Team Fortress Classic: The Scout
March 23, 2001 -- by J
"Fast as fast can be, you'll never catch me!" is an appropriate catchphrase for the Scout, by far the fastest class in TFC. If played correctly, you can whiz right on by the enemy defense, grab their flag, cap it, and be home in time for cornflakes. However, this incredible speed comes at a fairly high price: the Scout is also the weakest class in the game. A couple of rounds from an HW Guy's assault cannon will quickly send you to that giant fragfest in the sky.
Before we get to the helpful advice, let's take a quick look at the Scout, shall we?
Your max health level is 75, which is far lower than any other class, so try not to get shot. You also spawn (enter the game, for you newbies) with only 25 points of armor, with a max armor level of only 50. Be sure to grab some armor before leaving the resupply; 50 is not a lot, but it's certainly better than only 25 points.
You only carry three weapons: the crowbar, the single-barrel shotgun, and the nailgun.
Your primary grenade is a bundle of caltrops. These pointy little bits of metal will impale your enemy's foot, slowing him down and giving you time to make a speedy retreat. Your secondary grenade is the concussion grenade, usually just referred to as the 'conc'. When this grenade explodes, it sends out a concussion wave that can penetrate thin walls. If a player is hit by this wave, he will become disoriented, losing the ability to aim accurately. For some concussion fun, lob one of these at an enemy Soldier in a confined space, like a hallway. If the player isn't very experienced, he will probably still try to shoot you though he is wobbling. Laugh maniacally as he shoots the wall next to him instead, killing himself with his own rocket.
Nothing to write home about, really. Hitting the key bound to special skills will merely show the status of each flag in the upper left-hand corner of your HUD. Since you'll likely be the primary flag carrier, this could come in handy.
The Scout has two special abilities. The one you'll most likely see is the Scout's ability to expose enemy spies. If you run into a disguised enemy Spy, that Spy will instantly lose his disguise and a message will pop up on the HUD, telling everyone you've exposed one of those sneaky so-and-so's.
Your other special ability is disarming the detpacks of enemy Demomen. This can be a tad dangerous, as the timer for the detpack is usually set for only 5 seconds. If you don't get to the detpack in time, it'll blow, sending you flying through the air in several dozen pieces. If you happen to be right next to an enemy Demoman as he's laying a detpack, feel free to run over it to disarm it and rob the Demoman of the only detpack he has. If you're some distance away while he's laying the explosive, it'll probably be safer to run away.
How to Play:
As the fastest class in the game, you'll be playing offense, which means you're the flag runner. It will be your job to run into the enemy base, bob and weave through their defense, grab their flag, and hightail it outta there to the cap point. Since it is the weakest class in the game, with little to speak of for armament, it is usually an extremely bad idea to get into a firefight with the enemy. Unless you have no other option, RUN AWAY. . . and don't look back. If no friendly players are around, go ahead and lob some caltrops or a concussion grenade at the enemy, but don't get into a furball with them if you can avoid it. If, for some reason, you can't run away, your best weapon would be the shotgun. It has a short range, and only holds 8 rounds at a time, but it'll do in a pinch. If the enemy is too far away for the shotgun to be effective, then you should be far enough away to RUN.
You can use your nailgun, but it is more annoying than it is damaging. What I recommend using the nailgun for is eliminating enemy sentry guns (SGs). If you know where an enemy SG is (and it hasn't fragged you yet), you can usually blow it up by peeking out from behind cover until a tiny portion of the SG is visible. Then, it's simply a matter of firing a steady stream of nails at the SG until it goes up. It will take a few seconds, so try to be aware of your surroundings while doing this.
You'll most likely be the first into the enemy base, and the first to encounter their defense. As the class name implies, you want to scout this defense out for your team. If possible, alert your teammates to enemy SG positions, and the general layout of the enemy defense.
As a general rule for any class, don't run in a straight line. You may be fast, but you can't outrun a Sniper's bullet. Zig and zag. Duck and weave. Jump up and down as you run forward. When you're in the enemy base, don't run blindly around corners or into rooms. Slow down and listen. If you hear the telltale electronic whine of an enemy SG, s-l-o-w-l-y peek around the corner. If an SG is present, try another route. If no other route is available, try to take the SG out yourself or wait for backup. Don't bother trying to take an SG out with your grenades . . . people will just laugh at you.
Your concussion grenades can also have another function: conc jumping. This is a very fine art, made much more difficult with the advent of TFv1.5 and it's new netcode. There are two basic ways to do this. The first is the handheld (HH) conc jump. What you want to do is prime your grenade, but don't release it. Run in the direction you want to go and jump right before the grenade goes off. If done correctly, you'll be propelled fast, far, and high. You can actually fly across a small map.
The other conc jump is the dropped conc jump. Prime your concussion grenade and toss it in the direction you'd like to travel. Run toward your grenade and jump over it right before it detonates. If done correctly, you'll make Michael Jordan jealous. The problem with the current netcode is that both of these conc jumps are very dependent on your latency (or ping) at that moment. The amount of latency will affect the timing of your jump. Ideally, the grenade won't go off for about 4 seconds (some say 3). However, latency and the 1.5 netcode can make your computer think the grenade is primed at a different time than the server, which can cause your conc jump to turn into a disoriented stupor as you conc yourself silly. Experiment at your own risk. If you do become adept at conc jumping, feel free to try double-conc jumping, to soar to even greater heights!
That's pretty much the basics of the Scout. Personally, I almost never play him, so take this info with a grain of salt. Better yet, a salt lick. However, I've had the privilege of playing with many fine Scouts, and this is the info I've gathered by watching them whiz around various maps, capping as they please. Give it a shot. You just might like it!
Next article: The sniper!