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Often when I play TF2 (usually as spy/scout, but sometimes as other classes), I'll find myself suddenly blasted/incinerated/pick your own favorite way to die by something I never saw coming. Many times there's no obvious error on my part that caused this, but just plain bad luck (bumping into someone around a corner while invisible, finding out as scout that there's a sentry behind that corner you just passed, etc.). Although some of these could be avoided by playing more cautiously and paying greater attention to my surroundings, that takes time that I do not have when in dangerous situations. (You can't take 360 spins to ensure nobody's sneaking up on you, you have to kill your target and get out of danger.) Is there any real solution to this, or do I just have to take the deaths, curse my luck, and respawn in 15 seconds?

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If you have Your Eternal Reward, dont backstab my healing target and expect me not to notice. I will shoot you. –  Joe the Person Oct 14 '11 at 2:47
    
@JoethePerson Or, backstab the medic first, then retreat. Medics bail on their healing target all the time. Just retreat fast, because a clever player WILL spycheck you. –  Zibbobz Feb 20 at 14:59
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5 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

In addition to learning the maps, there are a few other things to know:

  • Sentry guns beep 1-3 times each time they change directions (so about every 3 seconds). Once for mini/level 1, twice for level 2, thrice for level 3. Generally, if you can hear a sentry's beep, you'll be in its range when you round a corner.
  • As a Spy, you'll get a LOT of cheap deaths. Sadly, this is because of the Spy's shortcomings in order to combat the instant-kill backstab.
    • The Spy's Dead Ringer takes some getting used to, but in certain situations, using it (preferably while disguised as a teammate so they don't know you're a Spy) can get past a defensive line. Beware that the Dead Ringer makes a louder than usual decloak sound. The Dead Ringer is a "perfect" cloak for the first 6.5 seconds, so enemies who touch you won't make you appear as a team-color outline. However, they still can't move through you.
    • The Cloak and Dagger gives you some latitude by not decloaking when you don't want to, but it also has a very short cloak time.

Having said all this, you're still going to die a lot in Team Fortress 2. It's the nature of the game! The lower-HP classes in particular are specialized in some way, but lower HP is the drawback.

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In my opinion, the Spy is one of three classes whose style of play is almost entirely influenced by your equipment loadout (Demo and Engi being the other two). If you're not having luck playing Spy one way, change your loadout with new items (most notably your watches and knives) and try a different style. Granted, this requires actually having said items, but the point remains. –  TheQ Jul 1 '11 at 14:54
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As a spy, you will die. It is unavoidable. However, there is a difference between staying alive and being effective. For a spy, your jobs are to:

  1. Report on Enemy movements from behind their lines. (Yes, like a real world spy). Letting your teammates know what's waiting for them without the enemy knowing that their secrecy has been compromised can give your team quite the advantage.

  2. Take out the high profile opponents. The Heavy-Medic combo, the fully-charged Sword Idiot, The Sniper. Beyond these 2 roles, as you try to run around and make regular kills, accept that you will die, a lot. In regular play, the Spy relies on enemies making a mistake more so than he does his own "uber leet skills". Just be in the right place, and know how to take advantage of any lapses in your opponents judgement/security. If your enemies DON'T make a mistake, and most decent players won't make many, then you'll realistically only win about 1/3 face to face encounters, less if you're discovered while cloaked.

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+1 for "fully-charged Sword Idiot" –  Raven Dreamer Jun 30 '11 at 17:08
    
+1 for reporting enemy activity. This intel should specifically include where the engineer defenses are setup and where the enemy group is located. –  Bora Jun 30 '11 at 17:52
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Once you've played on a map fairly often, you'll come to know the favorite paths and firing lines that people use as they duck in and out of cover. Obviously as spy, you will want to avoid these as much as possible, as that's where you're most likely to get hit (either by bullets or bodies) assuming you're fully cloaked. Even in the tightest places, like a hallway, one side a half-step away could easily be much more hazardous than the other.

Scouts should follow similar rules, especially on maps where people will fire blind (mild spam), but they are much tricker and very dependent on enemy positions if you're trying to make an end run past the front lines. Bonk Cola always makes it easier, but if a Pyro, Soldier, or even Demo is hell-bent on running you down, it can be extremely difficult to evade them. If you use your teammates as distractions, you might be able to give that Pyro something else to fixate on instead of you.

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When playing as a unit with a spam-able attack, I often fire randomly precisely to combat surprise scouts and cloaked spies. The more friendly projectiles flying around, the harder your job is, and that suits me just fine. I think your best counter in those situations is just to be cautious, keep your eyes open for incoming projectiles and be prepared to dodge. –  JavadocMD Jun 30 '11 at 17:07
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Playing on servers that show you who killed you (and usually where) is a great help while learning, since it'll show you what you need to pay attention to next time.

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You could also try playing a different class or two. Spies and Scouts are two of the lowest-HP classes in the game, and Spies are very quickly gunned down when a team finds them for their incredibly dangerous ability to backstab and sap. Scouts are a bit more survivable due to mobility, but that is directly proportional to your experience in how useful it will be.

I hesitate to tell you to switch to Heavy, even though he has a truckload of HP, simply becuase he too is a huge target. You'll get headshot and backstabbed a LOT. Still a good choice though, due to a very large HP tank.

Pyro and Soldier are both good stable classes, having a good amount of HP and contributing a nice offensive power to the team. Soldiers are slower (until you learn to rocket jump that is), but have better long-range options and highly effective explosive damage, while Pyros have flame resistance and the best short-ranged weapon in the game.

You could also try playing other support classes like Engineer, Medic or Sniper, who stay far behind the lines and assist by constructing useful buildings, healing everyone on the team, and shooting heads respectively, just be aware that in this position, you are the target for the other spies.

Or you could play the Demoman, who has Pyro-level health, decent speed, and all of the splash damage ever.

TL;DR

Try a different class. Death is cheap in TF2, but you might find it comes less frequently with more sturdiness.

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