I don’t usually play Spy. Not that I hate playing Spy, I just don’t get much chances to play him.
I mean, the scenario where having one more Spy is fine is something that will only happen once every twenty matches. The scenario where having another Spy is necessary? About as often as the Golden Frying Pan dropping.. And when I realized “hey we need another Spy”, by the time I got to switch to Spy I would already have three more Spies in my team.
Still, at the rare moments that I get to play Spy, it was awesome.
Scout, Spy, and Sniper are all frail pick classes with high single-target burst damages that dies to a stiff breeze. Sniper keeps himself safe by maintaining distance between himself and the frontline, since he is most effective at long ranges. Scout boasts superior mobility, which allows him to pick his fights, being able to hunt down those weaker than him and run away from those that are stronger.
Spy, however, doesn’t have the blistering speed of Scout, nor can he afford to keep his distance like Sniper. He has to get in close, until he can hear every breath his enemies took, and made them their last. He does not have any bulk to survive an attack for long, and all he has to live through the encounters are some flimsy cardboard masks and a watch.
And that is where the thrill of playing Spy lies. Playing Spy is essentially betting to the entire enemy team that they can’t catch you, with you and their lives on the line. You need to step, wide-eyed, into danger, knowing that there’s a good chance that you’ll die with naught to show for, just to land a key kill on a vital member of their team at the most crucial moment. You are the specter at the back of their minds, literally and figuratively. The more you kill, the greater you loom at the back of their minds, and the harder they try to hunt you down.
In the meantime, you are still every bit as brittle as a champagne bottle. A stray flame particle, or even just accidentally bumping into someone while Cloaked, will alert all nearby enemies to your position, and at that instant, all of them will be focused on you and only you. Under such intense scrutiny there is no hiding, and you can’t run. Sure, some of them could just be bad luck, but others are small but lethal mistakes on your end. One slight misstep, one overly-hasty slash, or just not noticing the enemy player standing a few miles away that just happens to glance at your general direction, and the whole enemy team will find you, and proceed to hunt you to the end of the world.
It is this sense of both power and helplessness that makes Spy so exciting to play. I could either be wiping out half the team in one go or ending a match with one kill and twelve deaths. Spy is not meant to be consistent. It’s not like a stealth game, where you study and memorize the patterns and movements of the enemy mooks and plan your next move. Rather, you live for the moment, dancing around enemies, slipping in and out of smokes and shadows, missing detection and death by a hair’s breadth. You are on your own against the wrath of the enemy team, and after you backstabbed a few of them, they will be boiling mad.
There was once I played Spy on 2Fort, when I was still fairly new to TF2 (~100 hours). It was a 3v3 scenario, since it was on a weekday morning when I played. I backstabbed one guy, and he switched to Pyro to hunt me. I backstabbed another guy, and he switched to Pyro to hunt me down along with the other Pyro. I backstabbed the last guy and I had three Pyros on my tail. Seeing that, I turned around and flee across the bridge back to my base.
Halfway through the bridge, I Cloaked, and jumped onto the railing on the bridge, just before the flames from the Pyros touched the corner of my coat. Now I was behind them, and they were roaming wildly at the courtyard of my base, spewing flames everywhere. I jumped into the water and got back to the safety of my spawn room, cackling madly while all three of them were in a frenzy outside. Can’t remember what I did after that, probably went Heavy to clean up all three of them.
That wasn’t the best I had as a Spy though. Once, I ended up on a 500 ping server in Dubai with my friend. There was a Heavy-Medic combo on the enemy team. The high ping must be getting to my head, because instead of the Soldier-Medic combo we always rocked, I decided to go Spy.
What happened was, I’ll go out and backstabbed the Medic, and the Heavy will kill me, and my friend will blow the Heavy up. After five stabs, I dominated the Medic, then the Heavy dominated me when he killed me. Can’t remember if my friend got a domination for killing the Heavy afterwards, but if she did that’ll be perfect.
Later on, I saw an Engineer walked out of the spawn room and built a Teleporter by the door. I Sapped the Teleporter, he came up to try to repair it, and I backstabbed him for his troubles. I looked at the killfeed, and it turns out that the Engineer was the Medic I’ve been gleefully backstabbing the whole time. He left the server afterwards with his Heavy pal, and I ended that game as the MVP. On 500 ping. I am still very proud of that.
Playing Spy is a rare treat. It is thrilling, wondrous, and keeps me on my toes and my heart racing. There is nothing quite like Spy, to be so powerful yet so weak at the same time, which is why I almost always enjoy my experiences as the sneaky Frenchman. Now, if only those 5 numbnuts will switch off Spy so that I can get my turn…