This guide will set up you up with the basics on how to get in on some quick 6v6 competitive play without having to commit to a clan, schedule, practice, etc. This is purely for 6v6 and not Highlander (9v9 with a class limit of 1 for each class) because I do not believe highlander has their own pug gather system yet.
PUG stands for Pick Up Group, which is what it sounds like; A group of players interested in playing a tight 6v6 game. The 'gather' system is a system built into the #tf2.pug IRC channel that automatically assembles players who've opted in into teams and provides a server with league rules to play on.
-IRC, for the gather system.
Personally, I love getting in a few 6v6 matches here and there, especially when the PA servers are empty. It's active at all times of the day, and you'll be set against players of a wide range of skill, ranging from merely interested folk like maybe yourself, to ESEA and CEVO level players.
As well, I think the gather system is a great way for people who knock 6v6 or have the wrong impressions about it to try it out for themselves and see what people like myself mean when we described it as just another level of play.
Open up your preferred IRC client it, be it something like mibbit.com or mIRC.
You need to connect to the irc.gamesurge.net server, and go into channel #tf2.pug
There is also a #tf2.pug.na channel, but its regulars are a bit more advanced, most coming from the top place teams, so #tf2.pug is much more entry level, which is what you'll want if you're looking to get into 6v6. Being immediately put up against slardel when you're a scout isn't going to do much good for your skills or your love of the game.
Mumble is a third party voice chat software similar to Ventrilo and is used for communicating with your teammates during the match. Every team, clan, what have you uses a third party voice chat program instead of the in-game voice because it allows you to communicate when you are dead in-game.
Mumble is preferred over Ventrilo because of its ease of use and it provides several nifty features like an in-game overlay and pop-up messages telling you who's coming and going.
Download Mumble Here
Once installed it just needs some basic set up, and will ask you to create a certificate. Just enter in a name and an email, and then save it on your Desktop or any other place you keep misc. files.
Once you have Mumble set up, you will want to hit 'Add New' and enter in the relevant information. The tf2pug mumble server is:
Voice server IP : mumble.tf2pug.org:64738
Password : tf2pug
You'll want to keep the user-name you use in mumble and the server the same as the one you use in-game and in the tf2pug IRC channel so you can be easily identified. You will also want to stay in the 'Root' channel until you are assigned a game. Each of the respective channels (Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta) are server locations and each have a Red and Blue channel which you'll use during the matches
It may ask you if you want to run Mumble in compatibility mode when entering the server, just say yes to that.
First thing you'll want to do is make sure your Mumble is set to 'Push to Talk' instead of 'Voice Activity'. If you have it set to 'Voice Activity', your mic will turn on whenever you say anything without having to press a button, which can be annoying for your teammates.
Just go to Configure > Settings
and under Audio Input changed the Transmit drop down box to Push to Talk. Hit Apply.
Then go to Shortcuts along the left side, and hit add. It will add a new field into the white box. Double click on the 'Unassigned' and change it to Push to Talk, then double click the blank field under shortcut and select what button you want to use with the voice activation.
And that's it!
So now that that is all set up, you're ready to look for a game.
Once you enter the #tf2.pug channel, the first thing you typically do is type !players
This will show you everyone who is queued up to play and what as. Because this is basic 6v6, the class layout that is supported in the pug channel is:
Once there are enough of the above for two teams, the game will start. To add yourself to the queue, just type !add [yourclass]
I am now added to the match queue.
Now you simply wait. The queue will fill up with 12 players, and the following message will appear
It will then sort you into teams
You may sometimes get a message similar to this:
All you have to do is type !ready
into the #tf2.pug channel and it will leave you in the match
Your final message will be:
This provides the ip and password of the server you will be playing on, but as well as the mumble room you will be using. In this instance, I will be using the Atlanta 1 room, under Red team. Connect to the ip, get on your assigned team, and wait for everyone else to get ready
So as we know, the standard class make up is as follows:
Demo and medic are limited to 1 per team, and everything else is limited to 2, but you won't see much deviation from this. The most common change is one scout switching to sniper on maps like badlands, gravelpit, or well. Heavies and engies are rare but still appear when some last ditch defense is needed
on gravelpit or badlands, typically when you're down to your last point. Pyros and spies are sometimes used to try and kill the opposing team's medic quickly in a clutch play situation.
The maps you will be playing on mostly are:
These are the maps that have just been found to be the most balanced and enjoyable, offering some great back and forth play over the center and second to last points. cp_follower is a custom map that combines the spawn areas of granary with a middle area similar to badlands. It is very fun and worth having in your maps folder.
In terms of gameplay, no matter what class you are, conservation is the key. The only outright battles you'll be fighting are in the opening minutes on the middle point and in pushes (either uber, counter, or when opposing team's medic is down). With everything else, you should be holding back, building uber, sticking with teammates and trying to pick off a few members of the enemy team. Never try to engage alone unless you're a decent scout. Attempting to jump into a group of opposing players alone will only get you killed again and again.
Hit and run strategies are never frowned upon, and knowing when to fight and when to fall back is a key skill you'll need to learn quickly.
As well, the opening moments of the game, where each team are heading to the middle, are critical. You'll soon pick up on the paths each class takes for each map, but generally scouts and demos should arrive first, with soldiers and medic not far behind, with medic sitting at about 50-60% uber. As a soldier/demo, you really should only be walking the last few bits of the map towards the center, the rest should consist of rocket/sticky jumping. The medic will heal you as you go down.
The following are some general strategies and expectations from the standard classes:
-Typically, unless stated otherwise, the two scouts are supposed to act as 'roamers': They move away from the rest of the team and work in tandem to try and take out the enemy medic or pick off fleeing soldiers/demos.
-They also play a crucial role in the opening of the game, as they will, along with the demo, be the first people to get to the middle point, where they will engage the opposing scouts/demo for about ten to twenty seconds. Any kills or damage that can be done during this time is integral for your team's position post-mid-fight.
-Do not try to engage a combo (soldier + medic) alone
-Engage demo + medic combos, try to get into close and try to take out the medic or jump around him and peck off the medic if you can
-When all else fails, just kill the medic. You are expected to die much more than anyone else, but if you get this one job done, it is worth it in spades.
-You and the other soldier are the blunt force of the team. You deal the damage, jump the jumps, and protect the medic.
-The soldiers are typically designated as pocket and roamer.
-Pocket soldier stays with the medic and protects him from everybody. He is not expected to go rocket jumping onto points or pushing the objective (unless the medic has an uber)
-The Roamer is exactly that, he has some leeway to rocket jump onto points and push without a medic, but typically, unless he wants to get screwed over, he will stay close to the pocket combo or the team demo
-Pockets should always use the normal rocket launcher and shotgun as it is the best to counter to scouts
-Roamers can use the DH if they're good but it's not expected.
-You should know how to rocket jump everywhere. This takes practice.
-Airshots are balla and will look nice in your frag videos
-You got to know the sticky jumps. For pretty much all the maps listed above, you must be able to sticky jump decently enough to get to the middle point at the same time the scouts would, or just behind them. This is particularly critical on badlands and granary, where a good few stickies set up at where the enemy team are coming out could decide who gets mid.
-You're a bigger damage dealer than the soldiers, and can fire more indirect. But you're all alone, so you dieing is kind of a big deal. Hang back and spam pipes into the middle point, and sticky up essential choke-points.
-This pretty much applies for both attack and defense.
-Stickying up choke-points is particularly essential when you're getting pushed back. A sticky trap on the gates on cp_well can practically turn the game to your favor.
-Personally not a big demo, so can't say much either way, but you have to be fairly competent in sticky usage and knowing when and where to fight, but also how to use your regular pipes to smack down scouts and soldiers
-You're the key to a lot of what goes on. Your uber and kritz are essential, and your death means your team is unsupported and will probably get pushed in on.
-That said, hang back. Stick with your pocket soldier at all times, don't try to advance ahead of him
-Scream ungodly sounds into the mic when being attacked
-Don't pull out your needlegun or saw unless you are completely and utterly alone and there is nowhere to run to. You will have people defending you, your job is to keep them up and to build the uber/kritz
-Jump a lot
-You can pop your uber if you're in trouble, no one will blame you, just stay alive.
That just about covers the basics of it.
GotFrag has a great page that goes a little more in depth not just into general strategy, but particular strategies for specific maps and such
Click here for GotFrag's Tips & Tricks section
Of particular interest should be Jaeger's general tips and tricks videos. There's only 5 so far, but they look at some specifics that are definitely worth knowing if you're looking to pursue this type of game-play a bit further
Tips & Tricks Volume 1 - Scout Energy Drink
- A few points about the Bonk, although the recent Valve fix made the first-person tip impossible
Tips & Tricks Volume 2 - Soldier Jumps on cp_gravelpit, point C
- Examples of how to quickly get up the C tower on cp_gravelpit out the left and ride side of spawn.
Tips & Tricks Volume 3 - Spamming Through Doors on cp_freight
- This is technically a glitch, and is not allowed by ESEA.
Tips & Tricks Volume 4 - Pre-firing Rockets
- Some safety tips for soldiers about spamming around corners.
Tips & Tricks Volume 5 - Medic Healing
- A little love for our healers as guest star creepin outlines the basic healing order, and why.
Post with any questions for clarifications.