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Overwatch 101: Lines of Defense


I work in Data Management and often in my job I often encounter the concept of the three lines of defense that a company should have to guarantee data quality and usability for decision making:

  1. Data owners who put controls in place to vouch for their data
  2. Governance teams that outline data policies and procedures
  3. Internal audit that tests the effectiveness of the controls, policies and procedures.

So what does this have to do with Overwatch? When playing the game I feel that you can describe the battlefield in terms of three lines of defense for both teams around the objective. This diagram shows what I mean:

Lines of Defense

The enemy team will be hell-bent on trying to break your first line, which is why tank heroes are most suited for it. They are the hero class most likely to hold the line given they have more hit points than any other. It is very important that your first line does not break, otherwise you expose weaker heroes to the enemy team and they could be picked out one by one. Examples of great first line tanks are Reindhart or Orisa.

In the second line of defense you’re going to find damage and support heroes that have a medium to short range. Damage heroes should be laser focused on breaking the enemy’s first line and support heroes on holding the first line (and also healing the damage heroes if necessary). Bastion and Moira are good examples of second line damage and support heroes respectively.

The third line is also going to have damage and support heroes, but that have a long range, like snipers. Their roles are going to be similar as those heroes in the second line and examples are Widowmaker (damage) and Zenyatta (support).

But there are also some heroes that are more suited to flirt around the enemy lines of defense trying to disrupt and break them from inside as much as possible. These include some high mobility tanks and damage heroes. Ideally with these heroes what you want to do is flank the enemy and perform lightning attacks to the enemy’s second and third lines of defense to knock out their support heroes. Without the support, the enemy’s first line will definitely fall. If you can also knock out the damage heroes, all the merrier! Examples of high mobility tank and damage heroes are D.Va and Tracer. This strategy completely excludes all support heroes! Support heroes should never, NEVER, go beyond their team’s first of defense. They will be too exposed and become an easy target.

Based on this, in my experience a good team composition is made up of the following heroes:

  1. Tank – Always on the first line
  2. High mobility tank – try to pick out enemy support heroes, but be ready to quickly return to the first line if needed.
  3. Damage – damage hero that is suited for your team’s second or third lines
  4. Damage – another damage hero that flanks and goes behind enemy lines
  5. Mercy! She is the ultimate support hero, a must in 99.99% of the matches
  6. Support – Another support hero

These are just guidelines for team composition. Whatever you pick though have in mind that a great team will hold their lines of defense while breaking the enemy’s first line and at the same time disrupting the second and third lines with flanking heroes. That’s where you want to be!

Finally though, if you are attacking and the objective time is ending or you are already in overtime, forget these lines of defense, throw them out the window and GO.FOR.THE.OBJECTIVE!!!

Thanks for reading!

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