Community Spy strategy

From Team Fortress Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
May I make a suggestion? Run.
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, causing them to malfunction. 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 veteran players, and professional Spies can easily wreak major havoc on the enemy team.

Quick tips

  • Avoid being seen or heard as much as possible, even with a disguise.
    • Players can be exceptionally paranoid (especially if they have been backstabbed previously), Spy-checking anyone they see, regardless of your behavior or acting. Wait until your teammates distract them, and strike while they are occupied.
    • Be aware that decloaking and backstabbing can be rather loud, especially if you are using the Dead Ringer. Competent enemies will likely hear these sounds and react. Use the sounds of gunfire from the battlefield, and decloaking behind corners and walls to mask the sound of your decloak.
    • Try to avoid being spotted while doing your job. Take note of which players see you decloak, stab, or sap. If you do get spotted, your options are to cloak and run away or fight back with your Revolver.
    • Always ask yourself, "Will/did that player see/hear me stab/sap/decloak? Did they react to it?" If so, move to another part of the map until they are done Spy-checking. If not, continue doing your job.
    • Try to check your surroundings before you decloak.
  • Typically, you should cloak when heading towards an enemy objective. A teammate running in the opposite direction of the rest of the team is suspicious and a prime candidate for Spy-checking.
    • While disguised, enemies are much less likely to Spy-check you if run backward toward them as if fleeing from your real teammates.
  • Learn to play other classes first. Once you know how each class behaves, you will be able to act more convincingly.
    • Pay attention to which class you are disguised as. Snipers and Engineers generally stay in one spot while Pyros will often patrol an area.
    • The Pyro disguise is good for general situations, but being a very common disguise, you might get Spy-checked more frequently. The upside is, you might not want to stay close to enemy Pyros, so you probably won't appear in the same vicinity as them.
    • The Scout disguise is nearly useless for tricking vigilant 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. Furthermore, the smaller model of the Scout changes where your head appears to enemies, throwing off Snipers' aim. Also, Scouts will often run in and out of the fray of battle — distracted enemies may not suspect you if you are heading towards the objective.
      • Scouts with the Baby Face Blaster equipped can make your disguise more convincing since they start off with a slower base speed and a boost penalty when jumping.
    • The Heavy disguise will slow you down considerably, but can be used to trick enemy Medics into healing you. The disguise may trick enemies simply because the Heavy disguise is so rarely used. However, this disguise makes it difficult to approach enemies to backstab.
    • The Soldier disguise should not be used when you are heading from the enemy's base toward their objective. Soldiers will generally rocket jump, and one that does not will attract suspicion, unless you are in a confined room that prevents rocket jumping, such as the corridors on cp_steel.
    • The Engineer disguise can be useful in specific situations. Kill an Engineer, disguise as him, and stand next to his buildings with your disguise's Wrench out; when the coast is clear, sap the enemy's buildings and make your escape. Enemies may even expose their backs to you as they heal next to "your" Dispenser. Keep your eye on when the Engineer respawns, however - he may return to his nest and expose you as a Spy.
    • The Medic disguise will not trick enemies very often; Medics who are not healing teammates will instantly draw suspicion. However, it does give you a reason to be behind them. Pull out your disguise's Medi Gun, and backstab them when they look away from you.
      • If you happen to chance upon a Medic who does not heal his teammates but instead fights with his primary instead, disguising as him can be a good choice.
    • The Sniper disguise can be good for surveillance, as you won't attract too much attention behind enemy lines. However, you can't scope in, so make sure to not stand in one spot for too long, or an enemy might notice that you aren't doing anything.
    • The Spy disguise can be effective, as you won't seem out of place taking flank routes. It is also useful when among your teammates, as you can act like an enemy Spy trying to stab your own teammates, instead of an obviously disguised Spy that none of your teammates are attacking. However, merely seeing a Spy might remind paranoid enemies to Spy-check.
    • Make sure you're disguised as an actual player. If the enemy team doesn't have the class you're disguised as means your disguise will have no cosmetics or weapons other than stock. New players are fairly uncommon in most games, so seeing a cosmetic-less enemy with Stock weapons approaching may make enemies suspicious.
      • Alternatively, you can act confused and pretend to make "beginner mistakes" - enemies may dismiss you as clueless or useless and ignore you.
  • Cloak before disguising if you are behind enemy lines. Doing so will prevent your enemies from seeing your Disguise Kit's smoke.
    • 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 a Revolver and press B your disguise will switch weapon to its primary (or secondary, if you're disguised as a Spy) slot. For example, if you are disguised as a Sniper, make sure to switch to your disguise's Sniper Rifle. Changing weapons can also trick enemies into believing your disguise. If you are not disguised, pressing B will disguise you as the last person you disguised as.
  • If you are using the Invisibility Watch, you are able to regain Cloak, both while cloaked and uncloaked, by picking up ammo boxes and remains of destroyed buildings as well as leeching off enemy Dispensers (if you are also disguised).
    • However, be careful while picking up ammo or health if enemies are nearby. Seeing ammo and health disappear with no one near it is a sign of a cloaked Spy.
  • If you are using the Cloak and Dagger, then you can only pick up ammo when uncloaked (although it will refill your cloak meter less than if you were using the Invis Watch). Use this ability to make sure that you don't run low on cloak at a vital moment.
  • 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.
  • Always work with your team. Despite your abilities of backstabbing, cloaking, and disguising, you are still susceptible to taking damage, and working in conjunction with your team will improve your performance as a Spy.


  • Try to make an indirect approach to enemies by 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.
    • Avoid attacking a large group of enemies that are not in combat, such as when they are pushing the cart when your entire team is dead. They will be more alert and may Spy-check any teammates that approach them.
  • If you are following an enemy and they look back, consider turning around as if you were checking for a Spy behind you — this may trick them into believing your disguise.
  • You are able to see the names of enemies, and their health. Use this knowledge when making a plan or predicting movements. Injured players will often look for a Health kit or a Medic, while enemies at full health tend to head for the objective. 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 will probably make a push soon.
  • When you are disguised as an enemy, enemy Sentry Guns will not attack you directly, and you can use enemy buildings; enemy Medics are also able to heal you.
    • If you use a voice command (such as "MEDIC!" or "Spy!") that shows up in the chat, the enemy team will also see it in their chat, which may alert them to your presence if the enemy you are disguised as sees it and calls you out.
    • 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.
    • A Sentry Gun will not stop shooting at you if you have disguised after it sees you unless a teammate comes closer to it than you, you break line of sight, or you leave the Sentry Gun's range.
  • Avoid backstabbing someone in front of an enemy Sentry Gun, unless you have to make a pick that is worth dying for. If you are using a Dead Ringer or Your Eternal Reward, however, utilize it to avoid taking damage.
  • 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 chances of survival, or use the Spy-cicle to extinguish yourself and cover your tracks. You should also retreat towards your team's side while shooting the Pyro so that your team can help you fend off the enemy.
    • Alternatively, if you are set on fire, consider remaining cloaked; debuffs such as fire and Jarate wear off faster when you are cloaked.
  • Be prepared to use the Revolver in several situations. These include: being spotted, attacking a Pyro, and picking off low-health enemies that are out of your melee range.
    • The Ambassador is especially good for Revolver-sniping, and will do 102 damage on a Headshot at close range. Its first shot is also perfectly accurate. However, its damage, including headshots, decreases with distance, so try to close the distance before you attack.
  • Try to pick high-value targets, such as Medics and Heavies, to kill first. This is due to their high utility to the enemy. Killing a Medic is usually worth your life — you can stop an enemy push that might change the game's outcome.
  • 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. However, if the pair is alone, it may be better to kill the Heavy first and leave the Medic nearly defenseless. If you are called out by the Medic, however, it would be better to go for the Heavy than to die for nothing.
  • Lone Snipers and Heavies are generally easy targets due to their low movement speed when scoped in or spun up, respectively. If the opportunity arises, eliminate them.
  • Enemies are less likely to Spy-check if they are fighting at the frontlines. Use this opportunity to backstab them, cloak, and run back to your team. Alternatively coordinate with your teammates to launch a fake attack or distraction, giving you the chance to pick enemies off one by one.
    • You can also set up a large killing spree by positioning yourself behind enemy lines and following a group of enemies into battle. Once they are distracted by 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 a backpedaling enemy; they may notice and kill you.
  • While you are invisible using any of the Spy's watches, you have 20% resistance to damage (more if you are using the Dead Ringer), and debuffs will wear off faster (Jarate, Mad Milk, afterburn, bleed). If you are bleeding or burning to death, cloak and search for a Health kit. However, be aware that while cloaked, you cannot attack, and if (for example) you are bleeding, you will still be visible to enemies as a translucent silhouette.
  • 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. However, enemies will be able to know your location while you are carrying it, so you may want to drop the Intelligence (default key L) and then wait for them to check on it.
  • 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 break your fall.
  • You can trick enemy Medics into using their ÜberCharge on you, usually by disguising as a Medic buddy, ideally a Heavy or a Soldier, as both disguises are not as expected. 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, wasting his charge. Then, when his ÜberCharge wears off, if he is still healing you, your teammates can pick him off.
  • 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 double back past him. The enemy will believe you've continued running, and run in the wrong direction.
  • 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, you might use them when you are fleeing from the battle.
  • If you are disguised as a slow class, such as the Heavy, it can be helpful to drop your disguise just before backstabbing an enemy. 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 that are turtling 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.
  • Consider changing your loadout every so often. Some players will try to memorize enemy equipment in order to predict their playstyle; switching up yours, especially your Invis Watch may throw them off. As Spy's theme is based around deception, this is a good way to manifest deceit in-game.
  • 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 land a successful backstab; for example, you can fall off of a high area and land behind your enemy as you are falling. This can surprise some players, who may let you flee from battle and prepare for another infiltration.
  • Even if enemies start Spy-checking you unless it is a Pyro with a Flamethrower or you are low on health, consider ignoring the attack, especially if there are no escape routes available. Sometimes, the enemy will believe your disguise, having Spy-checked 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 escape.
    • 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 distracted 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!
  • If you see an unattended Sentry Gun, check for Engineers who might be around before you sap it.
  • If a Medic corners you with the Ubersaw, consider disguising or committing suicide in order to deny him additional ÜberCharge.
  • The Knife deals 40 damage. This means that you can just finish off enemies with 40 or fewer health by butterknifing them if you are out of Revolver ammo.
  • Try and utilize trickstabs to punish overconfident enemies who know that you are a Spy.
  • The more kills you rack up, the more paranoid the enemy team will be. Don’t be surprised that you are getting fewer kills or dying more often every time you respawn and infiltrate. If too many, if not all the players on the enemy team are often carrying out Spy-checking measures, you are probably better off as another class.


  • All disguises have at least one strategic use. For example, if you were to attempt to stop an enemy push on the bridge of 2Fort, you would want to disguise as a Medic to stay behind the push inconspicuously, ready to Backstab your foes. There are many more beyond that.
    • If you wanted to be less noticeable while sneaking around, disguising as a Scout may help due to his smaller size. However, keep in mind that more aware opponents may notice the lack of speed compared to an actual Scout, so stay alert.
  • Disguising as the same class as nearby enemy players can be dangerous because your disguise may show their name and loadout, revealing you to be a Spy.
  • When disguising or changing disguises, your body will be covered by smoke that is 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.
  • Try to not always use the same disguise. For example, if an enemy player always sees you disguised as a Pyro, they will soon begin to Spy-check any Pyros they come across.
  • 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 using 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 while holding your Revolver will change your disguise's weapon to its Primary slot. The Sapper will change it to its Secondary, and your Knife to its Melee weapon.
    • Note that weapon switching looks identical to the class switching weapons normally. It may help you blend in around the enemy.
    • Your disguise is unable to hold the Disguise Kit or Sapper.
    • 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. This is especially useful during Setup time.
      • While not as essential as checking an enemy Medic's Medi Gun, one can also do this to other classes in order to predict their play style.
  • 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 picking up a Health kit. Be aware that if you are disguised, you will always pick up Health kits, even if you are at full health. Use your disguise to steal Health packs from the enemy!
  • You can fake-reload the weapon you're holding while disguised if you shoot with the Revolver, disguise with a Primary or Secondary weapon, and then reload (default key R). This may allow you to avoid suspicion in the middle of a firefight.
    • However, when holding a weapon that cannot reload, such as the Minigun, attempting to fake-reload will still produce an animation. This may alert suspicious enemies.
  • When you are disguised, you will wear the same equipment as your disguise - including cosmetic items.
    • This gives more reason to avoid enemies that you disguise as — they may recognize their own equipment, if not their name.
    • Some cosmetics, such as the Hotrod, will carry effects that it normally has on 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.
  • If you know an enemy Spy is in your base, disguise as a friendly Pyro. The Spy may reconsider his attack and flee, enabling an easy backstab if you are within range or allowing you the first shot if they are at medium range. You can also chase the enemy Spy into a group of your teammates or out of your base.
  • 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 in certain situations, be wary in general of slower classes which are less mobile.
  • In certain situations, you can disguise as a dangerous class on your team such as a Pyro or Heavy in an attempt to scare off attackers. This usually never works but it doesn't hurt to try!
  • If there is an enemy that tends to exhibit odd behavior, such as excessive jumping, try to do the same if you're disguised as them to better sell your act.


  • 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 your pursuer into going the wrong way. Use props and elevation to your advantage to make yourself harder to track.
  • Always have a plan before 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 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 maintain your level of cloak with the Invisibility Watch.
      • Level 2 Dispensers will recharge your Cloak with the Invisibility Watch.
      • Level 3 Dispensers will recharge 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 this area without even looking in the corner, allowing you to recharge your Cloak or surprise a group heading out towards the bridge or sewers.
  • If possible, cloak while surveying an area. Disguises are not always reliable, as Spy checking is a common practice.
  • 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.
  • If you know you will die to an Ubersaw, try to disguise to deny the Medic extra Über. Note that you can still feed Über to the enemy Medic if you are cloaked or not fully disguised. Common in competitive play, another way is to bind a key to kill yourself and deny enemy Medics additional Über.
  • The ability to be completely invisible means you can help to warn your teammates of incoming enemy movement and pushes, such as an ÜberCharge. This lets them prepare for the assault.

Weapon specifics

Secondary weapons

Revolver + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Killicon revolver.png 6 24 55-60 35-45 16-25 120
Big Kill
Big Kill
Killicon big kill.png
  • The Revolver is the Spy's secondary 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 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 secondaries; 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.
  • This is an invaluable weapon against Pyros, as it allows you to keep your distance from their flames as you back away and weaken them with each shot. Be aware that walking backward incurs a 10% speed penalty (and you and the Pyro are normally matched in speed) and flame particles have a slightly deceptively larger range than what the game's visual effects might indicate.

Ambassador + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Killicon ambassador.png 6 24 46-56 31-37 18-19 54-102
Killicon sniperriflehs.png
  • The Ambassador deals Critical Hits damage upon a headshot. However, it deals 15% less damage, does not apply random critical hits, the critical hits and mini-crit damage are affected by distance falloff, and fires at a slower rate than the stock Revolver.
    • 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 critical hits and mini-crit will deal normal damage after a range of 1200 HU, greatly reducing the effectiveness of long-range sniping. Close the distance between you and the enemy first.
  • Aim carefully. A well placed headshot against a pursuing enemy with low health could mean the difference between life and death.
  • The Ambassador can also be used to destroy Engineer buildings from a distance, similar to the Revolver, as an alternative to sapping. Remember, if an Engineer is repairing the building, killing the Engineer first is preferable.
    • Landing a headshot on 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.
      • Check if he has a Dispenser nearby, then pick him off while he regenerates health and sap the other buildings.
    • If you are good with your aim, you can often pick off all the Engineers in a nest. Usually, if they hide behind their Sentry Guns, you can shoot the Sentry Gun, forcing them to repair it until they run out of metal, which usually prompts them to run to get more, exposing their head. However, they may simply produce more from their Dispenser. You can run out of ammo and will be vulnerable to enemies.
  • 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 (or 8 with the Sandman equipped); therefore, you can finish him off with a single attack 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. An Engineer with a Gunslinger or a Spy with a Dead Ringer will be as difficult to kill as most other classes such as the Soldier or Heavy.
  • Razorback Snipers have resistance against backstabs, but not against bullets. Take the time to headshot enemy Razorback Snipers. 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 close-range headshot.
  • If you miss a backstab on a low-health class (but still get a hit), switch to the Ambassador. A headshot will likely finish off the enemy.


Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Killicon l'etranger.png 6 24 44-48 28-36 15-18 96
  • L'Etranger deals 20% less damage compared with the stock Revolver. However, it fills the "Cloak" meter by 15% on each successful hit, and the Cloak duration is increased by 40%.
  • 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 L'Etranger has a very distinctive "crack" sound when fired, which will alert nearby enemies to your presence.
  • The increased Cloak duration gives more breathing room when you want to get behind enemy lines.
    • When equipped in conjunction with the Invis 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 (while running) is increased to 9 seconds, making them equivalent to using the Invis Watch without L'Etranger.
  • 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 L'Etranger is 100% accurate 1.25 seconds after shooting. Use it to recharge your Cloak safely from a distance.
    • Keep in mind that the Invis Watch's timer can still be replenished by picking up Ammo boxes and building debris or standing next to a Dispenser.
    • As the Cloak and Dagger and the Dead Ringer are either not recharged by sources of ammo whilst invisible or not recharged by ammo sources at all, L'Etranger can be very effective when used with these watches.
    • Nonetheless, always be aware of your surroundings when using L'Etranger. It is not recommended for you to try and regain Cloak via L'Etranger if there are many enemies around with no allies. In a case like this, it is better to hide instead.
  • Remember that L'Etranger does less damage than any other secondary weapons. If you need more firepower, consider switching to other secondary weapons.
    • L'Etranger also does less damage to buildings, making a Sap-n-Shoot technique harder.
  • While the bonus cloak duration is negated by the Dead Ringer's -50% cloak meter when Feign Death is activated, L'Etranger can be used effectively with it. Be aware that once players realize that both items are being used, they will likely Spy check around your fake corpse and try to make sure that you are actually dead.
  • Positioning is key as Spy, and when using L'Etranger is no exception; when shooting from a relatively hidden position, you are less likely to be found while regaining your Cloak.


Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Killicon enforcer.png 6 24 55-60 / 70-72 35-45 / 41-55 16-25 / 24-26 120 / 144
  • The Enforcer deals 20% damage bonus while disguised (i.e. the initial shot that breaks your disguise will deal 20% extra damage) and full damage resistance piercing (from the Vaccinator, but obviously not from any sort of full invulnerability, for example). In exchange, the Enforcer fires 20% slower, and cannot deal random critical hits.
  • The Enforcer allows you to kill low health classes in 2-3 shots at point-blank range. Therefore, you can kill Razorback Snipers or Engineers trying to remove a Sapper easily.
  • A critical shot from this weapon can kill a light health class in 1 shot if the user is disguised when the shot was fired and drop many other classes on critically low health, allowing them to be killed in possibly another shot.
  • The reduced firing speed allows for more time to aim shots, potentially making the difference between a hit or a miss.


Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Killicon diamondback.png 6 24 47-51 30-33 14-21 102
  • The Diamondback 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 or successfully backstabbing an enemy will give the Diamondback one guaranteed Critical hit. However, the Diamondback deals 15% less damage and cannot roll for random critical hits.
  • 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.
  • Enemy Engineers with the Gunslinger are great for racking up crits to use, as they will rarely attempt to remove a Sapper from a Mini-Sentry.
  • Like the Ambassador, the Diamondback also allows you to pick off Engineers from long range, and then sap their Sentry Guns after getting up close. This can be extremely useful for lone or exposed Engineers who are too vigilant for a stab-and-sap.
  • The Diamondback is useful for taking out a Medic who is pocketing a player. Run up and backstab the patient, then quickly turn around and use the crit just gained to quickly kill the Medic with a few shots. An unprepared Medic will be surprised and will not take out his Syringe Gun until it's too late.

Building slot

Sapper + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage Building destroy time
Loaded Carried Downgrade Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Combat Mini-Sentry Gun
Killicon electro sapper.png 1 25 / seconds N/A 6.00 seconds 7.20 seconds 8.64 seconds 4.00 seconds
Killicon ap-sap.png
Snack Attack
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 three seconds, 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.
  • The Ap-Sap's "eye" opens more the closer you are to a building, thus allowing you to find nearby enemy buildings.
  • Although the Sapper can disable and destroy Engineer buildings, keep in mind that both the Sapper and damage done can be undone with just a couple of Wrench hits. Coordinate your Sap with your team; Sap the buildings, then get your team to move in and help finish your work. If possible, use voice chat for better communication.

Red-Tape Recorder

Weapon Kill icon Ammo Damage Building destroy time
Loaded Carried Downgrade Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Combat Mini-Sentry Gun
Red-Tape Recorder
Red-Tape Recorder
Killicon red-tape recorder.png 1 N/A 3.4 seconds 10.7 seconds 21.4 seconds 21.4 seconds 10.5 seconds
  • 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 collectible 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.
    • 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.
  • If your team has to push, the Red-Tape Recorder can easily downgrade the Engineer’s buildings to inferior levels, and in addition they have to complete their building animation if the Sapper is destroyed mid construction. This allows your team to make an easier push and destroy the Engineer and his buildings more easily.
  • 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.
  • Because Gunslinger Engineers rarely attempt to remove Sappers from their Mini-Sentry Guns, the Red-Tape Recorder can be effective against Engineers who frequently place down Mini-Sentry Guns, as a Sapper that takes longer to complete will therefore increase the amount of time the Engineer has to wait before he can place another Mini-Sentry unless he removes your Sapper.
  • Compared to the stock Sapper, the Red-Tape Recorder is generally more suited in causing havoc in entrenched Engineer positions where the stock Sapper’s damage can be quickly repaired and when dealing with Mini-Sentry Guns. Against lone Engineers, the stock Sapper is generally a better choice.

Melee weapons

Knife + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Killicon knife.png 0.8 seconds 40 / 2× victim's current health 120 / 6× victim's current health
Killicon backstab.png
Killicon saxxy.png
Killicon backstab.png
Sharp Dresser
Sharp Dresser
Killicon sharp dresser.png
Killicon sharp dresser backstab.png
Black Rose
Black Rose
Killicon black rose.png
Killicon backstab.png
Golden Frying Pan
Golden Frying Pan
Killicon golden frying pan.png
Killicon backstab.png
Prinny Machete
Prinny Machete
Killicon prinny machete.png
Killicon backstab.png
  • 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 rather low 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.
  • Compared to your other Melees, the stock Knife is the most reliable of them all. You are able to disguise at will, have no health downsides and does not need to be recharged.
  • 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 melee kill, 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 (the most silent way to do it is to disguise as a Spy of your own team, but it can be somewhat slower). 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 wary that the Razorback replenishes itself after a period of time, so be quick.
  • Be aware that the Saxxy and the Spy-cicle leave very noticeable corpses, the former being made of shimmering Australium, the latter being an ice sculpture. They are very likely to reveal your presence.
    • In addition try to refrain from using the Sharp Dresser. It has its own unique backstab animation in the kill feed which will practically announce to the enemy team that you are using a stock Knife reskin. This could very well give away your playstyle and allow enemies to more easily predict how you will strike.
  • 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]
    • Due to the flashiness of the move and the general popularity and publicity of "trick stabs" and those who perform them, even inexperienced players will know better than to blindly pursue a Spy that's standing on the top of a set of stairs with his Knife out. Unless your prey is clearly fooled or desperate, mask your intent as much as possible via blind spots, and have an escape plan for if your enemy does not behave as you want them to. To make your attempt less obvious, do not face the enemy as if waiting for them when attempting a stairstab.
    • Keep in mind that you do not need to be directly on top of a staircase to attempt this. Anything that is Teleporter-height or taller will do the trick, so if there are no nearby staircases, look for any nearby props. Since many people only look out for staircases, this method may allow for an easier setup.

Your Eternal Reward + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Your Eternal Reward
Your Eternal Reward
Killicon your eternal reward.png 0.8 seconds 40 / 2× victim's current health 120 / 6× victim's current health
Killicon backstab.png
Wanga Prick
Wanga Prick
Killicon wanga prick.png
Killicon backstab.png
  • Your Eternal Reward gives the ability to disguise as the target upon a successful backstab, the victim does not scream upon death, nor does a death notice appear in the enemy team's kill feed. Also, the corpse of the victim fades away almost instantly as if cloaking. However, the Cloak drain rate is increased by 33%, and manual disguise with the Disguise Kit consume 100% of your Cloak.
    • However, the non-backstab kill still appear in the the enemy team's kill feed.
    • As manual disguises cost an entire Cloak meter, utilize manual disguises only when either no enemies and/or a source of ammo are nearby (be aware that ammo cannot refill the cloak meter of the Dead Ringer).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • While manually switching to a faster disguise will drain all your cloak, the ammo box left behind by your victim(s) and/or any ammo on the map may be able to help make up for it.
  • If you accidentally run past 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 an easy 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. Now that you cannot pick up weapons (except from your own class), you still leave visible evidence that a player was killed at the spot where you stabbed them. That said, a stray Rocket Launcher or Syringe Gun is probably not going to raise much initial suspicion, but if players keep running into each other and disappearing, then they can gather what's up.
  • In situations with many enemies, such as a group of players pushing the Payload or capping the Control Point, the Your Eternal Reward can significantly decrease your chances of being spotted due to the Silent Killer attribute making any kills less noticeable.

Conniver's Kunai

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage Healing
Point blank Critical From backstab
Conniver's Kunai
Conniver's Kunai
Killicon conniver's kunai.png 0.8 seconds 40 / 2× victim's current health 120 / 6× victim's current health Target's current health, minimum 75 health and capping at 210
Killicon backstab.png
  • The Conniver's Kunai decreases your overall Health to 70. However, backstabbing with the Conniver's Kunai will leech all of the victim's health and overheal you to a maximum of 210 health, which then decreases at 2 health per second.
  • This weapon is high-risk, high-reward. If you can backstab someone before you are detected your increased health will greatly improve the odds of survival. Fail, and you are likely a goner thanks to your reduced base health.
    • For this reason, amateur Spies are advised to refrain from using this weapon if they are still learning how to properly infiltrate the enemy team.
  • The Conniver’s Kunai greatly rewards skilled players, as they can effectively cause massive havoc and damage thanks to the large health pool from backstabs which can also remove afterburn from Pyros, the Spy’s main counter.
  • With the Conniver's Kunai equipped, you will have to efficiently use your Cloak. Enemies can kill you much easier due to your reduced health. The Dead Ringer and Invis Watch are recommended over the Cloak and Dagger.
  • Backstabbing a target will always grant you at least 75 health. Therefore, if you're in a bad situation: don't panic! Just backstab someone, and then use your now large health pool in order to escape.
  • 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 70 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 (or alternatively by picking up a medkit, as it normally would).
  • 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
Big Earner
Killicon big earner.png 0.8 seconds 40 / 2× victim's current health 120 / 6× victim's current health
Killicon backstab.png
  • The Big Earner reduces your overall health to 100, but grants a 30% Cloak refill for any watch and a 3 second speed boost upon a melee kill.
  • The Big Earner focuses on speed and staying out of sight. The speed boost and Cloak refill upon a melee kill allows you to quickly stab an enemy to death, then cloak and escape with the speed boost.
  • 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 Invis Watch over the Cloak and Dagger 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.
  • Both the Cloak and Dagger and the Dead Ringer cannot replenish their cloak whilst the Spy is invisible. The Big Earner mitigates this key downside of these watches.
  • Remember to pick up the ammo case that enemies drop after you kill them. The combination of the Big Earner and a dropped ammo box 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 (and a 3 second speed boost). 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.
  • The speed boost of the Big Earner greatly helps with trickstabbing and chainstabbing. A faster Spy means enemies will have less time to react and makes tracking his movement harder, allowing the Spy to more easily oustrafe and backstab them. It also allows the Spy to quickly cover distances that would be slower than using the other knives, allowing him to get to where he is going much more quicker.
  • Although you have more base health than you would with the Conniver's Kunai, it's best to avoid arena maps with this weapon. Equip the Dead Ringer to prolong survival.

Spy-cicle + reskins

Weapon Kill icon Attack interval Damage
Point blank Critical
Killicon spy-cicle.png 0.8 seconds 40 / 2× victim's current health 120 / 6× victim's current health
Killicon backstab.png
  • The Spy-cicle causes any backstabbed players to leave a frozen ragdoll. Upon any contact with flames, the knife provides one second of fire immunity and a 10-second immunity to afterburn, but requires a fifteen-second recharge period before it can be used again.
    • Recently backstabbed players from the Spy-cicle stand upright for up to 10 seconds. After that time, these frozen corpses will fall down. It takes over 30 seconds for these corpses to automatically disappear.
  • This knife leaves a unique corpse not unlike the Saxxy; as a result, it alerts anyone finding the body to your presence, requiring the player to employ hit-and-run tactics to remain undetected.
  • Use the Spy-cicle only when there are Pyros on the enemy team, especially if they are competent and paranoid. Otherwise it is simply a stock knife that turns people into statues upon a backstab, which will very well alert enemies to your presence.
  • 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, a crackling sound will be emitted, and while you will be immune to fire for one second, you will still exclaim that you're on fire, so it's unlikely you will be ignored. Use the 10 seconds of afterburn immunity to put some distance between you and the Pyro, and the rest of his team.
  • 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. For instance, the L'Etranger is a poor self-defense option since it has a damage penalty and its cloak bonus is rendered almost useless if a Pyro actively engages you.
    • However, you can pick up ammo in order to make your Spy-cicle recharge quicker; thus, if you can collect enough ammo and/or wait until it charges, you may not need to worry about it.
    • The Enforcer is a good choice with this knife; if you are disguised, the Enforcer will deal increased damage compared to the other revolvers, making it somewhat easier to kill your targets. The slowed firing speed is counteracted by the damage bonus and the resistance piercing capability.
  • Note that any Heavies equipping the Huo-Long Heater are still vulnerable to backstabs when using the Spy-cicle. You can simply jump over the ring of fire and stab the Heavy before you land.

PDA Slot

Disguise Kit

Weapon Ammo Damage
Loaded Carried Point blank Medium range Long range Critical
Disguise Kit
Disguise Kit
  • 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.
Enemy disguises
Class Speed Stature Beliveability Element of surprise Overall usefulness/Notes
Leaderboard class scout.png Scout 106.67% (26.67% too slow) Short and skinny. The Scout has a very small posture, making it rather useful for hiding. In addition, it can fool Snipers into shooting too low, as a Scout's head is in the same place as the Spy's torso. Low. A Spy disguised as a Scout will be moving noticeably too slow and cannot double jump (although repetitively jumping can increase believeability), which are both immediately suspicious. As Scouts tend to wander alone, however, it can remain viable for quick glances at long distances. If disguised as a Scout with the Baby Face’s Blaster, it can be somewhat more viable due to the reduced base speed and jump penalties. Medium. Players may not expect Scout disguises simply because of their low believability. Situational. All things considered, 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 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. The Scout disguise also is one of the disguises that does not inhibit Spy's natural speed, which can give the advantage of getting a important pick quicker.
Leaderboard class soldier.png Soldier 80% Normal. Soldiers tend to have large weapons, making them less-than-suitable for hiding. Medium. It is not uncommon to find a Soldier wandering alone, especially if he is walking backwards reloading his weapon. However, a lack of rocket jumping and suppressive fire may become suspicious if you remain amongst the enemy team for too long. High. With a large movement speed penalty that makes it difficult to catch up to backstab targets, most players do not expect Soldier disguises. Situational. As a Soldier, 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 will not be able to catch up to him without losing your disguise. On the other hand, successfully pretending to retreat from battle might result in an enemy Medic healing or ÜberCharging you. Try not to have your disguise weapon as the Equalizer or the Escape Plan, as their (lack of) effects will give you away very quickly, especially if an enemy Medic starts healing you.
Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro 100% Normal. 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, and make a constant hissing noise when held. Medium. Pyros aren't expected to attack until they get close to others, and they commonly patrol their own bases, making it easier to get in and out of enemy areas. However, Pyros are easy to Spy-check and are expected to constantly engage in Spy-checking, so enemies may attack you once they realize you are not doing so. The Pyro disguise's fake Shotgun reload is arguably tied with the Engineer's for being the best in the game. Low. As a class with 100% move speed, no need to reload primary weapons, and reasons to hide among teammates and near Sentry Guns, Pyros are well-known to be a common choice of disguise. Common. Pyro is more often than not a good choice of disguise, despite its flaws.
Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman 93.33% Normal. The disguise has average body and weapon size, and is therefore good for quick glances. However, be aware that holding a sword significantly increases a Demoman's visual footprint vertically, which can be a problem if you end up disguising as a Demoknight. Medium. Demomen have reasons to hang around their own team's base, waiting for enemies to trip their traps. However, they are generally expected to constantly use their weapons, and if no stickybombs are visible and your disguise does not include a shield, you will easily be discovered as a fraud. Both fake reloads are moderately believable. Low. Similar to the Soldier disguise with a lesser speed penalty and more reason to be idle on his team's side of the field, a Demoman disguise is generally unsurprising. Common. The Demoman disguise is very average; while it is a convenient excuse to hover around the enemy stronghold, enemies are generally not fooled if you stay in one location for too long.
Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy 76.67% Tall and wide. Heavies have big bodies and big weapons, making it hard to hide as one. Medium. The Heavy's primary weapon is not usually fired on a whim, due to its spin up and spin down times and reducing the Heavy's speed while spun up; therefore, an enemy Medic will not immediately Spy-check you just because you're not shooting. However, he may instead expect you to switch to your secondary weapon, which can be a problem, especially as switching back to your primary will show a different amount of ammo to him. High. Because of its severely reduced movement speed, hindering a Spy's ability to move around the map and chase enemies for stabs, a Heavy disguise is rare. As a result, many players won't expect it, and can be good for getting enemy Medics to heal or possibly even ÜberCharge you regardless of your health. Situational. 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.
Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer 100% Short. A few shotguns aside, Engineers have small weapons and can hide quite easily. Medium. Engineers have reason to hang around their team's buildings without attacking much, though they can come under suspicion if they are seen not swinging 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. The Engineer disguise's fake Shotgun reload is arguably tied with the Pyro's for being the best in the game. Low. It does not take long for even the newest of players to learn that Engineers are a common choice of disguise. Common. 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.
Leaderboard class medic.png Medic 106.67% Tall. The Medic disguise is poor at hiding due to his height and lab coat. Low. 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. The Medic disguise does have a rather good fake reload. High. Given all its disadvantages, most players will not expect a Medic disguise. Situational. Though its believability is very poor, if an enemy does get fooled, it should be quite easy to punish them for it. One method is 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.
Leaderboard class sniper.png Sniper 100% Tall and skinny. Most of the Sniper's rifles have long models, necessitating switching to something else if you wish to hide. High. It is not suspicious for Snipers to stay within their base or at a sniping spot 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. Low. With Snipers being the stereotypical Spy bait, most players will not be at all surprised to find that a Sniper is a Spy. Common. 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 your disguise is holding the Huntsman.
Leaderboard class spy.png Spy 106.67% Tall and skinny. The only disguise for which the visible model matches your own hidden model. High. With a good fake reload, and no other actions available without breaking disguise (aside from sapping), there are no reasons to doubt a Spy disguise aside from his behavior. However as Spies are generally meant to be disguised on the enemy team, enemies may get suspicious if they only see you lingering around the base for a long time. Medium. The believability of the Spy disguise primarily relies on the habits of your enemies; many players instinctively fire at all Spies, even friendly ones, while others may not even consider a Spy disguise to be a threat. Uncommon. The Spy disguise 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.
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 that 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 taking a headshot; however, a full-charged bodyshot will still take you down if you aren't overhealed or using the Dead Ringer to feign death. 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, shoot the target with your secondary weapon, or lead enemies into teammates or Sentry Guns. These tricks can be used more safely and repeatedly with the Dead Ringer, as you can fake friendly deaths.

PDA2 slot

Invis Watch + reskins

Weapon Cloak
Cloak type Duration Activation time Deactivation time Recharge
Invis Watch
Invis Watch
Standard Recharge 9 seconds 1 second 1.8 seconds 30 seconds
Enthusiast's Timepiece
Enthusiast's Timepiece
  • 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 Invis Watch runs out, you will automatically uncloak, revealing yourself. While you are cloaked, pick up ammo packs to recharge your watch.
  • The Invis Watch is most useful on offence when there are ammunition sources available.
  • When compared to the other watches, the Invis 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 Invis Watch. You will only regain Cloak if you are not cloaked or if you pick up ammo boxes or remains of destroyed Engineer buildings. However, the Invis 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 Invis 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.
    • Take caution if the Dispenser is near the battle, enemies may often stay nearby to restock and refill on health and ammo, which may risk them bumping into you and giving away your disguise. Unless it is an absolute emergency, stay away from such Dispensers if possible.
  • 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.
  • After Gun Mettle update, all watches received 20% protection against all incoming damage. For example, a sting from afterburn from Flame Thrower would do 3 damage/0.5s, but with cloak activated, you only receive 2 damage/0.5s. Use it to your advantage.
    • Also after Gun Mettle update, when you're cloaked, the debuffs last slightly shorter, so fire/Jarate/bleeding/Mad Milk will last slightly shorter, so if you get set on fire or start bleeding, if enemies are not likely to notice/engage you, it may be a better idea to cloak so that you take less damage.

Cloak and Dagger

Weapon Cloak
Cloak type Duration Activation time Deactivation time Recharge
Cloak and Dagger
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 Invis 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. Even though you can extend the Cloak and Dagger's length through picking up ammo sources (or standing next to a Dispenser) of any kind, they provide 35% less cloak than when picked up with the default Invis Watch.
  • 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, for obvious reasons, 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, as the increased cloak drain rate does not affect your ability to stand still while cloaked.
  • 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; however, if an enemy sees the door open with no one being there, they'll probably check the area around the door, so be careful.
  • 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 as an enemy), and capture the point, but be careful about enemies spotting you and especially watch out for Sentry Guns in range of the point, as they can and will gun you down with ease.
  • 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, so consider using both together.
  • You can stay cloaked for an infinite amount of time provided you stay still. This means that you can simply observe enemy players, movement and most importantly, ÜberCharge meters. Communicate with your team and warn them of the incoming dangers, and notify them of the Medic’s ÜberCharge meter.
    • If the meter is full, you may have to simply rush in and backstab the Medic before he can deploy it. You will likely die trying to do so, but at least your team will have an easier time denying an enemy push.

Dead Ringer

Weapon Cloak
Cloak type Duration Activation time Deactivation time Recharge
Dead Ringer
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 enemy defenses from behind. Just be sure that there is a safe area to decloak in.
    • It also gives you a second chance should you get caught.
  • The Dead Ringer allows you to perform 'Suicide' captures, using the watch as an escape plan.
  • If the enemy is 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, though, 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 Spy checking, 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.
  • For the first 3 seconds of being cloaked with the Dead Ringer, you take up to 75% less damage (this damage reduction fades over time; after 3 seconds, you will only take 20% 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.
    • However, the enemy team can know if you feign death with the scoreboard, as it will only account for 3 seconds and a 3-second respawn timer is unlikely.
  • 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.
      • This used to be a much more viable strategy back when the Dead Ringer had an initial 90% damage resistance on feign death, allowing you to absorb absurd amounts of burst damage. Now that the initial resistance is only 75%, a Spy will not be able to survive more than 3 or 4 stickies at once, and most set traps will contain several. Therefore, try to skirt larger stickytraps while still staying in range of a couple bombs to trigger your watch.
  • 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. After the Tough Break update, Spy is no longer able to pull out his Dead Ringer, requiring you to first drop the case, and then activate your Dead Ringer, making this strategy more difficult than it was, since you may not have time to drop the Intelligence yourself.
  • The reduced duration on debuffs present on the other watches behaves rather oddly with the Dead Ringer — afterburn actually wears off instantaneously. Pyros can still damage you with the flame particles if they have good prediction, but couple this with the speed boost on feign death and you stand a good chance of escaping a Pyro's wrath if discovered. Running back towards teammates to heal and reset your cloak will oftentimes seal your escape.
  • The Dead Ringer completely lacks the ability to regain cloak from ammo boxes and Dispensers. Consider equipping the L’Etranger and Big Earner in order to quickly refill it.
    • If you have neither one of the said weapons, try to hide from the enemy team until the Dead Ringer is recharged.
  • 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 pick-up. Many enemies will look to see if the pick-up disappears. If you are on fire, however, you must go for the pick-up anyway 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 enabled or the console command hud_combattext set to 1, then they may see the small amount of damage needed to "kill" you, and guess you were using a Dead Ringer, thus try to deploy the Dead Ringer with a little bit of delay when someone starts to damage you, so your "death" will be more convincing.
  • If a particular player has a habit of taunting after killing you, using the Dead Ringer to feign a death and backstabbing them while they're taunting can be very effective and satisfying.
  • Be aware that being "killed" by a Demoman's Eyelander or any of its reskins will still add a head to its meter.

Taunt Attacks

Kill icon Weapon Damage Duration Details
Killicon fencing.png Knife
Your Eternal Reward
Conniver's Kunai
Big Earner
Wanga Prick
Black Rose
2×25 and then 500 4 seconds The Spy transfers his weapon to his left hand and begins to practice a deadly Fencing maneuver, resulting in damage and/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 very distracted enemies with one hit; however, due to the taunt's long duration and the minimal damage dealt by the first two swings, using this kill taunt 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, but be careful, as if you get caught in mid-taunt, the Engineer (or anyone else) will have virtually no issues in dispatching you. 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.
    • However, 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.
  • Make sure the last swing hits your target, as the first 2 swings do low damage and can get you noticed fast and put yourself in danger.

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. Keep in mind there is a delay after the Sapper is removed.
    • 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 in between.
  • 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 -- If you can find a corner to hide from the Sentry Gun's fire, you can headshot the Engineer. For other situations, the stock Revolver works well for this method, as it does not have any damage or firing speed penalties. 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. Kill the Engineer first. Now you can either disguise and approach the sentry to sap it, or simply shoot it from long range with your Revolver of choice 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. This is effective for taking down sentry nests with multiple Engineers as you can silently rid of them before sapping all of their buildings.
  • If you are using Your Eternal Reward and lack a disguise, you can get a free disguise in spawn, or 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.
    • This strategy can be very effective against turtling Engineers with a giant Sentry nest.
  • Against an Engineer with the Frontier Justice and Gunslinger, equip the Red-Tape Recorder instead of the stock Sapper. This will sap his Sentry much slower, denying him crits from Sentry kills, and making him unable to place a new Combat Mini-Sentry Gun until the old one is destroyed.


  • 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). 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.
  • If you have just stabbed an Engineer and you are low on health, try looking for his Dispenser to patch yourself up. Remember to be cautious however, run if an enemy approaches the Dispenser, and take note when the Engineer respawns, then flee.


  • 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, usually destroying 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.


  • You can disguise as your own team by hitting R or - (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 visibly. 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 that appears in the text chat (such as "Help!" or "Incoming!") 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. The opposite is also true; if you're healthy while your disguise is deadly wounded, the Medic call will be 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, and your disguise has a completely stock loadout with no cosmetics. 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.
  • When disguised as a Medic, your fake Ubercharge meter will always display 0%. This can be a dead giveaway.
  • 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.
    • Be wary of the weapon your disguise is holding, as even weapons that do not require reloading (such as Miniguns and Flamethrowers) will still play an animation.
  • 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, wait for the watch to refill 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.
  • 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.

Class Cooperation Strategies

The Spy generally works on his own instead of working with his team, picking off high priority targets in the backlines. However, a bit of knowledge on your available options when it may be beneficial to team up with allies could make the difference between a skillful win, or humiliating loss.

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

Generally speaking, the Scout and Spy hardly often work together due to their completely opposite playstyles. Despite this, there is still some chemistry to be found in a Spy-Scout pair up.

  • The Scout ambushing a whole team is generally seen as an annoyance which many opponents will be focused on killing, or chasing off. If their attention is directed towards your Scout buddy, you can very easily backstab a few of them before being noticed.
  • A Spy and Scout can both ambush the same target, such as a Medic or Heavy and quickly kill them before moving onto their next target.
  • You can trick enemies into following you up close to a Scout and allow him to kill them.
  • Spies have a better weapon for long range engagement than the Scout, the Revolver. You can finish off any target that the Scout cannot reach in time with a few accurate shots.
  • A Scout with Mad Milk can extinguish a burning allied Spy.
  • You and a Scout can take out a whole Sentry Nest together. If the Scout is using the Bonk! Atomic Punch, he can distract the Sentry Gun, which allows you to kill the Engineer and sap the buildings before he can repair them.
  • A Scout with the Sandman may be able to slow targets to make them easier picks for the Spy.
  • Spies specialize in taking out Engineers and Heavies, both of which make life difficult for Scouts.

Leaderboard class soldier.png Soldier

Soldiers are a very attention-grabbing class and will make it easier for friendly Spies to go unnoticed, simply by existing near the enemy team.

  • Soldiers can cause a large enough distraction for you to slip by the enemy unnoticed, and deal damage in the backlines.
  • Kill any Heavies that are focusing down an allied Soldier, because a Soldier under Minigun fire is a sitting duck.
  • Eliminate Sentry nests where possible. Because of a Sentry Gun's long range and high damage, it makes it difficult for a Soldier to actively Rocket Jump without being pushed away or outright killed.
  • Soldiers using the Battalion's Backup make it easier for you to eliminate enemies with the increased damage resistance and nullification of crits, in the event you are found out.
  • If you are under the effects of a friendly Soldier's Concheror, a single backstab will bring you to full health.
    • This is less effective with the Conniver's Kunai, however, as that knife already gives you healing.

Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro

Few classes are better at distracting large numbers of enemies than Pyros are. The amount of chaos a Pyro can descend upon an enemy team means it will make you less likely to be found out, even after a stab.

  • A friendly Pyro can extinguish you if you get set on fire.
  • Enemy Heavies can very easily take out a Pyro, even in the event of an ambush. Killing a Heavy therefore will make it easier for Pyros to ambush your foes.
  • Pyros using the Gas Passer will allow you to set multiple enemies on fire with your Secondary and help them cause even more of a disruption.
  • A particularly bold tactic is to use your allied Pyros as bait. If you are disguised as a slow-moving class, try to look panicked and pretend to run away from them. This will make you look like an enemy trying to flee and seem less conspicuous. Even if your allied Pyro dies, you will now likely be behind your enemies and can stab them without arousing much suspicion.
  • Pyros are situationally high on Snipers' list of classes to kill, so backstabbing them can deny them the chance to snipe your Pyro buddy.

Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

Despite their differing playstyles, Demomen and Spies have a surprising amount of chemistry, and are often found working together on both offense and defense.

  • Demoman's weaknesses are hitscan weapons and up close combat-- strategies that some of your highest priority targets employ, such as Heavies or Snipers. In these cases, eliminating them first can make it easier for a Demo to do his job.
  • Make sure to kill Snipers before they kill your Demomen. When Demoman dies, all his stickybombs disappear, which weakens your team's defenses.
  • Both you and Demoman are very useful in destroying Sentry Guns. Your combined efforts will make it difficult for any Engineers to maintain a Sentry nest for long.
    • Kill any Engineers setting up Sentry Guns or Dispensers. With them dead, it makes it almost guaranteed that your Sapper and a Demoman's stickybombs will destroy any buildings.
  • Most classes will immediately attempt to chase down and kill a Spy once discovered. You can use this knowledge to your advantage for baiting enemies into a Demoman's stickybomb trap. Simply get your enemies to chase you, then run to where your Demoman buddy has set up a sticky trap.
  • Act as a tripwire for your Demo buddy. Using the Cloak and Dagger, you can stay invisible for as long as you need to, and let your buddy know when to detonate his stickybombs for maximum damage potential.
  • Engineers and Heavies can be nightmares for Demoknights to deal with but are favored targets for Spies. Simply sapping an enemy sentry can make life exponentially easier for an allied Demoknight.
  • When disguising as an allied Demoknight wielding the Eyelander with 4 heads or more, your speed will not increase to his. This is a dead giveaway that you are a Spy.
  • Both you and Demoman have a weakness to Pyros; you can get found out with a single puff of fire and all of Demo's weapons can be reflected. Therefore, if your intention of teaming with a Demoman is to be safe from Pyros, another class would probably prove to be more effective.

Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy

Heavies act as the full-frontal assault class and as a spearhead for teammates to rally around. Since they are almost always targeted first and can be easily killed by enemy Spies or Snipers, it can be of similar importance to protect the Heavy as you would your Medic.

  • The Heavy is one of the more distracting classes in the game - and Spies work best against distracted enemies.
  • A Spy can backstab enemy Snipers and Demomen, thus making a Heavy’s life easier.
  • A Heavy can mow down enemy Pyros or similar threats looking for the Spy.
  • Enemies slowed by the Natascha will be easier for the Spy to backstab.
  • A dropped Sandvich or similar can end afterburn or bleeding effects that can give Spies away.
    • However, a dropped Sandvich just suddenly disappearing may blow your cover and alert enemies to your presence.

Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer

While a Spy may not be directly working with an Engineer, his actions on the battlefield indirectly help an Engie immensely. Additionally an Engineer who is properly maintaining his buildings will also help out a Spy on the prowl.

  • Dispensers allow you to heal, restock your ammo and restore the cloak of your Invis Watch. Higher level Dispensers allow you to restore Cloak even when currently invisible, which can extend your usage.
  • Teleporters allow you to get to the battlefield far quicker, and let you save precious Cloak for when you're infiltrating enemy lines.
  • If you are sticking close to your team and know a Spy is in the area, killing them for your Engineer allows buildings such as Teleporters and Dispensers to stay up and active, which in turn helps out your entire team.
  • You can call out enemies with low health to your Engineer, and help him pick them off with the Wrangler.
  • Killing enemy Engineers allows your own Engies to set up nests more liberally, and take control of areas deep within enemy territory.
  • Taking out enemy Medics denies their ÜberCharge advantage, which goes a long way towards defending a Sentry nest.
  • Taking out enemy Snipers will make allied Engineers' lives easier, as they will no longer need to hide from their Sniper dots.
  • Demomen are a high priority target when protecting an Engineer's buildings, as only four midrange Stickybombs are enough to destroy a Level 3 Sentry Gun.
  • Heavies deal considerable amounts of continuous damage to Sentry nests, so backstabbing them will make it much easier to keep a Sentry around.

Leaderboard class medic.png Medic

Protecting your allied Medics should be prioritized at all times. To this end, strategically eliminating high priority targets will make your Medics' job easier and keep him from dying.

  • A Spy can backstab targets that are trying to focus on the Medic.
    • Of all classes, Snipers or other Spies would be the top of this target list, due to their ability to kill a Medic in one hit.
  • Due to the high accuracy of your Revolver, a Medic using the Kritzkrieg on you can be highly effective.
    • When used with the Enforcer, a single shot while disguised will instantly kill any class at 130 or below.
  • A Spy equipped with the Dead Ringer can disguise himself as an allied Medic and get himself "killed" by the enemy team. This may lead them to think they've killed your Medic, which will be important if they were acting on the assumption that the Medic had an ÜberCharge ready.
  • An ÜberCharge is quite possibly the single most distracting thing in the game, and distracted enemies will make a Spy's job much easier.
    • Special mention goes to Kritzkrieg and Quick-Fix ÜberCharges, which can be dealt with via focused fire, thus further encouraging the enemy team to direct their attention towards the combo.
  • The Spy can call out the health and ÜberCharge percent of an enemy Medic to an allied Medic and help them decide whether to push in with their pocket.
  • A friendly Medic can potentially blow your cover by healing you. Therefore, it is in your best interest to memorize where health packs are located on the map. If you absolutely must be healed by a Medic, come to them under a friendly disguise to not arouse suspicion.

Leaderboard class sniper.png Sniper

Spy and Sniper perform the same roles of priority elimination and paranoia. As such, working with your allied Sniper is crucial in not only controlling enemy movements, but getting the drop on the enemy team before they realize what hit them.

  • An allied Sniper's presence may force enemies to use an alternate route to their objective. This can allow you to follow behind them and backstab them one-by-one.
  • A Spy can stab enemy Snipers, thus making a friendly Sniper’s life easier. Additionally, distracting Snipers with your presence can often be enough time to let an allied Sniper finish the job.
  • If an allied Sniper misses a shot, you can likely pick up the kill, as the enemy will now be actively dodging your Sniper's aim instead of looking for Spies.
  • If you have an inexperienced Sniper on your team, you can aid in finishing off missed shots.
  • A Sniper and Spy can ambush and kill practically any Medic combo with the proper strategy. If the Sniper can headshot the Medic's pocket, you can backstab the Medic as he is retreating.
  • The Spy's position on the battlefield can give an allied Sniper vital information on the whereabouts of enemies, and can advise them where to snipe from for maximum damage potential.
  • A Sniper can use Jarate or the Sydney Sleeper to extinguish a burning allied Spy.

Leaderboard class spy.png Spy

A pair, or group of Spies can make a team extremely paranoid and distract them from their objective while hunting you down.

  • Two Spies can strategically eliminate specific classes, such as Soldiers, Medics or Heavies, to thin out a team's power and force them to hold off a push until reinforcements arrive.
  • A common Spy-pair practice is for one to use the Invis Watch/Cloak and Dagger, and the other to use the Dead Ringer. This can allow a pair to create a false sense of security for the enemy team and trick them into leaving their guard down for a stab.
  • Coordinating your disguises can make you less suspicious when moving among your enemies. If your buddy is disguised as a Medic, disguise as a Heavy, since a Heavy-Medic pair is not uncommon to see amidst the haze of battle.
  • A pair of Spies can bait opponents into chasing one disguised as a enemy, while the other is disguised as a friendly player. The Spy disguised as an enemy can then manipulate their position behind the attackers and backstab them.
  • Sapper armor only applies to Sentry Guns you sapped. Another Spy's weapons still do full damage to Sentry Guns you've sapped, and vice versa.
  • Stacking Spies is generally not recommended, as one Spy getting noticed may prompt the enemy team to use tactics that will get the others found out.

Backstabbing Priorities

A crucial part of playing Spy effectively is understanding which classes are the most important to backstab and which ones are better to ignore in any given situation. Generally, if a lone enemy player has their back turned, or are oblivious to their surroundings, it is a good idea to backstab them. However, in cases where the enemy is paired up, or grouped together in areas such as around the cart or a Sentry Nest where your death is almost assured after your first stab, there are some guidelines that should be kept in mind before attempting to approach.

In order of priority, the classes you should be backstabbing first are:

1. Medics

2. Snipers

3. Engineers

4. Heavies

These classes are situational, and can be prioritized in any order at the player's discretion:

1. Demomen

2. Soldiers

3. Other Spies

These are the classes you should NOT attempt to backstab, unless in very specific situations:

1. Scouts

2. Pyros

  • Medics are at the top of the list because of their inherent role of giving healing to your enemies and activating ÜberCharges. A Medic who has an ÜberCharge ready to be deployed should rank even higher than a Medic without one in most cases. Medics are also often the most difficult class to get to, because they will be surrounded by their other teammates, not to mention they may be slightly faster than you, which makes chasing them down for a backstab more difficult. If you can trick a Medic into healing you, manipulating your position behind them and quickly backstabbing them before they realize you are a Spy is a sound strategy. Do not disguise as a Medic, as if you accidentally disguise as the Medic you plan to stab, your cover will be blown immediately.
  • Snipers are next due to the threat that they are to your own Medics, Heavies and allied Snipers. Sniper pairs also can come with equipment dedicated to dissuading you from attacking them and have means to track you down if caught, so they also can cause problems for you and other Spies. Their ability to one-shot kill any class in the game makes them a dangerous, and juicy target. Most rifle-wielding Snipers are often too inattentive to notice if you are close, and can be easier to kill. However, Huntsman Snipers are hypothetically more dangerous to you, as they have full range of sight, and can easily protect themselves with a near-instant headshot that will kill you even at point-blank range. Snipers often will attempt to duel you with their melee weapon if they notice you, which can allow you to trickstab them, or cloak to retreat without fear of being headshot. If they are using the Razorback, shoot them with your Revolver instead.
  • Engineers have the unique ability to construct and maintain buildings that allow them to hold down any chokepoint or control point anywhere on the map with ease. Overall, it is more important that the Engineer dies than that his buildings are destroyed, but there are exceptions. The Engineer tends to not pay attention to much other than their buildings, especially when using the Wrangler, so it can be easy to stab them and then quickly sap their Sentry Gun. After an Engineer is dead, try to sap their Teleporters first so he cannot quickly return to his nest and remove your Sappers.
  • Heavies are the full-frontal assault class of Team Fortress 2. Dealing the most significant damage possible and having the most health of all classes, it makes them an important target to backstab. They are slow-- even slower while revved up, which can make them easy to approach from behind when all alone, but are also fairly attentive because of their weakness to you. A Heavy's Minigun deals enough damage to kill you in less than a second, which necessitates the element of surprise when approaching them. Medics will also be on the look-out for Spies for their Heavy buddies, and may Spy-check if your presence seem suspicious. Catch them while they have their attention diverted toward your team, and you can very easily get the drop on them. They also have a hard time tracking enemies up close, which allows you to easily trickstab them, or simply throw off their aim enough to let teammates finish them off.
  • Demomen can set stickybomb traps out that will obliterate any class that steps too close to them. When killed, their stickybombs will shatter, and therefore it is important to backstab them before your teammates arrive in their territory. Demoknights or Hybrid Knights tend to be for more difficult to kill, since they are more effective at close range with their melee weapons, and can charge after you when you attempt to escape. You have the tools necessary to slip past his defenses, and can approach him while under disguise or cloak to stab him. Demoman's grenades deal heavy splash damage, and can kill you with little effort if you are caught. However, if you can stay close to him, he may accidentally blow himself up in the process of killing you or choose not to engage with ranged weapons at all, giving you an easier time killing him. The Dead Ringer can allow you to fool the Demoman into thinking he killed you, given that a direct hit with a grenade deals a 100 damage. He may then go back to fighting, giving you a prime opportunity to backstab him. However he may also be more paranoid from now on, and watch his back more frequently.
  • Soldiers deal heavy splash damage, and can unleash utter chaos on your team if not stopped. Soldiers are somewhat slow on the ground, but highly mobile in the air with rocket jumping, making it more difficult to close the gap and stab them. They are a popular choice for being pocketed, making it risky to approach without being Spy-checked by their pocket Medic. Soldiers also can easily Spy-check you with their splash damage, and kill you with just two rockets at close range, making it dangerous to approach them unless you are sure you can stab them before they blow your cover. Like the Demoman, Rocket Launchers deal lethal damage up close, which allows you to make your feign death with the Dead Ringer more convincing. However don’t always believe that the Soldier thinks he is in the clear-- he may turn around again, and will be more paranoid from now on.
  • Enemy Spies are not often found in their own base, and will most likely be on the prowl among your teammates. This makes it difficult to find any Spies to backstab unless they have just respawned or returned from a resupply cabinet. If you discover an enemy Spy, notify your team, and leave them be unless they attack you. If you are with your own team, and notice a teammate you believe is a disguised Spy, approach them from behind. If your knife raises to backstab them, that 'teammate' is an enemy Spy.
  • Scouts are one of your two class counters, and therefore are extremely difficult to backstab. Their natural speed advantage makes it hard to approach them or run away, and their Scattergun can quickly kill you if you are discovered. The Scout also has the means to track you down with the use of Mad Milk or the Wrap Assassin/Boston Basher. If you are in a situation where you are fighting against a Scout, you can attempt to trickstab them, but outside of this, they are not of high priority to backstab, and should instead be fled from or shot with your Revolver. Since Scouts constantly move around a lot when fighting, you can wait for them to backpedal into you, then backstab them.
  • Pyros are your other class counter, and are the biggest threat to you as a Spy. While they can be backstabbed, it is often too difficult to do so due to the combination of the Pyro's tools. You are faster than a Pyro, so it can be easy to catch up to them, but a single puff of fire is enough to blow your cover, even when invisible. Compression blast allows a Pyro to protect itself and other teammates from your approach, and has melee weapons built for destroying your Sappers when attached to enemy buildings. However, the Pyro can be an important class to backstab if they are ambushing your team or do not notice you. In all other situations, it is better to not engage with a Pyro, and run away. If there are a lot of Pyros on the enemy team, equip the Spy-cicle and Dead Ringer to increase your chances of survival.

See also