Basic Spy strategy
Maybe your colleagues will send a man next time.
— The Spy
The Spy specializes in deception and excels at punishing mistakes made by the enemy team. He is the best choice for business behind enemy lines but not direct combat, as he is fragile and has some of the game's weakest weapons. His Cloaking and disguises allow him to sneak past undetected, where he can then cause havoc. He can approach targets from behind and backstab them for an instant kill, or sap Engineer buildings to cripple enemy defenses. Additionally, he can see enemy health levels to determine if a foe is weak enough to be picked off with his Revolver. Because of the fear he imposes, however, enemies will frequently Spy-check their teammates. Although the Spy can hide and blend in, he can easily be exposed through various methods, including the Pyro's flames or Sniper's Jarate. Through guile and precision, a good Spy can cause paranoia among the enemy while eliminating important targets that are difficult to kill with direct attacks.
- 1 Primary weapons
- 2 Melee weapons
- 3 PDA 1
- 4 PDA 2
- 5 Buildings
Revolver + reskins
Although the Revolver is weaker than most classes' primary weapons, it is accurate and deals decent damage at medium range. It is best used to finish off weakened enemies or as a last resort should an enemy confront you; three close-range shots is enough to take down light classes. There are several situations where you'll want to use the Revolver instead of the Knife, such as when your target cannot be backstabbed, you cannot safely approach a target, or when a Sniper has a Razorback equipped.
Ambassador + reskins
The Ambassador comes with penalties in both damage and firing rate, but has the ability to headshot nearby enemies for up to 102 damage. When behind enemy lines, check enemy health levels and decide which targets you can take out with a headshot. There is a cooldown period after firing where the Ambassador cannot headshot, so space your shots out instead of firing rapidly. One headshot and one bodyshot is enough to take out any of the light classes, particularly Snipers who stand still, have their back against a wall, or have the Razorback equipped.
The L'Etranger increases your Cloak duration by 40%, making it easier to maneuver behind enemy lines. While it deals significantly less damage than other revolvers, it slightly refills your Cloak whenever you shoot an enemy, exchanging firepower into potential fleeing power. It can be used to safely refill your Cloak from a distance and pairs well with the Dead Ringer, which requires a full Cloak meter to activate.
The Enforcer deals 20% extra damage when attacking while disguised, but has a 20% slower firing speed. This makes it inferior to the stock Revolver in direct combat, but allows you to kill light classes in two hits at point-blank range, allowing you to dispatch them before they can react. If an enemy confronts you while you are disguised, you can deal additional damage, which can give you the upper hand. Firing it breaks your disguise, however, so aim carefully - the damage bonus only applies to your first shot. The Enforcer also ignores any defensive bonuses, making it particularly effective against Spies who equip the Dead Ringer or Medics using the Vaccinator.
The Diamondback deals reduced damage but grants guaranteed critical hits upon the destruction of a sapped building or a backstab. This makes the weapon effective for escaping after a successful strike; view enemy health to determine who can be picked off on the way out. You will still receive critical hits even if the building destruction isn't credited to your Sapper, so work alongside your allies. If an Engineer is guarding his buildings, disable his Sentry Gun and prevent him from removing it while your teammates destroy it.
Knife + reskins
The Knife is typically used to backstab targets and deals pitiful damage otherwise. To get into position for a backstab, use your Cloak and disguises to maneuver behind your enemies without drawing attention. If your backstab attempt is unsuccessful, switch to your Revolver or attempt to trick your enemy into showing his back; a common technique is to flee up a flight of stairs, then jump above and behind your pursuing foe.
Your Eternal Reward + reskins
Your Eternal Reward makes your backstabs nearly silent. Upon a successful backstab, your victim will silently disappear as you instantly disguise as them; no death notice appears to the enemy team and further backstabs will not break your new disguise. The most common applications of this are to take out an Engineer, then his buildings, or to consecutively backstab a line of enemies without their death screams acting as an alert. Don't completely rely on this "silent killer" aspect, as dead players may still communicate with each other with text or voice chat.
Using the Disguise Kit with the Eternal Reward requires and consumes a full Cloak meter. Outside of your spawn room, you need to keep track of where ammo pickups spawn or get used to working without either your Cloak or disguise. If you're stuck with a slow disguise, you can Cloak to move at normal walking speed.
Upon a successful backstab, the Conniver's Kunai will eliminate damaging status effects and steal the health of your victim, overhealing you up to 210 health points. You can then use your increased health to flee or to attempt another backstab. The Kunai will always heal at least 75 points, so don't worry about killing nearly-dead opponents. As a downside, the weapon reduces your maximum health to 70, so you can be killed by a single stray explosive. Play conservatively and stay away from enemies, even while cloaked. Alternatively, the Dead Ringer can be used alongside the Conniver's Kunai to survive a hit before you get your first backstab. Don't decloak too close to enemies, however - if you are heard, your decreased health will make surviving much more difficult.
When you kill an enemy with the Big Earner, your Cloak will be refilled by 30% and you will gain a speed boost. This speed boost and cloak can then be used to escape or to attempt another backstab. However, your maximum health is reduced to 100 points, which allows powerful weapons like the Soldier's Rocket Launcher to kill you in one hit. As with the Conniver's Kunai, play cautiously until you are in position to land a backstab. This weapon pairs well with the Dead Ringer, which can only be recharged by the L'Etranger or the Big Earner.
If you are attacked by a Pyro, the Spy-cicle will protect you from all fire damage for 1 second and from afterburn for 10 seconds, giving you time to fight back or escape. The Spy-cicle will be consumed in the process, however, and emit a loud sound, alerting enemies to your presence. While the Spy-cicle does provide some safety against Pyros, keep in mind that some Pyros will intentionally melt it to prevent you from backstabbing their teammates; be prepared to switch to your Revolver. Additionally, victims of the Spy-cicle turn into ice statues and emit a distinctive sound, making it easier for enemies to track you. Keep an eye out for ammo pickups, which recharge this weapon faster.
The Disguise Kit is one of your main infiltration tools. If near allies, it's best to disguise as another friendly class or an enemy Spy so you won't raise suspicion if seen by an enemy. When choosing a new disguise, you will be briefly immersed in a cloud of team-colored smoke, so only disguise while out of enemy view or cloaked. The Disguise Kit takes two seconds to activate, so avoid the common mistake of approaching an enemy before the change is complete. Once behind enemy lines, try to act like an enemy - head towards objectives that the enemy must capture or defend. Reloading your Revolver while disguised will make your disguise reload as well, allowing you to better blend into an enemy crowd. Keep your distance from enemies, however - bumping into them will expose you as a Spy. Remember that your disguise is only effective for short periods of time; players will often Spy-check their teammates randomly. Attacking will break your disguise, so find a safe place to re-disguise after escaping.
Invis Watch + reskins
Out of all your watches, the Invis Watch has the quietest decloaking sound and allows you to cover the farthest distance while invisible. However, its Cloak only lasts 10 seconds, so manage it carefully while in enemy territory. While you gain 20% damage resistance when cloaked, this does not make you invincible. To keep your Cloak filled and ready for emergencies, deactivate it when in safe areas and frequently collect metal pickups and ammo boxes from dead players, which you can do while invisible. Do so out of sight of the enemy - seeing an ammo box disappear will alert competent enemies, who may Spy-check the area. If in enemy territory, always stay on the move to decrease the chances of being detected or cornered.
Cloak and Dagger
As long as you remain still, the Cloak and Dagger can be used to remain invisible indefinitely, allowing you to camp an area to pick off important targets such as enemy Medics. Its meter drains based on your average movement speed; traveling the same distance will drain a certain amount of Cloak, regardless of whether you move steadily or in quick bursts. The Cloak and Dagger will only refill Cloak from metal or ammo pickups if you are uncloaked, so you will have to put yourself at risk to get a Cloak refill. The Cloak and Dagger's decloaking sound, while quiet, is distinct and noticeable, so refrain from decloaking within the range of any enemies. While the Cloak and Dagger allows you to control an area, change positions from time to time - enemies will be encouraged to Spy-check if you stay in the same place too long. Don't just use the Cloak and Dagger to stay out of harm's way; hiding from enemies the entire round will make you useless to your team.
While you cannot Cloak on demand with the Dead Ringer, it will instantly Cloak you upon taking any type of damage. This also produces a fake corpse and displays a fake kill notification to the enemy team. Upon Cloaking, you take greatly reduced damage and gain afterburn immunity and a speed boost for 3 seconds. You can still be revealed by effects such as fire, bleeding, or Jarate, however. The Dead Ringer has an extremely loud decloaking sound, so use your feigned death to find a safe location before decloaking. Try to make your "death" believable - seeing a full-health teammate die to fall damage will alert competent players. To make your feign death more convincing, consider disguising as an ally or letting the enemy damage you for a bit before arming the Dead Ringer, giving them a false sense of security. The Dead Ringer cannot be refilled with ammo pickups; if you struggle with managing your Cloak, consider equipping the L'Etranger or Big Earner, which can recharge the Dead Ringer.
Sapper + reskins
The Sapper will instantly disable an Engineer's building, damaging it over time before destroying it. It can only be removed by the Engineer's Wrench or the Pyro's Homewrecker or Neon Annihilator. Typically, you'll first backstab an Engineer, then quickly sap any nearby buildings; you'll want to begin with Sentry Guns to prevent them from attacking you. You can further attack a building to speed up its destruction, though your weapons deal less damage against sapped buildings. If you cannot backstab the Engineer, communicate with your team and coordinate a push as you sap the Engineer's buildings, leaving him helpless against your team's assault. If in a one-vs-one encounter, remember that you have an unlimited supply of Sappers and can place them faster than the Engineer can remove them. Use the time that the Sentry is disabled to attack the Engineer - he will almost certainly attack you directly before destroying the Sapper.
The Red-Tape Recorder can reverse the construction of Engineer buildings. However, it takes far longer to destroy buildings than the stock Sapper, making it inferior in most cases. However, it can downgrade buildings to their level-one versions in seconds, wasting the Engineer's time and metal. If you're having trouble dismantling a vigilant Engineer nest, coordinate with teammates and have them attack as you sap the buildings. They will have an easier time destroying a Level 2 Sentry Gun as opposed to a Level 3.