Tracer,

  • In the Blink of an Eye: Properly Playing As and Against Tracer

     

    Introduction

         Lena Oxton, a.k.a Tracer, is the first Overwatch character to join Heroes of the Storm. Before we get into discussing her gameplay and talent builds I would like to acknowledge both the Overwatch dev team and the Heroes of the Storm dev team for the excellent job they have done with creating the character as well as adapting Tracer for the Nexus. Tracer's mechanics in Heroes of the Storm feel very much like how she plays in Overwatch and the Heroes of the Storm dev team also fitted her with a talent tree that fits the mobile playstyle that Tracer encourages. Simply put, Tracer is just as fun to play in Overwatch as she is in Heroes of the Storm.

    Along with this fun mobile playstyle that Tracer introduces to the Nexus, is a problem that the other heroes need to adapt to. Tracer's ability to stick to her target and evade damage can be problematic for teams who choose to treat Tracer just like any other hero. For example, what may have been safe positioning for a Li-Ming before is no longer true when a Tracer is on the enemy team. This guide will focus on both the tips and tricks to playing an effective Tracer as well as suggestions to how your team can deal with her when she is on the opposing team. Let's get started by discussing Tracer's abilities and her general gameplay.  

     

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    Never underestimate Tracer's ability to stick on her target

     

    Abilities and Gameplay 

     

    Abilities 

    Reload (Trait)

         Tracer's trait is arguably now the strongest trait in Heroes of the Storm. Being able to auto attack and reposition simultaneously is the dream scenario for any auto attack based hero. What really makes this trait powerful is that it is combined with the rest of Tracer's kit that provides even more mobility. Blink (Q) and Recall (E) guarantees that you are able to get full value from your trait as well as your high rate of fire. Tracer is now the gold standard in terms of sustained DPS.  

     

    Blink (Q) and Recall (E)

         Tracer as a whole revolves around her Blink ability, it is what makes her viable. Unlike Zeratul's long range blink, Tracer's blink ability is short and divided into 3 charges which allows her to change direction and dodge enemy spells with ease. If you are not already playing with quickcast on, I highly recommend you do so with Tracer since the extra milliseconds you save with quickcast will make a difference when you are blinking around and dodging spells. Combine this with her Recall ability that removes all negative effects such as roots and damage over time, Tracer is nearly impossible to lock down. 

     

    Melee (W)

         If you get close to your desired target make sure to immediately use your melee attack before unloading a magazine. Even though a full magazine will deal more damage than a melee, it will not always be safe to go through the melee animation once your target's teammates respond to your harassment. Also, take extra caution if you take Bullet Spray at level 13 since the animation time of the melee attack becomes slightly longer leaving you more vulnerable to enemy CC. On the other hand, if you are dealing with an enemy Tracer, waiting for her to do a melee attack before attempting to lock her down will increase your chances of success.

     

    Gameplay

    Map Awareness 

         Aggressively look for opportunities to pick off enemy heroes who are separated from their team before a team fight even starts. Tracer's kit as a whole allows you to duel almost any hero and dealing with a hero 1v1 is always easier than doing so in a team fight when the entire enemy team is there to respond.

     

    Chase!

         Tracer's Blink charges not only allows her to stick to her targets, but also gives her the chase potential from point A to point B that no other hero can do. This is where Jumper at level 7 can come in handy when the extra blink charge can make the difference between securing a kill and letting an enemy get away. When playing as Tracer make sure to pay attention to the map especially during team fights when enemy heroes might be fleeing just outside of your camera vision.

     

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    Not so fast Nazeebo!

     

    Isolation

         In team fights you should be flanking and going straight for the backline to harass isolated heroes. Some team fights can be hectic and the enemy team might not be able to respond to you allowing you pick off a hero. If the enemy team does respond to you in time you will at least hinder the enemy team's aggression by forcing them to deal with you in the backline.

     

    How to deal with Tracer


         So how do you deal with a highly mobile hero that is constantly shredding away at your team's health pool? Patience is the key. Do not chase after a Tracer that is "almost dead" and do not commit cooldowns on Tracer unless she has already spent her Recall. Unlike other ranged assassins you do not have to kill Tracer to effectively deal with her. Just like in Overwatch, it is sufficient to force a Tracer to use her Recall in order to remove her from the fight and prevent her from harassing your team. Below are more specific tips for dealing with Tracer. 

     

    1. Backline Tracer harassment

         When going up against a Tracer as a squishy hero, make sure you are not isolated in the back of your team. It is your responsibility as the squishy hero on your team to be in range of your tank for peels and your support to receive heals. If your team is being aggressive, you should be as well. The biggest mistake you can make when playing against a Tracer is to run away from your team when Tracer is harassing you.

     

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     There is a fine line between playing safe in the backline and getting yourself isolated

     

    2. Map Rotations

         Before Tracer was released being mounted meant that you could freely move around the map as long as you knew the location of most of the enemies. This is no longer true. Tracer can duel most heroes and pick them off just because she can easily dodge damage as well as stick to her target. What this means is that if you do not think your hero can duel a Tracer, you should be moving around the map with someone else from your team or not at all. This is especially important during the late game when running back to safety is no longer an option because several gates have been destroyed.

     

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     Never get singled out if the enemy team has a Tracer

     

    3. Decide how much you want to commit

         Having the restraint to not chase after a Tracer that is "almost dead" when you cannot kill her within 1-2 seconds with your spells is a must if you want to effectively deal with Tracer. If you chase after a Tracer and she manages to get away then you are allowing her to win the team fight for her team not because she is dealing damage, but because she is wasting your time and spells. In general, you do not want to commit your CC on a Tracer unless you know for sure that she has overextended and cannot escape.

     

    4. Effective heroes against Tracer

          

    Brightwing – Polymorph is very powerful against Tracer. It is a point and click ability that gives your team the opportunity to burst through Tracer's small health pool. Consider taking Greater Polymorph at level 16 if your team is lacking the CC to lock down the enemy Tracer.

    Johanna and Li Li – Blinds shuts down Tracer's auto attacks and removes her primary source of damage. Johanna has the added utility with her Blessed Shield that can directly hit a Tracer since it's a fast long ranged projectile or maybe get a lucky bounce onto Tracer after throwing it at one of the other enemies.

    Thrall and Raynor – Both these heroes can continuously poke at Tracer to force her to either use her Recall or keep her zoned out of the fight. A good flank from a Thrall can also devastate Tracer if she is caught off guard and gets hit with a Sundering. 

    Tassadar – Having vision of the Tracer is important in making sure she is not free to harass your team. Tassadar's low cooldown shields are also useful for dealing with Tracer's high rate of fire from her auto attacks. 

     

    5. Heroes to ban

      

    Brightwing – If you cannot take Brightwing during the draft it is best to ban her. Tracer will endlessly harass your team in fight if she is constantly receiving Brighwing's Phase Shield.

    Lt. Morales – Stim drone + Tracer's Sleight of Hand at level 16 is not something you want to deal with.

     

     

    Tracer Talent Selection

     

    Level 1 – More Bombs vs Mobility

    RECOMMENDED

     

         Taking this talent allows you to further take advantage of the fact that Tracer has her heroic ability already available at the start of the game and increase the uptime of your Pulse Bomb.

     

    RECOMMENDED

         The 4 second cooldown reduction that this provides for your Recall (E) is not very significant, but the 1 extra second that you are recalled can be useful when you dive deep into the enemy backline. However, the extra second that it adds to the time recalled can also sometimes work against you in situations when you want to be aggressive again after recalling since you may be positioned further back than you would have liked.

     

    NOT RECOMMENDED

         Compared to Pulse Strike and Slipstream this talent is quite underwhelming. With the amount of mobility you have with Blink (Q) you are unlikely to need the extra vision to keep track of enemies.

     

    Level 4 – Damage vs Survivability

    NOT RECOMMENDED

         The amount of damage that you can potentially do with the bombs that you leave after recalling is nowhere close to the amount of damage that you can rack up with Untouchable once you have accumulated stacks.

     

    Situational

         This can be useful in small maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen where you think you will be taking significant damage as you rotate from lane to lane to harass enemy heroes. Keep in mind that your late game damage scaling will be affected since you are giving up Untouchable for early game survivability and map presence. If you think you can snowball the game with your early game map presence and harassment then go for it!

     

    RECOMMENDED

         This talent is very powerful not only because it drastically increases Tracer's main source of damage, but also because of the fact that with Blink (Q) and Recall (E) it is easy to stay alive as Tracer which means you are likely to retain your stacks for the entirety of the game.

     

    Level 7 – Blink Upgrades

    RECOMMENDED

         The extra Blink charge allows you to play as if you are Zeratul with his level 4 Vorpal Blade and level 13 Wormhole talents: blink twice aggressively -->  kite and deal damage --> blink twice defensively to create space between you and enemies --> recall to aggressive position if necessary to finish off target.

     

    NOT RECOMMENDED

         In terms of playmaking potential it is better to just have the extra charge of blink already available (Jumper) or have it recharge after recalling (Spatial Echo)  than have to rely on basic attacks (which will not always be safe to do) to regain extra charges of blink. 

     

    RECOMMENDED

         The mechanics are slightly different, but this also allows for the same Wormhole playmaking potential you can do with Jumper. Just make sure you remember which talent you took before going for a Wormhole play or you might get yourself killed. The difference between Jumper and Spatial Echo is how you obtain the extra charges of blink. Jumper is better if you just need immediate escape or the ability to chase down targets while Spatial Echo is for situations if you need to dive a target, recall to get out then blink even further to create more space. Consider taking Spatial Echo when your team is a dive heavy composition and you need to keep up with your teammates who are diving backline enemy heroes.

     

    Level 10 – Pulse Bomb Upgrades

    Situational

         On maps with tight choke points as well as when your team has access to mass CC like Diablo's Apocalypse or E.T.C's Mosh Pit Sticky Bomb can get a lot of value. Also, placing the bomb on tanks who have overextended and are trying to retreat back to their teammates can result in unexpected team wipes. Most of all Sticky bomb is useful against heavy dive compositions especially when combined with Composition B at level 20.

     

    Situational

         This can be useful against double tank compositions or against heavily protected heroes like Sgt. Hammer or Lt.Morales where you might need the extra damage to snipe them off.

     

    RECOMMENDED

         The main reason both of the above options are only situational is because the amount of uptime you can have on your Pulse Bomb by taking Pulse Rounds is too good to give up in most situations. It is necessary to have your Pulse Bomb not only in team fights, but also when you are rotating and picking off stray heroes. By taking Pulse Rounds at level 10 you ensure that your Pulse Bomb is available whenever you need it for the extra damage. If you take Pulse Rounds at level 10, you might even have opportunities during prolonged team fights where you are able to get off two or more charges of your Pulse Bomb.

     

    Level 13 – How would you like your damage?

    RECOMMENDED

         Tracer's wave clear is quite mediocre up until level 13 in that even though she doesn't require any mana it takes her too long to clear a single wave. If you take Bullet Spray at level 13 it will allow you to rotate and contribute more in wave clearing which can be really important on certain maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen. With that said, keep in mind that clearing the waves faster also means that you have less targets to shoot at to recharge your heroic ability. Aside from improving your wave clear, Bullet Spray is also useful when you want to dive the enemy team and just deal some area of effect damage with your Melee (W).

     

    RECOMMENDED

         If your team has enough wave clear then Ricochet is also a good option. If you take Ricochet at level 13 I highly recommend also taking Locked and Loaded at level 16 since the CRITS from Locked and Loaded is also applied to the Ricochet target.

     

    NOT RECOMMENDED

    This talent is not worth giving up Bullet Spray and Ricochet for since you lose a significant amount of utility and damage. Between your trait, Blink (Q), and Recall (E) you should be mobile enough to evade damage so that you are not constantly worrying about getting low in health.

     

    Level 16 – Choose Your Weapon

    RECOMMENDED

         This talent is useful not only because it increases your total damage, but also because it allows for even more mobility. Being able to reload faster means you can move on to your next magazine faster as well as to your next target.

     

    NOT RECOMMENDED

     

         This talent provides less damage than Slight of Hand and Locked and Loaded (assuming you are able to consistently activate the reload bonus) and can also be punishing if the target you are focusing on gets away and you are unable to get off the last bullet.

     

    RECOMMENDED

         I personally like this talent the most out of all three options at level 16 not just because of the extra damage, but also because of the mini game that you get to play when you are reloading. It can be easy to forget to activate the reload bonus during the last 50% of the reload cast time during hectic team fights so I suggest getting a feel of the reload cast time in Try Mode to get the perfect timing.

     

    Level 20 - Different Playstyles

         All of the talent options for level 20 are labeled as Situational because each one requires a different playstyle and should be chosen based on what the enemy team is comprised of.

    Situational

         Are your blink charges and recall not enough to get the enemies off your tail? Do you want your own mini Haymaker just like Muradin? Then Get Stuffed is the way to go.

     

    Situational

         Do you like to dive deep into the enemy backline to assassinate a squishy enemy? Are you a master in baiting out spells and messing with enemy cooldowns? There is nothing more frustrating than almost killing a Tracer and then have her come back with full health.

     

    Situational

         This talent is useful against heavy melee comps that tend to clump up. Remember that the second bomb that you place also receives the upgrade from with Sticky Bomb at level 10 which means that you can get two large area of effect bombs to explode against an enemy dive composition. 

     

     

    Final Thoughts

         The current iteration of Tracer in Heroes of the Storm is very powerful and only time will tell if Blizzard decides to make adjustments either to her mobility or damage output. What is for certain is that Tracer will force players to change how they play. Plays and decisions that you could get away with before now get heavily punished by an enemy Tracer that is looking to constantly harass your team and bait out your spells. What Tracer lacks in terms of early game wave clear she can make up for with map presence and lane harassment potential with the fact that she does not need mana. The most effective way to learn how to deal with a Tracer is to play the hero yourself and get a feel for how much she can escape from her enemies. Hopefully this guide and your own experience will make you both a great Tracer player and Tracer counter. 

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