Community Thunder Mountain strategy

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Thunder Mountain
PL Thunder Mountain.png
Basic Information
Map type: Payload
File name: pl_thundermountain
Released: July 8, 2010 Patch
(Engineer Update)
Variants: Mannpower
Developer(s): Valve
Map Info
No. of Stages: 3
Environment: Alpine
Setting: Daylight, raining
Hazards: Pitfall
Deep Water: Yes
Bot support: Yes
Map Items
Healthico.png Health Kits: Smallhealth.png ×25  •  Mediumhealth.png ×24  •  
Largehealth.png ×1
Ammoico.png Ammo Boxes: Smallammo.png ×7   •   Mediumammo.png ×9   •  
Largeammo.png ×21
Map Photos
Loading screen photos.
This article is about strategy specific to the Payload variant of Thunder Mountain. For strategy specific to the Mannpower variant, see Community Thunder Mountain (Capture the Flag) strategy.

This article is about Community Thunder Mountain strategy.

Note: It is recommended to read the main Thunder Mountain article first to become familiar with the names of key map locations used in this article.

General strategy

  • When attacking, all the powerful classes should be pushing the bomb. Support classes should focus on making it easier to push the bomb for the team by destroying Engineer nests and killing other players that are defending your team's bomb from being pushed.
  • Make sure whenever the time is almost up on a round, you try at the last minute to get Overtime on the timer. This will allow your team sometime to finish pushing the bomb to the end of that section.
  • On the 3rd area, make sure to navigate around the tower carefully. This area is a large open area where Snipers can get a good view of other players. This would also be the same with the 2nd section of the 2nd area.

Class-specific strategy

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

  • On offense throughout all three stages, you want to stay near to the cart as your extra cap rate will push the cart faster, and you need to defend the others pushing the cart from enemy Scouts and Spies.
  • When defending, it is not recommended to use the Shortstop; it is much more effective to use one of the other scatterguns as the pellet amount is perfect for when the enemy team groups up near the Payload.

Leaderboard class soldier.png Soldier

  • The first and third stages are great for soldiers due to the open space. However, the second stage has a choke point in the middle, and you want to be careful advancing without support as ambushes are very common there.
  • On offense: the first stage consists of two parts; the large open area before the point in the middle and the uneven area after the point. In the first part, your job as a Soldier is to take out the blunt of the enemy forces. Be on the lookout for Snipers and Engineer nests. Snipers are found on the bridge overlooking the middle point and Sentry Guns are frequently found in the house facing away from BLU spawn, on the other side of the fence, and in the house where the cart has to pass through. Use splash damage to take buildings and Engineers out without risking your life. The weapon of choice is the Black Box for its ability to keep you alive.

Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro

  • Due to a lot of tight corners and a large scale, Thunder Mountain is great for the Pyro. There are plenty of different methods to ambushing enemies pushing the cart.
  • First Courtyard:
  • The beginning of this map is hell for Pyros. A large body of water surrounds BLU's spawn point. Anyone you engulf in flames can easily extinguish themselves. However, later down the line, the Pyro can become a beast. The choke-point hallway after the first capture point is prime ambush material! The sharp corners and tight hallways do the Pyro many favors. Have your Flamethrower ready and wait for the cart to get full. Surprise your enemies with a wall of flames and put them in a panic.
  • If you want to do some extra damage, switch to the Backburner and take the above route over the hallway and sneak up on enemies from behind. They won't know what hit 'em!
  • The bridge portion of Thunder Mountain is probably the weakest area for the Pyro. After the initial push out of spawn, the battlegrounds are a lot more open and expansive.
  • Aside from the indoor portions, the Pyro is bait for any long range capable class eyeing you up from a distance. You may find the Flare Gun more helpful on this map. When the bridge takes its time to rise, it's often BLU on one side and RED on the other. This is a great opportunity to abuse your Flare Gun and the Crits it provides.
  • Due to the large gap, the Shotgun's spread will hinder you from making very effective or damaging shots.
  • Snipers love this portion of Thunder Mountain. This is a great use for the Flare Gun. Keep an eye out for idle Snipers who are picking off your teammates and fire away. If you're at the bridge as it rises, there's bound to be at least one Sniper around. Move in between the two open rooms and use your Flare Gun.
  • When running in the open field below the bridge, you get a much better arena for burning enemies. Depending on which team you're on, the end of the field can lead to either safety or massacre. If you're on BLU, try to stay away from the specific approach until you survey your surroundings. Usually Engineers will set up shop in that area (since it's so close to the final capture point) and Snipers will be waiting on the perch above their spawn. Use caution in this area.
  • Final spiral:
  • The Pyro's airblast can be very effective here, especially late in the game. When BLU has their cart at the top of the structure, it's a prime opportunity for you to ambush with your flamethrower and either kill the enemies or send them back to the bottom. This will buy RED valuable time, maybe even enough for a friendly Engineer to set up a defense at the last capture point.
  • When out on the spiral, the Pyro isn't half as effective as he is indoors. Try waiting inside the indoor capture point areas or on the bridge looking over them. You'll have a tight corridor to burn everything around you and they'll have less room to run. On the other hand, out on the spiral, enemies have plenty of places to run and can even jump off, escaping your flames.
  • You may find the Shotgun more effective on this map due to the fact that the Fencing surrounding the enemy spawn will prevent flares from hitting idle enemies, unless they're standing in front of a gap. While running up and down the spiral, when someone is out of reach, they still may be fairly close whether they're above, below or in front of you. Unless you're a pro with the Flare Gun, you're going to want as many shots as you can get.

Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

  • The Demoman is ideal for this map defensively due to a large amount of blind spots on the enemy's behalf. The first map has the fewest spots, but more open up the more distance the cart covers. Remember to have the Grenade Launcher/Loch-n-Load out as much as possible, since the primary weapons are better suited to general combat.
  • Spots in stage one:
    • In the blue building that the cart enters after leaving BLU spawn. Beware of ÜberCharged enemies, though.
    • On the metal shutters at the top of the hill the first point is on.
    • On the sides of where the bridge right after the first cap. DO NOT try to plant stickies on the bridge before it rises, as the stickies will go straight through.
    • On the badge building before the second checkpoint, on the corner the cart will pass by.
    • Directly in front of the final cap; it is best to just lay a carpet around the cart. Less subtle, but buys time for you to blow the up and for your team to react.
  • Spots in stage two:
    • At the end of the bridge, in the two dirt patches.
    • Just after the bridge, on the metal shutter.
    • Any corner/doorway in the tunnel.
    • Just before the final cap, where the cart passes the end of the grated room with the health/ammo packs.
    • Sticky carpet spam the rest of the way, other spots won't have the range.
  • The third stage is a wonderland for defensive Demomen. The cart constantly passes perfect areas.
    • All throughout the tower exterior, there are small nooks and crannies after the cart passes a corner. Abuse when possible.
    • The cart constantly enters doorways, especially when approaching capture points. A few good spots are the shelves after the first cap, and the many doorways at the second cap's area.
    • The final cap doesn't have a ton of spots, but the traps can be laid around the many corners.

Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy

  • As a Heavy, try to push the cart as much as possible, the health and ammo regeneration will keep you in the fight longer as your enemies are closed into the map's tight hallways.
  • Thunder Mountain has many open areas and a wide variety of elevations, always keep an eye out for enemy Spies, as your slow speed and great battle presence will make you a top priority.

Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer

  • When on the offensive, use the Gunslinger to setup Mini-Sentry Guns alongside the Payload to defend your teammates pushing the cart.
  • Do not bother setting up regular Sentry Guns when on the offense due to the constant movement of the Payload; it takes too much time to upgrade the turrets to be effective.
  • When defending, setup a Dispenser in one of the bridge buildings to assist your fellow Snipers, they will be taking potshots at the enemy below and will need a steady supply of ammunition. You can also use this Dispenser as a means of acquiring metal to erect Sentry Guns which you can place below the bridge.
  • With the Wrangler equipped, an Engineer can take his Sentry Gun to very useful and unorthodox places by Sentry-Jumping.

Leaderboard class medic.png Medic

  • When on the defense, try to keep the Demoman as your main priority due to his ability to lay sticky bomb traps alongside the Payload track.
  • When on the offense, try to heal the Payload pushers as much as you can; the Quick-Fix is recommended.

Leaderboard class sniper.png Sniper

  • Consider staying at the bridge. It's not too compacted like the first courtyard and not gated like final spiral. The open and large areas give you the distance they need to start knocking off heads. Combine that with a bunch of BLU teammates standing around in the same spot waiting for a bridge to rise and you have a bunch of targets to aim for.
  • When defending, if the Payload becomes dangerously close to the first checkpoint, throw Jarate from the top of the bridge onto the unsuspecting enemies below.

Leaderboard class spy.png Spy

  • Overall, Thunder Mountain is a very good map to Spy on because it has plenty of alternate routes, and lots of blind spots.
  • When re-disguising yourself as an enemy after attacking, Cloak yourself and duck into one of various buildings scattered around the map; a good example is the two buildings that the bridge connects.


Stage 1
  • A good place to hide out for a while is in the window across from the RED spawn, disguised as a Sniper. That way you can look at your enemies while they won't suspect you or sometimes even notice you. Then, when the time is right, jump down and attack. Just watch your back for enemy Snipers coming up to snipe.
  • A good way to get through behind their lines is by going up the ramp, and staying to the left.
Stage 2
  • Right when setup is over, a good strategy is to go to the right through the passage. That route puts you behind most of the enemies, just be careful because sometimes Engineers like to set up there.
  • The overlook in between the two control points is a very good place to wait for people to come by, for a leaping stab.
Stage 3
  • Stay by the cart. At the first sign of danger, vanish and flee. You may be a cunning backstabber, but you're not a hero, and you're certainly not a tank. Leave it to the tougher classes.
  • It is easy on this stage to set yourself up for some nice leaping stabs on enemies below. Look to the catwalks and bridges, and if there's an enemy, then jump on him and stab him.


Stage 1
  • Usually a good place to wait for people to pass is the shed in front of BLU spawn. Wait for people to go to the cart, check your back to see if there are any others, and stab!
  • If there's an Engineer in the shed, and there's no way to get in, then try and telefrag him. That will catch him off guard, then sap his things.
Stage 2
  • A good place to be during setup is to the left of the BLU spawn. There is a little indent where you can hide behind the door, and as soon as the mission starts someone can come out and you can stab him. However, beware of other people seeing you and hunting you down.
  • That overlook that was mentioned above in the Offense section will also work here. Wait for the cart to come by, then drop down and stab the people pushing it. However, watch your back, because there is a possibility that someone will come attack you as there is an entrance to the overhang from the BLU side.
Stage 3
  • Since most enemies will be focused pushing the cart up the mountain, the odds of them spotting you coming up to them are low. However, in the tunnels, this is not the case, so be very careful in them because people like to watch their back.
  • Be careful when attacking the carts however, if there's a Pyro watching the back then don't even try to go near. Try shooting them with the Revolver.