Off-classing in 6v6

Introduction

Further down in this post I’m going to try and convince you that, in most situations, you shouldn’t be off-classing at all. First though, it might come in handy to know what exactly off-classing is, and why exactly it is called “off-classing”.

A bit of history

A long time ago, at the very beginning of competitive TF2, 6v6 did not yet exist. It started with a bunch of Team Fortress Classic fanatics experimenting with how TF2 worked, how the classes worked, and how a competitve game would work.
At some point people were playing 8v8, with two demomen! It may seem obvious now that this is incredibly overpowered, but at the time people had no idea (yet)!

Eventually, after years of testing and trying, it was discovered that a competitive game of TF2 flowed best with teams consisting of 1 Medic, 1 Demoman, 2 Soldiers and 2 Scouts.
We are playing these classes today, not because someone said so and we just went with it, but because they are actually the best options to play 6v6 with – in almost all situations. Nothing is going to stop anyone from trying out different things, but in the end you will always find that these classes simply work the best.

Speed and momentum

Let me try to explain why it is that these classes work so well in 6v6, and in particular 5CP maps (actually, feel free to assume this entire post is about 5CP maps).

6v6 is about speed and momentum.
When you kill people, they are out of the game for a while. Their respawn timer slowly ticks to zero, and only then can they return to the battlefield.
Another mechanic that is one of the root reasons for 6v6 working the way it does, is forward and back spawn points. If you capture a point, your team will spawn further forward. Similarly, if you lose a capture point, your team will spawn further back.

You can imagine that capturing points as fast as you can is the ultimate way to create big disadvantages for the enemy team and big advantages for your team.

What is off-classing?

So far we’ve learned that the most efficient way to beat teams on 5CP maps is to capture points as fast as possible, and we’ve learned which classes are best suited for this job. But, what of the other classes?

If at any point you swap out a soldier or scout for another class, your team loses speed and as a result gains a disadvantage in terms of capturing efficiency.

Off-classing can then be defined as the art of compensating for a loss in speed.

Why art? Because it’s difficult. Choosing the right off-class at the right time is a skill in itself, regardless of how good you might be on the class you choose.

If your team just won mid and is rolling over the enemy towards the next capture point, and you go sniper, you have misunderstood the concept of being fast. Snipers are very slow compared to scouts, not only in movement speed, but also in capture speed. That’s a double disadvantage right there! Sure, a sniper can kill someone in one shot, but with having a scout in the right position, you probably don’t even need that. Especially in the situation where your team is in the process of rolling forward.

When do I off-class then?

Only ever when you are in a situation where speed is not an important factor. Such as during a hold on last, or during a stalemate situation where nothing seems to be happening for too long a time.

Bear in mind that you probably don’t want to hold last forever. You want to push back out to 2nd at some point!
What’s the best way to push out again? That’s right – having classes that can get to the next CP quickly and capture it quickly. In other words: Scouts and Soldiers (especially when using the Pain Train).

Back to speed

You choose an off-class to achieve a goal. This could be ruining a push using a pyro (airblasting the übered combo is a popular one), creating an advantage (get a pick with sniper or spy during a stalemate), delaying a push by picking off an important class on the other team (headshot on their demo for example), etc. You never off-class just “for the fun of it”, because as pointed out earlier, you give up your speed advantages. Realise what your goal is, and choose your class accordingly.

When you are a sniper and you have picked off the enemy demo, you have achieved your goal, your job as off-classer is done. When you are a pyro and you have airblasted an übered combo until their über ran out, you are finished. When you are spy and you have backstabbed an important class, job done.
Any of these things happen? Go back to your fast class! (or suicide on their medic if he is near, you might just get a pick before you die). Either way, the off-class was situational, and the situation has now passed. Back to winning!

How 6v6 really works

A very common pitfall in low level 6v6 teams, is people tending to wander off alone, mostly blamed on lack of teamwork, naturally derived from the fact they don’t know their roles on the battlefield as well as they should.

People write giant guides about all sorts of things that are supposed to help one improve, but really there’s only one basic principle you must understand. Indeed, TF2 is not a massively complex game :)

Stop seeing the game as an FPS. Rather, look at it as if it were a strategy game. After all, you don’t win by top fragging – you win by capturing control points (in most cases anyway). To be more precise, you win by controlling ground. Area control!

“But if I kill everyone we can go wherever we want!”

Correct, and while being able to go wherever you want is how you win, you don’t necessarily have to kill anyone in order to achieve this. Hence, area control is more important than fragging. That’s not to say you should never kill anyone – in fact, very often you need to get kills in order to advance, but just don’t forget it’s not the main goal in the game.

Now then, with that thought firmly printed in the back of our heads, how do you do this? Well that’s where stuff gets a tiny little bit more difficult. In an FPS, you click on people and you win. In a strategy game, you can do millions of different things and all of them might be viable ways to gain victory.

Area control is about gaining ground whilst making sure your opponent isn’t given an opportunity to do the same. You have 6 people at your disposal, each with different assets. Think top-down 3rd person view here. Where do you place your assets?

That is what 6v6 (and TF2 in general) is about.

Sensitivity

Mouse sensitivity, that is. From here onwards just “sens”, because it’s a pain in the arse to type out the whole thing.

Anyway, question of the century: “What sens am I supposed to be using?”
Guess what, it doesn’t matter a single bit.

What does matter is that you pick one and stick with it.

Alright then, so how do you get good at aiming?

Well, how do you get good at throwing a basket ball into a net? That’s right, you practise. What exactly are you practising though? “How hard to throw the ball?”, you may jokingly reply. Yes, that is exactly it. You train your muscles to remember how much force to put into throwing the ball, so that it lands exactly where you want it to land (just in an attempt to be scientifically correct; it’s not your muscles that remember – the memory is still in your brains, but it is memory for the muscles).

The very same principle applies to mouse movement – you move your mouse to exactly where you want it, because you have trained your muscles to remember how much force to put onto your mouse. And of course you can only train this properly if your mouse sensitivity doesn’t ever change.

Muscle memory, one of the greatest things about being human.

 

Competitive TF2, and rants