Primary Role: (Forward) Defence
The sniper, considered by some to be the point-and-click adventure class of Team Fortress 2 is, regardless, very powerful in the right hands. Of course that’s not to say he’s also awash with strategy. Let’s be honest – you zoom in on your target, aim for his head, and click. The strategy comes down to where you set up your tent and how you go about shooting. As such this guide is going to focus mainly on those two aspects.
You’ll notice my primary role for the sniper lacks a certain precision. In the sniper’s case, both defence (sitting right back and defending the objective) and forward defence (detailed in the Forward Defence guide, defending forward of the objective itself by covering the choke points that the enemy must pass through) are executed in a similar fashion. Like with the engineer’s sentry gun and any good real estate, location is everything. Your job is to find a position that, from a long range, covers the routes by which the enemy must come to reach the objective. If there is more than one, try and cover them all, placing more weighting on the more common approach. Sight of the objective itself is also very preferable.
Once in position, zoom in and wait for a target. The details on the workings of the sniper rifle are in the weapon’s description on the previous page, so I won’t re-bore you with them. Something worth noting however is that once the enemy covers enough ground that he can see your objective, he is likely to be at least partially injured. A fully charged shot to the head can bring down a 450-health heavy, so less charge is usually adequate, especially in defence. If you can hit their head, being half charged tends to be sufficient to rack up your 2 points.
As for deciding how far forward to set up shop, judge it on how well your team is doing. If you are managing to hold them well back from your objective, you probably don’t need to stand around defending it. Instead think about pushing up a bit to defend the map itself and maintain that all-important Map Control. If you’re really under little to no pressure at all, then you should probably be slipping into the offensive support role, as detailed below. On attack vs. defence maps (Dustbowl, Gravel Pit), you will almost always be defensive when defending and offensive support when attacking.
Once you’re in position, you can start taking your shots. As long as you’re zoomed in, there will be a laser dot the colour of your team on whatever surface you’re aiming at. This is visible to everyone, friend or foe, and is a fairly blatant sign of a sniper, so it can be used strategically. If you’re attempting to ‘ambush’ an enemy (have them walk unawares into your sights), you will want to hide that dot, so aim at the back side of something nearby until your quarry turns up. Keep it levelled about head-height so there is less movement required when you’re taking aim. Of course the dot can also be painted on a wall in plain view as something of a challenge, daring enemies to walk past it, and in doing so preventing them. Judge the situation and use appropriately.
Secondary Role: Offensive Support
Honestly the sniper’s offensive support role is pretty much his defensive role transposed up the battlefield. The focus even remains on defence, but in this case you’re trying to defend yourself and your teammates rather than an objective. This role is most effective on those attack vs. defence maps (Dustbowl and Gravel Pit), since the attackers have no objective to defend anyway.
The main advantage is that you’re going to have a lot more targets, but of course you’ll be under an equivalent amount of fire. What you want to do is set yourself up in a position that, from long range, can see the objective you’re attacking (or at least nearby), and more importantly see the enemies defending it. By killing these defenders you are in turn defending your own attackers by making their job that much easier. Often you’ll be able to see the defenders’ spawn exit(s) as well, so take advantage of that fact.
Your prime targets should be everyone really, but focus on the most dangerous defensive classes – the heavy, demoman, soldier, and medic. Of course remember that your weaknesses are enemy snipers and spies, so don’t rely on distance to keep you safe – watch your back every couple of shots. Another good move is taking down engineers to prevent them from fortifying defences. If there are no engineers around to repair, the sniper can drop any building in 1 or 2 fully charged shots, so take advantage of that fact in the next 20 or so seconds. If you can’t get line of sight however, inform your spies when the buildings are vulnerable.