Overwatch's Mercy: The Hero Roster Breakdown - Defense
Tue 14th Mar 2017 - 10:55am
What's up y'all, Konduit here. In the Hero Roster Breakdown, we're going over all 23 heroes on the Overwatch roster and analyzing how each character interacts with (and against) Mercy. In this case, that's you! We'll be contemplating the interactions and notable principles to keep in mind when playing with or against each hero. Buckle up, this is gonna be a fun one. Before we get into the thick of things, if you're interested in learning more about Mercy and Mercy Strategy, check out the previous articles in my "Overwatch's Mercy" series below:
The following analysis is organized by hero, moving from left to right on the in-game hero select screen. Furthermore, each hero's section is split into two subsections, denoted "Allied" and "Enemy", each discussing some of the interactions, synergies, dangers, gameplay principles, etc. when that particular character is on your team or on the enemy team. Without further ado, let's dive right into it:
Allied: The Bastion buff is upon us, and with it brings an even stronger and more synergistic ally for Mercy. Bastion was already a great teammate for Mercy, and now the dynamic duo is ready to pump out insane DPS even more often.
Bastion's one of the best damage amp targets in the game for Mercy. The Recon mode gun is now very similar to Solider: 76's, with a 25 round clip and each shot dealing 20 damage (wtih a few differences in the fire rate, damage falloff range, and spread I believe). This means that Bastion scores kills on 200 hp heroes with 10 bullets normally, lowered to 8 with damage amp - a huge boon to his skirmishing potential in recon mode. In sentry mode, Bastion's bullets deal 15 damage before falloff, putting out 30 rounds a second for 450 DPS. With damage amp, that's 585 DPS, which is pretty unreal...you can almost take down a Roadhog every second. After the update, Bastion can no longer score headshots in sentry turret mode and his spread was increased; these changes mean that his damage output will likely be a little lower in Sentry mode than before, but the extra clip size and quicker transform speed should help him apply pressure and pick up kills in situations where he may not have been able to previously.
In Configuration: Tank, Bastion deals 205 damage on a direct hit with a tank shell. This already passes the most important critical threshold (killing 200hp characters), and when boosted he deals 266.5 damage; this increases his 1-shot kill capacity to cover basically every non-tank hero in the game. Boosting Bastion in his tank form is always good though, as direct hits are not always guaranteed and amp'ing the resulting splash damage is a great way to secure kills.
The final change to Bastion in the lastest patch makes Configuration: Sentry (and Tank as well) much more durable: Bastion takes 20% less damage when in either of those forms (formerly 35%, hotfixed to 20%). This has some really interesting implications for your decision whether to heal or damage amp Bastion. While boosting Bastion's Sentry damage is always appealing, it becomes even more so when you know that Bastion can take more return fire without falling to critical levels. In the end, it's situational as to whether you should amp or heal Bastion, primarily dependant on how much pressure Bastion's taking. Just keep in mind that you have less incentive to prioritize healing, but also that healing Bastion is much more powerful than before (Health + damage reduction = a great deal of 'effective' health. You can almost make Bastion unkillable in Confuguration: Sentry!). My general suggestion would be to boost him just a little longer than you would before, waiting until he gets a little bit lower on health before you switch to healing. However, remember that in situations where Bastion is taking a lot of damage, keeping him alive for a few more seconds will result in more DPS than boosting Bastion and him getting taken down quickly! When in doubt about how much pressure Bastion is taking, keep him topped off.
Enemy: Enemy Bastions are not too threatening - they're largely similar to Soldier: 76 except without mobility or burst damage via Helix Rockets. You're still vulnerable in open areas against accurate hitscan fire from Configuration: Recon, but by and large Bastion is less threatening than most other DPS heroes. Dueling him still proves difficult however, largely due to the 300 HP + armor, as well as superior damage. The sheer amount of health Bastion possesses means that you'll have to really get lucky or completely outplay Bastion's damage output in order to get a kill. Against opponents with smaller health pools, 5-4 cheeky headshots and some bodyshots is enough to win a duel, but you have much less margin for error against an opponent with more health.
While Bastion is in Configuration: Sentry, he's certainly more threatening DPS-wise, but you are also given opportunities to pressure him from afar, as he's completely stationary. Similarly to pressuring Torbjorn's turrets, you can easily apply chip damage with your 100% accurate pistol. If Bastion isn't focusing you, definitely consider helping out your teammates by contributing direct damage (this is often more effective than boosting an ally's damage, as I discuss in Torbjorn's section).
And of course, when he's in Tank mode, find some cover! I've found that as long as I'm in a good position when I hear Bastion's ultimate go off, I can usually maneuver behind cover and wait it out - Bastion's chase potential isn't super high.
Allied: Hanzo's got a few cool synergies with Mercy, but also has a few nuances that don't make him the ideal damage boost target. The key to understanding this dynamic lies in looking at Hanzo's damage numbers and his play patterns.
Hanzo's arrows deal 125 damage at full charge, amp'd to 162.5. Uncharged, each shot does 29, amp'ed to 37.7. At close range, where Hanzo might use the charged shot->uncharged shot sequence, boosting him allows his damage to surpass a key critical threshold - charged shot into uncharged shot does 200.2 damage, which is a big game! Additionally (and thanks to reddit user freelancespy87 for notifying/helping me with this), Hanzo's amp'ed arrows are pretty strong, dealing 325 damage on a headshot, chunking high health pool targets. This also allows him to 1-shot kill Bastion in Recon mode (unboosted arrow headshots deal 250 damage, taking out most of the roster but not Bastion and the tanks). And against heavily armored targets, Hanzo's damage is remarkably effective as it's not as easily mitigated - damage boosting him helps Hanzo excel further in this regard.
However, Hanzo's typical play pattern involves going for long range damage spread out over the course of a few seconds. Boosting Hanzo during this time is a little inefficient, as he's not putting out consistent DPS, but rather intermittant 'bursts' of damage. Put another way, his time damage amp'ed to damge output ratio isn't great. A good way to think about that ratio is to consider DPS - assuming you're fully charging your arrows, Hanzo puts out 83.33 DPS while Soldier pumps out 176 DPS. Add to this that Hanzo's shots are a little less reliable to hit (and have a larger gap between each) and it becomes clearer why Mercy prefers boosting more traditional DPS.
The final concept to keep in mind is that his overall kill pattern (against 200 HP heroes) remains the same whether he's damage boosted or not - he must land a headshot to get 1-hit kill, or two arrows - this is true in every case except for when you're in close range where an uncharged, damage amp'ed arrow can combined with a charged, damage amp'ed arrow to score a kill. Constrast this with Widowmaker, who has a comparatively larger 'charge' space and can release her shots early while preserving accuracy as a hitscan (Hanzo's projectiles travel slower when not fully charged). Because Hanzo has to charge up fully to accurate use his arrows, Mercy's damage boost doesn't change his usual kill potential (with the only exception being Tracer, who can be taken down with a single bodyshot when damage amp'ed).
It's important to note that Hanzo's other abilities are affected by Mercy's damage boost. Scatter Arrow is a powerful ability: fully charged, it releases 6 arrows that deal 75 damage each, boosted to 97.5 (450 to 585, if all 6 arrows hit. The scatter arrows also cannot headshot for extra damage.). With or without damage amp, it requires 3 arrows to connect in order to take down 200 or 250 hp heroes. Dragonstrike deals 200 DPS, amp'ed to 260. This is a great interaction, and one which you should keep in mind whenever Hanzo throws out his ulti - look to immediately damage boost him as soon as you hear his Ultimate callout voiceline. The additional damage can mean the difference between someone walking out of the dragon at low health and being eaten by it. More concretely, the 200 DPS dragon requires 1 second to kill 200 hp heroes, while the amp'ed 260 DPS dragon requires only .769 seconds. That's an almost 25% decrease in time to score a kill!
While Hanzo may not be the ideal boost target, he's still a decent choice, particuarly when he's targeting high health pool/armored enemies, and characters that he can use an amp'ed scatter arrow against to good effect. Again, as I mentioned in the offense Hero Breakdown, it's often pretty situational as to who you want to damage boost. There are a lot of different factors that can make traditionally great choices weak and traditionally weak characters into great boost targets.
Enemy: Enemy Hanzos can be pretty tricky to deal with. You want to stay out of his sightlines (similar to Widowmaker), and avoid open areas without cover where he has the time and space for a couple clean shots on you. If Hanzo scores a cheeky headshot from a mile away, no big deal, you couldn't have played it around much - what you want to avoid are handing him opportunities for more reliable kills. Maneuver around him, stay behind your allies (let them take the arrows, you can heal them back up), and be conscious of his positioning - you'll be in great shape.
If you get caught in a 1v1 against Hanzo, get as close to him as you possibly can when fighting. Staying at mid range or even mid-close range (i.e. giving him some space) allows him to use his superior bow damage and go for a 2-shot sequence or even a headshot. Stay up close, jump/dance around and pepper him with pistol fire and you've got a decent shot at winning the 1v1.
I go into this more deeply in the enemy Widowmaker section, but when dealing with snipers it's important to understand that you have shift your playstyle, sometimes on a fundamental level. You can't walk around as you normally would - against snipers, you should be taking greater care when turning corners or walking into open sightlines. Be mindful that Hanzo's Sonic Arrow can be used to set up kill shots fairly reliably - stay behind your team and be vigilant with your positioning.
Allied: Junkrat is a solid teammate for Mercy. He specializes in zone control/area denial, and boosting him makes what he does all the more annoying for the enemy team.
Junkrat's base damage is 120 per grenade on a direct hit, amp'ed to 156, with a maximum splash damage of 80, amp'ed to 104. In essence, this means that taking 2 of junkrat's grenades in close proximity is a kill for 200 hp characters - a powerful critical threshold to pass. This is incredibly annoying to deal with when Junkrat is guarding a choke, believe me. Junkrat's Mine is also amp'ed from 120 to 156 damage (EDIT: thanks to reddit user MisirterE for catching a previous number error here: Junkrat's Mine has 100 health, but deals 120 dmg), and his trap from 80 to 104. Junkrat's Rip Tire is NOT affected by damage amplification.
The key to remember with basically all of Junkrat's abilities (and projectiles in general) is that the damage amp is applied when the projectile DEALS DAMAGE, not when it was fired (thus, in practice, boosting the bear trap's damage very rarely comes up as you'll need to be tethered to junkrat as your opponent walks on the trap). There are some negatives to this (mainly having to move away/release the tether before the projectile actually hits), but there are also some benefits. You can sort of time your damage amp for when the grenades are about to hit their target/explode, using the bulk of your tether time to heal Junkrat if he's taking pressure (credit to Terioth for introducing me to this concept, first on Pharah). Technically, this is the absolute most efficient use of your staff for delayed projectile characters, but it's difficult to pull off correctly and can be a bit punishing if you miss the damage amp. I'd only do this if you've got a good handle on when/what the grenades are likely to hit. For the most part, stick with amp'ing Junkrat when he's spamming grenades and healing him when he needs health.
Enemy: Enemy Junkrats can of course be quite threatening if they get the jump on you, but for the most part his attacks have a great deal of counterplay to them. You're effectively untouchable in the air, and can dash out of range of his slow-moving projectiles even if they were fired quite close to you.
Fighting Junkrat is also an option - keep your distance a bit and pepper him with pistol shots. Keep in mind that if he lands 1 direct hit grenade he can C4 you for a kill (this combo deletes 200hp characters), but if you can dodge his grenades with the help of your tap shoes your gun is largely more accurate than his and you have a pretty decent shot at just straight up dueling him. But, as always against characters with limited mobility, disengaging is a strong, low-risk option - feel free to do so if it looks like you might die in the 1v1.
Allied: Mei's got some good general synergy with Mercy, but doesn't cross any critical thresholds with damage amp. However, every damaging ability Mei has can be amp'ed (even her ultimate!), which can add up to strong output vs targets with a high health pool.
Mei's combo of Left Click until freeze, then Right Click Icicle is already an instant kill against 200hp heroes, and this pattern won't change even after damage amp; however, it's good to understand the numbers: Mei's Ice Blaster deals 45 damage per second (amp'ed to 58.5), requires about 1.5 seconds to stun (the freeze is achieved after 32 ticks, and the blaster's output is 20 ticks per second), and her Right Click deals 75 damage per shot (amp'ed to 97.5). The Right Click, similar to Mcree's Peacemaker shots, requires 3 bodyshots to kill a 200hp hero or 1 body and 1 headshot, both before and after damage amp.
Mei's ultimate, Blizzard, deals 97 damage over 5 seconds, rising to 126.1 when boosted. This is some solid damage output, and can help secure kills on anyone caught in the AoE. It's important to note, again, that all of these damage amp numbers are a little 'win-more', rather than enabling plays that otherwise couldn't be made; Mei doesn't cross any critical thresholds with damage amp, and if the enemy is in a position to be falling to her combo, she's already more than capable of securing a kill!
Thus, the play pattern I think is most effective when playing with an allied Mei is to prioritize healing her as opposed to damage amp'ing. Keep her sustained and able to get into the thick of things so that she can get off her freeze-combo. The exceptions are when Mei is at full health of course, and when she's firing her Right-Click icicle to finish off an opponent. If you're not damage amp'ing up until that point, boosting the Right-Click helps secure the kill if the target is receiving heals while frozen. This play is most common with Roadhog hook combo, but it's just as applicable to Mei's combo.
Having Mei on your team offers some great protection from flankers, particularly Genji. Mei's weapon is quite reliable and difficult for Genji to avoid at close range, so sticking near her can make things difficult for enemy flankers. Mei also has the capability to wall for you (as protection against ultimates or flankers), but in the former case she'd probably be doing it for the team anyway and the latter is quite difficult to coordinate. Call out for it if you see a good opportunity, but a protective Ice Wall is tough to pull off in a chaotic battle.
Enemy: Enemy Mei's are actually comparatively easy to deal with. First and foremost, you can completely outmaneuver her with your mobility - just fly circles around her. As long as you're positioned well, avoiding her pressure is as easy as dashing to an ally at another location. Because of this, you're never really in danger of getting frozen and icicle'd when allies are around in a somewhat open area. Mei can be threatening if you're caught in an enclosed room, or if she walls off your escape/jump LoS and gets a freeze off on you. Be mindful of this line of play and ideally have multiple GA options if you're getting in close proximity of Mei.
From range, Mei's not too threatening. Play around her icicles like you would a hitscan DPS's sightline, but you'll have an easier time avoiding her shots because they're projectiles. Keep in mind that you can get hit by 3 icicles before being taken down (each deals 75 damage - watch out for headshots though).
All that being said, if Mei is focused on someone else, by all means throw in chip damage on her. Mei's got a relatively large hitbox and you can pressure her with your pistol as she's trying to get in range to freeze her target.
Finally, if Mei does get the jump on one of your teammates, you should definitely be healing your frozen ally. More often than not, you can save them through the first icicle headshot, which is enough time for the freeze to wear off and the teammate to regain mobility, and maybe even fight back. Keep in mind that if you're close enough, you can run in front of Mei as she's combo'ing your teammate and just straight up bodyblock for them. If you time it right (not too early, basically), you should be able to tank the icicle shot and still live, while your teammate can escape or turn and fight. This is a move that is honestly applicable on all heroes and I don't see done enough (Mei's kit/core combo has a great deal of couterplay to it); be aware of what's going on in the battle and look for opportunities to save your teammates from Mei!
Allied: Torbjorn's one of my favorite characters to play with as Mercy - Torb offers a great of support to help Mercy out, and Mercy can make him into a fearsome damage threat in his own right. Let's start with Torb's damage.
Torbjorn's primary fire (firing single rivets in an arc) already does a surprising amount of damage at 70 per shot (the same as McCree)! This requires 3 bodyshots to kill, or 1 bodyshot and 1 headshot. Same as McCree, boosting Torbjorn doesn't allow his primary fire damage to cross any critical thresholds, as killing a 200hp hero still requires 3 bodyshots or 1 headshot + bodyshot when while damage amp'ed. However, the additional damage does help quite a bit against tanks.
The secondary fire - a shotgun-style burst of rivets - draws parallels to Reaper's shotgun. In close range (no falloff) each pellet does 15 damage with 10 pellets released per shot - that's a clean 150 damage when you're up close. With damage amp, you're looking at 195 damage per shot, which is pretty absurd. Assuming a little more than 50% of the pellets hit, you can fairly reliably two-shot a 200 HP character while being damage boosted. If Torb's up close, I strongly encourage you to encourage him to go for aggressive plays with you pocketing/supporting him. A close-range Torbjorn is basically Reaper, so go ham when the situation presents itself. And, of course, tanks just melt in the face of Torb right clicks.
It would be remiss of me to not mention Mjolnir, aka. Torbjorn's Forge Hammer. It deals 55 damage per swing, amp'ed to 71.5. This actually does pass a huge critical threshold - you can kill 200hp heroes in 3 swings instead of 4, which is a massive upgrade. It's unusual that Torb will use the hammer, as the shotgun burst is generally more effective at close range; however, I can certainly see hammer usage come into play if you're fighting someone slippery or want 100% reliable damage. Boosting your Torb so that he can reliably 3 shot the Symmetra that's diving him with his hammer is a real thing.
Torb also provides excellent support for Mercy. Setting up a turret in and of itself is a huge boon - when Mercy's pressured by flankers, falling back to the turrets position will provide some much needed cover fire (I'll also note here that damage amp'ing Torbjorn does NOT affect his turret's DPS, in case you were wondering). When Genjis and Tracers jump on you, you've got an automated defense system to protect you. Finally, armor packs are just the best...Giving Mercy 275 hp and armor's damage reduction is immensely helpful. With an armor pack, you can duel flankers you wouldn't normally be able to. Tracer's damage is severely reduced (to the point of you being able to sometimes cleanly win an extended 1v1, or at the very least be in no danger of dying before you dash away to an ally), and Genji becomes much easier to confront. Don't hesitate to pester your allied Torbjorn for armor (saying "I need healing" in the comms wheel comes out as "I need armor" for Torbjorn), as you're likely the first in line as far as how valuable/effective armor is for the wearer.
Enemy: Enemy Torbjorns aren't too much of a threat. You'll more often interact with Torb's turret than Torb himself; it's important to note that Mercy's actually quite proficient at pressuring enemy Torb Turrets - her pistol fires shots in a perfect line, so all you have to do is line up your crosshairs and you can lay into it. Definitely help out your team if you're working on taking out a turret, it's actually one of the scenarios where using your own pistol DPS is strictly better than amplifying an ally's (unless it's Bastion). If everyone has a 100% chance of hitting the target (in this case the stationary Torb turret), you will add more damage by using your gun than by amp'ing another's. Something to keep in mind!
Dueling Torb is possible when you're at close-midrange, though it's a pretty close matchup and you have a much smaller margin for error than Torb. Each of Torb's fire modes are highly damaging and you can't take too many shots before going down. If you're in melee range, a savvy Torb may even switch to his hammer and beat you down in just 4 hits! So, you want to be close, but not TOO close. On the bright side, he's got a reasonably easy to hit headshot hitbox and you can pile on some damage if you've got sharp aim. Don't be afraid to fight him if you need to, but keep in mind that he's basically got no way to chase you if you escape to an ally - repositioning is always a good option if you're feeling threatened.
Allied: Widowmaker's a teammate that has some decent synergies with Mercy. The two keys that make Widow and Mercy work well together are her damage thresholds, as well her natural positioning as a sniper.
With regards to damage, Widow has some interesting stuff going on. As of some patches ago, Widow has a base damage of 12 on her scoped shots, going up to 120 when at maximum charge (her headshot multiplier is uniquely 2.5x). The question of the day is at what % charge is Widowmaker able to score a headshot kill on 200 hp heroes normally vs. being damage amp'ed; a bit of algebra yields the info: Widow requires 66.66% (repeating, of course) charge to get a headshot kill without damage amp, and roughly 51.28% while boosted. This isn't a huge difference (ultimately it results in a .1125 second shorter wait time to a lethal charge %), but knowing that you can take the shot at just above 50% while being damage amped is certainly an edge, and good to know. Notify your allied Widow's of these numbers, if they aren't already aware!
Mercy makes Widow's non-headshot kill patterns more reliable - bodyshots which normally deal 120 are boosted to 156, and basically any boosted follow-up shot will be enough to take down an enemy at 44 health (28.2% charge or greater, if you're curious). In the usual case, a 120 damage bodyshot requires a shot with at least 66.66% to deal the last 80 damage. This is an almost 40% decrease, equating to about .288~ seconds shaved off of charge time, which is rather significant (do keep in mind that there is a flat .33 second delay when scoping in/out, which this calculation doesn't include. So to calcuate the full time-to-kill, add .33 to the time it takes to get to a particular charge %. You can find all the information here). Moreover, against high health pool targets (thanks again to reddit user freelancespy87 for notifying/helping me with this), Widow's headshots can deal their full 300 damage to good effect; since a one-shot kill/overkill damage isn't possible, bigger chunks of damage are valuable in taking down these characters. With Mercy's damage amp, Widow deals 390 damage on a fully charged headshot: this takes out Bastion in 1 hit, and makes it such that a stiff breeze will finish off Zarya at 10 HP.
Additionally, you can boost the damage from Widow's Venom Mine; typically it does 75 damage over 5 seconds (15 a second), but this is amped to a total of 97.5...nearly 100 damage off of a venom mine can be sweet and sometimes make the difference in securing a kill. Moreover, amp'ing her SMG from 390 dmg per clip to 507 dmg is some nice value (130 to 169 DPS) - Widow's SMG spread isn't great, but boosting her as she fights up close isn't something a flanker can really shrug off. Long story short, don't be afraid to boost Widowmaker as she's acquiring and dropping targets - the pair of you can get some work done. If she's watching a choke point from a good position she may not need a great deal of help (getting headshots when you're scoped in and can take your time to reach 66.66% charge or above is just as lethal without damage amp), but when things are a bit more fast paced I would keep in mind that damage amp'ing a skilled Widow is a decent option.
The second reason I like Widow as Mercy is that she's an ally that will naturally position herself away from the middle of the fight, usually at an elevated vantage point. If you're ever feeling pressured or are taking heat, you can often just turn around and fly to your friendly Widow! Keep the positioning of allied snipers in mind as you move forward - they will often be your escape beacon, should you need it. Communicating this to your friendly sniper in advance (so they can position to give you jump when needed) will make this play pattern even more reliable and effective!
Enemy: Enemy Widowmakers are pretty interesting to play against. I must emphasize that the key to playing around Widow is to avoid staying in her sightline for any extended duration of time. Against a skilled Widow, I wouldn't peek my head out for any longer than it would take for me to Guardian angel to an ally behind cover. Indeed, this should be your almost exclusive method of moving around if you're near an enemy Widowmaker's sightline - let your ally dash through first, then you can follow them via Guardian Angel.
Up close, it's actually possible to fight Widow if you find yourself in a dueling situation. Compared to many other heroes, she's not lethally dangerous at close range and you've got a pretty decent shot at taking her out. The wrinkle in the situation is if she eschews using her SMG and goes for scoped shots...this is riskier for her as she basically accepts taking a ton of free damage, but one flick into headshot will take you out. In my experience, if I'm up close, I almost always duel aggressively. Perhaps I've just gotten lucky, but if you can avoid the scoped headshot attempts, dueling Widowmaker is definitely in the cards.
In general, stay out of Widow's LoS, play around the 'popular' Widow sightlines, and you'll be OK. It's easy to go on autopilot when moving across the map, but when the enemy team has a Widowmaker you MUST adjust your play pattern - don't let her get free headshots, make her work for any kills she picks up.
That's it for the defense heroes. The big takeaway from this section, similar to the offense heroes, is that Mercy works quite well with characters have that have consistent/reliable DPS, reach critical thresholds when damage amp'ed, or can excel when given damage amp and are in the right position to take advantage of it. Remember that the damage numbers and whatnot are meant to help you understand the situations where you want to boost the hero; however, depending on the circumstance, characters that are 'traditionally' strong boost targets can become situationally weak, and vis-versa. Always keep an open mind to your current battle situation and discern the best boost targets based on their innate hero characteritics, positioning, ultimate availability, etc.
Here are the links to the rest of the articles in the Hero Roster Breakdown series:
That's all for today, I hope you enjoyed the article. If you'd like to discuss anything Mercy, have comments/feedback on this article, or just want to say hi, feel free to tweet me @k0nduit (with a zero instead of an 'o') and I'll get back to you.