The Haus

Introduction to Team Fortress Classic

September 8, 2000 -- by J

Team Fortress v1.5 (TF1.5) is the updated version of the popular Half Life mod, Team Fortress Classic (TFC). However, to eliminate confusion with the Quake versions of this mod, I will continue to refer to the game as TFC.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, or have never played it (*ahem* A.T. . . . The Master *ahem*), TFC is a squad based multiplayer game based on Capture the Flag (CTF). The primary difference between TFC and other FPS CTF games (lotta abbreviations, eh?) is that TFC has nine different classes to choose from: Scout, Sniper, Soldier, Demoman, Medic, HWGuy, Pyro, Spy, and Engineer. These serve to make the game much more team oriented. I will talk briefly about these a little later, and in depth in future articles.

Since TFC is based on CTF, the primary type of game CTF with the usual setup: two bases with flags on opposite ends of a map. Gameplay is basically the same, too: grab the enemy's flag from their base and take it to a designated capture point in your base. One difference between TFC and Unreal Tournament CTF or Quake 3 Arena CTF is that unlike those two games, you can capture the flag in TFC even if the enemy is in possession of your flag. The big difference between run-of-the-mill CTF and TFC CTF (hope you're not dyslexic) is the different classes.

Playing TFC is simple. If you have a newer version of Half Life, you already have TFC. If, for some odd reason, you have an older version, you would need to download TFC. Furthermore, you want to make sure you have the latest update for Half Life, version 1.1. If you know you have v1.0.1.6, download the 10161100.exe file. If you're unsure of what version you have, or know you have an older version, get the hl1100.exe file. Get them at your favorite Half-Life/TFC site, or just go here: Once you've installed the appropriate file, you now have Team Fortress v1.5

To start, simply fire up Half Life, start a multiplayer game, and look for TFC games in the server menu. Though the game is now called Team Fortress 1.5, the Half Life menu still uses TFC rather than the correct TF1.5. Then again, I still call it TFC, so let's move on. I use a different method to start up TFC, since I play it so dang much. I created a shortcut on my desktop with the following command line:

C:\SIERRA\Half-Life\HL.EXE -console -game tfc

The '-console' command allows you to pull down the console while in the game and the '-game tfc' sets the game type to TFC. Double-clicking on this icon starts up TFC right off the bat. Much easier for my lazy butt.

When you do connect to a server, you'll be greeted with a screen describing the server, with info like map rotation, URL's, or just rambling nonsense. Just click on 'OK' and move on.

The next screen asks you to select a team. The options are: Red, Blue, Auto Assign, and Cancel. By mousing over Red or Blue, you can see how many players are already on that team, as well as a list of their nicknames. It is considered good form to join the team with fewer members. Sounds like a no-brainer, but there are some llamas who will do things like join the winning team. Auto Assign automatically assigns you to the team with fewer members. I shouldn't have to explain Cancel to you. If so, forfeit your computer to me immediately and from this point on, you are forbidden to purchase anything more advanced than a toaster.

Once you've selected a team, you are then asked to select a class. The menu gives you ten options, labeled 1-0. You can either click on the class of your choice with your mouse or enter the appropriate number from your keyboard. You may have noticed there are ten options and only nine classes. Option number 0 is Random, and does what it says . . . the game randomly chooses a class for you to play. If you are a beginner, I don't think you should choose that option, unless you really want to aggravate your teammates.

Now, as promised, here is the brief rundown of the TFC classes:

Scout-The scout is by far the fastest class in the game. This class can literally run circles around all the other classes. However, they have a fairly low amount of health and little armor, so if someone manages to hit one or catch one while they're not running, they can get fragged fairly quickly. Because they are so fast, they are *usually* the ones running the flags from base to base.

They have two special abilities. One is the ability to uncover enemy spies by running into them. This causes the enemy spy to lose his disguise (see the Spy class description for more info). Their other ability is being able to disarm a demoman's detpack. This is done by just standing on it.

Sniper-A camper's dream. The sniper is of average speed, with a fair amount of health and little armor. Like the name suggests, the sniper's special ability is being able to, well, snipe!. His primary weapon is a fairly powerful sniper rifle with a zoom scope. Hitting the 'special ability' bind activates the zoom. Then, the player presses and holds the primary fire button. This will 'paint' a laser dot on a target. The longer the button is held down, the more powerful the shot becomes. If 'powered up' enough, one shot can kill a HWGuy and/or a sentry gun.

The sniper's disadvantage is linked to their snipe ability. While the player holds the fire button down, the sniper's movement is considerably slower. Also, while the sniper is zoomed in, it is impossible for him to be very aware of his immediate surroundings. If the sniper is not in adequate cover, he's a sitting duck.

Soldier-The soldier is the second slowest class, but he also has the second highest amount of armor and a lot of health. The soldier's primary weapon is his rocket launcher, which can kill a weaker class with a couple of well placed shots. It is also useful for the ever-popular rocket jump. However, the rocket launcher has only four shots, and takes a few seconds to reload after all four rounds have been fired.

Demoman-The demoman is of average speed, with a good amount of health and a fair amount of armor. His main weapon is a pipe bomb launcher that can launch two different types of pipe bombs. The first type bounces around for a few seconds and then explodes. The second type of pipe bomb won't explode until the demoman detonates them. They will explode in other situations as well, which will be gone over in the demoman article.

The demoman also has the ability to set a powerful detpack, by default for 5 seconds. These can be used to destroy predetermined obstacles, like walls or grates. In some maps, they can be used to destroy enemy command centers.

Medic-The medic is a fairly speedy class, with medium armor. Lightly armed, his primary specialty (as the name suggests) is in administering first aid to his teammates, curing them of wounds, hallucinations, sleep potions, and the infections of enemy medics. That's right, the same medkit used to heal your teammates can also be used to infect the enemy. Their health will continue to dwindle until they are healed by their own medic or they die.

HWGuy-The HWGuy is usually the class recommended for beginners. Why? Because he is probably the simplest class. A big, lumbering, heavily armored guy with a really big chaingun. He is by far the slowest class in the game, but the most heavily armored. His chaingun will make mincemeat out of most classes in a few seconds, if they are foolish enough to take him head on. However, his chaingun takes a second to 'spin up', giving the faster classes a chance to escape if the HWGuy is unprepared.

Pyro-Burn, baby, burn. The pyro's name explains it all. He is of average speed, with plenty of health and armor. His primary weapon is a flamethrower, that spouts large bursts of flame to weaken the enemy. Notice I said 'weaken'. This is because the flamethrower causes relatively little damage, though it will set an enemy on fire and he'll take residual damage until the flames extinguish. To really get any kills with the flamethrower, you must be fairly adept at circle-strafing. The flamethrower is also good for blinding snipers and other classes, as the flames will interfere with the target's HUD.

The pyro is also armed with an incendiary cannon that is similar to the rocket launcher, except its warhead has a smaller explosion but will set anyone near the explosion on fire.

Spy-The spy is of average speed and moderately armored. His primary specialty is the ability to disguise himself as another class of either team. This is useful for taking out enemy sentries or pesky snipers. However, the spy cannot shoot a weapon or use his knife while disguised . . . doing so will instantly drop his disguise. Fortunately for the spy, he can use his grenades and remain in disguise.

Another ability the spy has is feigning death. When the spy does this, he drops to the ground as if dead. He can still see and hear what is going on around him and relay this info to his team or just wait for an unsuspecting enemy to walk by. It is best not to move when feigning death, because you will look like a breakdancing corpse, which means you're a rocket or two away from giblet gravy.

Engineer-The engineer is of average speed, and oddly enough, lightly armored. The engineer builds things. He can make ammo for his teammates. He can repair his teammates' armor. He can make an ammo/armor dispenser for his teammates. But what every engineer must build for his team is the sentry gun.

The sentry gun is an automated weapons platform. When upgraded to its highest level (level 3), it sports two powerful miniguns and rocket launchers. Usually, once a sentry gun locks onto a target, that target is toast. There is much more for the engineer, and that info will be covered in my article for this class.

Again, these are very brief descriptions of each class. In my follow-up articles for each class, I will also share my opinions on how to use these classes most effectively, as well as go into significantly more detail on each class.

Lastly, here are some general tips for playing TFC. These tips are common sense for many, and are good tips for team-based games in general, but it wouldn't hurt to read on.

  1. Use your team communication! If you got fragged while carrying the enemy flag, let your teammates know where the flag is. While you're at it, let them know what kind of defense is around the flag. If you run across an enemy sentry gun, tell your teammates where it's located. Warn your teammates of incoming spies, and if possible, what they're disguised as. At times, you may have important intel for your team, but will be in imminent danger of a fragging . . . take the fragging for the team and give them the intel.
  2. Know the map. Know where the flags are and where the capture points are. I don't know how many times I've seen a new player run around aimlessly with the enemy flag because they didn't know where the cap point was.
  3. Don't be a llama. Don't camp the enemy respawn (you too, snipers!). Don't spam with messages. Don't shoot your teammates. Even if 'friendly fire' is disabled, you will take off your teammate's armor. Don't swear. Don't jump on a team and try to order your teammates around. If you get infected and there is no friendly medic around, don't go into your respawn . . . you'll infect your whole team and really piss 'em off.
  4. Remember, TFC is a TEAM game. If a teammate is in trouble, help him. If you lose the enemy flag, don't try to run back to it from your respawn for the score . . . let your teammates know so they can get it. I have seen players whining because they lost the flag and someone else got the cap. Don't be that guy.
  5. Have fun! It's just a game. An incredibly addictive game, but a game nonetheless.

Next article: The scout!