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I'm trying to understand what is the faster way to get a strong sentry to the front at the beginning of the round (the setup time).

Is it better to build a sentry directly on the front? This has the advantage of it being able to shoot enemies even before it's fully upgraded, but the disadvantage of the engineer having to scavenge metal around the front to build it.

Or perhaps it is better to build a sentry near the resupply, then haul it? This has the advantage of metal being readily available near the resupply, but the disadvantage of having to haul it (slower move speed) the whole distance, and also that it will not be there at all until the engineer arrives. Also, the hauling method incurs the overhead of deployment time twice.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is going to depend on the map, how far the resupply cabinet is from a building area, where you want to deploy your sentry, and what sort of ammo supplies are near the desired deployment area.

If you know there is a full ammo pack, or a couple of a 100-metal ammo packs, near your desired location, you should probably just build it there and get resupplied without going back to spawn. You will fare better if you drop your dispenser before your sentry as well, and make sure to help it build faster while you wait for ammo to respawn... this will give you an extra ammo boost for upgrading your sentry. In general I think this is the faster option.

However, if you know of a good sentry position that has no ammo nearby (or only a small 41-metal item), and you won't have too far to run between the resupply cabinet and a buildable area, and that buildable area is pretty close to the place where you want your sentry, then this option can be faster. I'd say for most maps it isn't the better option. It does have one nice feature though: you can keep the sentry out of danger until the enemy uses their first ubercharges and avoid rebuilding the gun.

Above all keep in mind that it's almost always better for your team to build a level 3 teleporter and dispenser than it is to have a level 3 sentry. A level 1 sentry with player support is still pretty effective, and the healing of your dispenser and fast replacement of allied players is MUCH better than the extra damage you get from a level 3 sentry in almost all scenarios. Also, offensive teams almost always build an ubercharge or two during setup time, which they will often use to immediately clear out any sentries that are nearby (but will rarely use to target teleporters and dispensers).

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In setup time, the most important thing that you can do is to get teleporters up - assuming that this is a standard 12v12 or 16v16 match. The order that I seem to like doing now with the ability to move buildings:

1) Drop a teleporter entrance outside the gate.

2) Run to front lines, picking up at least 50 metal on the way. Drop an exit. If there's a nearby metal stash, grab that and drop a despenser.

3) Haul back quickly to spawn. Upgrade teleporters with spawn metal. Build up a sentry to level two.

4) Pick up sentry, teleport with it to front lines, and drop it. Finish upgrading sentry and despenser.

This order keeps a working gun from battle for about a minute, but this is ordinarily fine. You should have enough demos and ubers to keep the blue very near spawn during that time - especially if the teleporters are running.

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The only thing I'd change with this is that if you're dropping an entrance at your spawn you can just pop back and hit the cabinet to fill your metal again. –  jonnii Jul 13 '10 at 15:29
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I don't do this simply because I can usually find metal that is on the way. Depending on the map, that backtrack back to the cabinet can take a couple extra seconds that you don't need to waste. –  Jeffrey Jul 13 '10 at 16:36
    
+1, This is a good "build order". –  Alastair Pitts Jul 14 '10 at 0:34
    
You can't assume that your teammates will protect your exit so early in the game, it would be easy for a scout or spy to wreck the whole thing –  Jake McGraw Jul 14 '10 at 19:14
    
The vulnerability period is very short - and if you get your teleporter up quickly to level three, you'll have a stream of respawns coming through that teleporter for protection right away. If a spy saps the teleporter, you can remove the sapper from the entrance. –  Jeffrey Jul 14 '10 at 19:29
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A great combo could be work in tandem with another engineer.

Engineer 1 do the following:

  1. Build the teleport entrance
  2. Run to the front and drop the teleport exit jsut before the "hot" zone
  3. Build the sentry and start upgrading it

Engineer 2 do the following:

  1. Build the dispenser immediatly at the spawn exit
  2. Take metal, build the teleport
  3. Upgrade the dispenser to level 3
  4. Pick up the dispenser level 3 and take the teleport of Engineer 1 with full metal
  5. Drop dispenser
  6. Drop sentry

The good point of this is that the engineers do not steal the metal between them and is effective in CP maps like CP_Badlands, CP_Well, CP_Granary for example.

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It ultimately depends on the map. If it is something like pl_badwater (and you're defending the first point (or setting up at the second)), you have ample time to setup a sentry at spawn and then haul it to defend the point. If you're aiming to defend further up the line, you're better off building in place.

You also need to remember that if you haul a level 3 sentry gun out, it takes 5-6 seconds (i think) before it is set up again.

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and hitting it whilst its unpacking does NOT make it unpack faster –  Albort Jul 19 '10 at 7:29
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