Tip number 9 - The engineer

Ah, my ninth, and final (Until valve introduces the new class) class based tip.
The engineer. 'engy' to his friends. Trusty spanner man, wenches with wrenches (for the female gamers, she knows who I mean) this is a fine class - and I shall begin the discussion now.

This, by the way, is a genuinely new tip in my series - no bits stolen from my previous tip series, all genuinely new, and drawn solely from my meandering experience.
You can disagree with it - you've been wrong before.

Disclaimer - this disclaimer may be unimportant. Thank you.

Right! Enough prevaricating, on to the class analysis.
Weaponry - a damn good selection.
You've got a double barrelled shotgun, which is just like every other classes - damn nice up close, not too good at range. hitscan, 8 shots.
You've got a railgun, or 'pooty green gun'. 100% accurate, but slow travelling, useful for taking out stationary targets at range (it does a fair bit of seemingly armour piercing damage) slow rate of fire and lack of spread makes it no use close up. It's main use is to make yourself visible, and to catch spies (see previous tip)
And instead of crowbar, you have a spanner. Which does sort of crowbar damage - but has many more special uses, and gets its own kill icon.

Grenade wise, you get up to 4 normal grenades, and up to 4 EMP grenades. A further discussion of how EMP works is saved for later, but suffice to say that they are good - and make things go boom.

You've got pretty good speed. Almost up with medic (but with lack of flight)
Armour, unfortunately, is sorely lacking, and you'v only got 5% more helth than a scout.

So - a light to medium class then. Special abilities?

You can build stuff. Sentry guns and ammunition dispensers to be more precise.
You can remotely monitor the status of said 'stuff' and cause it to blow up.
You can repair teammates armour, by thwacking them with their spanner.
And, finally, they can create ammunition for their teammates.

Oh, one extra thing - on certain maps there are special things for an engineer to do.

OK, that's all a bit basic - lets go into some more detail.
First off - Metal.
Represented by the numbers of cells they are carrying as ammo, pretty much everything an engineer does uses metal.
An engineer can carry up to 200 cells, and they are used up quickly.
Building a sentry gun, dspenser, or upgrading a sentry gun, costs 130 cells.
Reparing (armour gun or disp) costs ammo depending upon how much they have to repair.
Creating ammo uses 50 cells, if you've got them, orless to create less ammo.

Notice that this means that you can't throw your ammo as you leave the respawn room, and still expect to be able to build a gun.

You get cells from ammo packs, like any other kind of ammo - but be aware that the packs teammates throw to you never contain more than 50 cells.
The pack from a DEAD teammate or enemy can contain up to 200.

Now, the stuff you BUILD with these cells.
The simplest thing is an ammunition dispenser.
These boxy things ('bins') sit there. When you or another teammate stands next to them for a moment, they give you some armour and ammo. If you stand there for longer, they give you more.
They have a limited stock of what they can supply, which replenishes over time (and starts off empty)
You can stock them up faster by whacking them with your wrench

These bins are pretty vulnerable to enemy fire. A couple of well placed rockets, or a grenade, will see them exploding - and they sure explode.
The size of the explosion is in proportion to the amount of ammo inside them - specifically rockets.
Be aware that the same as a soldier can die from splashes from his won rockets, your dispenser can kill you even if teamhurt is off.
But, this exploding is also your dispensers adantage - you can MANUALLY explode it (either from the commandmenu, or with the command 'detdispenser') and in this way it can be used as a trap.

Oh yeah, you're also meant to get a message 'enemies are using your dispenser' whenever an enemy is near your dispenser, but fdon't count on it.

Right - next up is your sentry gun.
Many engineers give their sentry guns names. I don't like to do this, it's not a good idea to get attacthed to something with an estimated lifespan of under a minute.
The reason for this is the enemy likes to kill your gun. Even more than they like to kill you.
No, thats too far ahead, bck to the simple stuff.

Right. A sentry gun is a fixed emplacement, which automatically fires upon any eemies it sees.

Build a gun, get more cells then whack it with your spanner. It upgrades.
Sentry guns have 3 levels, cunningly named level one two and three.
At each new level, the sentry gun aquires greater firepower, BUT (as of TF1.5) appears to have it's lock on speed reduced.
This means it takes longer to spot an enemy and start mowing them down - which means that sentry guns designd to catch scouts may well be better off at level 2 than at level 3.

Further, a sentry gun has a limited turning rate, which means that up close a fast class can run around it, or even crowbar it to death. (though the explosion when it dies will usually take them out)

Sentry guns can't detect disguised spies - no matter how hard you yell "you idiot! That's a spy!" - in thisrespect they are kind of similar to your teammates.

Sentry guns have a limited detection range - and it's quite short. An enemy further away than this range can easily kill your gun at their leisure, unless someone is harassing them.
HOWEVER - if they even once stray into range, the sentry gun will lock onto them, and it will continue firing no matter how far away they get. They have to get behind cover to make it lose its lock.

Another disadvntage to a sentry gun is that it can only fire at one target at once, so a PAIR of enemies can reasonably expect to outwit it, and slip one past.

Sentry guns (and dispensers) can only be built on horizontal surfaces (though it is sometimes possible to fool them) and there are certain areas on most maps which are off limits (usually respawn rooms, or doors)

Ok - having control of these fixed emplacements - it looks as though the engineer is esigned to be a defencive class, and this is indeed true.

The FIRST main skill you need to learn as an engineer is where to build you guns (which is map secific, but should generally be a place which covers a main atack route, but which makes it hard for the attackers to kill it)
I'm not going to cover this here, you'll have to wait until I get around to doing the specific map tips.
Then, the second skill, is being able to get your sentry gun built FAST.

The absolute easiest way to do this is to have two engineers.
One builds, the other upgrades.

Other than this, building a dispenser can realy help - as can throwing your ammo after building/upgrading
Since you wil (usually) get back ALL your ammo when you restock anyway. (An exception to this is well, where you REALLY need the dispenser, because the top resupply doesn't give you all your ammo, nor does it replenish quickly enough)
Having other teammates throw you ammo is useful too - but remmeber that it's only 50, and so don't bother to take it unless it gives you enough to build another stage.

The THIRD main skill an engineer needs is an ability to keep their sentry guns alive.
Absolutely the BEST way to do this is to kill the attackers before they get the chance to throw their ammunition (especially their grenades) at your gun.
Beware though - if you prime your grenade in rsponce to hearing them prime theirs - theirs will go off before yours does... so you have to keep them from getting in position to throw the grenade at your gun.
Worse than that - if they kill you, they then have a chance to kill your gun at leisure. This is why yo uREALLY need support. Rememeber, you have very little armour and health.

What you DO have, is speed (of obvious use in a firefight, as well as being able to return to the scene of battle very quickly after death) and EMP.
I mentioned these, so here goes:
EMP sands for 'electro magnetic pulse' and thats the entire justification fro why they act as they do.
These six sided bundles of love create a pretty yellow expanding ring effect - which sorta kinda matches their area of effect.
*within* that area of effect, things blow up. Dropped ammo packs, carried ammunition, whatever - if blows up, and does damage to the person carrying it, and people nearby.
Cells do the most damage, then rockets, then shotgun shells. Grenades and nails do no damage.
Dropped ammo packs disappear, but carried ammo stays intact and ready to be fired at you.

EMP has a very distinctive sound, appearance, and kill icon - and because of the way it works when multiple enemies are nearby at once, tends to get lots of multikills.
Due to a BUG - scouts cannot drop cells (although they have no use for them) and therefore if they pick up an ammo pack they will be vulnerable to EMP. In fact they generally gib from it.

Pyro demon and soldier are also nice and vulnerable - HWG to a lesser extent.
BEWARE the soldier who knows to not pick up (much) ammo, and discard his pack - he can take as little as 18 armour damage from an EMP if he's alone.

A good way to use EMP is to leave an ammo pack or two lying around - they blow up when you EMP them.

Demons yellow pipes also blow up when EMPed - although that's of little use on defence.

Ok - diversion over, defending your sentry gun.
Two final tips on this - repair it when it gets damaged (whack it with your spanner)
And stand in front of incoming fire - only if the person responsible for that fire has other problems, otherwise you'll die from it and then they'll kill the sentry - but it can be really useful to save your SG from, say, nail grenades.
Encourage your teammates to do this too.

Last note on sentry gun defence - crouching behind it with your spanner out continually whacking it works... sort of.
Eventually you run out of cells, and the attacker ills it - so you'd better hope he's got other problems.
Also, if they are trying to kill it with splash damage causing weaponry, it'll kill YOU, and then the gun.
If they kill it with a 'one shot' kill (MIRV, or simultaneous rocket+grenade) then it'll die, and you'd've bene betr off trying to stop them.
And it makes an awful racket, so they know EXACTLY what you are doing well in advance of seeing you.

Sentry gun health.
Lvl3 sentry guns die from:
3 rockets. 1 rocket+1 grenade. A quarter of a mirv. A nailgrenade decently nearby. 15 pyro rockets. 2 dead on pipes. 14 single barrelled shotgun shots from out of its range. 8 seconds of nailgun fire. 4 seconds of supernailgun fire. About 6 seconds of pooty green globby gun (railgun) fire. 2 gren1's. 1 gren 1 + 2 DBS blasts.
6 DBS blasts from close up, but thats a bad idea. Twice round it with a flamethrower (also a bad idea)

Oh, be aware you can detonate your sentry gun - useful if a spy is beating on it and it hasn't realised yet. ('detsentry' is the command)

Right, so that's defensive engineer. Not a vast amount of detail, but that's basically it.
Keep your co-defenders well stocked on ammo and armour.
Don't get in their way, and don't EMP them too often.
Don't be fooled by spies, you SHOULD get warnings of their approach, but sometimes they will slip past your forward defenders - and you are the last line of defence.
Plus, your sentry gun is possibly all that is stopping the enemy using a flood of scouts.

On teamhurt OFF servers, you can safely spycheck by shooting them - you can then repair their armour for them.
You can also always spycheck with your spanner, it'll repair a teammate, but hurt a spy, however your average spy will knife you if you try this.

Right. Ok. what ELSE can an engineer do.

An engineer can ATTACK. Thats what.
Now, the first thing you want to do is to make sure there is SOMEONE guarding your gun, or that you can always get back to rebuild it in case of an enemy attack.
You do NOT build your sentry gun in a forward position - that's NOT a good thing.
The only time it really works is when the enemy is heavily outnumbered - and then yes, it can lock them into their base. But that's not really a situation which should ever come up - you ought to change teams to prevent it.

However - building a forward dispenser can work lovely. It allows your offence to restock after having got a bit damaged crossing the no mans land - or in a secluded space can help a spy survive.
Make sure you don't build it in TOO obvious a place, or the enemy will kill it. (And in a firezone random missed shots will kill it)
A good example of a place is near the gas chamber in the enemy base on rock2. (Assuming the enemy defence is centered around the wardens office)
It allows your attackers to retreat and restock, and can even be used as a trap when your keyrunner is escaping.

Further, you can create ammo, and repair armour of your teammates directly, if you are going in as a group, this can be really useful.

Destroying the enemy pipe fields is a wonderful thing an attacking engy can do for their team. Rather than trying to fake out multiple demons on the timing, an engineer can just clear the way with an EMP.
They are also a very dangerous class to face in a fight, so although they might not survive it long, they can deathmatch the defenders, who HAVE to take notice of them, which can allow other attackers to slip through.

Or they can slip through themselves, being pretty fast.

EMP goes through walls. Thats another big advantage - this effect can be used well if you know exactly where an enemy defender (or their SG) is hiding, you can take them out without them ever seeing you.

One last big advantage to being an engineer - the EMP hug.
Prime an EMP, and run toward the enemy.
It'll explode, taking you AND THEM out - or if they kill you, it'll explode your dropped ammo pack, probably taking them out.

This can work well - while it is, of course, preferable to take them out and survive (usually, on maps where new grens are hard to come by - suicide to restock works well) sometimes that isn't possible, and the EMP-hug is the bast way to go.

Right, lets finish off with a blow by blow on how to take out each class, as usual.

Engy vs Scout
As aforementioned, EMP will kill a scout who picked up an ammo pack, and heavily wound one who didn't. Grenades, of course work well, and a good shotgun blast always puts a hole in their day. Your problem is that they may well not give oyu the time to do any of these things (or not the shotgun more than once) so hope that they have already been wounded, and try and get them near your dispenser or block their progress to give your sentry gun long enough to lock on.

Engy vs Sniper
Well, if they aren't watching you, you can kill them with railgun shots as they zoom in elsewhere - you can often EMP them through walls, which they hate.
If they've come to attack your sentry gun, knock them off aim, preferably into its view. Even take a bullet for it, and allow your gren to take them out after your death.
If they wantto deathmatch you, the shotgun is weapon of choice, but their autogun will tear you up, so dodge a lot, and use a grenade to end it.

Engy vs Soldier
EMP. Throw ammo at them and EMP. EMP them in a group. Subsitute 'gren1' for EMP in the previous to piss off the smart asses who hink they've got you sussed, and didn't pick up ammo.
Dodge the rockets, mke them rocket you not the gun, try to get the gun o kill you, and shotgun them.
Soldiers are easier to kill than they look.

Engy vs Demon

EMP is good :) (Sense a theme here?) Also their pipes are relatively easy to dodge. Your problem is killing them befre they mirv your sentry - which is hard, so instead try to block them, bounce them (or their grens) around a corner, and show them why explosives aint a good idea up close. Then let your EMP finish them.

Engy vs Medic
This is painful. They are faster, better armoured, and have the same gun, and a GREAT gun for SG killing
Try to lure them out - if they want to kill you, they have to step in front of you gun. Medics sually to try to kamikaze attack your gun - if they do then do your best to grenade the others, they OUGHT to be wounded by your teammates.
If you hear (of?) a bunch of medics doing healing in preperation for an attack on you - well... a cluster of enemies is fodder for an EMP.

Engy vs HWG
Shotgun, back off, bounce gren at them.
Repeat. They'll kill you quite often though.

Engy vs Pyro
They carry cells. That means they dissolve when they EMP you. Also you can lure them in front of SG to great effect, since their flamethrower blinds them as much as it does you, and they aint quite sure where it is.
But they aren't much of a problem, they have a hard time killing sentry guns (though they have gren1, and napalm works, though slowly) But they can kill YOU easily enough.

Engy vs Spy
Do *not* be fooled, do *not* let them grenade your sentry.
If you get into a fight with them, you're surprisingly well matched, similar weapons, gren1s (they'r enot very vulnerable to EMP)
They've got the tranq though, so you'll be in trouble. Your only advantage is that they are trying to kill your sentry gun, and may pay that more attention than you.
A few good SSG blasts, and they go down, but if they go for you...

Engy vs Engy
Should rarely happen, but just to warn you, you carry cells, and go BOOM when EMPed