Home Strategy Gaming Psychology Pt. 2: Disorientation

After my Spy Psychology article, I’ve come to another, somewhat connected conclusion lately. The real key to being a higher tier player is the ability to disorientate your enemies. The idea is simple in principle, but difficult to pull off effectively on a consistent basis. If you know how a standard player will react in a situation, do exactly the opposite, or better yet, what he expects in a different way. Part of that sounds obvious I’m sure, and I’ll explain the second part shortly. First, though, I want to talk to those players who are new to their game of choice, and how they might pull off something like this without already knowing the mindset of veteran players.

Psychology for Newbs

I’m going to assume you don’t know the maps, the weapons, abilities and playstyles the large portion of the in-game population uses. Use that to your advantage. Hear me out. Like a child with little real life experience, you are the most unpredictable player on the battlefield. Players with hundreds of hours in the game have to think like you to come out on top.

Say, for instance, you’re playing TF2, and you decide to play Soldier. The standard newer player just spams rockets in the general direction of his enemies. Sure, that works most of the time. What you should be doing is deviate from the objective, whatever it may be. Let your experienced teammates worry about that. That’s really all they care about, for the most part. Plus, you need to learn the map, so go exploring. You’ll die a few times, but if you have the reflexes, you’ll get more kills than you might expect. If you see all the “good” players going one way, go another. Expect that the other team is filled with good players, who will in turn want to put a stop to the push. Expect also that one of your foes to have the same idea as you because that’s what they did when they were new.

I guarantee you’ll come across players flanking just like you are. Your job at this stage is to learn to evade them. A head-on assault on someone with more skill is a death sentence. You don’t know the map; they do. Again, use this to your advantage. Their flank routes are fairly set. Go where the winds of fate decide. Half the time it’s a way your enemies think is stupid and inefficient. That’s the whole point. You take ten extra seconds, survive and get the opportunity to do some killing at the expense of so called pros. I don’t recommend it, but if you’re feeling particularly cheeky, tell the enemy team in some way, “You just took it from a n00b!”

Psychology for Pros

Veterans, let’s talk what you want to know, or already do instinctually. The art of disorientation relies on your enemies having a preconceived notion on either how you are to move or how their heads up display works or how a situation is to play out. Picture this in your head: you have some kind of full body cover, and the enemy knows you’re behind it. You have several options. Go left, go right, run away, or go over it if this is TF2. Now, the average players thinks you’ll come the way he’s looking. The good player think’s you’ll go the other way. The great player doesn’t really know, so he takes a step back and watches all avenues. In Battlefield BC 2, he might throw a motion sensor. In Call of Duty, he might chuck some stuns. In TF2, he might jump over the rock to see.

Your job is to act in a way that puts you in the immediate advantage. In Battlefield, if you have it, use smoke. If you don’t, chuck a grenade. If you don’t have that, play with his head and do a little ring around the rosie. In TF2, the Spy’s choice is obvious. Cloak and dodge. Any other class the choice is equally as obvious, but more difficult. Get above your enemy, or too close for their comfort.

No matter which option you take, your enemy must now react to you, and not the other way around. He’s on the defensive, and if you push the advantage, victory is just a little closer. In Call of Duty, the best way of putting foes in an unfamiliar position is to mess with their radar. Do not underestimate the usefulness of a jammer. Verticality and cover are good options, but if you remove their second set of eyes, it’s like fighting a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Humorous and easy, in most situations.

The cardinal rule of disorientation is this: always know where you stand, but don’t let him know. If you’re unsure of what to do, it’s you who will fail. Indecision is death. Know all the choices for an engagement. Use all of them in some way, either as deception or as part of action. In time, this will be intuition and instinct. Until it is, I hope this helped.

19 replies to this post
  1. Playing mind tricks.
    If you do the unexpected, that’s expected, so doing the expected sometimes is the unexpected, and the unexpected is expected.
    Do what you think will throw the enemy off. Make them think you have a brigade of heavies going towards a CP, when it’s actually a group of 4 disguised friendly dead ringer spies. ECT. If you’ve read sun tzu’s art of war, most of it applies to games that need a form of strategy.
    However, you might want to coordinate with your team. My team did a spy rush, using deadringer and friendly disguises, everyone expected a regular fight, when we were wreaking havoc to the engies, snipers, and anything remotely away from the frontlines. We lost, due to running out of time, but we pretty much owned the other team.

    • Haha, we did exactly that on gorge once, we capped the first point tho, mostly due to multiple revolvers being extreamly deadly, and the fact that the whole team was waiting for a fight at the spawn gates.

  2. Deception. Spies. Brute force.
    These are the things that win the battle. Distract the enemy with an uber heavy attacking the sentries at the mid point, when you sent a pair of spies to be ready to cap the 4th and 5th point. Cap third, when they are still recovering, and when everyone is at 4th, be the guy who’s at the last point.
    Again, deception. Make the enemy think the opposite of what you’re doing. Fake a huge attack, when all your forces are preparing to attack elsewhere. Stall the enemy. STAALLL THE ENEMY. It also helps if you can use psychology to make all the engies ragequit. Every second, follow the engy, sap all his shit, spawn camp the guy, gun down his sentry with your revolver from across the map. Things that will make him go, FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. In other words, troll the engy. Until he ragequits, then Attack when the engy that takes his place is setting up shop, cap, and win the game.

    • The trouble lies in coordination. That said, if a team practices the art of disorientation, I don’t really see how they’re defeatable except by another team doing the same.

      Stalling is a good tactic, and spies are very good at it. Draw away the medic or the engie with potshots; make them chase you with their saw or wrench: “Spah ’round here!” Kill them and get the rest of the team paranoid. Paranoia is sometimes key to deception. You want your foes acting predictably, so that you act unpredictably, the engagement is in your complete control.

      • Paranoia leads to foolish action. Like a pyro chasing a spy into the spies territory, and getting shot down by a sentry, like you mentioned in the last spy strategy. And yes, planning is the easy part, the actual plan is hard. Voice chat is vital for planning. But there’s usually someone who thinks they don’t need plans, and are too good for a plan.
        Spies are good at distracting enemies, due to their low health, and average speed. They’re seen as easy targets, so people chase after them for an “easy” kill. But dead ringer puts them right back into action. Engies will chase away spied to great lengths usually, allowing for easy destruction of their equipment. This fails however, if there’s more than one engy, or a homewrecker pyro. Or almost any teammate. Just attack them while they are alone, it might help to take down the teleporter first. Or a telefrag might be good too. I took down an engy base of about 4 sentries, by myself using eternal reward, and some sneakiness. Telefrag, then run away. While all the pyres are upstairs chasing me, I actually was downstairs killing a medic, 2 engies, sapping the shit Out of everything, and headshotting the last engineer with an ambassador. It was beautiful. I, distracted the pyros by making them think I was going upstairs, deceived the engies into thinking I wasn’t a spy, then sapped their shit. It was a good day for spy. Deception Is a players best friend. And spies are masters of it, they can determine an entire battle, just like an übercharge would.

  3. All the psychology I find myself needing as spy: TF2 players aren’t that bright and they will reliably forget you are around if they can’t chase you down within three seconds

  4. Recently, i’ve been playing more league of legends then i have TF2 which is quite strange, though both are excellent games which often have the same confrontations. The difference being TF2 is first person and isn’t controlled through mana, therefore its all guns and immediate action. But through pacing myself in League of Legends, and screwing around with the enemy’s mind, I’ve found myself a much better TF2 player. Mainly because in LoL, there are a ridiculous amount of characters with different strategies, and different attacks. While this is not quite so in TF2, it is also very prominent when you give it a quick thought. Sure, you could play a heavy with a sandvich and fists of steel; tanking damage like Godzilla on crack, or you could equip the GRU, with the tomislav, and sneak behind enemy lines. The same is said of the spy. One could use the cloak and dagger with YER, and be “Right behind you…” when you least expect it. Or, you could put on the ambassador and the DR, acting the part of the invincible sniper who hides in your closet and griefs enemy engineers. Marrying the two concepts together allows a wider range of awareness and brings the wild card to the table, ultimately turning that card into another deck of predicted approaches in combat. You could then turn that deck into a million other decks for every possible team with every possible strategy against any class you’re playing as; and ultimately, Shut the out

  5. People need to abuse friendly disguises more. We were playing a 3v3 KOTH competition and a heavy/medic combo was pinning down my teammates. They were gaurded by a pyro so stabbing them was essentially impossible – they were just going to trap my teammates there until the KOTH timer runs out or until they build an uber.

    So what did I do? I took a potshot at the medic from afar and hid quickly, then disguised as a friendly sniper. Their focus of attention instantly shifted to me, and my team took the chance and wrecked them.

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