That above question has bugged me for years. Why would you disguise as something that does nothing but inspire the enemy to shoot you? I knew there must be a reason to it, else Valve wouldn’t have added it, but serious thought only produced “trigger Dead Ringer while looking like something else, so they don’t keep spychecking after that.” Which is a decent use (and clearly intended by Valve, as the fallen corpse will remain that of a non-spy enemy) but were there any more?
Turns out that, after speaking to some spy friends of mine, the answer is yes. Here are some other ways to use friendly disguises.
1. Pretend to be a bigger fish. If you’ve been caught RED-handed and are currently running for your life from a bloodthirsty BLU Engineer, turning a corner and disguising as a BLU player (or not disguising at all) guarantees you six buckshots to the face. But if the Engineer turns the corner and sees a RED heavy coming for him, he might think twice about continuing this chase. It’s not much of a shot, but it’s more than you had before. Might even work better with a Soldier disguise, especially if you can reload a rocket to explain why you aren’t currently firing. (In case you don’t know, disguises will reload when you reload your revolver. Make sure you don’t have autoreload on spy!) This can also help when you are attempting to complete an objective; a good Soldier will think twice before firing rockets at a lone Pyro capturing a point.
2. Pretend to be a smaller fish. Pop quiz: What’s the roaming scout going to do when he sees a lonely Medigun-wielding Medic looking around hopelessly for protection? Answer: Get trickstabbed. This can only really be used against classes who fight in close range, like scouts, pyros, and enemy spies, but even ranged classes might be duped into a stairstab or cornerstab.
3. Fake a critical pick in competitive. When class limits enter the meta, players on both teams will be calling out how much damage they just lit the medic for, or whether the enemy Demoman is dead. The death of an important enemy can be the signal for an allout push, so imagine if they push only to find the Demoman is actually not dead, but surrounded by sticky traps with a fully charged Medic behind him. More likely to happen in Highlander due to the permanent spy player on both teams, but that means this gambit more likely to work in 6s due to how impossibly niche spy already is before even factoring in this.
4. Drop your disguise. “Disguising” as a friendly spy is the only way to drop your disguise without attacking. Why would you want to do this? Perhaps you’re cloaked, or you want to cap a point but your Spycicle is melted and you don’t want to waste a stored Diamondback crit, I don’t know. But it’s something you can do. Be grateful.
5. Mess with your displayed hitbox. If you disguise as certain classes (especially heavy) your displayed hitboxes and your real hitboxes can be way off. Need to cross a chokepoint being guarded by an amazing sniper? If you look like a heavy, his headshot will whiz over your actual head. Want to peek over a crate with impunity? An Engineer disguise basically leaves your real head permanently cloaked.
So there you have it. Actual uses for the friendly disguises. Are any of these amazing game changers? No. Will these scenarios happen often? Doubt it. But if you can get enough of them, that’d be a pretty unique frag video to slap on Youtube.