The G key. What a mysterious creature, the G key. What does it want from us? What does it even do? Be careful, dear readers… Be careful.
Taunting was a feature that existed in the very first release of Team Fortress 2, and has since grown into somewhat of a staple of SPUF’s favorite game. The Sniper’s Wave, KABOOOOM!, The Medic’s Oktoberfest. Some of these taunts form the very backbone of characters, too, like the Spy’s many revolver taunts where he takes the time, in the heat of battle, to adjust his tie and brush off his coat. The Medic halfheartedly apologizing for shooting you full of syringes, or the Soldier smashing himself over the face with a shovel gives us insight into how those characters act and behave.
Oh, and they’re the best way to make the poor sap you just killed feel bad. You are taking time out of your game to stand completely still and celebrate killing them. You’re leaving yourself completely vulnerable to enemy fire for a few brief seconds so you can call the poor shmuck you just dominated a mean name. The idea of taunting seems absurd, and yet it’s become such a core part of TF2 gameplay that I don’t want to imagine a world without it.
So when is it a bad idea to taunt? Well, that’s a pretty easy answer. Most of the time, it’s a bad idea to launch into a celebratory dance in the middle of a heated firefight. But, there are a few cases where taunting can be a good idea, and even a boon to your teammates.
1. The Amputator: There comes a time in every Medic’s life where you just can’t heal everyone. Maybe you’re in the upper house between 2nd and 3rd cap points on Badwater, or up in the attic on Harvest, or by the upward-leading stairs on Nucleus, and you’re surrounded by Teammates that need immediate medical assistance. You’re medigun is there, but so is the enemy! You need those heals distributed fast! What do you do? Pull out your Amputator and taunt, ya dingus! The Amputator will preform the Medicating Melody when you taunt with it, which heals allies in a (fairly large) radius for a substantial amount. It can also reveal disguised spies, because they will not have the team-colored ring beneath their feet as your music heals them. Not only does this look cool, but you can also earn assists from multiple enemies if they stand in your heal radius. This feature can be used on a 90° corner, like on Hoodoo, Badwater, Gold Rush (almost any pl_map with a choke point), for total protection while you execute the taunt.
2. The Kritzkrieg: If I had a nickle for every time the Oktoberfest taunt saved my burning husk of a Medic, I’d be a rich man. For whatever reason, Valve gave the Kritzkrieg a taunt that heals the Medic for 11 points of damage when he uses, as well as makes suggestive comments on how the heal-beam functions. This taunt can be vital if you and your patient come under fire (pun intended) from an enemy Pyro. Unless you’re a Sandvich-toting Heavy, healing your Medic can be difficult, especially in areas with few or treacherous to grab Medkits. If you’re burning to death, this 11 points of healing can keep you alive long enough to allow the Medic’s health regeneration to take over and replace the burn damage.
3. Taunt Kills (The Useful Ones): TF2 has a whole lotta Taunt Kills, or abilities that (almost) always kill the person they hit, but are extremely difficult to land. Well, most are. There are a few Taunt Kills that either are a little too easy to hit, or otherwise serve some function that makes the taunt worth executing.
The Huntsman is notable in the first category, because it’s the second fastest kill taunt in TF2, includes a stun, and has an absurd hit angle, and is surprisingly deceptive to those who have never encountered it. If you were to look at a Sniper preforming the taunt for the first time ever, you’d no doubt think that the forward stabbing of the arrow is the part that kills you, which isn’t the case. Newer players will walk right at you as you pull off the actual killing blow, the backward pulling of the arrow.
The Fists, Apoco-fists, and Holiday Punch are also like that. The Showdown is the fastest Taunt Kill in the game, and also features the most amusing sound effect in the game, “POW!”. Like the Huntsman Skewer taunt, Showdown has an cone-shaped hit radius. Unlike the Skewer taunt, though, Showdown is ranged and (somewhat surprisingly) has damage falloff. The Holiday Punch is obviously the best choice for those looking to score a Taunt Kill, but the fists work just as well.
The Ubersaw is in that second category. It’s Taunt Kill features a dramatic forward thrust, a stun, and one of the best voice lines the Medic has. Landing a successful hit with the Spinal Tap taunt gives the Medic 100% Ubercharge, which is what makes it worth using in a last ditch effort, or against totally unaware (or AFK) enemies.
The Soldier’s Escape Plan and The Spy’s Knives (except the Spycicle), I’ve grouped together, because they both have some unique properties: they have a very wide radius, and they can destroy buildings. Taunting with the Escape Plan preforms the Kamikaze taunt, where the Soldier pulls the pins on the grenades he has holstered to his chest and blows himself up. Taunting with any Spy Knife that isn’t the Spycicle preforms the Fencing taunt, which, after two strikes for 25 damage, deals 500 damage in a fairly wide cone with respectable range. Soldiers can use the Kamikaze to great effect to kill clusters of unaware Snipers, like on the 2Fort battlements, or near the cap point on Hightower. Spies can use the Fencing taunt to, well… just see for yourself.
4. The Conga: Just kidding.