“I have personally killed 6,578 men in cold blood while looking them in the eye; jumped on 1,336 live grenades; and stuffed fourteen feet of my own intestine back into my stomach.If that doesn’t scare you out of your frilly pink leotards, guess what: You are an idiot and you hate America.” — The Soldier on real fear
A psychotic patriot from the heart of America, the Soldier (allegedly Mister Jane Doe) is the bread and butter general assault unit of the team. While one of the easier to understand classes on the roster, he is far from the weakest. In fact, when played right, the Soldier can be one of the most dangerous classes on the battlefield. Equipped with his rocket launcher and stamina to spare, the Soldier is a highly versatile class for both offensive and defensive roles.
An ability the Soldier is infamous for is the spectacular rocket jump. In defiance of all good sense and judgement, the Soldier can point his rocket launcher downward, leap into the air and fire, propelling himself skyward at the cost of some health (though as the Soldier attests, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”) This ability allows the Soldier to pop up in unexpected places and reach areas off-limits even to the Scout and his leaping prowess.
Though he wanted desperately to fight in World War 2, the Soldier was rejected from every branch of the U.S. military. Undaunted, he bought his own ticket to Europe. After arriving and finally locating Poland, the Soldier taught himself how to load and fire a variety of weapons before embarking on a Nazi killing spree for which he was awarded several medals that he designed and made himself. His rampage ended immediately upon hearing about the end of the war in 1949.
A lil’ backround on our 4 heroes
Lola tracks down four of SA’s top TF2 soldiers, Devon ‘Raliator’ Williams, Reino ‘Skillbill’ Jansen van Rensburg, Michael ‘Semper’ Morley and Nico “KunG Fu” van der Merwe. Join her as she delves into the psych of these four mad boys — er, men.
WaRhammY on Raliator: “I have known Raliator for nearly 10 years, we used to play Tribes 2 together, even from then he’s been an exceptional gamer. Moving from there to Unreal to Dota to Hon to TF2 to League of Legends, always staying at a high level. A few months back he was living in England and he started a TF2 team. He took them from div3 to premier in a matter of months. It is a testiment to his ability as a leader and a pro gamer. Besides all of that Devon ‘Raliator’ Williams has also been a good friend, so good infact we have shared a bed before ^_^ he is gentle but firm ladies I can tell you that ;)”
Enemy on skillbill: “skillbill has been playing TF2 competitively from it’s beginning, he was initially a demoman, but then moved onto soldier. He has always had a short temper, but cools down almost immediately, a very rational guy and a natural leader, hugely influential on my development as a demoman. He has never really been able to quite tear himself away from TF2 for too long. I also know he’s short and likes boerewors.”
Alien on Semper: “I’ve found that he is a great player within all games that he enrolls himself in. My experience with him has been a very interesting one, at first I never liked him, he seemed arrogant, but then I got to know him. I realised that he’s a well rounded type of guy, he has a great sense of humour, makes jokes constantly, some of them dry, some over the top but most of them fantastic. I’ve noticed that when he plays a game he gives it his best and he enjoys himself thoroughly (although he rages occasionally, much like everyone else). Overall I think he’s a great guy, great player and a fantastic captain to have.”
Fair on Kung Fu: “He is one of the most modest, friendly and fantastic players in TF2. Founder of the group called KunG-TR, that gives support to new and competitive players seeking a home. Although he is currently clanless, he is one of the most respected players and IS admins in South Africa. He has a huge amount of friends on steam, this must account for why he always has a medic on the public servers and gets the “pocket role” we all so adore in publics. He is a loveable guy, and one of the calmest and welcoming people I know.”
What where your favourite games played?
Raliator: “All time favourite games have to be: Unreal Tournament, Tribes 2, DotA, Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, The Left 4 Dead series and of course, TF2.”
skillbill: “My favorite games from a competitive perspective include Natural Selection, TF2, and Starcraft 2. I am also a big fan of the Quake series, although I have not played it seriously.”
Semper: “TF2 and League of Legends.”
Kung Fu: “Unreal Tournament, Natural Selection, Guild Wars and TF2”.
Tell us about your competitive gaming history.
Raliator: (Apparently his competitive gaming history is as big as his ego, so we keeping it at his TF2 history). “I’ve played in a couple of teams, the main ones being pG, swift and Master. When I was in Europe I made a team and went from div 3 to premier in 2 months, we beat teams such as dignitas 5-0.”
Skillbill: “I started off with Counter Strike 1.3 back in 2001, played that for roughly a year or so before taking up Natural Selection at the end of 2002 when it was released. I lived in London for 2 years where I played for arguably the best European NS team for about half a year before I stopped playing games competitively. I got drawn into competitive gaming again with the release of TF2, being involved with 3 clans: Verve, Pantheon, and Brazen.”
Semper: “I started with TF2 and got into a little bit of Call of Duty Modern Warfare but thats about it.”
Kung Fu: “TF2 was my first game I played competitively, all the other games I just played against friends at LAN’s or my brothers at home.”
Why do you prefer to play soldier?
Raliator: “I really enjoy soldier, as its one of the easiest classes to play ;). I play it because for me it’s the most fun class in TF2, not only is it a sturdy class, but it has the ability to be very creative. Usually the class to be ubered in a pickup/clannie, a lot a responsibility is placed on you to layeth the smacketh down on the enemy team’s candy ass. There is lots of rocket jumping involved and the airshots ofc :D”
Skillbill: “It’s the class that when played correctly, has the biggest influence on the outcome of a match. The class rewards a player that can analyze the game well, as soldier is all about timing and aggression. It is the ultimate class in TF2 with regards to controlling the flow of play.”
Semper: “I started playing soldier after I watched a Reptile frag video, it inspired me to start the soldier class.” (Reptile, the Movie)
Kung Fu: “Well to me as a soldier you can do it all. A demoman is all about projectiles and a scout is all about hitscan. The soldier has both. Also as a soldier you can change your position, or a game situation with one rocket jump in the right place at the right time. The main reason why I chose soldier would be because soldier was my best class out of all when I played pickups and started out. I brought a bigger benefit to the team playing soldier than any other class. Flying through the air, midairing/juggling players or over abusing the splash damage of rockets. That’s the soldier for you!”
What scripts, configs, hud and special settings do you use to play soldier?
Raliator: “My config is my secret to orsimness, I therefor can’t share it. I use auto-aim.exe and just play as I go ;). I use a crouch jump script.”
Skillbill: “I use a rocket jump script, Quantum’s FPS config, and the default hud. As far as in-game menu options go, I enable the numerical damage display, and enable hitsounds.”
Semper: “I don’t use anything , no huds, no scripts, I only use default settings.”
Kung Fu: “When I started playing roaming soldier I thought to myself that my main focus is to be a decent roamer and make as little mistakes as possible, so I used a rocket jumping script seeing as the roaming soldier is the one that is suppose to jump all over the place throughout the game. I always want to jump as far as possible and as quick as possible, with a script on my MB2 it was simple. Then I formatted my PC and decided not to put it back in, I have never used it after that again. I use an HD graphics config, rate 60 000, cl_cmdrate 66, cl_updaterate 66, cl_interp_ratio 1 and cl_interp 0. HUD: I always used the “Community HUD” until I starting playing demoman, then I went to PVHUD. I actually just changed to Garm3n-HUD yesterday. Feel free to add me on steam or pop me a message if you want help with your Config/HUD/TF2 settings.”
What skills do you need in order to be a good soldier?
Raliator: “Soldiers need good awareness, its a lot easier to kill someone if you know where they are coming from. You need to be able to swap between roaming and pocket, as well as have good shotgun aim, not just rockets.”
Skillbill: “From a strategic viewpoint, you require the ability to read the game through predicting what your opponents will try to do next. From a combat perspective, aim, movement, positioning, and rocket jumping are all key aspects to being a good soldier. You also need to prioritise your targets correctly – many soldiers mistakingly always go for the flair, when there are more important things happening around them. Awareness is the key. You need to time your ubers correctly in combination with your medic, and you have to be able to utilize ubers to the most of their potential.”
Semper: “You have to be able to rocket jump , preferably without a script. Play with the team, it’s very important that a soldier works with his/her team. Lastly, you’ve got to get those midairs.”
Kung Fu: “Awareness, prediction, game sense, master the rocket launcher, learn to juggle players, learn to midair, learn how to rocket jump.”
What skills do you need in order to be a good roaming/pocket soldier?
Raliator: “You still need both of those skills, not just roaming or pocket. You also need to be creative and not use the same tricks, as the enemy will know. On roaming solly you need to be aware of the locations of key players such as the medic and demo on both teams. Creativity is a huge must, if you jump the same area every round the demo will sticky it, and you will die.”
Skillbill: “As a pocket you must be able to protect your medic, and position yourselves correctly according to the context that you find yourself in.”
Semper: “Map awareness is key, you need to know what you are doing and when to do it. I mainly pocket soldier and it is VERY important that a pocket watches his/her medics health bar closely. Many times a medic will go down to scouts because the pocket was not watching the medic closely enough. A roamer needs to make sure he works with the team in order to get the kill. A roamer usually tries to jump the enemy medic in order to give his/her team the advantage.”
Kung Fu: “Basically same as above, awareness, prediction, timing and game sense.”
Tips on the art of rocket jumping.
Raliator: “srs?” (This was all I could get from him on this question, whatapro).
Skillbill: “There are two types of rocket jumps. The first of which is just doing a RJ from the ground, which gives you a lot of hight. The second type is from a wall, which doesnt launch you as high as a ground jump, but it propells you further. Both are executed in the same fashion. First you aim directly behind to your side, facing the wall or the ground. Then you press jump and crouch simultaneously, and shortly after doing this you fire your rocket. Lastly, after being launched, you must flick your mouse into the direction you want to travel, whilst using your strafe keys to controll your movement in the air”
Semper: “Well it is quite easy actually. In my case I use the control, WASD keys and C ( not spacebar, it be broken). Don’t use a script, if you cannot rocket jump then you cannot play soldier. Just practise it, it will come right eventually.”
Kung Fu: “Rocket jumping isn’t hard at all. You could either use a basic rocket jumping script like a lot of soldiers use or just press Ctrl + Space + MB1(flick to point behind you on the ground) and off you go! It’s when you want to start trick jumping when things will take some effort to master, but to just rocket jump, just create a server and practice till you get it right. There are loads of videos on youtube that will show you how to do it, much easier to do when you see it than when you read how to.”
Tips on how to get those mid-airs.
Raliator: “Mid airs are just practice. There are a lot of practice maps out there to use, such as MGE_training which will help you get your aim in, but mostly its about repetition and learning projection patterns.”
Skillbill: “Aim and predict.”
Semper: “Bot maps, watching frag vids and just playing competitive TF2.”
Kung Fu: “Practice makes perfect. What I did was to practice on aim maps like tr_walkway, yes the bots are really predictable, but you get the basics under the belt. Then you play MGE vs the best soldiers you can find, only way you’ll get better. Prediction is the key, all good soldiers air strafe when jumping, the more you play against soldiers that does this, the quicker it will become second nature to you to. Just flick and airshot them as if they not even strafing. The trick is not to midair someone, it’s to hit him in a way that you can get the second shot in and kill him. If you just midair him and he drops to heal and jump again it just safes you some time, but getting the kill is what you looking for to give your team the number advantage. So if you do miss the second hit and you know the player is low, call it so your team can push on him and kill him.”
Tips on what to do with those annoying scouts.
Raliator: “The easiest way to kill a scout is either wait for him to touch the ground, or pull out your shotgun, just remember, you might be an easier target to hit than him, but you also have more health than him.”
Skillbill: “Be aware of where the scouts are by monitoring the positions of your own scouts. That way you can accurately assert whether there are gaps on your flanks that your opponent’s scouts could have exploited, and then position and prepare yourself accordingly.”
Semper: “Depending on the skill of the scouts, tell your team to focus them. If that’s not the case then just be aware and play safe untill you have the go ahead from the rest of your team.”
Kung Fu: “Again, just practice. See with good scouts, you can’t let them get close to your medic. If a scout gets a meatshot on your medic and then only do you see the scout or your medic calls it, 10 to 1 your medic will go down. If it’s not by the hands of the scout attacking he will call medic low and the other scout or roaming soldier will jump and kill your medic. So the trick is to prevent a scout from getting close to your medic in the first place. It all comes down to awareness and communication. Look everywhere when you walk with your medic or push to a point. Scouts can do A LOT of damage, but they only have 125HP.
The biggest mistake a lot of soldiers do is to only use their rockets on scouts, get in the habit of finishing scouts off with your shotgun once you get a 90+ damage rocket in on him. Also you get scouts that jump a lot and you get scouts they just go straight for the target and hardly jump around. When you dealing with a “jumper”, wait for him to do his second jump before you shoot your rocket, else he will just jump again in the air and dodge it or only take some splash damage. When you dealing with a scout that doesn’t jump, aim for his feet to stop him from running and finish him with your shotgun.”
Tips on playing solly as part of the team.
Raliator: “Well I play roam soldier, the main thing about roam soldier is well, roaming 😀 You sometimes have to be the meatshield, jumping in ahead of the team so they can cover with spam, or dive the medic to force uber, or cover flanks with scouts. My team mostly uses me as a DM bot though :/”
Skillbill: “Make sure you are where you need to be at the right time in order to assist teammates that are in danger of dying. When in doubt, stick with the medic, and make sure you protect him above anything else.”
Semper: “Soldiers are an important part of the team because of the constant splash damage spam that they can deal. They are great team players. A big tip as one of the soldiers in the team is to focus a certain class down, for instance the demo or the medic. Two soldiers working together can be an unstoppable combo.”
Kung Fu: “Pocket: Awareness would be the most important thing as ‘n pocket soldier, your job is to keep the medic alive no matter what, because you are permanently healed and the main uber target. You tend to get a lot of kills, but don’t get over eager, also don’t be too defensive. The trick is timing, with the medic on you, you can tank and kill a lot of players if you catch them off guard. Don’t be afraid to jump on a team and help your fellow soldier in trouble, just call it so that the medic can then switch to the demo. A lot of pockets make the mistake of thinking they have to be with their medic 100% of the time, this is a big mistake, because as a soldier you can jump spam 2 rockets and jump back much quicker than a demo could. Also don’t be too aggressive and just jump around leaving your medic alone all the time and exposed to scouts. A lot of players will tell you midairing is just an extra, they are wrong. It is your job to keep roaming soldier off your medic and seeing as most of the time it’s the enemy roaming soldier jumping your medic, if you see this and midair him, stopping him from getting close to your medic, it takes a lot of stress off your medic and makes him much safer. Last but not least, don’t just jump away when the enemy uber and you dont have uber, your medic > you, juggle the uber, waste their uber and maybe you save your medic, causing your team to have uber advantage.
Roaming: As roaming soldier you should not worry about your score at all, let’s take cube for example. At the end of a game he would have 15-20 kills, but 12-15 of those kills would be medic kills. As roaming you should basically just do what the word tells you, be unpredictable, be where players won’t expect you, support your scouts from time to time, but don’t always do this, a good team would just read your play and send their roaming to help their scouts. 2 Scouts vs 2 Scouts with a roaming is what you looking for, you spam your rockets and call the low scouts, then your scouts finish them off and you flank the other team. A roaming soldier is the class that is least important to have alive, by saying this I mean you can die if what you did benefitted your team. For example killing the medic or demo, forcing uber and calling it to your team. Sometimes you are just a distraction to the other team, causing them to lose focus or team structure and then your team wipe them easily. You are the “Doing the dirty jobs” guy, when a sniper is being annoying, you can be sneaky, kill him and then you are behind the other team most of the time, spam some rockets, be annoying and call for support. Sometimes you jump in just to make important classes like the demo or medic low for your team to come in and finish him, a good roaming soldier would be a soldier that “makes things happen” or “creates opportunity” for your team to do something. NEVER hesitate, this is the most important thing as a roaming soldier, seeing as you are the one that is suppose to support either your fellow soldier or scouts. When you hesitate you are in the middle and not helping your team at all, most of the times you will just get killed. Analyze the position of the other team, decide what you want/need to do and do it!”
Advice to new players wanting to play soldier.
Raliator: “Practice practice practice, the main thing is to get your aim and gamesense in, and although this applies to all classes, on roam soldier its probably the most important, because if you jump in to force an uber, and you miss all your shots, you’re going to die, and the other team will have the advantage, and you’ll probably have costed your team a control point. So play pubs, play aim maps, play MGE, whatever it takes to get your aim on form, and then you’re ready to rock n’ roll :D/ BOOM BABY!”
Skillbill: “Watch replays of top American and European clans. Find a soldier whose particular playstyle you want to adopt, and then incorporate what that player does into your own style of play.”
Semper: “Midairs are the best, watch a frag vid on mid airs and you will be inspired to be awesome. Constantly try and learn from local players on how to play soldier if you are struggling. At the end of the day, my advice to all you new/inspired soldiers, is just have fun playing the game and I am sure you will come right.”
Kung Fu: “Not much I can say here other than, practice a lot, play pickups, spec other top soldiers and be very aware of your surroundings. Learn through your mistakes, don’t do stupid things over and over. Play a game, record it, watch your demo[POV] and see where you dropped your guard or jumped when you should have stayed. You can get demos or spec any soldiers in TCM, Tt, Epsilon, ex, kick, redcode, ect.”
What has been your best moment in TF2 as a soldier?
Raliator: ” Getting a 6 man against epsilon in the wireplay semi finals. I was out of rockets after killing the soldiers, demo and medic and I pulled out my shotgun, and 2 shot both the scouts and got the cap. It was the most satisfying cap ever.”
Skillbill: “No particular moments stand out, but I will always remember the awesome times I have had back in the Verve/Torment/Brazen era when sentient was my medic – we were an unstopable combo.”
Semper: “I have had many awesome moments in this game, but my best moment was forming the clan Severe. We grew as a team and we became friends, we were not the most mature bunch, but who cares we had fun and at the end of the day that’s what counts.”
Kung Fu: “Uhm this is a hard one, I would have to say when I was in Eq. Eq played @ that night on badlands, @ pushed on middle with uber and Xterminator (Scout) and myself went through house to go backcap, Kaboos and Enemy fell back to stop us immediately, they jumped for spiral and I midaired both of them with one rocket, we capped the point and then Xterminator ran and capped last and won the round. Still lost the game though. Or any of the times Fair and myself jumped someone synced even though we did not call to do so.”
So what does it take to be an exceptional soldier?
Raliator: “Have a massive ego with the track record to prove those claims, but above all else be creative.”
Skillbill: “Watch demos from top overseas teams and take me on as your mentor.”
Semper: “Don’t be a sissy and use scripts, learn to rocket jump like a man and always aim to have fun.”
Kung Fu: “Become a student of all things solly, practice till you have blisters on your mouse hand and ‘pro-ness’ will be yours.”