There’s a secret to playing Spy in Team Fortress 2.
A secret that, at some level, everyone knows but simply cannot easily articulate. Something that, when consciously taken into consideration, makes playing the class something else entirely. It’s what makes donning the balaclava so exquisitely thrilling in the first place. What is it?
When you’re a Spy, you’re no longer playing Team Fortress 2 at all. In fact, you’re playing a new game entirely, called This is The Part Where You Win.
Other classes are relatively simple. You move around the map and, when another player with a different color uniform appears, you press Mouse1 at that color-coded enemy until its hitpoints are depleted. Sure, that’s not universal. Medics press Mouse1 at same-colored mercenaries, and Engineers press Mouse1 at buildings. But not the Spy. The Spy is a different beast entirely.
It may sound arrogant to nickname espionage in a manner as direct as This is The Part Where You Win, but there’s a simple truth to it. As Spy, your goal isn’t to constantly deal damage, or prevent it, or smash machines with a wrench. Your goal is to get into the perfect position and make everything go your way. And whether your enemies know it or not, their actions exist only to play into your greater plan. A single foe? Child’s play. Multiple foes? All the more murder to relish. They’re working together, cohesively fighting?
Not if you can fucking help it.
Because unlike other classes, you have the one tool that changes the rules of the game. You can change or erase your color in a color-coded game. This may sound obvious, or even pointless, but strategy is born from simple nuances in the limits and boundaries of each game. And in a game in which “things of color X must die” you effectively exist outside of it. You are, in a way, a god.
It’s okay to relish that thought for a minute. Perhaps take the time to enjoy a fine cigarette while making love to your enemy’s mother.
But let’s get back to the whole being a god thing.
Imagine a creature like the Spy in the real world: a being who can seemingly teleport at will, who can become any other person, and who can take mortals’ lives with the flick of his wrist or a few snaps of divine thunder. How much more terrifying is such a being than a man who shoots explosions or a steady-handed Sniper?
You cannot play a Spy as one plays any run-of-the-mill mercenary. You’re mischief incarnate. You’re Loki. You’re something your enemies must always expect, but can never be certain is present. As mortals clash with their bullets and their bombs and their half rotten fish in newspapers, you plot. You watch unseen and predict the demise of your subjects without them knowing. Or, perhaps, you allow them to glimpse your form in the corner of their eyes, just long enough to leave them exposed to your teammates’ fatal gunfire.
Your allies may never know how you aided them. But that’s fine; you’re not playing Team Fortress 2. The distraction, after all, was the part where you win.