Ana is the first new hero added to Overwatch since launch, and she’s pretty sweet. I wanted to spend a little bit of time theory crafting, after playing her on the Player Test Region and watching some streams.
The first and most unique element of her kit comes from her ability to either deal damage to enemies or heal teammates. In my time playing with her, I found her kit to be very powerful, but also a little difficult to wrap my head around.
Ana’s ability (or inability) to hit teammates makes her healing more unreliable than other supports, but the tradeoff is her potential to burst heal. Unlike Lucio or Mercy, she can give large chunks of HP back to damaged units instead of a flat regen per second. Ana also has the highest potential healing in the game, being able to shoot six rounds at about one round per second, capable of healing for 75 HP. This is, of course, assuming she can hit all her shots.
The strangest thing about Ana’s rifle is its inability to head shot, but as Blizzard developers said recently in an interview with Ster, having head shots be tied to healing would make her difficult to balance and more difficult for the casual player to use.
The result of her Support Sniper role makes her strong at long ranges, but more surprisingly she is even stronger at close range skirmishes.
We Need to Talk About Sleep Dart
It should be said that Ana’s most powerful ability is her Sleep Dart. It is absurd, and while there are plenty of opportunities to BM your opponents, Sleep Dart gives Ana a burst damage combo of Sleep Dart into Grenade + Biotic Rifle Shot + Melee Attack.
Sleep Dart gives Ana some play against flankers and other heroes that might jump on top of her, and it also makes Ana a strong counter against heroes like Pharah or Reaper, who have ultimates that can be countered by Sleep Dart. Ana also does work in countering Bastion, as her Sleep Dart will knock Bastion out of his turret mode.
The difficulty with Sleep Dart is that it is a single use projectile that is easy to miss with, making it most useful at close ranges; as targets get further from Ana, the less reliable Sleep Dart becomes.
My only complaint about Sleep Dart is how little play there is around the ability. The ability to eliminate an enemy from a fight no questions asked might be a bit too powerful without a counter within the game. Then again, I would love to see a support hero with a dispel.
I have not encountered a time where Biotic Grenade has been terribly flashy, but I suspect this is Ana’s sleeper ability. It is especially powerful because of its flexibility and the utility it provides makes Ana a star player against heroes with self heals.
Biotic Grenade feels like the reason Ana would be added to a lineup. At least in theory, I can see Lucio being really well fit, as the grenade would increase his passive healing beyond the small amount it currently sits, and Ana’s 10 second Biotic Grenade cooldown fits really well with Lucio’s 12 second Amp it Up cooldown. Also, Lucio’s speed boost stacks with Ana’s Nano Boost. It’s a match made in heaven.
Speaking of Nano Boost, the ability is generally best when paired with a tank as opposed to any damage dealer. The reason for this is that tanks are the best equipped to make the best use of the damage reduction. It is possible to spam down a Pharah with Nano Boost on because she only has 200 health; it is much harder to deal with a Winston or Reinhardt with more than double that.
Nano Boost is best because it forces an issue for the attacking team. In pubs particularly, there is an advantage to shooting your team’s tank to force all of you into the fray. Use it to steer the battle in the same way the Medic could use ubercharge in Team Fortress. An indestructible tank can do enough damage and cause enough panic for even half a team to clear a point.
Old Lady BM
There is some good fun to playing Ana, and it seems Blizzard has knocked it out of the park with the character. She feels fun, if a little wonky at first.
I for one am hoping to play her a little more and get a chance to try her Sleep Dart into Tea Bag combo.