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How To Play As Mercy

mercy fanart in 2019
Art By: Hayes-irina

‘Sup readers of /r/overwatchuniversity. I’m Gangsir, returning again with another of my guides.

This time, I’ve written a comprehensive guide on playing Mercy. I’ve been seeing some annoyance spreading through both this sub and the main sub about “bad healers” being the source of losses. Often, a notable hero mentioned was Mercy. Mercy players ulting at bad times, not healing the right people, dying too much, etc. So, I decided to write a guide on how to play Mercy, who happens to be my healer of choice.

Since this is a comprehensive guide, it’s a bit long. Grab some popcorn.

Section 1 – Pre-configuration

Before playing Mercy, I’d invite you to take a look at the many hero specific options that Mercy has available to her. Many of these are personal preference, but my settings are:

  • Toggle Beam Connection : ON –

I set this because it relieves my finger from having to hold down the button, and makes it a “click and forget” ability, which is nice to have when you’re spinning around looking for flankers.

  • Guardian Angel Prefers Beam Target: OFF –

Because of the above setting my beam is constantly on somebody, and it’s difficult to take off of people entirely, (I have to melee or click open space) thus I keep this setting off to allow me to GA to somebody who I’m not beaming.

  • Toggle GA: ON –

Makes it so I don’t have to hold the button to GA, just tap to go, tap to stop. Default.

  • GA Sensitivity: 100 –

Don’t want to miss this ability when it matters, so hitbox should be as big as possible. Get me somewhere not here.

  • Beam Sensitivity: 40 –

I find the default makes it too difficult to pick people out of a crowd to heal, and since I have aim I set this a bit lower. Try different values and see what’s consistent for you.

Of course, also set up your skin, emotes, and sprays. I’m a fan of the Sigrun skin myself, along with the Caduceus emote.

Section 2 – Stats and abilities

Before you dive into playing Mercy, it’s important to know stats. Mercy has 200 health that regenerates at a rate of 20 hps after being out of combat for a second. She heals for 60 hps, and damage boosts by 30% with her alt fire. Mercy also has 2 abilities, an ultimate, and a passive called angelic descent.

Ability 1 – Guardian Angel

This is Mercy’s mobility, and escape ability. It has a range of 30 meters (about the same as Soldier:76’s falloff range, if you’re familiar with how that looks), and when activated on a teammate it basically hurls you toward that teammate.

This is one of the most intricate movement abilities in the game, despite first appearances. The first and most primary thing to know is that you can stop early. While you’re flying to somebody, you can press the button again to stop flying to them. This is extremely important to know, and use if you realize midway that you really don’t want to complete that GA. Here’s a GIF of me stopping the GA early by pressing the button again.

If at any point you don’t want to fly somewhere, always cancel it early. Don’t GA to somebody who just died to an ult and get killed yourself. This also makes you extremely unpredictable, that enemy DPS doesn’t know if you’ll fly fully to your ally, or stop midway and hide/get a health pack/change direction, etc. Even immediately re-Guardian-ing to the same target is a bit of a juke.

The second thing to understand is how the physics of it work. Go into the training range and get a feel for how far it puts you from your target. If you look at an ally, and press shift, and take your hands off the keyboard, GA does this. Notice how close it put me to him? Generally, this isn’t a good idea. Make sure to cancel it before you end up this close, you don’t want to get shot or splash damaged by crashing into your ally.

Now what about jumping? What would happen, if for instance, you tapped space near the end of the flight? You may be surprised to find yourself flung way past your target! This is called a GA slingshot, and it’s a important technique to master, since it makes you extremely fast, and gets you extra distance. It’ll always hurl you beyond your target, based on the angle you have to them. And if they’re above you…you fly. In olden days, you’d get flung a lot higher, but you can still gain some elevation via this. It is a bit tricky to do the flying slingshot consistently, at least for me.

It’s important to be careful, since GA slingshotting can sometimes happen by accident, hurling you way past your target into danger. Thus, I recommend deliberately cancelling all your GAs at their end until you actually want to slingshot. This ensures you’ll never go too far.

In terms of who exactly to GA to when you’re in danger, the priority list is basically:

Somebody far away on high ground who can peel > somebody far away who can peel > somebody on high ground nearby who can’t peel > somebody nearby > anybody

Of course, your team’s positioning ties into exactly how evasive you can be, but look for good targets to use as anchors. The more you zip about like a flying squirrel on cocaine, the more difficult it’ll be for enemy DPS to pin you down. Making yourself an annoying target to kill makes many DPS not try as hard, and instead go for easier kills. As your GAs per minute goes up, your deaths per game should drop. More on staying alive and positioning later.

Ability 2 – Resurrect

Ah Resurrect, so many changes over so much time. At the time of this writing, Resurrect is a 30s cooldown ability that has a cast time of about 2 seconds, and brings an ally back to life. Because it’s a long cooldown, it can actually persist through death, so you can spawn without it, unlike most abilities that cool down during respawn.

With current Res, the best way to use it is as soon as you can safely. Try to prioritize key teammates like your main tank or second support, but be careful and only res when it’s safe and you won’t get interrupted/killed. If nobody important died, just go ahead and res whichever unfortunate soul dies near you. It’s not really a huge gamechanger ability like it was in the past, it’s more of a “stupidity forgiver” now. If I’m playing Mercy in QP I usually save res for people that get solo ulted, just to deny the enemy the satisfaction. ;P

As for some tips for using it safely, try to res behind cover. It’s got more of a range than you’d think. Here’s an example of me rezzing a bot from behind cover where I can’t be shot. Keep in mind anybody nearby who could stun you out of it or kill you quickly if you stand still. (Eg, don’t res in front of a Brigitte, McCree, etc.)

Do remember to use it though, keep it on cooldown as much as possible. Since it’s a 30 sec cooldown, in a standard 8 min round, you should be able to pull off 4 resses, if you do it off cooldown asap. Etc.

Avoid ressing while in ult, you gain no benefit and you have the potential to waste your ult if somebody kills you.

Ultimate – Valkyrie

Another of Mercy’s abilities that’s been changed a lot, the current ult is quite balanced, but isn’t as potent as it used to be. Currently, it gives you the ability to free-fly, and your staff heals at greater distance, and multiple teammates. No change to your res while in it.

Current Valk is what I like to call an “insurance” ult. It’s an ult that acts as insurance for a teamfight, it makes things easier on your teammates, either surviving, or killing enemies. Similar insurance ults include EMP, Rally, Coalescence, etc. They won’t save a team in a graviton, or from significant damage or enemy fortification, but they’ll kinda grease the teamfight to go smoother and make it tilt in your favor. Don’t be scared to waste it.

Valk is relatively quick to charge, good mercies will have one almost every teamfight if they’re healing and damage boosting correctly. If you’re playing Mercy on attack, seek to pop it when your team charges in. The chain heal is good at keeping your team from getting whittled down by small damage while they charge in. Or, use it for it’s chain damage boost if your zarya gravs the entire enemy team. 30% damage boost applied to everyone is no joke.

If you’re playing mercy on defense, just pop it when the enemy commits to the fight. Should let you win as long as the enemy team doesn’t use any significant damage ults.

When to not use it:

If you’re low health, currently in an enemy CC ult (STOP POPPING VALK IN GRAV, YOU CAN’T FLY OUT), the enemy hitscan has their ult, (Enemy McCrees and Soldiers are thirsty to shoot you down as soon as you ult, even though killing you isn’t that vital anymore), or if your team is mostly dead. Valk gets it’s benefit when your team is mostly alive, clustered together, and isn’t poised to take any serious damage. Remember, even though it chains to multiple allies, your healing is still only 60 a sec.

If you feel the need to Valk when the enemy hitscan has their ult, remember that you can use cover like a pharah would. Don’t instantly fly straight up as soon as you ult, weigh the situation and figure out if you should just stay on the ground like a slightly upgraded mercy, or fly up. If you ult and immediately hear McCree declaring the time, just stay low and in cover. He’s hoping you’ll fly straight up into open air and get shot down. Remember, your healing beam still chains and works, even if you’re on the ground. You don’t need to be a helicopter. Also, don’t forget you can GA while in valk. Your flight speed is very slow after the nerf, so always GA if you need to move horizontally. You move very fast with GA.

As for charging your ult, remember that you should always be doing something with your staff. Nobody to heal? Damage boost a DPS. Boosted damage charges your ult as well. Always have your staff doing something productive, don’t just leave it on heal beam on your tank who isn’t taking damage.

Section 3 – Damage boost – Using it correctly

Damage boost is something very unique to Mercy. It’s basically the opposite to discord orb, instead of boosting damage received by the enemy, it boosts damage dealt by an ally.

In my experience, I see two kinds of Mercy players: The healbot mercy, who never uses damage boost, and only heals, and the “fragger” mercy, who only damage boosts and rarely heals. The key to using DB correctly is using it at the right times, on the right people.

If you want to damage boost correctly, understand the 2 types of damage boosting:

  • The Pocket –

Also called “focus” damage boosting, basically you focus your damage boost on one ally, often a main source of damage for your team. Often, this will be a Bastion, good widow, pharah, etc. After healing, you always return to this player to DB them. It’s fine to do this if you have a second good healer that can do healing for you team while you’re pocketing. I once pocketed a really good widow. It was fun seeing “Assist – XXXXXXX” pop up repeatedly on my screen.

  • The OOF Amplifier –

This is what I personally do most of the time, heal the team until you notice an instance of “key” damage. This is damage that’s delivered in a short burst, often used with a combo. This can also be an ult. For example, flick your damage boost to your hog momentarily when he gets a hook, to boost the combo shot. This turns his shot from a 150 damage shot, into a 195 damage shot. And that’s with just bodyshots. Basically, this almost ensures he one-shots the target he hooked before the hookee can do anything.

Or, flick your DB to a Mei after she freezes somebody. This turns her 150 damage headshot into a 195 damage headshot. Combo that with the ~60 damage to freeze, and you have an instakill on a 250 health hero, not normally easy. Did your D.va Ult? Damage boost the baby D.va just as it explodes to turn her ult damage from 1000 to 1300, ensuring roadhog can’t survive it with his breather, and extends the fatal range. Junkrat trap an enemy tank? Damage boost him while he beats on them with grenades. By looking for these “key” damages, you can get boosted damage that helps your team and doesn’t noticeably interrupt your healing. Plus, that boosted damage charges your ult.

Other various tips include damage boost people who are anti-healed, since you can’t heal them anyway, damage boost anybody who defends you to help them kill your attacker, damage boost people near you that are ulting, etc. I usually average about 800 damage boosted, 1000+ if my team is smart and avoids as much damage as possible.

Section 4 – Staying alive – Positioning, not being EZ

Mercy is a prey animal. The key to surviving as Mercy (or any support really) is to make yourself a huge bother to kill. Make yourself the most annoying person to kill on your team, make it so the DPS have to really want it in order to kill you.

One of the primary ways you can make it harder to kill you is through good positioning. In order to position as Mercy, keep in mind a few points, and make a judgement:

  • Enemy LOS –

Always seek to stay out of line of sight of any enemies. You don’t want your enemies to see you, just your beam poking out from cover to your team. Don’t just sit out in the open for people to elect to shoot you.

  • Near healthpacks –

Being near a healthpack lets you get a quick health boost if you get jumped on, which can save you.

  • Within LOS of GA targets – T

ry to put yourself where you can see teammates far away to GA to if somebody tries to assassinate you.

  • Near people who can peel for you –

Try to put yourself near people who can protect you and have been proven to have the awareness to protect you. When they do, pocket them and help them kill your attacker.

Outmaneuvering specific DPS

  • Doomfist –

If he knocks you into the air with his abilities, you can escape the aerial stunlock by GAing to somebody on the ground. Even if it’s somebody close, it’ll mess up his combo for you to fly straight down/away all of a sudden. If he slams you from the same elevation, GA towards and under/through him. He can’t 180 in his slam flight very easily.

  • Genji –

As soon as he starts attacking you, GA away. Don’t give him any time at all, as he can very easily combo you. As soon as he lands a single shuriken just flee. If he keeps following you, just keep GAing erratically, waste his time. He’ll either get shot or disengage.

  • McCree –

Don’t move predictably, and use cover. Don’t let him get close, he can flashbang and combo you easily. Be very careful GAing past him, he can stun you out of it.

  • Pharah –

Don’t move predictably, use cover and shield tanks. Try to GA to your pharah if you have one, it’s harder for her to airshot you. Enter small long hallways that she doesn’t want to go into.

  • Reaper –

GA away as soon as he starts shooting at you. Due to the randomness of his weapon he can do seemingly random damage, and you’ll think you’re safe with 10…20…10 until he all of a sudden gets lucky with the spread and hits you for 150. Just fly far away.

  • Soldier –

Same as McCree, be careful of helix.

  • Sombra –

If she hacks you so you can’t GA, move and strafe erratically. Try to use small cover like pillars. I’ve found you can “ring around the rosy” sombras relatively easily, make them chase you in circles until you get unhacked and GA away.

  • Tracer –

No vertical mobility, GA to high ground to make her unable to easily follow you. If she sticks you, freeze and don’t GA to your team. You don’t want to be a missile. (This is where cancelling your GAs early comes into play, if you cancel early you won’t get close enough to blow up on them even if you do panic GA)

  • Hanzo / Widow –

Stay out of their sightlines, they don’t flank usually. Just don’t let them see you. They can’t snipe a beam.

  • Mei –

If you’re gonna be frozen, turn around and look at the ground. Makes it harder to headshot you, and you’re more likely to survive.

Beam Disconnect Mechanics

Mercy’s beam has two checks to see if it can stay connected, LOS and distance. These can only be invalid for 1.5 seconds before the beam breaks, but you can use this to help your positioning. Here’s an example of me staying behind cover while healing through walls. I only have to peek out occasionally to validate the beam. Use this to stay out of enemy LOS when you can’t see your team continuously from cover and still be safe. Range is also checked, and if you have GA prefers beam target off you can leave healing on somebody while you GA to somebody else, and they’ll be healed for a little bit past the valid range.

Did you also know that you can switch from damage boost to healing and vice versa without looking at your target again? If you press the other button while the beam is active, it’ll switch. If you’re using toggle and on healing, just right click, and no matter where you’re looking (as long as you aren’t looking at a different target) it’ll switch to damage boost on that target. Useful to start DB as soon as they’re healed. I believe with toggle off you just right click while holding left, but that’s more awkward.

Use of your blaster

Don’t be scared to defend yourself. If nobody is around to save you, don’t be scared to whip out the pistol. You can kill a 200 hp hero in 10 shots, or 5 if all headshots. Of course, always prefer having somebody else do it, but if you’re alone you have nothing to lose. (Plus, it’s embarrassing to see in the killfeed that the enemy flanker got memed on by a Mercy)

Section 5 – Healing

Last but not least, how do you heal as Mercy? When healing, you should generally prioritize certain heroes over others. Through my time playing support I’ve devised a sort of “priority tier list” that I use when deciding who to heal.

Organized by descending priority.

Tier 1 – Aggro drawers

The first and most primary tier is composed of people that are drawing a lot of aggro from the enemy team, due to their status. For this tier, your priority is:

Hero currently ulting Because people that pop their ult become glowing "Shoot me I'm dangerous" beacons, they're going to probably start taking a ton of damage. It's key to be healing them so they stay alive and don't get their ult shut down. While they're drawing attention, often the rest of your team won't get shot too much, so don't be scared to pocket them.
Quick top offs Is someone near you and missing like 10 health? Heal them up to full. Small chip damages can add up quickly, and a little preemptive maintenance goes very far. With mercy, it takes very little effort to flick your healing around.
People taking fire At the end of this tier are people taking fire. They're taking damage, so you want to heal them to offset that damage. You can either completely negate it, or slow down how fast they're dying. If multiple people are taking fire, you should heal based on the rest of this tier list, for example, heal supports taking fire first, then staple DPS, etc. Note that by "taking fire" I don't mean getting shot by a D.va from across the map, I mean taking significant damage to where they could die in the next few seconds if unaided.

Tier 2 – Important classes

After the primary tier comes tier 2, important classes. These are classes of hero that you really don’t want to neglect, as they make up much of the power of your team. Do note that this section is largely debatable, as many support mains of different tiers will disagree about the exact order. The following is what I’ve developed, and how I personally see it, but once you’ve got some support hours under your belt you’re absolutely welcome to disagree and heal those toward the bottom of my list first.

Other supports Help a brotha out. Supports healing each other can make both of them harder to kill. Always prioritize healing supports first, as they can then turn and help you with healing the other people. Supports like Ana and Zenyatta can't really effectively heal themselves, so they benefit greatly from some attention from their fellow support.
Staple DPS Staple DPS are DPS that aren't flankers or snipers, for example, McCree and Soldier. Since staple DPS can't take much punishment, you want to heal these guys second. Due to their small health pools, you should be able to quickly heal them to full/a safe point.
Main tanks Since main tanks will optimally be taking the most damage of the team, they need a lot of healing. However, since they typically have a shield and lots of health, they can take a bit of punishment before needing healing, which is why they're third on this list. Definitely don't neglect them, as a Reinhardt given a blank check for healing can really carry.
Off-tanks Last in this tier are your off tanks. These tanks generally need less healing than your main tanks, and generally either have some form of mobility to run away or self-shielding ability to avoid some damage, but they still benefit from good healing. (See: Zaryas that just...won't...die...)

Tier 3 – Unimportant/niche classes

This tier is composed of people that you should be last to heal, as they either can heal themselves for their own ult, or generally don’t take damage in the first place.

Off-DPS These heroes were selected in order to fulfill some niche purpose, perhaps disrupting the enemy by flanking, sniping, etc. Many of these heroes don't take damage often, or can just fetch health packs, and as such won't need much healing.
Self-healers These heroes don't really need you, they can get their own healing with blackjack and hookers. Where possible, they should be healing themselves for their own ult, but it's okay to heal them if you notice their healing isn't enough, or if they're a bit low after you've healed everyone else. One exception here, Mei. You're one of the few healers that can heal her in iceblock, always heal a mei if she iceblocks at low health. It lets her get out with more health, and stay in it for less time. She also doesn't really get significant ult percent from healing herself.

When I say “heal these teammates” I don’t necessarily mean “to full health”. All you need to do as a healer is make sure that person is in no immediate danger. Keep in mind the enemy comp, and your teammates’ abilities, and determine what’s a safe amount of health for people to sit at. Example: Do they have a hanzo/widow/junkrat? Nobody should ever be under 120 health, since that’s the point where they can be one shot with a bodyshot. Do they have mostly low damage heroes? In that case, it’s safe to let people drop a bit lower. Adjust dynamically and only heal people to a safe point. You don’t want to spend several seconds healing a 300hp/600hp D.va back to full health when squishy heroes are at 70 health.

Wrap up

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed, and if you have any further questions, tips, etc, feel free to comment!

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