The Overwatch Support Life

The Overwatch Support Life

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and readers!

It’s been a running joke for a while now. In WoW, I played a healing Priest (and the spec didn’t matter) for raids. In Heroes of the Storm, I mainly stick to heroes like Rehgar, Kharazim, or Uther if I’m playing with others. With Overwatch, I’m used to maining Symmetra, Lucio, or Mercy. All of them are support or healing roles.

During the beta weekend, I thought there’d be more players trying out a wider variety of heroes.

I thought wrong. Most teams I solo queued into had compositions like 3 Widowmakers, a 76, and 2 McCrees. These are glass cannon compositions which have loaded fire power but didn’t have a lick of staying power whatsoever. Even in games where I dominated as the 76 with 20+ eliminations or 10+ final blows, it led me to a sinking conclusion I realized right from the beginning:

Someone’s got to play support or a tank in order to secure objectives.

It’s nigh-impossible to carry your team to victory on the scoreboard alone without some sustainability from other heroes.

In that particular matchup, I activated 76’s Visor ultimate and just blew it to get as many quick kills as I could before switching to Lucio. He’s one of my more favourite support heroes to use on close encounters maps since your team will be near you to benefit from buffs. After that, the key to playing support is keeping yourself alive first and then healing the rest of your team. Lucio’s speed boost does not build up towards his ultimate, however. Make sure the healing aura is active if you’re not in the middle of setting something up.

If you’ve PvP’d in WoW or other games as a healer, you’re going to have a headstart here. Many newer support heroes tend to heal from the center of the action — which is absolutely stupid! Do not make yourself vulnerable and give the opposition free shots at you. If there’s a lull in action at any moment, look for places to hide or find cover. Behind cars or in side rooms or other objects are always a good start. Don’t give the defending Widowmaker a free shot at you.

Positioning is important. Lucio makes it a little easier because your team just has to be near you. Mercy emits an obvious beam as to where her location is. By putting yourself off to the side as you’re healing your team, now you’ve split the enemy’s focus. If they attempt to pursue you, they leave themselves open to suppression from your team. If they decide to go after your team, you’re busy healing them at the same time thereby giving them extra staying power.

Nothing says your team is limited to just one or two supports, either. Last night I was playing offense on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and defense fielded a lineup of Reinhardt, Pharah, Bastion, two Lucios, and a Mercy. After captured the first check point we simply could not push back that line at all. Some of that was due to our team composition since I think we lacked a tank.

I’ll be streaming more often during weekday evenings so keep an eye on!

More Overwatch thoughts to come later!


Tough Call: How do I turn them around?

Tough Call: How do I turn them around?


The other day it occurred to me that as a leader, we are judged twice: Once by how we handle success, and once by how we handle problems.

So by now you’ve determined that one of your officers needs to step up their game and contribute more to your rampantly successful organization.  Presuming you still feel they can be a valuable part of your leadership team, this leaves you with two standard options:

  1. Ignore it and hope the situation fixes itself
  2. Violently strike, shake or punch them
  3. Coach them to success

Method 1: Ignore it

Let me know how this works. 

Actually, I’d bet that a fair amount of people are reading this because they’ve already tried this method and realized it never changes.

Method 2: Violence

“We have not yet developed the technology to punch someone over a standard TCP/IP connection.”


So unless you’re a Jedi and can Force Choke someone, this method is sort of a wash, too.

Method 3: Coaching/Wake-Up Call

Part of leadership is motivation, and that doesn’t start and stop with your members.  Your officers need back-up, direction, vision and support on a regular basis.  The only thing that changes is your tactics and means of implementation.

Of course, how this situation came to be and what path you choose from here is largely based on your leadership style.  What follows below likely fits best within an organized style of leadership.  If you run a more chaotic/organic guild, some of this could seem foreign. 

As with any relationship, the GM/Officer paradigm requires give and take.  You both need to know what is expected of each other, so there are no assumptions later on.  It really helps to lay these things out, and to write them down.  Do not presume you will remember all the details later, because you won’t. 

Re-Defining their Responsibilities

Their domain: Are they in charge of all melee, or just tanks?  Do they coach healers outside of the raid, or is that done by the Morale Officer?  In your head, who should be going to them before coming to you?

  • Expectations: What goals have you set for their area of responsibility?  Just “play well” isn’t really a goal.  Zero missed interrupts, DPS that ranks on WoL every night, better cooldown coordination between healers.  These are examples of things they can work on.  Remember, people derive comfort from achieving goals.  
  • Extra Duties: Are they expected to pitch-in on recruiting?  Are they expected to be the sole recruiter for their area?  Do they need to make sure they set aside time to assess your back-ups?  Do they need to contribute to strat development before raid?
  • Rules are there for a reason: Whether it’s your rule or a rule they made up, we are judged by how and when we implement our rules.  If an officer feels like a particular rule (such as talking to players before cutting them, or organising who sits out on which fight, or ensuring loot is distributed correctly) then the situation needs to be examined.
  • Assistance: Tell them what you can do to help them, and when you want/expect to be asked for help.
  • Clarity: Be clear about when and how often you want to update each other.  Some guilds can do this quickly each night, some prefer a weekly officer meeting.  Develop a routine.
  • Desire: Ask them if these are all things they want to do.  Perhaps they are good at some things and not yet ready for others.  If falls to you to decide what they should be handling and when you should be giving them more to do.

Hand-in-Hand with all that, comes your fair share of the culpability.  After-all, it’s your guild, and, even though a lot of GM tasks are intangible, everyone needs to know what you’re doing so they can follow with confidence.

Defining the GM’s Responsibility

  • Tell them what you do for them
  • Tell them what additional things you will do for them now
  • Be clear with what you expect to be a GM-level issue, and what you think is best handled by them
  • Be very clear that your job is to ask questions, and this is just something you will need to do. Nobody should be offended when you make your inquiries.  Afterall, “not checking is not managing”.

Hopefully these tips will give you some good ideas when you find yourself having to coach one of your officers.

Next week: How Cataclysm has changed Guild Structures

As always, please leave your questions/comments/feedback/marriage proposals below.  I love to read them on these rainy spring days while curl up in my official Matticus Snuggie*.

Note: No such product exists.