In the most recent patch, Blizzard has been hacking away at the double barrier meta with all the delicate subtlety of a Reinhardt-sized sledgehammer. Static barriers have had their hit points slashed, to be replaced by tanks that are much more active on the battlefield – and by most accounts, much more fun to play. However, the mindset of tank players requires a significant shift in light of these new shield nerfs. The role of tanks has not changed, though how players create space now requires a lot more thinking. Particularly, players should recognize that shield health is now one of the tight amounts of resources they have to manage. Here is a breakdown.
Ultimately, winning a shield war is about maximizing the time spent damaging enemy barriers and minimizing the time the enemy spends damaging your barriers. There are a few ways to accomplish this.
Barriers have hit points. The map does not. Many players, particularly lower level players, underestimate the value of using the map as cover. Utilizing cover well, even partially positioning a barrier in cover, is going to give your team maximum protection while still allowing them opportunities to peek. Your Overwatch has a great breakdown of how to optimize these kinds of tactics.
Gone are the days of the “set it and forget it” shield. Dropping an Orisa barrier smack in the middle of a chokepoint is no longer a viable option. Most likely, the enemy team will burst it down long before they actually push the point. We very well may see a shift in use of shields to function more like Defense Matrix or a Mei wall. These abilities are reactionary and defend against an immediate threat. Shields may end up taking a similar role, as the brawling capability of Reinhardt and Orisa become more prominent.
Playing corners isn’t a skill reserved for supports and Hanzo. Tanks can now get value out of playing corners with their barriers, allowing their team to duck safely behind cover once the shield has been destroyed. Different team members playing different sides of a choke can also open up the enemy team to flanking fire. Additionally, this keeps the team out of easy range for a Graviton, Mei ultimate, or an EMP.
Playing main tank generally means being the major decision maker for your team. Communication has always been an essential part of doing well in competitive, but matching callouts with barrier placement is what makes this strategy really work. Players that are used to hanging out behind a barrier and pumping damage into enemy shields are going to have to shift their mindset as well. Knowing when to commit to team fights is a well-documented skill for main tanks, but one that bears repeating nonetheless.
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