Playstuff HL team writeup - Week 1

1. Differences between pub and competitive play

The main and most important difference between pub play and competitive play is communication. If you’ve ever listened in to a competitive team’s comms, you’ll know they are constantly communicating important information to each other. Good communication can make or break a team and is more important than individual skill. Hopefully many of you should be used to this and know all too well from the Teamplay how a team that communicates and works together always beats a team that does not.

Other differences include class limits (in Highlander, 1 of each class), weapon or item restrictions (for ETF2L Season 1, everything up to Halloween 2011 is allowed, anything after that and all attribute-altering set hats are banned), and differing gameplay rules (see Stopwatch explanation).

2. Calling and communication

Competitive teams typically use external voice comm software such as Ventrilo or Mumble during matches rather than in-game chat, for several reasons such as reduced delay in the dedicated voice software, better audio quality, independence from server-side voice controls etc.

We will be using the Playstuff Ventrilo server for our external team communications for the duration of the Highlander season. You must be able to connect to the Vent server and listen to team communications, and you really should have a microphone to communicate back.

There are good ways and bad ways to communicate. There will be 9 people all talking to each other, and so getting your information across quickly, clearly and accurately is important.

Good communication is concise, clear and relevant. Bad communication is verbose, unclear or unnecessary.

Examples of things you should call are:

- if you kill an enemy player: “Medic down”

- if you know you have badly hurt an enemy player (so a teammate could easily finish them off): “Demo low”

- the location of important enemies: “Sentry on cliffs” “Enemy combo [heavy + medic] coming stairs” “Scout flanking far right”

- the state of the enemy uber: “Their uber ready” “They are running kritz!” “They have popped” “Uber pyro coming to roof” “Kritz demo in valley”

Calls you should pay attention to:

- an important enemy is low, you should focus fire on them to finish them off: “Medic low” “Focus heavy” “Engie down, spam the sentry”

- an uber or kritz is coming, get out of there

- plays being called: “Medic down, everyone push now” “Kritz demo incoming, fall back” “Sniper soldier flank left, all other power classes push main, scout engie push cart”

3. Explanation of Stopwatch and bo5

Stopwatch mode is the mode played on any map where one team attacks and one team defends. For example, all playload maps, cp_gravelpit and cp_gorge are all played in Stopwatch mode.

Stopwatch mode may seem initially daunting or confusing, but after playing it once or twice you will realise it’s actually quite simple. It works like so:

One team attacks first, capturing as many points as they can as fast as they can. Once they capture all the points or run out of time, the teams switch and the other team now has to either

a) capture the same number of points in a quicker time, or

b) capture more points than the first team did.

If the second team manages either one of these goals, they win the map. If they fail to achieve either goal, the first team wins.

So the aim is to capture a lot of points as rapidly as possible while attacking, and to delay the enemy team for as long as possible on each point while defending.

Now an example:

The map is pl_badwater. Team A attacks first, and Team B defends. Team A manage to push the cart to the second capture point in 5 minutes 20 seconds, but Team B rally and put up an excellent defence at the third point, holding there until time runs out.

The teams switch. Team B is now attacking, and Team A defending. Team B surge forward, but struggle to break through a solid defence at the second point. They eventually capture point two, but in a time of 5 minutes 35 seconds. Since they did not beat Team A’s time to capture two points, they now must capture the third point, or Team A will win. They push hard and, in the dying seconds, an excellent spy pick on the defending heavy allows B to roll in and capture point 3, winning the round.

bo5 is far simpler, and simply stands for best of 5. Since KOTH rounds can be over so quickly, they are played in a best of 5 format. First team to win a round (i.e. run their timer down to 0) 3 times wins the map. Simple.


4. Rundown of strategies for badwater and viaduct


On attack, the plan will be fairly simple - the scout and engineer will push the cart at all times (giving us x3 push speed), and every other class will be pushing forward at all times, clearing the way.

The fastest speed the payload cart can move at is x3, additional players on the cart will not make it move faster past this number. So scout + engie is the most efficient use of firepower - the main damage dealing classes are still free, but scout + engie + minisentry gives a good amount of firepower to defend the cart against flanking enemies.

All other players should be pushing forward ahead of the cart, clearing out half-built sentry nests, locking down choke points, and basically destroying any defence before it has a chance to be built. By all means return to the cart for health and ammo, but then get back out there. More specific pushing routes will be discussed over Vent prior to the match.

Some class-specific tasks:

Scout - push cart at all times

Soldier - roam about (with the sniper if you want to give him a little close-quarters protection), flank, force their uber early, see what you can do, fall back to the combo if needed

Pyro - with the combo at all times, spychecking constantly and reflecting spam as much as possible

Demo - with the combo, dealing damage and locking down choke points to prevent counter attack

Heavy - with the medic, being the brunt of the pushing force

Engie - pushing cart at all times, spamming minisentries for extra security, getting teleports up if possible/when our push grinds to a halt

Medic - with the heavy and other pocket classes (demo/pyro), building uber, preserving your own life at the expense of others if necessary

Sniper - roaming, doing your own thing, getting picks when you can, making them afraid to step out into the open

Spy - doing your own thing, hassling and making picks when possible, and communicating where their pushes will be coming from

On defence, the goal is to hold for as long as possible at each point. Holding points (i.e. sentry nest locations) for each point will be:

point 1 - the cliffs high up on the right

point 2 - the roof overlooking the point

point 3 - the balconies on both sides of the point (sentry on the right, combo on the left)

point 4 - either in the alcove under the windows on the left, or the alcove under the balconies on the right

Class specifics:

Scout - roaming, calling their pushes, forcing uber and getting picks

Soldier - as scout, or locking down chokes with demo

Pyro - guarding the sentry at all times, spychecking, reflecting spam/ubers, using the homewrecker to unsap engie buildings

Demo - locking down choke points, pocketing medic when needed

Heavy - with medic, moving around where needed, taking punishment and stopping pushes

Engie - being the core of the defence, getting that all important sentry up and keeping it up, wrangling when needed to make it harder to take down

Medic - with pocket classes, not straying too far from sentry’s cover, building up uber and keeping everyone healthy, counter-pushing when possible

Sniper - doing your own thing, getting picks where possible, countersniping etc

Spy - as sniper, doing what you do best, particularly taking out teleporters etc


KOTH largely boils down to a messy messy deathmatch, so classes will be doing what they do best, there’ll be little need for complex strategies on this. The most important thing being, once we seize the point, hold a high line. The power classes should be aiming to get onto their cliffs, their house and their health packs, locking down the three doors that are their only way out from their spawn yard. If we make life difficult for them there, we should be able to let the clock run down in relative comfort, forcing them to either waste a whole minute sitting in spawn building an uber, or throwing themselves out at us in a way we should be able to counter if we hold the high ground properly. We want them to pay a heavy, heavy price just to get out their doorways, so that we can fall back to the point and be ready for a severely weakened push.

        5. Runthrough of location names on each map

As discussed above, these names should be clear and relevant, so should require little explanation. Many will be obvious (cliffs, stairs, tunnel). There are frankly too many to list here, and without accompanying pictures it will be hard to convey exactly which name means which on a text document anyway. I will be on from ~8:30 GMT and will do a flythrough with names again, but as long as you pick a sensible name that’s relevant to the point we’re contesting, everyone should know where you mean.

One thing to remember is that all directions should be called from our point of view, as if we were walking forward. So if I say “enemy combo pushing right” I mean they are coming towards our right hand side. This should be easy enough to remember most of the time, but can often be a little confusing for the spy who is often running alongside the enemy back towards us and so has left and right reversed. If possible, use names that can’t be confused (e.g. instead of “sniper top left” say “sniper cliffs”).

Also, on mirrored maps like Viaduct, everything is either “ours” or “theirs”. e.g. “sniper their cliffs”, “spy our house”, “combo their right door”.

If there are any questions, fire away in Vent or on Steam. And don’t forget the most important rule: Have fun :D