So you want to Support
Before getting started, you need to ask yourself a few questions
- Do I want to put in a considerable amount of work, but get none of the glory?
- Do I want to get blamed for any and every little thing that goes wrong?
- Do I want to end up hating this game, and all the people who play it?
- Do I like being a hostage to my teammates?
- Am I last pick?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then supporting may be right for you.
Alright enough of that, let’s get down to business.
Support: Just a fancy word for Healer
In this game, supports are a bit different than other MOBAs. While in LoL/DotA, they are often jammed with utility, such as vision, CC, buffs and debuffs; in this game, it’s far more “healing” focused. Now, while raw healers don’t work so well in those games, it’s far easier to balance in Heroes due to the lack of “Armor/Magic Resistance.” Outside of specialized talents (Block, Imposing Prescence, Hardened Shield), the only thing that separates a Warrior and an Assassin is usually just their health numbers.
That being said, I do think there are different kinds of “supports.” I break them down in “Main Healer” “Flex” and “Utility.” I will not be covering utility, as it is a really vague concept. It’s just someone who helps shore up the weak points in the team. It can be a Tyrael who’s spec’d into shielding allies, or an Abathur who’s gone full Symbiote and MULE.
In my Warrior post, I was an ardent supporter that most warriors can fit in most roles and team comps; I gave examples on how to make a traditional Mace/Brusier hero into more of a Spear/Engage or /Shield/Tank. So, can the same be said for supports?
Short answer: No
Long Answer: Supports/Healers are designed to save their teammates of their own stupidity, and as much as I love Brightwing and Tyrande, they can only counter so much stupid.
Not only that, but your warrior and melees need to have faith and confidence in your ability to perform. This means sticking to the meta. Even though I know I can put out great numbers as Tyrande, if my warrior is hesitant to stay in a fight for fears of not keeping them up; they are going to buckle, and disengage, possibly costing us an objective, or even worse, having the enemy team pick up some kills as your team is routed.
However, worth mentioning, two “flex picks/Off healers” can do the job of an off healer, but it would require considerably more work and coordination.
MAIN HEALERS: Main Healers do what is says on the tin. They offer great healing output and have a heroic ability dedicated to saving teammates. There are four I consider main healers: Uther, Rehgar, Malfurion, and LiLi.
- Uther: Best support, hands down. He has a single target burst heal, and an “AOE” moderate heal, along with a stun, access to cleanse, his own form of rewind, and Divine shield, which is probably the best Heroic to save 1 person. I really don’t see much of a downside to him. He’s the best ATM.
- Rehgar: Another great option. With access to “Healing Surge” and “Tidal Waves” he can keep up an entire team against heavy poke (Kael’thas) with no issues. His Heroic ability, Ancestral heal makes it him able to counter burst or focus, but you need to take in account of the short delay to use it properly. However, he lacks peel, but makes up for it in offense capability.
- Malfurion: Amazing Single target heals, good CC, able to restore mana. Drawback? Healing over time. He lacks burst heals. The HoT nature of his healing, make him better for longer drawn out fights. His Heroic, Tranquility is an AOE HoT, so contrary to what people believe, you want to pop this right after the start of a fight, right when teams have committed. If you try to use it to keep up someone under 20%, it may be too late.
- Li Li: Ugh… Alright, she’s not “that bad.” She has great heals for the mana cost, lot of talents increase it, and her Heroic is really strong. Thing is, and it’s a big thing, she can’t aim her heals. Her Q targets the nearest ally with the lowest health, and while this may seem like a good thing, the lowest person may not be the best target. Do I want to heal the Assassin who is already disengaged with 10% health, or the Warrior with 20% standing in between the enemy team and us? Even worse, heroes like “The Lost Vikings” and Murky will almost always be prioritized due to their low health pool. Her Heroic, “Jugs 1000 cups” can be stunned out of, be the range is enough that you can skirt the edge of the back line and not worry about getting hard CC’d.
FLEX PICKS: Consider these “off healers.” Now while they can put out great numbers, it’s often not the numbers you need, it’s the urgency that you need them. Like I said, it’s about saving your allies from their own stupidity. If you can’t get that clutch heal off to save a teammate, it’s just number padding. However, they do have a role. They usually have better damage capabilities, maybe a few more actives, or just bring some utility to the team. This is where I put the other 4: Tyrande, Kharazim, Brightwing, and Tassadar
- Tyrande: Probably the best “Flex” in the game. With great healing output, vision, a stun, and a trait that melts tanks, she can do a lot of work. Her downside is 1 utility heavy heroic (Shadow stalk) and the other is Damage+slow (Star Fall). I’ve made her work as a solo healer, but I don’t recommend it. As I said earlier, it’s also about your team having confidence in you.
- Kharazim: The Monk is the new support we’re going to get. I played him and you have 2 in every game on the PTR. Puts out good numbers and has a nice heroic that brings an ally back to life, so why is he “Flex?” Positioning. I’ll go more in depth later but the area of his heal is really small, meaning to heal the tank, you have to be right next to the tank, that’s the one place you don’t want the teams lifeline. Also to make use of his passive you need to be in melee range, attacking something, which again, may compromise your position.
- Brightwing: How the mighty have fallen. Used to be the best support in the game, but with some talents removed, she lacks the ability to counter “stupid.” Now, she’s not terrible by any means, I personally think she can still have great impact on a team. Phase Shift, Pixie Dust, Polymorph all have talents to bring a lot of power to a team. I would highly recommend BW over a 2nd warrior or 3rd DPS in your comp. Shield Dust+Bouncy Dust can negate Jaina/Kael’s/Nova’s Damage output, while Critterize can help your team focus down a target.
- Tassadar This hero is just disappointing to me. I like shield mechanics, but Tass is just lacking in just output. I would not recommend picking him as a support, but as a “Utility” pick or a “Flex DPS” His Oracle is great for scouting and having your team aware. MULE is good for certain maps, Shrink Ray can negate a dive, and he can be pretty slippery. He’s just not a support in my eyes though. Still fun at times.
Activate Talents: More buttons to worry about
Now that the supports are covered, let me go on to Active Talents, the thing that separates a good from a great Support. Worth mentioning and making note of, not all supports will have access to these talents. At times, there will be situational or map dependent, but it’s up to you to decide when to pick them up. No one else will even bother.
- Scouting Drone: If you come from other MOBAs, this will be a “ward” to you. Gives vision in an area for a limited time. really good if you need to be aware of your surroundings or enemy position.
- Healing Ward: Heals for 2% of all allies Max Health every second for 10 seconds. Think of it as a 20% heal if you can get it off or people actually stand it. Here’s a hint, they won’t. Also can be destroyed very easily by AOE. But can be good when defending a point and getting a small reprieve.
- Protective Shield: Grants a shield equal to 15% of the target’s max health. Use this if you need the buffer/extra health. It’s more valuable on a tank, but can be used to prevent the last few ticks of envenom, chain bomb, or voodoo ritual on a high value target, without using a CD on a heal
- Cleanse: Used to be mandatory, but the nerf to it makes it far more situational and more “clutch.” If you have good reflexes and mechanics, it can save a teammate from death, but if you’re just a bit shaky, might be better to pick something else.
- MULE: Repairs structures. Incredibly underrated. This is a near must on Sky Temple, Blackhearts Bay, and Haunted Mines. It stops pushes, undoes their progression on an objective capture, and buys you more time to get back into the game.
- Shrink Ray: Reduces movement speed and damage by 50% on a target. It’s good… but not great. The range to cast it is pretty short, so you can’t hit the back line with it, and the only T1 melee assassin is Zeratul, and you don’t have enough time to react. However, if you’re dealing with a Butcher, Tyrael or Kerrigan, might be worth picking up to stop their dive.
- Storm Shield: Gives everyone near you a shield equal to 20% of their max health. Another great talent. Use it as your engaging, and it’s pretty much a massive health boost to your team. You can also use it defensively to avoid getting cleaned up. It’s just really good.
Like I said, there’s no golden rule when to pick up the talents. Often times, you’ll be more “reactive.” If they like to pick off one target, Protective Shield and Shrink Ray may be better talents. If there is a lot of fighting on points, or just a large map where you can’t move easily, then Healing Ward may give you some healing to stay in the fight. And if you’re on Sky Temple, you fucking take MULE… no excuses.
Positioning and You: Wait, there’s more?! How long is this shit?!
Being the Support/healer, you’re going to have to babysit the front and back line. This means you need to position according and where you can have the most effect without endangering yourself. Here, I may state “Flex” in a different sort. It’s just a flexible role. It can be a Zagara, Tyrande, Nazeebo for ranged, and Melee is either a “Bruiser Warror” like Sonya, Anub, or a Melee Support like Monk and Uther.
So below are some incredibly detailed high res images that serve as examples on how to position.
Position 1: Double Warrior
Standard set up. Here you are in between the Tank and the Carry. Notice where the the “Off tank” is and you. Try to stand opposite of him to have him serve as a buffer, or for you to be a human shield if someone tries to get on your DPS (Ranged Assassin and Melee Assassin)
Position 2: Double Support
If you have a Secondary support, have the “Off Healer” hang on the back in between the enemy and carry. If you’re the Main Healer, stay a bit closer to the Melee as they will be soaking most of the punishment and will need more attention. If the “Off healer” doesn’t have CC, This is when you take protective shield in lieu of peel.
Position 3: 4 Man Chokepoint
If you have a 5th either split pushing, man down, or a Zera waiting for a fight, this is how you want to position. You let the tank lead in the choke point, making sure they need to work to break through. However, you’ll be hanging on the back a bit more to make sure no one jumps your ranged assassin. Also, if you need to retreat out of the point, you’re not in the way of the tank or other melee. (Body blocks kill)
Position 4: 4 man Engage
This is far more aggressive positioning. You’re going to be very near the front on the exposed side, again, focusing healing on the tank. Ideally you want your other side to be covered by a wall. Now, why go on the open? Well, 2 reasons. First, to serve as a buffer between you and the assassin. Remember, they can shove and kill things a lot better than you can. 2nd reason is to fan out if you need to disengage. If you’re next to a wall, it limits the places you can run to, here, most everyone can go in a separate direction and minimize the number of deaths on your team.
Counters and Synergy: Why am I doing this again?
I’ll try and keep this a bit short. Ideally You want to pick a “MAIN HEALER” for your team.
- If they have a lot of poke: Rehgar
- If they have Burst/Pick potential: Uther
- If they have drawn out/AA heavy fights: Malf
- Do you not know what the hell to do?: Li Li
Current meta isn’t friendly to double support, but I’ll list some examples in case other people wish to bear the burden.
- Anti-Dive – BW+Uther: This is for maximum lockdown if they try to blitz your backline. Uther’s Divine Shield will negate the damage, and both supports can CC the engage to pick them off. BW’s Emerald wind can also create space if need be.
- The “Fuck your happiness, Illidan” pair – Tyrande+Malf: This is probably the most balanced pairing. Tyrande has good burst healing on a short CD, good CC but lacks AOE. Malf lacks burst and a stun, but has high output. Together they make a very good team. Worth mentioning the combos with Stun+Root.
- Cover up the weak points – Rehgar+Tass: Rehgar doesn’t have access to the utility talents such as Shrink Ray and MULE, while Tass lacks everything else you want in a support. The positive side to this is that Tass can shield the Ancestral target to make sure they don’t die during the delay.
- Panda Express Li Li+Monk: Normally two position based healers would be a nightmare, but this works surprisingly well. Monk can keep up the front lines without any issue, while Li Li can hug the carry and be safe from any CC. The combo of Jugs and Divine Palm can make it incredibly frustrating for the enemy team to kill a target.
Conclusion: This was way too long
I hope this helps some of you out. If you have any questions, disagreements or want to start a discussion, free free to leave a comment. All feedback is appreciated.