The Axe is, of course, going to be your last resort weapon. It's range is as long as your arm, and while it does a decent amount of damage, the fact that you have to be right next to your target makes you look like easy pickings to your intended victim. All they have to do is keep just out of range while filling you full of lead/shrapnel/etc..
Outside of combat, though, the Axe does have its uses. If you need to attack something to trigger it, use the Axe. It doesn't take any ammunition to operate, so you save what you would have otherwise wasted on an inanimate object when you should have been directing it at the opposing team.
You may find yourself being attacked by Axe-wielding teammates occasionally (Engineers or Medics). If you encounter this situation, don't worry, your teammate isn't going postal on you; they're trying to heal you (Medic) or your armor (Engineer).
Just watch out for spies trying to trick you into an easy backstab. Their knife does a lot more damage than a regular Axe hit.
Advantages: Uses no ammunition. Nice ego boost
from axing someone to death.
Disadvantages: Not a ranged weapon. Easily avoided.
The Shotgun doesn't do much damage, but it has its advantages. Its a nice straight shooting weapon, with a long range and a fast moving projectile. Some people find it particularly embarrassing to be killed with the shotgun.
There are disadvantages to the Shotgun as well. Its really weak, for one thing. But the major disadvantage to using the Shotgun is specific to the Pyro; it is the one weapon he has to reload. In straight Team Fortress, the Pyro will have to reload every 8 shots. In Mega TF, that number seems to have dropped to about 4. Here is a very likely possible outcome to using the Shotgun in combat:
- You whip out your pea-shooter and start blasting away
at some HWGuy across the courtyard, knocking off a few points of armor with
- HWGuy looks around for a few seconds, not quite believing that he's getting pegged with a shotgun, and wonders if he might have gotten smacked by that Medic he just fragged, and is soon going to die of some mysterious Tropical Disease.
- You keep blasting at the HWGuy, enjoying the spray of blood every time you pull the trigger, not like that damn slow Incendiary Cannon, or that short-ranged Flame-thrower.
- HWGuy lumbers toward you, preparing to squash you like a little gnat.
- You watch the HWGuy like a deer in headlights, as the word "Reloading..." appears on your screen and you are stuck without a weapon for several seconds.
- HWGuy gets another frag.
If you use the Shotgun, chances are you're out of Cells and Rockets (Or you're too close to comfortably fire your Incendiary Cannon). You'll need to be more accurate about where you're aiming, since the Shotgun has a fairly small blast radius (The Shotgun's blast radius doesn't seem to disperse over distance, but the damage it does is lower if your target is farther away). If you get a couple seconds where you think you're safe, reload the Shotgun (bind a key to 'reload').
Unless your target is already pretty weak, its unlikely that you're going to take them down with the Shotgun. Your best bet is to run like hell for your nearest recharge area to fill up on cells and rockets, using the shotgun as a distraction until you can get away. Otherwise, bob-and-weave like your life depends on it (which it does), keep your sites on the enemy, keep an eye out for reinforcements (Yours or his), and watch for grenades.
Advantages: Straight shooting with fast moving
rounds makes for easy hits on your target.
Disadvantages: Fairly weak, especially over large distances. Must reload every few shots.
The Flamethrower is the Pyros weapon of choice for close range combat. It burns through cells pretty quickly, so remember to keep an eye on your ammo, or you might find yourself plinking away at that soldier or HWGuy with the Shotgun (When you run out of Cells, you switch to Shotgun by default).
When chasing after someone with the Flamethrower, aim high. You don't want to set the ground on fire just before you run over it. Conversely, if someone is chasing after you, spin around so you're running backwards, and toast the floor. You may not hit them directly, but chances are they'll get nicely barbecued by the trail of flame you left for them. Just be sure not to lose track of where you are and back into a corner or a slime pit.
If you get yourself into a firefight, just circle-strafe around them, switching directions randomly so as to make yourself a bit harder target for unfriendly fire, and keep 'em burnin' 'till their nice and toasty. Don't forget to watch for grenades and reinforcements. You can try to corral them with flame on the ground, maybe even back them up against a wall or into a corner, but usually there ends up being flame everywhere. Don't be surprised when you see that nice friendly message "You are on fire" display on your screen.
Setting key choke points aflame can be vital at times, such as defending a downed flag, especially when you're out of napalm and lava. Just aim the Flamethrower at the ground, and it'll burn for a few seconds. Hopefully, long enough to get some reinforcements, or for the flag to return.
Advantages: High rate of fire, does lots of
damage, sets stuff on fire.
Disadvantages: Burns through Cell supply pretty quickly, short range, sets stuff on fire. A lot of maps don't have enough Cells, so if you're good enough to survive for a while, you might find yourself stuck with that Shotgun.
Incendiary Cannon -
The Incendiary Cannon is the Pyro's version of the Rocket Launcher. It uses up ammo pretty fast, at 3 Rockets per shot, but it has the advantage of not needing to be reloaded. Slow, with a long range, and a killer blast radius that sets players and even walls/floor/ceiling/etc. on fire.
The Pyro's Rockets are much weaker than the Soldier's, so don't expect to be racking up the frags just cause you've got 'em. But they're real good for lighting up dark areas and snipers (Burn baby, burn!) and driving them away from key sniping positions. Their range also will let you hit targets out of the range of your Flamethrower, but don't expect to hit a fleeing scout with one of your Rockets, they just move too slow to gain on a scout before he can turn a corner or take cover.
Rocket Jumping with the Incendiary Cannon is nigh impossible in anything approximating normal gravity. This should be a good clue to some people out there that the Pyro is not just a Soldier who doesn't need to reload. The Incendiary Cannon should not be your primary weapon for all combat ranges.
If you aren't sure you can hit your target dead on, aim for the ground in front of them, or a nearby wall; the blast radius is large enough that they'll take damage. Some damage is always better than none.
Over long range, you'll find that the Rockets might not quite go where your crosshairs aimed them. On my system, I've found that if you were to imagine the crosshair as defining the dimensions of an invisible box, the Rockets tend to go toward the upper right corner of the box. Try this out on your own system. Up close it probably wont make any difference, but at range it definitely can. Wasting ammo on walls and giving away your position because you didn't know where the Rocket aim point was pretty much sucks.
If you're going after someone with the Flamethrower, try a quick switch to the Incendiary Cannon and back (bind a key to 'special'), chances are they wont see it coming through the flame until its too late.
Advantages: Long range, large blast radius, sets
stuff on fire. Rockets are readily available on most maps.
Disadvantages: Slow moving, uses 3 rockets per shot, doesn't do as much damage as the Soldier's rocket, ineffective for Rocket Jumping.
Napalm Grenades -
The way Napalm Grenades work is very different in TF and Mega. In TF, the Grenade will burst, setting fire to the nearby area (Approximately the same blast radius as the Incendiary Cannon in TF). In Mega, the Grenade remains intact, exploding 9 times, setting fire to anyone nearby.
In either case, the Napalm Grenade is great for blocking areas off temporarily. Toss one into a narrow hallway and nobody will be coming through there for a while (Not without being scorched a bit).
Timing the grenade is generally only an issue with the TF version of the Napalm Grenade, which can produce some very nice effects. Remember, toss that sucker by '3' or you'll regret it.
When I need to take someone down fast (e.g., Someone about to grab/escape with the flag) or am getting swarmed by a group of enemies, I will often just chuck all my Napalm Grenades in their direction. If you're attacking with the Flamethrower, they might not notice the Grenades and get taken out. I once fried an HWGuy, Sniper, and a Medic with this technique. As I recall, I got taken out by a Soldier's Rocket from behind, but was still pretty sweet, IMO.
Don't even think about trying to Grenade Jump with a Napalm Grenade.
Advantages: Block off hallways, good for defending
fallen flags, does a decent amount of damage.
Disadvantages: Can't be used for Grenade Jumping, only can carry 4, takes away Toaster ammo.
Regular Grenades -
Regular Grenades explode after three seconds with a small blast area, but doing large amounts of damage. Its real easy to lose track of where Grenades got tossed, or never see them get thrown in the first place. Timing on the Regular Grenade is far more important than it is with Napalm Grenades.
Regular Grenades can be used for Grenade Jumping (Using the force of the Grenade's explosion to aid in jumping large distances or to great heights). The Pyro can really only pull of a single Grenade Jump without running for more armor/health, so use it wisely.
In order to Grenade Jump, first you prime the Grenade. Timing is key. Practice pitching Grenades until you know exactly when they are going to blow up. When the Grenade is just about to go off, jump! The blast of the Grenade should send you flying like you wouldn't believe!
The trick for tossing off Grenades while using the Flamethrower goes for Regular Grenades as well. Combine this technique with a well timed Grenade, and your target will never know what hit him.
Advantages: Large amounts of damage, can be used
for Grenade Jumping, most common grenade found on maps.
Disadvantages: Requires excellent timing for effective use, only start off with 1 Grenade.
Lava Pool (Mega TF Only) -
The Lava Pool is a small circle of Lava which the Pyro can drop anywhere. A gob of Lava is flung at whatever you're aiming at, then spreads out into a perfect circle. The Lava Pool is good for defending small strategic areas, such as blocking off a door or hallway, or defending a flag.
There's not a whole lot of technique involved with the Lava Pool, you basically just stick it somewhere and hope people get stuck in it. I like to drop it right beneath the flag, especially downed flags.
While I don't recall ever taking someone out with it, any damage they take will make it easier to finish them off.
Advantages: Lasts longer than a grenade, requires
Disadvantages: Small area of effect, doesn't do much damage unless someone gets stuck in it, only get one at a time (Must wait for Lava to cool).
Toaster (Mega TF Only) -
The Toaster has about the effect you would expect from throwing something called a "Toaster" into water. It electrocutes anyone nearby. However, the Toaster doesn't go off as soon as it hits the water, it seems to be timed like a grenade. So don't go chasing someone through the water, because they didn't get Toasted before they got out on the other side. Or if you do, don't expect to have as much luck as your target did.
Toasters are a very useful tool. Think someone is coming in through a water route? Toast it. Flag downed in the water? Wait for the "Your flag has been taken!" message and then Toast! Just have someone steal a frag from you by dropping into the water instead of dying like they were supposed to? Toast 'em!
Remember, your weapons tend to set people on fire, which damages them for a few seconds. Many people will run for the water in hopes of putting out the flames before they take too much damage. As a Pyro, if you play your cards right, the Toaster will rack up the frags for you.
Advantages: Large area of effect, fire and forget,
great for defending water entrances, can collect several frags at once.
Disadvantages: Takes away two Napalm Grenades per Toast.