Engineering in TF2

2011-05-24 by . 1 comments

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So you are tired of getting owned by those darn accurate sentries standing in the way between you and victory, lurking around the corner, more vicious than a spy. You want to get some action. You want to get kills without raising a finger. You want to heal people without holding your left mouse button, or, hell, healing more than one person at the same time! Or, your latency is too high and you’re tired of getting without giving.

You want to be an Engineer. So do I. And well, how can I blame you! The Engineer class in TF2 is awesome. Think of what a great engineer can provide to his team:

  • Teleporters! shuffle people from spawn to the action in a fraction of the time!
  • Dispensers! stationary medics that also replenish ammo and can treat more than one person at a time!
  • Sentries! kill people without lifting a finger! Create a no stabbing area for enemy spies!
  • Alternatively, Minisentries! Annoy the hell out of the other team with small, inexpensive grief generators.

Indeed, you’re so awesome for your team that, for balance, your life is pretty awful.

  • You and your toys become the #1 targets for the enemy team, only bested by ubers.
  • Speaking of ubers, you’re mostly powerless against them. You can’t uber a sentry.
  • You are pretty useless on your own. Your weapons suck. Your health is low. Your wrench is average, until your toys go online.
  • If you aren’t careful, any enemy classes can bring your 3 minutes of engineering into dust in matter of seconds. And you don’t have to take my word for it; that sucks.

Is the frustration you’ll have worth it? Let’s see what the rules of the game are.


The main meter to watch, for an engineer, is the amount of metal you have. You start at the maximum amount of metal you can carry, 200. Grey ammo boxes give 41. Larger, brown ammo boxes give 100. Large ammo crates and resupply lockers give a full 200. Payload carts give 40 metal every 5 seconds. Dispensers also give metal every 5 seconds. Fallen weapons from your former teammates and enemies alike are 100 metal each. Debris from destroyed buildings are worth metal too; typically, 50% of what the building cost originally was.

On the other hand, 130 metal give you a sentry. Teleport entrances and exits cost 125 metal each. A dispenser comes for the mere 100 metal. All of those start at level 1 and can be brought to level 3 thanks to your years of hard training in advanced engineering, distilled in the form of skillful wrench banging (click on them). Every bang costs 25 metal (and 0.8 seconds). With 200 metal, your toy is upgraded to the next level. Since you don’t have to upgrade entrances and exits separately (upgrading one end upgrades the other), a full engineer toy set requires 1,680 metal. Probably more than that, though, since wrenching to your toys also repairs and restocks them.

Another thing you’ll need is time and a quiet corner. Your toys start with almost no health; any class walking in will easily have you starting all over again. Scouts get especially aggressive here, as a built sentry gives them quite the trouble. Buildings go online slowly if you don’t wrench them as they come up online; if you do, spies will have the time of their life backstabbing you. As we’ve seen, you’re going to wrench your contraptions an awful lot.


Yeah, spies. I’m not the greatest spy I’m a novice spy Okay, I plain old suck at spy, and that’s a problem. Spies are an engineer’s #1 nightmare. Here’s, more or less, how they operate when you’re their objective.

  1. They disguise as a member of your team. Their disguise is almost perfect… almost.
  2. They go through the field, cloaking if necessary. This usually makes them to change disguise.
  3. They decloak. Usually decloaking makes a distinct noise. This is your first warning, if the spy decloaks nearby.
  4. They sap your sentry, and everything else. Their disguised model makes an unique “placing” gesture. This is your second, and last warning.
  5. They backstab you.
  6. They hide.

Here’s a video demonstration:

As you can see, a spy’s life isn’t that easy. Failing/skipping any step easily results in an unsatisfactory mark on their official test record, followed by death. However, by the time they reach your back, you’re pretty much powerless to stop them. All you have is your trusty wrench, which can kill a spy in three shots or one critical shot. By comparison, the sappers they can instantly spray in infinite quantities require two wrench shots to remove.

There’s a great counter you can use against spies, and it’s another pair of eyes. A pyro makes the perfect engie buddy, on paper; truth is, however, no one wants to babysit you and your toys. There’s carts to push, points to capture, briefcases to carry around, people to ragdoll. Being a sitting duck around slowly revolving weaponry, who cares about that. No, that’s not going to work. Luckily, you have a way to change that, and that’s teleporters. By having a constant supply of freshly spawned teammates zipping around your area, you’ll make a spy’s job quite harder. Not just that, but you’re shoving ~30 seconds of travel time of every single one person you teleport. Who doesn’t love that.

We have reached an important conclusion: an engineer’s primary concern is really their teleporter. A sentry keeps people off your teleport, and the point you’re defending. A dispenser lets you upgrade your teleport faster, and replace one quickly should some enemy manage to make it to your spawn doors. The teleporter is the heart of your usefulness to the team.


Let’s assume you’re playing on a 5 control point map. If the round hasn’t just started, check if there are other engies already; if there are, upgrade their stuff before you build yours. This is very important: two of the same toy at level 2 are better than one toy at level 3 and one at level 1. It’s particularly useful to be a wrench buddy for a wrangling engineer (there’s an achievement for that, too: Rio Grind).

So, it’s now your turn. Reach your spawn point immediately. Reach the exit door most people seem to go through, select the teleporter entrance (type 43), turn around, then step backwards through the door while holding your left mouse button. This places the entrance as close to the door as possible, which is a nicety — don’t waste too much time on it, because you have precious little. Go back to the spawn room, replenish your metal, and reach the room that will become your nest.

Ideally this room should be:

  • facing on the 2nd point (or whatever needs to be defended),
  • placed on an elevated position (so that people you teleport can drop down on the area they need to D, while spies have to take the long way)
  • featuring a brown, or large ammo box (this usually means you’ve chosen an area that has been designed to become a nest, so you’ve chosen correctly. And predictably. Spies love that…)

For example, in 2fort, this means the courtyard, not the intelligence room.

When you reach this area, plant the teleport exit and pick up the metal box. If the enemy isn’t scout rushing, plant the dispenser and pour the 75 excess metal into upgrading the teleport. Proceed from here to upgrading your teleport to level 3 (critical), placing a sentry (level 1 is usually enough for now), and upgrading your dispenser (important is all you have is a 41 metal box). If there are ammo boxes a short walk away, it’s probably worth the trip.

In the meantime, hopefully, your team captures the 3rd point, and all you’ve done becomes moot as the focus on the map moves elsewhere. Wait for a while to make sure your hold on the point is solid, then start over.

It might happen however that it’s the enemy team getting the central point, in which case the enemy team will find you ready. Upgrade that sentry to level 3, making sure you always keep some metal on you to wrench damage off sentries. Take note of what lies beyond your sentry’s range, and wrangle/pistol accordingly. And keep that tele up; keep your teammates happy and keep the enemy team busy trying to yank your point from your greasy lil’ fingers.

Congratulations! You’re now the enemy team’s top priority. Be vigilant. Learn to use the X2 combination (“Spy”); use it when you hear suspicious whooshes, or spot people acting weirdly.

If you’ve done everything right, you’ll hold on that point for a while. The rest is up to the rest of your team. And remember: engineer is credit to team!

Filed under Gaming 101

One Comment

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  • Powerlord says:

    Like Engineers, Spies can be good or bad.

    A Spy’s loadout may also make a huge difference as to how they treat you. Your Eternal Reward (assuming they have a disguise already) makes it considerably easier to pull off a Stab and Sap (i.e. Kill the Engineer first).

    Good spies realize that teleporters should be their first order of business unless the enemy is pushed back to their own spawn. While this likely gives the Engineer some warning that there’s a Spy around, the fact that it takes two hits to knock off sappers means that, if you DO knock off the sappers first, they sap your teleporter while you’re busy, cutting off your supply of allies.

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