Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

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MvM: Avoid these common upgrading mistakes
By itsgalf
This one step can improve your MvM win success rate by over 85%!!!
The upgrade station provides many options for a player to choose from. There are enough upgrades to make things interesting and provide for different playstyles. However, the upgrade station can also be difficult to navigate for players just starting MvM. What looks good at first glance may actually end up being a terrible decision when some thought is put into it. Not all upgrades were created equal unfortunately. Some upgrades must have sounded good to Valve employees, but were never balanced properly.

A majority of the time you can tell a lot about a player just by the upgrade choices that were made. A quick glance at how they spent their credits gives more insight to the experience level of a player than simple 'tour count' can. Newer players tend to make the same 'upgrading mistakes'. Seeing this lets you know who on your team will probably not be "pulling their weight".

Navigating the upgrade station is all about EFFICIENT USE OF YOUR CREDITS
In this guide, I'll try to go over which upgrades are considered 'low tier'. Either they should:

  • Not be bought at all
  • Should only be bought after other more important upgrades
  • Should not be maxed as more ticks of it really provide minimal benefits at too much of a cost

Amongst players, it's much harder to agree on what the 'best' upgrades are and the proper order in which to get them. The arguments last forever. It's much easier to agree on which upgrades are lower tier.

NOTE: These suggestions are things that I think apply to a majority of cases that you will encounter. There ARE rare occasions (probably based on a special wave layout) that you can go against these, but these are good rules of thumb to keep in mind.
General All Class
Buying resistances that don't even apply to the upcoming wave

Well, it is possible that you're upgrading so that you have max resistance for a future wave that is much harder (Such as Cave-In Wave 3), but that is highly doubtful. Don't upgrade fire resistance when there's no fire damage anywhere in the wave. Are you even reading the upgrade before you buy it?

Maxing Health Regen early on

Health Regen does sound good in theory. But for +2 HP/sec at $200 per tick it's not a good upgrade to max. You shouldn't spend $1000 into Health Regen and then have no resistances. That's a terrible idea. You're still going to get destroyed. The benefit is too little compared to just getting resistances, which will keep you alive much longer. 1 tick is normally ok though, if you feel so inclined

Health on Kill on weapons you will rarely get kills with

Just because there is an upgrade available on a weapon doesn't mean you have to buy it. Seriously, how often are you going to be killing with your Glove of Running Urgently? Once a mission?

Spamming canteens instead of buying permanent upgrades

This is a common mistake of new players. Canteens are extremely powerful and relatively cheap. However, they are not necessary to win. A lot of people think they should be removed from the game, and it's hard to argue with that.

All cash spent on canteens is cash that can't be used to buy permanent upgrades. By purchasing those canteens you are making yourself weaker for future waves since you won't be able to get the upgrades that will make you stronger. Canteens should only ever be used if they're going to be a 'game-changer' when they will result in a win instead of a loss....or if there just is nothing worthy left to upgrade. I see enough heavies that spam crit canteens on 1 giant that would have died regardless of the crit canteen. Sure, we would have killed the giant 2 seconds later, but you just wasted $100.

You will need permanent upgrades to keep up with the increasing difficulty of the waves as the mission progresses. I've seen too many players with barely any upgrades by Wave 4 or 5 and they really struggle. Why? They have been buying canteens every possible moment they can.

Do not spam canteens early waves. In fact, don't spam them at all.
Health Regen

Now this upgrade in general is pretty low tier, and you shouldn't be buying multiple ticks of this early on. However, it's much more egregious when a Scout buys it. Scouts main sources of staying alive is by replenishing his HP by collecting cash. Each cash pile provides health to the Scout and will usually lead to a pretty substantial overheal. Health Regen does nothing when you have an overheal. This is a complete waste of money, especially early on.

Melee upgrades

I'm talking about Fan O' War melee swing speed mostly. The Fan can only mark one target at a time. If you hit a second target with it, the 'mark' will disappear from the first target and appear on the recently hit target. There is no reason to spend money on swinging this weapon faster. If you're seriously looking for where to spend your extra credits, upgrade your primary weapon - it's very powerful.

*I am NOT listing scattergun upgrades here because they are not a mistake. They are simply not recommended for inexperienced Scouts
More than one tick of Rocket Specialist

The main advantage of RS is two-fold:
  • Stun on direct hit
  • Remove damage falloff on direct hit

That's basically the only reason to buy this upgrade. You get these benefits with the first tick of RS. It has other benefits, but those benefits pale in comparison and the improvements aren't worth the $300 price tag for each subsequent upgrade point. This is the most common upgrade mistake of soldiers that I see. ONLY BUY THE FIRST TICK UNTIL LATE ROUNDS.

Getting more Clip Size before upgrading Damage

This just about applies to any weapon that doesn't reload it's entire clip. Damage upgrade and Clip Size upgrade both cost the same amount. Except for the Demoman weapons. You get a bigger increase in DPS by upgrading Damage instead of Clip Size. Please don't be the soldier who has max clip size, but no damage.

While clip size does increase how much burst you can do between reloads, for long term DPS there is basically no difference. A quick test (not a perfect test, but just to illustrate a point) done on a tank comparing 2 upgrade paths:

Stock RL Soldier
Base case: Max reload and firing speed:
  • 125 DPS

1st Upgrade Path:
4 ticks Clip Size, 0 ticks Damage:
  • 135 DPS
    You spent $1600 in order to increase your long term DPS by 10. WAY TO GO, CHAMP!!!

2nd Upgrade Path:
0 ticks Clip Size, 4 ticks Damage:
  • 250 DPS

Please don't waste money buying Clip Size before you buy Damage upgrades.

=============SPECIAL EDITION BEGGAR'S BAZOOKA=============

Beggars Bazooka upgrades a little differently than other rocket launchers because it has unique mechanics

Upgrading to load barrage

Beggar's Bazooka is an incredibly powerful rocket launcher. You can do a large amount of DPS by tap-firing the rockets one at a time INSTEAD of loading up a full clip and releasing a barrage. Tap firing essentially turns the Beggars Bazooka into a RL with a bottomless clip. You will only stop firing because you run out of ammo. Because of this, the most important upgrade is Reload Speed. Clip Size is very low on the priority list of upgrades. The Bazooka also has a built in firing speed bonus. The additional upgrades of firing speed DO HELP, but they can easily be ignored and the Bazooka will still be a powerhouse. Reload Speed, Ammo Capacity, and Damage are your main priorities for the Beggars Bazooka.

You can read more details about the Beggars Bazooka here:
Upgrading Burn Damage and Burn Time first

I am not sure why you would want to upgrade things that effect afterburn. Afterburn is really quite weak compared to your main flamethrower damage. Robots die to your flamethrower quickly and the afterburn never matters. Each upgrade is $250. That is incredibly expensive for a terrible upgrade. Pyros who spend $2000 on both burn damage/time could have used those credits to max out flamethrower damage already.

Tanks do not burn. The $2000 you spent on afterburn upgrades has no effect whatsoever on the tank. Pyro is a very powerful class for destroying tanks. Do not waste your potential. These upgrades are very low on the priority list.

Max Airblast Push Force

Airblast is an ok mechanic if used properly. However, most newer pyros love to use it to reset the bomb. You really don't need airblast force to do this and sometimes the increased airblast force makes it harder to reset the bomb. Don't sink money into this upgrade. You could have purchased 1 tick of +25% Damage instead. Pyros have huge damage potential when using either the Backburner or Phlogistinator. These flamethrowers constantly net the pyro free crits. Don't be an airblast machine. You're making your teammates pick up for your lack of damage.

Maxing out your Scorch Shot

Please do not spam the Scorch Shot. It makes the game less enjoyable when you're bouncing robots everywhere and your teammates have to try to aim for sporadically moving bots. You are choosing to have an entire player slot dedicated to pushing robots around? Again, you're making the game harder for your team and should be kicked.
Splitting upgrades between Grenade Launcher and Stickybomb Launcher

Please don't do this. You need to make one weapon incredibly strong and then use that almost exclusively. Don't upgrade two weapons to be mediocre especially when you barely even use one of them. This is the most common demoman upgrading mistake. It makes little sense when you think about it, but that's the downside when demoman is given 2 'primary' weapons - players then try to upgrade both of them. Don't. Instead focus mainly on making one of your weapons 'godlike'.

Getting more Clip Size before upgrading Damage

Like the soldier, do not upgrade Clip Size before upgrading Damage. It's an inefficient use of credits. The only real benefit to upgrading clip size for a sticky demo is in the case that you don't want to get caught reloading when a high priority target (uber medic) needs to be killed. Upgrade Damage before Clip Size.
Buying zero resistances just because you have a pocket medic

This is generally not a good idea, especially in missions that have a lot of spam. The heavy is normally seen as the 'tank' class and he takes a bit of damage since he is the slowest class. If you have a medic, you are making his job of keeping the team alive much harder since he has to constantly heal up the damage you are taking and/or revive you. 75% Resistance to bullets means that you will last 4x longer to bullet damage than if you had no resistances. 4 Times!! Proper resistances are usually worth it.

I dislike playing medic with heavies that have no resistances. They require too much attention and pocketing otherwise they die and waste your time reviving just to die again. You should be thankful for a medic, but be prepared to survive on your own accord

Max Knockback Rage

Fun fact, the second and third point of knockback rages does nothing except increase its push force on AIRBORN enemies (or something to that effect). Knockback in general is a niche use upgrade and most of the time is not useful. With knockback rage activated, your bullets do 50% less damage. Do not buy more than 1 tick of this upgrade. The upgrade itself is low tier as well. Get more important upgrades first.

Max Projectile Penetration

1 tick of Projectile Penetration does NOT double your DPS. It sort of doubles it in the situation that robots are lined up. However, the situation isn't THAT common outside of a few missions.

Each subsequent tick of Penetration is less effective since you won't find multiple bots lined up very often. It's not the worst upgrade, but it's definitely low priority. Don't get more than one tick of this upgrade unless you have cash to spend.
Buying Disposable Sentry and 2-way teleporters first

The disposable sentry dies almost instantly after it's targeted and only outputs miniscule DPS. It is much too expensive for the benefit at $500. This is only a LATE LATE round upgrade if you have spare cash.

The 2-way teleporter is also not worth the cost. There are much higher priority upgrades that you should be getting. The only real use of the 2-way is to easily transport back to spawn in between waves for the lazy....not that it's a bad thing. It's just not a worthy upgrade for an early round purchase. There are more important things such as Dispenser Range and Building Health to focus on.

Not purchasing Dispenser Range

This is one of those upgrades that basically everyone will expect an engineer to get. It's not the most NECESSARY upgrade to get - the dispenser still does the same thing. It just makes it very convenient for your team and it's incredibly cheap. Your teammates will not have to purposely stack on top of the dispenser just to receive ammo/health. There's no reason NOT to get this upgrade.

Ignoring Building Health

Maybe this isn't obvious to some. But it's +100%. The first point DOUBLES the health of your buildings. So all 3 ticks with make your buildings (mainly the sentry) last FOUR TIMES AS LONG. That is an insanely powerful upgrade and should never be ignored. A wrangled sentry with all 3 ticks of building health upgrade can tank so much damage for your team.


*There's also the mistake of buying the 3rd tick of Sentry Firing Speed upgrade...but that's not obvious, so I can forgive you for that. (Hint: The 3rd tick is "glitched" and doesn't do anything at the moment)


This is from a recently played game with 2 engineers in it

Engineer 1:

Engineer 2:
Not purchasing Projectile Shield

The most overpowered upgrade ever put into the game (besides explosive headshots) and you didn't purchase it? Either you're clueless or doing it out of principle.

The projectile shield basically reintroduced the Medic back into the MvM meta for Two Cities. If you're going to play as (standard) medic, you might as well buy it. It blocks all kinds of projectiles, does damage, AND is ridiculously easy to charge? It's seriously overpowered and should be nerfed.

Focusing on Uber upgrades over healing upgrades

Well this is a little more controversial. It can be a good upgrade path if what you're going for is constantly shitting out uber charges to your teammates. However, the people who build this way are almost always terrible and constantly die.

Healing Mastery has so many benefits. It's a great upgrade to have, if not just for the awesome passive increased health regen. It keeps your teammates alive.

Overheal Expert is insanely useful for keeping your teammates alive without your medigun constantly healing them. A Heavy with max resistances at 750 HP is no joke.

Also the combination of Healing Mastery and Overheal Expert upgrades help to charge the Projectile Shield faster. You need to heal a certain amount of HP to charge the meter (I believe 450 HP). The faster you heal ,the faster you charge the meter. The more HP pool you can heal on a person (overheal) the more you can charge the meter on a person. They're great upgrades. You can get ubercharges with ubersaw hits if you really cared about popping ubers like candy.

BOTTOM LINE: The Healing Mastery and Overheal Expert are INSANELY powerful upgrades for their cost. The uber upgrades are fine upgrades themselves, but they are just not as powerful as the two healing upgrades.
Not purchasing Explosive Headshots

If you didn't purchase Explosive Headshots, you might be confused about Sniper and his ability in MvM. Please go read a guide before joining Advanced or Expert. EH is the single most overpowered upgrade in MvM. Not purchasing it makes you a single target DPS class, and a pretty mediocre one at that. EH is the reason snipers are wanted in defeating really difficult missions.

Explosive Headshots deals flat damage to surrounding enemies if you hit a headshot on a target.

  • 1st Tick: 150 damage
  • 2nd Tick: 170 damage
  • 3rd Tick: 190 damage

That is ridiculous amounts of AOE damage. Remember those Steel Gauntlets, which seem to survive forever due to their resistance buffs from the Fists of Steel? The EH damage ignores that and does the flat 190 damage at 3 ticks. Snipers are great for a wave such as Broken Parts Wave 5.

*Along the same line of thought - the huntsman is not able to upgrade Explosive Headshots. Don't use it unless your team approves. You will only be a single-target damage class. The Classic is also pretty bad for the same reason (less amount of EH being triggered)

Spending too much on Jarate EARLY

Jarate isn't terrible by itself, it's quite decent at covering everything in piss. However, it's just outclassed by the amount of damage a sniper could be doing by hitting headshots. The team has buff banner/Fan O' War/Kritz that could take the place of you spending time throwing jarate at stuff. It's a fine upgrade later waves, but your main focus as sniper is hitting headshots (triggering Explosive Headshots), so focus on rifle upgrades first before sinking credits into Jarate upgrades.

Also, the recent Sydney Sleeper buff allows you to cover stuff in piss AND deal tons of damage through EH.

Overall, jarate will always be outclassed by using your rifle to trigger Explosive Headshots. Jarate is mostly only useful on giants, but even then, usually your scout has the mini-crits covered. There's no need to spend precious credits on jarate upgrades early on.
Maxxing out Sapper EARLY

The Spy is a great class for MvM. But no, it's not because he can sap stuff. You can't have an entire class slot dedicted to sapping stuff. If you think that's the extent of Spy's usefulness, you need to stop playing Spy.

The Spy is useful because he:

  • Has High burst DPS against Giants. He is the best at killing Giant Medics
  • Can reliably collect money in place of a Scout
  • Controls aggro by making bots turn towards him when he's undisguised (such as after stabbing)

Those are his strong points. He also can be semi-useful against crowds through sapper, but it's at the bottom of the list. You should upgrade either movement speed (survival/cash collection) or knife (Giant killing) upgrades first. Sapper comes later.

No penetration

Armor Penetration is how you deal damage to Giants. It's the upgrade that makes the Spy. It is a more important upgrade than swing speed. You will only get 2 backstabs on a giant before you draw aggro until you get the 4th tick of knife Attack Speed. So the first 3 are just steps towards the 4th. You will deal much more damage maxing out Armor Penetration first and then working on Attack Speed.

Going for gun upgrades

This normally goes hand in hand with the Spy that maxes out Sapper Power. Their sense of usefulness is sapping things and shooting at things. They rarely even attempt to collect money. It's very doubtful they even realize that the Spy instantly draws aggro to himself.


From a recent game:

If you're ever confused why people are yelling at you before the mission even starts, it might be because you made dumb decisions with your credits. There are several pitfalls to the upgrade station that newer players tend to fall for. Make smart upgrade choices and you may see your performance increase drastically.

For some further reading about upgrades and some theory on it, check out this excellent guide:
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☯STULF20X6☯ Jan 23 @ 12:22pm 
My only input is that when it comes to swing speed on the scout, it's a matter of wave and playstyle. If I'm bodyblocking a ton of giants on one of the last waves of a mission, that's usually what determines if I max my swing speed or get scattergun upgrades instead. Probably a case to be made for just the scattergun anyways, but at the very least it's not the most ineffective thing ever

I'm also that jerk that will eventually max health regen either because I really did just have the extra money, because I'm trying to make up for a crap team, or am looking to primarily tank damage. All after maxing resistences of course. Just really depends. You know a team is bad or a situation is awful if you've ever had to upgrade airblast force as a Pyro so your team can actually manage to clear a wave; particularly if you actually need to pit something or separate a gaint Medic from its heal target because your Heavy is too brain dead to shoot the medic first
|MvM|³ M3 Jan 23 @ 9:26am 
Thanks for the guide! After 130 tours, I still struggle with playing Spy, never knew that info about the stabs!
The Living Glitch Jan 12 @ 5:43pm 
I suggest updating this to enter "Not getting Explosive Gas Passer" or "any jetpack upgrade" for Pyro. The latter b/c it's useless, and the former b/c EGP IS SUPER FREAKING BROKEN AND OP.
nomer43 (tour#2302) Oct 6, 2017 @ 2:47am 
also in shit team if bomb our back but you need push forward you can put mini for defending bomb or for enemy engineers spaming

also enemy snipers not kill teammates faster cos shot in mini 1st time

also on hamlet with sniper meta you can put mini in base station sniper back for spychecking

million things and tips for players with imagine

only noobs cant understasnd how used mini

good luck and sorry my grammar
nomer43 (tour#2302) Oct 6, 2017 @ 2:46am 
99 info its truth. Pro engy actually use minisentry in much situation, In shit no damage team, with noobs, with nit full team server like playing 3-4 players solo minisetry its POQWER

i know many tips how you can use it
some tips is:

man 1 wave 3 - mini sentry on inside crate can blcok and kill enemy engys #3 and #6.
After it they can help with top demos when agred fire to minis body
and later it put down for help noob heavydemo on pyros

roten 2 wave 3 - when right side top bonks coming minisentry help clean top more faster, also protect in sentry baster situatio, also did spycheck soon

minisentry its not damage gadget - its spycheck. spyblocking, rockets agring or metal for nondispenser mate sharing after it will be destoyed

Thomas Tinkerton Jun 24, 2017 @ 8:56am 
Great guide !
Unenthusiastic Handjob Sep 15, 2016 @ 11:44pm 
"You will only get 2 backstabs on a giant before you draw aggro until you get the 4th tick of knife Attack Speed."
I'm pretty sure you can get a 3rd stab on 3 swing speed if the giant is distracted.
Quenquent the babysitter Aug 23, 2016 @ 7:47am 
Good guide. But hey, after all you do deliver good guides, I'm not even surprised.

But you forgot two major things :
- Crits on kill for Spy knives : There might be a situation where this can be useful, but not in standard play.
- Not having crit resistance on wave with a lot of crit robots : I do find this upgrade mandatory when there's non-Pyro and non-Melee crit robots. It makes you survive SO MUCH LONGER against crit robots, you could have enough time to kill them (and explaining how crit resistance works could help)
Harmless Aug 13, 2016 @ 8:17pm 
But again, context sensitive. That's just me talking personally. For the guide structure overall I'd still say it's good to get out a bit more clarification/details in what you say. No offense, but it felt a tiny bit more like a "list of things you MUST follow every game" as opposed to gameplay tips and increasing one's knowledge on how each individual perk works. Thanks for listening and replying!
Harmless Aug 13, 2016 @ 8:16pm 
Ah, my response wasn't saying "top tier" upgrades aren't good or worth the money. Just saying that you say that some upgrades you should "never get" when in fact some upgrades do have use. Some upgrades like Scout's Passive Healing/Health on Kill is very situational and playstyle heavy because he gets health with money, but that doesn't necessarily make them worthless.

Again, context sensitive. Spies shouldn't be focusing money into lots of Health Regen early (rather only a tiny bit at first), but later on more Health Regen ticks allow the Spy to keep adjusting aggro more often, which I'd say is a good deal for only 200 per upgrade. Likewise, I'm not at all underestimating Scout's Scattergun damage, but utilizing a stock bat does have advantages - It's ammoless, gets random crits more often (assuming this is a regular MvM server), and stock bat means no downsides like -15 health or damage reduction that could cripple a Scout's performance overall.