Sunday, December 25, 2011

Aeternalis’ Heavy Guide for TF2 v1.0 (25/12/11)

Aeternalis’ Heavy Guide for TF2 v1.0 (25/12/11)

Hello, my name is Ben @ Aeternalis (the owl guy) who frequents the Lowyat TF2 servers; this is my first attempt at making a guide.

Disclaimer: I don’t pretend to be a pro and there are tons of players out there better than me, but I just want to share some of my experiences playing TF2 so that beginners can pick up on some tips and we can generally have more fun in our games (pwning n00bs gets boring after a while). So please don’t flame my @ss but I’d welcome any feedback/criticism/opinions regarding this guide.

To those interested, I’ve been playing TF2 only 2 months ever since I did a knee operation for a torn ACL (kudos if you know what that is), so I was on medical leave since then. I started my illustrious career playing engineer first, then scout and now focus on heavy. Now having started back work, I usually play on weekends and after 5 on weekdays.

My stats (at time of writing from playing only official TF2 sanctioned maps)
Most points:56 (as Heavy) Most kills:42 (as Heavy) Most kills by sentry:14 (as Engineer) Most assists:15  as Medic) Most captures:18 (as Heavy) Most defenses:7 (as Heavy) Most damage:7,864 (as Heavy) Most  destruction:9 (as Heavy) Most dominations:7 (as Heavy) Most revenges:2 (as Heavy) Most  UberCharges:2 (as Medic) Longest life:16:43 (as Engineer) Most backstabs:1 (as Spy) Most buildings built:18 (as Engineer) Most headshots:9 (as Sniper) Most health healed:2,080 (as Medic) Most health leeched:8 (as Spy) Most teleports:13 (as Engineer)

Even if you’re not interested in Heavy as a class, some of the information here may benefit players who wish to train in other classes and give an idea how to counter adept Heavy players (like moi).
So let’s get down to it.

Hardware options
You know how people say that the human eye can’t register FPS higher than 60? Well, simply put… that’s a load of crap (trust me, I’m a doctor). 

I was playing tf2 @ 60fps with scout and when I made the change to a 120hz monitor, I suddenly noticed that my skills have improved overnight! A better explanation of this is the more frames hit your retina, you’re receiving more information to your brain about your opponents movements, rockets/grenades flying towards you so that you can react faster.

For example, have you seen those creepy 400Hz HDTVs in your local electronic shop and how the movement just seems so fluid? Well, the same can be applied to a 120hz monitor but less so.

WARNING: If your other system specs like GPU or CPU cannot render TF2 at more than 60fps, then it’s pointless to buy a 120hz monitor. Use programs like FRAPS to see what kind of frame rates you are getting. If you’re hitting the ceiling at 60fps then maybe you should consider the upgrade. Please note that with vsync disabled, your FRAPS may show you getting more than 60fps, but your monitor is only displaying at 60fps (the extra frames are not drawn), however with a 120hz monitor, the extra frames will be drawn till the ceiling of 120fps. For example, my FRAPS show a frame rate of 300fps, but my monitor is only drawing 120fps

Also for heaven’s sake, get a good mouse. Don’t spend all your $$$ on a kickass PC but you’re using some generic mouse/trackball thingie. My preference is the Logitech G9x, having used both the Razer Deathadder and Lachesis.

Ingame TF2 options
Before we go in depth into tactics blabla, there are a few prerequisite options in the game itself that you should set. Please note that these are my own personal preferences, but quite a few adept players I know have enabled these options as well.

Under advanced options, from top to bottom:
  1. Enable ‘DISPLAY DAMAGE DONE AS TEXT OVER YOUR TARGET’. This gives 3 distinct advantages; Firstly, you are able to tell that you are actually hitting your target (as opposed to spraying the air with blanks) and secondly, you can tell how far your target is from death (and whether you should chase him down or back off). Lastly, you can tell from the damage you are dealing which range category (see more below) you are standing at.
  2. Under HUD options, enable ‘MINIMAL HUD’. This hud is less intrusive and gives you more screen area to work with.
  3. Disable ‘DRAW VIEWMODELS’. This option removes the weapon model at the right or left hand side of your screen. This confers the same benefit as above, but you really need to get used to it as it’s easy to lose track of which weapon is which especially with minimal hud. Also, important info like visual cues as to when your next shot (for soldiers/scouts/demoman) is ready is also lost, so players who use this must be already familiar with the speed of their shots.
Under options, in video tab, click on advanced options, max out the FOV slider: This increases your FOV and allows you to see more.
Same view: different FOV. Above picture FOV is max at 90 and below picture FOV is minimum at 75. Notice how you can notice the spy noticing you in the above picture? That can mean the difference between life and death if that spy was actually a disguised Blu spy.

Under options, in multiplayer tab, choose a cursor colour that really stands out: mine is whitish pink. The default white messes up with your aim especially in brightly lit areas like the first part of ‘upward’. I use the default ‘none’ cursor option as this will vary my cursor to which weapon I’m equipping which benefit those who use disable draw viewmodels. 

Depending on the weapon, parts of your screen will be obscured by the weapon: As you can see above, the engineer in the 2nd picture is almost completely blocked by the minigun. If that was a good blue scout, you’d probably be dead by the time you realize he’s there. Not to mention the FPS boost you get by not drawing the weapon model, it makes disabling this option a no-brainer.

With the options now out of the way, we come down to the meat and potatoes of it. My choice of weapons for the heavy are;
  1. Iron Curtain (reskin of the standard minigun)
  2. Sandvich
  3. Gloves of Running Urgently (GRU)
My playstyle believes ultimately in survivability and flanking, so this is my ideal choice of equipment.
Now, I would advise all beginners or those players wanting to be better to visit the TF2 wiki site and read through (how damage is done) and the different damage values for different weapons (especially your weapon of choice) as well as know the different health values of different classes.

The stats for the minigun shown below. Each round of ammo shoots 4 bullets which use hitscan to determine whether they have hit or missed the target. This showcases how important it is to ‘trace’ the moving target with your reticule. Make sure that the target is within your minigun circle at all times. More advanced players will actually ‘lead’ the cursor in front of the moving target to make sure that all the bullets are hitting the target = maximum dps (especially when the target is at midrange).
Also don’t hesitate to use your sandvich to heal other teammates (especially dying medics healing you). As a general rule, I like to keep both me and my medic’s health at full before engaging the enemy.

Damage and function times
Shot type
Maximum ramp-up150%
13.5 / per bullet
Base damage100%
9 / per bullet
Maximum fall-off50%
4.5 / per bullet
Point blank
50-54 / per 1 ammo
500-540 / per second
Medium range
5-30 / per 1 ammo
50-300 / per second
Long range
5-10 / per 1 ammo
50-100 / per second
Critical hit
27 / per bullet
12 / per bullet
Function times
Attack interval
0.1 s
Windup time
0.87 s

As you can see above, most enemies you meet at point blank will almost instantly die under a hail of bullets provided you have revved up your minigun (which takes 0.87 seconds) and are facing the right direction.

Therefore, most of the time when the outcome of engaging the enemy is in doubt is at midrange, or when facing multiple enemies at different distances.

As a general rule, heavies should not try to engage enemies at long range as the spread of the bullets + the low damage values would put heavies at the mercies of snipers, spies with revolvers and soldiers with direct hits.

Prioritizing targets
The one mistake that many new heavy players do is spraying the whole screen with bullets without actually focusing on any one target. The disadvantages of this is manifold: you alert ALL your enemies to your presence and you don’t actually KILL anyone.

Heavy’s need to prioritize their targets based on threat ratings: A guide to which target to aim at first is as follows:
  1. Enemies nearest to you who are aware of your presence (i.e. shooting at you). The exception to this rule is when you are outgunned and about to die, (A spunned up heavy is shooting at you) then you should concentrate on killing a weaker enemy (say an injured pyro or demoman) before you die. Pyros who are flaming you can be easily taken down due to their low health especially when you have a medic on you.
  2. If no enemy is aware to your presence which should be the case when you play heavy, then target those nearest to you which have the highest danger rating (Spunned up heavies who are shooting a different direction, soldiers, demomen).
  3. Enemies at midrange who are aware of your presence and shooting at you can sometimes be ignored until you’ve killed all nearer opponents or they move closer to you to become something of a threat.
  4. Enemies at midrange who aren’t aware of your presence. If the conditions allow for it, you should attempt to close down the gap before making your presence known by shooting them.
The picture above shows the proposed kill order. If you spray the whole area, you attract everyone’s attention (especially the heavy on the cart) and you’re dead. Kill the pyro attacking you first, then the heavy, the demo shouldn’t be able to take you down so quickly at close range with his nades. The soldier attacking you from midrange won’t be very effective due to the cart and his teammates blocking him.

Another important concept of playing heavy is to know WHEN TO RUN! It’s better to flee and live another day then to go down guns blazing (unless you have left yourself no route of escape, then take as many of them as possible before dying). Enemies at long range are not worth engaging unless to suppress them to allow other members of your team (like a good spy) to get in behind them. Any good sniper will make short work of you if you decide to engage him at long range.

Hence the importance of the Sandvich, unless you are really sure you can escape to a location where you can eat your sandvich in peace, use the alt-fire of dropping your sandvich and moving over it to gain +150 health (if you are above 150 health there is no benefit of eating the sandvich).
This tactic can be employed by jumping off cliffs or great heights and dropping the sandvich at the spot you’re landing to avoid going splat on the ground. 

Another frequently employed tactic I use, is the fake retreat (which works most of the time).
At mid-range with pyro and medic support, your heavy would probably lose in the first picture. Retreating is the viable option. Most opponents would either assume you are low on health and chase you. Turn back with gun revved (preferably at a corner). Some opponents would not follow making your chances much higher, and being at point black range with minigun ready should make mincemeat of the unsuspecting advancing army.

Specific combat situations

VS soldiers
The soldier will have the advantage if he’s in a position to pop out of cover to shoot and then pop back in cover, a tactic which can be used by all classes. The demoman also has a similar advantage in these situations (more so being able to stay in cover and shoot). The heavy should retreat in most of these circumstances unless you know that the opponnent is very low on health in which case, you might want to spin up and shoot at the corner he is coming out from. However, this rarely works. It may be better to employ the fake retreat tactic above.

VS spies
The bane of most heavies, I have been taught well by many a good spy (see acknowledgements) to be spy aware. That means periodically turning back (even while spunned up and firing at the enemy) to shoot at suspicious characters. You should do this if you’re engaging an enemy in midrange/long range and there is no immediate threat to your life from the front, as you are not likely to kill the enemy at that range if you focus on him anyway. More advanced spy tactics would include the jumpstab, so watch for your ‘teammates’ making weird moves to climb stairs/towers to get to a vantage point to jumpstab you from (i.e. in ‘hightower’ when your heavy is going up the lift with the cart, spies will usually climb the mid tower and jumpstab you from there).

Many spies also stab the medic first in a medic heavy pair, so if you are aware of the kill log to your top right, you should be able to catch the spy closing down on you. Also, if you notice that your medic has stopped healing you, you should turn around to check as well, as a good medic shouldn’t just continue to heal their target when they sense a spy heading towards their patient. 

Also, LISTEN! Hear the spy decloacking sound, and also be aware of the dead ringer. Put your mind in the spy’s mind, if he used the dead ringer, he’ll be looking for a safe place to decloack and somewhere near you to stab. The dead ringer lasts for 6.5 seconds, so when you kill a dead ringer spy, that also allows you 6.5 seconds to attack the enemy before turning around to check for spies. (provided there is only one spy though).

VS snipers
If you’re stuck in the open and the sniper is at extreme range, change to the GRU and run to cover. If the sniper is at long range, firing at them would mess up their aim sufficiently for you to get to cover. If at midrange, you may consider trying to gun them down, although this would not work against more proficient snipers. All in all, heavies should try to avoid open areas as much as possible and stick near walls, trenches, corners.

Make sure that the target is within your minigun circle at all times. More advanced players will actually ‘lead’ the cursor in front of the moving target to make sure that all the bullets are hitting the target = maximum dps (especially when the target is at midrange)

VS heavies
This is pretty straightforward. If both heavies notice each other immediately, then:
Heavy which is spun up and firing wins first. If your opponent has already begun shooting and you haven’t, either
  1. Rev and shoot him if you know/hope that he’s low on health,
  2. RUN, or
  3. Try taking out some other target (his medic?) before you die.
If spun up at the same time, then brass beast > minigun (iron curtain) > tomislav > natascha
Heavy with medic will beat heavy with no medic. Heavy with two medics will beat heavy with one medic.
Due to the threat nature of the heavy, they should be high priority in your target list especially when they are looking the other way.

VS engineers and their sentries
Many n00b heavies focus all their fire on the sentry gun. Heck, I’ve been guilty of this so many times. Sometimes, the engineer fixing the sentry is actually exposed to fire, therefore making sure the sentry AND the engineer is in the target reticule is one way of taking down sentry nests. Also, due to the large hitbox of sentry guns, it is possible to fire away at the tip of the gun of sentries without them firing back at you. (the last cap of ‘upward’, when sentries are on the balcony and you approach from below, you can fire through the holes in the wooden floor or through the metal railing of the balcony)

Being healed by a medic
The above tactics still hold sound even when you’re being carried by a medic. While you should be braver and take more risks with a medic as a pair, you must STILL know when to retreat as you dying would mean putting your partner at risk. Having a uber medic or a kritz medic also has different implications. The ubered heavy medic pair should be closer to the front lines or attempting a flank (under tactics section). The kritz heavy medic pair should be at midrange to long range as the kritz heavy can make short work of most enemies at this ideal range. Being closer would run the risk of the heavy dying and wasting the kritz. Also, don't be afraid to change to the GRU when ubered to get closer to the enemy/cap point/sentry nests .

Having first trained with the scout, I’m aware of many of the alternative flanking routes of most maps in TF2. However, the problem I faced is my scout would often die before I can deal any lasting damage even though I catch the opponents unaware. Therefore, I play Heavy with the same scout mindset. If you can get behind enemy lines with a spunned up heavy (more so being carried by a uber-ready medic), you would usually make short work of your opponents.

The GRU is the most useful piece of equipment as it allows your heavy (and medic) to reach the front lines of a CP mission just a little bit slower than the scouts of both teams. This allows you to area control certain points of the map (just like how soldiers rocket jump to the roof of ‘harvest’ or ‘foundry’ above the cap to deny access to these areas.

From the word go, a GRU heavy should rush for these routes (even if no medic is healing you to counter the effects of the GRU, just throw your sandvich before you engage the enemy). Usually other good heavies (see acknowledgements) have the same idea and you’re stuck in a heavy + medic battle which results in the loser’s team being annihilated by the flanking heavy. A good example of this is ‘pipeline’ and ‘hightower’.

Jumping and revving. While engaging the enemy, it is a good practice to jump around making yourself a more difficult target (Soldiers would be trying to aim for your feet and demomen to hit you with their bombs so don’t underestimate the power of a jumping heavy)
Also jumping from great heights into a crowd of enemies can be very effective (especially when ubered) so try to control these high areas as well (i.e. ‘hightower’, ‘mountain lab’ and last cap of ‘thundermountain’. You should spin up your minigun while jumping so that its ready to fire midway into the jump or when you land.

I used to use the tomislav to great effect, but ultimately I ended up preferring the minigun for its better dps and relied on position and flanking to achieve the ‘surprise factor’ that the tomislav has. That being said, it is still extremely useful and can be used to great effect in certain situations.

I also jump while turning corners and spin the instant I press the jump key. With the minigun, when I land there’ll be a shorter delay before I fire as compared to revving up and sidestepping the corner. Also the psychological factor of a heavy jumping into view in front of you can cause many enemies to run away.

That’s my two cents worth about the TF2 heavy and will be looking forward to your views on this guide and how to improve it. 

Please leave a comment or your email for a Microsoft word version of this guide. Most importantly, keep playing as there is no substitute for experience.  

If you guys can supply me screenshots of certain tips I have listed here to better supplement this guide, I would be grateful too!


To my wife for understanding my TF2 addiction and helping me overcome it (by letting me play more).

Nerdie_sid, Lyra and [O]xide for being my first few friends in TF2.

Nerdie_sid, Rex, Undercover and the other great spies out there who taught me how to watch my back, 
sides, backsides and the sky.

Gladios, Yummy and the other medics who have made my life as a heavy much easier.
Your Father, Koyomi Araragi, HunterKiller who showed me how awesome a fat guy with a minigun actually is.

Boogie who uses homing beacon grenades (you hax0r) and blew my @ss countless times while turning the corner into a wall full of stickies.

Unknwn Wanderer, Hinata and Wolfcape for sniping my head like a overripe watermelon so I know never again to wander out in the open.

Summer and the whole asiateamfortress clan who showed me what a n00b I actually am.

All TF2 players in this region for letting me pwn your sorry @sses.

Finally, to VALVE who destroyed my social/sex life.

Thank you very much.

Contact me:
Comments? Leave a comment of my wife’s blog: or request a microsoft word copy of this guide.

7 Comment:

Isaac Tan said...[Reply to comment]

Hey this is a very informative and well writeen guide for those that play this game!

Kudos to ben for writing this!

Biopolymath said...[Reply to comment]

Hey I have not been checking your blog for ages. How are you?

Punk Chopsticks said...[Reply to comment]

LMAO ben! What are you doing here! Cheers for the tutorial, it's obviously very well written

But I have no idea how to play this game xDDD

Vincophonics said...[Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
missyblurkit said...[Reply to comment]

love the sketches. informative even though i don't game. hehehe

happy new year babe. have an awesome and blessed 2012.

Enzo said...[Reply to comment]

Enzo approved. Me heart this guide.
Cya in game ;)

stella lee said...[Reply to comment]

super informative yet detailed! Nicely done post dear! <3