The Tao of the Ambush

So many things can go wrong with an ambush...
So many things can go wrong with an ambush…

So you want to learn how to ambush?  It takes a certain mindset and awareness in order to maintain successful ambushes and achieve the roaming playstyle.  Here are some tips to the novice ambusher-in-training…

Step #1: Know Thine Battlefield:

The lay of the land is paramount to a successful roaming strategy.  Terrain is a major decider in when, where, and how an ambush can take place.  Concerning maps, many things should be taken into consideration, and you should be able to confidently answer these questions about the map, in order of approximate importance:

Where do I need to be?  Where are the objectives?  What routes can I take?  What routes can I expect traffic?  Where could I expect sentries?  Where is the nearest health pack?

Step #2: Know Thine Enemy:

You need to know what you are up against.  You need to be able to identify who the big players are.  People who are a major threat or hold a lot of influence over the game demand special attention, and should be a target for harassment or picks.  Of course,  these power players are most likely of a higher caliber, and will probably be more keen to your tricks.  While they will be the most worthwhile to hit, it will also be the most risky.

Team composition is also significant.  Certain classes may be in certain spots, or certain distances from the main front.  Also, several classes hold more sway over the match and should take priority in an ambush to take out.  Medics must be prevented from deploying ubercharges.  Heavies and Demomen tend to be major damage dealers.

Step #3: Be Like Mountain:

In other words, be up above the enemy.

While being behind the enemy is great, being above them can be even greater.  People have some natural tendency to not look up, so it becomes easier to go unnoticed.  Falling is often faster than walking, and you’ll often end up right next to them.  A high vantage point can also give you a better look over the situation.

While high terrain is nice, advanced mobility, such as rocket or sticky jump can work just as well in granting height advantage.

Step #4: Strike Like Thunder:

Quick in, quick out.

A faster attack gives the opponent less time to react from your first attack to when he is crippled, which for you means less time in danger.  Also, a quick close in on your target gives them less time to notice you before you manage to hurt him.  Speed, terrain, and class-specific options such as disguise or advanced movement contribute to reducing these risks.

Meanwhile, you need to get out of there after you have done the deed, either to avoid the target’s buddies or, avoiding whatever reinforcements there may be.  The most essential thing is to break line-of-sight.  Most classes can’t easily hurt what they can’t see.

Step #5: A Bag of Tricks

Vary your methods.

People learn, and you will find over the course of a match your tricks doing less and less.  Thus, you should be prepared with more tricks, and never use the same one twice if you don’t need to.  Don’t fall into a pattern, either.  If you can’t predict when you strike, how can they?

Hopefully these tenets will help you become more successful in catching people when they are most vulnerable.  An ambush playstyle can be very fun, free-form, and rewarding.  Good luck out there.

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