Collective Sniper Tips

This is copied directly from Cloud's post on hkcentral.net.

Hippie

Hippie:
Noticed there's no sniper guide available, and I thought I'd give just a couple tips. I'm not the best sniper on the servers by a long shot, but here's my 2 cents:

1. Always, always, always charge before coming out from behind cover. No matter who your target is, a fully charged shot is ALWAYS better. If you know you're shooting at a sniper and that a headshot will kill him, you may feel like you don't have to charge. However, a fully charged body shot will kill him (and a scout… and an engy… and a spy) and an uncharged headshot will NOT kill him if he's being overhealed! I've had plenty of people hit me right in the face while I was trying to pick them off… only to find themselves dead a moment later because I had a medic top me off a few seconds before. fully charged shots are always better. Period. The only time when you should avoid charging is if you have TWO snipers trying to draw a bead on you and feel as though you have to pop them both quickly (though my personal instinct would be kill one, take cover, charge, kill the other one.)

2. Don't underestimate your SMG. I've had people try to scope me at close range when I get over to them… and yet if they had pulled out their SMG, they would have stood a much better chance. True, it's not a great weapon, but it's one of VERY few fully automatic weapons in the game… and crit streams are still deadly. If you have a scout on you, use it! It's saved my life many a time.

3. If a sniper is trying to get a bead on you, keep moving. I can't stress this enough. I know many snipers cut their teeth on games such as CS or DoD in which moving ruined your accuracy. In TF2, it has no such effect. Make that shot that little bit harder for them, it may end up saving your life.

4. LOOK AROUND. I can't count how many times I've popped another sniper because he was focused on one spot, waiting for someone to show up. You may not always see them before they kill you (I know I've been taken by surprise plenty of times, and I do my best to check all possible sniper spots) but you stand a much better chance of getting them first if you see them (obviously).

5. Your target list is as follows (this is all my opinion, feel free to flame me for it)
Number One: Enemy Snipers
This should only be changed in a very few circumstances (see below). Enemy snipers are the things most likely to kill you off. Yes, you might pick off that demo or that pyro who's targeting your teammates… but if a sniper gets you just afterward, that sniper can go about his business popping your teammates as he pleases while you sit there and stare at your respawn timer.

Number Two: Heavies
This one is obvious in its importance. You, as a sniper, are one of the few classes that can stop a heavy dead in his tracks (the others being spies and EXCEPTIONALLY good demos and on occasion pyros.) Heavies are often far too overconfident about their invincibility, with or without a medic… and when that minigun is spinning, they're the slowest class in the game and have huge heads. Pick em off. Heavies also constitute one of the only exceptions to the "Snipers come first" rule: if you see a heavy with a medic on him and you feel they're about to pop an uber, take him out. There is NOTHING more annoying for a heavy or a medic (at least, that's how I feel when myself my heavy goes down) than losing a chance to uber because a sniper took out one of you. This applies to putting down medics as well, especially if the heavy is behind cover. Average and bad medics tend to stand still while healing, confident that they are not targets. Make them regret that.

Number Three: Medics
I covered most of this above, but if you have a chance to take out a medic and you don't see a sniper or a heavy, take it! Killing a medic (especially if their team only has one) can severely weaken an entire team. As long as you have medics, it's better to take out their means of healing than their means of doing damage. After all, if you've done your job and killed the enemy snipers, they're pretty much safe (except from spies. See below.) This means they can heal up all the damage the other enemies manage to deal you before their heads end up in your crosshairs.

Number Four: Spies
They're hard to spot, but if you see someone you KNOW (or have a strong suspicion) is a spy, take them out! They'll hate you for it, and you'll keep your team from being taken by surprise by the other instant-kill class.

Number Five: Engineers (And Sentries)
If you can get a bead on an engineer hiding behind his sentry, take him out, then proceed to take out his sentry while there's nobody to repair it. Though there are easier ways to take care of a sentry, you can help save an ubercharge and let your team focus on other things, like capturing the point that sentry used to be guarding. It's a little rare to have a sentry in sight of a good sniper spot, but take advantage of the engineer when they place one in your scope.

Number Six: Soldiers
This can be switched with number five, it really depends on which class is more problematic for you at the time. They move slowly and have a good amount of health, making them ideal targets for a nice, charged headshot. Also, a good soldier (especially with a Kritzkrieg-wielding medic) can devestate an entire team. Taking care of them is doing your team a serious favor.

Number Seven: Pyros/Demos
These two classes are about equal on your target list, which one you should kill first depends wholly on your situation. If a pyro is rushing your team, pop him. If a demo is firing stickies into the midst of your team, kill him so he can't detonate them. Done and done.

Number Eight: Scouts
The worst targets for snipers. Yes, they have little enough health that a charged shot kills them. Regardless, their speed makes them difficult targets for the average sniper, and they tend to change direction quickly - a pain when trying to lead a shot on them. Let the rest of your team handle them unless they're coming straight for you.

This list is a basic guideline, and if somebody is about to kill you, deal with them first. A dead sniper is no good to his team, so keep yourself alive and able to kill the enemies that are holding up your team or pushing you too hard.

Hope people find this helpful, all contributions are appreciated.

Cloud

Cloud:
Another great guide, nice job hippie.
One thing i have noticed in my many sniper duels (craig, cadaver and patlane come to mind) is as you say look for the blue/red enemy dot but keep watching it for a few seconds. The majority of enemy snipers will do a sweep of a battlements, if your are not in a tight situation then observe the pattern in the movement of the dot and pop out at the right time (fully charged shot of course).

Another thing which is useful is to change position after taking a few shots, if you feel under pressure from other really good snipers (again names above come to mind) then surprise them for firing from unexpected positions, although do not underestimate the risk taken in these situations.

In an enemy sniper free zone, lead your targets before you pull the trigger, at distance you can sometimes take a breath before shooting in fact use this breath-time to lead your target.

Personally i flip for who do i shoot first in terms of medic or heavy but in certain circumstances like:
A group of friendlies nearby or yourself at risk: Take the heavy down
Inexperienced medics will then run away, then it is an easy take down, but you need to have the guts to shoot a man in the back.

Don't get me wrong MELEEEEE SNIPERRRRR is a great laugh, there is nothing more gratifying than hacking a soldier/demo/pyro or even heavy to death but as hippie says a dead sniper is NO use to a team. Not to be a killjoy though if you are wining a CTF map an uber sniper can do moderate damage to an enemy's base and really hurt their moral, if you want to get into the psychological effects of an angry Australian beating you silly then you must first observe and laugh.

Ok i'll stop now because it sounds like i'm training people to be real sniper

Mal

Mal's Patented Wall O'Text coming up folks.

I'm with Gooses on jumping corners, though it depends on who you're sniping against. If you know they're fully charging shots, jumping gives them essentially a free kill if they can aim. Though if you know they're going for bodyshots, occasionally they'll aim low and a jump will get you right over that dot of theirs, making them miss a shot and waste their precious charge.

On the other hand, if they aren't fully charging their shots, then jumping can be useful, cause at that point it's just a reaction contest to see who can get the kill shot faster.

My best sniper advice is to mix things up. Never, *ever* be predictable. A predictable sniper is a dead sniper. But at the same time don't try too mix things up so much that you develop a "pattern of unpredictability." Most of the following advice is just as contradictory as the aforementioned, but if you understand the philosophy behind it, you'll be much harder to kill (in theory).

Constantly switch locations after taking a few shots.
Never change after the exact same number of shots.
Don't wait to change position based on number of kills.
Don't fall into a circular pattern of locations, mix things up.
Don't fire just charged shots.
Don't fire just uncharged shots.
Don't fire charged/uncharged shots in cycles.
Do crouch on occasion.
Don't always crouch.
If unsure if target is overhealed, aim for the head.
If positive target isn't overhealed and a charged shot will kill, take the body shot.
Never stay zoomed for more than the time it would take for a charge to fill twice.
Zoom in, step out, find your shot, step back, zoom out, regardless of if you fired. (Helps to prevent backstabs and gives you better situational awareness which is key for a sniper)
If a teammate walks towards you from the enemy side, unscope and spy check.
Find unconventional locations to snipe from (water works great).
Don't neglect common sniping positions. They're common for a reason.
Find positions with the most cover for you and least cover for enemy.
Never underestimate the power of a quick scope in a narrow hallway.
Get overhealed, but don't let enemy snipers see you're being overhealed.
Pay attention to respawn intervals; that's your grace period between counter-snipings.

My target list by priority:
1. Enemy snipers: You're your team's primary counter-sniper option. Spies are always secondary because they can't reach everywhere your bullet can. You need to stay alive to address the more pressing threats to you team. If you're dead, the heavy hitters are free to wreak havoc and the enemy snipers can harass to their heart's content.

2. Most Pressing Threat: Heavies with guns revving, kritzkreiging soldiers/demos, spy sneaking up on a friendly medic that has full uber, pyro rushing a control point full of scouts, any of these qualify as the first targets I look for after I'm safe from snipers. These guys can cause more damage to your team than anyone else. One might argue that you should shoot the krtizing medic first, but I beg to differ. The medic will be disoriented after losing their kritzee so abruptly and likely won't have time to find a new subject, whereas a solder can still go on to destroy with an overheal and a demo will still have time to detonate crit stickies.
Heavies with guns revving are easy targets and can cause a lot of trouble for a bunched up team. Heavies without their guns revving don't pose an imminent threat and should be skipped over in favor of one of these others. It's a judgment call as to who's the most deadly, but one that becomes easier as you try to look for it.

3. Medics: First thing I look for after the immediate threats are eliminated are the upcoming threats. The longer medics are left alive, the more likely they are to get an ubercharge and ruin your teams day. Headshots aren't always necessary in this case, but they tend to be rather easy since many medics will think they're safely behind cover and stand still, providing an easy target. On a mobile target, you're better off going for the full charged body shot and either following up with an uncharged body shot or counting on your teammates to finish him off.
Also, you should be able to see which medigun they have; take out the ubers first, kritzkreigs second. It takes longer to build up an uber so they lose more when they die. Kritzes build up faster so the medic doesn't lose as much time, plus they can still be taken out mid-kritz.

4: Obstacles: Namely demomen stickying the point/intel, engineers, and their sentries, all of these impede the progress of your team and you can safely engage them without fear of retribution (in most cases). When demomen lay down a blanket of stickies, they often stand still for a second while laying them, thus providing an easy target for a headshot. Taking them out can provide your team access to the area they were denying and also prevent a nasty surprise that could cost your team an uber.
When dealing with engineers, especially if you have multiple snipers on your team, coordination and communication are the most vital elements for good sniping. If you come upon an engineer and sentry gun on your own, call out it's position and take out the engie first if possible. If you can't kill the engie, and his sentry is above level 1, take out the dispenser first, which is typically an easy target. This will deny him the metal he needs to continue repairing his sentry, allowing you to snipe the sentry to death or for your team to make an uber rush. If the sentry is level 1 or still being built, hit it first; a fully charged shot will take it out. If the sentry is level 2 or 3 and you have a friendly sniper with you, two fully charged shots fired in tandem (communication is vital!) will eliminate it instantly. Now if your team is about to hit it with an uber, you have different options. If they're ubering a heavy, try to get the engie or his dispesnser. The heavy will deal continual damage to the sentry, causing the engie to burn through his metal. If the engie dies or runs out of metal, the sentry is soon to follow. If ubering a soldier, wait for right after a rocket hits to fire a fully charged shot at the sentry. With luck, the combined burst of damage should eliminate the sentry.

5. Targets of Opportunity a.k.a. Easy Headshots: Heavies that are just running around make great targets cause they have huge heads. Anyone just standing still makes a great target as well. Anybody running towards/away from you in a straight line, easy shot. Someone running perpendicular to you at constant speed should be an easy target to lead. In these cases, don't rush the shot any more than you have to. Take your time and take them down. Don't blow an easy shot cause you got tense or took it too early.

6. Anyone I Haven't Previously Mentioned: Feel free to shoot anyone you want. Just be wary that by the time you make it to this point in the priority list, the enemy snipers have probably respawned and are looking for you again.

7. Walls: No seriously. Aim at walls where enemies can see your dot. Only enemy snipers fear you. Everyone else just fears the dot. It's the same as seeing a pile of stickies or hearing a minigun revved up around the corner. It can help delay rushes or cause enemies to seek another route. At the very least it will put you in position for an easy shot should anyone step out from behind cover.

Hope this helps everyone snipe just a little bit better. As always, these are just my personal views and aren't always applicable in every situation. Everyone has their own sniping style and rhythm; it's up to you to find your own. Think of these as facets that you can incorporate into your own style to make it flow more smoothly and efficiently.

Happy Hunting!

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