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When you encounter a Witch in Left 4 Dead, the best thing to do is probably to switch off the lights and leave her alone.

But what to do when the AI director decides to put her straight on your way and the only possibility you have is killing her?

Most of the time, the player who wakes her up is attacked and heavily damaged.

How to avoid her claws? Which strategy to use? Are there any strategic differences between Left 4 Dead 1 and Left 4 Dead 2?

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11 Answers

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Well, when I play with my regular team mates together, we mostly avoid killing the witch. But if you absolutely need to, there are two ways:

  • Fire and kite: Unless the surroundings/terrain is flat wide area with no place to hide or climb, let one with a mid/long-range weapon shoot the witch and start running around IMMEDIATELY. While she's chasing the guy, the rest of the team unloads on her with whatever they have. Depending on difficulty she drops dead in less than 10 seconds. Don't try this on Expert, especially if your team is not good at tracking targets while firing.

  • Crowning: If on campaign, the one player with the auto-shotgun gets near and gets the fast kill. On expert, it is possible to use the shotgun, but is also very risky. If the first shot misses a single pellet, you're dead. So, if you have no other choice and only the shotgun at your disposal: Get real close and aim for the chest, AS SHE'S STANDING UP. I do it like this: I get close to touch her, crouch and keep my aim on the head. As she starts standing up, I pull the trigger the moment my cross aim is at the middle of her chest.

On versus, a good team usually has already set up a trap around her, so be extra cautious. Don't even try it with the shotgun. If you miss the first one and there is a boomer around, you're going down pretty fast.

If you are soloing, and NEED to get that witch off the street, you can also use the sniper rifle from a safe distance. The first shot HAS to be headshot, which causes her to stumble and give you about two extra seconds to unload further.

That's it.

UPDATE: As of December 3rd, 2010 Update, the witch can't be killed by crowning (1 shot in the head with the shotgun) in Realism Versus. All other methods still work, though.

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Crowning is also very possible with one shot from the tier 1 pump shotgun, but it has to be dead on. Usually I crouch on front of her and hit her in the back or chest. The Realism comment above still applies, though. –  Alex Beardsley Dec 7 '10 at 20:13
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If you can sneak up behind the witch with a shotgun, one point-blank shot to the head will kill her. It's a dangerous game since you have to get so close, but it is definitely possible. With practice you will be able to do it consistently.

If that is not an option, then you should follow Arda Xi's advice.

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Note that while this does work, I would not try it on Expert. If she is triggered before you shoot, you're dead. Literally. –  user56 Oct 9 '10 at 14:48
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@Arda On the contrary, learning to do this consistently is almost imperative to finishing the level on expert if you get a particularly bad witch spawn. –  StrixVaria Oct 9 '10 at 14:50
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Fair enough. Just don't practice on Expert. ;-) –  user56 Oct 9 '10 at 15:06
    
i don't think this works without an an auto shotgun on expert. I've done it sometimes on advanced and I definitely have to sneak up behind her and then unload the entire clip right as she starts to rise. –  robertpateii Oct 10 '10 at 7:18
    
@robertpareii why wouldn't it work with auto shotguns? I actually prefer to use the auto shotty because I don't have to time it as precisely. I can get 3 shots off, one of which is likely to be the kill shot. –  MBraedley Oct 11 '10 at 1:32
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My usual strategy is just throwing a molotov at her and running like hell.

Another strategy (especially when playing with friends) is to set up one guy with a sniper rifle standing far away, he shoots the witch initially while the other 3 are nearby, and they start shooting her. Depending on how far the sniper is, that should give you enough time. This works because the witch ignores anyone not triggering her.

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The witch likes to fixate on a single character, so as long as no one disturbs her before the molotov is thrown, the other three get free reign to go to town on the bloody zombie. You can also physically get in her way for a second or so, but any longer and she'll decide that you're an easier kill and calmly eviscerate you. –  Raven Dreamer Oct 9 '10 at 17:16
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In my experience she only ever knocks you over (like a Charger who already has a victim for example) which means you can still kill her, but the person throwing the molotov has to run very fast. –  user56 Oct 9 '10 at 18:23
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it should be noted that if witches deal unusually with fire in l4d2. Normally she only has one target, but she will switch targets everytime someone hits her with fire. i.e. your buddy gets too close, sets her off, she chases him, you throw a molotov and hit her...she will switch to you. –  robertpateii Oct 10 '10 at 7:20
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You need to learn how to crown the Witch. With practice, you will be able to kill her every time with deadly precision and consistency.

To practice, bind a key to use the following command:

sv_cheats 1; z_spawn witch

If you don't know how to use console commands, you can read about them here.

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Note that you'll need to turn on cheats for this one, using sv_cheats 1. –  user56 Oct 19 '10 at 20:50
    
@Arda Xi Thanks, fixed! –  cowgod Oct 19 '10 at 23:32
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For L4D2, Chainsaw is a great weapon for taking out witches. It has the highest DPS of any melee weapon and can easily kill a witch before she has the time to do her normal react-turn-kill scheme.

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I believe this only works if the witch is standing. Kneeling witches have too much HP to be killed by chaining before they kick your ass. –  Will Apr 5 '11 at 16:41
    
Don't -ever- try this on versus without decent backup. The first thing the Infected Team will do is let a Hunter/Smoker/Charger loose on you. –  DrFish Feb 13 '12 at 10:18
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I have a strategy to fight against witch.

If I meet the her on my path and there's no other way, so here's what I'm doing to treat her..

  1. Try to find a large open space area around her but if it couldn't make sure that there's no barricade or some stuffs like that which can detain your movement.
  2. Instruct the AI bots or your friend to cover you from behind
  3. Slowly approach her but don't too close with her
  4. Throw a molotov in front of her and run backward while shooting at her.
  5. She will startled and start chasing you.
  6. Burst her with your gun (preferably with M16 or sub-machine gun) while you are running backward.
  7. When you reach the safe point behind your team mate and let her finished by them.
  8. She wouldn't touch you or anyone whilst her body was on fire. :D

But don't do this if your stamina is below 50. She probably could reach you.

Have a nice try.

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One approach to easily dispatch a witch that isn't mentioned in any of the existing answers involves frag rounds. Remember that they stun special infected, including witches.

So, if you have frag rounds, and if there is enough room,

  1. deploy the frag rounds,
  2. instruct your team mates to equip them,
  3. then instruct all your team mates to fire at the witch from a reasonable distance, all at the same time. Each successful shot will stun her, and she will likely die before being able to chase any member of the team.

That will do the job if no molotov is available and nobody on your team knows the cr0wning technique. The fact that this approach works is actually a nice incentive to carry frag rounds with you instead of deploying them as soon as you find them.


Edit: with an automatic weapon, you may even be able to kill her by yourself. See this video.

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If there happens to be an explosive gas canister lying around, place it next to her and then shoot that. Has the duel affect of dealing damage and waking her up, and then have everyone shoot at her.

Of course, this doesn't work quite as well if she is around a corner and you are unable to shoot said canister in a manner that will set her off....

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A more cowardly method would be to set her on fire or alert her from a distance then run to the nearest room and barricade yourself. She takes a couple of secs to break down the door but your allies should shoot her to death (those with bad aim might shoot the door down). If the witch is sitting in the way, find a gas can and place behind door before barricading yourself. She will blow up door and gas can and lose you as her target (she thinks the fire startled her).

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A "will not fail" method is this one (required to be at least 2 players):

  1. Approach the witch while croutched, optimally in her back.
  2. Beat the crap out of her.

The first hit will make her stand up (if seated) or push her back, and you'll have 2/3 sec to kill her. The untargeted player can push her back with right-click, it will give you some more time.

If everything goes well (aka "you're hitting her in the head"), you does need 3 hits to kill her, it's an easy task, even in hardest difficulty mode.

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Here is my strategy with a sniper rifle.

  1. Make sure you're a distance away
  2. Headshot
  3. If that doesn't work, continue shooting her.
  4. If all else fails, run like hell and shoot her while running.
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This is a horrible strategy. First, the sniper rifle is the worst weapon to pick up except in a handful of situations. Second, it's notoriously unreliable at killing a witch with a single shot, and when she starts running, only the best players will be able to hit her with the sniper rifle. Third, it is impossible, by definition, to run and gun with a sniper rifle. –  MBraedley Jul 9 '13 at 11:05
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@MBraedley: this may not a good strategy, but work alot more time for me, specily in L4D2 where sniper rifle is quite powerful, a head shot sure not kill a witch but it jolt the witch for like 2/3 seconds and if you are good with sniper and witch is coming to you in a direct line chances are pretty god that she dies before you reload. –  Buzz Sep 26 '13 at 7:27
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