Every now and then when playing TF2, I see a spy who seems to be able to stand right in the middle of a small group of enemies, whether in disguise or in stealth, and doesn't seem to have any problems staying with the crowd and not getting bumped.

However, it seems that when I (and the majority of spy players) are in a crowd of enemies in disguise, someone bumps into them and they are discovered. What are some good tactics for judging when a player is going to back up or suddenly turn towards you? What's a good way to avoid bumping into them without making obviously suspicious movements?

The moments I am most interested in are those times when you aren't ready to backstab anyone, and you want to wait until the group gets into a firefight so that you can more easily pick them off and escape... I don't seem to have too much problem moving in for a kill, just staying with the group without being bumped.

  • Timing. Always timing. Never go for a backstab in a group unless the entire rest of the group is distracted with a firefight. – Zibbobz Feb 11 '14 at 14:52

I think a key thing as spy is to avoid groups completely. If you reduce the chances to bump into someone then it will make life easier.

I think spies work best when they are trying to pick off the people at the back of the lines, whether it's people running from spawn, or engineers or people going back for health. Kill, cloak, hide.

If you're in a situation where, when cloaked, you're trying to get through a group of enemies, either following, or running through the front line to get behind the enemy, then I highly recommend jumping from side to side. Being able to reduce the area of possible contact with an enemy is the key.

When disguised there is a little bit of timing involved, as well as a clear plan. You need to look like you have a definite movement, nothing gives away a spy as someone just running around after another person. If you attack when they are attacking then it's easier to blend in and not look suspicious.

I do my attacks as spy in a forward motion. Cloak, get in behind the lines, disguise, decloak, run forward with the enemy attackers and attack. No matter the result, I push through to my team-mates, heal and resupply. Rinse and repeat. Obviously if your using the cloak and dagger or dead-ringer then it's different.

There is a huge slice of luck involved with tracking and pushing through as a spy as people are a little unpredictable and sometimes you just get unlucky.

  • This is pretty good advice, and it's what I do for the most part. However, like I said, every now and again you can see players who navigate crowds of enemies over and over without being detected, and I'm wondering how they do it. – TM. Jul 22 '10 at 3:45
  • You should try to avoid overtaking more than one person at a time if you are in a narrow corridor – Albort Jul 22 '10 at 3:51
  • @T M: I suppose it could be good guessing/judging of enemy movement. – Alastair Pitts Jul 22 '10 at 12:31
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    Also, get into the habit of hitting redisguise immediately after stabbing someone, even if you're running after another person directly in front of you... it helps if another enemy comes from behind. The downside is the colored puff of smoke, but that goes away fairly quickly. – user2974 Sep 1 '10 at 14:42
  • I forgot to mention: If you're lucky, if you start stabbing a group from behind, they'll be more preoccupied by your team's forces fighting them that they don't turn around when you kill the teammates behind them. This tends to work exceptionally well on Payload carts if you're a RED Spy. I think my personal best is 6 backstabs in a row. – user2974 Sep 13 '10 at 18:49

Playing spy on a crowded server is probably the most difficult class to play.

You have to

  • know perfectly each angle of the map.
  • know the position of your team members in order to avoid being on the direct line between them and your enemies.
  • know the play style of each class for that specific map. In particular you have to know the routes of pyro and where is directed spam of soldier and demoman.
  • follow your instinct. It will became better and better every dozens of hours you play that class.
  • be lucky. That's really important for a spy. The Murphy's law tells that after each angle, or near the enemy respawn if you encounter an enemy that enemy will be a Pyro, obviously firing without any apparent reason ;)
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    I think most pyros have a sixth sense about spies. Or maybe they just walk around bursting the flamethrower. – C. Ross Jul 27 '10 at 21:46
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    If a spy is wreaking havoc against an enemy team, then a good pyro "should" be flame bursting everyone...especially those that are in a group, or dont look like they are doing what their class should be doing. (Like a scout at the back of the map not moving, or a sniper with a rifle on the front lines...) – Albort Sep 15 '10 at 7:04
  • @C. Ross: Meet the Spy Checker: youtube.com/watch?v=nR04zoJurSI – Brant Oct 19 '10 at 16:46
  • Don't get near pyros. They spy-check front, sides and corners, and everything that looks suspicious.

  • If you need cloak refill, rest at the middle of a wall. Don't curl up in a corner, someone will go there for camping reasons and bump into you.

  • This may seem weird, at first, but, talk to others: call for medic or say something to the team (in-game voice). This will give you a more credible image, that you belong to the opposing team. It's also a distracting maneouvre: if someone bumps into you, just bring them from the thought that there's a spy among them :)

  • For the same reason, don't get near engineers. A good engineer does a spy-check with his wrench or the shotgun first, as soon as he sees someone running in his direction, especially when not firing or making a noise.

  • By in-game voice, I'm assuming you mean the voice commands and not voice chat, since voice chat only works on all-talk servers, plus the voice chat icon has your team color on it. – user2974 Oct 19 '10 at 15:35
  • yes, I mean the in-game voices. – DrFish Oct 20 '10 at 6:23
  • Don't pick the Heavy as your cloak target when injured. Even a mediocre medic (like me) that heals you will notice the massive difference in HP, because a spy health bar takes a lot less time to refill than a Heavy's. – Hackworth Jun 25 '12 at 19:15
  • I don't know about good medics, but I always try to spy check people before healing them. If I am confident they are not a spy, I'll just bump them (face first). Anyone that comes up to me out of the blue and asks for medic will typically get a few syringes from me first. – jw013 Mar 1 '13 at 20:52
  • @Hackworth, Disguised spies have a fake HP and a real HP. I'm pretty sure the fake HP which the enemy team sees heals up at the same rate that it would have as the class you are disguised as. That being said, the fake HP is usually at full health, so calling for medic in that case would be suspicious. – Muhd Mar 19 '14 at 18:53

I play mostly Spy and I find that playing it is not hard if you make your move quick. The more you linger around the same people, the more suspicious you become. I've had times where there were many people capturing a point. Instead of standing around, I hopped down -- stabbed a couple of people -- and dead ringered out of there. I wouldn't recommend standing amongst a group of people waiting for the perfect opportunity. In fact, the only class that's worth waiting for to do that is Engineer (so you can sap his crap). Make your move quick and get out of there.


When playing a spy, distractions are your best friend. Don't try to 'blend in' with a crowd, that will inevitably get you killed. Wander towards the back, wait and make sure everyone has passed you by, and then and only then should you decloak and march forward, acting like you're at the back of a charge.

Try not to directly charge at a person's back, which is a dead giveaway that you are a spy. Also be aware that some players will bob and weave if they suspect a spy is nearby. Wait for an ally to distract them with a fight before moving in, so that you know exactly where they'll be going (to fight that person, rather than randomly dodging a spy).

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