Desperate for one more hour of TF2, I tried a new server last night– all Badwater all the time.  The quality of play was markedly lower than on MeFi… I was amazed to run up to the building in the middle that normally sports a horrible sentry nest and find nothing.

I was also treated to a long rant about pyros from some guy.  He hates them, they’re too powerful, they’re a newbie class, there’s no counter to them, blah blah. 

Now it’s true that a good pyro can be very scary.  I’m a middling pyro, so I can cause moderate devastation, especially to spies, scouts, and medics, and those foolish enough to be ahead of me.  But there are definite counters to pyros.  An incomplete list:

  • The muscle classes.  It’s not a great idea to dash right toward heavy, soldier, or demoman.
  • Distance.  The pyro’s built-in limitation is the short range of his flamethrower.  I rarely start out next to you; why’d you let me get close enough to burn you?
  • Demomen in general.  Heavies are at least less numerous, and easier to avoid.
  • Chan. 
  • Sentry guns.  Good excuse to switch to Soldier.
  • Maps which encourage knotting up the team, like certain payload maps.  Pyros are at their best a little separated from the team: either behind it, clearing out spies and scouts, or ahead of it, ambushing the enemy from behind.  On most payload maps I end up playing medic or soldier instead.
  • Maps with a lot of open space.  (Contrariwise, pyro heaven is a map with lots of narrow passages and alternate routes.)

I don’t think any class is particularly under- or overpowered, as shown by the fact that on a good server you’ll see a mix of everything.  I’ve tried them all, but I am no damn good at sniper or demoman, and extremely no damn good at spy. 

Sometimes, especially on a small team, there are curious lacks… often, no one’s playing Heavy.  I dunno, maybe experienced players disdain the big clumsy Russky.  But a teamful of engies and spies aren’t gonna move little cart.