Team Fortress 2 — The Engineer (general strategy)

The engineer, playing his guitar

The engi­neer is often under­es­ti­mated in Team Fortress 2. His shot­gun can be deadly, and the pis­tol can fin­ish off an enemy at range, or dis­cour­age peo­ple from out-​​ranging your sen­try.  Now the engi­neer has a lot of fancy tools like mini sen­tries, the Fron­tier Jus­tice shot­gun (which deals extra dam­age for every kill your sen­try got when some­one destroys it), and The Wran­gler (which causes your sen­try to fire where you want it to).  But all of those tools have big down­sides, with mini sen­tries you can never have a max-​​level sen­try, they setup fast and cheap though, so only use them when you know you’ll be mov­ing around your sen­try a lot or it’ll be destroyed a lot.  The Fron­tier Jus­tice shot­gun only has half the ammo capac­ity of the reg­u­lar shot­gun, this is fine when you get the extra dam­age from crits if you destroy your sen­try (or some­one else does), but oth­er­wise very lim­it­ing.  The wran­gler turns your sen­try into (even more of) a killing machine, but it loses it’s auto-​​aim functionality.


While all of the Engineer’s unlocks have their place, I’ll only be talk­ing about the reg­u­lar old Engi­neer, a shot­gun, pis­tol, and wrench.  It’s his most ver­sa­tile load­out, the oth­ers have more spe­cial­ized roles that I can’t get into today. I rec­om­mend the basic load­out for almost any sit­u­a­tion any­way, and you’ll see why as I explain how I gen­er­ally go about play­ing the Engineer.


Regard­less of the map, your first move should gen­er­ally be to place a tele­porter entrance just out­side of the spawn, now in most maps you should just drop it and run for the next ammo box on your way to the front line, but if the map you’re on is a bit con­ser­v­a­tive with ammo boxes, you’ll have to run back into the spawn for the resup­ply cab­i­net (assum­ing one exists, as they do on most maps).  Now on your way to wher­ever the ene­mies are going to be you’ll want to drop your tele­porter exit some­where dis­crete, but not too far from the action, prefer­ably some­where an enemy might be likely to run right by with­out notic­ing it.  Don’t bother to stop and hit it with your wrench, just locate the near­est source of ammo and get in the fight with your team, put a sen­try down in a con­ve­nient place, I’m not going to go over sen­try place­ment since it varies with the map, but you want to make sure the sentry’s range (indi­cated by the col­ored sphere around you) is such that it will either cover an objec­tive, or sur­prise ene­mies, also make sure it won’t be easy for some­one to hide around a cor­ner, or stand out of range while they dis­patch your sen­try, since those are the most com­mon ways of remov­ing them with as lit­tle risk as possible.


After your sen­try is in place, find another ammo box if it’s safe to do so, or defend the sen­try with your shot­gun if ene­mies are around.  If it’s safe, but your sen­try will be vul­ner­a­ble if you go for ammo, hit it with your wrench, this will speed up the build time, and allow you to go for ammo with­out leav­ing your poor sen­try defense­less.  Now you have to make a choice, if this sen­try is des­tined to be destroyed (eas­ily) you might want to leave it as a level 1, and just throw down another when that hap­pens, a level 1 sen­try in a sur­pris­ing loca­tion can actu­ally be fairly effec­tive, keep in mind the level 1 sen­try is smaller, and makes less noise than it’s upgraded coun­ter­parts, so it might actu­ally live LONGER, and rack up a few more kills than if you upgrade it.   A low-​​rank sen­try in a sub­tle spot can cre­ate quite a bit of con­fu­sion.  How­ever, if you feel it would be bet­ter served as area denial upgrad­ing your sen­try to it’s high­est level will at first get you a cou­ple easy kills, but even­tu­ally the enemy will just choose to avoid it, and your sen­try will effec­tively fun­nel the enemy into what­ever other paths are avail­able to them.  If they can’t do this, be warned, they will aggres­sively attack your sen­try until it’s destroyed, with a level 3 sen­try, and your shot­gun though, you can hold that ground for quite a while. Mov­ing your sen­try should be a last resort, espe­cially if it’s upgraded, it is a risky maneu­ver that could end up with both you and the sen­try dead.


Demo men can be a nui­sance, when you see that first sticky shot at your sen­try, you have two options, if you have the aim and speed, you can actu­ally shoot the stick­ies as they land, destroy­ing them, and min­i­miz­ing the dam­age to your sen­try, it takes 3 stick­ies to destroy a level 3 sen­try (and two to kill you), this route isn’t rec­om­mended, it’s annoy­ing to the demo man, but unless you have team­mates around, he’s just going to keep doing it.  The best option, option two, is actu­ally to rush the demo man, and pop him a cou­ple times point blank with your shot­gun.  Stick­ies aren’t very effec­tive in close quar­ters com­bat, and the demo man is unlikely to switch to his grenades (if he does, keep in mind they give him the upper hand here).  A demo man attack is a worst case sce­nario for an engi­neer, the demo man will always be able to dam­age, and destroy your sen­try with lit­tle to no dan­ger to him­self assum­ing he knows where it is, so it’s up to you to defend your sen­try from this vicious intruder.


Spies are often seen as the hard counter to the engi­neer sim­ply because they have a weapon that dis­ables his build­ings, but this isn’t actu­ally true, the spy is very inef­fec­tive against engi­neers.  Just don’t hug your sen­try look­ing only one way while you repeat­edly hit it with your wrench, and you’ll be fine.  Shoot the spy, then remove his sap­pers.  One of the spy’s roles is to get behind enemy lines, and cap­ture points when the enemy has pushed for­ward, this is actu­ally why he has the sap­per, if the engi­neer leaves his gun unat­tended, but cov­er­ing the objec­tive, the spy needs to be able to dis­able that gun before tak­ing the objec­tive.  There are many strate­gies for iden­ti­fy­ing the spy, and it’s even eas­ier when you’re defend­ing a spe­cific loca­tion, I won’t go into how to iden­tify the spy in this arti­cle though, just remem­ber, shoot the spy, THEN hit the sapped build­ings with your wrench, oth­er­wise he’ll just stab you when you go to repair your buildings.


Remem­ber that the most effec­tive build­ing you have is the tele­porter, not your sen­try, always keep a tele­porter up and avail­able to bring your team­mates to the front lines, often times the tele­porter will bring such a steady flow of team­mates that they alone will keep ene­mies from destroy­ing it.  The tele­porter will also allow your team to more eas­ily over­whelm the enemy, the sen­try won’t.

Dis­pensers are great, but place it where teammate’s are going to need heal­ing, rather than where you need metal, there are plenty of ammo crates in most maps, and they should pro­vide you enough metal to build and upgrade your gear, the dis­penser should only be used for metal when they are inad­e­quate, since in most cases it will be faster just to run and grab some metal (using your shot­gun for defense).  Team­mates will greatly appre­ci­ate an upgraded dis­penser in the right place.  (Espe­cially in arena matches)


Many engi­neers believe they are defense­less, but using your shot­gun, you can eas­ily be a threat (with­out your sen­try even) to any class, so don’t just cower in a cor­ner if you get attacked, SHOOT BACK! (seems obvi­ous, but I’ve seen this behav­ior a lot, espe­cially in new engi­neers, they just give up if they don’t have a sen­try).  Defend your sen­try like a mother bear defend­ing her cubs though, don’t even let any­one NEAR it, falling back to the sen­try for backup only when you think you won’t be able to kill the enemy(s) attack­ing, this is counter-​​intuitive, but will greatly increase the lifes­pan of your sen­try (so long as you know when to retreat).


One last tip, use your pis­tol exces­sively, Valve gave the engi­neer 200 backup rounds for a rea­son (the scout has far less for his iden­ti­cal pis­tol).  The pis­tol is capa­ble of deal­ing sig­nif­i­cant dam­age at a far­ther range than shot­gun, any­time some­one is out of ideal range of your shot­gun, use your pistol.

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