Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

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Hybrid Knight for beginners
By ゴ
Covering the basics of playing Hybrid Demoknight in casual, Highlander or a 6v6 environment. Though I really recommend against playing him in the last two if you're just starting out.
 
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Introduction to Hybrid Knighting
Greetings, traveller! I see you've chosen to either play or learn about the glorious and totally not easily counterable by scouts and snipers Demoman subclass known as the Hybrid knight, which is a subclass that trades the powerful area denial offered by the Stickybomb launcher for insane mobility and survivability, and every once in a while maybe a Melee crit or two. Anyhow, thanks for dropping by, and I'll share with you my experience in over 150 hours of Demoknight. Sit back, grab some whiskey and let's get started on Shield choices and when to pick which.
Shields
The demoman has an extremely large arsenal of secondary weapons including, among others, the Insta-Win launcher (pictured right), which is actually a reskin of Gaben's fist, reaching through the screen and punching you every time you die to it. That's what it feels like at least, which is even more reason to go around ramming people in-game instead.

There are some basic shield mechanics that apply to every one: They all have some resistance to Fire or Explosion damage types and do damage upon hitting an enemy, which ramps up with charge time and collected heads with the Eyelander or Headtaker. Hitting an enemy with your melee weapon during a charge always gives you bonus damage, though how much varies. When you initiate a charge, you instantly get rid of all those pesky debuffs, including afterburn, Mad Milk, Jarate and bleed effects.

You've got three options for shields. The speedy, spammy one that makes you die a lot, the one that instantly kills everyone but the Heavy and the one that lets you survive a direct hit crocket while you're fully overhealed. Let's have a look at them in depth, shall we?

Tide Turner
The tide turner is probably the best choice if you're hybrid knighting because you either don't want to use the sticky launcher or love insane mobility. Because the Source engine is broken as hell, charging, then immediately turning in the correct way will result in you completely losing contact with the ground, flying across the map. This can also be done with other shields when you've got a sufficient angle and hit it right (a good example is the rock coming out of BLU spawn on Degroot Keep, which sends you flying all the way over the castle walls). If you'd like to look more into trimping and it's usage, take a look at this video:

However, while the mobility it offers may seem like it makes it the go-to choice for a Hybrid, it does have a considerable downside compared to the other shields: It's damage resistance. With a measly 15% explosive resistance, you'll still die in two pipes if you're at 170 health or less or using the Claidheamh Mòr. Yes, that's how you spell it. It took me two days to learn. The fire resistance doesn't anywhere near make up for the lack of survivability, at just 15%. This is barely noticeable in a 1v1 scenario with a Pyro, and barely takes into account with the insane number of them in the days after the Jungle Inferno release.

One interesting downside the Tide Turner has is that damage you take during a charge reduces the charge meter. When initiating a charge, if you take any damage at all before your charge meter gets into the yellow zone, you will lose 100% of your charge. However, after beginning one, damage you take drains your charge meter by 1% per damage point (e.g. 14 damage makes your charge 14% shorter). The upside that makes up for this is that any melee kills while you have it equipped instantly refill the meter by 75%. If you kill someone with your grenade launcher, however, it doesn't count. This doesn't overflow, if you kill someone with your melee before a charge you will not charge for 175% the time.

Impacting an enemy then immediately meleeing them will deal minicrit damage, which is +35%. This also applies if you strike an enemy mid-charge without impacting them.

Overall, while the Turner is interesting in it's own right, it's not especially suited for hybrid knights, as you'll frequently be using your shield to escape and taking damage there is something that needs to be considered.


Splendid Screen
This is where the line starts to become blurry. If you're a melee-oriented Hybrid, by all means, go ahead, but if you use melee and primary equally it might need some more thought. Let's give it a once-over.This is probably the second best choice mobility-wise, offering a +50% faster charge recharge rate. It's also insanely good as a DPS companion if you're focusing on melee, as it's got a +70% increase in charge impact damage, making the 0 head base damage 85, compared to the usual 50. This is enough to one-shot a Kunai spy with no stabs, but with no charge turning control, you're more likely to get matador-stabbed when trying to charge one down. This becomes irrelevant with another stat that it shares with the Chargin Targe, which is that impacting an enemy player gives you the ability to crit them if you swing shortly after. If you hit an enemy then immediately hit them, or hit an enemy while your charge meter is red, you'll deal 300% (or "crit") damage.

However, this shield also falls flat on it's face when you take into account it's resistance, which, while slightly greater than the Turner's, is also measly when playing with it. It is enough, however, to let you survive two pipes with ease, with 20% on both Fire and Explosive. A direct pipe will now only deal 80 damage to you, and you don't lose charge when you take damage, unlike the Turner.

In practice, this shield is definitely suited for the hit and run strategy of running in, dropping someone and running out while dealing as much damage as possible on the way. With a full shield impact and a melee crit, you can deal up to 280 damage, which can one-shot anything but the Heavy in a split second. All it requires is timing, prediction and accuracy.

Oh, also, it has four cool-♥♥♥ styles to pick from, one has an arrow stuck in it and the other has a hole where the arrow's supposed to be, one with a big spike on the front and one with a spike and an arrow

Chargin' Targe

And so we arrive at the mother of all shields. The Tupac of Demoknighting. This shield is by far my favorite, as the insane resistance combined with the melee crits combine to make the ideal Hybrid shield.The Chargin' Targe offers a full 50% fire damage resistance (same as the changed Darwin's Danger Shield) and 30% resistance to all explosive attacks. This means that a crit-boosted rocket will only deal 180 damage, which is easy to survive with the tiniest overheal. It also has the same melee crit mechanic as the Splendid Screen, which lets you charge in, drop a class, tank up to 150% your health's worth of damage and get out alive. It has some mechanics of it's own, including what's often referred to as "Pingponging", in which you hit a wall at an angle, bounce off and continue on a modified path. I don't have any video for this, but this can be performed in the 2fort sewers if you hit the walls at the right angle. A single charge can get you around three corners with no turning mechanics. This is also possible with the Screen, but is much more common with Targe players.

Melees
Your melee weapon is probably the most influential choice you have when picking weapons to play Hybrid (aside from maybe the Shield choice). I've made you a short list of what you can expect from most melee weapons and how to use them well.

Things that aren't swords
Stock melee bottle and reskins(Memory maker, Freedom staff, Scottish handshake, Necro Smasher etc.)
This weapon's insanely good if you're playing roughly 50/50 between your melee and primary. The fast deploy time and swing speed is good for dealing with pesky light classes like Scout, Engineer and Spy in a short time, and the bottle and scottish handshake actually finally break again!
(It's probably worth noting that a broken bottle does not do more damage or have less range than a regular bottle)

Ullapool CaberThis weapon is just... bad at this point. A full melee crit explosion only does 156 damage to your target, and it's got a slower swing speed and deploy speed, so it's only really useful for short blast jumps, which can also easily be done with your primary. Let's hope Volvo brings 'er back in a future update.

Pain TrainYou're probably the most team-oriented person I've ever seen. The Pain Train sacrifices bullet resistance for extra capping speed. It's a great weapon for Hybrids that don't use their melee much, as the extra capping speed combined with your extreme mobility results in you winning the game almost instantly if you're good at aiming pipes and your team is balanced with your enemies. However, you'll die a lot, especially to scouts, snipers, heavies, and engineers.

The Frying pan Hands down the best weapon in the game. Noone can deny it.

Swords
All of these have both a slow deploy and holster speed, making them more suited towards playing full Demoknight than being a Hybrid. However, if you're good with your timing, it's easy to dominate a game with these.

The Scotsman's Skullcutter
I really don't like this weapon. Just the pure damage buff combined with the ability to random crit make it the scummiest fallback weapon imaginable. Unless you're dogfighting with the BASE jumper, that is.
The Skullcutter is certainly an interesting weapon to say the least. Removing 10% of your speed in exchange for 15% more damage is an interesting idea, but I have to say, it's not especially suited for a hybrid knight. The slow deploy speed is extremely punishing and the damage bonus only comes into play when fighting the Medic, who you'll be able to demolish with two hits instead of the usual 3. The speed reduction also affects your charges; you'll only be able to charge for 90% of the distance. This may not seem like much on paper, but it really throws off your prediction in game.

The Eyelander (and reskins)
(the Horseless Headman's Headtaker and Nessie's Nine Iron are included here)
This is another O.G. Demoknight weapon, but after the recent-ish nerf to it's switch speed, it's slightly harder to work with. You'll have a starting health pool of 150 when you equip it, increasing by 15 max health per head you get, eventually maxing out at 210 health. I personally use this one a lot, as it lets you survive a melee crit with room to spare. However, you will start off weak and will have to primarily use your melee if you can to get heads, which leads to some really risky scenarios. Also, this doesn't have random crits, so you'll have to rely on timing and placement of shield charges rather than luck.

The Claidheamh Mòr
I'm so glad I finally learned how to spell that. This sword is dedicated more to the Demoknight end of the spectrum, but it's equally good on Hybrid. While the slow switch speed sucks, the 25% shield charge gain on kill is really powerful, especially with the tide turner, as well as the awesome stat of 0.5 second longer charge time, letting you go a full 225HMU or about 2 meters (6 feet) further than you would normally. This doesn't mess with prediction at all, and the 10% damage vulnerability is contradicted by the resistances on, well, any of the shields, really. All of them have the fire and explosive resistance to compensate for it. However, you will die faster to bullets and melees. Just as a little forewarning for ya. When you're using this sword, there's a good chance you'll almost never stop charging, as long as you're decapitating people and doing your job right.

The Half-Zatoichi
I don't use this much, so I probably don't have that much to say on it. The half base health gain on kill is awesome, especially when considering the overheal. This is my second choice aside from the Eyelander when it comes to picking swords for full Demoknight, but the 50 health loss when you sheath it without getting a kill is extremely punishing. As long as you make sure to get a kill before switching back, you should be alright though. It's all a matter of personal preference.

Persian Persuader
This weapon isn't usable as a Hybrid melee. The -80% primary ammo makes it completely obsolete when you're playing anything but full demoknight. It's still on this list however, if you're a demoknight that carries a Grenade Launcher for situations where they couldn't get by without it, go ahead, you can charge forever using it, however, anything else... You know. Just get used to shooting 6 pipes, reloading and being out of ammo.
Primary Weapons
just pick whichever launcher you like most really

loose cannon is fun

also you can hop around by jumping over a grenade right when it explodes
Charge management
We've all been in that situation. You know the one I mean, you're on 2fort, 20hp, running back to the battlements so you can charge back home to the resupply cabinet. You jump faithfully into the air, right click, and nothing happens whatsoever. You didn't have your charge saved.

While playing Hybrid, charge management is an extremely important part of staying alive and dealing damage. If you use your charge prematurely you'll end up not hitting your target, missing the trimp ramp you were aiming for, or even worse, running straight off a cliff. This section is dedicated entirely to helping you in knowing when to charge and when to save it for later.

Basic charging rules
Don't charge at Pyros. Pyro is an extremely effective close range class. If you charge at him to remove your afterburn, he'll just immediately reignite you. The best way to fluke a pyro is to switch to your melee so it looks like you're going to charge, then pull back the grenade launcher and pipe him immediately, giving him too little time to react and airblast it, unless he's like a modern-day Sketchek.

Don't charge through chokes if you can't see what's past them. A good example is last on Mercenary Park. If you charge straight in, you may immediately get demolished by a snety gun you couldn't see from the other side. This can also apply to many other areas, such as the intel room on 2fort, the corner by RED spawn on Upward, or even the last point on Borneo. This rule as a fun fact also applies to explosive jumping of any kind, so if you try playing another mobile variant of Scrumpyman, keep this in mind.

Smart players will learn to predict you. An example of this is when you charge a spy with anything but the tide turner and get instantly backstabbed (or "Matadored" if you're a spy main).
You'll charge straight to where you predict they'll be, they'll hang back for a short second, you'll go right past and they'll stab your exposed back long before you'll have a chance to react. Some explosive classes will also use your charge momentum to knock you off cliffs or ledges. A well-placed rocket can easily send you off flying through the air on a completely different path, unless you're using the Tide Turner, in which case you can easily air-strafe back. Always be wary if you're charging someone that's killed you before.

Don't forget your recharge time. After charging, with no outside influence, your shield will be ready again in 12 seconds (8 with the Splendid Screen). If you charge in somewhere, make sure you can survive for at least this time or long enough to get a melee kill if you're using the Turner.

This'll likely become second nature after playing a few hours. Maybe you'll even find some other cool stuff I didn't mention or didn't know about, which I'd love to hear about.
Potential questions you may or may not have
But, Non, you only have 710 hours in game! Why should I trust you? -Salty Steve
Of those 710 hours, about 280 of them were playing some form of Hybrid knight. I reset my stats every so often, so if you're wondering why they seem so low, there you go.

Why should I play hybrid knight? You and your sexy typing voice may have convinced me thus far,
but I need another reason
-Anonymous (definitely not me)
Well, maybe you shouldn't! Hybrid's a pretty difficult subclass to pick up if you're not great at aiming pipes or meleeing, and generally people don't especially like it when you can charge at 2.5x your usual speed and dispense some pipes on a dispenser.

Why are you writing this? -Concerned citizen
I've seen a lot of Hybrids running around completely cluelessly in recent times, I thought I could make an impact on that dynamic
(get it? impact? like when you hit someone with a shield har har ecks dee)

Hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you disagree with something I've said here, feel free to either contact me directly or just comment in the.. comment.. writing.... thing. Otherwise, if you have any actual criticism (not just "ur gai lol") I'd love to hear it.

Actual questions from actual people
From Discord:
Should I take everything you say as gospel? Is everything written here objective fact?
Absolutely not. Everything here is just basic things I've learned and experienced during my time playing Hybrid. If you want to use the persuader with the loose cannon and tide turner, go ahead, even though I'd never seriously use that loadout in my life.

From the TF2 subreddit
Why do you talk about the Targe like it's hands-down the best shield, and that all the others really suck?
I really like using the Targe, and it's by far my most used shield. I talk about it so highly because of the hundreds, maybe even thousands of times it's saved my life, but every shield is amazing in it's own sense.

Things people have said
From AllyKat
"As a hybrid knight main, i can not recommend the Splendid Screen enough. The quicker charges are a godsend for anyone using the eyelander, looking for quick escapes, and just all around being great. It also has 20% damage resistance to both explosions and fire, so its a pretty big thing when flares drop from 90 to 75~, and pills go from 100 to 80. Not as amazing as the Targe in terms of full on damage resists, but i think the Splendid works the best."

I've read every single question I've been asked and am working to improve this guide as much as I can. If you still see some stuff and go "yeah actually you're completely wrong about that, I mean, seriously, why would you put the milk before the cereal" or something like that, go ahead and tell me and I'll either rewrite it, debate it or completely remove or add a section if you're convincing enough

thank you to nate fox for unwillingly participating in this guide and tf2wiki for giving me some side images I can use to make my writing seem less terrible

2301 soldier mains were hurt in the making of this film.

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68 Comments
ewinemt Feb 16 @ 2:47am 
02 the from daes :steamhappy:
 [author] Feb 16 @ 1:16am 
The crit mechanic is still a thing with the Splendid Screen, but to get crits with other shields, you need fantastic timing, as you need to initiate the swing during the end of the charge, before you hit them but not so early that your charge ends before the impact. After some experimentation, I've found out you have exactly 0.2 seconds to do this.

Reason for this is that if you initiate a swing during the crit part of a charge, it will be a crit no matter what, and since melees take time to "swing", you can use this to your advantage.

Didn't know about the crit thing though, will definitely update. Thanks!
Shiro Feb 16 @ 12:32am 
also, one more notable mistake is that damage resist only resists normal version of that damage and not critical. Crocket will deal 90 explosive damage - 27 will be absorbed by Chargin Targe if you use it - but also 180 crit damage which is NOT absorbed. That being said, fully overhealed non-eyelander bootless demo (260 hp) can survive one (1) normal crocket direct hit with measly 17 hp. Worse with pyros, as backburner and phlog (and just random crit fire) deal 250% fire damage rather than 150%. Sad but true...
Shiro Feb 15 @ 6:40pm 
"impacting an enemy player gives you the ability to crit them if you swing shortly after"
hm I played demoknight and hybrid knight for quite a time and such mechanic is not present in my charge attacks - since Tough Break shield impact deals damage but gives no crits (only end of charge or other mechanics)
ewinemt Jan 21 @ 8:31am 
I AM SDEWWWDDQ2EQ DEAMES:steammocking:
Plantroid Dec 29, 2017 @ 1:01pm 
snety guns are very annoying to scouts like me
TomK Nov 18, 2017 @ 6:07am 
I don`t get the fact why the Scotsman`s Skullcutter is THE ONLY SWORD with random crits on it especialy when it has + 15% dmg. More dmg you do more crits you get, after 3-5 crit kills (charge kills) you basicly get a normal swing to crit swing ration of 1:1... THAT`S INSANE

Good guide tho man!
Spycrab Nov 17, 2017 @ 5:29pm 
This guide is great, i only got blamed for hacking twice instead of my normal 3 times :steamhappy:
 [author] Nov 16, 2017 @ 9:57pm 
Also, it's not B-hopping, it's just accelerated surfing that can also be achieved through explosive jumping.
 [author] Nov 16, 2017 @ 9:55pm 
I'll get to work, mugstache