickly, but the increased damage taken discourages you from wielding it out in the open. The Powerjack grants 25 health upon killing an enemy and can be used similarly to the Axtinguisher; after you damage an enemy at close range, execute him with the Powerjack, using an airblast to hold him in place.
The Back Scratcher deals more damage than the Fire Axe and increases the amount gained from health pickups. However, it heavily reduces the healing received from allies such as Medics. It's best used when fighting behind enemy lines, where you'll regain health from finding pickups more often. In combat, it can be used as a strong melee attack without any drawbacks, unlike the Axtinguisher or Powerjack. When concerning interactions with a friendly Medic, the reduced healing rate makes you a poor Medic buddy but allows you to help a Medic build his ÜberCharge at an increased rate for a longer period of time.
The Sharpened Volcano Fragment deals less damage than the Fire Axe but ignites its victim. This makes it most practical for hit-and-run tactics, which unfortunately your Flame Thrower already is optimal for. Its only niche is in Medieval Mode, as the only melee weapon that can ignite enemies, in tandem with the Scout's Sun-on-a-Stick. Even there, the Back Scratcher is generally superior.
The Third Degree has no downsides and is a straight upgrade from the Fire Axe. It damages its victim and any player healing or being healed by them via Medic beams. When targeting a Medic's buddy, you can use this weapon to damage both of them at once, particularly useful if the Medic is difficult to reach or you have some source of critical hits. Barring damage boosts, the Third Degree still only deals damage identical to that of the standard Fire Axe; if the connected targets are within close proximity, it may be best to attack all of them at once with your Flame Thrower.
The Neon Annihilator deals guaranteed critical hits on wet targets, including those covered in Jarate or Mad Milk. It primarily gives you an effective method for dealing with enemies in water, where your flame-based weapons are useless and afterburn is extinguished. While it does less damage than your standard Fire Axe, your Flamethrower should suffice for close range battles above the surface. Like the Homewrecker, the Neon Annihilator can be used to defend Engineer buildings from enemy Spies, destroying Sappers in two hits.
What the Hot Hand weapon lacks in damage output, it makes up for in utility and potential humiliation. Landing a melee attack grants you a brief speed boost and displays the hit in the kill feed, letting you pursue a fleeing enemy to continue slapping them. Like with the default Fire Axe, other melee weapons with more useful effects are recommended for serious combat.