Mann vs Machine Survival Guide: Pyro
As I mentioned yesterday, this is the first in my Tuesday/Thursday Mann vs Machine Survival Guide series. But I sense confusion in you: “Mann vs what now? I don’t understand what’s going on!”
Basic Premise: In Team Fortress 2, “Mann vs Machine” is a horde mode where you and a team of up to five other people try to keep waves of robots from carrying a bomb to your spawn point.
Robots: All the robots are modeled after the standard classes, sometimes with modifications to make them huge and terrifying; each has its own icon, as well. These icons are shown to you at the beginning of each wave, so you know what to expect.
Upgrades: Because the robots are powered on money, when destroyed they drop cash that you can use at the upgrade stations at your spawn point. This makes you more awesome.
Canteens: After successfully completing one round of MvM, you are awarded a canteen that you can equip in your inventory’s ‘misc’ slot. Canteens can store cool powerups that you buy at the upgrade station.
Mann Up: Lastly, there are two ways to approach MvM. You can either “Mann Up” and pay for the experience, or you can do the free-to-play approach called “Boot Camp.” As far as I can tell, Mann Up simply gets you more swag that you can only use in MvM, as well as achievement-tracking sorts of progress. As may be obvious, I stick with Boot Camp.
Now that you know what the mode itself means, what class should you choose? As it turns out, I have some suggestions. Here’s where I think you should start.
Strategy: I think a pyro is requisite on every team; you can do a fair amount of damage to a huge number of enemies, and the inherent beauty of fire is it keeps burning even after you’ve moved on (or died). I tend to stay up front trying to light all the robots on fire and collecting any dropped money. This is why my upgrade money tends to go towards move speed, general defenses, and health on kill with my primary weapon. The more I kill, the more health I get, so it’s a delicious and robot-unfriendly cycle. Honestly, the strategy for pyro is generally very simple: light stuff on fire, and don’t stop.
Loadout Strategy: In Mann vs Machine, you know where the robots will be going before the wave starts (glowy blue arrows show the primary path) – so you know that you can always get behind them. This makes the Backburner invaluable; with clever positioning and quick reflexes you can have permanent critical hits. However, it gets trickier with the bigger robots who, while slow, are able to turn around and mow you down. In those cases, I bust out my Übercharge Canteen so I can be invulnerable while I light them on fire then Axtinguish them – this way I’m doing crits regardless of where they’re looking. If my Über starts to fade and they aren’t nearly dead yet, I back off and bust out the Flare Gun so I can continue dealing crits from a distance.
[Edit]Additional Suggestions: One big part of being pyro is the ability to airblast – and while that can make the game hilarous with the giant critical hit rocket soldiers, it also means that you can push the bomb carrier off the track. Sometimes that just means they have to walk a little farther, but if you push them down a hole, the carrier dies and the bomb resets to the beginning of the map. This is an important strategy to employ, but be careful with your ammo, because the Backburner’s airblast costs more.
Verdict: I think this is the best class to start with, regardless of skill. It’s the easiest to learn, and there’s always plenty of room to grow. The basic strategy is simple: burn everything. Seriously: light it up like a disco inferno and burn, baby. Burn.