The following guide assumes you have read the Spy Overview and know the basic differences between how the Spy watches function. Within this guide, I will be discussing my point of view on the strengths and weaknesses of each watch, effective ways to use them, and what to consider when choosing your watch. Here is a chart of all the applicable numbers associated with the three watches you may choose from.
Cloak – The number of seconds a full charge will allow you to remain cloaked before reaching empty.
Charge – The number of seconds it takes to charge from empty to full.
Ratio – The number of seconds spent uncloaked per one second cloaked.
Ammo – Indicates whether ammo sources refill its charge.
Note: These figures do not take into account the replenishment of charge using ammunition sources for those watches that can do so. The ‘Cloak’ for the Cloak and Dagger refers to the number of seconds of full cloak while moving at top speed. The ‘Ratio’ for the Cloak and Dagger refers to the number of seconds spent stationary and/or uncloaked per one second cloaked moving at top speed.
The standard-issue Invisibility Watch is the most familiar and straightforward in your arsenal and will serve you well in most situations. Because of this, it is best described in comparison to the other watches rather than by any unique features it has. It is generally the most versatile and simple to use of your three choices, and is highly recommended by most Spy professionals.
Some players prefer the Invisibility Watch simply because they have been using it for a far longer time than the other two. Others prefer its simple, no-nonsense playstyle; generally faster paced than the Cloak and Dagger while requiring no unique approach like the Dead Ringer. Whatever your reason for choosing it, it is undoubtedly the most used watch and is less specialized than the other two, giving it viability in almost any situation.
The one unique combination of features the Invisibility Watch has is the ability to (with the use of ammunition sources) stay cloaked a long time over long distances without the extra-loud decloak that the Dead Ringer has. This assembly of attributes is part of what makes this watch so versatile, since it can get you where you want to be quickly and quietly. This generally makes it a good choice when your goal is to get deep behind enemy lines, even to their spawn point.
The Invisibility Watch is your best choice if you prefer to play in the ‘classic’ Spy style described in the Spy Strategy section. Many professional Spies use this watch exclusively, seeing the other choices as gimmicky or only viable in certain situations. Whatever your personal preference may be, you should often ask yourself “will the regular watch serve me better in my current situation?”
Invisibility Watch Tips
- Best used when on offense and sources of ammunition are available, or when neither of the other watches seem viable
- If you have mastered the use of this watch before the other two even existed, it can be a good idea to stick with it in most situations
- If you need to quickly reach the enemy spawn point, this watch is usually your best choice
- Know the locations of ammo boxes well in any map you play on when using this watch
- Remember that you can stay cloaked indefinitely when near a dispenser, or by running between two or more ammo boxes
- Do not rely on the automatic recharge of this watch, as it takes about twice as long to refill compared to the others
- If you’re using another watch and having trouble surviving or getting points, consider switching to this watch
- If you’re using this watch and keep getting killed, consider switching to one of the other watches to either remain safe and hidden or provide a good way to avoid death
Cloak and Dagger
The Cloak and Dagger is a good watch to have once you have gotten into your desired position. However, it is sometimes not the best with which to get to where you’re going or for beating a hasty retreat once your cover is blown. When used correctly and in the proper situations this watch can show its worth, but it will not always be your best choice and can lead to some rather unproductive behavior.
The main strategy unique to the Cloak and Dagger uses its ability to remain hidden in advantageous locations as you wait for hapless victims to pass your way. You have the luxury of choosing the best time in which to make your strike; where as the other watches will sometimes choose for you by simply running out of charge. Because of this, it can be a more defensive watch choice for the otherwise offensive Spy.
However, the ability to remain cloaked indefinitely has offensive applications as well. There are some situations where this ability is vital to your success, particularly when it comes to neutralizing high-value targets. It exceeds at getting in and taking out Engineer setups without having to rely on a dispenser to recharge your cloak meter. Or, If you manage to get past the enemy, you can choose the best time to strike and take down their defensive line.
While the Cloak and Dagger can get you anywhere and remain fully cloaked doing so, it has some drawbacks when it comes to getting deep into enemy territory quickly. It lacks the ability to recharge using ammunition sources and its charge depletes rather rapidly when moving. You may find yourself having to wait and recharge in some rather risky places on the way to your desired location. Try to avoid excessive downtime, as waiting for your charge to come back is rather unproductive.
Cloak and Dagger Tips
- Best used when you need to time your attack perfectly to succeed, when defending a chokepoint, or on maps where ammunition boxes are few or non-existent
- Know all the best hiding spots on the maps you play by heart, and how to get there safely and quickly
- Don’t rely on the partial invisibility you have when moving on an empty cloak meter to conceal you very effectively
- Using this watch can cause the enemy team to waste time blasting at every possible hiding spot they think you may be hiding in
- If you see a Pyro flaming all the likely hiding spots in search of you, simply dodge their flame then hide in a spot they have already checked
- When your cover is blown and the enemy is gunning for you, it’s best to fake them out by cloaking while running away and instead duck into a safe spot nearby to recharge
- Don’t always use obvious hiding places which the enemy may guess, as pretty much anywhere can make a good hiding spot so long as you dodge passing enemies
- Be mindful that jumping or dropping down ledges eats up your charge faster when cloaked, so do so sparingly
- If you’re spending too much time waiting for your cloak meter to recharge, you should consider changing your watch
- If you find yourself waiting a long time for the perfect opportunity to attack, you’re likely setting your standards too high or need to relocate
- Don’t bother crouch-walking to extend the life of your cloak meter, as it will get you the same distance over time but render you more vulnerable along the way
The Dead Ringer is the most unique of the three watches and allows for some rather unusual playstyles and strategies. It relies more on your disguises to fool the enemy, and has a rather different approach to using cloak. You are provided with a handy safety net to save you from death, but at the hefty cost of rendering you less stealthy. It excels at getting past heavily-guarded areas safely, but requires more care when choosing where to uncloak.
A basic technique to using the Dead Ringer begins by disguising yourself as a teammate and approaching the front lines. The desired result is to get gunned down by the enemy with your watch out, causing you to cloak and allowing you to get behind your targets. Hopefully they will think that they just scored an easy kill and have no idea of the danger now lurking in the shadows.
Once you have cloaked, change your disguise to that of an enemy, pick up any nearby ammo available and find somewhere safe to decloak. Make sure the cloak meter will be full after making your attack, for which the dropped weapons of your victims can serve nicely. This watch can save you from death when fully charged, so be sure to use it after you’ve made your strike and need to get away safely.
The Dead Ringer can be your best choice if your path options are limited and the only way to get behind the enemy is heavily guarded. The other watches cause you to become partially visible when bumping into enemies, but this watch allows you to wade through large crowds and remain hidden. The damage reduction helps you get through the thick of combat as well; no longer will a random rocket ruin your day, or a spray of minigun bullets limit your options.
The rather large downside to these benefits to the Dead Ringer is the loud and easily recognizable sound made upon decloaking. Anyone who hears this noise is put on high alert, spinning around wildly and blasting at everyone they see. It is quite difficult to land a backstab or sap some buildings under such conditions. However, there are ways to minimize this often-fatal flaw.
It all comes down to location; choose your decloak location wisely, as sound in this game travels the same way sound would in real life. Use walls or any obstacles, even just a reasonable distance between you and the enemy to limit who may hear you and how loudly. Using the sound of nearby combat can also be a very effective tool for you. A minigun blasting away or a bunch of explosions going off can make you more difficult to hear.
Dead Ringer Tips
- Best used when the other watches can’t get you safely behind the enemy, as long as there are safe places you can find to decloak afterwards
- Disguising yourself as a teammate when approaching the enemy from your side is generally the best idea, since your opponents will be more wary after killing a known Spy
- You can capture control points and push carts more aggressively knowing that your fully-charged watch will save you should the opposing team react in time
- If the enemy is not fooled by your disguise, it can be a good opportunity to waste their time by letting them chase you around while using your watch saves you from death
- When traveling through seemingly safe territory, keep your watch out and ready in case of a Sniper shot, backstab, or other surprises
- It can be more difficult to fully destroy a well-protected grouping of Engineer buildings using this watch, since you cannot quietly uncloak at just the right moment
- It can be a good idea to let the enemy damage you a bit before using your watch, because the enemy may become suspicious if you go down far too easily
- If you see an area covered with sticky bombs, you can help your team out and get past this obstacle by letting the Demoman blow them up around you while you have your watch out
- When lit on fire while cloaked, it is usually best to remain cloaked and retreat to safety rather than decloaking and losing your damage reduction
- If there is another Spy on your team using this watch, do them and yourself a favor by using a different watch to keep the enemy guessing
- If the enemy have gotten wise to the fact that a Dead Ringer Spy is around and causing havoc, consider changing watch or class to avoid being too predictable
- You can make use of your revolver much more when using this watch due to the confidence given by having a fully charged Dead Ringer to save you
- It can be advantageous to disguise yourself as an enemy Spy, in order to help justify the loud decloak sound as ‘nothing to worry about’ for the opposing team