I never like playing classic Engineer. I mean, if I need to defend last and I get to set up properly, I’ll take out the Jag and start building my Level 3 Sentry Nest, but I much rather play anything else except Sniper. On Offense or just whenever I can get away with it however, I love playing as a Combat Engineer with the Gunslinger.
I know it’s possible to run a Level 1 Sentry with a rather offensive playstyle, but I personally like using the Mini Sentry since I really like the quick deploy. Being able to rapidly slam down a new mini aimbot behind a corner, then running in and engaging a foe with my Shotgun while under the cover of my Sentry’s gunfire is great. Aside from that, it’s always so obnoxious that it draws attention away from me, giving me the opportunity to shoot my rather distracted opponent when his focus isn’t on me.
And I know a lot of people love using either the Frontier Justice or the Widowmaker for offensive Engineer plays. While yes, they are absolute monsters when in the right hands, but my hands definitely aren’t right for them. I panic when I get crits and my aim isn’t exactly stellar. Besides, my Mini Sentry is more of a distraction and backup DPS than something I actually use to get kills with. It’s a shame, the Frontier Justice is one of my most favourite guns appearance-wise. I always go with the stock Shotgun for its reliability.
But yes, Combat Engineer is my preferred method of playing Engineer. I hate the passiveness of normal Engineer. Even playing Medic conventionally is more exciting as I have to be alert at all times for danger, dodging gunfire, running to heal gravely-wounded teammates and deploying a stalemate-ending Übercharge. As for playing classic defensive Engineer, it’s just waiting for the enemy team to deploy an Über or a Spy to pop by. Meanwhile, I’ll just whack my Sentry once in a while. Maybe twice just to break up the routine.
Even when playing more aggressively with the Rescue Ranger, placing my Sentry at high risk, high reward spots, and pushing in with my team, I still find it slower and more cumbersome than Gunslinger Combat Engie. I love the duels, I love catching people unaware and trap them between me and my Mini, and I especially love ruining a Scout’s day when they think they’re being so sneaky and clever by picking a side route. And above all, I really like gunning people down by myself.
My go-to loadout nowadays is as above. I prefer the Pistol as it’s a reliable offensive sidearm. And I was also influenced by this article from Tarrynot.
And for some time a few years ago, I ran this loadout. This was before Short Circuit got its buff that gave Soldiers and Demomen nightmares for all eternity. Back then, I ran a more harassment-focused loadout, while nowadays I go for the more offensive, DM-centric loadout. Partly because the Pomson 6000 and the Short Circuit got nerfed, and partly because I realized I really like to gun down people and actually pack some firepower to give would-be assailants what for.
The old loadout was great for laughs and pissing the enemy team off, but it’s rather lacking in terms of firepower. However, it won me a rather memorable and hilariously easy victory long ago.
At that time, the Pomson’s Über and Cloak drain had no falloff. Hence, I can hit a Medic that is on the moon and it’ll still drain 10% of his Über. Was it balanced? Not really, depending on who you ask. The projectile is slow, but its hitbox is the size of a train. And it was with the Über-draining mechanic that I won my team that round.
It was Dustbowl Stage 1, and I was on Defense. Seeing that more than half my team are Engineers, I decided to join the fun as a Combat Engie. I set up my buildings in the room where the first capture point is, and waited by the door for the enemy team to appear. It was then I saw the enemy Heavy-Medic combo staring at me, and the Medic’s Über was ready.
Surprisingly, we did not have a single Pyro on our team, so we couldn’t fend off an Über. Thus, I did the next best thing and fired a Pomson shot at the Medic just as the spawn door opens. It connected, and the Medic faltered. I hit a second time and that sent the Medic retreating back into his spawn.
What followed was a few minutes of me telling the Medic to kiss his Über goodbye as I kept draining him of his charge. In the end, no one on his team even got close to the first point, and the Medic gave up after a few minutes and switched to another class. Was the victory cheap? Yes. Was it hilarious? Definitely.
Back then, I play Battle Engie and just try to DM everyone. Nowadays, I still play much more offensively than normal, but I do try to emphasize on team play more.
Some time ago, I was a lone Medic on Badwater Basin, Defense. And we got steamrolled. Hard. The cart went past the last checkpoint and was heading straight for the end.
I respawned first since I died early, as the Medic always gets picked first. Everyone on RED was dead and I need to hold the line against the remaining BLU team members. I wanted to set up a Level 3 Sentry but there’s no way in hell I’ll get the time and space I need to do so, thus I went Combat Engie. It was me, my Mini-Sentry and my guns against half the BLU team. We had almost ten minutes on the clock still.
Surprisingly, we managed to hold the line and won. After two minutes, the team rallied up and formed a solid defense. After five minutes, someone on my team went Engineer and had a Level 3 Sentry Nest up, solidifying our position. After eight minutes, we pushed them back.
Given that I was no more lethal than a somewhat competent melee-only Scout, I can assure you we didn’t win by me wiping the entire enemy team repeatedly with my godly Shotgun skills. And I doubt that my Mini Sentry contributed enough to win the game. After all, its DPS is horrible. The first winning move was dealt after the first minute of me defending the cart, after I fended off the first wave of attackers. During that small amount of breathing space I got, I set up a Dispenser near the choke.
That Dispenser served as a point for my team to rally around and where they can replenish their health and ammo. There is no way in hell I can ever hold the fort for that long by myself. By giving my team support, we managed to pull through and snatched that victory from the jaws of the BLU team.
One thing that I was still wondering about is whether I’ll do better if I set up Teleporters beforehand. On one hand, it’ll save my team the long hike up the ramp to the fight. On the other hand, the enemy team was already at the gate when I respawned, I was extremely short on time and resources, and back then, Teleporters cost 125 metal each. Nowadays, Teleporters are so cheap (50 metal now, woo!) I have practically no reason to not set one up.
This is the draw for me to play as a Combat Engineer. I’m not just another offense class, I also have a rather big support role to play. Of course, being an Engineer I still need to set up properly. Otherwise a 150 Hp class armed with nothing more powerful than a Shotgun will get absolutely destroyed. It demands both mechanical skill and gamesense, it keeps me on my toes, and it’s extremely fun.