Overclock.net › How To's › Playing Good Team Fortress 2 Pub Matches: A Guide

Playing Good Team Fortress 2 Pub Matches: A Guide

Tombom's guide to playing team fortress 2 correctly in a pub (for pl and cp [not ctf, sorry]):

When you play in a public server, there are a few types of games that you can play. You can play one of the most common types 12 v 12 (24 man servers), 16 v 16 (32 man servers), or 6v6 (competitive league format). There's also 8v8 and 9v9 but they're not very popular. The most common types of servers you will play on are 16v16 and 12v12, which I will refer to as pubs from now on.

So, there are a handful of things I think that are important to being able to play as a team well in a pub match of team fortress 2.

The first thing you should do to be able to play a good pub match is to understand each class. Understanding how each class works will help you understand how they interact as a team and against another team. This will help you understand how teams should be constructed and what you should be doing as each class in order to successfully help your team.
How to understand each class: (Click to show)
The first thing I would do is go read up on some class guides and learn and master each class through play. Even if you don't like a class, it's very useful to know how they work, how people think while playing with them and how people play them. Understanding each classes interactions with each other will really teach you a lot about how the game works.

What's the best class to play as in a pub? Some might argue that any class is as good as another. It is true that there are people who are good at every single class and make use of their skill sets excellently, however, in 12v12 and 16v16 play the most VALUABLE classes in the lineup are probably these: Soldier, demo, heavy and medic.

How to play a pub medic: (Click to show)
The medic is by far one of the most valuable classes in any 12v12 or 16v16 matchup. His main job is to heal and keep alive as many people as possible. The priority setup for the initial medic on the team should be such: needle gun, medigun and ubersaw. The needle gun over blutsauger is a judgement call but I prefer the needle gun over the blutsauger because the medic's class heal rate decreses with it equipped. As a medic your job is to stay alive and having less of a heal rate definitely isn't something you want. However, if you like the blutsauger be my guest, use it. The medigun should be your priority because they are way more flexible than kritzkreigs. I will discuss the method of ubering later and will discuss the benefits but for now, believe that the medigun should be your go to choice.

The best strategy for medics to do in 12v12 and 16v16 is to heal damage classes (such as soldiers, heavies, demos and scouts. Demos and soldiers take priority depending on who's closest. Heavies come next and scouts last.) and use them to push forward. This applies to both offense and defense. Being a good pub medic means keeping everyone buffed as much as they can. He should be focusing on giving heals to the people who are in position to give damage in order to support their offense. I think a good analogy of how a medic's heal game in pubs is the idea of a phalanx in ancient Sparta. The buffs of the people in front of you are basically your shields in the phalanx. Your shields however diminish and can be killed, so your job is to keep them as safe as possible and as high as possible. Prioritize lit people first and then move to people who are in a position to do damage next. If your crew isn't doing anything then keep the people in front of you buffed as much as possible and move forward safely as much as you can. Use your ubers when you get them and make sure the people with you aren't going to let you die. If you're in a random pub and don't know who to heal, look at the scoreboard and find the soldier or demo with the highest score and stick to him like glue (while of course giving buffs to the people around you). It will help the team a great deal if you do.
Side note about buffs in pubs:

I play scout in pubs and I hate it when a med doesn't buff me. Please give buffs to everyone you can [even scouts]. Scouts usually get crit heals and it takes little to no time to get them up to 185 so that they can do more damage and help you push forward. It's very rare that scouts will take damage and if you view the health gague as the number of shots it takes to die, being at 185 is a really good idea for a scout.
How to uber as a medic in pubs: (Click to show)
One of the worst things I think can happen in pubs is that an uber can fail. People from the 6v6 community understand the importance of ubers with respect to the game. They can make or break any match, and mis-using them or losing them in a pub due to idiocy is always heartbreaking. The key thing to ubering in pubs is understanding how ubers work at their core level. When you uber with As a medic when you uber you MAIN priority should be to focus people who are able to do damage. If someone is ahead of you and pushing towards the enemy, send your uber his way so that he becomes invulnerable for a few seconds and so that he can kill an enemy. Using a kritz in a pub can be beneficial, but my personal belief is that an uber should take priority.

The 6v6 community understands that a medic with a medigun should be a base aspect of any team. Kritz should only be used in certain circumstances in which it is advantageous. In pubs, this strategy applies as well. The balance structure of a team for 12v12 matches (which I will discuss later) shows that at the base of every team, at minimum you should have a medic with a medigun. I would say that keeping 1 with a medigun at all times should be your priority. However, it's a judgment call and you could use kritz if you want. I think that the better choice is to have 2 meds, one kritz, one medigun.

Here's a guide on ubers I'm ripping word for word because I don't care to rewrite it.


III. Ubers

What can I say about ubers? They’re unfortunately more complicated than what they are at face value.

The basics:

When you activate your ubercharge, you become invulnerable for a period of time. Whoever you are healing is also invulnerable. When you switch your healing target, you lose 10% of your dwindling uber, the uber flickers and fades from the original target, and your new healing target becomes invulnerable.

You are not immune to physics in any form: projectile physics(juggling somebody by shooting at their feet), pyro airblasts, and body blocking still affects you.
Before I talk about milking ubers, I want you to repeat this five times:
“Nobody can drop an uber but me.”
If you’re going to be risky with that uber, be damn sure you can back it up with good awareness, reflexes, and timing.

What makes an uber effective?

Oh man. This is the big one. What is it? Is it your team? Aggression? Splitting? Focusing?

Without going over what your team should be doing, which is a different post entirely, you should be making sure that at the end of the uber, your team has more people up and more health spread out over the entire team than their team. If you achieve that, then it’s a good uber.

How do you make that happen, though? Uber the people that need it, before they get hurt.

That is a broad statement, so let me walk you through a few more specific situations.
1. If you’re walking through a sticky trap, uber yourself and the pocket(whatever class he is at the time), then uber your other teammates through.
2. You’ve ubered in, your pocket and their pocket shoot four meaningless rockets at each other. Abuse their reload time to let your pocket or demo sit their unharmed and uber your scouts or *shudder* roamer if they need it.

An uber in and of itself cannot change the game. It has to be well done, well planned, and well oiled to work at its max capacity.

The nitty-gritty provided by Sigma:
Fun facts:

1. The uber drain rate is 12.5%/s while you have 1 target ubered and are connected to him.
2. For each player who is flashed as a result of your uber, the drain rate increases by 6.25%/s (a flash lasts 1s). So, 18.75% with 2 players ubered (1 connected, 1 flashed), 25% with 3 players ubered, etc.
3. When you hit 0% uber, you and your current target are flashed for 1s.

My wording is specific here for a reason: these are some things I didn't realize until I went tic-by-tic in a demo of me ubering different patterns of bots in spawn. The meaningful in game consequences are:

1. If you uber and your pocket jumps out of heal beam range, even if you do not flash anyone else, your drain rate increases to 18.75%/s for 1 second or until you reconnect with him. You get longer ubers if you're connected the entire time, but since that's often impractical, the result is that you have a half-cost flash when your pocket jumps (since you'll be draining faster anyways -- the only penalty is when you switch back and whoever you flashed is causing your drain to increase).

2. Right before you hit 0%, you have a free flash. Why? Examine:

-You have 5% remaining before your uber is out, with one target ubered.
-You switch targets. Your original target is now flashing for 1s, and your drain rate is at 18.75%/s.
-Before you hit 0%, you attach to another target. Due to fact 3 above, you and your new target and now flashing for 1s.

Hence, you can have an 8s uber on 1 target, then 1s with 2 players ubered right at the end. From what I've seen, almost all experienced medics do a flash right at the end of their uber, but I don't think many consciously realize why it's a good idea (I had the habit before I went and found these results).

In case anyone cares, the 3 facts above also apply to the kritz drain rate. You don't get flashes with kritz (hence fact 3 is kind of a moot point), but you still have that increased drain as a result of switching (bleh). Still well worth it to switch a kritz though, since typically you shoot 1-2 crit stickies, then 15 scouts and 22 soldiers are on your head and a crit rocket is the right tool for the job.


3:34 to see a good example of how flashes as a medic are really important. See, the demo was alive because he had buff, but he was behind the ubered combo, so the still ubered combo left his soldier W(who still had buffs and a flash of uber) to uber his demo to make him invincible to allow him to retreat succesfully. 3v2 could have become 2v2 in that situation which is not good.
How to play a pub soldier: (Click to show)
The soldier is great for rocket jumping and spamming. He can take out sentries and mobs of enemies very well with the help of the medic. He's definitely one of the most pressuring classes, which is what makes him such a threat. As a soldier, focuse on keeping pressure and momentum forward within reason. A soldier alone can do a lot of damage utilizing splashes around corners, juggles (shooting a rocket at the enemies feet and sending them up in the air) and good shotgun work.

He's quick with his jumps too, so use your knowledge of the map to get your health packs if you're a roaming soldier (e.g., no medics on the team or the medic's busy with other heals). As a pocket soldier, stay in-between what your shooting at and your medic if you're being pocketed. Your job is to pressure and through the use of good heals (as discussed earlier) and hopefully some other classes pressuring with you (receiving heals if possible) you can push up and own their team.
How to play a pub demo: (Click to show)
What makes a demo so good in pubs is his versatility as well. He's up there with the soldier as the top two classes. As a demoman, your job should be similar to the soldier's. Use your medic as a shield and help push up with your team if you can. If you know how the demo works you know that pipes that roll make a great carpet bomb of a specific area. Shoot them across the map into places you expect the enemies to be at and you'll land damage pretty consistently (if you haven't already piped someone in the face who's walking in that spot). If you're pushing up use your stickes to your advantage to target enemies (or even groups of enemies) and do lots of damage to them very quickly. With your sticky gun your focus should be to do as much damage to as many people as possible. You're a high dps class but you usually never end up getting kills (unless you get kritzed and you use sticks) because other classes such as soldiers scouts and heavies finish off enemies easier.

One of the other great things about the sticky launcher is that if you're roaming it serves very well as a trap. One of my favorite things to do as a defensive demo is to sit in a place people are definitely going to come through (for example, the wall to the left of the ramp leading to last on badwater) and kill them with a trap. Always make sure you're in a smart place where it's not easy to get cornered though.

As a demo, you can use your excellent sticky jumps to travel long distances around the map very fast so getting up to the battlefront and using your weapons to pressure is definitely your priority.
How to play pub heavy: (Click to show)
Pub heavy is largely dependent on your play style. The only thing I think I'd say is learn how to play heavy and use the same strategies as the other two classes (soldier/demo). Push up with a med and stay in good areas you're not going to get owned in. Having a med with you all the time is a great idea. As the class with the most health and dps in the game, a dedicated medic and a good heavy is a force to be reckoned with. However, due to his lack of speed, he's not as flexible as soldiers and demos and is vulnerable just a bit more.
How to understand the balance of classes in the game: (Click to show)
My philosophy for having a good class balance in a pub game is to use the 6v6 model as a frame of reference and scale it according to what size of game I'm playing. 6v6 is the most popular but if you look at 8v8 and 9v9 tournaments, the class restrictions are very similar. It's designed to be balanced and powerful. If you have any experience with 6v6 you know how fast paced and teamwork based the game is. The basic class structure for a 6v6 match is thus: 2 scouts, 2 soldiers, 1 demo and 1 medic. The scouts in 6v6 are flexible and can switch to soldier, sniper, heavy and spy depending on how the situation is, but usually there is at least 1 scout playing.

If you scale this up to 12v12, my personal philosophy is that at any teams core there should be at least these characters: 1 scout, 1 demo, 2 soldiers, and 1 medic. This is 1 less than the 6v6 requirement but I think that it makes the barebones of a successful team. You should prioritize getting to the base 6v6 class class setup when you join a game. Having 2 demos, 2 soldiers and a medic is what your team should have at its core. The only problem is that the people who are playing this barebones team need to be good at what their doing. The medic should know how to heal and the demos/soldiers/scouts need to be able to pressure and do damage effectively.

After that, my personal philosophy is that your should fill every empty class if you can. This means that in a 12v12 the base team should be at least one of every class with 2 demos and 2 soldiers. This is 11 players minimum. However, there is a little room for flexibility. You can get rid of a spy and have him go to a power class as well changing the balance of the game. If the spy becomes a soldier and helps put out much more damage on the front-line, he's worth more to the team in this scenario. However, it is still a judgment call. If you're a good spy and there are no spys on the team, go ahead. The same applies to all classes.

Personally, (as I've stated before) I believe that the soldier, demo and medic (with medigun) classes contribute most to the team. Having more than the base 2 of each power class is definitely a good idea in any pub.
Understanding pressure: (Click to show)
In a pub, the most valuable thing that you can do for your team is to create pressure. By prioritizing the 6v6 class structure in your pubs, creating pressure is very easy. If you have a good core of offensive classes and a smart medic, it's very easy for you to push up and overwhelm the other team. Using pressure effectively will definitely help you win. As far as using pressure in certain maps, it's very easy. All maps have a linear format. For example, almost all of the stock ctf maps are mirrored. This makes it helpful to determine where your team should be. My advice is this: when you want to pressure the team, imagine that the map is like what you've seen in those videos about world war 2 showing the expansion of the Nazis over Europe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg9UYGqc5RA (at 1:05)

So, if you think about the game like this, the way to treat pressure is to treat is like that expansion. At the edge of the blob that's extending outward there's a group of soldiers pushing forward, killing the enemies and taking over the territory. That's how war works and that's how team fortress 2 works. As a team, you should be in 3 different modes. Pushing forward, standing still or retreating. You should push forward as far as you can without having enemies behind you (within reason, 1 is okay but any more than 2 is a potential problem) with your offensive classes + medic until you reach enemies. At this point you should stop and make sure that you know where everyone is. You should engage with the enemy until you either a. kill them all and move forward (using the strategies I suggested earlier) or b. take damage and retreat (which shouldn't really happen assuming your heals are good).

During the game if you treat each team as two different forces that can't intermingle you learn some things. One of the things I've learned is that if there's open space, it's smart for your team to take it. Sometimes your team will wipe the other team during a push, opening up a whole new are of space. As a team, you should already be pushing forward with your offensive classes in order to claim this space uncontested and prepare for your next assault. If you don't have a lot of people alive still, the other team has a chance to reclaim this empty space with their men. Your best option is to push with your offensive classes to as far as possible within reason and hold that area until the rest of the team can catch up. Doing this means you take the offensive and hold it very easily in a pub match.

If you understand all of these things then I think that the pub that you play in should do well. I would personally recommend finding a server with a community and playing on it frequently. It makes for a great time and the quality of the matches are usually very good and balanced.

Useful Links: (Click to show)
Chris's FPS Config: http://fakkelbrigade.eu/chris/configs/
The best alternative hud: http://code.google.com/p/communitytf2hud/
Other good HUD's: http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/01/27/the-best-alternative-team-fortress-2-huds/
Good competitive info that might help you with pubs: http://commforums.com/mentor-guides-t5229.html?t=5229
Good comp (good pub player) articles here: http://communityfortress.com/

Thanks everyone for your time and for reading my guide. I hope it helped you understand how pub games work a little bit more.

Comments (13)

If you have any specific questions or suggestions for the guide, shoot me a PM!
Are there any "chain" pubs that don't have hackers commonly, and don't utilize RTD?
Yeah, there are communities out there that host groups of servers. For example, the community I visit is http://www.tf2newbs.com/ I frequent their 24/7 badwater server and I'm sure they're running other good servers too. There are a lot of groups that do this and it's not hard to find them.
*update: One of the things I mis-spoke about is that in some situations it's okay to have no engies. If you're pushing initially you probably won't need them right away and in that case it's okay. The same goes for all of the non 6v6 base classes such as spies, snipers and heavies.
scouts and pyros can be at 0 too.
Thanks a lot!
I believe instead of having it setup like you currently do like this:

Code:[center]How to play a pub medic:[/center][SPOILER=Warning: Spoiler!]The medic is by far one of the most valuable classes in any 12v12 or 16v16 matchup. Blah blah blah...[/SPOILER]

You should set it up as the following:
Code:[SPOILER=How to play pub Medic]The medic is by far one of the most valuable classes in any 12v12 or 16v16 matchup.Blah blah blah...[/SPOILER]
That way it'll give you the information for the spoiler in the part that you actually click. I think that'll give it a much more streamlines look and help clean it up a bit.
Welcome much... Sorry bout the multiple re-posting... It looks like the formatting options in the comments section is pretty much broke and it doesn't display some stuff as it should.
Taunt Gaming - The Mad Clan - USA Gaming - The Lotus Clan - EVGA Gaming - All of those are good TF2 pub servers that a well kept up with and run great. No hackers either. Enjoy! =D

Those are all guides written for tf2 by the competitive community. The guide about med in particular is really helpful with understanding to use ubers.

Edit 1: I'm adding a section in the medic guide specifically to discuss how ubers work and to add some helpful links.
OCN has its own tf2 server but it's not frequented. Add some players from the forums and we could make it active again
Due to certain stability issues right now the OCN server is having trouble staying active... We are working on fixes for this and possibly cutting the players down tom see if this helps. Although having less than 24 players is a turn off it may be the only way. We will see though, time will tell...
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