Every intermediate Pyro knows the puff-and-sting technique:

  1. Ignite opponent
  2. (Optional) Airblast them to a wall or corner
  3. Hit them with the Axtinguisher
  4. ????
  5. PROFIT!

The Degreaser with its fast weapon switch bonus makes this a quick and deadly combo attack.

However, having only less than a few weeks of Axtinguisher time myself, I'm finding this combo pretty difficult to pull off, especially on Soldiers who know I'm coming. I puff a flame, push the opponent back, press 3 or Q... but before I'm able to swing my Axtinguisher, the Soldier has turned back and crocketed me.

Knowing that the enemy will attempt a counter-attack, if it's an explosive I usually end up using reflects to kill them instead of approaching them and taking out melée. It's a slower kill with less predictable DPS, but it's easier for me. In fact, I'm probably the only Pyro out there with a higher success rate of killing with reflects than with the Axtinguisher. Embarrassing, I know.

Anyway, how can I perform the Axtinguisher combo more effectively and ensure I get a kill?

  • I wouldn't try to axtinguish soldiers... unless they pull out their shotguns. If they're firing rockets, just crocket those guys with their own shots! (Even more satisfying, since all reflects are minicrits!) Sep 2 '12 at 22:48
  • 2
    Could you do some sort of bind? ie, attack/switch/attack? I had one of these for spy sapping+engy backstabbing at one point and I seem to remember it working pretty well.
    – agent86
    Sep 3 '12 at 0:05
  • You use to be able to script actions like that as a bind yes actually, but it was... nerfed? They added an option to block scripts like that from working on servers and made the option default to not allowed. Last time I tried to use a script (A year+) my game would crash everytime I tried on a server that blocked scripts, I have no idea about the current state.
    – Shykin
    Sep 3 '12 at 1:37
  • @Shykin - My tf2 scripts are still working on all of the servers I play on as of a couple days ago.
    – Steve V.
    Sep 3 '12 at 1:41
  • 1
    @Zibbobz: That's called groundstalling and doesn't work anymore. It was patched a few months back.
    – BoltClock
    Dec 20 '13 at 2:53

The Degreaser + Axtinguisher answer to "a soldier that knows you're coming" is to skip the ax and reflect their rockets! That's one of the worst situations for trying to get an ax kill — if you're anywhere close enough, likely as not you'll end up both dead from splash damage.

The ideal case for Degreaser + Axtinguisher is when the enemy does not know you are there. In this case, you close in, ignite, switch to axe, and strike while they're noticing they're on fire — no airblast. The airblast is only for when they've noticed you (or are about to be in a position to) and you want to disrupt their aim, but it pushes them away so you can't ax them as quickly. Airblast only when it seems useful, not because it's part of the "combo". You should time your ignition so that you reach melee range just as you are able to swing the axe.

I recommend practicing the minimal ignite/axe attack to the point where you can use it in those encounters when you're almost as surprised as they are. (Play a map with lots of corners to bump into people at.) This is where I get the most benefit from the technique. I use mouse-wheel bindings like Steve V.'s answer suggests, except for not using the click.

What do you do with your Degreaser when you haven't got the close range? My favorite solution to this problem is the Flare Gun, which, like the Axtinguisher, crits on burning players. This time, you do airblast immediately after ignition, even if there's no wall; ideally, your airblast will put them on a semi-predictable trajectory for your flare followup. After you fire a flare, switch back to Degreaser and repeat from the top — if the flare hits, then a little more flames or another flare and they're dead; if it missed, then you want to keep them rattled for the next try using your airblast.

While you're doing this you should be keeping about at the end of your flamethrower range and circling around them to keep their aim off you, of course. If they seem especially discombobulated, or are reloading, immediately go in for the axe. Conversely, if you tried the straight axe combo and missed, airblast them away and switch to flares.

  • 2
    I'd always thought I was missing something by relying on airblast and flares to deal with Soldiers :) I usually see other Pyros approaching them with the Axtinguisher and, more often than not, getting the kill. Anyway, I use my Flare Gun far more often than any other weapon; it's even easier to do a Degreaser + Flare Gun crit on enemy Pyros than Degreaser + Axtinguisher (is that even possible solo?).
    – BoltClock
    Sep 3 '12 at 8:47
  • Never thought of a flare on a pyro — interesting idea, since melee weapons have a delay that others don't. Will have to try.
    – Kevin Reid
    Sep 3 '12 at 14:41

Try remapping your controls to the following:

  • Mousewheel Up: Primary Weapon
  • Mousewheel Down: Melee Weapon
  • Mousewheel Click: Secondary Weapon

Your keyboard hand never has to leave the movement keys, which will make you more agile, you never scroll past the weapon you want (in fact, you don't even have to think about "do I have the right weapon out?" - if you're not sure, just scroll more) and your middle finger is sitting right there on the weapon toggle - if you can't pull off a puff-n-swing with this setup, it won't be because you're too slow on the keys.

  • This is also how I have my controls set up in Left 4 Dead.
    – Steve V.
    Sep 3 '12 at 1:45

First that combo is really mostly great for sudden ambushes. So if you're trying it in the face of a soldier you are going to die.

Besides that it is mostly a speed thing. You should quickly tap the fire button and then switch (Use a key not the wheel) and start swinging with the axe. There is no secret technique or extra item to make you swap and attack faster in this case (You are using the items to make it faster), it is simply press fire, swap, swing. The speed required is comparable to the speed required of the stab and sap combo of a spy. (Less than a second for the full combo)

I don't suggest air blasting your target as it can give away your position. They need to turn in the opposite direction of where they are flying, and since you are farther away now it is even easier to to hit them and you can no longer dodge. It is actually better to be on top of them when you do it and then begin circle strafing them. The only cases in which you should airblast are targets weaker than you and faster (Scouts, Medics, Sword Demos with Heads).

Besides that, if you are having success from killing with the airblast by all means use it but be careful of the self damage on rockets especially crits.

EDIT: If scripts are currently still allowed (And you don't mind using them) you can use the very first script in this page: http://tf2wiki.net/wiki/Pyro_scripts

Giving you the whole link instead of just the one script in case you want to use any others.

  • I always forget that the Pyro was designed for ambush.
    – BoltClock
    Sep 3 '12 at 8:52
  • Oh and self-damage is never crit-multiplied, but I do have to worry about missing reflecting crits altogether :)
    – BoltClock
    Sep 5 '12 at 9:04

You can use a flare gun(If you have one).I use scorch shot to ignite,degreaser for fast switch and axtinguisher to axtinguish.

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