Pyro strategy

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The Pyro is a close range class. He ambushes his enemies, or charges in blocking the enemies' view with a cloud of flame. He can usually flame enemies and leave them to die from the afterburn, which makes him a very good hit-and-run class. The Pyro has a low difficulty curve so it's an easy class to first start playing, but due to the difficulty of completely mastering the compression blast, ambushing, and the more advanced aspects of Pyro gameplay, the class is difficult to play completely.



  • Playing a Pyro requires a different mindset. Pyros are weak on frontal attacks—they will lose to most other classes if they see him coming. However, if they catch the enemy by surprise, Pyros are the most dangerous class in the game. Always try for an Ambush. Learn the maps and use side corridors rather than main ones. Use your speed to your advantage to flank Soldiers and Snipers.
  • As a Pyro you want to roam your halls or the enemy's. And confuse the enemy team, preventing them from getting to the front line or at least slowing them down. this method can really help to protect friendly engineers buildings that could be sapped by a spy or prevent enemy engineers from setting up a defense. If your protecting your base then it's advised to equip a homewrecker to remove a sapper if the engineer was killed. And if your in the enemies base it would be best to use a degreaser/axestinguisher combo, or if you get low on health easily use a powerjack.
  • Pyros have low health but they are fast, so keep moving and circling behind the enemy. Use your flames to keep enemies confused as to where you are. It is possible (but difficult) to take down a Heavy this way. Or you can simply blaze and escape and then attack from another angle after they have taken damage from burning.
  • The flamethrower's compressed-air blast ability makes the Pyro an invaluable minesweeper class, allowing him to push stickybombs away from important game objectives like control points or intelligence. It can also be used to deflect rockets and grenades back at the attacker or just to push enemies away. Airblasting a grenade or rocket will make it change its team allegiance, rendering them harmless against team-mates. Furthermore, reflected projectiles can damage any enemy and will do mini-crit damage. Airblasting is also useful for "disarming" grenades on the ground before they deal damage to your team-mates. Just remember that each blast of compressed air consumes 20 units of fuel for the flamethrower.
  • Any projectile you reflect becomes a Mini-crit. This is very useful against Soldiers and most other projectile users. Demoman bombs, if not blasted far enough away, will Mini-crit you when detonated. Be aware of this as you can cause extra damage to yourself and your team by turning enemy sticky bombs into Mini-crit sticky bombs.
  • Weaker classes like Scouts, Engineers, Medics and Snipers tend to retreat when they are on fire. Light them up and quickly retreat, then return with your Shotgun drawn. They often give you an exposed back for your Shotgun shells. If set on fire, Medics may attempt to extinguish themselves by shooting at you with the Blutsauger - either leave them to burn or switch to the shotgun and pursue from a distance.
  • When attacking an UberCharged medic blast him away opposing to the subject he is healing because the medic will deal less damage to you after his UberCharge is lost
  • If an Engineer has left a Sentry near a corner, you can try to pop around the corner and take out the Sentry at point blank range before it kills you. This works against Level 1 Sentries but rarely Level 2 or 3, because they push you out of range. If the Sentry gun is positioned somewhere other than a corner, it is possible to circle strafe around even a Level 3 Sentry and burn it down, but only if the Sentry is not already aimed at your entry point.
  • The Rockets from a level 3 Sentry gun can be reflected for 135-147 damage, enough to kill weaker classes in one shot and dealing significant damage to the Sentry gun. However, this tactic is very difficult to do without being heavily damaged or killed by bullets. Having a friendly Medic nearby is usually important for this tactic to be effective.
  • An ÜberCharged Pyro can lay waste to a Sentry nest faster than most other classes, but they are more easily thwarted by Knockback than other classes. They must get to point blank range before the Sentries start firing. Use corners to your advantage, and the Medic should always go first to draw the Sentries' fire. If you are using the Backburner, the enemy Engineer should die quickly. If you are using the regular Flamethrower, it can be helpful to compression blast him out of range of his gun to prevent him from repairing it, making it go down much faster.
  • The flames you see on the screen do not match the flames' "real" presence on the server. The "real" flames seem to lag the graphics. This is why you often miss fast classes like Scouts and Demomen with your initial burst. Lead them a little to compensate. This can be exploited to your advantage, especially against enemy Pyros - if you fire while retreating backwards in a straight line, an enemy Pyro pursuing you will not be damaging you due to the lagging flame hitbox, but will be taking damage from your flames despite visually being just outside them. (This Flamethrower Mechanics Video created by HvCTerr of the Steam Forums will demonstrate the projectile mechanics of the flamethrower.)
  • The Flamethrower has a deceptively short range. Many new Pyros empty their weapon at a fleeing enemy to no effect. Also, when an enemy is fleeing, the lag between the "real" flames on the server and the graphics on your screen makes the range even shorter. If an enemy is more than a few feet away, switch to your Shotgun. Due to this lag, you have to lead off on strafing enemies. Another interesting note is that running forward makes each plume go a greater distance, but the same distance from your body because they inherit your momentum.
  • When flaming an enemy, it's best to listen for the higher pitched sizzling sound to know when you're actually hitting the enemy. The flames might be hitting the enemy on screen, but they won't cause damage unless you hear the sound. Turning on damage numbers and/or the hit sound can help you with tracking burning foes and exactly when you're hitting.
  • The Flamethrower doesn't work when you are too close to an object (floor, wall, tire, etc.). You can roast a Sentry just around a corner by using the edge of your flames, but it is hard to get the angle just right. You can often roast an enemy's toes if he is standing on a wall above you if you jump up and give him a quick shot of flame, but again the timing is tricky.
  • Pyros may wear flame retardant suits and be unable to catch fire, but they still take damage from an enemy Pyro's flames. The Shotgun may be more useful in some cases for fighting another Pyro.
  • The Flamethrower's short range forces the Pyro to sneak up on opponents and attack while they are distracted. Shepherd fleeing players into hallways or corners to increase your chances of seriously injuring or killing them. Keep in mind that an enemy goes 10% slower when running backward, so the pursuer has the advantage many times.
  • Charging into a group of enemies and setting them all on fire is a good way to show chaos and disrupt an offensive push. Five incoming enemies are much more dangerous than four panicked, burning enemies looking for health packs and jumping into water.
    • If there is a Medic in the group make sure he dies first, otherwise your chaos and disruption will be turned into just so much wasted ammunition.
  • Use caution when fighting near water or a source of enemy healing (be it Health pickups or Medics/Dispensers): both can extinguish a burning character immediately. If you believe the flames did enough damage before they were extinguished then use the shotgun to finish off the enemy.
  • Switching to the Shotgun can often be more effective for finishing off a fleeing opponent. Even if they are far enough to only take 20 damage, 20 times 6 is 120 damage. That, plus the 60 damage of afterburn and the direct fire will almost guarantee a kill.
  • If you're going to die anyway, ignite everyone in the vicinity with a quick puff and try to finish off the most important enemy with your secondary.
  • Using your Flamethrower on team-mates is a good way to Spy-check. Only a momentary burst of flame is needed to ignite an enemy Spy; briefly shooting every team-mate is a cost-effective method of minimizing Spy encounters.
  • Without the need to reload, the Flamethrower can immediately use any ammo with which it is supplied. Standing next to a Dispenser can allow the Pyro to act as a stationary flame turret for guarding an Engineer fortification or the Intelligence room of CTF maps. A Spy cannot pass through without serious health loss and exposure. However, you're not helping your team much by burning your buddy's sentry for an hour or two.
  • Use alternate routes to organize a synchronized attack on the enemy, igniting them from behind while team-mates attack from the front. This can be very effective on Defense, especially on 2fort, running down alternate corridors to sneak behind Medics partnered with a Heavy.
  • While the Pyro is a good offensive character, he can also be an effective defensive choice. Stand near the Capture point or Intelligence and ignite anyone who comes near with your Flamethrower.
  • Pyros are great when teamed up with other classes.
    • Pyros teamed up with Spies are great in crushing enemy defenses.The Spy goes on a rampage sapping enemy buildings which allows the Pyro to quickly rush in and destroy the buildings using his Flamethrower. Engineers will be too busy removing Sappers to notice you. It is the quickest way to take down lone Sentries (or even big groups if there are more Pyro-Spy teams working with you) within tight spaces (ex: 2fort bases)
    • Pyros can counter the three main enemies of Engineers: Spies, Ubercharges, and Explosives. Ubercharged opponents can be disrupted and kept away from sentry nests with the compression blast. Explosives (sticky bombs in particular) can be deflected away from the sentry guns, and a Spy would think twice about attacking a sentry with a Pyro next to it. With the Homewrecker now able to destroy sappers in one blow, the Pyro is now arguably as good a buddy to the Engineer as the Medic is to the Heavy. The ability to recharge health and especially ammunition from the Engineer's dispenser is an added boon.
    • A Pyro and Soldier team can be a force to be reckoned with. You take care of anyone that gets close and any rockets/sticks that come your way, and the Soldier takes care of anyone that is farther away.
  • Your flaregun is great against groups, down narrow corridors against slow enemies (like the Heavy), or enemies standing still (like scoped Snipers). If the enemy did not see you fire the flare, they might assume they are being attacked at point blank and try to find you or retreat to find either a Medic or health pack to put out the flame. It is great for putting out a fighter for a little while.
  • As of another update, Flares will critically hit on a burning target at a medium or long range. If you hit a sniper twice, that's thirty damage, ninety damage, and then the afterburn. He's toast.
  • Pyros teamed with a Medic / Heavy combo make an effective combination, the Pyro protects them both from close range attackers while they can take out fleeing enemies on fire.
  • The flamethrower's alt-fire is great for pushing off enemies from a high place, such as the last CP in Gravel Pit or the bridge in Dustbowl Stage 3, and separating/holding back ÜberCharged pairs. You can also easily pin an enemy to a wall or keep him suspended in mid-air, as long as you have the ammo for it.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the flamethrower can be used while in water: so long as the user isn't completely submerged (enemies still cannot be ignited due to the water though). Holding the jump button ensures you'll remain surfaced, allowing you to still damage anything within the flamethrower's range and possibly get some highly unexpected kills.
  • When guarding the last point, stick with an Engineer and spycheck, if using the flamethrower, use the air compression to blow Ubered enemies away from the sentry.
  • The Flamethrower can use it's compression blast to blow away the Sandman's baseballs back, as well as arrows from the Huntsman The latter can be tricky to time since there is very little warning even at long distances. Rather than watching the arrow, you can watch the Sniper's arm and time the blast based on distance. The arrow, when pointed at you, is made of only a few pixels and is hard to judge. Note that it can indeed trigger a headshot kill with the reflected arrow.
  • The Flaregun's flares can also be compression blasted back at the enemy. This is so rare that nobody will expect it. It it generally more effective to reflect the flare at an enemy that can be ignited instead of the Pyro, but you can turn their flares into Mini-crits on them, which would actually do more damage than firing your own flares while completely avoiding their attacks.
  • If fighting a Heavy that knows where you are in close quarters, you will surely die in direct combat. Instead, pop out for a moment to set the Heavy on fire, then wait a few seconds before rushing him with the Axtinguisher to finish him with a swift Critical hit. Obviously, this works better if the Heavy is alone, and impossible to pull off if there is an enemy Medic or Pyro nearby. A compression blast can disorient a Heavy, ruining his aim and giving you more time to make the strike. A Heavy can survive this strike on occasion, but will die from the burn damage if he doesn't have the Sandvich or a Medic.
  • Another useful tactic against a Heavy is to strafe from side to side while spraying him in flames. If he is caught off-guard, him killing you will be a challenge considering that you already have damage on him, he'll most likely be in a panic, and your flames from spraying will make it much harder to aim directly at you.
  • Now that the flare gun minicrits at medium range and crits at long range on burning enemies, it is possible to kill a heavy by peppering him with flares, provided that you stay out of his effective range.
  • Many may think using a shotgun to fight another pyro is the better choice but it generally is not. Using your flamethrower's slow movement advantage in corners or versing pyros with lack of aim with their shotguns will give you a advantage.

Weapon Specific


  • The flamethrower is a close quarters weapon with a very short range. It is devastating at point blank range and sets fire to all classes except other Pyros.
  • Medics, dispensers, your team's Payload Cart, Jarate, Mad Milk, medkits, compression blasts from other Pyros, and water will put out flames.
  • It is also very useful for destroying buildings - sentries built near a corner can be destroyed without exposing the Pyro to its firing circle, and sentries built at a bad angle to an entrance can be rushed and destroyed by the Pyro without the Pyro being significantly damaged.
  • The flamethrower can also be used to obscure the Pyro's head from Snipers in order to prevent a headshot. The Flamethrower is better in an open ground or supporting roles when compared to the backburner.
  • Additionally, since the flamethrower's projectiles penetrate multiple targets, buildings and players in the line of the stream may all be hit at one time, giving the Pyro some additional utility against groups.
  • Of note is the fact that walls do not obstruct fire unless they actually obstruct line of sight back to the origin point. This allows Pyros to spray fire through small cracks and crevices to hit targets on the opposite side much more effectively than hitscan bullet weapons can.
  • Mechanically, the flamethrower is not a "line", "laser sword" or "cone". Instead, it functions very much like the needlegun. A stream of projectiles (fireboxes) is rapidly created near the Pyro's right ear. These projectiles follow a roughly straight path along the flamer's model, with some measure of scatter (this scatter creates the appearance of a cone). Each projectile does very little damage to a target, but their number, large size and rapid fire nature simulates an unbroken stream of fire.

This Flamethrower Mechanics Video created by HvCTerr of the Steam Forums demonstrates the hidden projectile mechanics of the flamethrower using simple debug commands that can be used by any client with console access enabled.

Compression blast

  • You can use the compression blast to knock enemy players into map hazards (such as the pits surrounding the final point on Steel or the trains in Well) or simply push them away if you cannot beat them one-on-one (such as if you encounter a Heavy around a corner).
    • It can be used just to set enemies on fire without taking damage. A Heavy that has not spun up his gun is a perfect target for setting on fire. Light him up for several seconds and if he spins up his gun, push him away into a place where he cannot hit you (for example, around a corner.)
  • It can also be used to limit their movements, such as preventing a Scout under the effects of the Bonk! Energy Drink from reaching his objective, or even to hold him in place until the effects wear off and he becomes vulnerable again.
  • In general, limiting an enemy's movements also makes it easier for your teammates to kill him. It can also be used to deadly effect with the "Puff and Sting" tactic; set a foe on fire, knock him into the air with compression blast while taking out your Axtinguisher, and then hitting him when he lands.
  • One of the most useful roles of the compression blast is to knock back the enemy intelligence carrier. On many CTF maps, the enemy will often resort to suicide Scouts and Spies to constantly touch the intelligence and move it forward by inches. You can turn this against them by allowing them to pick up the intelligence and then airblasting them back to your base, causing them to lose much more ground than they gain. It's best to tell your teammates not to kill the intel carrier if this is your plan.
  • It is very difficult to reflect objects at close range, so for these situations, extra attentiveness is called for. Watch a Soldier, count the rockets fired, and once he has fired the fourth, move forward quickly. He will load another rocket to bounce you away, and when you see the rocket reload finish (on his weapon model) simply wait about a half second and airblast. With good luck, you will airblast right as he fires. Do note that this tactic has an inherent amount of luck.
  • If you are ambushing a soldier, set him on fire and keep burning him until he turns around and tries to shoot you. When he turns around and looks directly at you, he will most likely fire a rocket at you. Hit you compression blast and you will either kill him or blast him far, far away from you on fire and mostly likely low health.
  • Sentries that are distant or sit around a corner can be compromised with their own rockets by using the compression blast. This tactic could be used to part an Engineer from his buildings, destroy the supplying dispenser, or cause a distraction long enough for another team-mate to storm in and take care of the situation. The "gun" of a sentry will only deal about three shots per reflection if preformed correctly.
  • A Pyro alone can destroy an unguarded sentry with three direct reflect hits. However, this strategy is best avoided when there are multiple sentries or enemies in an area to deal additional damage. This is a job that's best left to or done in cooperation with a small group.
  • The compression blast can also be used very effectively to stop enemy ÜberCharged pairs. Usually an ÜberCharged pair will ignore all other threats to get to your team's sentries, giving you a golden opportunity to get in close and disrupt their plans. You can choose to block both players or try to separate the Medic from the ÜberCharged player. This works best when you are near ledges and cliffs, for example, the small bridge on Dustbowl on the final point.
  • Another effective defensive tactic is the shepherding of friendly sentries, stationary Heavies, capture points, etc. by deflecting incoming explosives. While it is unlikely you will stop all incoming fire, it is often enough to keep your allies alive against otherwise daunting odds. This is especially effective when the sentry is near a cliff (e.g. near the 2nd point on Badlands), as it is significantly easier to remove stickies from the blast range when gravity assisted.
  • The compression blast can also be used in many normal situations, such as reflecting a Soldier's rockets or Demoman's grenades back or towards another enemy nearby. This can be done with baseballs from the Sandman as well as arrows from the Huntsman, though those situations may present themselves less frequently.
  • As of the Spy vs. Sniper update, the compression blast can put out allies on fire. This allows Pyros to stop allies from sustaining burn damage, and can be especially instrumental in saving burning Medics on the front line as they can regenerate health and continue healing teammates. In some cases, stopping a teammate from burning to death until they can find some health can make all the difference. In addition, disguised spies will be thrown back just like normal enemies, further revealing them and keeping them away from health.
  • Compression blasting can make sure your foe gets all the after burn damage by keeping him away from health packs and other ways to be extinguished. If they make a desperate rush for the water, you can keep them out long enough to finish them off. It is possible to juggle the foe two times over the water while standing at the edge next to the bridge in 2fort and you can also jump in the water and airblast upwards to prevent your foe from jumping in on well.
  • The compression blast can blow several incomming projectiles away, when a projectile is blow away it gains much more speed than before making it hard to avoid.
  • The compression blast can away loads of different enemy incomming projectiles such as rockets, sentry missiles, sandman balls, jarate, sticky bombs, grenade launcher grenades, flare gun shots, arrows etc, etc.
  • Reflected projectiles mini-crit their targets.
  • When used with the Degreaser and the Axtinguisher, airblast can be useful to light enemies, throw them into a wall or in the air, and axe them for a large amount of damage in a small amount of time.


  • Degreaser is a valuable companion for the Axtinguisher due to it's fast weapon swap and it's only defect is less burn damage: but if you are going to strike and kill with the axetinguisher anyway the burn isn't important.
  • The Degreaser and Axtinguisher combo is not an useable combo when combating other Pyros, as they do not light, rendering your Axtinguisher useless in a Pyro showdown.
  • The Degreaser funcitons the same as the flamethrower except for the fact it allows 65% percent faster weapon switch and has a weakened after burn.
  • This weapon is great for those who want to react quickly to a situation that calls for a different weapon.
  • It is great when paired with an Axtinguisher so the player can quickly set the target on fire and take him out the critical hit with the Axtinguisher.
  • If necessary, when a burning player is getting away and is not in range of your Axtinguisher, it is possible to switch to Degreaser, airblast him into the air or into a wall, and axe him. This is an effective combo as it will devistate most foes in seconds, save higher healthed classes such as Demomen, Heavies, and Soldiers.
    • Use of the "Last weapon* button (Q Key by default) can be very effective. When you are near your target, keep holding the fire button with the Degreaser equipped and press the Q key. This way, you will attack the very second you switch to the Axtinguisher and vice versa.
  • The faster weapon switch is also excellent when paired with the flare gun, by briefly shooting fire and then using the compression blast to confuse your target and throw them in the air, where it is easier to predict their movement. Using the "Last weapon" button, you can then switch to the flare gun before your opponent lands and take advantage of the mini crit on burning targets. This can be repeated until the target is dead if you have the ammo or you may simply choose to continue using the flare gun if the target retreats. The flare gun also "resets" the degreaser's afterburn damage, causing it to tick for normal afterburn damage instead - a great asset against unaware players who have been hit, minicrit, and then expect the afterburn to be negligible.
  • When using the Degreaser, remember that using conventional hit-and-run tactics will not work as well. The Degreaser will only do 80% of the normal afterburn (48 out of 60)
  • One of the best combos to use with this weapons are the flare gun and the Axtinguisher, as they are "combo" weapons and go well with the Degreaser's quick switch.


  • The shotgun is the secondary weapon of the Pyro and is used when the enemy is out of range of the Pyro's flamethrower.
  • Because the shotgun is a hitscan weapon, it will always land at least one 3-6 damage pellet at the center of your crosshair before "weapon spread" takes effect. Use it to finish off a running or wounded enemy when they think they have outranged you.
  • It can also be used against enemy Pyros as the flamethrower does not ignite them, although it still does significant damage at closer range.
  • The shotgun is an excellent weapon to follow up from an attack with a flamethrower. It grants you a safer distance (against Soldiers, who will destroy you with rockets if you're close) and the enemy still suffers the after burn damage.
  • Consider switching to the shotgun when moving in open spaces, as the short range of the Flamethrower will make it mostly ineffective in defending yourself (save the compression blast's effects against projectiles). Keep the Flamethrower for confined spaces.
  • The shotgun is also a good sneaking weapon for the Pyro. Its shape is less visible than the Flamethrower's long nozzle, yet it allows the Pyro the ability to deal a fair amount of damage quickly if caught while not limiting the player to melee range like an axe would.
    • The flamethrower's pilot light makes a small but noticeable hissing sound which can tip off alert enemies or those that use high quality headphones. Equip the shotgun if this is a concern. It is unlikely, however, that enemies could hear the pilot light on crowded, noisy servers.
  • An often overlooked option for Pyros is igniting a foe, using the compression blast to disorient them, then blasting the target with shotgun pellets. While less immediately lethal than the 'puff and sting,' it also avoids the risks of closing the range with some classes, as well as allowing a Pyro without the unlockable weapons to still have a fighting chance.
  • If forced to cross open ground where enemy Snipers are known to be on the lookout, consider firing the shotgun at them after leaving cover. While not as useful as the flare gun in keeping them suppressed, shotgun rounds can shake the scopes of rifle-carrying Snipers long enough get back to a safe spot.
  • The shotgun works great when against other Pyros. Running backwards while spraying shotgun shells help damage the Pyro for a quick fire blast or even kill your opposing Pyro if enough damage is done.
  • Must be noted that the Pyro's speed adds to the effectiveness of using the shotgun. Being able to manoeuvre so readily allows for effective shotgun play when the flamethrower may be of no use.

Fire axe

  • The fire axe is the melee weapon of the Pyro and is usually infrequently used given that the Pyro's primary and secondary weapons also excel at close range and offer superior damage output.
  • When used, its effect is much more likely to be passed off as a stray bullet (from behind) than being attacked by the flamethrower (from behind) is. To this end it can be used to knock down a target's health before attacking with the flamethrower.
  • Additionally, because the flamethrower does not ignite Pyros the fire axe is more viable against them than the Axtinguisher.


  • The Backburner's compression blast costs twice as much (50 ammo) as the other Pyro's primaries, so use it sparingly. However, the ability to deal more damage as well as inflict 100% Critical hits while firing behind an enemy means it can take out low health classes extremely fast, and even Chargin' Targe using Demomen will die before they have time to react if you catch them from behind.
  • The Backburner registers up to approximately a 45° angle to the back of a target's left or right, i.e. roughly a 90° angle centered behind where they are facing. This is significantly smaller than the Spy's 180° Backstab angle.
  • The Backburner may be better for the ambush and/or closer quarters than the flamethrower at times, though the lack of compression blast may produce less tactical options for a Backburner Pyro.
  • While the narrow Crit area for the Backburner may prove difficult to account for with the hectic movement of combat (short of chasing enemies running in a straight line), an alternative is to find a group of enemies and strafe laterally behind them while firing your Backburner. While this is less likely to result in 1-second kills, the chance of finding and frying at least one open back is higher.
  • The Backburner is ideal in conjunction with an allied Heavy who uses Natascha. While his bullets slow down the enemy, sneak up behind slowed targets and light them up.
  • Because the Backburner now has a compression blast it is a far more viable weapon than before. Killing an enemy gives 100 metal, so two compression blasts used in a single fight is still enough to break even.
  • The backburner is a new player friendly weapon for pyros. The weapon merely forces you not to use your compression blast as it is a advanced skill.
  • The backburner is EXTREMELY useful during a payload race map. You can ambush the entire enemy team in the beginning giving your team a major lead.

Flare gun

  • The Flare gun does not have falloff damage, meaning it does just as much damage at close range than at far range. Its projectile flies pretty fast so it's hard to dodge, and most enemies run into it by mistake.
  • It's best if used by surprise: fire it at groups of enemies or sneak around popping out and firing at an enemy that isn't looking in your direction. Enemies that get set on fire usually panic, and the afterburn usually does up to 50 damage (maximum of 60). They may seek out water, Medics, or health pickups. This can give you an advantage—a huge advantage in that you can remove an enemy as a threat with one quick shot.
  • The Flare gun is much less powerful against Pyros because they are flame retardant, but do not underestimate the contact damage the flare itself deals.
  • The Flare gun is also weak against anyone in water, for obvious reasons. A good general rule is that the usefulness of the flare gun over the shotgun is directly proportional to the number of people playing the game, although this rule carries exceptions. In games with lots of Pyros on the opposite team, it is a good idea to pick the Shotgun over the flare gun.
  • Another use for the flare gun is to heckle enemy Snipers; Snipers carrying the default Sniper rifle cannot aim properly if they are on fire, so setting a Sniper on fire at a distance may force them to temporarily retreat to find water or a health pack, which can assist in your team's offense or defense at the right moment.
  • On top of that, Snipers equipped with the default Sniper rifle will usually be sitting targets for your flares. But beware that you're exposing yourself to the Sniper's fire by doing this, so be careful when shooting flares at Snipers.
  • The Flare Gun crit on targets that are already burning. This makes it a highly effective finisher if the opponent flees or has already been hit by one flare. Two successive flares including the after-burn at long range is enough to kill any medium or low health class, while three to four flares spread out can even kill Heavies. Be sure to keep track of how long an enemy has been burning and time a flare to deal maximum damage.
  • A useful side effect of the flare gun is simply as a target marker—simply lighting up opponents can have benefits. Even when the damage of a single hit may not be significant (for example, against an enemy Heavy), a burning opponent will often serve as a beacon that your teammates will fire upon. This is especially useful against opponents who are concealing themselves in dark spots of the map, and can completely ruin a Spy.
  • You can trick enemy players that are unaware by shooting them with The Flare gun and running away. If they follow you, without shooting, turn around and hit them with your Axtinguisher for a nasty suprise. If they run away for a medikit, keep attacking them.
  • The Flare Gun's minor arc makes it valuable for destroying sentries you cannot corner-burn due to range. However, it does not afterburn and takes over half your flares to take out a sentry.
  • Because the Flare Gun reloads passively, you can plink with it and immediately switch to another weapon while it reloads, to maximize uptime on your damage and readiness.
  • Lighting an enemy on fire with your flamethrower and then immediately switching to the flare gun and shooting them point blank can deal a large amount of damage, similar to the "Puff and Sting" strategy of the axtinguisher. Airblasting can help as it makes your opponent unable to dodge or move.


  • The Axtinguisher is best used as an ambush weapon. It's not recommended to be used in direct combat because the time necessary to switch weapons makes you an easy target, and its range is point blank.
  • The extremely high damage (all classes, bar Heavy, fall to one Crit swipe of this axe unless they are overhealed) makes it very useful when ambushing classes with high health, such as Heavies, Soldiers and Demomen. It is often preferable to use the Axtinguisher in these situations because these classes can easily outdamage a Pyro if they have enough time (it is useless against Pyros and anyone underwater).
  • The Axtinguisher can also be used to finish off a Heavy you attacked with a Backburner as they turn around.
  • A Flare Gun/Axtinguisher combo can effectively function in place of your primary weapon. When it is out of ammo: fire the Flare Gun, switch to the Axtinguisher, and hack away.
  • It is also good for clearing out the cart when combined with the Backburner; let the cart get past you, then charge and set as many people you can ablaze, then switch to the Axtinguisher and go to town.
  • Setting your foe on fire with the default Flamethrower and then knocking them into the air with compression blast, then finishing them with the Axtinguisher is also a very effective tactic, called the "Puff and Sting". Blasting your target into a corner or into a wall will restrict their movements (against Scouts, a second blast may be required as they can double-jump away after the first blast), disorient them and making it harder for them to hit you, and line you up for a perfect chance to land the killing blow as the enemy is coming down.
  • If used to ambush bigger classes, the Flare Gun may give you a better chance of successfully landing an Axtinguisher hit, as it lets you set them on fire from a longer distance and thus gives you more time to switch to the Axtinguisher as you close the distance, as well as making them burn longer as you close in. Furthermore, a stray shot from the Flare Gun is considerably less likely to make the enemy turn around than multiple hits from a flamethrower. However, your aim with the Flare Gun must be very precise, as a missed flare passing right past them will alert them to your presence.
  • Due to the fact that both the Axtinguisher and the Backburner are often used for ambushing enemies, having both of these items equipped at the same time may be redundant. Because of this, in most situations it is advantageous to equip the Flamethrower when you are using the Axtinguisher.
  • If you have more than one Pyro on your team, consider pairing up with them using just the Axtinguisher. One Pyro setting players on fire, with another hacking away immediately afterwards can be a very devastating combo given the right circumstances.
  • With the degreaser, its makes it easier to take out a Heavy (300 health) with only 2 hits with the Axtinguisher quickly, and efficiently.


  • Unlike the Axtinguisher, which is explicitly an anti-player measure, the Homewrecker is made for destroying buildings. The Homewrecker's double damage makes it a boon against Engineer nests, but its 25% damage reduction on players means that its niche is quite specific.
  • Damage against players averages just under 50 points per swing, with Crit damage of around 146 per hit. This means that it is no longer a one-crit kill against "medium" classes like the Medic, Pyro, and Demoman.
  • The Homewrecker can readily two-shot any building at full health in 1.6 seconds, which is marginally less time than a Backburner in certain circumstances.
  • The Homewrecker is more subtle than a Flamethrower, so a sneaky Pyro who has it out for Engies or wishes to disable the other team's quick relocation to the front could theoretically sneak behind the front lines and destroy a teleporter entrance in two swings without drawing the attention of opposing players turning around at the sound of fire.
  • A Pyro with the normal Flamethrower and the Homewrecker equipped is the best friend to any Engineer. Constant flames will keep out Spies, while the Compression Blast throws rockets, grenades and otherwise lethal stickies away as well as toss Übercharged players away, and the Homewrecker stops the sappers of any Spy that manages to get through.
  • The Degreaser is also very useful for this - the faster weapon switch time is very helpful when trying to uncloak spies and remove multiple sappers.
  • Keep a Homewrecker equipped in your Pyro loadout if you aren't currently playing as Pyro. Doing this will allow you to quickly switch to Pyro and destroy sappers on friendly teleporters if you spawn and witness/find them being sapped.
  • The Homewrecker is a beast when it comes to taking apart an Engineer's plan. One to two hits from the Homewrecker can destroy erecting buildings that have been moved. It is best to catch Engineers as they are moving so they are forced to drop their sentries or die while vulnerable. Preventing any Engineer building can lead to a decisive outcome as all buildings serve a purpose in support.
  • The Homewrecker can be a very powerful weapons against spies as it can bash them and remove their sappers with a single swing.


  • The Powerjack should not be used in place of a medic. Seeking out enemies to heal yourself will not work, unless you ambush a Sniper.
  • The Powerjack can be very useful for countering the Gas Jockey Gear's -10% bullet vulnerability. The speed boost helps you get into Melee range more quickly, and the healing effect will counter some of the extra damage you have taken.

The Back Scratcher

  • May be a great alternative to the Fire Axe or Axtinguisher when paired with the Backburner, since you won't really have to worry about Axtinguishing when you can get critical hits from behind with the Backburner.
  • Rely more on health kits than than Medics or Dispensers.
  • The decreased healing rate will make you a less effective Medic Buddy.
  • A great loadout choice for Medieval Mode, as healing packs are plentiful drops from dead players, and medic heals aren't as prolific. The high damage and pyro's natural speed makes it a wonderful asset.
  • The Back Scratcher is the most powerful melee weapon of pyro that doesn't require a ignite on the enemy (eg.Axtinguisher). Using the B.S during Medieval mode or a melee only battle is recommended.


  • Spy-checking is one of the principal purposes of the Pyro. Any disguised or cloaked Spy will be lit on fire by the Pyro's flamethrower and thus become obvious to other team members. The Pyro should therefore shoot a small burst of fire on any team member that has not indicated their true allegiance.
  • Standing near a Dispenser will keep your primary ammo at its maximum, even while constantly firing. This can be used to guard Sentry nests from Spies.
  • If you are primarily around for Spy checking, having the homewrecker equipped allows you to stop the sappers of any Spies that do manage to get past you.
  • A Pyro should keep good watch of the leaderboards. This will help root out spies that have disguised as classes that are currently not of your team.
  • It helps to stay near any of the engineers buildings. It will add onto the defense of the team keeping the engineers from from worrying about spies.


This attack is rarely effective, especially in serious combat situations. However, with good timing, there are places where this can be as deadly as the butterfly knife.

  • At the beginning of a round, on a level with setup time (like goldrush or dustbowl), taunting with 0:01 left on the timer will cause the taunt to launch just when the gates open, to get inattentive players.
  • This can also be a good defense against rushes. While defending a point (such as dustbowl first point, stage 1) fire at oncoming enemies with your shotgun (or flaregun). When you see a group rushing forward, wait until they're about 15 feet from the door, hide around the corner, and perform the hadouken...if you're lucky you could get an un-ubered player. The other main times hadouken can be effective are during stalemate and humiliation.
    • Aside from humiliating inattentive players, the Hadouken can instakill buildings when in stalemate or as the victor in humiliation.
    • The Hadouken can also be used for telecamping, as enemy players who are teleported will most likely be killed by the pyro on the other end of the teleporter.



  • When playing as RED you can catch a glimpse of the attackers as they cross the bridge. Hiding in the battlements and jumping down to flank a wave of attackers is a very effective way of disorientating and breaking the assault.
  • You can also hide in the metal grill room and drop down behind the enemy as they pass through.
  • If the sewers are unguarded, a Pyro can use them to get into the enemy base, head to the exits and roast anyone coming from the battlements.
  • Pyros are also useful for ambushing enemies coming from the sewers.
  • The Pyro's Homewrecker is useful for breaking Engineer's nests which are often prevalent in the teams' respective bases.


  • The control points are prime Pyro targets on this map. Try to enter these areas via the central channels and Strafe through the Control point and out the other side.
  • Run past the health pick ups and repeat the Strafing run.
  • Sentry gun emplacements can be attacked from round the corner or if you feel suicidal start the Flamethrower and turn the corner and face the gun directly.
  • On defense the same tactics as above apply but with the point being you are defending the point.
  • Also on defense defend those Sentry guns from the inevitable Spies. Get your Engineer to place a convenient Dispenser and you need never move an inch while the Sentry gun takes care of all the attackers.

Gravel Pit

  • Take the road less traveled. There is almost always more than one way to a given point on the map, so check which way the majority of the team is going, and go the other route. This will go a long way to setting the Pyro up as an effective Flanker.
  • Point A is often undefended, and the enemy knows this. If you hide underneath the capture point (in the shack with the healthpack), you can often set the enemy team ablaze by coming up the stairs. At worst, you'll just be a minor annoyance and slightly delay their capture. At best, you'll kill a few players and force an ÜberCharge. Either way, you'll have respawned before they can get to point B.
  • Your compression blast is invaluable on point C, both on RED and on BLU. Use it to force defenders off the point or deny a rocketjumping Soldier from accessing it.


  • Use underwater passages to reach the enemy side of CP3, ambushing them. The bridges will provide you cover. Swim under one and hold SPACE so the character won't drown continuously. Players rarely go underwater so nobody will notice you. Even Scouts and Spies tend to swim straight to the CP3 without looking at their surroundings. From here you have a vast choice of ambushes that you can concentrate on. You can head to CP3 and strike the other team from the back, as well as hide within CP2 as nobody expects an enemy down there.Alternatively you can stay under the bridge and wait for an incoming enemy. Players rarely look back so whenever one runs past the bridge, it is your chance to get behind him and roast him, before he realizes what hit him.


  • While defending Stage 1 Cap 1, stand on the small shack by the left entrance and hide yourself so that people coming out can't see you. Wait for them to pass and drop down and burn them from behind.
  • While defending Stage 2 Cap 1, the defending Pyro can stand to the left of the attackers' spawn point and catch them off guard here. There is no health and ammo for the Pyro in this area so unless you've got a Medic healing you, it is best to leave if you are too wounded. Remember: Spawn Killing is not accepted among many players and can result in a bad reputation for that player.
  • While defending Stage 2 Cap 1, guard the capture building and burn anyone who comes in. This is an excellent place for Pyros because it is got a large med kit, a medium med kit, a large ammo pack, and a medium ammo pack.
  • While defending Stage 2 Cap 2, stand on top of the wooden walkway over the entrances and drop down on enemy forces.
  • When defending Stage 3 Cap 1, you can often get an early game advantage on attackers by rushing down the side hallway as soon as the gates open.
  • When defending Stage 3 Cap 2, watch the house that is to the left of your spawn. Prevent Engineers from building up there and be sure to kill any enemies that bunch up in there.
  • While defending Stage 3 Cap 2, stand on the ledge above the exit to the underground tunnel on your right and drop down when enemies come out.


  • A complex map but the numerous choke points and stairwells make ideal spots for an ambush.
  • A particularly useful spot is underneath the stairs as your flames can go through the steps. This is particularly effective against Demomen who launch a full clip of grenades and then descend the steps thinking they are safe.

Badwater Basin

  • The Pyro is useful in defending the first area as the high ground advantage means you can drop behind unsuspecting attackers for an ambush, which can be especially effective if the Backburner is used (though it is worth waiting until you are right behind your target before firing, as the characteristic sound will prompt them to turn around, thus reducing the ambush's overall effectiveness and success rate.
  • On attack, a Pyro can clear out the sentries that may be situated around the map fairly easily with an uber, as most of the key sentry spots are around a corner (allowing you to instantly start damaging the sentry as soon as you round it), especially the possible sentry in the overhang next to the capture point. However, if attacking sentries on higher ground, be careful of defensive pyros compression blasting you down to lower ground, wasting your uber in the process.
  • The second point's various corridors are a pyro's perfect spot for ambushes, as the close range capabilities of the flames will render enemy attempts to escape useless, and the Backburner will be good if ambushing from the stairs behind the roof, allowing you to catch and kill enemies making trips between the ground floor and roof before they can have a chance to react. However, the sentries possibly on the roof will be difficult to kill unless you are careful to edge them or can strafe around them easily (if not, an uber will help). Once again, be careful not to be compression blasted to the ground floor on either side.
  • A defending pyro's main job at the second point is to stop defend the sentries that may be on the roof or ground floor from spies, other pyros and ubercharges, and to ambush these charges pre-emptively to hopefully trigger their ubercharge earlier than they should. If an ubercharge makes it up to the roof, use the compression blast to blow them off the roof and waste their chance to push the point (if you can blast the medic off too, all the better as otherwise they may go on to another player to do the damage). If you have the backburner, strike from behind a charge after they have pushed, to hopefully mop them up while they're exposed.
  • The third point is difficult to attack as a pyro without an ubercharge, as there will be sentries put next to the track at some point, as well as any incoming fire from the upper walkways. However, you can use the rockets and grenades fired at the area entrances to harass enemy players should they try to push in to your side, and to defend snipers shooting from the bottom of the gully and the top left corridor. If you have an ubercharge or there are no sentries around the gully, you can jump down to surprise enemy snipers and other classes (though watch out for spies and charging demos in doing so).
  • Playing the defensive pyro is useful on the third point as your compression blast will save sentries by blowing ubers back around the corners they are advancing from, and also allow you to reflect any long range rockets or projectiles coming from the far right corridor. Watch for snipers in doing so though, as they may kill you before you get a chance to send a rocket their way. If the BLU team have advanced to the main courtyard though, you can jump down from the upper right balcony to ambush enemies near the health and ammo kits, and destroy any buildings an engineer may be setting up (this will be less effective however if someone sees you jump down, as it leaves you to be airshotted by soldiers or demomen and immobilised by other pyros).
  • The last point's main area is a problem for BLU pyros as it is so open, and will also have sentries ready to ambush you as you drop down from the walkways and windows. As such, try keeping to the areas near the sniping watchtower to stop any ambushes or attempts to push your team out, and only move into the main area when you know there are no sentries around. Alternatively, stay near the main chokepoint above the stairs and compression blast any grenades, stickies or rockets back down the ramp to hopefully deter enemy ubers and pushes in. When your team has pushed in, you can harass players coming out of the lower spawn by hiding in the stairwell and attacking them from behind as they try to rebuild or hold the rest of your team off.
  • On defense, the Pyro's job is to keep the BLU team in the third point's main area for as long as possible, preventing their snipers from reaching the windows on either side of the cart's path and stop them from building sentries to limit your team's space to move in. When your team pushes out, try to lie in wait in alcoves or around corners so when the BLU team pushes back in you can get rid of at least one of their players and retreat quickly. When ubers push in, as usual use the compression blast to protect sentries, by blowing them either into the middle of the area (where all possible sentry spots can hit them when it wears off) or up the ramp to waste time once again. Also be sure to spycheck around the upper right courtyard as it is a hotspot for them, as well as deal with any camping snipers in the tower.



  • While moving the cart, defend your team from incoming explosives with your Airblast if you are not using the Backburner. Remember that the cart essentially gives you unlimited ammunition, so spray fire in all directions to detect Spies.
  • Attacking the enemy cart head-on is not a good idea, as your afterburn is rendered useless with the cart's healing.

Section 1

  • Make extensive use of the side route on the left to get behind the enemy. Use this path to attack the enemy Snipers and assist your Spies with removing Sentry nests.
  • The Flare gun is very useful in igniting the enemy Snipers attempting to shoot at your cart.
  • If your cart is near the end, consider sneaking around and dropping on top of it, using your Airblast to knock away foes and protect yourself long enough to finish the capture.

Section 2

  • In the main hallway, protect your cart from incoming projectiles with your Airblast. You will be able to see them coming from a long distance away.
  • Use the side route often to ambush your enemies. The route opens up above the enemy base, allowing you to plan an attack to kill enemy Snipers, destroy Sentry nests or assault the cart. Consider taking the Backburner to clear the enemy cart off quickly.
  • The narrow pathways make spy-checking much easier, if you know the enemy has a spy, use puffs of flame in corners and hallways to find them.

Section 3

  • The abundance of deep water and lack of flanking paths makes this section of the map difficult for Pyros to work effectively on. Do not rely on Afterburn to kill anyone.
  • Attack the enemy Snipers in their bunker when possible to keep your teammates protected as they move the cart.

See also

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