Gentlemen – you may have noticed that, some weeks ago, our noble benefactors at Valve saw fit to deploy a massive update to Team Fortress 2. Many characters, including the Spy, received a number of buffs and nerfs. Notably, the Dead Ringer got rebalanced, L’Etranger received a boost, and nobody will ever use Your Eternal Reward ever again. Ever.
While most of these balance changes were welcome, the one thing they don’t change is that the Spy remains, along with the Medic and Engineer, woefully under-equipped for a variety of combat situations. The poor Frenchman needs some toys.
And though I can’t really do anything about it, I can accidentally drop these Spy weapon ideas here on this blog, where they might accidentally end up in Team Fortress 2. *cough* All of these ideas are based around making the Spy more of, well… a spy, with gadgets, gizmos, and abilities that will help him trick and evade enemies before striking with deadly precision. If we’re lucky, Valve will ignore every last one of them.
Knife replacement: The Nightcap (needle)
- -100% damage
- Poisons target on backstab: after X seconds, target dies
- Healing during poison duration cancels death
- Does not break disguise
Poisoning an enemy with a lethal injection of whatever Dexter Morgan carries around would be a fun and flavorful alternative to the typical backstab violence. Instead of dying immediately, your victims would be given a calm period before collapsing and expiring. For balance reasons, you’d still need to stick the needle in their bum (no facial injections… this isn’t collagen!), but you’d also have the luxury of intoxicating half the team before anyone knew you were there. Your enemies could still accomplish a lot (like killing you/capping points), but they’re ultimately doomed.
Knife replacement: The Duelist (rapier)
- Normal melee damage, no backstabs
- Right click to stun with a hilt attack (has X cooldown)
- Critical attacks on stunned targets
If there’s one thing Team Fortress 2 players love to do, it’s chase down Spies with melee weapons. Our favorite Frenchie is terrible in melee range, but only because he’s armed with such a weak weapon. There’s no way this European saboteur is unskilled in swordplay, and the Duelist lets him go toe-to-toe with would-be brawlers. You could still kill solo players fairly effectively (stun and crit), but chain-kills would be basically impossible. At least Medics would have to think twice before charging at you with Ubersaws!
Sapper replacement: Make Your Time Bomb (explosives)
- Does not damage buildings for X seconds
- Irritating tick-tock sound effect
- Detonates after X seconds, destroying target and dealing Y splash damage
While the electro-sapper is wonderful for chipping away at buildings or cleaning up after a successful stab, it also encourages every player in range to rush towards buildings in a mad attempt to kill the Spy and/or remove sapping devices. Make Your Time Bombs instead put the Engineer on a clock, forcing him to carefully calculate whether or not he can remove your bombs before being caught in a controlled demolition. Even better, smart teammates will be wary of coming to his aid. Timing and splash damage are of course subject to balancing.
Sapper replacement: Little Brother (surveillance radio/radar)
- On-viewmodel radar (not UI) shows player locations
- Allows the Spy to see/hear enemy communications
- Cannot be used while cloaked
- Note: Does not sap buildings
The biggest flaw with the Sapper and all its replacements is that it’s 100% useless when there are no Engineers around. Aside from the Razorback, that makes it the only item that is hard countered by enemy team composition! Little Brother gives the Spy something to do when his hard-hatted foe is MIA. It also builds on his existing abilities to monitor enemy life totals and profit from their dispensers/teleporters. Most importantly, Little Brother gives the Spy more tools for infiltration, exfiltration, and performing recon. You know… spy stuff.
Revolver replacement: Golden Opportunity (golden derringer)
- Critical hits on target’s back
- -83% clip size (1 bullet per clip)
- Fires tracer rounds
- No random critical hits
Sometimes your backstab target moves out of range just a little too soon. Sometimes an unaware Engineer or Sniper is just begging for a murdering. And sometimes it just doesn’t feel fair one-shotting adversaries in active combat with the Ambassador from a mile away. The Golden Opportunity gives you the evil back-critting power of your knife in exchange for pretty much all your self defense. You’ll get one clean shot… and that’s it, so make it count. Just don’t be surprised when your victim’s teammates mow you down thereafter.
Watch replacement: The Illusionist (hologram device)
- Cloak type: Holographic decoy
- Decoy runs towards targeted area
- No cloak damage flicker
- Can only be deployed at full cloak
While Total Recall’s Quaid wasn’t the greatest master of subterfuge, he had a particularly nasty spy trick: the hologram decoy. While this particular version wouldn’t be as complicated, it would allow the Spy to get into or out of situations without arousing as much initial suspicion. When you first activate your cloak, you’ll create a clone that runs from your current position to wherever you were pointing when you turned it on. Dumber enemies will be fooled into chasing/killing it, but by the time they do you’ll be far from where you first used the Illustionist. Think of it as a reverse Dead Ringer.
Watch replacement: The Open Window (teleport marker)
- Cloak type: Teleportation
- Activate to create rally point or teleport to existing rally point
- Rally point disappears when cloak is depleted
- Teleportation drops intelligence, telefrags enemies
Sometimes it’s not the getting into places that’s hard… it’s the getting out. Whether that means successfully escaping from a botched chainstab or distracting a Pyro just long enough for your teammates to push through with an Uber, it would be nice to have a survival option other than the Dead Ringer. My offer, the Open Window, would allow cunning Spies to strategize elaborate and daring escapes. They’d lose the ability to disappear in an unplanned pinch, of course… but I have a feeling many espions would trade that capability for a rare but masterful telefrag.
Reminder: Do not send these ideas to Valve!
Are all of these weapons super competitive? No. Are they all balanced? Mostly, though that will depend on final stats. Do all of them have the potential for (possibly niche) usefulness and fun gameplay variety? Yes, I sure think so!
But ultimately my opinion doesn’t count… what do you think?