Home Editorial Polycount Madness Week – Day 1: The Spy

It should come as no surprise to fans of the oldest-running Team Fortress 2 Spy lesson/shameless advertisement series that the first class to fall under the burning gaze of my evil eye is the Spy.

Some believed the Scout died from the .45 caliber gunshot wound to the head. In truth, the greatest wound he suffered was the dagger plunged into his heart. By the Spy. The Spy had sex with his mom.

Blessed with an ivory smile and a jewel-encrusted killing implement, the Spy embodies everything that makes video games rage-inducing.

Think of the ways you prefer not to lose at a video game. Those are all the ways the Spy kills you. He’s inscrutable, invisible, insidious, and (all too often) nobody realizes he’s been on the scene of the crime until dead bodies and/or seduced mothers show up in droves.

It’s like a Herman’s Hermits concert, except with murder.

So, how do the Spy’s newest toys stack up when it comes to the art of assinanting one’s enemies and philandering about with their next of kin?

I guess you are going to have to cave and click the “Read more” button to find out.



There's nothing witty to say about this unlock. It shoots people.

For everyone with an ounce of class, “L’Etranger” is by no means an unfamiliar term.

Google Translate tells defines the term: “This page is taking an unusually long time to load. Refresh your page and try again.” Certainly, we should have all expected a Spy’s weapon would also yield the most mysterious of names. Well played, Valve. Well played.

Less enigmatic, however, is its use. L’Etranger trades off damage (20%) for the benefit of restoring 15% of your cloak every time you hit an enemy. Thus, a full clip could easily bring you from nearly empty to full, even if you missed a shot or two.

Since L’Etranger replaces the Revolver/Ambassador, it’s important to remember the  two purposes these handguns typically serve:

  • As a tool to harass or kill enemies who would be impossible to backstab for various reasons
  • As a weapon of last resort to use while discovered or fleeing

Obviously, its utility on the first point is a bit lost. What previously took 4 shots to kill now takes 5. What you could have accomplished in one chamber of bullets might now require a reload. This may not seem like a big deal, but it could spell the difference in situations like sniping a faraway dispenser faster than an Engineer can reach/repair it.

That said, its utility on the second point is a much more even tradeoff. While you can’t outright kill your pursuers as easily, the additional cloak might give you what you need to vanish/feign your death. In many circumstances, this is more desirable than simply gunning down the first nobody who happened to have spotted you.

L’Etranger should be used with the Cloak and Dagger or the Dead Ringer in maps with less-than-ideal hidings spots (such as Well, Granary, or cp_Orange). Using the C&D or Dead Ringer, a Spy often finds himself in situations where he has 10% cloak and few options left.

Emptying a few rounds into the nearest foe and vanishing with newfound cloak meter is much better than “sit here doing nothing for 45 seconds” or “crawl into a ball and pray for death.” And while you could use L’Etranger with the normal Invisibility Watch, you’re probably better off using the increased damage of the other guns to just kill the opponent and take his weapon drop for a 50% recharge.

Your Eternal Reward

While I have certainly covered a certain amount of basic strategy on YER with my new Spy Lesson video, I’d like to recap some of the most important thoughts, and add a few other observations from the field.

First, YER is very, very good at letting you kill stealthily.

I mean, we’re talking Sam Fischer good. And not that new-age emo Fischer bullshit. This is some legit, Chaos Theory stealth. You don’t even have to hide the bodies in a closet because the bodies cloak. Eat it Third Echelon.

For this reason, YER is significantly better at killing enemies than the default knife. You might ask, “WiNG, isn’t the whole point of a knife to kill people? Isn’t this a straight upgrade?”

Well, aside from the art of cooking, the answer to your first question is yes. However, the loss of manual disguising comes with a very large number of drawbacks.

  • Taking out a Sentry is a chore, and taking out multiple Sentries is impossible
    • While this is mitigated after 1 kill is obtained, there is little margin for error
  • Your first kill must be on a complete isolated, completely distracted enemy
    • Unfortunately, these two attributes are often mutually exclusive
  • You cannot take enemy teleporters at will
  • You cannot use friendly disguises at all (except via a singular glitch)
    • This also makes tactical Dead Ringer use more difficult
  • Once the enemy has been alerted to your disguise, you can’t change it at will
  • You will often be forced to disguise as slow-moving or obvious giveaway classes

While these drawbacks are largely counterbalanced by Your Eternal Reward’s ridiculously slick draw animation, there are other perks.

  • You can backstab enemies directly in front of Sentries once initially disguised
  • Unless enemies are paying complete attention to you, they will have little/no clue what’s going on
  • Your chain stabs will no longer be punctuated with the terror-filled screams of your victims

The third pro is the kicker. This gimmick alone makes it significantly easier to move into a room, eliminate one player, and remain in place as his teammates did not even notice he died. For all intents and purposes, you are him.* And while teammates could be watching the notification area or might notice that the original you went “missing,” more likely they will think you noclipped through other “teammates”, or they’ll be too distracted by the opposite-color mercenaries firing endless rounds of ammunition at them.

Indeed, YER relies on the Golden Rule of Spying:Timing is everything.” **

Sure, as people get used to YER, they will be less likely to be fooled by your bodysnatching escapades. However, every player ultimately has a limited amount of attention.

Attacking them while they’re standing around looking for something to slap with a newspaper-wrapped mackerel? Fail.
Attacking them while they’re attempting to juggle your actual teammates into the air with precisely-timed rockets? Bingo.

Obviously, the lack of a corpse or a death scream help immensely in this regard.

Rather than prattle on endlessly, I’ll encourage everyone to check out my latest video and comment with your thoughts on using this delicious new toy.

Yes, Team Fortress 2 is now officially in the realm of Will Ferrell. God dammit.

Familiar Fez

The Fez itself does nothing. The set, however, offers an interesting bonus. However, I’m far too unlucky and poor to have obtained this hat, so for the time being I’ll have to take the word of others that it is incredible.

On another page of T3, Berry Melon posted his experience with the entire Saharan Spy set:

“I used Saharan set with DR and I’m sooo loving it. I dicthed the crawling up and stab strategy and tried a totally new tactic. I use my L’Etranger and pick off low health enemies with my ally at first. and when I see some pile of enemies roaming toward us I use my DR and run right into them (check if pyros there first).

And when I get cloaked I go way back to the pile and decloak at the last dude in that pile. Thanks to the Saharan set bonus DRs decloak sound is nearly silent. So far no one has noticed the sound. Anyway I get my first kill be stabbing the one at the back and keep stabbing up :)

And if I get screwed I shoot L’Etranger like crazy (and with accuration) to fill up my DR and use it to fake death and start all over.Try out Saharan set with DR, you’ll love it”

If anyone feels like posting a video of the set bonus in action, or perhaps donating a Familiar Fez to me out of the kindness of your own heart (Artemis rewards the charitable), feel free to do so.

*Under New Hampshire state law, you are now legally entitled to make love to this man’s wife.
**Not to be confused with “The one who has the gold makes the rules.”

6 replies to this post
  1. It has always been possible to take enemy teleporters while undisguised. So unless it was patched quite recently, you can still do it.

  2. @DivineBeastLink – Mostly what Wing means to say is that taking enemy teleporters unscathe… since mostly ones tele you to sentry nests.. and withought a desguise (since you can’t use it with YER and you must do a kill first before having one) it would lead to sentry molestation or a a severe dose of wrench-fu on the head.

    I don’t have yet any of the spy weapons but I’ve seen movies of the full set and I must say that the Dead Ringer works wonders with the set like Berry Melon said. I do recomend watching IcyToonie’s Movie of the full set, wich you can see the DR effectiveness with the set aswell as the full conjunction of all weapons.

    Here be thy link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vIuzDFQv_k

    Anyways, awesome text as per usual Wing and I for myself can’t wait to craft my YER.. THE ANIMATION IS JUST SO AWESOME \o/ That in itself just makes you achive spy nirvana.. (unless you get degreased and Fish Slapped xD).

    Cheers, keep up the good work!

  3. Meh I play pyro alot too and DR spies tick me off so much. After killing them 3 times you think they would be dead BUT NO! They refuse to die with a seemingly infinite cloak supply. Now with the letranger…. I honestly think I’ll give up PR0ro

    I think the DR could have a minor tweak to make it more balanced with this update.

  4. “Attacking them while they’re standing around looking for something to slap with a newspaper-wrapped mackerel?” Ha! That’s exactly I during the first few days of the update – albeit at a price of my Vintage Sandman.*

    @TEHspy – You can easily dispatch DR Spies, even after this update, if you corner them with your compression blast and split their skulls in half with the Axtinguisher. That’s if you’ve already set them on fire for easy tracking and learned the faults of the feign death/disguise acting.

    *I’ve recently traded for another one.

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