Put that Rocket Jumper down. This article is designed to cover weapons that actually do the job of training somebody who hopes to get better with a class in TF2. These weapons encourage (or force) the player to learn things that translate well into regular loadouts, and don’t force the player to become reliant on them to do well.

So put your Front Runners on, it’s training time!

1. Candy Cane. The Candy Cane is a depressingly low-poly melee weapon that grants Scout health kits on kill, at the cost of 25% explosive damage vulnerability. It’s this second half that does the training.

A single rocket or pipe will kill you now. You can’t run blindly around corners. You have to pick your fights. And most importantly, you have to dodge. Nothing else will save you when a rocket’s flying at your face. The Candy Cane gets you that emphasis on dodging that turns a decent scout into a lightning bruiser.

2. Shovel. The stock melee weapon. For soldier. Say what?

Let’s be honest, the second anything dropped for that slot you instantly and permanently replaced the shovel. It’s almost useless when the Rocket Launcher is the best melee weapon you can ask for, and the Escape Plan, Pain Train and Disciplinary Action all provide amazing utilities that blow the poor entrenching tool out of the park.

But that’s what makes the shovel a great training weapon. Because its useless and you’ll be forced to rely on your Rocket Launcher and secondary to get things done. No more zipping away to safety with the Escape Plan even though you overextended. No more free rollouts with the whip so you don’t need to learn how to rocket jump to mid. The Soldier was the game’s jack-of-all-trades before he got crazy melees. Find out why.

3. Eureka Effect. The Eureka Effect lets you taunt to teleport back to spawn and grab more metal. As a downside, you can’t haul buildings.

Fun fact: The Engineer didn’t use to be able to haul buildings! When you plopped a building down, you picked a spot where it would continue to be useful for the duration of its existence, or you were prepared to have to blow it up and rebuild it elsewhere. This promoted tactical thinking and demanded strategic game sense, or else you might finish the whole building just to see that nobody actually ever took this route and it wasn’t worth setting up a whole nest to defend it. As useful a skill as hauling is, going without it can really bring up your A-game. NEVER MIND

4. Ali Baba’s Wee Booties. They fill your primary slot and give you +25 hp. As NovaPixel so elegantly said: “The best way to use the boots is switching them out for a grenade launcher before spawning.” He couldn’t be more correct.

Unless you are hoping to get some solid sticky launcher training in there. Without the grenade launcher to back it up, the Sticky Launcher’s weaknesses become much more clear, and you’ll have to come to grips with how to use it to escape unusual situations. You’ll have to learn how to charge stickies to hit things that are long-range. You might even find it easier to practice sticky jumping because the +25 health makes you less likely to crater yourself.

Training weapon
Personally, I use Bootlegger to symbolize how my loadout is missing one of the legs it stands on.

You’ll notice that when it comes to these training weapons, it’s not what they do, it’s what they don’t do. Or what downsides they highlight. Because really, improving at a class-based game like TF2 is so much more about compensating for your weak points than it is equipping things that band-aid those weaknesses.