Some Tips on Ultiduo

Competitive Team Fortress 2 is an odd beast. On one hand, its goal is to quantify the most skill-based aspects of our beloved game to create an environment where the most skilled teams can prove it to their peers. Unfortunately, in order to do this they have to contend with the incredible amounts of unbalanced stuff that are hallmarks of the game; the unlocks are designed to be swapped out for the right situations, most of the classes are not designed to be played the whole time, and many of the maps give unfair advantages to offense, defense, or whichever team gains an early advantage. 6v6 deals with this by banning a fair amount of weapons and playing mostly 5CP, Highlander deals with this by restricting class switching and playing mainly payload.

Then there’s Ultiduo. One (specialized) map. One Soldier and Medic per team. The absolute core of the entire game. Can your combo beat the other combo when everything else is balanced to laboratory conditions?

Obviously this is not for everyone, but I’ve always had a blast playing Ultiduo. And considering its the third-most popular competitive format, I’m not alone. But since I can’t find anything on the internet giving advice on how to play it, I decided to write up a guide myself.

Picture from SalTV's Youtube channel
Picture from SalTV’s Youtube channel

The Core Rules

* Both teams are restricted to one Soldier and one Medic. Switching is not allowed.

* The map is koth_ultiduo.

* Allowed unlocks vary by league, but are usually incredibly restricted. ETF2L allows Disciplinary Action, Ubersaw, Blutsaguer, and stock reskins.

* Whoever holds the central capture point under the bridge for a total of 5 minutes wins a round.

Tactics

The name of the game in Ultiduo is positioning, focus-firing, and timing. Which enemy do you try to kill? Where is your teammate right now? And where should you be standing based on the positioning of your enemy?

This comes up immediately, once the map has begun and both teams run out of spawn. First thing’s first: Pick one of your two enemies and concentrate all your fire on killing them. The traditional tactic is for the soldiers to try and kill each other; four well-placed rockets should drop them to red even if they dodge perfectly, and then 6 shotgun shells is enough to outdamage the healbeam. Then murder the unprotected medic.

Problem with doing the opposite is, you go for his medic, he bodyblocks your shots, and halfway through you realize his medic isn’t going down easily, and he’s still shooting you. Now one of two things happen: (1) you still manage to kill his medic, but then the overhealed soldier kills you and then your medic. Or (2) you don’t even get the medic, and now its old-fashioned close-quarters-combat and he’s been wearing you down and had time to reload. Not good.

Best place to be: There are three parts to the map. Top level, bottom level, and ramp. Top > bottom > ramp, because top lets you rain damage from the high ground, bottom is moderately protected from the ramp, and the ramp is cramped and hard to aim from. Therein lies the challenge, because you need to choose when the best time is to head for the top and risk being caught on the ramp. And of course you need to go to bottom to cap, while your respawning opponents are gonna be showing up from top.

When on the bottom and hoping to reach top, the best tactic is for the soldier to whip the medic (who sprints up the ramp furthest from the enemies) and then rocket-jump to the top, where they meet up again in a few seconds.

The toughest situation is when you’ve freshly respawned, medic has 0% Uber, and the enemy is outside with the point capped and waiting for you. This will happen. Some teams build an Uber in spawn, the advantage of this being that during the 8 seconds both teams are invulnerable, you can reposition and negate their advantage. Of course, you’re giving them the point for 40 seconds, so you can’t do this often. Another option is to send your soldier alone in the hopes of forcing the pop, which would let you push out with Uber advantage once he respawns. Finally, just charge out there and try to frag somebody before their Medic reaches full Uber. When both teams are at full health on the top, either side has a chance to defeat the other.

Loadouts

Your soldier should never stop using Rocket Launcher/shotgun/Disciplinary action. The whip’s speed boost helps you and your medic get up the ramp up faster, and the other two are integral parts of his damage-dealing.

In my opinion, Medic should use Syringe Gun; crossbow isn’t useful enough since your soldier should never be far away from you, Blut’s regen penalty lowers your already bad survivability, and Overdose doesn’t have the damage output nor will its speed boost ever be visible. You will be defending yourself often and must be able to kill enemies with your syringes. Ubersaw is the safest bet, but Vita-Saw has a high-cost high-reward aspect to it, if you’re living long enough to reach Uber. I personally wouldn’t use it considering two medium-range rockets deal 142 damage, as this video shows.

No Medigun unlocks are allowed because Medics are dying so quickly that it’s rare for anyone to get full Uber anyway. Therefore, Kritzkrieg would basically be a complete upgrade since it has a faster Ubercharge with no healing penalty. If allowed Quick-Fix would dominate the game mode with its quick heals and endless Ubers, and Vaccinator would be even easier. It kinda ruins the balance because Ubers are supposed to be rare but awesome events only earned by a team that could keep control of the field for 40 consecutive seconds, which is no easy feat on a map repeatedly forcing you to abandon the high ground for the control point.

Picture by FeelGoodInc.
Picture by FeelGoodInc.

One final note; bind a key to suicide, because there are a lot of times where you don’t want to be standing around wasting time. A lot of Medics will kill themselves if they lose their soldier at a bad time, because the spawns do not let you re-enter and you can’t build Uber and the enemy will kill you in a few seconds anyway, and even if you live your soldier will have to give up his positioning to reach you….it’s just easier to respawn with the soldier and try the whole thing again.

On the other side of the coin, if you kill the enemy soldier and the enemy medic retreats/fights ineffectually instead of suiciding…splash him to low health but don’t actually kill him until his soldier has respawned.

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