Global Agenda Recon Basic Guide

Global Agenda Recon Basic Guide by Wobberjockey

“Knowing is half the battle” – G.I. JOE
“The other half involves lots of red and blue lasers” – Unknown

Prior to the first phase of the 1.3 patch (AKA Sandstorm) the common wisdom was that recons were snipers, and snipers ran 2/1/10. Every sniper who was anyone in AVA or PVP ran this spec, usually running with Visual Scanner (abbreviated VS), Bionics, and Range Stim.

There were also a die-hard minority that ran off specs such as 5/0/8 or 2/2/9 with identical gear.

However, a wise man once said: “Change is inevitable (except from vending machines)”. The arrivals of the targeting system (aka TS) and the new mod system have changed everything.

2/1/10 still reigns as the king of DPS, when run with TS instead of stealth, however the lack of protections mean that this build will meet with far more success in the hands of an experienced sniper since the lack of stealth limits the ability for a recon to evade other classes.
Another damage oriented spec that has seen much play since sandstorm is 3/3/7,

The +15% damage from TS has opened many new tankier builds to recons, with more emphasis on the balance tree than marksman.
Many well known recons are experimenting with builds such as 7/1/5, 7/2/4, and 8/1/4.
I personally use a 2/3/8 build.

The reason for this shift in builds is because prior to 1.3, a sniper with a full set of elite +health armor mods could not be killed in 2 shots by an opposing sniper, and thus could use stealth and bionics to escape and get away. With the TS arriving in 1.3, snipers could begin to take more protections, do the same amount of damage to the old 2/1/10 build.

This has lead to snipers taking more protections in order prevent this. The rapid adoption of TS has been assisted by the near constant availability of VS to detect stealth.

For a beginning sniper who is not yet fully equipped, the traditional 2/1/10 will likely prove the most efficient, as it can be successfully run without any items that need to be purchased with tokens.

Upon acquiring the Targeting system, new players should transition to one of the super agent builds (ones that start with a 7/x/x or 8/x/x) as the increased survivability helps immensely in staying on the battlefield and maintaining your presence.
Once you feel comfortable with your abilities, you can begin to trade protections for additional damage.

Send lawyers, guns, and money… -Warren Zevon

As a recon you have three goals in life: Havoc, Mayhem, and Death.
As a sniper, you specialize in the third.

No other class in the game can deliver the point DPS that a snipercon can, and no other class can do it from as far away as we can. There are tradeoffs to this that will be discussed later, but for now we are going to discuss the equipment, slot by slot

That’s not a knife… *THAT’s* a knife! –Crocodile Dundee

You have 2 options here, The Ghost Sword, and The Dual Daggers.
The ghost sword is the first weapon you get, in fact you snag it from the commonwealth in the tutorial.
It provides a reasonable damage output and will serve you well most of your career.

Once you pass 30 though you will have a set of nice new shiny toys to play with, the double daggers. These things are quite possibly a meleecon’s best friend… but we aren’t meleecons, we’re snipers. Here’s a brief run down of the differences between the two.

  • Double daggers do more damage per hit
  • Double daggers attack faster
  • Double dagger block DOES NOT CAUSE DAMAGE
  • Double dagger block DOES NOT SNARE TARGETS

The double daggers are most defiantly an offensive weapon, but for a sniper, the vast majority of melee situations you will be in are defensive. Unless you are comfortable countering meleecons at their own game, I recommend using the ghost sword and using the block to let them kill themselves, provided, of course that leaving is not an option.

Tank: So what do you need? Besides a miracle.
Neo: Guns. Lots of guns. –The Matrix

You have 4 options here, 2 smg’s and 2 sniper rifles.

As a sniper spec, you have a side benefit of working as a fairly effective SMGcon, especially on last ditch point defenses. However this should not be your main weapon, only a last resort when nobody on your team wants to stand anywhere near the point.

Now , onto the sniper rifles. They both do the exact same damage, so the choice of weapon is determined by map conditions.

The ballista debuffs target protections by 10 for a few seconds after you connect. This makes for more damaging follow up shots.

The scorpia cuts the targets healing by 50% for a few seconds after a successful hit.

In general the ballista is a better weapon for robo heavy teams as it is better against deployables (the scorpia debuff does not do anything)
For medic heavy teams, use the scorpia. The scorpia WILL net you fewer kills, but the -50% healing is a brutal debuff for a tank under focus fire on a point, or a medic attempting to heal themselves by healing others. As medics are high priority targets, I find I default to the scorpia more often than the ballista now days.

this WILL be the last time you see me –Spy, TF2™
You have three options here. Sprint stealth, spring stealth, and the targeting system.

The 2 stealths both make you invisible. Sprint stealth makes you move faster (pop bionics and hit ludicrous speed!) and Spring stealth allows you to imitate superman by leaping tall buildings (or storage crates) with a single bound. The difference between these 2 devices is strictly personal preference

The targeting system is the conquest specialty slot device, and is a solid investment all around.
It provides a passive +15% damage bonus and a +20 power bonus just for having it equipped, and when used as a device, it highlights all visible enemies with a box, as well as those through nearby walls. Yes you read that right, it’s a wall hack.

The tradeoff for this is that using the TS requires a complete retraining of the play style that you have been playing for 30+levels. Since it takes up the specialty slot, you no longer have stealth as an option, and you are one of the squishiest specs on one of the squishiest classes in the game.

I personally favor the targeting system for the increased damage, and survivability options that it opens up through additional specs.

I’m a rocket man… –Elton John
A recons jetpack choices are identical to the other classes; the traditional jetpack, the hands free, and the combat jetpack.

The difference between hands free and traditional is purely preferential, however the combat jetpack allows us to finally snipe from the air (there used to be a work around to do this involving triggering an offhand in order to close the crosshairs, but it was difficult to do, and the cost of an offhand in high level AVA is steep)

It’s worth noting that the crosshairs on the sniper rifle only close while thrusting, but will stay closed when you stop thrusting and start falling. Hitting a target while moving like this is difficult, but can be mastered with some practice in PVE or the virtual arena.

I personally use the combat jetpack, and only regret that the old recon jetpack looks MUCH better. For new players I recommend using the hands free jetpack, as the mechanics and handling are identical to the combat jetpack

ahhhhhh, that’s the stuff –Terran Marine, Starcraft™

Recons have 2 boosts, the sensor boost, and the shatter bomb

The sensor boost is your first boost you get and provides your team will all kinds of decent buffs including a 10% run speed buff, the ability to see cloaked recons, and a whopping +40% damage buff for 8 seconds. range has been nerfed in 1.3 to 50 feet, coming down from a range of 2.5 AVA maps. (one AVA tactic was for snipers to duel, building boost, and then pop them when a team was breaching in order to act as a huge damage buff).

The new boost is the shatter bomb. According to the tooltip this bomb does in the neighborhood of 5100 damage in an AoE, and provides a 3400 damage 2-tick DoT on mechanicals as well. It also stuns players, making this an EMP bomb on steroids, complete with a bigger timer (5 seconds) and special effects budget. Despite the sheer damage numbers present, this boost CAN NOT kill players outright from full health. In fact, there is code present in the game that specifically caps damage to prevent players from being killed from full health in one shot (it’s worth noting that mines, as well as the aftershock launcher CAN one shot people, because they do their damage simultaneously from multiple strikes. the AVA mini-nuke is the only thing I know of in a game that can kill from full health in one blow)

Due to the spectacular lightshow the Shatter bomb puts out prior to detonation, most players will avoid it, and those that don’t manage will be injured and stunned but still alive and on the point. It best serves as area denial in PVP matches, and as audio camouflage for mini-nukes in AVA (as they use the same sound). Several AVA teams do use the Shatter bomb effectively offensively however. Torokokill has stated that his team uses the bomb to force people off the point, allowing his team to get established in the point building in AVA, and then slowly forcing the opposing team out.

In PVE the Shatter bomb is an entirely different beast. Since the bots do not have eyes, or react to bombs it functions as an Assassin’s satchel charge with a 5 second timer, and is capable of decimating entire spawn waves. As an added bonus, since your morale counter resets to 0 on deploying the bomb, all the damage done by the bomb will assist in recharging the boost

I have not yet purchased the shatter bomb in live (all of my data comes from observation and testing on the public test server) and so use the sensor boost. Based on my observations I feel that sensor boost is far more useful for a snipercon to use against players, and if you are operating near your team, with the shatter bomb being better against robo nests and in PVE

Inigo Montoya: I am not left handed!
Man in Black: There’s something I ought to tell you.
Inigo: Tell me.
Man in Black: I’m not left-handed either.

— The Princess Bride

Ok, the last, and largest part of your arsenal is your offhand devices. Proper offhand selection and management can and will spell the difference between success and failure in your career as a snipercon. In general the recons devices can be lumped into three rough categories: Stims, explosives, and escape devices

…’scuse me while I kiss the sky… -Jimi Hendrix

As a recon you have all sorts of cool toys that make you faster, stronger, and able to hit stuff even harder than you do normally, and some of them allow you to get even more tactical information about the battle field.

Range stim: +25% range damage for 8 seconds. Pop this and robos will cry as their nest MELTS. Great for poping unsuspecting robos and medics as well, also necessary for dealing with range prot tanks in any reasonable amount of time.
This goes up to whopping +37% damage with the stim boost talent

Melee stim: the counterpart to Range stim. +25% melee damage for 8 seconds. Favored by meleecons everywhere for nourishing QQ tears it creates in the robo population (and pretty much everybody else to be honest). As a sniper though, we really don’t care about this device because if we are in melee range, our target should be almost dead, or we should be leaving.

Visual scanner: This stim is pretty much a must have, and always occupies the 5th slot on my quick bar. With merc token quality VS (TTC) and a rare cool down mod (CC), VS can have over 100% uptime with a 7/2/4 build.
It provides a 10% range damage bonus (15% with stim boost) and allows you to see stealthed recons out to a fairly sizable distance (if there is a max distance it is longer than you will run into in PVP maps). As a general rule hit this as soon as it comes off cool down every time you are in a remotely hot zone.

Bionics: Bionics seems pretty simple. Pop this stim, and win every track and field event in the summer Olympics. You jump 3 stories, run at about 30 Mph and if you use your jet pack, you move at speeds that make The Flash jealous.
All and all it’s a pretty good escape skill, and using it will get you moving to the point where most players will have trouble hitting you. Most, not all. Since GA pulls from both the MMO and FPS arenas, there are plenty of people who have the twitch reflexes necessary to keep a gun trained on you, and it doesn’t matter how fast you move if you go towards or away from someone in a straight line.
A third function of bionics is that it functions as a power stim, increasing your power pool regen rate drastically allowing you to sustain fire on a point or nest for prolonged periods of time.

Whenever I PVP, I have bionics slotted. No exceptions, ever.

Vulture vision: Vulture vision is a new stim that came in 1.3 it provides a 10% damage boost to all damage, lasts for 20 seconds, and highlights enemies that are at or under 25% health. While this sounds great in theory, it is not as useful as visual scanner due to the inability to see enemy recons, and it cannot be indefinitely chained. Also , most of your targets will be at or above 25% health when you land the kill shot anyway, so most of the time VV simply tells you what you already know. It is an excellent tool for melee and SMG recons, but once again, we are sniping, not pretending to be a blendtec blender

KA-BOOOOOOOM! –Demoman, Team Fortress 2™

While the assault certainly excels in the AoE arena, nobody can perform tactical explosive placement like the recon can. Our various bombs and mines can help control the battle space, blunt assaults, guard entrances, and clear entire points or rooms. Bombercons are masters of control and area denial.

For snipers, the explosive devices provide multiple enemy damage and debuffing, as well as additional utility beside what we can achieve from staring down a scope.

In general explosives fall into either mines or bombs.

Mines come in sticky or standard formats, and bombs come in four flavors; Fire, EMP, Graviton, and Venom

Standard mine: toss one of these out, wait a second, and wait for the fire works. Standard mines hit fairly hard, about 1.3k according to the tool tip, down side to them is that they can be destroyed and can only be placed on flat surfaces. These are best placed along walls and behind corners where unsuspecting assaults and meleecons will find them.

Sticky poison mine: similar to the standard mine, these mines hit for a significantly smaller amount. the trade off is they then apply a poison dot which slows and debuffs the targets protections they can also be stuck to all kinds of surfaces.

I like sticking one on each side of a door frame or on low ceilings so that they are triggered when players walk in the door. This tactic has ruined the day of many a meleecon coming fro my head.

Recently i’ve been choosing sticky poison mines as my third offhand in PVP

Fire bomb: this bomb deploys, and will stick to any surface. Upon contact it will explode after three seconds. Enemy players are alerted to the presence of the bomb with a hazard warning triangle similar to the lock on warning triangle. When the player moves out of the AoE, the symbol disappears.
Any player caught in the AoE will take a signifigant chunk of damage, and be affected with a fire dot. Really not the best choice for a sniper offhand, but if you are low level, and have nothing else to use, this is a good choice.

EMP bomb: mechanicaly similar to the fire bomb. This bomb explodes does damage, and applies a stun to all players and deployables in the area, and debuffs mechanical protections. As this is one of the few player stuns in the game, a good trick is to throw a bomb into a point, and then quickly finish off stunned players. Bomber cons frequently use the emp bomb as their ‘setup’ to stun players so that their second bomb hits.

Graviton bomb: standard bomb lights and sirens. Explodes for a single burst of AoE damage. Does ok damage (for a bomb) and applies a massive knockback. I have found this is great for clearing off the point in payload (deploy bomb on one side, run to the other and hide behind the payload) but not much else. A bombercon could in theory use this as the third bomb in a 1-2-3 combo to stun, debuff and scatter players, but most take mines instead to make sure they always have something off cool down

Venom bomb: accquired at level 29, this is the last device you get as a recon, and it is worth the wait. Bomb explodes for a decent amount of damage and then applies a poison dot with a tremendous -40 to protections for 5 seconds. Since protections cannot go negative, and base protection is 30, that means that a player with no additional protections will be taking full damage from all sources.

This is often used as the number 2 bomb in a bombercon’s 1-2 bomb combos.

I commonly use this in PVE in order to debuff the boss, as well as take out entire alarm responder waves (the explosion plus 1-2 ticks will kill androids and alarm responders with no additional damage done) one caveat however. Combining the venom bomb, plus your boost, plus your VS shots will very likely cause the boss to aggro on you. Be prepared to begin dodging

Deconstructor: not an explosive Per Se, but it works in a similar manner so I included it here. The Deconstructor is deployed, and setups in a similar manner to a mine. It then projects a bluish purple field on the ground that does a significant DoT to all mechanical objects in the area. It is quickly able to reduce androids to health levels where a stiff breeze would render them scrap metal and power cores. It is also capable of doing a number on a robo’s nest, should they not notice the deconstructor and shoot it. All in all probably a better PVE device than a PVP device. (try deploying one on a enemy spawn point for all kinds of fun)

one word of caution, the deconstructor, like mines, WILL HIT SCANNERS. make sure you clean up your mines by deploying them in another place where a scanner will not trigger them, or else you could be in for a nasty alarm responder surprise later

Escape devices
It’s all part of the plan… – The Joker

so we recons have all these toys to help us bring worlds of pain… what happens when things go wrong (and you know it’s a matter of when, not if)
we don’t have the medics healing, the assault’s crazy armor bonuses, or the robo’s myriad of walls and shields to stop incoming pain. What we do have are a few tricks all our own.

Sealed systems: The black sheep of the recon offhand arsenal.
What sealed systems does is not only cleanses all DoTs from you, it makes you outright immune from them for 20 seconds.

A very handy tool for someone in CQB with medics and assaults, but not nearly as necessary for someone like the sniper who should be of in the distance, or at the very least back behind the team (or better yet, behind the enemy team) laying down supporting fire

Decoy: A double edged sword if there ever was one. The decoy posesses high innate resistances, and taunts mechanical targets, a great way to distract that spawn of alarm responders so you can get your soft squishy agent arse to cover. Also useful to take a good chunk of heat off your tank should things be slipping sideways, as they are want to do on the higher difficulties.

Problem is, your decoy also absorbs all of your fire, so shooting past him is a trick, I find flanking your decoy while he tried to give that helot a hug works best, just becareful because when the decoy pops, your orange friend will not be to happy with you for fooling him like that. Another problem is that sometimes the decoy doesn’t seem to grab aggro like it should leading to untimely deaths while your decoy mocks you by doing a synchronized death animation.

Decoys in PVP are another matter entirely. Some people can use them well, and they do have their moments. However most players in the over 30 bracket have seen this trick before, and won’t be fooled long.

Decoys have several telltale signs that it’s an AI and not a player behind the wheel

  • The decoy heads straight for the nearest target making no attempts to dodge or evade
  • The decoy has huge protections, and most players will notice that everyone else is taking 100 damage but ‘you’ are only 30
  • the decoy swings faster than any meleecon ever could
  • the decoy never produces a kill message, or a health nugget

In the end, I do not personaly take a decoy in PVP, nor can I recommend doing so.

My personal Gear setups:
PVP: Ghost sword,Scorpia /Ballista,Targeting system, Combat Jetpack, Visual scanner, Bionics, Sticky poison mines/Range stim
PVE: Ghost sword,Ballista,Targeting system, Combat Jetpack, Visual scanner, Decoy, Venom Bomb

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