Engineering Tips!

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

This is just a direct copy from my old guide. Sadly I'm lazier than Cloud and didn't dig back up the other posts, but you're free to re-add them yourselves.

Engineer, the basics

You are not death from above. You are an engineer.
This should be obvious - on your own, you are weak, and for good reason. You can build some very nasty guns but as a balance, alone you are the weakest class in the whole game. You have the lowest HP range with only two modest guns and none of the benefits of other low HP classes, and don't you forget it. Use your hand guns to keep people away, while retreating, or to pick someone off with low HP. You should never be an aggressor in a fire fight if at all possible, and if you're planning of moving into enemy areas, be very cautious or take some back up.

Stayin' alive
This goes in a similar vein to my first point. Lets face it. Alone, you're easy to bump off, so go to pains to cover your ass. Spy check constantly, always crouch behind your buildings when you're under fire (not at other times, since this way a spy can jump ON TOP of you and backstab you easily), or find a nice niche where you can't easy be seen or hit. Be aware of any blind spots, possible ways an enemy could come up behind you, or areas were long ranged weapons might reach you without your sentry picking anything up.

Building stuff
These are no brainers, but it can sometimes take a while for people to fully grasp how building the engineer's stuff works. Each building has a certain metal cost, and a certain health of it's own. I'll cover each building in more detail in a moment. What you should be aware of is each has their own cost of metal and you can only have up to 200 metal on you. So, be very aware of what you're building and it's cost, where you can get more metal (Dispensers, rubble from blown up buildings, ammo and dropped weapons are all sources of metal) and prioritise what you need to build NOW and what you can build later.
Obvoiusly, you build stuff by using your build PDA. Some people use scripts so they don't have to go through the menues and waste time. Personally I've just learned off by heart what to press for what. Whatever floats your boat, but PLEASE make sure you know what menu you're in! More than a few times I've seen people accidentally demolish something, myself included.
Your wrench is magical, your best friend in the game and multipurpose to boot. Smacking a building as it sets up will half the time it takes to finish building. Having another engineer smacking it will half it again, and so forth. Having a group of engineers working on one building means a sentry can be set up in a terrifyingly short amount of time. Your wrench is also used for repairing and upgrading things, but this will only work if you have the metal to do it. Repairs and ammo need metal, and the moment you run out is the moment you're S.O.L.
Also remember you can rotate your buildings! This can escape a lot of people for AGES before they realise it's possible. While in the blueprint stage of building, you can rotate them by right clicking, and can sometimes lead to getting that sentry where you thought it couldn't fit.
Build time is a critical part of the whole process. If you're under fire while trying to build, you'll likely find it's a lot easier for enemies to blow them up while they're in this state, as they have to gradually gain their "health" as it were as they build, and sentries cannot shoot until they are completed. With this in mind, it's usually best to hold off building until you're no longer under fire.

A word on the buildings themselves…

The Sentry
Cost: 130 Metal
Build time: 10 seconds
This is YOUR gun, and the bane of your attackers. This is why you are a defensive class, because a sentry in a good spot can shut down a whole party of enemies trying to get past you. The sentry starts off at level 1, a slow firing, single barrel turret with rather sad health, but it can still kill things, make no mistake. They also tend to be a lot more unseeming than fully built sentries, which aren't exactly easy to hide or quiet, and people can spend a lot of time trying to figure out what's shooting them before they can even think of getting out the way. Level 2 sees an increase in health an a leap in fire power to two rapid firing miniguns which are a significant source of knockback. These are deadly to classes with lower HP and quite a nuisance for enemies trying to get through. The level 3 has even more health to it's name and adds a set of rockets to it's arsenal, which can gib a scout in the blink of an eye, but like normal rockets will go in a straight path once fired and are not always very accurate things at a longer range.
Remember that your sentry makes a noise. A smart enemy will stop to listen in places were sentries are commonly placed, so just because they can't see it doesn't always mean they wont know it's there.

The Dispenser
Cost: 100 Metal
Build Time: 20 seconds
An extremely important bit of kit, the dispenser gives out a slow stream of health and ammo to anyone in range, as well as a supply of metal to engineers which slowly stocks up over time. They have a lower health compared to fully upgraded sentry guns, so watch out when they're under attack, as they wont last long. Dispensers can extinguish fire and heal bullet holes, so one of these behind you while you protect your sentry helps greatly in keeping you alive while facing off a soldier or a heavy and improves your chances of survival significantly, as well as making sure you actually have the metal to repair and restock ammo. As was said above, if you're out of metal, you're out of luck, too.

Teleporter Entrance/Exit
Cost: 125 metal (each)
Build time: 20 seconds (each)
Teleporters are useful, and sadly woefully underused. With the high cost of metal to set up and their very annoying maintainance when some S.O.B goes and destroys your entrance, on some maps it can often seem more hassle than it's worth, particularly when people don't use them. You'll generally soon figure which maps where it's worth trying to keep up with your teleporters (dustbowl, goldrush, granary, well) and when it's really more bother than it's worth (gravelpit, 2fort). In general, though, they're ALWAYS nice to have, and can make more of a difference than you'd think. It means you'll get backup faster, your defence or attack is less likely to be badly damaged by long times as people run back to the front lines, and, if you're more tempted by points, every 2 teleports gives you a point. On maps like dustbowl where it can take some time to get the second point, these can really rack up, even if you aren't getting much points otherwise.

General tips and tactics

Placement of buildings
Were you put your stuff is very important. Your sentry has a 360 degree range that spans for a fair distance, but it's not infallable. Outside it's 90 degree "resting" range it can take quite a while to register enemies, so always point your sentry where you expect most enemies to be coming from if you're going to be open at all sides, but ideally, you want to place your sentry against a wall or a corner so you wont have that disadvantage. Also note that your range IS limited. You can see the range when you have your sentry as a blue print. Outside the big red or blue cylinder, your sentry will not see enemies AT ALL. So if you're in full view of the sniper deck but your range doesn't go that far, expect to be crouched behind your sentry at all times and repairing a lot of bullet holes. As far as that 360 degree turning goes, never rely on it if you can. The faster classes can actually move faster than the speed the turrent turns, even at 3rd level, so a skilled circle strafing pyro can take out a level 2 sentry without a lot of difficulty if the oppertunity presents itself (such a problem usually isn't so with a 3rd level as long as you're in a relatively small area, which you SHOULD be anyway. Rockets do a lot of splash damage).

It's always tempting to stick your dispenser behind you, and for good reason. It's in reach, out of sight of potential enemies, and somewhere to stick your back so no knives can stick in it instead. But while it's usually ok, it's not ALWAYS the best thing to do. Sometimes heavies ask for dispensers, so indulge them. Heavies can become human sentries themselves with one of these things. They can also be used to block or slow enemies, since they can't walk through them. A prime example of this is the top of the spiral stairs in 2 fort. An enemy needs to destroy it before they can get through, which wastes their time, ammo, and alerts you in the process.
One thing you must be careful NOT to do is to block your sentry's view with your dispenser. Your sentry CANNOT shoot through, nor even seen past your dispenser, so if you're not putting yourself against a wall or a corner, put the dispenser somewhere quiet and out of the way. Otherwise it's a prime opening for an enemy, particularly a spy to sneak up behind and kill you without your sentry even seeing them.

Teleporter entrances just need to be obvious and near the spawn of your team. Yes, making them obvious means they're easily destroyed by the enemy if they get there, but if they're NOT obvious then it's unlikely your team will find them unless you remind them constantly where they are. Teleporter exits MUST be somewhere quiet and out of sight. If they're not, I guarentee you they'll be the target of LOTS of enemy fire which will take away your attention, nevermind how annoyed your teammates will be to teleport right in the way of a rocket.

Offensive or defensive?
Yes, there is such a thing as an offensive engineer, but I don't see a lot of people doing it, and for good reason. Being on the offensive as an engineer, while it can be very rewarding if you do it RIGHT, is not easy at all. You will need to get used to constantly demolishing and rebuilding your things (that's IF you're lucky enough to not have them demolished by the other team first) and dying a lot more than your average defensive engineer, but you tend to be more in the thick of it and have less of the waiting for the enemy to come to you. Dispensers near the frontlines are also immensely useful, and your teammates will love you for it. In general, though, it's a lot more frustrating being on the offensive, since you will have to quickly see your sentry as very dispensible things that are not going to last long. On the flipside, sometimes dropping a quick first level sentry can do more damage than you expect, so experiment.
Another take on the offensive engineer is infiltration. CTF Well is a prime example (and something I used to do until it became very popular, which may have partly been my fault on our servers :unsure: ). The attic area and the room adjoining to the intelligence room are almost always completely empty of people, and can make a prime spot for setting up a base in your enemy's territory. It's mostly a case of being lucky and being stealthy. Set down a teleporter entrance at your base, sneak in through a quiet, low traffic route, set down a dispenser and sentry (the order depends on how available metal is for you and how much of a hurry you're in to get some cover) then your exit. Now you have a nice, defendable base set up and backup just a teleport away. A good idea is to get another engineer, both for another sentry and for a backwards tele, one that will take you back to your own base in a hurry if you need to. If done well and without being spotted, these kind of infiltrations can be a real thorn in the side of the opposition.

If, however, you're more of a traditional defensive type, that's fine too, and is usually the less hectic, if slightly less excitement and terror filled experience. One thing I really want to emphasise is that being a defensive engineer does not, under ANY circumstance, mean you should be doing nothing once your buildings are set up. You heard me. Comments that engineers don't require skill, or don't do anything tend to irritate me because some people DO play with no skill and do nothing, but it's the WRONG way of playing an engineer. You should be defending what needs defended, not an area that the enemy doesn't have a hope in hell of reaching yet. You don't defend the second cap of dustbowl to start with, do you? You start with the first, were the fight is going to be and were the defense will need to be, then work your way back. Same case here. While some backup defense in the quieter areas is a good idea (especially in larger maps) if it seems like no one's getting that far anyway, there's not much point in being there. Wait for your team to push as far as they can, then build your defenses just behind that point. That way if the fight starts being shoved backwards out of your favour, the enemy will walk straight into your sentry and defend your area. It's as simple as that. The difference between this and being offensive engineer is that you're not pushing ahead, your just behind, watching other's backs and catching anyone who might get past you. When an area in general needs to be defended constantly from infiltration (such as 2fort) then by all means place sentries about the place that aren't nessesarily just behind the front lines of the conflict. You need to defend the intel afterall. However, there's not a lot of point putting a sentry in the basement when no one can get down there for the two other sentries covering both ways in. Always be were you're NEEDED, not were you -think- you might be needed.

Be a team player
It's Team Fortress 2, not Me Fortress 2, especially with engineers. Engineer is a class that works best in groups of two or three, because you're the only ones who can help eachother out. You're the only ones who can upgrade buildings, help them build faster, repair damage or replace ammo. You're the only one who can unsap buildings. It's no good having a pyro dancing around nervously were a spy has just sapped. He can kill the spy but he can't stop the sentry from being killed, only another engineer can. Together you can build in an area that might have been too hostile to otherwise, or keep up a sentry that might have gone down due to the other engineer being dead. If your tele entrances are destroyed, take it in TURNS to go, don't all go at once. Make sure at least one person is looking over your sentries as best they can, and don't berate them if they can't always save your things. It happens. Don't leech off other dispensers when the other engineer clearly needs it, build your own. If you have metal to spare, use it to help other team mates. It's all simple stuff, but it makes a difference. Work as a team, and you'll survive a lot longer in the long run.

Reach new heights
You can stand on your dispenser by crouch jumping, and as such you can boost yourself onto ledges you wouldn't normally be able to get to. I'm not going to put up a comprehensive list of all the places you can get, but be inventive. If it looks like you might be able to reach, try it, you might end up somewhere very interesting. Sentries in unexpected places tend to be very effective until the enemy gets wise, so the element of surprise is always good for thinning out the enemies while they run in blindly.

Prioritising your buildings and metal
When starting a match I always immediately select a tele entrance, since it needs to be at spawn and you're more than liklely to run into another ammo kit before you get to were you need to be going, or you're not going far and can simply get more metal from the spawn. After that, though, it gets a little tricky. In general I advise always to build a dispenser before anything else - if you build a sentry first, you then need to hunt for more metal to build a dispenser after. Yes, it means it'll take longer for you to get your defense set up, but if you're in a map with a set up time that shouldn't be an issue. In sudden death, ALWAYS build the dispenser before you think of anything else. It doesn't have a lot of relevance on our servers since you can't build a sentry anyway, but just remember to build the gorram dispenser, because it will be you and your team's ONLY method of healing. No medpacks, no mediguns, just your dispenser. This is also the reason you'll want to stay out of the battle in SD as an engineer, as if you die, so does your dispenser.
Back to the point - generally you only want to build your sentry first if you KNOW you have a nearby, easy source of metal, or you're under heavy fire and have no real choice. Just remember what I said about running out of metal. Without a dispenser to give you a supply of metal, you're not going to survive head on attacks on your sentry for long.
Tele exits can come a little later when you've got your other things set up. I tend to get the metal for an exit as soon as my sentry and dispenser are up, but wait to get to 2nd level for your sentry if you want - it's less likely to get blown up then, at any rate.
Which leads me to prioritising your metal, particularly in regards to half upgraded sentries. If you're under attack with a sentry not yet fully upgraded, you can sometimes have a problem. Don't, I repeat, DON'T be tempted to try and hastily upgrade before you get into shit - it's a bad die. Conserve your metal for repairs rather than trying a hasty upgrade while you're not being fired on. If you have pleanty of metal, you can disregard that, but when your metal is limited, think about keeping your sentry alive before bigger firepower.
As far as sapping goes - unsap your dispenser first if you can. It has lower health and is going to die faster than a level 3 sentry. Only if you're in dire need of the fire power NOW should you unsap the sentry first, since sapping stops it from firing. More about sapping in a moment, in…

The Engineer against other classes

In general
When you're away from your buildings, the outcome against another class will almost always be the same. You will DIE. As was said before without your buildings you are very much at a disadvantage, so try not to get caught alone by the enemy, and if you do end up running into them, backpeddle like hell while shooting, and try to get back to your team, or lure them back to your sentry. Most wont follow you far into your own territory for the very reason that they will expect to be lured to your sentry, so as long as you're not up against a scout or a medic, both faster than you, you should be ok to run. However, when you ARE with your sentry, things are more interesting.

Demoman
They're adept at destroying your buildings, so always be looking for tell tale stickies or grenades raining down on you. These guys can attack you from around corners were your sentry can't see them, which makes them a huge nuisance. Scaring them away periodically with a few shotgun blasts can work temperaroly, but you're better to call for help from your team to get rid of these guys. Ubered they're even worse, since they sticky placement can be much more accurate and a lot faster, and it takes only two stickies (or one very well placed one if you're unlucky) to take out your sentry. If you see stickies showing up, get out of your hidey hole, because there's not a lot you can do except rebuild, which is easier done when you're alive. Normal grenades, however, are no real issue unless you're unlucky and get a few direct hits to yourself, but as long as you watch your feet and dance around a bit you can usually survive those.

Engineer
You're very unlikely to meet an enemy engineer, and if you do, it certainly wont be while you're behind respective sentries. Your shotgun and a little luck will deal with any encounters with other engineers you meet.

Heavy
How much trouble they are tends to be directly proportional to how close they are to you when firing (though one supposes that's the case with all classes!). A heavy can withstand more sentry fire than any other class, but he's not going to be able to take down your sentry without an uber unless he's VERY lucky and you're not there. Ubered, there are two ways it can go. If the heavy is dumb, they will fire as soon as they see the sentry. Knockback will prevent them from moving closer with their abysmal moving speed while firing, so you're in very little danger as long as you have a dispenser on you. A smart heavy will run against the knockback until he's close before firing. This is deadly and it's better to run than chance it, since the heavy does so much more damage close up. Live to rebuild another day.

Medic
On their own, they're no issue in particular. When ubering another player, however, they are a MASSIVE issue, but I'll cover various ubered classes in their respective sections. Occasionally you'll get a clever medic making use of the needle gun's parabolic drop and try to rain syringes on you. As long as you're there to repair, you'll be fine, and medic is one of the classes were you have a better chance of scaring off with a good shotgun blast, so if they're alone, don't be too worried.

Pyro
They can be an issue, even when not ubered. Pyro deals damage in such a way that is perfect for destroying buildings (and just about anything else besides) and if they get underneath your sentry, or can fire just around the corner, you're going to struggle to keep up repairing, since a pyro can deal a hell of a lot of damage in a very short time. Your better to make sure you wont be put in these situations at all by careful sentry placement, but on the off chace this does happen either pray you can repair your sentry faster than he can damage it and that he runs out of ammo before you run out of metal, or alternatively try your luck running around and shooting him out of his range to try and take away his focus from your sentry. They can also circle strafe around a poorly placed sentry and destroy it that way if they're good, so be careful.
If that's how bad they are when not ubered, you can imagine how bad it is when they are. There's no real way you can do anything with an ubered pyro except escape with your life and wait for someone else to kill them. Hop over your buildings and run like hell.

Scout
Your sentry chews them up in seconds, since their dashing and dodging will do nothing to deter your sentry's lock on. As a result they tend to be particularly vindictive when they find you on your own and will make a point of killing you out of spite. Don't run into them on your own, laugh gleefully when they are shot down by your sentry. They can sometimes cricle strafe sentries too like the pyro, but it takes someone with a lot of skill to pull off, so it's not likely to happen.

Sniper
You will likely become well acquainted with your own teams snipers, but much like enemy engineers you will almost never be in poking distance of an enemy sniper, or see them much at all, since you should be somewhere relatively closed wereas snipers will be watching large, open areas. They specialise in long range, which can be an issue for your buildings if you ARE in view, but as long as you're there to repair them you wont have trouble. You WILL have trouble if they can see you but you're unaware, as you are a VERY easy headshot target. If you know there's a sniper looking in your area, crouch and keep yourself entirely behind your buildings if you can. One fully charged shot ANYWHERE can kill you.

Soldier
Soldiers are similar to demomen in that they can cauce a lot of splash damage to you from outwith your sentry range, but unlike the demomen they can't concentrate a lot of that damage all at once, ala stickies. They're not as much of a threat to your buildings as long as you're there to repair them, but a smart soldier will be trying to aim for YOU first, not the buildings. This is especially deadly when given a crit uber. If they are out of your range and equipped with a crit uber, it only takes one little bit of you poking out from behind your sentry to take that hit and be turned into dog chow. They're not as big a danger to your sentry as to you yourself, so be wary.

Spy
The spy will be the bane of your existance, and rightly so. You're an easy target for backstabs and the sapper is specifically for disabling your buildings. There are a few ways to check for spys and to deal with them.
Spies disguise with exactly half health. This can change if a dispenser/medic heals them, but keep it in mind. Spies still behave like enemy players, so as such they CANNOT walk through you, your team or any of your buildings. Blocking areas to you with buildings (teleporters or dispensers) will slow a spy down, and teles themselves can make excellent early detection devices for spies (and even other classes to some extent). Very few will resist sapping it, and can let you know that a spy has just passed wereever you put the building and let you go onto full alert. Their disguise is what stops your sentry from recognising them as a spy, since it's just a dumb machine. However, a spy can't attack you without breaking his disguise, so exploit that for all it's worth. If he is constantly sapping right in front of you, a frustrating tactic that makes it almost impossible to repair your buildings, run up and wrench him a few times, or pull out your shotgun if you really think you have the time. He will may run backwards, at which point you can either use a gun to shoot at him until he dies, or run back to your buildings to unsap. If you choose the latter, for the love of god do NOT turn your back on the spy. Common sense, people.
If he goes the other option and tries to attack you back, now is your cue to dash back to your sentry and unsap it. This will immediately enable your sentry again, and unless the spy is VERY fast and VERY lucky he will not be able to resap before it blows him to tiny spychunks.

Another tactic spies (or any other class for that matter) might have is trying to move up behind you. In a spy's case, they will uncloak behind you if there is room. At this point your sentry will detect them (unless you point your dispenser in the way <_<) and begin shooting, but much like a demoman's grenades or a soldier's rockets, YOUR SENTRY HURTS YOU. I've been killed by my own sentry more than once because I was in the way of the enemy, so be very careful. Try your damnest to dive out the way or to the other side of your sentry before you get a guided missile to the face, because you can very easily be blown to chunky bits yourself. This tactic isn't always so common because the spy tends to die in the end too, but some can get away and cloak then come back around to sap while you're dead, so be careful!
As for avoiding backstabs, it's more of a case of making no spy ever gets the chance to stab at all. Always shoot those coming towards you if you're suspicious, hell, even when you're not. Even if you're not the suspicious type, shoot anyone loitering around your things, even if they're an engineer or trying to get health. A spy might well use a diguise to make him look like he's just trying to do that. Overall, just be alert for spies and always keep your back to something. It doesn't always help, but it can sometimes mean the difference between a clumsy side swipe and a backstab.

And all the rest
Engineer isn't a very easy class to play well, and it's certainly not one I recommend for straight out newbies. It's very different from your normal shooting experience, and not everyone has the head or the patience for it. To some extent you'll need to get to know your maps before you can be a good engineer. You'll need to use the terrain to your advantage, and know what works and what doesn't. Not all people can stand the sometimes dull moments of sitting defending while the rest of the team are up slaughtering the other team at spawn. I have said that as an engineer you shouldn't be doing nothing, but it sometimes does happen, and if you don't have patience, then it's probably not the class for you. For those that do, it's just a case of practice, and learning from other engineers, asking what placements are good, learning were the best places for metal are, what the best tactics for a certain part of a map are. The sooner you remember those, the sooner you're be an awesome engineer.

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