Home Editorial Balance Relay Rant: A load of hot air

It’s Relay Rant! The premise is simple: one writer per week gets to whine about whatever he wants. Then you, the audience, tell us which writer you want to see write next week’s Relay Rant and what it should be about!

Mmmf humph mahumf hudda hah.

Like a lot of you, I like playing TF2. I’ve been playing now for going on three years and I always find it good fun. However, with the more recent updates, there’s been a lot of shit be in g kicked up. The MannCo store, hat promotions with other games (or hats in general, for that matter) and, of course, trading. These can quite easily be explained away with “You know you don’t have to buy stuff through the store, buy the games or trade, right?” but with one of the more recent updates, it can’t be explained away so easily and a lot of people a re pissed off about it.I’m talking about the recent decision to give the Backburner airblast.

More importantly, this is an intervention as to why you should all lay off of bitching about Pyros.

Let’s get one thing straight: I never played truly vanilla TF2. When I began, the Medic update had only just been released, so I can’t really roll with the ultra-cool kids who can say “Oh, well I played in vanilla and things were different then. You weren’t there, man. You weren’t there,” but I can at least say that I played vanilla Pyro. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun setting people on fire and causing undocumented amounts of chaos, but it felt like something was missing.

The role of the Pyro back then was to spycheck and to spread general chaos, especially in close quarters. Things changed a little bit when the Pyro was released a couple of months down the line when the Backburner was added to the game and the Compression Blast (airblast) was added to the original Flamethrower. Now this was back in my old not-really-noticing-that-TF2-had-been-updated days so the first time I panicked and deflected a rocket back at a Soldier killing him and his Medic, I felt supremely godlike. I’d never seen it happen before; I had no idea what I had pressed and the Soldier, who was in the same boat as me, was both angered and confused.

It. Was. Glorious.

No longer, thought I, would Pyros be known as the boring ‘move here, spread fire’ class,* but people would instead learn to respect and fear the masked menace for his fire-setting and point clearing prowess! Well, we all know how well that turned out.

The problem I saw was that Pyros in general weren’t taking advantage of the fact that they could clear a sticky trap or make a Soldier’s life hell. A deflected rocket was in no way guaranteed, but looking at a Soldier and firing an airblast (most of the time just to prove you knew it existed) was enough to make them think twice and bring out a shotgun. The role of Pyro had changed ever so slightly to include making Soldiers hesitate before rocket spamming, and clearing sticky trap locations around the map or on the point. Pyros could be a true credit to their teams in this manner… yet everyone still hated the Pyro.

They were still that noob class that couldn’t do anything. If a Pyro deflected a rocket, they were called an airblast spamming noob. If a Pyro didn’t reflect an incoming rocket and someone died, they were called a noob who didn’t know how to use airblast. Why does this still happen as much today as it did a couple of years ago?

Fueling fun with friends

Okay, now let’s get to the stuff people really hate. I can’t remember when the exact update was, but the airblast was changed so it could blast players away and extinguish players on fire.**  People flipped their shit. Players immediately started complaining about Pyros making Ubercharges useless, counter-acting a well co-ordinated push and (I really wish I was joking with this one) putting out burning team mates before a Medic could get to them. Now this could just be me thinking in some weird way but, if a Pyro can really be that dangerous to a push, shouldn’t you try killing the Pyro first?

“You don’t understand, THEY JUST DEFLECT MY ROCKETS BACK!”
Then why not use your shotgun?
“No Bin, you’re not getting it, I’m in the air and they can deflect my rockets, stickies and pipes.”
So why not tell your team this and get them to help kill the Pyro?
“Ugh, my team are retards and can’t do that kind of thing, I’m pretty much carrying them through this.”

My biggest and most recent WTF moment occurred when a good friend of mine (great fun to play with and I wouldn’t want to lose his camaraderie) was playing Soldier and I was playing Pyro. He kills me, laughs and says “HA! Deflect that, bitch! Soldiers can still fire rockets well in the air!” after I had gotten in close quarters with him and blasted him up and away. That’s fair enough, I got my timing wrong and my friend absolutely hates the airblast. Some time passes, he switches to Medic and ubers a Soldier coming in. As a Pyro, I move in and airblast him back to save my teammates and the Soldier completely ignored me, but I got an earful off my friend.

“Bin, will you FUCK OFF with that FUCKING AIRBLAST!”
But I thought Soldiers could still fire rockets well in the air and he’s invincible, why didn’t he kill me?

The channel goes quiet and my friend doesn’t talk to me for a while. Somehow, it was my fault that I didn’t get killed when an invincible guy with a rocket launcher ignored me pushing him back.

Guys, if you hate the airblast and how it’s used then change up how you play a bit. Don’t fire rockets at a Pyro. Ever. When pushing an uber in, make sure to kill the Pyro running towards you unless you want to be blasted somewhere. Just because you find them annoying doesn’t mean that they need to be nerfed or drastically changed. Why don’t you change up your play style a bit to take them out? Hell, if they’re just flame/airblast spamming noobs, that shouldn’t be a difficult thing. Right?

Pass judgment and pass the baton

What do you think about this week’s Relay Rant? Who should get next week’s article?

  • Space Hamlet on player agency (if you can call it that)
  • WiNGSPANTT on digital fucking chauvinism
  • Rabid Ferret on why new content is bullshit


* I would say ‘W+M1’ but come on guys, every class moves forward and fires. Hell, Engineers tend to just sit in one place and whack a sentry, why don’t they get shit for that? Hmmm? Noob-ass engies.
** I thought it could do this, but it turns out I always tried it near healthpack locations. Oops.

38 replies to this post
  1. Get out your shotgun, fire three times. If they’re too close, melee them. The bad thing about the pyro is that she can’t hit anything more than a metre in front of it if you don’t give her rockets.

  2. I found this article quite true – I’ve been playing around with the Backburner a bit more since they gave it an airblast, and I find there’s still a stigma associated with it that will truly never disappear. In a server I was in, I was dominating 3 people at one point (they were no slouches), willingly sacrificing 1/4 of my ammo to put people out, consistently capturing the objectives, and always ambushing and flanking, never W+M1ing. And yet, the Medic on our team looked at our team line-up and said quite sarcastically: “One Soldier, a Demo, and a Backburner Pyro. Great.”

    Now this I just didn’t understand – I was the top of the scoreboard. And Pyro isn’t a class like Medic where you get points neutrally by healing people and getting assists, you get them by SETTING PEOPLE ON FUCKING FIRE, and I was doing plenty of that.

    My question is, why isn’t the Backburner still considered a legitimate sidegrade yet even with it’s increased damage, airblast (albeit toned down) and back crits? Why is anyone equipping automatically stereotyped against? After all, no can claim that the weapon isn’t a team player anymore with the inclusion of the airblast.

    Stop the hate.

    • The particular reason I dislike the BB is I feel even with the damage reduction (20% down to 10%) it still feels a little overpowered to me especially now since it has an added air burst, but the thing I have to remember as well as anyone else that finds the BB intolerable is this is a weapon a Pyro can pack and adjust accordingly. There are ways to combat this weapon as any weapon in the TF2 world.

  3. I don’t despise the Pyro more than any other class, not really sure why they thought the BB needed airblast, but with only four shots it’s not a game changer. Still don’t like the BB, but I don’t hold it against the Pyro. I play Heavy the least, and next is Pyro. Let’s face it not a strong class at all. As a Soldier I can come into most situations and feel fairly confident my abilities will end lives decently well, not so much with pyro. I did see a Pyro playing the class wonderfully and in my opinion if the class is played well someone on the other team should be bitching. ie … in other instances “Will someone kill that scout?”, “Can someone spy check?”, “Focus on the soldier.” 2nd stage of dustbowl, I’m demo and spamming a sentry with loch and load (new fav weapon). Second point and I’m safety away from the sentry gun and it’s on the left where red always builds one. The Pyro is not only there spy checking but blowing my pills safely away from the sentry. I applauded. I agree with Bin, without the airblast ubers would roll us, we need a safety net. Cheers!

  4. How I see the backburner is an antipyro weapon, for any other class, the degreaser seems better, the puff and sting is a quite powerful combination and I think the backburner just doesn’t make up for it, if they decreased the cost to airblast, then it’d be a lot closer, but I just don’t see it being comparable yet. Backburner is better for ambushes, but most people expect ambushes in the common spots.

    • The whole point of the Backburner having airblast is that it’s expensive to use. On the Backburner, it’s primarily used for putting out team mates who you really need to keep alive and maybe a quick deflection to save your hide. Like you said, the Backburner is an ambush weapon so the airblast would be rarely used if you were utilising the weapon in that way.

      In terms of people expecting ambushes, move to a less common spot. I know that’s easier said than done but you’d be surprised at the places a large proportion of players just overlook because no one ever goes there. For example, I saw a Spy camp around a corner that players constantly run past without checking and it was a good five or so minutes before people started to realise what he was doing plus I bet I could utilise that same strategy on the same server right now and have similar success.

  5. By the way Binerexis, I think the airblast has been able to push people since it first came out.

    But yeah. The backburner still seems inferior to the puff and sting of the degreaser, but if I am defending I use the backburner because defending is basically the only time when you can set up a proper ambush where you have a chance to use those back crits.

    • I don’t remember it being able to push people around from day one but, in fairness, it was a while ago. This does, however, beg the question of why people only really started to kick up a stink when the Degreaser was released.

  6. Ferret should get next rant. We have enough promos, I MEAN GODDAMN. Yeah and I just started play about a month ago, I’m an airblaster, I get shit for reflecting a rocket back.
    “Fuck you fag, all you do is press m2 and rack up points.”
    me: :(

  7. This dickbag of a slimy god-damned pit rat dared call me a noob for playing pyro in my early days. I accepted his obvious challenge, took out my shotgun, and proceeded to make his life hell. I was then banned from the server for “griefing”, because he had connections. Needless to say, I exacted out proper revenge.

    Rant aside, I’d like to congratulate this idea of rant passing. It’s rather innovation and gives me a reason not to be doing those boring physics questions.

    I vote for Rabid Ferret’s 2 bits on next week’s Rant Relay :D

    • I had the same thing happen to my on Halo. Totally different game, I know, but i just thought you’d like to know that I sympathize.
      Some douchebag ran me over in a warthog. I ‘forgave’ him, assuming it was my fault for running in front. He did it again. I forgave him again. THREE TIMES. Then he does it AGAIN. This time I just popped a grenade under him when he came at me. Hog explodes, he dies, I get booted. Fine, whatever. Don’t want to play with assholes anyway. Then I get a little message “You are…blahblahblah…for quitting too many times.” I assumed that meant it included being booted from a game (which, obviously, should not count as the same thing as quitting). So I went to start up another, and had to shrug and say “alright, well, no more getting revenge for a while then”.
      Except it wouldn’t let me into the game. Instead I get this message “You have been banned from matchmaking for too many quits.” What the hell? I JUST got the warning message!
      My solution? I called XboxLive to cancel my account, they were nice and gave me 3 months free if I stayed on. So i used the money to buy Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. So, nice tradeoff in the end.

      • That was likely just a fault in connection or some strange matchmaking glitch; I find it doubtful that you were somehow banned on Live for blowing up a Warthog.

  8. The stigma for Pyros is a mystery to me, honestly. I mean, when I play pyro I don’t do it because I want to showcase any real skill. I just want to blindly run at my enemies and hope they die. Part of it stems from the fact that Pyros kill even when they’re dead and kill when teammates are too dimwitted to realize that fire burns. Heavy’s getting this same kind of rep now, especially with Natashas. If anything, heavy is the noobier class, since you hold down a button and slowly walk rather than run at your enemies.

    Ultimately, though, I think it’s the ease of the class _in general_ that bugs people, and that a class everyone can play at least half-effectively can have a say in the outcome of a battle. Their lack of ranged weapons means they have to be like gnats, always in the face of their foes, and no one, but no one, likes gnats.

    Except maybe bats.

  9. Puff and sting isn’t always better guys – when you come up on a group of enemies unaware of you, what’s gonna be more effective? 3-4 melee swings or an easy stream of back crits?

    The puff and sting is cool and deadly, but don’t overestimate it.

  10. meh I guess what really irritates me about pyros is killing one like a badass and then burning to death anyway :(

    I think killing the Pyro who flamed you should reduce the flame damage or something.

  11. As a degreaser-flaregun-homewrecker pyro, I run into a lot of people saying the very same things mentioned in this article. However, I’ve found that with use of the flare gun, you can be much more useful in general by simply igniting enemies from afar. As well, seeing as how I use the homewrecker, puff and sting isn’t an option for me. But, puff and flare is. The very fact that, if an enemy is on fire, the flare gun can do 90 damage instantly, with afterburn damage too, means that in the right hands, the flare gun can be very deadly. Four repeated shots to an unsuspecting heavy is enough to take him out. This is a lot of repeated hitting, but the aim of the gun is consistent, and the payoff is fantastic.

    As for airblast, everything is right on. The amount of ways a pyro can be useful with it are seemingly endless. Pushing people off of points, into the range of sentries, off of ledges and cliffs, pushing ubers away, reflecting rockets, stickies, pipes, jarate, milk, flares, arrows, and being able to extinguish burning teammates, and even so far as to push a spy away from a teammate that’s about to be backstabbed.

    And finally, with the homewrecker, one can destroy sapped buildings, and take a lot of load off of engineers through help with spies in general.

    I put my thoughts in to show how capable of a class the pyro can be, especially regarding utility. The pyro may not be on the top of the scoreboard, and may have more deaths than kills, but they help their team by being attentive and focused on what the rest of their team may not be. One backstab, or one uber, or one crit rocket can mean your team is done for. But the pyro can help with those situations, and make all the difference.

    • Ah yes. The HOMEWRECKER.
      The unsung hero of the battlefield.
      Both the best, and the worst enemy of an engineer.
      Able to unsap sentries, or take them down in 2 hits (provided it’s not being tanked).
      As for the flaregun, it got a really powerful buff, so as degreaser pyro, puff, Flare, and maybe axe.
      Very good setup I use most of the time.
      Another good thing about, it takes down sentries faster than any other class. And it’s able to take down a minisentry in 1 hit, causing the ragequits of all combat engys everywhere. As for the degreaser, it’s not an amateurs weapon. By no means should an “anti-M2” pyro ever use it. Less afterburn, but the increased weapon switch allows for switching to another weapon to completely devastate the enemy. Good with axtinguisher.
      Homewrecker, or degreaser not used enough. Very powerful weapons.

  12. I’m never too steamed when it comes to pyros, but I’m still feeling like the Degreaser needs a nerf. Yes, the puff-and-sting combo is quite powerful with the addition of the Degreaser, but seriously, EVERY SINGLE PYRO USES IT NOW. In fact, I’ve gone whole games where enemy pyros didn’t pull out their secondary weapon ONCE, just puff-and-stinging. It gets old real quick.

  13. 90% of all PPL raging about the airblast are just too stupid/bad to avoid it. Like others said, there is a secondary for a reason, Mr. Doe.
    Also, they don’t see how tricky the pyro is to play right. Since you can be somewhat outrun and/or just shred to pieces if you try to run to them frontal like said soldiers would try to, you gotta take alternative routes, avoid ANY contact before striking…in order to ultimately help your team by picking off VIPs at least and making sure they never reach their destiny. Once camped a medic on the 4th point choke on badwater 5 times by leap-flaming before his team found out what had happened and got me. His rage was sweeter than nectar.

    Also, some seem to forget the still pretty big airblast cost, meaning that you will have to reflect just the necessary projectiles to get away and flank them.

    I want a replay of a medic killed by reflecting syringes/crossbow bolt NOW!

    BTW, the next rant should be from Wingspantt, if it isn’t possible that bin makes another one.

  14. Regardless of the level of truth in this article, Pyros will always piss me off. They have a super inexpensive, no risk-high reward way of effectively negating anything a Spy wants to do (especially Homewrecker Pyros, because Pyros needed to be more effective against Spies, obviously), can completely shut down Demomen, and a half-talented one can hide behind walls and spam Flares out at Heavies or anyone really while taking minimal damage themselves. Getting lit on fire encourages people to scatter away to get healed and is a damn effective stall, even if it might not get end up with a kill. A really good Pyro can be just as annoying as a really good Scout or a really good Sniper, and can survive a long time by just hitting and running away and getting healed up. Plus, on maps with cliffs, they don’t even have to choose to fight, they can just say “Nah, I don’t feel like it” and push you off while you have full HP. Maybe one can argue that they are balanced or even weaker than most classes, but is anyone but Pyro players not pissed off by some of their abilities?

    At least they actually have the capability to fight like men, unlike Snipers though.

    • Seeing as Pyros are generally seen as the anti-Spy class, I really don’t see why you’re complaining that they can take out spies easily. Whilst they can shut down Demomen it doesn’t mean that they always will; a Demoman worth half his salt can deal with a Pyro. The other complaint you had is that Pyros sit back and take pot shots or run in, do damage and run out again but these tactics aren’t specific to Pyros at all.

      • It’s less that they take out Spies easily and more that they take them out effortlessly. Not only effortlessly, but frequently by complete accident. One tiny wayward fire particle can completely negate a cloaked Spy even if they were not the intended target, or if the Pyro was just guessing. Granted, Snipers and Scouts with their bottled secondaries also have this distinct ability, but I think that just continues to show that the Spy has far too much working against it.

        I’d like to also point out that my comment about Airblasting is one of the only reasons that playing plr_hightower sucks (possibly the only reason now that the Fists of Steel have been pretty decently balanced), in my opinion and in the opinion of MANY of my friends whether they think Pyro is underpowered, balanced, or an easy class. Around the corner leading to the upward hill is the perfect spot for one of the bastards to wait for anyone to walk around and puff them off the edge, no damage required. Going around behind to flank the Pyro in question is nearly impossible in the usual scenario, since that area is usually heavily defended. It’s easily one of the most grueling upward pushes in the game. I see frequently see Pyros going uncontested in that portion of the map, even sometimes when he’s completely ganged up on, since airblast can effect multiple people at once, and the cliff is close enough that the Pyro can troll you off to your doom before you have a chance to react, or even accidentally reflect grenades, rockets, or even arrows that were intended to stop the Pyro from doing this. There’s absolutely no argument that someone with zero skill as a Pyro could beast that part of the level assuming the usual Sentry Guns are up to watch his back. The only hope is for a Spy to not get noticed along the usually guarded path down the hill to get the Pyro himself. And then there are still the guns.

        But then of course there are maps that are heavily weighed in the favor of other classes. ctf_doublecross to Snipers, cp_dustbowl to spammy Soldiers and Demomen, cp_prettymuchanymapbesidesdustbowl to Scouts and so on.

        In conclusion, I am and likely always will be bitter about the Pyro. As primarily a Spy, I have good reason to be so about my prime counter (besides your average friendly Scout, that is), especially considering it seems that Pyro only continues getting better while Spy keeps getting the odds stacked higher and higher against him. Looking forward to Medics that can apply Reveal Spies-errr… Mad Milk effect. No hard feelings, but I’ll always be ranting about the Pyro (and Jarate, and Mad Milk, and Homewrecker, and that goddamn single particle effect that lights me up like a Christmas tree by pure chance every two minutes or so because there’s no room to maneuver in half of pl_goldrush) until the Spy gets some more options to fight back against his growing list of strong counters.

        But don’t even dare tell me you’ve been pushed off the map by a Pyro who did no damage to you, then taunted at you, and thought “Well, their class is underpowered, so I’m not flustered at all!” :P

    • We’ve not exactly had a unanimous vote result on who should do the next rant so that’s probably why a new one isn’t up. That’s right, it’s the commenter’s fault and not ours.

  15. You knew if I read this you’d get hate. <3
    Pyro's are meant to run in and cause complete and utter chaos. That is how the pyro was when the game was released. Now, they just sit back and spam airblast at random stuff heading their way.

    You always, AL-FUCKING-WAYS, tell me to use my stickies against a pyro. They are projectiles, that just get thrown back acting like a deflected rocket/pipe and explode on impact. You know how much I play demo haha.

    Uber charges are worthless against a pyro, play dustbowl more and you will see how bad it is.

    Also, by any chance, am I that friend mentioned above :D

  16. In relation to what Toraka said
    “90% of all PPL raging about the airblast are just too stupid/bad to avoid it. Like others said, there is a secondary for a reason, Mr. Doe.”

    90% of pyros that spam cockblast are those who never leanrt to avoid a rocket/sticky. You can see those coming at you from a mile off. Learn to dodge and use your fucking flamethrower as it was intended to be used.

  17. Ferret should get the next rant. Sorry WING, love your articles, but somehow a rant about Chauvinism online seems…eh…WAY overdone. Try a rant about fem-nazis, then maybe I’ll be interested.

    I’ve played TF2 for all of 10 minutes. I played as a Soldier, and the first 1 minute of the match consisted of me getting air-blasted by a Pyro. My immediate reaction was “well, I wanna play as the Pyro now”. So no, I don’t understand the number of players that hate the Pyro. I imagine it’s somewhat akin to the hate for campers in Halo, or roof-runners in ACB, or whatever. Screamers in DS2. Mainly it’s because their playstyle forces other players to change the way they normally play…it’s not the other players’ fault that the game is made the way it is….but that’s not to say there isn’t some justified frustration when you have to change your entire playstyle just to counter ONE player type.

    • The thing with campers, at least, is that you DON’T have to change your entire play style to counter them. If a guy is in the same place (and has been in the same place) for an entire match and he keeps killing you, it’s your own fault. It’s rare that there’s only one path to take in FPS maps so the idea of going another way isn’t exactly implausible.

      • Mm, I suppose that’s true, but you could hardly fault one for trying. Let’s assume a match in Blood Gultch starts, alright? First minute, enemy runs, gets the sniper, and proceeds to stand in the bushes at the far cliff.
        I run up the right side towards the teleporter, and am hit by the sniper. Figuring I’ll try something different, I jump in a warthog. Again, soon as I’m over the hill, bam, dead. Same guy. Hasn’t moved. My sniper’s standing in the fort doing nothing. I respawn, go left through the caves, and survive for a bit longer before, inevitably, I have to step out of the cave area. Then the sniper kills me again.
        In this case there is literally nothing I can do to counter the sniper in his position. I have to rely on sheer luck (he’s looking elsewhere while I’m running forward), or my teammates (who are often distracted with their own problems). Someone’s got the sniper on my side, so I can’t fight fire with fire, and if we’re doing Reach, Armor Lock only lasts for so long.
        It wouldn’t really be a problem, per se, game-to-game, but it’s such a common occurence I almost expect it when playing on those types of maps. It’s just going to happen. People love to do that. And I get sick of playing when I can’t do anything to counter them.
        I’m not saying that makes their strategy (if you could call it that) invalid, or somehow immoral. I’m just saying that repetition like that is a fair target for irritation.

      • This is where teamwork becomes invaluable. If there’s only one sniper and he’s got you pinned down, split into two groups going in two different directions to eventually take him out. He won’t be able to take out both groups (at least not simultaneously or in quick succession) and he’ll end up either having to move or dead.

      • lol. Uh, Bin, have played Halo online recently? Maybe it’s just me (I always knew the universe was out to get me) but the majority of the time that I play (which is getting less and less because of this), I am teamed up with either a hoard of retarded 8-year-old dicks, or a group of lone-wolf “I’m gonna play this game all by myself, despite being on a team” level 99s. Or whatever the cap is. The idea of teamwork is laughable in most games I play.
        Oh don’t think I don’t try. When I spawn, I ask who needs my support, I look for the heaviest fighting and choke-points and go to help my team. But when I’m pinned inside my base surrounded by a tank and a pair of warthogs, you think my team comes back from their raid to help? lol. Uh, no. They laugh and say “you suck noob, if you can’t kill a tank. Good luck!”.
        Yeah. I don’t think teamwork can help in this one. But I see you’re point, and definitely, if I COULD rely on my team, that would be the way to go :-)

      • I last played Halo about ten years ago for the PC and, honestly, I didn’t like it (just seemed like a mediocre shooter to me, never saw the fuss) but it was the same back then as it is now. Sadly, it seems like luck of the draw nowadays as to whether you get team players with you or not but individual charisma is a factor but that’s for another time/article.

  18. lol that’s true. I think it’s definitely something for another discussion, but yeah, it’s not really the greatest shooter ever. But it’s like WOW. Its draw is its ease of play, the balance, and the ability for new players to quickly pick it up: plus a simple good-versus-bad storyline. Whether that makes it great or not is the question: mainly I just play it because I hate the COD games and it’s the only other shooter I know of that allows split-screen online.

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