Ana SHOULD counter Moira, but can't

General Discussion
(Hi friends. It's 2 am over here and I know the forums get closed down, uh, sometime vaguely today-ish or soon-ish. I figured I might as well just dump this on the forum during these quiet and hesitant hours as a sort of test run of what I want to present. The following post was actually written, mmm, two weeks ago or so? I've been wanting to word my thoughts carefully here since Ana and Moira are both kinda divisive heroes right now in terms of balance. So please, as you read, keep in mind that some details might be a little "late." That said, the value of the discussion is still there to be had, just don't get too rough on me if maybe the quad-tank meta evolved in some way that I hadn't before kept track of. I guess. Thanks for reading -- assuming you live long enough to reach the end.)

There’s a growing concern among the community of an upcoming “meatball” meta, or a quad-tank meta. It hasn’t seem to catch on too quickly just yet, what with all the Mercy changes having taken the spotlight, but the strategy has proven itself very viable several times now across different ranks of play. Though there are some mix-ups involved, a meatball comp in this regard tends to be Moira, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, and D.va. To breakdown the composition briefly, Moira focuses on huge group healing, Lucio uses speed to jet past chokes and get to the objective, and the tanks generally go wild searching for kills and limiting unnecessary burst damage on the team.

The fear I have is two-fold. For one, just like the triple-tank meta from last year, this severely limits what kind of comps either team can run, and that can lead to a stale meta. For two, this quad-tank comp is not particularly skill-locked; that is to say, even lower ranks can pull off this composition to success. It’s especially powerful right out the gate when the defense doesn’t yet know what the enemy is going to use, and even more powerful in pick-up ladder games that competitive play is.

People are discussing weaknesses, and Ana naturally comes up. On paper, Ana really should be the big stop to this meta. Her kit seems perfectly designed for this. Use Biotic Grenade to block all that AOE healing as the enemy overextends, use Sleep Dart on those big tanks to keep them ineffective, and rely on distant positions so that the meatball has to be broken up in order to address Ana. In theory, it’d be silly to even run quad-tank knowing Ana should put a big stop to it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t play out like that for a number of reasons.

Right off the bat we have the issue of healblock being ineffective. The problem is that in the quad-tank, half the team can escape healblock. Moira can use Fade to expel the effect, and Zarya’s barriers also cleanse, meaning she herself is safe, as well as one teammate of her choosing. Even assuming Ana lands the grenade on all six enemies, that’s half the team able to get right back into the big AOE heals. Furthermore, Biotic Grenade is on a 12 second cooldown, where as Fade is 6 seconds, Projected Barrier is 8 seconds, and Particle Barrier is 10 seconds. All three abilities able to cancel healblock will be up and ready by the time Ana gets her grenade back, and Moira even has the freedom to sneak in a second Fade in between if she really felt like it. And of course, this is all on top of those abilities’ other effects.

Sleep Dart should be easy to land, and it likely will be. With four tanks running around, even with speed boost, it won’t be hard to knock one asleep. But because these are tanks, they naturally attract your team’s focused damage, and that will wake up any sleeping tank. What else, after all, should your team be doing if not firing heavily upon four tanks and their supports? This will make Sleep Dart largely redundant except to, under ideal circumstances, stop a D.va (or mix-up Winston) from diving Ana herself. But overall, the utility of Sleep Dart is essentially reduced to a long distance, much worse, more inconsistent Flash Bang.

Then there’s the damage herself, which Ana can’t dish out. Her 70 damage per shot just won’t make a difference on those big targets, even if she is more likely to land her shots overall. This will do well with her ult charge, allowing her to apply Nano Boost more often, but I really don’t think that will be enough, especially since Ana will be hard pressed to get her healing done if she’s being overly occupied trying to chip away at tanks -- two of which are armored, by the way, making their health much more resistant to Ana’s three-part damage.

And I haven’t even mentioned barriers, a big weakness to Ana’s kit. Those will make Ana feel even more difficult to play. Ana can’t be effective if half of her damage and healing is being negated between barriers and Defense Matrix. In total, this means if Ana does want to Biotic Grenade the meatball, she has to 1) Bait out Fade. 2) Bait out Projected Barrier. 2.5) Bait out Particle Barrier. 3) Get past the Rein shield. 4) Avoid Defense Matrix.

Even Ana’s slight advantage in positioning is jeopardized inherently. Though it won’t be as terrible as a dive comp, D.va can still overwhelm Ana and her strategic positions, and if that isn’t working, a quick switch to Winston will seal the deal. In general, Winston might just work better in this meatball, as his barrier will provide even greater protection to what little Ana will pose them against.

Despite Ana having everything in her kit naturally to be effective against this comp, all the little inconsistencies and flaws of Ana herself make it an untrue counter. The best an Ana could do to counter this comp is having god-like coordination with her team; call out who she’s about to sleep, and still nail the sleep; call out when her grenades are going out so her team can jump on them; keep her team in the right positions at all times so that her healing and protection is maximized. I doubt that even some of the best Anas would be able to do this, and this is Ana we’re talking about. This is a hero whose mechanical skill required to make her workable is at a floor you don’t see touched until, at best, mid-Platinum, and that’s being really optimistic. I don’t even know if console players at any rank can make Ana work at all.

Ana truly should be one of the parts that make-up a hard counter to this meta, but it’s not going to happen without making her efficient. I play a lot of Ana, she is my favorite and most-played hero. I truly think her two biggest flaws are her consistency, and the nature of her kit in which she has to fight against her own teammates. I’m not saying Ana doesn’t have weaknesses, and I don’t want to see those removed. I like that Ana isn’t mobile and can’t achieve high ground whenever she likes. I like that Ana’s damage and tools are skill based. I like that Ana can be overwhelm with flankers. Those are good designs for the hero she is, and leaves open affordable and rightful counterplay. But her flaws -- consistency and fighting her own team -- need to be addressed if she’s ever to become more relevant across skill levels, and I want to go into detail how I feel the problems can be fixed.

To break these problems down: Ana relies 100% on LOS with her teammates. No other healer really has to deal with this. Mercy’s beam is generous enough to cut around corners, and she has Guardian Angel to close gaps. Lucio’s aura isn’t too strict in its distance, and what he can’t reach, he can get to quickly by using speed boost on himself. Zenyatta has a three second leeway period where he can be out of LOS of his Harmony Orb. Moira can feel limited with some LOS restrictions, but her healing is AOE, has a lingering after effect, and she has bouncing orbs to quickly get to allies that are out of her reach -- oh, and Fade too, if she needs to hurry to an ally even faster.

And that’s just LOS. Ana also has to hit her shots to make them count, and because of that, it’s very easy to miss a crucial hit of health. The more mobile her teammates are, like Tracer and Genji, the more difficult it can be to get those important shots. Ana also has to avoid hitting the enemy; kinda funny when you think about it, but if your ally is behind the enemy -- especially a bunch of tanks -- it’s going to be hard to provide the healing you want. Ana also has to avoid her own teammates, and this can get ridiculous. If a friendly Roadhog just happens to be cuddling too close to Ana, his bloated hitbox can clip into Ana’s trajectory, leading to frustrating moments where Ana is desperately trying to shoot a friend in need, but her shots get soaked up by a fully-healed tank, or a hopping Genji, or any number of things. This also applies to her grenades, which can hit the wrong target and completely change the center of the splash. And let’s not forget your friends can wake up your slept victims, nullifying a powerful stun and, even worse, enemies woken up via damage get up faster than if they had to wait out the whole nap.

These are my suggested changes for making Ana a better feeling support hero, especially to help counter an upcoming meta. PLEASE NOTE that I am not necessarily suggesting all of these changes go through, nor am I even trying to resemble an extremely solidified state of balance with these suggestions. These are just tweaks to her kit, listed from minor to major, that would make her feel better. I am not asking for Ana to become OP and I’m more than aware of that possibility, I’m mostly just suggesting things that make her feel better across the board, especially at the lower ranks of play.

1. Make Sleep Dart consistent and teammate friendly: Slept targets will remain sleeping for the first full second of being slept unless 50 damage is taken within that time. After this one second, any amount of damage will wake up the target as normal. The animation for being woken up is now consistent between being damaged awake, and naturally waking up.

This should make using Sleep Dart in the middle of a battle feel much easier to get success from. The 50 damage cap within the first second means hitting a target that is under fire leaves a chance for your team to notice and cease fire, but if the target is already being swarmed, the 50 damage cap will be reached, and they will wake up. This shouldn’t over penalize slept targets much more than they currently are, while still bypassing the issue of Ana’s team ruining one of her biggest plays. Making the animation consistent between different forms of awakening will make the ability feel more consistent and allow Ana and her team to respond accordingly. For all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter if the faster or slower animation is used, so long as it’s the same and Ana’s team can respond consistently to a target coming back up.

Also note, we’re still keeping the current leeway system for Sleep Dart, where the first few frames of being hit ignore damage in terms of being woken up. However, the 50 damage cap still applies, so a slept target that is slept in frame one, but takes 50 damage or more in frame two, will still sleep for a minimum amount, but will wake up because of the cap having been reached. Of course, this is open to small amount of tweaking, based on what results work best.

2. Make healing more accessible to her team: While scoped in, Ana’s shots pierce through allies to provide healing to any target within the line of fire. (If needed: subsequent allies within the line of fire beyond the first receive 50% less healing.)

This would prevent, or at least damper, situations in which Ana is trying to heal a specific teammate, but can’t due to her own team’s positioning being in her way. Now of course, this does seem like a big buff, as Ana now has the potential to heal multiple targets at once. However, I don’t think that’s too much of an issue, due to the fact that this multi-heal is entirely reliant on her teammates being in a straight line, which… doesn’t happen, I don’t think, very often. That said, my note was added in case the full healing was too much. After all, the problem I want fixed is the consistency issue of her trying to hit the right target, where even a little bit of healing can make the difference between life and death. I also specify scoped shots here so that Ana has more reason to scope in, thus meaning if a team really does want to try and milk the most out of her multi-target healing, she has to sacrifice speed and awareness during that time.

Do know that this doesn’t affect enemies. Any piercing shot that heals will do nothing to an enemy that happens to be in the line of fire, though I imagine they would bodyblock the blow to any allies that would be behind them. I’m not asking Ana to get healing done on targets she currently can’t, but that she can get healing done on the targets who can and need to be healed. Barriers, enemy players, etc. all get in the way as they currently do.

And for the biggest change I’d suggest:

3. Decompress the utility of Biotic Grenade so that it can be a more adaptable ability: Biotic Grenade now functions similarly to Biotic Orb, with the ability to choose between two different grenades, Heal and Damage.

Now, to avoid making your whole monitor bold, I want to go into different ways here on how this would work. When you press E, Ana will now equip the grenade, but not throw it. At that point, you can use left or right click to toss which kind of grenade you want, much like Moira’s Biotic Orbs. Once pressed, the grenade is immediately thrown. From an animation perspective, this should actually lead to faster grenade throws. Currently, there’s a small delay between the input and the output. With this change, the delay is now converted mostly to that of having to press E and then firing, which means quick-acting Anas can throw out their grenades just a little bit faster if they’re quick, though the change is extremely minimal. Furthermore, it also means Ana can pre-load her grenade, so to speak, and throw it out when she finds an opportunity to, which means an overall faster grenade output via preparation. This, itself, is a very small buff to the grenade in general, allowing her to use it just slightly faster and more responsively.

Now for the actual mechanics, I have a couple different ideas. My first suggestion has much of the base idea and it applies to my second suggestion.

Suggestion One. With Biotic Grenade’s utility now split, there’s now room to buff what each grenade can do. As we know, Biotic Grenade was heavily nerfed because of how much it could do at once. With this rework to the ability, each grenade can now potentially return to what it used to do, although we may want to avoid going back to 100% healboost on allies. This means we can make the healboost and the healblock effects last longer, and even revert the burst heal/damage to what they used to do, if not increase it.

Furthermore, if following this suggestion, the cooldown on the grenade can be lowered from 12 seconds to something more consistent. I would say 8 seconds is the sweet spot, just enough that she can use her grenades more frequently to pressure her enemies or keep her allies up while in the midst of reloading/needing to heal multiple allies. It also means that even if the enemy uses cleanse abilities to bypass healblock, Ana will still have a better chance of applying it a second time, and she’ll feel achieved having at least drawn out their precious resources. I would also consider buffing the splash radius for both grenades, if there’s room for it.

Suggestion Two. Biotic Grenade now has two charges, one for Heal, and one for Damage. Both operate on their own cooldowns. This allows Ana to divide up her healblock and burst healing so that she doesn’t have to throw away one effect to justify the other. Similarly to the previous suggestion, this can afford a slightly lower cooldown (though both grenades need to be managed separately) as well as overall buffs to what each grenade does. However, the buffs can’t be too big here, as Ana can still quickly throw out both, and that’s a power that shouldn’t be stretched too much.

Between both of these suggestions, Ana becomes much more consistent in doing what she is meant to do. Ana is now allowed to be aggressive without being overly punished for it. Ana is more frequently equipped for any given battle, which should make up for her lack of personal defense and mobility, and in general give her slightly better odds against flankers -- slightly. Kind of the biggest point of all is that now Ana has a better self-heal, something plenty of people have been asking for. With her healing grenade being up more often, she can afford to heal herself without completely tossing away the big utility Biotic Grenade has. Lower skill Anas can also rely on the healing grenade more often to make-up for their lack of mechanical skill, while not overly boosting the potential high level players already have with her.

Of course, this is a big change, and it’s all a big buff to Ana objectively. Naturally, some of the numbers might be tweaked, but it absolutely leaves the ability to be more open and adaptable, rather than packing too much into one ability. By splitting up the grenades, Ana can do more without being forced to be an extremely coordinated and high-skill player. Ana can now afford to be played while having an off-day, something other supports don’t have nearly as much trouble with.

Assuming this quad-tank meta does start to prevail, it would be a huge shame if Ana had to be skipped over in relevancy twice in a row, and for so long. More than ever I think is the time that Blizzard take another big look at Ana and figure out her core issues that prevent her from being accessible and consistent. She’s a fun hero, mechanically she has it in her kit to have real impact and feel great, so it’s just a massive shame that many players can’t reliably make use of her, not even against a strong composition that she seems almost built to prevent. I’m not desiring a dominating Ana, but an Ana that game-to-game feels better than she currently does. It’s not just important for Ana players, but for the broader balance of the game.
As a Moira main, I think a suitable nerf that wouldn't directly affect her abilities in combat would be that Fade doesn't get rid of Anti-Heal.

Because ATM the one thing Ana has in her kit that should shut Moira down can be ejected instantly which I can imagine is highly frustrating for Ana players.
Yeah, I'm not going to read that mate. Shorten it down.
Bro, I'll be honest with you, no one is going to read all that. Add a tl;dr.
Save this for the new forums.

This is actually a very interesting read.
02/20/2018 12:22 AMPosted by GSenjou
Bro, I'll be honest with you, no one is going to read all that. Add a tl;dr.


Weaklings don't get to read my forum posts.

That said, when/if I introduce this topic again in the neo-age forums, I intend to highlight more areas for faster skimming. I suppose weaklings that are weak deserve some sort of pity...

02/20/2018 12:22 AMPosted by Profane
As a Moira main, I think a suitable nerf that wouldn't directly affect her abilities in combat would be that Fade doesn't get rid of Anti-Heal.


I've been torn on this myself. I like having more cleanse abilities in the game, honestly, especially self-serving ones like Moira's, but anti-heal really ought to be more punishing for the hero with two self-heal abilities. Unfortunately almost all of my Moira play as gone against teams without Ana, so my experiences are hard to make judgement of.

And overall I don't think Moira needs too significant of any nerfs, hence why I avoided that topic, on top of the fact that Ana getting buffed in any of the ways I recommended would be a good indirect nerf to Moira directly. Good to have input from a Moira main, though. Thank you.
Man...this post is so long!, try to compensate something?.

Anyways, i always thougth that Ana need some love, i was thinking she need a buff just little bit on her counter heal
02/20/2018 12:29 AMPosted by Jarhd
Man...this post is so long!, try to compensate something?.


I compensate for my small Doomfist playtime.
my times on this forums is limited, do you think i have the time to read long posts.
02/20/2018 12:40 AMPosted by ShadowDarter
my times on this forums is limited, do you think i have the time to read long posts.


Advice taken, weakling. In the new-age forums, the new-age Heavy will rewrite this as "Top 10 Reasons Ana can't counter Moira Meatball." Hopefully I don't get too many new-age upvotes that it breaks the new-age servers.
02/20/2018 12:44 AMPosted by Heavy
02/20/2018 12:40 AMPosted by ShadowDarter
my times on this forums is limited, do you think i have the time to read long posts.


Advice taken, weakling. In the new-age forums, the new-age Heavy will rewrite this as "Top 10 Reasons Ana can't counter Moira Meatball." Hopefully I don't get too many new-age upvotes that it breaks the new-age servers.

I think your fedora is cutting off circulation to your brain.
02/20/2018 12:44 AMPosted by Heavy
02/20/2018 12:40 AMPosted by ShadowDarter
my times on this forums is limited, do you think i have the time to read long posts.


Advice taken, weakling. In the new-age forums, the new-age Heavy will rewrite this as "Top 10 Reasons Ana can't counter Moira Meatball." Hopefully I don't get too many new-age upvotes that it breaks the new-age servers.


No just that when you get to your late 50's you mostly want things short sharp and to the point not wasting time, data mining for key points.
I think your fedora is a cutting circulation


I think 30 minutes between your posts was long enough for you to read mine.

02/20/2018 12:53 AMPosted by ShadowDarter
No just that when you get to your late 50's you mostly want things short sharp and to the point not wasting time, data mining for key points.


Data mining sounds like a weakling survival trait. Only the strong survive through my forum posts, like me, and maybe two others.

Like I said before, I'll update this in the future with more bolded and summarized points for easier reading. Until then, everyone can strengthen up their attention span and endure my dumb post.
Clear and concise speech is a talent. Needless to say, you're the Symmetra of this talent.
02/20/2018 12:54 AMPosted by Heavy
I think your fedora is a cutting circulation


I think 30 minutes between your posts was long enough for you to read mine.

I'm reading forum from work, I'm not going to spend 20 minutes reading the longest forum rant to ever exist.
Huge post but ya ana requires an insane amount of skill and even when played to perfection is still worse than the rest of the supports
Is it really okay to call people weak for lacking overall time to read exceptionally-lengthy, multi-paragraph posts..? A tad conceited if y'ask me.

It'd be more appropriate to call them impatient? Lazy perhaps?
02/20/2018 12:59 AMPosted by Fladkat
I'm reading forum from work, I'm not going to spend 20 minutes reading the longest forum rant to ever exist.


Got plenty of time to write your responses though. You could be halfway through my dumb post by now.

02/20/2018 01:03 AMPosted by Weisritter
Is it really okay to call people weak for lacking overall time to read exceptionally-lengthy, multi-paragraph posts..? A tad conceited if y'ask me.

It'd be more appropriate to call them impatient? Lazy perhaps?


Me? Conceited? I'm too strong to be conceited. Trust me.
They don't take in forum feedback in for a reason, figure it out.

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