Surviving as a Merc is hard in Blacklist mode. Four Spies means twice the insta-kill lunge bullet sponge, and twice the too-long stun crossbow. It also means twice the firepower, though not necessarily in equal measure. Just one weak link on either team will severely limit the potential damage dealt, and if it’s essentially a 2v4 against the Spies, don’t expect to be doing much more than sitting on the respawn screen. That said, there are some strategies to employ both as a lone wolf and as part of a team.
“Fan out, three meter spread”
While the game that quote comes from isn’t much on the strategy side of things, the statement itself is a solid tip. A Spy’s most powerful weapons are his melee lunge and Death from Above attacks, and bunched up Mercs do little than pad a good Spy’s stats. The best way to keep yourself alive, then, is to keep a good distance between yourself and your Merc teammates. Be aware of where they’re at and where they’re going. If you’re on voice comms, alert your teammates to both your next move and what you see/expect from the Spy you’re hunting. If you aren’t, glance at them whenever possible and try to predict their next moves in response to any sneaky actions your foes might take.
Speaking of Spy tactics, usually one downed Merc is usually the queue for other Spies to jump into action and wipe the rest of your team. Most teams of Spies tend to gather around the hacker in a cloud of knify death, with one of their number acting as the roamer who moves in and out of the zone slicing throats as he goes. Keeping a good distance between yourself and your teammates prevents said roamer from getting chain kills and generally wreaking too much havoc. While certainly he’s an annoyance, if he’s only keeping one Merc out of the zone and letting the rest in, the fight remains equal. It’s 3v3 unless the roamer moves in to assist, at which point the match resumes its chaotic nature.
Use your suit abilities
Merc suit abilities might not be as immediately useful as the Spy’s are, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be making liberal use of them. The most critical error I see teams of Mercs making is just rushing in with no sense of strategy. Disruptor suits go unactivated, drones are unused, and the Adrenaline guy isn’t hopped up on mushrooms. Lesser players seem to not understand that nothing in the Merc’s arsenal is useless. Even though the intel device doesn’t mark Spies very long, and even though the proxy mines are growing less useful by the day, and even though the best Spies hardly use their goggles, as a Merc you must use everything at your disposal.
Even if there’s no direct advantage to activating the Disruptor suit, the fact that nothing happens is information in itself. Inexperienced Spies who suddenly lose the use of their abilities usually panic and make fatal mistakes. That the guy in the digital ghillie is still coming at you full tilt – while you’re stunned – means he’s undeterred and you’ll need to change up your tactics. If your proxy mines are being constantly destroyed, you might have to switch to a class that doesn’t use them, and if the Spies are killing you with bullets, they’re getting cocky. All of this information has immediate use, and must be put into immediate action. SvM is all contextual, and every moment breeds new context.
Lrn 2 shoot, n00b
The Merc is the traditional FPS side of Spies vs. Mercs, and so you have to be able to, you know, hit your targets with aimed shots. However, frustration and panic can make for some very sloppy shooting, so like I mentioned in my Preparing for Blacklist article, you need to try your very best to keep your composure. I know it’s easier said then done, especially when the hack is nearing completion and you’re short on time, but it’s vital to your success. It’s also something I need to work on, as I’m prone to panic shooting in moments of desperation.
Remember that Spies take a fair amount of damage before they fall, and they move far faster than you do. A clear head means clear shots, and if can resist the urge to spray, you’ll be rewarded. Remember also that no Spy is silent while running, and friendly-fire is off by default, so if you hear someone coming up behind you, don’t hesitate to open up a can o’ Whoop-Ass and pop a cap in that fool. The worst your teammates will say is, “Dude, it’s me.” Spies would say something a little less humorous and degrees more profane.
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