I was sad when "Melee Only" wasn't on the Ghost Fort Wheel of Fate. Picture by lolchow
I was sad when “Melee Only” wasn’t on the Ghost Fort Wheel of Fate. Picture by lolchow

You can’t find good Melee-only servers anymore. Medieval Mode took out most of those, and the removal of Sudden Death from default removed the times it happens on normal servers. But every so often, a server goes melee only, and I remember how fun it can be. Everything is very simple; just you and your bludgeoning weapon of choice. Here are some tips for fighting melee only.

(Note: If it’s one of those servers that allows the booties and shields but literally no other non-melee weapons, my tip is to leave the server. So-called “melee-only” servers that do that can go die in a fire.)

Scout: Sandman. Scouts rely on speed and dodging ability to avoid enemy attacks; unfortunately none of his melee weapons pack enough of a punch for him to effectively use this speed. Instead, give your team free kills by plugging faraway enemies with Sandman balls. One dead enemy every 15 seconds can go a long way. If anyone tries to fight you mano-a-mano, I recommend avoiding them, stunning them, and leaving them to your teammates. The scout playstyle has no relationship with playing fair.

But aabicus, I wanna kill people! Sigh, fine. You’re not nearly as useful and you’re probably gonna die quickly to a random crit, but try the Candy Cane. That explosive weakness is virtually unheard of and if you get any kills, free heals.

Soldier: Disciplinary Action. In melee combat, reach is everything. And the Disc. has the longest melee reach in the whole game. Whip people to death, backpedaling so they can’t even get close enough to you. Unless somebody outflanks you or you get tag-teamed by Candy Cane scouts, you can keep your opponents at bay.

But aabicus, I wanna kill people! But you are killing people, defensively! Oh, all right, go with Equalizer. As you start losing health, (which is going to happen, you’re the second slowest class in the game fighting melee) you start to deal more damage, and the damage counts get insane.

Pyro: Backscratcher. No brainer. It deals extra damage, at no real downside, and on the off-chance to get to kill an idiot Candy Cane scout, the healthkit heals half of your hp instead of a fifth. The Powerjack  also has a very high-risk, high-reward type of playstyle that will give you slightly more longevity if you have good dodging and timing.

But aabicus, I wan– Shut it. Backscratcher.  (Though I should add that the Third Degree honors Amputator heals as Medibeams, so if you get a critical hit on anyone that Medic is healing, everyone in the radius will be taking 195 damage. That’s pretty awesome.)

Demoman: Persian Persuader combines extended melee range and health regen at no downside. Run around and pickup dropped ammo from your fallen comrades to heal after scuffles. This can give you some great survivability.

But aabicus, I wanna kill people! All right, go for the gusto with Scotsman’s Skullcutter. Extended melee range, damage bonus, random crits, it packs quite a punch. Play like the Disc. Action soldier but more so; don’t let anyone get past your melee range.

Heavy: Poor heavy has a hard time in melee only. He’s got the health for the game mode, but not the damage output or speed to make use of most of his melee weapons. Killing Gloves of Boxing can chain some killer crit combos, but getting that first kill is tough, and once everyone sees the glowing gloves they’ll stay far away from you. Warrior’s Spirit lowers your base health and does nothing to solve the speed problem, Gloves of Running Urgently cures the speed problem at the cost of literally everything else. To be honest, I’ve found the Holiday Punch the most effective melee for this mode. Those crits equal a free kill for your teammates, and you get them at random. You can try to ambush, but its pretty tough.

But aabicus, I wanna kill people! If you insist, Killing Gloves of Boxing and Warrior’s Spirit are probably your best bet. Try to corner people though.

Engineer: Engineer hits the Medieval problem where all his skills revolve around his buildings, so he’s pretty shafted without them. However, the Eureka Effect gives an odd playstyle where you can escape a hairy situation and get all your health back at spawn. Considering its a straight upgrade to the stock Wrench in this gamemode, you could do worse. Just be aware that your team will be playing a man down while you teleport to spawn and then run back to the front lines.

But aabicus, I wanna kill people! Southern Hospitality is a very versatile wrench with only one downside, a Pyro melee that nobody should really be using. You don’t get random crits though. Also, if you know how to do the critfarming glitch, you can become a high-risk picking class. Valve hasn’t bothered to fix it in four years, no reason they’d start now…

Medic: Amputator and Solemn Vow are your only two choices. I have to recommend the Amputator. Find somewhere to hide, get your teammates to protect you, and in return you’ll heal all of them. It’s pretty powerful with team support. Just don’t taunt somewhere stupid like in the middle of battle; you’re the only healing force on your team. You’re worth more than that. In general try to avoid combat, especially with the new damage penalty. The new regen bonus does wonders though.

But aabicus, I wanna kill people! Solemn Vow, then, is really your only option. Kinda like a spy, seek out and finish off wounded enemies who will go down in a single hit. But be careful because random crits are everywhere blah blah you’ve heard me say this before.

Sniper: Every melee except Bushwacka is a good idea (Though notably, Bushwacka is basically a stock reskin due to the lack of mini-crits and fire damage). I prefer playing the Tribalman’s Shiv and hitting them, then booking it with my natural speed. Don’t get many kills, but I soften up a lot of enemies for my teammates.

But aabicus–Shahanahsanahshah. Since you’re going to get reamed in every fight due to having literally no class upsides, you might as well get your pseudo-Equalizer out for some extra damage before somebody finishes you off.

Spy: If you get the Disguise Kit…iunno. Probably just the regular knife. Since all their upsides have to do with getting the first backstab except Spy-cicle (and nobody deals fire damage anyway) just grab whichever fits your playstyle best. If Disguise Kit is disabled, I have to recommend the Your Eternal Reward. Just the stock knife, but if you manage a backstab (possibly through Matador; every combat class has a very W+M1 playstyle in melee only) you disguise anyway, and nobody will be spychecking.

 Thanks aabicus! That last one is all about killing people!

Don’t mention it.

I don’t play Melee only nearly as often as I should (lack of servers that ban Demoknight non-melees don’t help), it’s good for some fun once in a while. But when you only get one weapon, you better make it count.