It was a bizarre trail that led me to picking up the Sydney Sleeper again for the first time in years. First this reddit thread reminded me of my single favorite experience as a TF2 viewer; following STAR_’s team through the 2013 Charity Mixup tournament. Every teammate except STAR_ had never played TF2 before, and through skirmishes and close calls they honed their teamwork and somehow reached the finals to take on Team Mixup with TF2 creator Robin Walker. STAR_’s star performance as a sniper was so inspiring that (exactly like when I first saw it) I immediately switched to maining Sniper and jumped into servers hoping to one day be as good at shooting heads as he was.

Then (exactly like last time) my own lack of headshooting ability and the complete dearth of support abilities drove me back into Medic’s and Demoman’s arms. I want to play Sniper because there’s something elegant in his simplicity, not to mention on occasion he’s literally the only answer to certain enemy consistencies, but he’s missing the teamwork that I crave in games like TF2.

A killstreak Huntsman, surrounded by other expensive stuff. Picture by Swings Fraiche.
I mean there is the Huntsman, but I don’t want to use it because it affects my crossbow aiming abilities. Picture by Swings Fraiche.

So this thread couldn’t have come at a better time, where a SPUFer reminded everyone that, hey, there actually is a sniper rifle out there for people who want to play more support-oriented and don’t mind not being the one to get the kill. And I fell in love with the Jarate Master all over again.

Much like Medics, Jarate Masters excel in turning the tide of a single fight.
Much like Medics, Jarate Masters excel in turning the tide of fights one skirmish at a time.

There is no joy quite as satisfying as jarateing an enemy from 200 Hammer units away and watching them run for cover. Ditto if that white killfeed notification pops up letting you know somebody finished the job with your help.  Remember, jarate is the very top of the hierarchy for crediting assists, so you’ll always know when it happens. The stealth possibilities are awesome too, since none of those assists are giving away your position. The faster charge speed also buffs your ability to destroy enemy buildings.

Use the bread monster reskin if you'd like to be able to throw it further with no downside.
Use the bread monster reskin if you’d like to be able to throw it further with no downside.

I played with Croc-o-Style for a while because it was fun to leave little tombstones everywhere, plus its surprisingly easy to quickscope somebody and get that bushwacka crit when you’re relying on bodyshots. But ultimately I found it even more fun to become a full Jarate Master and bring out Pirelli’s miracle elixir for the extinguishing, bushwacka chopping and area-of-effect abilities. Though the range is a lot shorter than I remember; I think I’m too used to Scout’s Mad Milk inheriting its owner’s base speed when tossed at opponents. But you truly do fill a unique support role, probably the closest TF2 has to a traditional dedicated debuff class.

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But that support goes two ways; you’re now much more reliant on your teammates to capitalize on the buffs you supply. Personally I see that as a plus.

Remember, real life snipers are encouraged to aim for body shots, nothing shameful in dedicating yourself to hitting center mass.  It’s addicting, and I highly encourage anyone to give it a go.

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