In Team Fortress 2, it is difficult to combat the enemy team with everybody working alone, and essentially impossible just by yourself. Working with the other classes on your team is an important aspect of success. This article is designed to assist you and your team with team strategy. For a guide on improving your own game, see Strategy. For map-specific strategies, see the individual pages for each map.
Due to the absence of a mini-map, and Team Fortress being a class oriented game, communication and cooperation is always a key element to achieve victory. Coordination between the team players and the right balance of classes will always lead the team towards victory. Even regardless of skill levels, communication is the most important ability to learn. Either through the use of teamspeak or the in-game voice chat, a team with good communication and synchronization can defeat skilled players that lack teamwork. Effective team communication and coordination is especially desired in the more competitive venues of the game.
Voice commands and text messages are a very useful way to communicate, but, since many in game sounds and the location of the character may affect if teammate is able to hear the voice command and some players may not pay attention to the text chat, a microphone will always be a more reliable way to communicate with your team. For example, vital information such as the location and disguise of enemy Spies, the place of enemy Sentry nests and Stickybomb traps and the timing of attacks and ÜberCharges (by the enemy or by the team) simply cannot be communicated as easily without the use of voice chat.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that some servers use the AllTalk feature, which allows every player in the server to listen to everyone, including the enemy team. In such circumstances, it may be best to use the team text chat for more vital information, since sharing this by voice chat may cause the enemy team to be ready to counter your attacks. AllTalk is generally enabled on some public servers, in which the game is played more for the social interaction of every player, no matter the team, rather than playing with a competitive mind.
Team Fortress 2 is a class-based team game in which players on a team have to cooperate and coordinate to achieve victory. The nine different classes have their own strengths and weaknesses and their own unique styles of play, based around maximizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. However, it is impossible for any one player no matter how skilled to completely compensate for the weaknesses of the class they are currently playing. One player may be less skilled than the other, but he could still win in an encounter in which his current class has the upper hand (such as a less-skilled Pyro beating a skilled Spy). This makes the choice of which class to play very important, and the player will be rewarded for learning more about different classes, and at the same time it makes cooperation equally important. One could think of it as a very complex game of rock, paper, scissors.
A mistake many new players commit is to view Team Fortress 2 outside of the team context, focusing instead on the class(es) they prefer to play and thinking of strategy only in terms of a series of one-on-one match-ups. However, most combat situations in Team Fortress 2 will be between groups of players involving a variety of classes. Therefore to be successful, one must think and work as a team, rather than as a solitary unit. This includes being aware of what classes currently make up your team as well as the classes that make up the opposing team, this is known as team composition. It is often possible to gain an advantage by having several players that play as classes who counter the classes of the enemy team (an example being, using Demoman and Medic combos, to counter a team that has many Engineers, thus too many Sentry Guns). However, it is important to not over-compensate and have too many people change classes (eg. a team has a problem with Spies, so lots of players switch to Pyro, this could lead to vulnerabilities in the team due to the classes they lost from switching). It is a better idea to check the scoreboard periodically to keep an eye on your team's current classes and recommend adjustments accordingly, but you must also be willing to change your class if the situation calls for it. For an average 12v12 pub game, this composition should work on most cases: 2 Scouts, 2 Soldiers, 2 Pyros, 2 Demomen, 2 Heavies, 2 Engineers, 2 Medics, 2 Snipers, 2 Spies. The remaining four should be divided amongst Soldier, Demoman, Heavy and Medic, with no more than 3 or (for extreme turtle breaking only) 4 Medics.
It is important to be good at a few classes rather than just one. Know your class' strengths and weaknesses, so that you can make good calls about when you should switch to another class. It is also important to know the different roles each class can play, e.g. asking your team's only Engineer to switch to Medic so your team can make a push for the Enemy's intelligence would not be a good idea, as it is equally important to both capture and defend intelligence in a ctf map. In general, instead of saying "can somebody be Medic," it would be a better idea for you yourself to swap to Medic and fulfill that need as long as you are not already playing a vital role.
On the other hand, trying to become an expert at every single class is also not a very good idea, or at the very least, not until you've had at least a year or so of playing the game under your belt. Not only is this very difficult to do, but also playing a class you're poorly skilled at during a game may actually do more to hinder your team's efforts than help them. It's more helpful to your team to be a specialist at 2 or 3 classes, and be "pretty good" at another 1, 2, or even 3 others on the side, than it is to be sufficient at everything, but a master of nothing.
Try to find what kind of combat strategy appeals to your playstyle, and improve your skills with those classes or those close to them. Not everyone has what it takes to can play Spy proficiently or the steady hand to play Sniper for example. Some players find they are better suited in the back, supporting their team from the rear or in the background, some find they are better at picking off enemies from a distance, while others find they are more comfortable up close and personal. Find what you're great with and find ways and strategies to improve your play with them in order to master them. The most practice though should going onto improving your skills with classes your moderately good, but not great with. If you find you absolutely cannot grasp a certain class, it might be a better idea to simply ignore it for the time being and work on improving the "good" and "moderate" skill level classes.
The heart of Team Fortress 2's gameplay are the nine different classes and how they interact with both friend and foe. Even if you play only one or two of them on a regular basis, it is still enormously helpful to learn about the role of each class in the overall context of a game. Each class has unique attributes that determine their strengths and weakness: health, movement speed, weaponry, and other innate abilities such as health regeneration or the ability to Double Jump. This section categorizes the different classes and is meant to draw attention to how the different classes can work together to become more powerful in groups than they would be functioning alone. NOTE: this categorization is different from the "official" class roles of Offense, Defense, and Support defined by Valve, and it is meant to draw attention to strategic and play-style similarities as opposed to an arbitrary "theme."
Group 1 - General combat
- Characteristics: All the members of this group possess high average firepower, survivability, or maneuverability and in some cases a good mix of all three. All of them except for the Scout have a health range of 175-300 without overhealing, and will receive the vast majority of ÜberCharges due to their powerful Primary weapons which have a high rate of damage over time and also due to their simple presence on the front lines. Another characteristic of this group is that almost all of the abilities in the game that have some sort of negative effect on enemy movement are found in this group: Natascha, Force-A-Nature, Sandman, "juggling opponents" with the Rocket, Grenade, Sticky Launchers, and the Pyro's Compression Blast. All of the abilities in the game that allow positive enhancement of movement (with the exception of Teleporters) are also found here. All five of these classes are battle-ready upon spawning and don't really need any special positioning or prep time and can jump right into the fight.
- Team Role: Makes up the majority of most teams, and engages in the heaviest and most direct fighting on the front lines. The members of this group are generally the most responsible for spearheading pushes into enemy territory and securing objectives, and should play as aggressively as a situation allows. Their success is usually measured in kills made and damage dealt before dying. Members of this group are usually capable of holding their own in a one-on-one matchup against any other class, and therefore a team entirely consisting of Group 1 classes won't have any critical weaknesses and can often do fairly well over short periods, but to break down tough defenses and hang in a sustained firefight, help from Groups 2 and 3 becomes necessary. One of more vital roles of these five classes is to protect the other classes, particularly the support classes. Medics and Engineers must survive in order to really help the team, and need protection from enemies of Group 1 and 3 who will often target them specifically and constantly. Buildings may be constructed and maintained by Engineers, but they help the entire team and should be considered "public property" and looked after by all. In order to help out the support classes even more, it is important to leave Health and Ammo pickups to them as much as possible.
- Characteristics: Both of these classes have a high amount of damage potential, range, resilience, and mobility, and they possess similar weapons. The Rocket, Sticky, and Grenade Launchers fire highly damaging rounds that deal a large amount of "splash" that can damage multiple enemies at once. Not only that, but these weapons, and the Demoman's in particular, are the only consistent form of indirect fire in the game, able to damage and kill without direct line of sight to a target. This combined with the ability to "fire and forget" allow the Soldier and Demoman to make excellent use of cover to enhance their already formidable staying power. They also excel at demolishing the Sentry positions of Engineers and can be absolutely devastating under the effect of a crit boost, launching critical explosives able to gib large clusters of enemies with minimal effort. Both also possess the ability to trade some of their health for the ability to perform jumps that can cover huge vertical and horizontal distances quickly and allows them to make sudden and devastating attacks from unexpected angles or to escape tough situations. While the artillery classes don't have very pronounced weaknesses, the weapons of these classes carry some disadvantages as well. The Soldier and Demoman can easily hurt and kill themselves when firing point-blank. This is most important for the Demoman, as he lacks a Shotgun, so he is weak to erratically moving enemies at close range, such as Scouts. Most importantly however, all of the "launcher" weapons have limited clip sizes and lengthy reload times. How to manage reloads is an important skill for playing the artillery classes – being too trigger-happy can be fatal. The need to reload can often make holding positions against a constant stream of enemies problematic without support. Also it's important to note that because explosive projectiles take time to travel, they can often be dodged especially at mid to long range by agile and skilled foes, regardless of how well they were aimed when fired.
- Team Role: Dealing huge amounts of damage at medium ranges, forcing enemies out of cover and entrenched Sentry positions, and punishing enemies that are tightly packed together; these classes are the most commonly accused of being "overpowered". Consistent damage in any situation is their role however, and not doing enough of it can easily allow the enemy team free reign. Other than this, the main strengths of the Soldier and Demoman are their sheer lack of huge exploitable class weaknesses.
- Characteristics: While also belonging to Group 1, the "general combatants", the members of this group are distinguished by a few things. Namely, they have more pronounced strengths, but also more pronounced weaknesses than the artillery classes, creating trade-offs, along with a few more specialized roles such as Spy checking and objective-grabbing. The Heavy has the highest health of any class but also the lowest mobility especially while attacking; the Pyro is devastating at close range and when appearing unexpectedly, but conversely has very low damage potential at mid and long range, and is usually not as much of a threat without the element of surprise. The Scout by contrast is the fastest and most agile class but has the lowest health out of the Group 1 classes. All three classes in this group can do tremendous damage over time, however in order to do so they must usually 1) be at close range and 2) have line of sight to their target. This in turn means that they can easily take as much damage as they receive, often requiring class-specific tactics in order to survive. For the Pyro, this means ambushing and taking advantage of distractions, for the Scout it is using his superior agility to avoid damage, and for the Heavy it means relying on Group 2 for Healing and transportation. The reliance on line of sight attacks also makes this group much less effective against Sentry Guns than the artillery classes. The Pyro is the most effective Spy checking class on the team, able to expose both cloaked and disguised Spies with ease. The Pyro and the Heavy are unique in that their Primary weapons, the Flamethrower and Minigun, never need to be reloaded and can fire continuously until depleted. This can enable them to provide invaluable support to the other Classes during prolonged fights where enemies are streaming in constantly. This can also make them amazingly effective ÜberCharge recipients, able to utilize the entire period of invulnerability to the fullest possible effect.
- Team Role: This group of classes is the most easily held at bay by enemy Sentry Gun positions. Teams that are relying too heavily on the classes in this group often have a difficult time defeating a team that is "turtling" or defending; once enemy Sentry Guns have been eliminated however, they can freely enter enemy territory and wreak havoc. This group is also very good at working with and protecting allied support classes – Pyros work synergistically with Engineers and both Pyros and Heavies work very well with friendly Medics. This group is also very good at punishing enemy teams that neglect having enough Group 2 classes to heal and restrict their movement with Sentry Guns. Without enough healing, fire can deal a huge amount of damage through afterburn, and the "hitscan" bullet damage of Heavies and Scouts with good aim can't be easily dodged and can quickly erode enemy health. Finally, all three classes in this group are very effective at contesting objectives of various types. Heavies have the staying power to stay on dropped Intelligence, Capture points, and Carts and lay down suppressing fire. Pyros have unique abilities to keep Spies away from objectives and can also physically prevent enemies from contesting objectives by using the Compression Blast to push them back. Finally, the Scout can use his natural speed and extra capture force to accomplish objectives faster than any other class.
Group 2 - Support
- Common Characteristics: By far the most team-oriented classes, the Engineer and Medic are the only classes that can provide reliable healing to their allies, often several at once, greatly reducing team losses due to simple attrition. For this reason alone, almost any team of any size greater than one on any map will benefit from having at least one support class, however the usefulness of the support classes increases as team size increases. They largely lack powerful combat abilities of their own, having low hitpoints (125-150) with average mobility and weak ranged weaponry, and therefore must contribute to their team's success through their support skills. These skills are very powerful however, and have a huge impact on the game – Medics and Engineers are much more than simply glorified Health and Ammunition pickups for the other classes. The Engineer's support skills take the form of his Buildings, while the Medic's take the form of the ability to provide overhealing buffs to multiple teammates, and the game-changing ÜberCharge. For both classes, bringing these assets to bear in a game takes time – both ÜberCharges and fully upgraded Buildings can take quite some time to reach their full potential, often a minute or more of game time. In a game as fast-paced as Team Fortress 2, that's a small eternity. Many game types have a Setup time to accommodate the support classes and allow them to contribute at full power right from the beginning of the mission. Good Engineers and Medics will do everything they can to speed up the process of building their ÜberCharges and buildings. The long "build" times of the Medic and Engineer define the success of their gameplay in terms of their own survival and not in getting kills. Both classes must play very cautiously to avoid death, to survive long enough to provide ÜberCharges and maintain buildings. A support class who dies at a critical moment can cost their team victory.
- Team Role: Providing healing and resupply to allies in the field, reducing team losses due to attrition, and allowing teammates to hold positions while under constant enemy pressure, or apply constant pressure of their own. Sentry Guns and overhealed/invulnerable teammates are very good at absorbing and shrugging off damage. Support is given to any and all teammates, but is most effective when given to the general combat classes of Group 1 who will usually take the brunt of enemy attacks, and often die and need to return to the battle quickly upon respawning. Medics and Engineers can support each other quite effectively as well and should do so whenever the opportunity arises. For example, Medics can provide ÜberCharges to allied Kritzkrieg Medics or Engineers under heavy fire, while Engineers can repair, build, and upgrade the Buildings of other friendly Engineers. The support classes need to watch out for the attacks of enemy Group 3 classes, the Sniper and Spy, since they are often the priority targets of these enemies. Help from Group 1 and 3 is often necessary to stay alive. Finally, the support classes can break the back of the enemy team on the attack or ensure a successful defense of an objective through a well executed ÜberCharge or well-placed Sentry Gun. In terms of team composition, an reliance on a large number of support classes is almost never a good idea. While they can provide very powerful support abilities, Medics and Engineers themselves don't actually fight all that well, and every player who plays a support class is not playing a class that can fight off the enemy, and increases the burden proportionately on the smaller number of teammates who are playing a class from Groups 1 or 3. Engineer or Medic heavy teams can also be a dream come true for enemy Snipers and Spies, whose skills are quite capable of countering the support classes. The power of the support classes is their ability to help out a large number of their teammates easily, and to take fullest advantage of this it is wise not to have too many team spots devoted to Support.
Group 3 - Assassination
- Characteristics: While both possessing similarly low Health (60-150) and average movement speed, the most obvious similarity of these two classes is their shared ability to instantly kill any opponent with a single attack, largely regardless of target health. They both rely on good positioning, skillful aim, and patience to get their kills. While the success of the Group 3 classes is also to some extent measured by how many enemies they kill before they themselves die, unlike Group 1, who they kill is usually more important than how many. A Spy that reveals his position and sacrifices his life to stab an enemy Soldier is of questionable value – but taking out an enemy Medic with full Über can be game-changing and is well-worth dying for. Both the Sniper and Spy avoid the front lines due to their low health, and instead operate behind the lines – the Sniper behind his allies' lines, and the Spy behind his enemies'. Both classes are also better than any other class at picking off opponents who are trying to hide behind their allies, such as Medics.
- Team Role: Precision elimination of key enemy targets. These can be very talented enemy players that your team is having trouble with, or they can be resilient targets such as Heavies, or they can be high-value targets such as Medics and Engineers. The assassin classes are at their most valuable at countering the influence of the Group 2 support classes. Headshots and Backstabs can cut right through the healing and overhealing of Medics and eliminate Engineers hiding behind their Sentry Guns. The Spy in particular is designed with the ability to disable and destroy Engineers and their buildings. The support classes also try to stay alive at all costs so that they can build up their power and provide constant benefit to their team. Death is a much bigger setback to Engineers and Medics than it is for any other class, and the assassins from Group 3 are sometimes the only classes capable of killing them even when they are surrounded by formidable defenses. The Sniper and Spy also tend to end up locking horns with their counterparts from Group 3 due to where and how they fight. The ability to pick off key enemies can break stalemates, and the psychological effect of Snipers and Spies can split the concentration of enemies and make them reluctant to push forward. The ability of Spies in particular to attack enemies in areas where they expect to be secure can have a huge overall impact on enemy defenses. A team with very effective Snipers and Spies, if left unchecked, can easily run away with a game. However there are several reasons why having too many of Group 3 classes on a team is a very bad idea. Snipers and Spies operate "behind the lines" - or at arms' length - and rely on not being the immediate target of the enemy in order to kill distracted players who are not expecting them. However, not having enough general combat classes means the enemy team will be less occupied and much more able to focus on eliminating Snipers and Spies. Not only that, but having a lot of Spies quickly becomes counterproductive as the enemy team becomes aware of it. One Spy that still has the element of surprise is much more effective than several that are constantly getting discovered and killed. If you are playing as the Spy or Sniper and not having a very good day, it may not be your fault. It may be the fault of your team's composition.
These are strategies in Team Fortress 2 that most players should learn and understand to help their team achieve victory. Using these in combat will allow your team to possibly have an advantage in a match.
- Find alternate routes and use them to get behind the enemy or Capture points, but keep in mind how much extra time this will take. Do not take the same flanking route too often to avoid becoming predictable, as the enemy will quickly learn from their mistakes and anticipate your strategy.
- Wait around corners and surprise your enemy. Your team could wait around corners and ambush any enemies that walk by as a defensive or offensive tactic.
- Communicate with your Medic buddy. Try not to waste your ÜberCharge, but remember that it is better to spend your charge and survive than to die with a charge ready. Have a plan for what you will do when ÜberCharged.
- Overview: An advancing push involving heavy usage of explosives by Artillerymen to clear the way for the rest of the team.
- Details: Demomen and Soldiers will continually blast explosives into an area to make it a no man's land in order for the opposing team to lose ground. Normally, close combatants will follow the barrage by moving into the cleared area and holding it. The Demomen and Soldiers will continue to spread out across the intended area to ensure it is all cleared.
- Overview: A series of ÜberCharges which are used to clear an area.
- Details: Two or more Medics will build up separate ÜberCharges. The first Medic activates his charge and enters the area; after 9 seconds, the second Medic follows in suit. If the situation turns for the worst, the second Medic will follow immediately and take advantage of the distraction provided by the first ÜberCharged pair. The second Medic will proceed to move deeper into enemy territory before activating the second charge. Communicating who will ÜberCharge first is key.
- Overview: A series of stickybombs over an open area laid by Demomen.
- Details: Several Demomen will spread out a carpet of Stickybombs over an open area in sequence. When attackers push forward, they will detonate each set of Stickybombs at certain key points to kill multiple waves of attackers. It is important that the other Demomen wait for the previous set to be detonated before detonating the next set. Using the Scottish Resistance makes this strategy more efficient, easier to pull off, and somewhat lessens the need for multiple Demomen since a single Demoman can have up to 14 stickies and selectively detonate them. A counter-attack for this strategy is using a Pyro's compression blast or using sticky bombs to counter-detonate the enemy stickybombs.
- Details: Team of Spies will conjure together to sap Sentry Gun emplacements just before an offensive push which enables teammates to safely attack the disabled Sentry Guns and Engineers. The Spies will then communicate when they have sapped the Sentry Gun to enable the attack to commence immediately. They will continue to sap to enable the rest of their teammates to take out the Engineer first. Alternately, the Spies may take out the Engineers while they are being distracted by the attack.
- Details: Instead of attempting to kill an enemy Medic, the Spy will disguise as an enemy assault class. He will attempt lure an unaware Medic into an ambush. Thinking he is a member of his own team, the Medic may follow you into your team's base, allowing your team to ambush him with a Sentry Gun or a group of allies. Remember that Spies look less suspicious when they appear to be trying to help the team.
- Overview: All players select the same class to overwhelm the enemy.
- Details: All players choose only one class or a majority of one class. The class usually depends on the situation. For example, a Scout rush allows your team to reach and capture the first point very quickly, hopefully before the entire enemy team arrives. Classes such as Spies or Snipers are not recommended for rushes.
- Overview: In certain maps, your team will have to decide whether to go one path or another.
- Overview: A large amount of Heavies that will clear and defeat enemies due to their enormous amount of firepower and Health.
- Details: A "Heavy" train is useful in many game modes especially capture point modes because this allows them to capture points with ease and provide a barrage of fire power in order to protect their own capture points. The Heavies can be interspersed with Medics for a greater effect.
The French Connection
- Overview: Two Spies that walk together to minimize suspicion by the enemy team.
- Details: This is very useful for clearing a group of enemies pushing the cart on Payload, or taking out an advancing group assuming you are coming from the enemy's direction, or clearing out a sentry nest. Enemies will often mistake the two Spies for teammates, as they are walking together, and thus not bumping into each other (which, naturally, is a primary way to know if there is a disguised Spy about). With this, there is less chance that the enemy will shoot you to spycheck. If a Spy is spotted, and often after finding one, enemy players will suspect they've found the only Spy in the area and stop Spy-checking. However, if you stand too close to the other Spy, then you might get spotted as well. Consider bailing out on your teammate if he is getting attacked - after all having one Spy down is better than both of them down.