So, about those Pyros…

"Not again!"
“Not again!”

Pyros are the bane of my existence. They’re the one thing that can screw up a perfectly good push, apart from another Ubercharge. They have a lot going for them yet are also considered the weakest class in the game, despite their ability to completely screw over multiple classes. So what about them?

The issue with Pyro is simple. Pyros are bloody annoying. Ask someone to name some of the most annoying things to be killed by, and a Pyro-related death will almost certainly be on that list. Even when they’re not killing you, they’re still annoying. Time to break down the annoyance factors into manageable chunks, before I start to feel ill.

At number 3 on the annoyance factor is the general annoyance of being set on fire. The annoyance here is two-fold. On one hand, it’s distracting being set on fire. Medics have to work double time, there’s arguments over health kits, the fire stalls everything. It takes very little, just a single flame particle, to set you on fire. But for Pyros, it’s a tough time getting up close to set people on fire. The physics for each bit of flame is rather iffy and lacks lag compensation, much like projectiles. The area which actually does damage is also incredibly deceitful to both Pyro and victim, as the flames lag behind where the damaging area really is. You might see a Pyro running towards you and he’s screaming because you’re not on fire yet, or you’ll catch fire and he’s miles away.

The actual being on fire though is much more trivial. There are loads of ways to cure being set on fire, varying from the nice (Medi Guns) to the obvious (water) to the nasty (Jarate). Overall, being on fire gets an annoyance rating of 5/10. 8/10 though if you’re a Spy.

Up next, the Axtinguisher/Degreaser combo, often known by a variety of names, like Axtingreasing. Other names include the secondary weapon, such as the Deflax (Degreaser, Flare Gun, Axtinguisher) or DeResAx (Degreaser, Reserve Shooter, Axtinguisher). This is a combo that can kill pretty much any class apart from Heavy in 2 hits. No, Soldiers can’t survive unless they’re using the Concheror and have extra health, as the initial fire damage leaves them with less than 5 health to survive the Axtinguisher crit. Now, most people (i.e. Pyros) say they deserve to kill you instantly if they manage to get up close to kill you with this combo. That’s not exactly true. Melee hit detection is a bastard, and the Degreaser removes any sort of reaction time one might have had to escape. In a game that, apart from critical hits, only has 2 instakills, one of which requires being squishier than a Pyro and sneaking behind people rather than being usable at any angle, this two-hit instakill feels a bit cheap.

It’s not the Axtinguisher’s fault though. It rewards Pyros for, well, setting people in fire. The Degreaser is to blame, as that weapon switch speed is almost instant, to the point where a lot of people appear to be hit on the head with a flamethrower than an axe. 65% is a HUGE buff in exchange for a tiny bit less damage. The Degreaser forces pretty much every Pyro to use it or suffer.

Overall, the combo, which every bloody Pyro and their mother uses, gets an annoyance factor of 9/10.

Finally, we come to Airblast. It screws over everyone and it’s so cheap to use. At the cost of 20 ammo, you can reflect almost all projectiles, send people falling to their doom, separate Medics from their partners, screw over Ubers and render a Scout’s agility useless. Airblast, as long as you’re in the range of a Pyro, is very hard to avoid, as it allows the Pyro to control your movement. Unlike most other forms of knockback and mobility impairment, the Airblast does not take into account your previous speed, movement and direction properly into account. No matter whether you’re a Heavy shuffling around or a Scout jumping to the left, the same thing will happen; you will be pushed up and slightly backwards, reducing your speed.

Airblast also reflects projectiles and if the Pyro hits anything with a reflected projectile, the damage done is upgraded to a minicrit. That’s fair, it makes a nice reward for timing. But since every other class that had mobility-impairing abilities had them nerfed, why does the Pyro still have so much power? Once you’re in the air, unless you manage to kill that Pyro in the split second it takes for them to switch weapons and smack you in the face, there’s often not much you can do.

Plus, it screws up Ubers something rotten. Don’t want to sound annoying, but I worked hard for that Ubercharge. Hence why Airblast gets an annoyance rating of 10/10.

One thought on “So, about those Pyros…

  • March 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    As a stock-Flamethrower, and somewhat airblast-heavy Pyro player, I find the concept of airblast annoyance being 10/10 rather moot. A competent patient should be able to take down the Pyro, between airblasts if he’s a projectile-user, as well as keep themselves and you out of range.

    Axtingreaser is a pain in the ass too, but not as much as getting headshot or backstabbed. right before you were going to pull a game-changing stunt (Über push, going for a Sentry nest, etc.). Afterburn is worse for me.

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