Strategic and Tactical Vocabulary

I think we lack a strategic vocabulary in overwatch.
That is why our coordination is generally poor.

I will define some of the common terms I use.
It is my hope that people will comment, suggest additions or tweaks, and that the general understanding increases for everyone, myself included.

Force Projection:
The area that your opponents can apply force to your team. Typically directly in front of your opponents gun barrel. But not always.

This area can be maximized, or minimized by the choices of your team.
When it is maximized damage is less dense. When it is minimized damage is concentrated.
If you spread your team out, the enemy can not concentrate its force projection, but neither can you.
If you flank an enemy, the enemy must reposition its force projection unto your location.
If you are a tank, your job is to (generally) absorb the projected force of your opponents well positioning your teams force until the enemy.
If you are a healer, your job is to mitigate any damage caused by the projected force.
If you are a DPS, your job is to concentrate your force unto a single point in an effort to overcome the enemies absorption and mitigation. (bypassing barriers, or overpowering them)

Team Positioning:

Positions are general areas with specific elements defined by safety and force projection.

The line at which your barrier tank meets the enemy force.
Directly behind this line is the area of safety that is created by your tanks. Reinhardt is a walking front line. Orisa “places” the front line. When you have no barrier tanks the front-line your main DPS. A Strong front line is flexible, and moves in waves. Retreating slightly to mitigate damage, and pushing slightly to gain ground. The entire team should always be aware of the front-line position.

The area between your specialists and your tanks. This is the “safest” place to be as a healer. Your back-line DPS will peel (keep you from getting assaulted), and your front line will absorb force.

Back-line/ Rear Guard:
This is the area directly behind your healers. Anywhere between your spawn point and the bulk of your team. Specialists and freshly spawned teammates work in this area. Lucio, and widow spend a lot of time in the back-line. Sniping and repositioning teammates. McCree might also spend time as rear guard, peeling for his healer, and providing anti-flank.

No-mans land:
The area directly between your front-line, and the enemies front line. This is the area where enemy force projection is both intense and reactive. You do not want to be in this area. You will die. Traverse this area as quickly as possible. Hammond is very good at using speed to move through no mans land successfully, often resulting in a successful disruption and tactical retreat.

Flanker lines:
These are the areas that bypass the force projection of your opponents, and avoid the no-man’s land directly in front of their force. Genji is the master of these avenues.

Assault-Line / Brawl line:
The area directly beyond your opponents front-line. The enemy mid-line. You want to traverse no mans land and enter the assault line quickly and fluidly when making a frontal assault. This will cause the enemy force to reorient inward, and start the brawl. Reaper is the definition of a brawler. Close range chaotic combat with strong damage.

The point in which your enemies stability has reached zero due to an attack, and force is being projected “wildly”. When “structure” stops being the defining factor, and individual movements become more important than group movements. You want to cause a brawl to destabilize the enemy lines, and allow your teams force to project through front-line. When engaged in a brawl your force is directed inward, and not outward. This leaves both you and your opponent open to attacks from non-brawling entities. Think widow popping your head when jump through the enemy team to kill mercy. When committing to a brawl, you want to leave 1/3 of your team in a stable position outside of the brawl well engaging the entire enemy team within the brawl space.

Team Stability / Line Stability:
This refers to the rigidity of your team’s structure. Is your Tank’s shield up, a healer attached and a flanking genji in wait? That is high stability. Is your tank dead, your DPS running away, and genji talking to the enemy hanzo? That is zero stability. When you team reaches Zero stability, and you are not in a out-and-out brawl for victory you regroup in your back line. You should sense how stable your team is, and use that information to plan your moves. It is worthless to attack when you have no stability and no structure.

Tactical Roles:

Roles are jobs that a hero can preform. Some hero’s can do multiple roles depending on play style, and some can not.

This role is about causing mayhem within the enemy lines, and create as much instability as possible for the enemy team. Killing the main tank, or main healer is the primary objective of an assault role, but reducing enemy line structure is the real goal. Attacks should focus on the enemy front-line in an effort to open it up for your team. Reaper is most assault.

This role is about keeping the stability of your team at maximum. You assist retreating assault roles by “catching them”. This means healing, protecting, and enforcing their retreat. You do this by prioritizing heals on the retreating target, projecting force on the enemy chasing them, and repositioning your front-line to meet them. Zenny is good at recovery.

The role of flanker is a role of opportunity. A flanker targets the weakest enemy within an enemy group. They find out of position targets and move around the enemy force to strike them. Flankers typically attack the mid-line and prioritize weakened or recovering opponents. Genji is a great flanker.

The role of assassin is a role of exactness. An Assassin targets a single high value opponent and continuously applies pressure in an attempt to remove them from the action. This opponent is typically the enemy “champion” (best performing opponent), or the main healer. Assassins are not confined to any particular space. Doomfist is pure assassin.

The role of interdiction is about preventing the enemy from recovering stability. A player using interdiction tactics would punish respawning players before they can move into their mid and front lines. They would target any, and all, enemies attempting to leave their spawn zones, and prevent the enemy from “resupplying”. They work in the enemies back-line with the objective of wasting the enemies time, and producing stalemates as much as possible. The more time they waste of the enemies the better they are doing their job. Tracer is great for interdiction roles.

Hero Archtypes (Classes):

A Hero Archtype is a categorical definition that summarizes the strength and weakness of a hero’s kit in a broad sense. Archtypes are often used to define team comps in a broad strategic sense, such as 2-2-2 ( 2 tanks, 2 healers, 2 DPS). Most heroes are defined by a single or combination archtype. It is rare for a hero to be defined by more than 3 archtypes.

(DPS) Burst Damage:
The burst damage archtype focuses on power and eliminations. Burst damage (damage that can be executed quickly for a kill) is the hallmark of these kits. A Burst Damage DPS must be able to do considerable damage in a single attack, or a single combo. Junkrat does burst damage. Burst is good against single targets.

(DPS) Sustain Damage:
Sustain damage archtypes have high rates of fire, but low specific damage. Their lethality comes from sustaining the projection of force despite continuous healing, and damage mitigation. They have the ability to lay down damage for extended periods of and suppress enemy forces. Orisa has amazing Sustain Damage. Sustain Damage is equally effective at both single target and group combat.

(DPS) Blanket Damage:
Blanket Damage is wide area of effect. It can directly target multiple people, causing massive damage in large groups, but typically low damage on single individuals. Blanket Damage does not have the potential to kill by itself, but rather augments the other types of damage. Winston is the perfect example of blanket Damage:

(DPS) Point Damage:
Point Damage is Lethal single target damage. Unlike burst damage, Point Damage requires time to set up, and execution is either successful, or a failure. Their is no partials with point damage. Widow does Point Damage.

(DPS) Barrage Damage:
Barrage damage is not about lethality, but rather disruption. It is meant to destabilize enemy lines, prevent retreat or regroup, and generally make movement difficult. Barrage Damage typically have an area of effect, and can be projected over large distances, or indirectly. Pharah does Barrage Damage.

(Heals) Pocket Healing:
Pocket healing is single hero augmentation. Pocket healers have strong healing ability, and can sustain a teammate even when you are outnumbered 3v2. It is used to increase longevity in a single teammate, typically your strongest DPS or Main tank, and allow them to contribute to the battle indefinitely. When you pocket you are prioritizing the strength of that teammate over your others. You do this to accomplish a specific win condition that is otherwise out of reach, such as pocketing S76 to kill pharah. Mercy is the best pocket healer.

(Heals) Group Healing:
Group healing is used to keep your team healthy. Unlike pocket healing you can not sustain individual targets in outnumbered fights. Group healing regenerates your overall line stability over time. It also mitigates the chaotic nature of brawls by reducing the amount of attention required.

(Tanks) Main Tank:
A Main tank is your front-line tank. Their job is to absorb enemy force via a barrier. They build ground for your team, and act as the spear’s tip when engaging. You should not extend beyond your main tank unless your role specifically calls for it. They are the rock between you and the hard place. Reinhardt is a main tank.

(Tanks) Sustain Tank/ Off-tank:
A Sustain tank is designed to absorb damage directly, and dish out additional damage with your DPS. A sustain tank requires less attention than other tanks, as they typically come with their own healing resources, or ability to prevent damage. RoadHog and zarya are sustain tanks.

(Tanks) Cruiser Tank:
A Cruiser tank relies on speed and responsiveness to react quickly to enemy movements. They typically have vertical movement, and access to various flanking routes. A cruiser acts like body guards, pushing and pressuring enemies trying to assault or ambush your team. and Hammon are both Cruiser Tanks.

(Utility) Infiltration:
Infiltrators are designed to avoid enemy force and cause disruption via the enemies back-line. They rely on stealth and surprise to accomplish these goals. Infiltrators do not engage directly, but instead remove accessibility to resources such as healing. An infiltrator will also use their position to eliminate weakened units.

(Utility) Control / Anti-flank:
A control hero uses stun and CC to prevent the movement and execution of enemy tactics. Like an infiltrator they remove access. However they remove mobility resources, and do so in a more direct way via blockades, stuns, and Freeze. Mei is a control Hero.

(Utility) Builders:
Builders construct additional options on the field. They place turrets that block or stall crucial points on the map. They may also place constructs that give access to vertical motion, or decrease the time required to access an area. Builders are about accessing resources your team would otherwise not have, both defensively and offensively. Torb and Sym are both builders.

more to come, maybe? I have more, i’m getting lazy :slight_smile: i’ll proof read tomorrow

Please give constructive comments. If you wish to suggest changes please quote the passage you want changed. If you wish to add additions or clarifications please post a suggestion and i will add it to the definitions. Thanks.


Thank you for this dictionary good sir. :slightly_smiling_face:

Editors required my friend.
I’d like this to be an everybody thing.

Main tanks - Slow with high survivability with low-medium damage output + shields + ways to make yourself tankier generally.

Off Tanks - Lower survivability than main tanks with higher damage output + high mobility + ways to make yourself tankier

Now, this category of tanks is one i only know from a game called Paladins

Utility Tanks - lower survivability than main tanks and lower damage output + mobility(if any at all) than off tanks, but make up for it with a ton of utility consisting of either buffs/debuffs/cc/anticc/healing or a mixture while not taking over the support role.

heres this for you

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I’ll amend the OP tomorrow with your definitions.
Thanks for the contribution!

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