Spies can be bloody annoying when they backstab their unsuspecting victims. Spotting a spy is easy through, especially with communication among your team. There are many telltale signs to look out for, and when it comes to spies it never hurts to be sure. Spychecking is essentially shooting at your team and seeing if they die, because enemy spies can disguise as your team mates.
Spies can disguise as any class of any team. If they disguise as as slower class (ie the heavy or the demoman), their movement speed will be reduced to that class. This behavior does not apply to faster classes (scout / medic), so a nearly guaranteed sign of a spy is if a ‘medic’ or ‘scout’ is moving at the normal speed instead of the faster speeds.
Spies can cloak for 9 seconds with the default invisibility watch. Cloaking takes one second, and decloaking has a fade time of two seconds. Cloak will be fully recharged in 30 seconds, or with the pickup of metal or ammo. Cloaking and decloaking makes sounds – listen to them. In addition, if you bump into a cloaked spy, you will stop moving as you bumped into an enemy and they will flicker.
The cloak and dagger allows spies to regenerate cloak while immobile, and prevents them from getting cloak via pickups. The dead ringer, once pulled out will make the spy forge death and take 90% reduced damage for a few seconds before they uncloak. The dead ringer has a distinctive uncloak sound.
The spy’s knife does an instant kill if they backstab you (attack you from behind). Each class has a special death scream that will only be yelled if s/he was backstabbed. The spy’s knife only does around 30 damage on frontstabs.
Spies can fake a reload, but they cannot shoot while disguised. If a spy bumps to you, both of you will stop moving.
Good spies will generally cloak while they are getting behind your team or base, and they will take alternate, less populated routes. As spies can disguise as their own team, they may disguise as another class to hide the fact that there is a spy. Even through you should be shooting at all enemies anyways, pay special attention to enemies that feel out of place and are not attacking you.
Look behind you. No, there’s no monster behind your chair, but when in-game it’s wise to look around every so often, not just because of spies but it will help your situational awareness and also let you spot pesky scouts. If you see a new team mate, spycheck them!
A spy generally has 125 health. You don’t have to deal 125 hp worth of damage as that’ll drain your ammo, but at least do around 60 to each ‘team mate’. If you see suspicious activity, make sure you deal over 125 damage. As a pyro, since your flames can ignite spies (including cloaked ones) puff into everyone you see! Shake your view to ensure that at least one particle connects. (For more info, see the Pyro guide)
Things to watch out for:
- Pyros, engineers and snipers are the most common disguised classes because they have at 100% movement speed. This doesn’t mean if they are disguised as another class they are not a spy.
- Fast classes like the scout and medic moving slowly, as explained previously.
- Strange class combinations – if there’s a pyro called “Bob” and your friend is actually playing engineer, well you know he’s a spy.
- Not shooting at the enemy. If a class is not shooting at the enemy, it’s probably a spy.
- Walking along with the enemy and not being shot by the enemy – as the other team knows their own spies, if you see a team mate who is strangely not being attacked it’s probably a spy.
- Moving towards to engineer buildings – they want to sap that sentry! Always spycheck them.
- Teammates moving back to your own team while full on health. This is definitely suspicious. If they should be attacking or pushing forward but rather they are moving back rather than backpeddling, they’re likely to be a spy.
- Looking at you. Do you look directly at your team mates or look directly at your enemy? Generally, if they are looking at you they want to stab you.
Just because someone doesn’t exhibit some or all of the behavior listed above doesn’t make them innocent. Always spycheck everyone unless you’ve checked someone before, and they haven’t left your vision (or very briefly did). Spycheck spycheck spycheck – you can never be too sure!
What if the spy cloaked? You can widely spraying fire everywhere as a pyro, or just shooting at where the spy is expected to be, for example health or metal packs. In tunnels and other close pages, it becomes easier to kill a cloaked spy. If you haven’t got him through, be extra cautious and listen for the decloak sound carefully.
The Leap Stab – this is when the spy has a height advantage and is in front of you. Then, they jump down behind you and stab. Turn your back 180 degrees if you see this happening.
The Corner stab – corner stabs are when the spy lures you to a corner, and then moves out. You’ll naturally turn back to chase him, but he can use this opportunity to stab you.
Quickstab – one of the most common techniques. The spy will move past you, but quickly turn and plant a knife in your back. Only works if you buy their disguise, which you shouldn’t after reading this guide
The overhead stab – “Stand at the top of a set of stairs, ramp, prop or any slight elevation, facing down at an enemy approaching you. Run forward and crouch-jump, releasing forward while turning in mid-air to stab them in the back.”. It can be very hard to protect yourself against this stab, but just avoid going up the stairs when a spy is up there. Rather, attack them.
Communication matters. Use the quick voice command X + 2 to yell out spy, so your teammates are aware if it. If you have a microphone, it also helps to call out the location of the spy. If you point your cursor at a ‘team mate’ and then use the voice command, your class will yell out “That [class] is a spy!” which is helpful if you know that someone is disguised.