Hello, Gangsir here, with another hero guide.
This time, it’ll be for Ana. After seeing the nano buff that she received, and an overall increased frequency of Ana players, (probably mostly due to the other supports being rebalanced) I wanted to write a guide on how to play her in a way that will maximize efficiency and healing you’re able to put out.
This guide is aimed at all tiers, basically anyone looking to pick up Ana. The information should be applicable to all ranks, with perhaps minor tweaking for extreme ends of the ranked system.
Kick back with your favorite snack, because this one’s gonna be long.
Table of Contents
- Raw Data
- Abilities and ultimate
- Sleep dart
- Executing a sleeping target
- Landing sleep darts reliably
- Biotic Grenade
- Effective use and the grenade spectrum
- Applications of Nano
- Playstyle paradigm – DPS Ana vs Healer Ana
- Playstyle paradigm – Scope Vs Hip fire
- Other support matchups
- Enemy matchups
- Reload cancelling
- Aim forgiveness
- General tips
For this first section, let’s go over Ana’s stats.
Ana is a support hero with 200 health, and no mobility abilities. Her gun damages for 70 damage (Damage threshold being 3 shots to kill 200hp heroes), and heals for 75 per shot. Her gun also pierces full health teammates, preventing them from getting in the way. Her only way to regain health is by use of her Biotic Grenade (henceforth abbreviated as Bionade), or external healing.
Abilities and Ultimate
Ana possesses two abilities, and of course an ultimate.
Ana’s first ability, sleep dart, has a 12 second cooldown and launches (after a short delay) a small blue projectile that flies at 60 meters per sec, and puts any enemy it hits to sleep for 5.5 seconds. If the sleeping target takes at least 1 damage, they will awaken early, taking 0.5 seconds before they regain full control. While asleep, targets will see “Sleeping” on their screen, will emit blue Zs, (both in third person and on their HUD), and sounds will sound lower and distorted.
SD is a loud ability and makes a distinctive ka-chew sound when used. This can be used to notice when the enemy Ana has used theirs.
When interrupted early by damage, sleeping targets will take 0.5 seconds to awaken, however if the full duration of sleep is allowed to happen, a longer wake-up sequence will be played at the end, where the player is still unable to act, but can be freely damaged. This is important to take into consideration when preforming executions on sleeping targets:
Executing a sleeping target
To properly execute a sleeping target, the executioner should stand behind the slept target if possible (to prevent instant retaliation on wakeup), wait for the distinctive inhaling sound that accompanies the end of the sleep, and then preform their execution. This accomplishes multiple things: For one, it makes it so the target isn’t able to pop any defensive or mobility abilities before they die, as their controls are locked. This is helpful for executions that are not instant, like a Zen volley or a solo Ana’s execution. Secondly, it wastes the most time of the target, making their respawn time effectively 13.5 seconds, due to them going from “not able to do anything because slept” to “not able to do anything because dead” directly. Thus, even instant executions like a Hanzo headshot should wait for the end when possible, just to put them out of commission for even longer.
“Gangsir, what if I’m alone?” Well, you’re actually able to temporarily become a DPS to execute them! You do this via a damage combo, that consists of waiting for the correct time (I find a half second after you see 8 appear on your SD cooldown to be about right), shoot, grenade, shoot, melee. This combo does 230 damage, so for 250 health heroes you’ll need to either shoot or melee them once more after the final melee, if you sleep them at full health.
Here’s an example GIF of me preforming it. You can use that gif to get a sense of the timing. Meleeing isn’t necessary for 200hp targets, but I find it’s a good idea in case they have like 10 armor from brig or get a smidgeon of healing during your combo.
And of course, don’t forget to BM your slept target. Yes, he killed me after being rezzed, lol
Landing sleep darts reliably
Landing sleep darts requires a sense of the delay that occurs before firing, the projectile speed, and an ability to predict. There are a few “money $leeps” that I always go for when I see, because they’re pretty reliable to hit:
- End of doomfist ult –
Always sleep him just after he hits the ground. This interrupts his momentum and even if it only stuns him for the minimum ~1 second, he can be killed by teammate burst.
- Exposed Bastion –
Sleeping him knocks him out of sentry, which at minimum wastes his time, at maximum gives your team a break to peek to kill him/CC him greatly.
- Standing still widow –
Widows pretty much never get shot at, especially when slept, so sleeping them takes them out for a while and either lets our widow execute them, or wastes their time.
- Ulting hog –
Very slow and easy to sleep, and interrupting his ult is helpful to end the knockback spam.
- Hog that just hooked teammate –
At the minimum, prevents him from shooting the hooked target immediately.
- Ulting McCree or Pharah –
Non-mobile, critical targets to stop.
- Charging rein –
Really easy to hit, and if done correctly can often result in the near instakill of the rein, and save teammates that might have gotten pin crushed.
- Enemy Ana standing still –
Gotta assert dominance. Also delays one of their healers I guess.
Also delays one of their healers I guess.
- Ulting genji/Soldier – T
The hardest to hit of this list, but massive value if landed and left to sleep.
Pointlessly swinging enemy Hammond. Put a stop to that silly 50 damage time wasting.
Everything else is up to your judgement. Try not to toss out sleep as soon as you get it onto targets that don’t get punished for getting slept, you want to save it for when a money sleep comes along.
Bionade is her second ability, it tosses a grenade that explodes on contact with a surface or player, and boosts healing for allies, and prevents healing altogether for enemies. No matter what, their health cannot increase. It also deals 60 damage to enemies and 100 healing to allies. It has a 10 second cooldown.
Effective use and the grenade spectrum
Grenade usages range from fully defensive (landing them on only your team just to boost healing) to fully offensive (landing them on the enemy team in order to increase chance of kill confirm). Optimally, you want to aim for an even mix. Proper positioning and correct attention from your team allows you to use your grenades more offensively, and being forced to heal yourself/clutch heal your team will skew your uses defensively. Neither is bad, but aiming for a mix is optimal.
So how do you land good nades? Well, primarily be looking for “money nades” similar to money sleeps. These are: (In my opinion)
- Low flying Valk Mercies –
This can allow your hitscan DPS to pepper her to death, without her regen. Do this if your hitscans have proven capable previously. Alternatively, 3 tap her yourself.
- Roadhogs at 1/3-1/2 health –
Anti-nading him will prevent him from tanking with his heal, and if you’re lucky he’ll use it during the antiheal period (which basically ensures his death) or he’ll be forced to back off until he can heal again.
- Successful friendly rein pins –
If your rein pins someone he won’t 1-shot, Bionade them both. This prevents clutch heals on the pin-ee and lets your rein continue attacking his target without risking dying to his angered enemies.
Enemy team all clustered behind a rein shield, or in a grav? Sneak a nade onto them. It prevents healing and nets you elims and offensive assists. Be sure to call out “huge purple/nade!” when you do this, it hypes people up.
- Pocketing a ballsy reinhardt –
There is nothing more unkillable and scary than a Bionaded reinhardt getting double pocketed. Watch as that madman lays german-engineered waste to the enemy.
- Speed healing a high health target –
- Wanna generate ult?
Nade and spam healing into an ulting winston.
- Your own transcendence –
Makes you really hard to kill through it.
The rest is up to you. Remember that you can sneak grenades around enemy shields using the map geometry.
I would highly recommend loading up a custom game with cooldowns off and just practice throwing nades to different locations from different positions. Get used to the arc of the projectile.
Ah, the legendary god-maker, genji’s ambrosia, POTG in a syringe, etc. Nano boost is Ana’s ultimate, and when applied to a teammate, they take 50% less damage, and deal 50% more. They also get healed for 300 health, which will full heal most heroes. Nano boost takes 1650 points of damage or healing to charge.
Applications of Nano
Nano can be used offensively or defensively, just like Bionade.
If you want to use it offensively, look to boost highly mobile, ranged heroes, preferably with their ult. Attempt to coordinate and set up expectations. What I personally do is ask the DPS to tell me when they want Nano, and I’ll follow them around to maintain line of sight (within reason) to ensure I’m able to Nano them when the time comes.
Alternatively, wait for a teammate to ult in front of you, (in a reasonable situation, don’t nano 1v6ers) and nano them as soon as they do.
To use it defensively, wait for a critical player to get low (this will often be your main tank), and nano them. Doing this will heal them, and during the nano you should heal them back to full as they only take 50% damage. They’ll also likely need the healing as getting nanoed basically aggros everyone to attack you/deal with you.
All in all, don’t be worried about wasting this ult. It’s pretty fast to charge as long as you’re doing your job well.
Playstyle paradigm – DPS Ana vs Healer Ana
Ana is a very interesting hero. Capable of great healing and good damage, it can be sometimes hard to tell if it’s appropriate to be shooting the enemy while playing her. Allow me to present my personal philosophy on attacking with Ana.
Primarily, you should be healing, as you are a support and you take up a support slot on the team. But does that mean completely ignore the enemy? I would say no. I play Ana as an “opportunity DPS”. I’ll heal as long as somebody needs healing, but if a kill presents itself, (eg someone gets called out as low, or is exposed), I’ll quickly kill/pressure them and then return to healing.
You want to play Ana like an inverse Zenyatta. Normally, Zen fires at enemies, occasionally turning and applying harmony to his team. You want to do the reverse. Shoot at teammates, and occasionally fire off some shots at the enemy. Pressure people in the open with no cover. Finish off people that are one shot. (Remember, your damage per shot is the same as McCree, and has infinite range)
Applying damage to hard to hit targets if your aim is better than your DPSs’ is also helpful. Don’t be scared to shoot pharahs.
Just don’t hard-commit to DPS. Don’t sit there spamming shots into a rein shield when people need healing. Your damage is fine-grained, it’s meant for quick assassination of low health enemies, not softening people/shields. Continually observe the battlefield, and determine if it’s best to be healing, or assisting with kills.
Positioning – Where oh where has my dear Ana gone?
Ana is one of the most positioning reliant heroes in the game. Having good positioning can mean ranks of difference. Good positioning leads to less chip damage taken, less deaths, better lines of sight, etc. Unfortunately, due to the flowing nature of Overwatch, and your own team, it’s hard to just give you a pre-defined list of places to stand. Instead, I’ll give you a set of identifiers that you can use to find a good position for yourself during a game:
The identifiers for a good Ana position are:
- Able to see most of team + most of enemy team –
Like stated in the previous section, you want to be able to do both your jobs, so make sure you can see everyone. Avoid seeing certain targets like the enemy widow.
- Near cover –
Make sure you’re able to duck behind cover if long range DPS start trying to delete you.
- Near healthpacks –
Greatly reduces self-nades.
- Not too close or far away –
Distance matters. Don’t be so close that you get caught up in the fighting and have to spin around looking for targets, and don’t be so far away that you can get molested quietly by a flanker, or very easily lose line of sight to your team. Also makes throwing money nades and money sleeps easier.
- Acute angle of camera movement –
Try to position yourself where you don’t have to make huge sweeps of your camera to heal/hurt people. This also give you a sense of correct distance.
Follow those 5 checks and you should be pretty good.
As for running Ana on different maps, she can be run on most maps, the only ones she struggles with are KOTH maps, which require playing a bit closer to your team due to lack of sightlines to the objective and flankers.
Playstyle paradigm – Scope Vs Hip fire
Ana’s gun can fire in two ways: When not scoped, she fires a fast projectile, and when scoped, a hitscan shot.
Deciding between them is a point of debate among Ana mains. Personally, for any target within 10m (about lucio’s range), I hip fire, any further and I scope. My hitscan aim is much better than my projectile aim, so sometimes I’ll even quickscope really close targets. The positioning I tend to take leads to a lot of scope use.
As for my scope settings, I have toggle scope off, (as it prevents quickscopes when on, more on that under technologies below) and relative sensitivity set to 38, which syncs my unscoped sens with my scoped. I have recoil recovery compensation on, as I pull down due to habit. If you’ve never played a FPS with recoil before, you might want it off.
You can develop your own preferences.
Other support matchups
Pairing supports is like pairing a fine wine with a gourmet dish, mess it up and you make both look sub-par. Below, I’ll discuss Ana’s pairing with other supports:
- Brigitte –
Pairing ana with only Brigitte makes you the main healer, the validity of which will depend greatly on other teammate picks, and your own skill. This is a fine combo if your team doesn’t need a huge amount of healing, and can finish fights quickly. Unfortunately you won’t benefit from Brigitte’s rally often due to your positioning, but she is good at keeping you alive because she can defend you from flankers and throw you repair packs that save you from having to self-nade.
- Lucio –
Pairing Ana with Lucio will either make you the main healer or the off healer, depending on how much speed boost your Lucio uses. Either way, while you have a lucio your job is to heal people that your Lucio is too far away from, namely flankers, Pharah, etc. It is also your job to provide burst healing to anyone that gets low, as Lucio’s healing is too low to quickly return someone to high health. All in all, not optimal, and I wouldn’t go for this if I had alternatives. A lucio oriented comp makes you the black sheep, and he relies on affecting the whole team with his healing/speed to really get work done.
- Mercy –
When you have a mercy, you are always the off healer. When a mercy is already present an Ana is selected for her utility, thus you must be good with Ana’s abilities. Similar to Lucio, your job is to land sleep darts, grenades, and preform blitz healing to low teammates, especially now so that Mercy’s healing/s has been reduced. You can also make Mercy much harder to kill if you just toss a dart at her once in a while. Unfortunately, this isn’t a terribly good combo because you have very little ability to counter abilities like earthshatter or grav, so be careful if the enemy has good tanks.
- Moira –
Ana and Moira is an okay combo, basically your job is to heal people far away from the moira, as an off healer. Your Bionade can augment Moira’s already huge healing rate to create a budget transcendence, so try to grenade the team whenever they get low, this can allow moira’s piercing heal to heal them all quickly. You can also assist Moira with confirming kills.
- Zenyatta –
Pairing with Zen makes you the main healer, basically your job is to preform main healing to the Tanks in battle, because Zen’s isn’t fast enough. Zen’s job becomes healing flankers and the like. Your Bionade can make transcendence even better, so always save your Bionade if you expect the enemy to CC your team.
In this section, I’ll talk about Ana vs Enemy heroes in a 1v1 scenario, and give tips for defending yourself. At the end of every hero, I’ll give an overall evaluation of the weighting of the fight, towards you or against you.
Can be dangerous if he gets the drop on you. Look for good opportunities to sleep him (charging punch, at the end of his ult, when he uppercuts you into the air, etc) and either execute him yourself or call someone over. He has a large hitbox, so if you can bait him through a door to line up the sleep better, you’ll have an easier time.
Weighted slightly against you. Without sleep dart, heavily against you.
Similar to Doomfist, with one exception. Most genjis I encounter will dash straight to me, and after observing that I’m aware of their presence, pop deflect. Be careful that you don’t sleep yourself, as that makes it very easy for genji to right click your face. Also be careful to not get your grenade deflected. As for sleeping him after he burns deflect, wait for him to start falling after double jumping, he can’t really control his trajectory.
Weighted slightly against you. Without sleep dart, heavily against you.
Typically won’t kill you unless you or him is out of position, the important thing is to not let him get close, and don’t hard scope and stand still when he’s near. New falloff McCree can kill you with 3 headshots from any range.
However, if you’re far away and stay mobile, he makes a good target to put pressure on, as he can’t take much damage without needing healing.
Weighted depending on range. The farther, the easier.
Pharah often tries to mess with you, as she can send rockets at you easily. The primary way to deal with her is to cover underneath a roof until she’s distracted, then shoot her down. Save sleep dart if you think he has her ult to interrupt it, but don’t sleep her during free-flight, it’s hard to do and risks too much.
Weighted against you if she’s focusing on you, towards you if not.
He’s only a threat if he sneaks up on you, keep aware. If you end up fighting him, stay away out of his quick-kill range and fire some shots at him to make him wraith. Sleep him when he exits wraith.
Weighted for you as long as you keep range, due to your small hitbox.
Same as McCree, typically won’t bother you. Bionading his health station is effective, as it prevents him from sustaining himself with it. Sleep him if you see him sprinting in a straight line.
Weighted neutrally, it depends on skill of both players.
Frequently tries to mess with you, stay aware and try to sleep her. She shouldn’t really kill you as long as you’re near your team, as they can protect you from her/scare her off.
Weighted against you unless you get the sleep off. Getting hacked can be dangerous because you can’t self heal.
The classic ana killer, keep your wits about you and try to go for the sleep. If you can, bait her into small spaces where she’ll be limited in her bullshittery. Teammates’ help is crucial here, if you have a tracer hassling you, move closer to your team.
Weighted depending on skill. If you’re good with sleep dart, you should be alright.
Shouldn’t bother you, just sleep him whenever he’s exposed. Anti-nading him also makes him easier to take out. If you can get a really tight angle on him (to where you can only see a few pixels of him), you can annoy him with shots.
Weighted towards you.
Very dangerous, avoid peeking him. If he gets close, try to sleep him.
Weighted heavily against you. Avoid sightlines.
As long as you stay out of effective range, he’s a free assassination. Put pressure on him and shoot him out of the air. You can also sleep him if he leaps at you. Look to shoot his tire down too, you do most of it’s health with one shot.
Weighted pretty well towards you.
With new No-falloff mei, just as dangerous as Hanzo, avoid standing still. If she gets close, try to sleep her. While fighting her, just before she freezes you, nade yourself, this should make you not get one-shot by the headshot.
Weighted against you.
Not your problem. Take out his turret if nobody else is looking at it. Note that you can’t sleep his turret.
Don’t. Avoid completely. Never let her see you. If she’s distracted, try to sleep her, but don’t try to out-snipe her. You’ll lose most of the time, even in lower tiers. She just brought more gun.
Heavily weighted against you.
Sleep her if she dives you, just be careful to not fire it into her defense matrix. If you need to heal while fighting her, always crouch and throw your nade straight down, otherwise she can deny your heal by eating it. It may seem counter intuitive, but while fighting her, get extremely close to her and jump around her, shooting her with hip fires. It’s much harder for her to hit you than you to hit her like that, even high rank D.vas have trouble tracking extremely close targets jumping around them.
Not your problem. If you truly want to mess with them, wait for them to fortify to some other cause, then run up past their shield and sleep them. They don’t have enough damage to kill you before you sleep them. Sleeping her makes her easy to kill for your flankers.
Weighted neutrally/towards you.
Also not really your problem, look to nade him when he looks like his healers are the only thing keeping him around, and sleep him if he charges.
Stay out of his hook range, and make his life hell with sleep darts and nades.
Weighted towards you as long as you stay away.
You’re a typical dive target for him, so be careful. Either sleep him in midair before he bubbles, or wait for him to land and stablize, and sleep him. Try to sleep his ult so he wastes it. If you miss the sleep, you’ll need your team to survive.
Weighted against you.
Not your problem, just use your abilities to make it harder for her to live. Sleep her, Bionade her when she’s low, etc. If you have to fight her directly, get close and jump around her, it makes her fail to track you, or damage herself with nades.
Similar to winston, sleep him when he engages on you. He’s got a very big hitbox and is pretty easy to sleep. If you miss the sleep, treat him similar to D.va and get super close and dance around him.
Weighted towards you as long as he isn’t super good with movement and hits you for 150 with his combo.
Depends on player skill, a better ana will sleep and execute you. Take your time and aim carefully.
Weighted depending on skill.
If she gets close and you don’t sleep her, you’re automatically dead. Stay away and use your abilities on her, they disrupt a lot of her power.
Weighted depending on distance.
Pretty neutral, just don’t get booped off a cliff. Anti-nade him if he tries to contest the objective, he’ll die eventually.
Not your job, try anti-nading her to make it easier to finish her, especially during her ult.
Weighted for you.
Sleep her, or die trying. Similar to Brigitte. If she isn’t focused on you, Bionading her during her ultimate makes her really easy to kill, as she loses the 50hp per second she gets. Try to shoot/sleep her after she fades during teamfights if she’s far away.
Weighted pretty strongly against you if you’re bad with sleeps.
Won’t usually bother you, just be wary of turrets and orbs sent from afar. Since she’s a tracking based hero, get close and jump around her if she engages on you with primary fire. If she tries to kill you with orb spam, then make distance.
Weighted slightly against you.
Typically won’t kill you as long as you stay mobile, so just save your nade for his trans and negate it. Pretty easy to assassinate if you have time.
Weighted towards you, or neutrally.
As you probably noticed, most of these matchups hinge on keeping distance and landing sleeps. A large portion of your ability to keep yourself alive on ana is being able to sleep people reliably, and put yourself in a good position to where you don’t have to fight 1v1 that often.
Technologies and specifics
Ana has a few technologies to her, and it’s important to know these to amplify your ability with ana.
The first and most important to learn is how to fire a hitscan shot without keeping your scope up for longer than it has to be. Basically, how to quickly scope, fire a shot, and unscope. Quickscoping has multiple uses, but the primary one is to stay mobile while firing hitscan shots.
In order to quick scope, you want to start holding right click, and then just slightly after fire a shot, then let go of right click. If you do it while jumping, you should unscope before you hit the ground again. It’s that fast.
Here’s a demonstration. Notice how the scope UI only appears for like one frame? Doing this reduces your fire rate a bit if done repeatedly, but it’s not super notable. However, your fire rate does still apply, and if you try to do it too fast, you won’t be able to shoot (as you see happened a few times in the gif).
Ana’s reload can be canceled by use of one of her abilities. The gun is considered reloaded when a “click click” sound is played, at which point you can use an ability to cancel it early. Doing this can make reloads really fast.
Demonstration GIF. I turned up the audio for this one so listen carefully for the sound.
Here’s another GIF of doing it in a non-testing scenario. Watch my ammo carefully. See how fast it makes reloads? I’m still working on getting it to be instinct myself, but when mastered it’s like you don’t even reload.
On allies, Ana has a larger valid area to shoot for it to be considered a hit. Even if the shot doesn’t connect with the ally’s body, it can still heal them. You can use this to make aiming easier, as well as sneaking damage onto people that are just out of your line of sight.
- Sneak healing onto flankers whenever you can – Look for times where your Genji/tracer reenters your line of sight, and hit them for a bit of healing. Even if you only hit them once, 75 health is a lot to an evasive flanker. The friendly wallhacks supports get help greatly with this.
2. Use prediction to make your aim on teammates better – Try to predict what your teammates are going to do, and use that to assist in hitting them. Imagine you’re a DPS trying to kill them.
3. Look around whenever you reload – When reloading without cancelling early, take that second to look around, and see if you can spot any tomfoolery going on.
4. Prioritize people actively fighting someone – You’re a fast healer, and your healing can very easily make someone a 1v1 god. Look for skirmishes you can tilt the favor of.
5. Don’t be scared to be a projectile Mercy – If flankers keep getting the better of you, it can be a good idea to just play close to your tanks and use hip fire to heal them.
6. Use map geometry to land offensive nades around barriers – Enemy team with a rein walking under an arch? Nade the bottom of the arch and purple all of them.
7. Always hail-mary a grenade towards the objective while respawning – It costs you nothing since it’ll have cooled down by the time you get there, and you might get lucky and save/kill someone, making them post it to /r/overwatch.
8. Sensitivity isn’t critically important to playing Ana – As long as you can aim with your sens, it’s fine. I personally use 5.2 sens at 1000 DPI, which is probably much lower than most people’s. I compensate by having a huge mousepad.
9. Know when to sleep and run – If you can’t finish a target, always make distance. This way, even if your teammate fails to kill them or someone messes up, the sleep bought you something. It’s an expensive cooldown, don’t waste it.
10. Don’t tunnel vision – Always be looking for better targets to heal. A common complaint with a lot of anas is all that they do is spam shots into the rein, while a lower player stands right next to them. Stay aware of your whole team.
Whew, thanks for reading! Hopefully this helped you in your journey to learning Ana, and hopefully more buffs/reworks come so Ana can be in the limelight again.
Questions, comments or corrections? Let me know.