After reading C4Cyphers post here I've been wondering.

I need some tips on how

  • To use all my tools effectively
  • Kill, don't die
  • Which weapon which situation?
  • VS Class


Simply put,

How can I be a good combat engineer?

(I use a quick build script too)


First of all, his post was written back during the dark days of TF2, before the class updates. His guide assumes you have the standard Shotgun, Pistol, Wrench combination.

However, which weapons you want depends entirely on what you want to do with them.

In General

Use your Pistol versus enemies at a distance and the Shotgun for medium range. Wrench is, of course, for close combat. Especially for servers that have critical hits on.

Your wrench causes buildings to advance one build "step" when you hit them while they are deploying, except in the case of the Jag, in which case buildings advance two "steps" when you hit them. This applies to your allies buildings in addition to your own, and buildings that are being redeployed.

Personally, I play Engineer in one of these two modes:

Mobile Fortress Engineer

This is both an offensive and defensive build.

Typical loadout for this is Shotgun, Pistol or Wrangler (your choice), and The Jag.

The focus here is on building your buildings near the back lines, then picking them up and moving them forward. This can be used in combination with teleporters to bring buildings up quickly.

Hitting buildings with your Jag as they deploy or redeploy causes them to deploy faster than the standard wrench. Hence the emphasis on this build if you plan on moving buildings around.

Note: If you're on defense at the start of a round, don't build at your spawn and move it. Instead, build your teleporters first, then your dispenser, whacking it with your Jag to make it build faster. Once it's nearly up, go grab an ammo box and start building your sentry gun.

Note: On 5CP maps, consider building on the second point to start, in case the other team manages to cap the middle point. You can always move your gun forward if your team caps the middle.

Personally, I'm terrible with the Wrangler, as I tend to get sniped or backstabbed when I'm using it, but you may have better luck.

Since the Jag makes all buildings build faster than normal when you hit them, this is also a great build for assisting other Engineers.


Typical loadout for this is Frontier Justice, Pistol, and Gunslinger.

This is primarily an offensive build, but can be used to provide backup to normal Engineers on defense. I'll touch more on this below.

The Gunslinger's mini-sentries are surprisingly effective versus the 6 lower-hp classes (all but Demoman, Soldier, and Heavy). That you can build two of them (not at the same time!) with your 200 starting metal is a bonus.

Don't be afraid to destroy your mini-sentry to gain crits for your Frontier Justice, particularly since mini-sentries cannot be repaired. This is why you have the Frontier Justice in this build: Every kill or assist your sentry has when it's destroyed adds to the number of guaranteed crits your Frontier Justice gets.

Just be careful not to stockpile too many crits. If you die, they reset to 0. In fact, it's easier and safer to destroy your sentry and rebuild it elsewhere instead of trying to move it, as you don't gain the crits it had saved up if it dies in your arms, and you're unable to shoot whilst moving buildings.

When backing up normal engineers, if you coordinate you can build your dispenser for him and he can focus on getting his sentry up quicker, with your dispenser for resupply. This is especially helpful for rebuilding quickly after a big push wipes out your team's defenses.

Note: Your mini-sentry isn't that strong. Quite often, you'll need to "help" it by attacking enemies with your shotgun or pistol at the same time.

  • Also of note: mini-sentries cannot be repaired, though they can be reloaded. Aug 7 '11 at 22:56
  • 1
    @Powerlord - Under "gunslinging," did you mean the loadout is frontier justice, pistol, gunslinger? Aug 8 '11 at 0:31
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    The "gunslinger" loadout is incredibly fun to play, I highly recommend it. Aug 8 '11 at 5:36
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    For the mobile fortress engineer, if the player isn't planning to actually use their pistol or wrangler they should always go with the pistol. The reasoning for this is if accidentally switch to your wrangler, or are too slow when scrolling through weapons, you can actually disable your sentry gun. This can be devastating depending on when it happens.
    – Wipqozn
    Aug 8 '11 at 10:48
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    @Wipqozn - I was confused by that wording too. I believe he meant that after the first is destroyed, you can replace it with a second without picking up any more metal (since they cost 100 each and you start with 200) Aug 8 '11 at 11:18

(This is just a tip, not a full set of advice.)

If you're using the Gunslinger, bind a key to build a mini-sentry, so that you can take maximum advantage of the quick build time. This is my configuration:

bind "r" "+fastbuildsentry"
alias +fastbuildsentry "destroy 2 0; build 2 0; +attack"
alias -fastbuildsentry "-attack; lastinv"

This will also destroy an existing sentry.

It is designed to work even on wait-disabled servers, but has two caveats because of that: you have to hold down the key for a moment, and it will waste one shot of whatever weapon you are currently holding (so it is a poor combination with the Frontier Justice unless you have time to reload). If wait is available then insert a wait between "build 2 0" and "+attack" (I haven't tested this).

  • Thanks, but I already use a quick build script, shoulda said that in the question. :)
    – Nottinylil
    Aug 8 '11 at 16:26
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    @Nottinylil: Ah, but now the next person having this question has this answer. Does your script perhaps have fewer quirks than mine?
    – Kevin Reid
    Aug 8 '11 at 22:48
  • I would say so, 1-4 builds 5-8 destroys. If its humiliation, you can do a fast destroy, plus if you have a level 3 sentry and you accidently hit 1, your all safe. =]
    – Nottinylil
    Aug 9 '11 at 13:46

The Element Of Surprise

An Engie NOT behind his machines? le gasp!

  • Surprise Sentries Teams weave their efforts around creating a path that doesn't encounter opposition. Building small or medium size sentries in unusual place is a great way to score up points and frustrate the other team. After a few hits, move your sentry elsewhere to score a few more. It's almost like griefing.

  • Shoot Away Just because you don't have a rocket launcher or sticky grenades doesn't mean you aren't capable of dealing damage. Run, aim, and shoot, with the same "scavenger/ambush" tactics as a pyro to score some more hits. If you've got a sentry placed elsewhere, you're dealing double the damage. Seeing an Engie with a gun out is the last thing other players expect and they often don't react properly.

Kill Don't Die

  • My best advice here is to read up on Pyro tactics. Be an ambusher, never on the front lines, because your defense sucks, but instead coming from the back or the side to pick off players. If you're low on health, don't risk it and turn back to safety.

  • Don't turtle. Just like the article you mentioned.


The Manno-Technology Update has provided Engineers with one amazingly underrated new shotgun: the Widowmaker. This shotgun is often written off by new players, due to the fact that it requires 60 metal to fire, meaning that 3 shots from it will nearly completely expend your building material. However, there's one crucial thing about these shots that goes ignored:

All damage from the Widowmaker adds to your metal count.

A good shotgun blast (well-aimed at close range- if they're farther away than the distance from the point to the door at B on Gravel Pit, you should use your pistol) will do at least 40 damage- when you subtract that from the original shot cost, the average shot from the Widowmaker takes about 20 metal (and will frequently take less). Combine this with dropped weapons and the fact that the Widowmaker never needs to reload, and one combat Engineer can set up a pretty serious meat grinder - I have a replay of me getting 11 shots in a row, against 3 enemies in an enclosed space. If more than a couple of your shots don't connect, though, you'll be in trouble (that replay would have had an even 12 if I hadn't missed the 10th and 11th shots- I ended up with my pistol out getting killed by the Soldier who had 3 HP to spare), so no wild blasting or feckless spychecking (if you want to spycheck, use your pistol).

  • 1
    Er, I just tested that with regular and mini sentries. Damage done by sentries does not give you metal. Aug 26 '11 at 23:12
  • Were you holding the Widowmaker at the time? I'm pretty sure I saw this happening last night. Aug 27 '11 at 0:38
  • Yep, I made sure I was holding the Widowmaker. Try it again and let me know. Aug 27 '11 at 3:37
  • @Nick: Must have been a trick of the light. I've cut that paragraph. Aug 29 '11 at 17:34

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