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Being a useful MvM Pyro
By Rurre and 1 collaborators
Well, it's the Pyro, what do you need to know? You just w+m1 around, right? Wrong. There's a lot more to it. My second guide in the How to be a useful MvM player type person series.
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Introduction

So, you jump into a game, pick the Pyro, go Puff-n-Sting some people with your usual loadout... easy. Wait, what game mode are we talking about again? It's a bit different in MvM. Forget about your usual Degreaser Pyro loadout because we're building a new loadout! It's going to be a loadout that's much more effective than a simple Degreaser Pyro.

As in my other guides, I will be posting random MvM facts throughout the guide to keep you entertained, sort of. *Need to get some first, will update later*

Let's get started.
Loadout: Primary
Pyro's role in MvM can range from destroying waves of Robots, Spy checking, to killing the Medics. "But anyone can do that," you may say. That's true, however, you need to take one thing into consideration. Pyro's unique ability - his airblast. It's extremely useful and can be used to airblast bomb bots, Medics and can greatly slow down Giant Robots as well as Sentry Busters.

Depending on the style that you play, you have the following choices:
  • The Backburner
  • The Phlogistinator
  • The Flamethrower

Now, you may wonder why there is no Degreaser in the list. It's simple - IT SUCKS! The Degreaser deals 10% less damage than any other primary the Pyro has. If you're in close-range combat like his primary is intended for, you'll most likely just burn everything in sight. This makes the Degreaser's 65% weapon switch pointless. Why would we want something that's less effective than everything else he has?

The Backburner
Wait a second. Before you post rage comments about me being automatically wrong for even going over this, let's think for a moment. The advantage of the Backburner is that it deals Critical Hits from behind. Even though the Backburner uses up a ton of ammo when you airblast, it's good to use for destroying those pesky, Giant Quick-Fix Medics. It's like a free Crit Canteen. However, you shouldn't rely on the Backburner if you need to be airblasting a lot. Instead, you should switch to it when the situation calls for it, then switching back to a more reliable flamethrower without upgrading the Backburner.

The Phlogistinator
How should I put this? Uh, it's the Phlogistinator. It does damage. Any Flamethrower does, but this does A LOT of damage. Despite this, people don't like to see a Phlogistinator Pyro since he can't airblast. This makes them automatically assume that the Phlogistinator Pyro is useless and a waste of space. Now, this is not always the case since you can situationally switch to the Phlogistinator to assist in destroying the tank, before switching back to something else. It does enough damage to not need upgrades, if you are using it this way. A support Phlogistinator Pyro can replace a high damage output class such as the Heavy, if there is already a Pyro focusing on airblasting or you have Heavies who know how to use their knockback rage properly. You might not even need airblast on easier difficulties and could just stick to the Phlogistinator.

The Flamethrower (or Rainblower)
This is the most basic and straightforward flamethrower. It isn't special in any way, except that it deals more damage than the Degreaser. Even so, it's the only flamethrower that can efficiently use ammo when airblasting while also dealing a considerable amount of damage. In my opinion, it's the best flamethrower to use in MvM.

REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN SITUATIONALLY SWITCH BETWEEN FLAMETHROWERS
Loadout: Secondary
The secondary that a Pyro uses, matters more than you might think. The Flamethrower does just part of his job. The secondary weapon is what allows the Pyro to be effective at mid and far range.
Your choices are:
  • The Scorch Shot
  • The Flaregun
  • The Shotgun

The Scorch Shot
The Scorch Shot is a pretty weird weapon. It's questionably useful in theory because it allows you to "airblast," at a distance. Phlogistinator Pyros usually carry one of these to compensate for the lack of an airblast. Even though it allows you to push stuff around, the fact that you can't control the direction of the push, makes it a bit of a crutch to use. Upgrading speed on it isn't very useful in my opinion due to it dealing low damage.
The Flare Gun
Ah, the Flare Gun, my weapon of choice. The only upgrades this baby needs is 3 Reload Speed upgrades and 2 Firing Speed upgrades. 1 ammo upgrade wouldn't hurt to add. After that, it can just spit out Crit flares at high speeds, dealing quite a bit of damage to anything. It can easily kill Scouts, Medics, and Snipers. If you're able to land the flares in rapid succession, it's pretty much instant death for any of the unfortunate, low health classes. It happens to have a decent DPS (damage-per-second), that could rival the Flamethrower's. The Flare Gun is useful to spam at giants while at a relative safe distance, as it does a surprising amount of damage. They're big, so it's hard to miss them. You do 90 per flare against them and with the Reload Speed upgrades, as well as Firing Speed Upgrades, it makes quite a difference.

The Shotgun
I'll just be honest. I never used the shotgun in MvM. I feel the Pyro already has the Flamethrower for close combat and needs a Flare Gun to extend his influence into the mid-long range territory.
Loadout: Melee
The melee weapon that the Pyro uses has a pretty big impact on what he can do, depending on the melee weapon itself.

Your choices are:
  • The Backscratcher
  • The Powerjack
  • The Axtinguisher
  • The Third-Degree
  • The Neon Anihilator

The Backscratcher
If you have no medic, or are not planning on healing from dispensers, you should definitely consider using this. Even if you won't be meleeing anything, its passive ability of making health packs restore more health is a good enough reason to have this equipped. On the other hand, standing near dispensers or being healed by medics would make your health refill at a really slow rate. It can be a good weapon for getting rid of those pesky Steel Gauntlet Heavies since they're resistant to bullets and explosives, while very vulnerable to melee weapons.


The Powerjack
If the Backscratcher's health-pack-regen-bonus isn't a good enough reason to not use (almost) anything else, and you aren't planning on meleeing anything, you could just equip the Powerjack. With the Powerjack, when low on health, you might want to attempt to melee kill a low health class such as a Sniper to quickly get enough health to be ready to go back into battle. Every melee weapon can do that with the Health on Kill upgrade, but the Powerjack does it for free. We don't want to waste money on pseudo-important stuff, now do we?


The Axtinguisher
Yet, another good weapon for taking care of those Steel Gauntlets. This one, on the other hand, is also great against giants because it can deal a guaranteed 150+ damage per hit when they're on fire. It's better than hoping for the Backscratcher to crit. However, the Axtinguisher is useless against tanks and provides no useful passive ablities like the rake does.


The Third-Degree
It seems more useful than it actually is. The ability to kill 8 Medics healing one giant Heavy in 1 swing sounds great in theory. However, in practice, some Medics uber before the damage gets transferred around all the connected bots. This kills only a portion of the Medics in the process. Not worth it.



The Neon Anihilator
Probably the most useful melee around. Not only does it help support your fellow engineer (because let's be fair everyone has their accidents once in a while) by removing those pesky sappers off his sentry but it also has the ability to crit on bots covered in milk or jarate.



Note: The Homewrecker does not deal any bonus damage to neither robots nor tanks.
Upgrades
Depending on the difficulty and map, your initial upgrades can vary. You should mostly go for the same upgrades towards the end though.

Here's my personal upgrade priority preference:
1. Airblast Force x2
2. Ammo Capacity x1
3. Flare Gun Reload Speed x2
4. Flamethrower Damage x1
5. Flare Gun Ammo Capacity x1
6. Flare Gun Firing Speed
7. Health on Kill
8. Various Resistances
9. Movement Speed x1
10. Everything else

*A good way to start is by upgrading airblast once or twice and ammo capacity. This will ensure that you can airblast bomb carriers and stop giants in case you need to.

*Next, you should focus on some damage. Alternatively, you could upgrade reload speed on your Flare Gun and go towards a Fast Firing Flare Gun, before getting damage upgrades on your Flamethrower. Usually in the first few waves, it isn't really necessary. Make sure to have it upgraded later though.

*As a Pyro, you definitely want some health on kill upgrades since you'll be close to enemies often. What better way to heal yourself than kill robots?
Strategy
Depending on your loadout there's different roles you could be undertaking.

As a Phlogistinator Pyro, your main role is to deal damage. It's easy, and you can do that way too well. Your main upgrades for the Phlogistinator Pyro should be damage, ammo and health on kill. You can also pack some movement speed and resistances. Since you deal a lot of damage close range. you don't need to waste money on long range damage and just let your team take care of that. Equipping the Scorch Shot ensures that you aren't completely helpless against Bomb Carriers at range. It's nothing compared to an airblast, but it still disrupts bomb carriers and bounces Steel Gauntlets. Remember that having no airblast makes you a support subclass. If there is no other Pyro, and you don't trust that your Heavy can use Knockback Rage properly, you should NOT play Phlogistinator Pyro. You can get away with this on easy difficulties like Normal or Intermediate though.

As a Flamethrower Pyro, you mostly want to keep an eye on the bomb. Since you can airblast, it's easy for you to push bomb carriers and Ubered Medics, into environmental hazards such as pits:

Doing so will cause the bomb to reset, making it go back to the beginning of the map.

You can also separate the Bomb Carrier from the rest of the group and, without killing him (if it's a rather harmless class, such as one that can only melee), airblast him into a position where it will be harder for the other robots to get the bomb (after you kill him of course). For example:

Blasting the bomb into this canyon, assuming you have an Engineer covering it, will make it very hard for robots to get it. After someone actually gets it, you can airblast them into the canyon again(Be careful to not blast them into the bomb cap with a fully upgraded airblast). Giants can also be airblasted off the shack, buying your team time to kill them.

There are plenty of areas where you can set the bomb back. Even though it does not reset, it still buys you and your team precious time. Doing this multiple times, is key to winning a hard mission (assuming there is no tank).
 
Originally posted by Random MvM fact:
Pushing a medic's patient into a pit will make the medic follow him and suicide.

As a Pyro with a Flare Gun, you can kill any low-health class in 2 flares. Low health classes include: Snipers, Medics and Scouts. That means you can be pretty effective in killing Medics before they have a chance to uber.
Enemies
As a Pyro you are mostly expected to do one thing - set everything on fire of course! That usually works well except in some special cases.

The Sentry Buster
The sentry buster is a special type of enemy designed to, well, bust sentries. Upon spawning it is announced and a flashing icon appears on the hud followed by a distinct beeping.

Due to it having a lot of health (2500) you would normally let the Engineer take care of the buster himself, but in situations with lots of enemies being in close proximity to the Engineer and your team you would try to slow it down a bit by airblasting it. If you are confident you and your team can kill the buster and/or there are no enemies around, you could repeatedly airblast it into the air until it's health reaches 0, then quickly back away.
While it does not attack you directly, it can still kill you if you are in its explosive range so better keep an eye out for him.

Note: You can airblast a sentry buster that is about to explode.

Originally posted by Random MvM Fact:
During humiliation sentry busters can attack Players and Buildings without exploding.

The Steel Gauntlet
The Steel Gauntlet is a 50% larger in size heavy wielding the fists of steel. Due to the fact that these heavies have the Fists of Steel equipped, they receive a lot less damage from bullet and explosive damage sources, however they also receive a lot more damage from melee weapons. Because of that, The Axtinguisher and The Backscratcher are very useful against them.

The Uber-Medic
The Uber-Medic robots are, again, a special type of robot that should be dealt with carefully. Although they pose almost no direct threat themselves, they can be a big problem due to them being accompanied by another class all the time. Robot Medics uber when their or their patient's health is low so to be killed, they have to be killed with a high damage blow. Critflares* and Axtinguishers work well against them.

It is good idea to separate the Medic from his target before killing him.
Even if the medic does manage to uber, you can easily airblast him away from his heal target because he poses no threat alone.

*Crit Flares refer to Critical Flares shot by the Flare Gun, usually when they hit an already burning target.

The Super Scout
The Super Scout are one of those very annoying enemies. Regardless of how much firepower you and your team has and how low the Super Scout's health is, it can easily slip past all your defenses and lose you the round if not stopped or slowed down in time. Against them, you should just airblast repeatedly and wait for your team to kill them. Since their health is relatively low, it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Note: It is always a good idea to flame something before airblasting.

The Giant Charged Soldier
These big soldiers are usually really easy to distinguish from the others because they carry an original*. Because these guys have a 100% crit chance and fire slow rockets they are very handy to have around. Airblasting those rockets back at the soldier or even into other bots (or a tank) is relatively easy. It could be a bit hard to get used to the slow moving rockets and not airblast them in time, but once you get in the rhythm, you can easily airblast the rocket the second the soldier fires it.

*The original is a rocket launcher remade in tribute to quake's original rocket launcher.

The Spy
You should keep a lookout for these guys. Spies spawn in packs and when they do they're usually not announced (but their icon does appear on the HUD) until they are spotted or until they stab someone. Since you can easily spycheck* everything it should be your sole duty to find these Spies and put an end to their evil tyranny. Well okay, maybe not THAT dramatic, but you should definitely watch your team's back and flame everything suspicious.
It doesn't sound like much of a problem, but if you ever played Wave 666, you know how much of a problem 80 Spies can be while there are 3 tanks on a map. A Pyro is crucial in destroying the Spies in that case.
Outro
That's it for now.

Feel free to post feedback in the comments.
Thanks for reading!

Also check out my other guide(s):
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=124646903
32 Comments
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I knew that pyro is usefull with that backburner or flamethrower.
RabidBurp Mar 1 @ 7:56am 
The Homewrecker is soley for supporting your team's Engie during Spy attacks. It does trump the Neaon Annihilator since Homewrecker can remove sappers with 1 hit while the Neon requires 2 hits.
Shinmyoumaru Sukuna Jun 15, 2013 @ 4:10am 
Great guide. The powers of phlog pyro vs tank are truly amazing.
RastahMan® Jun 2, 2013 @ 8:08am 
Very interesting series.
I hope you will continue it and i cant wait for Spy:p.Cause i dunno how to touch it in MvM.
Rurre  [author] Jun 2, 2013 @ 5:05am 
Yeah, I've been willing to add the anihilator to the guide for a while now. Finally stopped being lazy and did it now.
Whiteless.exe Jun 2, 2013 @ 2:05am 
I'd Like to point out that the Neon Annihilator is a better choice when playing expert or any tour that does not include engiebots.
Rurre  [author] May 18, 2013 @ 3:29am 
I personally thing you'd better use stock instead of the degreaser, some people in the comments dissagree. Decide yourself on what you want faster switch or more damage.
bwaseous May 17, 2013 @ 5:44pm 
hey error can you use the degreeser?
Rurre  [author] May 16, 2013 @ 6:55am 
Yeah, I did forget it. I'll add it sometime
RabidBurp May 16, 2013 @ 6:52am 
You left out the Neon Annihilator (Melee). It's great for supporting your team's Engie(s) during Spy attacks and deals 100% crits against Milked/Jarate'd robots.