by Torin “Sigma” Stepan
The medic is the core of every 6v6 TF2 team. In the standard 6v6 format, each team is limited to one medic, and each team will use that medic constantly throughout the entire game on every map. Your team’s medic is the cornerstone of your ability to control the pace of the game – in the 7 or 8 seasons that I have played medic, I can count the number of times I’ve switched classes mid-game on one hand.
The medic’s main purpose is to keep his team healthy so that they have every edge possible when it comes time to trade rockets with the opposing team. A medic can bring a player to 150% of their normal health (known as “buffing”), which gives an overwhelming advantage against a player at normal health. In any situation where one team’s medic is respawning while the other is alive, there is huge time pressure on the team without the medic, as it is often a matter of seconds before the enemy medic has healed enough to give his team a massive advantage.
Beyond healing and buffing players, the medic has another mechanic that TF2 practically revolves around: the ubercharge. A medic generates charge at a rate of 2.5% per second while healing players that are below 150% health, and 1.25% per second while healing players that have full buffs. During downtime in matches, where team are positioning themselves without engaging each other, you will almost always see a soldier constantly damaging himself so that the medic can build uber as fast as possible. Once he has 100% uber, the medic can deploy his charge (commonly called popping), which makes both him and the player he is healing invincible for up to 9 seconds. An uber allows your team to break through choke points and engage the enemy without having to take damage from spammed explosives, which makes it the driving force behind many pushes. Of course, the ability to wreck havoc on the enemy team without taking any damage is incredibly strong, to the point that the outcome of a single uber frequently determines which team wins the round.
Due to these two mechanics, the medic creates a flow in the game that goes beyond how many players are alive on each side. Who has the health advantage? A buffed scout can win 1v3 against players in the red. Who has the uber advantage? You may outnumber your opponents, but if their medic has uber while yours doesn’t, you need to be extremely careful to not get caught in a position where they can kill your medic or other players. As a result of this, many strategies revolve around sending multiple players into the enemy team on a suicide mission to kill the enemy medic or force him to pop his uber. As long as your medic stays alive, you will have an uber advantage once your players respawn, making your next push easier.
Consequently, a medic spends much of his time as the primary target for the other team. As a medic, your weapons are weaker than every other class, and all of the standard competitive classes can move faster than you, so it is very important to be constantly aware of where threats could be coming from. Playing from a safe position that gives your team time to defend you from incoming enemies is critical to prevent the enemy team from forcing you to pop or killing you and taking an advantage. Finding the best position, managing your team’s health, using uber effectively, and communicating all of these things to your team are the key skills that let a medic succeed and lead his team to victory.