The Spy is listening
It can be tricky to design alternative sappers, as I’ve discussed previously:
“The first thing to remember is that Sappers are a relatively small part of the Spy’s arsenal. They are only used when interacting with enemy Engineers - not uncommon, but certainly not the bulk of the Spy’s job. [...] This means that sappers, like melee weapons on other classes, can often boil down to personal preference, rather than really having diverse playstyles.”
That also applies to the Red-Tape Recorder, the only unlockable sapper to date. Why does it see so little use?
(+) Reverses enemy building construction
(-) -100% sapper damage
Well, like the stock sapper, it’s used for sapping buildings. It’s just that it’s more effective against high-leveled buildings, taking them down to their level 1 or 2 states in a matter of seconds. Against low-level buildings (including mini-sentries), it takes a terribly long time to deconstruct.
A list of times from the wiki:
It takes 3.4 seconds for a level 2 or 3 building to deconstruct one level.
At level 1, sentries and mini-sentries take over 10.5 seconds to die.
At level 1, dispensers and teleporters take over 21 seconds to die.
Simply put, this sapper is far more effective at reducing high-level buildings, and far less effective at outright destroying buildings. This means it’s most commonly equipped when a Spy knows their chance of fully sapping a building is low, and instead opts to set the Engineers back. It’s a brief loadout change, and for general use, the stock sapper is far more popular.
But as we talked about in the intro, it’s hard to make a sapper that really changes how you play. They’re applied the same way and they’re removed the same way. Now, if we could change that...
Red-Tape Recorder Iteration 2
(*) Place the sapper on the ground with your primary fire button. While it’s deployed, it counts as a building with 100 health. While undisguised/uncloaked and holding your knife, press your reload key to perform a short taunt and teleport to the sapper’s location.
(-) Cannot sap buildings
(-) Takes 15 seconds to regenerate once placed and resets cooldown if destroyed
Honestly, this idea is so cool that I don’t know why anyone would bother using the stock Sapper anymore. (I’ll consider that both good and bad news.) Although it removes your ability to sap Engineer buildings, you earn yourself a wonderfully sneaky getaway tool. If you place it well, you can keep coming back again and again. Although I’d imagine you might have teleporter-esque particles around your feet...
Unfortunately, this item is mostly designed for the Spy’s own utility. Ordinary sappers are best used in tandem with your team’s push, but there are very few ways for this design to benefit your team. That’s unfortunate, and causes resentment from players who would really like assistance destroying Engineer nests.
What if we changed it to work like a teleporter, usable by all teammates? That gives good team support, but given how easily Spies can sneak past the front lines, opposing teams would have to be on constant lookout for enemies ‘porting in behind them. It also overlaps with the Engineer’s teleporter, which doesn’t help anyone.
I honestly like this idea despite its flaws. But just for fun, let’s try a slightly different iteration.
Red-Tape Recorder Iteration 3
(+) Press your reload key while undisguised/uncloaked and holding the sapper to perform a short taunt and teleport to any teleporter exit you have used this life
(-) -50% sapper damage
More moderate overall than the last iteration, although it still isn’t as helpful to your team as the stock sapper. I think there’s a lot that could be done with this - although it’s worth noting that your team is incentivized to leave teleporter exits intact for your use, which may cause a bit of friction.
Ah well, nothing’s ever perfect in theory. I’d love to see how either of these sappers would work out in real gameplay - what are your thoughts?