Home News Polycount Madness Week – Day 5: Soldier, Heavy, Medic

Let me just put this out there before we start:

Unless it's a farm! (Am I doing it right?)

I am terrible at Soldier.

Terrible, terrible, terrible. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can get a K:D greater than 1, but in your average pub game a decent Soldier should be getting at least 12-15 kills per death, right?

Soldier is my least played class, coming in with less than half my playing time for my 2nd least played class. That said, I forced myself to play with the new Soldier toys so that I’d have some scant insight to share with you all. I hope you’re happy.

As a consolation to my soon-to-be woefully inaccurate battle report, I’ll include my impressions of the GRU and Vita-Saw as well.

The Black Box

I want to give Valve a lot of credit with this one. The Black Box is ultimately a very simple change to the Rocket Launcher, albeit with drastic results. Going into a confrontation with only 3 rockets is a big loss for the Soldier, but then again being able to hold chokes with what amounts to constant small health packs is an interesting trade-off.

Looks like scrap metal to me.

That said, most of the time the trade-off won’t be worth it. When you consider that each rocket is essentially worth 50-100 damage to an enemy and/or 15 health to you, not having a fourth AOE infinite range projectile is a big loss.

Yes, on maps like Dustbowl 3-1 (RED), it’s useful to be able to spam shots at BLU from the rightmost building without relying on infrequent med packs or overextended Medics. But, in any situation where Medics, dispensers, or larger health packs are available, it’s much more useful to be able to hit an enemy for 90% of his life than to heal less than 8% of your own.

Indeed, I’ve often found a well timed rocket jump is more of a life-saver than gaining 15 health. If enemies can’t hit you, they can’t hurt you. If, however, you’re reloading 33% of the time, you’re probably going to get caught with your pants down. Unless it’s a farm!

Battalion’s Backup

The Battalion’s Backup, however, is a much more viable option. In exchange for taking 175 damage (which you’re guaranteed to take at least once every life), you get to protect your entire team from 35% of incoming damage, as well as non-backstab critical hits. This is an extremely powerful ability that can completely negate a Kritzkrieg if timed correctly. And, unlock the Buff Banner, there is rarely a bad time to use the Battalion’s Backup. As long as someone in your vicinity is taking damage, this unlock is helping them live to fight another day.

I consider the Battalion’s Backup a much more suitable defensive measure than the Black Box. While you lose your shotgun, your survivability increases dramatically, as does your ability to lead and offensive or defensive push. And while it can negate an enemy Kritz, it also works well to compliment a friendly one. Since the only real downside of the Kritz is your increased vulnerability to damage in comparison to an Ubercharge, the Battalion’s Backup offsets this disadvantage slightly, allowing you to use a Kritz more boldly.

While the shotgun retains its overall usefulness, the Battalion’s Backup is excellent for aiding and abetting capture pushes, last-second Payload rescues, or for holding the final point against a tidal wave of foes.

The Rocket Jumper

Yes, in case anyone out there still doesn’t know, the Polycount/Mannconomy update included the Rocket Jumper. I won’t go into detail on its use here, as it’s primarily a joke/testing tool, but I’m sure someone out there will create a video demonstrating a viable tactic with this hilarious item. Send me that video.

Gloves of Running Urgently (GRU)

GRU is hands down the best melee weapon choice for the Heavy Weapons Guy. While his normal fists and the KGB offer a lot of fun, they aren’t particularly viable close-range weapons, given the Heavy’s ridiculously slow walking speed.

Of course, the GRU aren’t viable melee weapons either, due to their 50% damage reduction. But you won’t be using the GRU to punch anyone. You’ll be using them to fly around the battlefield at just under normal class speed. Make no mistake: this is a game changing upgrade for the Heavy.

The downsides are laughable at best. Reduced melee damage is compensated by the fact that you will never be hitting anyone in melee. 6 HP lost per second is compensated by effective Sandvich use, the ability to run towards health kits, and the ability to increase the rate at which your Medic buddy builds Ubercharge. Yes, the GRU’s primary drawback is actually an indirect buff.

The verdict is in: use these gloves.



The Vita-Saw has seen a lot of hate as useless, but I beg to differ. While a 10 HP penalty is certainly no joke to a class who basically has a giant “kill me” sticker on his back, the advantage is not inconsiderable. Being able to spawn with up to 20% Uber (it’s 20% of your maximum, not 20% of the amount you die with) can bring your Ubercharge out several seconds sooner.

The first question is: will this end up in more net Ubercharge than the Ubersaw provides? I’d venture to say yes. On average, most Medics probably won’t have the opportunity to land Ubersaw hits every life. But every Medic will die every life.* This means that every single life, unless you somehow accumulated 0% Ubercharge before dying, the Vita-Saw will give you a head start. Of course, this must be weighed against the fact that just by using the Vita-Saw you are slightly more likely to die every life.

It’s a little sad to choose an item based on the eventuality of your death, isn’t it? But then again, we purchase life insurance on the same basis. Just make sure your life insurance policy covers 20% of your stored Ubercharge for your next respawn.

*Except during perfect rounds.

11 replies to this post
  1. Well I do have the black box and i can say I love it, it helps a lot (like you said) on maps where health packs are nearly nonexistent and gives a bit more survivability on that department if the cards are played right… still (and considering I play medic as main) if there are medics on board or more healthpacks, being able to aoe more helps a lot (especially with a kritz medic… -1 shot can be the diference between anihilation of a team or a giant “oops” as the team is mauled next).

    For the soldiers battalion, there isn’t much to say that what you’ve already said but I can say this: 2 soldiers – 1 buffbanner and 1 soldiers battalion…. and I can only say that: no there is no movie on the internet to make you puke, but the tactic itself will make the enemy do that while you laugh at them with your team.

    IT’S ABUSRD…. mini crits + defense buff is insane… it can topple entire teams if pulled right.

    I didn’t know about the rocket jumper… dang I need it to start practising my “roll outs”…. then again i don’t play much soldier.

    The GRU… is… awesome. Not only for out Heavy weight friend but for the medic buddy beside him. Really. I mean I was in a server with a heavy wielding those (very decent player I might add) with me as a medic and we just wrecked havok on the entire team. -6 hp on wield while the medic is accompany at high speed, not only makes the heavy more devastating in covering space (since when you feel you are kissing sasha’s or natasha’s metal barrel you know you will die in the next seconds), but it makes the medic be able to ready the uber at a much faster rate (NOTE: WHILE THE TARGET IS NOT OVERHEALED, ese it defaults to regular healing rate). It makes Heavy/medic teams much more dynamic.. I need to fetch a pair for myself =D

    And thank you for the info on the vita-saw, I was thinking it was 20% of the current Charge you lost when you died so I thought it was gonna be useless, but since it’s 20% maximum, it’s very good either for offense and defense…. you just have to make sure you medic reflexes are on top, or you are asking to die much more sooner (like fruit fly spawn sooner xD).

    Again, awesome post Wing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the weapons ^^


    • Yeah I’ve definitely noticed that BB + BB (haha, same abbreviations!) Soldier pairs do well.

      The only thing I don’t like is that when you’re under the effect of the Backup, you can’t easily tell. It’s not like your weapon glows or anything.

      • I know, it should have an effect of sorts… like a “bubble” effect around the team maybe? The Buff banner has that “aura” effect, so if you had them both you could see the bubble with the aura at the feet and they could be distinguished between one another.

  2. Man, your clear vision of the game, and plainspoken reviews of the new tf2 features, along with your Artemis devotion, makes you my #1 TF2 idol

  3. I have to say that Battalion’s Backup is amazing, especially when you have setup time. You can actually charge this from fall damage, so if you’re fast enough and have a medic on the side (or run really fast back to the ammo closet), you can have it ready when the round starts. Also, getting yourself lit on fire has never seemed like a better idea; just the afterburn damage can almost fill up your gauge. Sync up a Battalion’s Backup with a Buff Banner (hey, BB + BB!) and you can roll pretty well.

    Black Box (BB, again?!) is a good weapon if you’re low on medics/they’re not your pocket medics. Yeah, the lack of a fourth rocket will really destroy a lot of the potential with this weapon, especially if you get an uber/kritz. If you’re gonna use this, you best bring a shotgun.

    The Rocket Jumper was useful simply to create lots of distractions and loud noises. And to get to places fast/behind enemy lines. Bring your shotgun (obviously). I’ll see if I can record something.

    GRU’s are great, simply for the movement. The damage over time can actually help you! One, you can time when you’re going to take damage and use that damage to get to higher ledges. Two, your medic gains the ubercharge faster. Just don’t bring it to a melee server.

    And I just noticed Otaku Dash basically covered everything I wanted to cover. Damn.

  4. Just a note on the GRU, the Heavy’s regular running speed is 77% of average (Sniper/Spy/Pyro/Engineer speed), the GRU provides an increase of 30% (107% total), making you both as fast as a Medic (107% too) but also one of the fastest things in the game (The only faster things being a Scout, Demo with several heads, EQ Soldier and Polycount Pyro). The GRU is great for both getting TOO somewhere and getting AWAY from somewhere.

    • Are you sure it’s a flat 30% and not 30% of 77%? Because that would be 100.1%, which seems to fit my experience more (same speed as normal classes). It definitely didn’t seem to me that the Heavy is faster than a Medic now.

      • According to TF2 Wiki, the Heavy runs at a speed of 299 HU/sec with the GRU. His normal speed is 230 and Pyro/Engineer/Sniper/Spy run at 300. The math fits a 230 * 1.3 model.

  5. I think the Vita-Saw might see a bit more use in Comp cause Medics hardly melee in Comp. And 20% uber when you respawn will really help if you drop a uber but the -10 HP will hurt cause a Scout or Solly could just get into the Medic’s face and bam. Dead.

    GRU is awesome… but unbalanced thanks to the spinup/spindown buff the Heavy got a while ago. If they balance the spinup/spindown time(spinup is the old one while spindown is the new one) then this item will perfectly balance the Heavy. Also it doesn’t make uber go up faster. 6 HP(that the Glove takes away) <<<< 24 HP(that the Medic heals)

    BackupB + BuffB = Rape
    BackupB + Kritz Heavy = Rape your mother!

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