Basic Soldier strategy

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This page contains basic strategy for the Soldier. For more advanced strategies, see Community Soldier strategy. For how to play against the Soldier, see Anti-Soldier strategy.
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The Soldier
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The Soldier is a tough, all-purpose assault class suited for both offense and defense. His Rocket Launcher can take on multiple enemies at once, while his Shotgun is a reliable backup weapon. Despite being a straightforward class to play, there are many advanced techniques a skilled Soldier can use. For instance, although the Soldier is slow on foot, he can rocket jump to cover large distances quickly and reach high places. There are also plenty of weapon choices that alter playstyle, such as the rapid-fire Beggar's Bazooka or the team-oriented Buff Banner.

Primary weapons

Rocket Launcher + reskins

Rocket Launcher Festive Rocket Launcher Silver Botkiller Rocket Launcher Australium Rocket Launcher

The Rocket Launcher fires slow-moving rockets that deal heavy damage in a wide splash radius, with the most power at the center of the explosion. The Rocket Launcher only holds four rockets at a time, so make each shot count. Lead your targets to account for the rockets' slow movement speed, and aim at their feet to damage them with the explosions. Using a rocket to bounce an enemy into the air makes them an easy target for a follow-up shot from either a rocket or your Shotgun. If you run out of rockets, use the Shotgun to finish off weakened enemies, as reloading is slow. You can use the explosion from a rocket to rocket jump at the cost of health, a technique which is commonly used to approach enemies from unexpected angles or travel quickly across the map.

Direct Hit

Direct Hit

The Direct Hit promotes landing direct hits instead of utilizing your splash damage. The Direct Hit's rockets are faster and deal more damage, which is great for dueling single enemies. For example, you can instantly gib weaker classes like the Scout, more easily catch other rocket-jumping Soldiers in the air, or overpower immobile Sentry Guns.

However, rockets from the Direct Hit have an extremely small explosive radius. You can no longer spam rockets down chokepoints and have to put yourself out in the open to line up direct hits. You will have a more difficult time holding areas on your own.

Black Box + reskins

Black Box Australium Black Box Festive Black Box

The Black Box heals you for a small amount of health when damaging an enemy with a rocket. However, the reduced clip size impairs your immediate staying power; in particular, offensive rocket jumping becomes less effective due to your lack of ammunition and long reload time. Use it in prolonged combat, where you will have time to constantly reload and outlast your enemies. Use the Black Box alongside the Shotgun, for a reliable backup weapon, or the Concheror, which has additional healing properties.

Rocket Jumper

Rocket Jumper

The Rocket Jumper is almost identical to the Rocket Launcher, but its rockets do absolutely no damage. This allows you to practice rocket jumping without taking any self-damage. It has some synergy with the Mantreads and Market Gardener, weapons that require the user to rocket jump into melee range of enemies. Using the Rocket Jumper only leaves you with the Shotgun as a reliable weapon, so it is ineffective in an actual fight.

Liberty Launcher

Liberty Launcher

The Liberty Launcher comes with 25% increased clip size and reduces self-damage from rocket jumps, allowing you to rocket jump more often and still have rockets to spare. Its rockets deal 25% reduced damage, which weakens your offensive ability in a direct fight, especially against tankier targets like the Heavy or an Engineer's Sentry Gun. Prioritize light, injured, and retreating enemies while using your increased mobility to avoid unfavorable match-ups. Its high clip size and 40% faster rockets benefit immensely from crit boosts, such as that from the Buff Banner.

Cow Mangler 5000

Cow Mangler 5000

The Cow Mangler 5000 is comparable to the standard Rocket Launcher in damage, but it has the special ability to fire the entire clip at once as a charged shot that deals mini-crits and ignites enemies. The charged shot is best used at long range or on groups of enemies, as the damage it deals can be matched by just a few standard rockets and is not worth using an entire clip at close range. In return, the Cow Mangler 5000 deals heavily reduced damage to Engineer buildings and cannot deal critical hits normally (instead only dealing mini-crits though applied conditions such as the Kritzkrieg). However, if you come across a troublesome Sentry Gun, the charged shot can disable it before you switch to the Shotgun or let teammates finish the job. This weapon is ideal for defensive scenarios when dealing with Sentry Guns is very uncommon. It also has infinite reserve ammo, meaning you do not need to search for ammo pickups or Dispensers.

Original

Original

The Original is statistically identical to the Rocket Launcher. However, its rockets travel directly down the crosshair, rather than slightly to the right as those from the other rocket launchers do. This subtle change means that all shots fired by the Original will be consistently accurate at close range. Whilst left corners will be easier to shoot behind, it will be more difficult to fire around right corners without exposing yourself.

Beggar's Bazooka

Beggar's Bazooka

The Beggar's Bazooka has the ability to store up to three rockets, then release them in one barrage. Its rockets have some random deviation and a smaller explosive radius, making individual shots, especially aerials, less reliable. Charge the barrage from behind cover or while rocket jumping to catch opponents by surprise. Additionally, the Beggar's Bazooka cannot collect ammunition at a Dispenser or a Payload Cart while it is being actively held, preventing you from freely firing barrages while defending these locations.

Air Strike

Air Strike

The Air Strike grants significantly higher attack speed while rocket jumping but comes with 15% reduced damage and a 10% smaller explosive radius. Each kill you obtain will expand the clip size by one, to a maximum of eight, eventually allowing you to rain down rockets from the sky. This bonus is lost upon death, so be cautious after you've obtained a few kills. Its rockets have an even smaller explosive radius while airborne, so you must compensate by landing direct hits with extra rockets, using the attack speed boost from being in midair. The Air Strike is much less effective in cramped indoor areas, where there is less room to rocket jump. The B.A.S.E. Jumper synergizes well with this weapon, as it keeps you in the air longer and negates fall damage.

Secondary weapons

Shotgun + reskins

Shotgun Festive Shotgun

The Shotgun is effective at medium range and as powerful as many other primary weapons. If your Rocket Launcher is out of ammunition, the Shotgun is a decent backup weapon for finishing off injured enemies. Alternatively, you can switch to it at close range when you don't want to suffer from your own splash damage. It is a good option for fighting experienced Pyros and Scouts, who are easily able to avoid damage from your projectiles.

Buff Banner + reskins

Buff Banner Festive Buff Banner

The Buff Banner is the first of three available banners, which also include the Battalion's Backup and Concheror. A banner replaces your Shotgun and grants a Rage meter that fills up as you deal damage. When the Rage meter is full, primary fire causes you to project an aura that buffs you and nearby allies for a short time. The area of effect is large and passes through obstacles, allowing your teammates to easily follow your lead. Without the Shotgun, you are less effective as a solo combatant and encouraged to fight near allies. Stay near the front lines and use a primary weapon that has a wide blast radius to quickly fill your Rage meter.

The Buff Banner's unique effect grants guaranteed mini-crits to you and nearby allies. Compared to your other banners, the Buff Banner is best when you are working alongside allies with splash damage, like another Soldier or the Demoman. The offensive buff also synergizes with defensive support, such as healing from the Scout's Mad Milk or the Medic's invincibility-granting ÜberCharge.

To maximize your chances of using the Buff Banner, stay with a Medic or Dispenser, and fall back when necessary so you can stay alive and keep building up your Rage meter. This applies to the other banners too, but is especially important for the Buff Banner as it does not grant extra health or regeneration.

Gunboats

Gunboats

The Gunboats reduce damage from rocket jumps by 60%, allowing you to perform multiple rocket jumps in succession without having to rely on a Medic or other healing sources. The reduced self-damage also allows you to safely bail from a crisis via rocket jumping, even if you're low on health.

The Gunboats are most effective when you are constantly roaming around the map and choosing your own fights. They replace your Shotgun, so you have less overall firepower to fend off enemies who target you or your allies.

Battalion's Backup

Battalion's Backup

The Battalion's Backup works similarly to the Buff Banner, granting a Rage meter that fills up as you deal damage. It also grants 20 points of bonus health, giving you survivability against bursts of damage as long as you have a way to heal back up.

The Battalion's Backup's unique effect grants 35% damage reduction and critical hit negation to you and nearby allies. This defensive effect is best when pushing forward with teammates, as you force the enemy team to concentrate fire on one ally at a time, as well as countering the crit boosts granted by the Kritzkrieg, Buff Banner, and other sources. The aura also further reduces the damage taken from Sentry Guns to a total of 50% resistance, making it useful for destroying an Engineer nest.

Concheror

Concheror

The Concheror works similarly to the Buff Banner, granting a Rage meter that fills up as you deal damage. It also grants up to 4 health regenerated per second, which helps you heal up a bit when rocket jumping and between fights. You can equip the Concheror to be somewhat self-sufficient when roaming, then rejoin your teammates once you are ready to activate its buff.

The Concheror's unique effect grants movement speed to nearby allies and causes them to heal for 35% of damage dealt. Use the movement speed buff to help allies dodge and reposition in fights, and use the healing buff to support high-damage classes like the Heavy. The Concheror charges around 20% faster than your other banners, so you can use the buff more often to maintain momentum.

Mantreads

Mantreads

The Mantreads are a situational weapon that heavily reduces knockback taken and grants increased mobility when rocket jumping. You can equip them as your team attacks into an enemy base to avoid being pushed away, especially by an enemy Pyro or Sentry Gun, or when actively rocket jumping in combat so enemies don't disrupt your movement by shooting you. Additionally, the Mantreads allow you to deal moderate damage by stealthily landing on a foe after rocket jumping, although it's more efficient to simply kill the enemy with rockets before you land.

Reserve Shooter

Reserve Shooter

When you bounce an enemy into the air with a rocket, you can try to finish him off before he can land and retaliate. The Reserve Shooter is great for doing so, especially since landing an aerial with your Rocket Launcher can sometimes be difficult. However, the reduced clip size makes it an unreliable sidearm in comparison to the stock Shotgun, due to frequent reloading. Make use of its faster weapon switch time to finish airborne enemies off with precision before you become vulnerable.

Righteous Bison

Righteous Bison

When compared to the Shotgun, the Righteous Bison fires slow, accurate projectiles that pierce through enemies. The Righteous Bison does not require ammo and reloads quickly, so it can be used to constantly harass enemies. It is less powerful in a direct fight and deals reduced damage to buildings, although its piercing shots will damage an Engineer taking cover behind them.

B.A.S.E. Jumper

B.A.S.E. Jumper

The B.A.S.E. Jumper is a parachute you can deploy while in midair, slowing your descent. For general purposes, you can combine this with rocket jumping to stay above opponents or travel further horizontally. In combat, this backpack works well with the Air Strike and Beggar's Bazooka, weapons that can fire multiple rockets in one quick burst. You still take standard rocket jump damage and will often attract enemy attention, so keep in mind where you can find healing upon landing. Once you finish your airborne assault, try not to linger in the sights of enemies who appreciate slow targets, like the Heavy or Sniper. As with other bundled secondary weapons, taking the B.A.S.E. Jumper means having no Shotgun, leaving you less effective on the ground.

Panic Attack

Panic Attack

The Panic Attack deploys 50% faster than the Shotgun, making it useful for a few panicked shots when you run out of rockets. However, the Panic Attack's pellet spread widely increases as you fire consecutively, making it less effective for prolonged combat than the Shotgun.

Melee weapons

Shovel + reskins

Shovel Frying Pan Saxxy Conscientious Objector Freedom Staff Bat Outta Hell Memory Maker Ham Shank Golden Frying Pan Necro Smasher Crossing Guard Prinny Machete

The Shovel is comparable to the default melee weapons of most other classes. However, your slow speed puts you at a disadvantage in melee duels. Unless you excessively engage in melee combat when near a friendly Medic, you're better off equipping a different melee weapon.

Equalizer

Equalizer

While at full health, the Equalizer deals half of the Shovel's base damage. However, you generally won't need to use your melee weapon when you are at full health. The Equalizer will grant a dramatic increase in damage as your health decreases, allowing it to be used as a last resort to ambush pursuing enemies. Put the Equalizer away if you want a friendly Medic to heal you normally, as it reduces received healing by 90% while active.

Pain Train

Pain Train

The Pain Train gives you an increased capture rate of two players, equal to the Scout. It comes with a 10% increased vulnerability to bullets, making you a bit more fragile against the Scout and Heavy, classes which tend to be found attacking or holding control points. Only use the Pain Train when actively capturing control points or pushing Payload carts; the increased capture rate is useless when playing Capture the Flag or when on defense.

Half-Zatoichi

Half-Zatoichi

The Half-Zatoichi heals you for 50% of your maximum health on kill and has the increased melee range and draw time of all swords. The healing the Half-Zatoichi provides on a kill just might be worth fighting at melee range. Try to have a clear opportunity to kill an enemy before you unsheathe it, as switching weapons without obtaining a kill causes you to take 50 damage. Wielders of the Half-Zatoichi are capable of killing each other in a single hit; however, your slow speed puts you at a disadvantage in a melee duel.

Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary Action

The Disciplinary Action has an increased melee range of 75%, giving it a unique niche in melee combat, but deals slightly reduced damage. The main perk of this weapon is that it allows you to strike a teammate to temporarily boost both of your running speeds. Thus, you can use it to increase your mobility without sacrificing health by rocket jumping. Stay near allies so that you can make use of the speed boost more often; it can be used when running to the front lines, retreating, or chasing after faster opponents.

Market Gardener

Market Gardener

The Market Gardener deals guaranteed critical melee attacks while rocket jumping. While it is simpler to continue firing rockets while airborne, quietly approaching to land one melee attack can allow you to pick off important targets and gain style points. Rocket jumping over obstacles or up from low ground can greatly aid in surprising opponents.

The Market Gardener's value greatly increases as you become familiar with advanced rocket jumping techniques. For example, if you can perform a high-velocity diagonal rocket jump, you can soar over obstacles, smack a distracted enemy, and still have loaded rockets to defend yourself with upon landing.

Escape Plan

Escape Plan

As your health decreases, wielding the Escape Plan will grant you increasingly faster speed, allowing you to escape attackers with ease. Because it marks you for death, you're discouraged from using it to fight, much less charge at enemies. However, you can use the Rocket Launcher to damage yourself so that you can quickly reach the front lines; if doing so, make sure you don't get picked off by a stray enemy before you can find a source of healing. Sheathe the Escape Plan once you find a friendly Medic, as it reduces healing by 90% while active.