Ah, Geoff. It’s about time someone dusted you off.
Since the Quick Fix’s fix in the Move That Gear Update, the Vaccinator has been widely regarded as the worst of all Mediguns- it does not have the powerful stopping power of stock and the Quick-Fix, nor the incredible offensive power the Kritzkrieg can dish out. Gathering dust in backpacks everywhere, the Vaccinator is largely unappreciated and almost never used. Use it, and get yelled at.
And I’ll have to admit, the Vaccinator is not at all made to be an all-round solid medigun. While every medigun has its place, it’s hard to go wrong with stock and the Kritzkrieg, and even the situations in which the Quick-Fix is an awful choice are few and far between. Not so with the Vaccinator, the small child everyone picks on and is never loved.
Count me among those guilty of this behaviour. Until one day a buddy wanted to play Pyro on Harvest and I felt like doing something random. Not expecting to do even remotely well, I was astounded by the results. At one point, we were actively searching for heavies to run to from across the map and smash their heads in with a mailbox. But how? That is why I wrote this article: more than any other medigun, the Vaccinator requires a change of mind.
But first: a small disclaimer: while the Vaccinator used well can be a powerhouse, it is still a niche weapon. For it to be used with maximum potential, there are two things to keep in mind:
1) A map without one chokepoint that games revolve around. The Vaccinator is best used in King of the Hill. Maps like Dustbowl are completely out of the question.
2) A buddy to work with, because the Vaccinator does not revolve much around buffing the entire team (like the Quick-Fix) but makes your pocket a force to be reckoned with. The best buddies are heavies and pyro’s, because they don’t jump away from you. Communication with your pocket is a big plus, like ever.
First of all: the stats! Which are a mess if you read them, but feel natural when you play them. So instead of listing here what you can find on the wiki, I’ll explain how they work together. The Vaccinator has an entire different Über mechanic; in stead of the one Über you get from charging the bar 100%, you get a 2 second Über (henceforth called an Unter) each 25%. These Unters charge incredibly fast because of the extra Übercharge rate working in tandem with the Overheal penalty. This penalty actually works in your favor by rapidly generating Unters.
The reason the Vaccinator has these Unters is because of its other unique feature: with the reload key you can switch between damage types (Bullet, explosive and fire) and gain resistance to them. Whichever you have selected will give you a passive 10% damage resistance. When using an Unter, this goes up to 75% and also negates crits from that damage type! On top of that, during an Unter, you get healed for a percentage of the resisted damage taken by your pocket! Keep in mind though, that you are unprotected against unselected damage types. So if you use an Unter against explosives, a headshot is going to drop you instantly. Should you use a bullet Unter and get shot in the head, you’ll take a whopping 17 damage.
So how do you use this effectively?
To start off with a quote from STAR_ using the Vaccinator:
It’s almost like I’m playing the game.
Vaccinator Medic is very different from regular medic, where you hang back, build Über and then push. You have little to no influence on your pocket’s defense other than healing them or not.
How different is the Vaccinator! You have to look who your pocket is fighting, with what weapon that is happing, and act accordingly, while also doing the standard Medic thing of saving teammates from burning to death and checking for ambushes.
With no enemy in sight or engaging me, I recommend using bullet resistance to avoid getting quickscoped. In higher-skill environments or narrow corridors, you may switch to explosive resistance in case a nasty soldier decides to bombard you.
For Scouts, Spies, Heavies and Snipers, use bullet resistance. Be wary of melee- there is no resistance against melee nor will it block crits. In case of Spies and Snipers, a Unter may not even be needed, and the same goes for Scouts at a distance. It is advisable, however, to pop an Unter for a flanking or a skilled Scout, and always for a Heavy. With a bullet Unter, your pocket can run up to a Heavy and melee him to death before he even knows what’s going on. It’s still not advisable to taunt in point blank range- Sasha will rip you to shreds, even when Untered. In my experience, when constantly Untered, you’ll have more than 4 seconds to stand at point-blank range, which should definitely be enough for your pocket.
For a Demoman, use Explosive resistance (obviously). His fate is the respawn timer. Be sure to pop your Unter, because with only 10% resistance, those stickies can be nasty. Same goes for Soldier-sans-shotgun. While he may try to blow you away, try to stick with your pocket.
For a Pyro without ol’ shooty, fire resistance is the way to go. Watch out for Axtinguishing and Third Degreeing, however; the Vaccinator, even with fire-Unter, does not extinguish instantly. Airblasts are mostly harmless; it’s not worth it for them 9 out of 10 times, so they won’t use it.
For Soldiers and Pyros that use their shotgun in tandem with their primary, don’t pop Unter. By all means, do it when you have to, but try to refrain from it. This is because you are stuck in the selected resistance while Untering, which allows the soldier to switch back to rockets and blow your legs off, while you are enjoying 75% damage off bullets.
Lastly, if you see a Demoknight, take cover or run. The crit is going to kill you instantly and no resistance helps against it. They should be your pocket’s primary target and can be a damned nuisance when you were just steamrolling a heavy off the point.
When timed right and executed with the correct resistance, the Vaccinator can be like invulnerability with a shorter charge time and four seperate bars, to be used for your convenience. In the hands of a capable medic with a skilled pocket, you can wreak havoc on Lakeside and Harvest alike.