Health: 200 (50 health + 150 rechargeable shield)
Orb of Destruction (Primary): Projectile; ~115 damage per second (non-headshot); ~230 damage per second (headshots); no damage fall off!
Orb Volley (Secondary): Projectile; ~230 damage per volley; 4 seconds to fully charge for maximum damage; no damage fall off!
Orb of Harmony: Heals 30 health per second; Maximum Range: 40 meters; comes back to you after 3 seconds of no LoS.
Orb of Discord: 30% damage buff on target for teammates; 40 meters; comes back to you after 3 seconds of no LoS.
Transcendence (Ultimate): 300 health per second; Increased movement speed; 10 meter radius; 6 second duration; charge required: 2075
Main positioning – Behind Your Team: By default, you should be in the backlines. Being behind your tanks puts you in the best shot calling position and allows you to see every target (both on your and the opposing team). By being behind your team, you will easily be able to tell who needs healing and who needs to be targeted.
Secondary positioning — Middle/Sandwiched: I call this secondary positioning because it’s very circumstantial. You want to shift from main to secondary positioning when (1) a flanker is in your presence, (2) you are trying to close the gap between you and the Rein shield because a Widowmaker is in the distance, or (3) you are trying to get a better angle to finish an opponent or discord them. If you see they have a Tracer, Genji, Reaper, or Winston, your instinct should be to get into secondary position, which makes you difficult to target. If you don’t, you will most likely be singled out and die
Rare (and I mean very rare) positioning – Front line: Very rarely should a Zen be in the frontlines. The only circumstances you should ever be in the front is if (1) your team has a big numbers advantage (ex. 5 vs 2) and you are trying to discord the fleeing opponent and (2) you use Transcendence as a way to force your team to push.
This, by far, is what separates a mediocre Zen from a good Zen and a good Zen from a great Zen. The mediocre Zen stays quiet for the most part and, only rarely, calls out who is discorded; they rarely discuss strategy. A good Zen calls out 75% of his discords and can usually identify when his team needs to group up. They rarely mention specific strategies and occasionally call out flankers (usually only when they are about to die and it’s too late).
A GREAT Zen calls out 90+% of his discords. This is the best trait any solo queuing Zen can have. By calling out your discords you are essentially psychologically tricking your team to focus fire enemies—something we should all want! Every wonder why your discords aren’t dying? Or why their pesky Dva and Rein never die? It’s because your team is not helping you focus fire. Calling out your discords will greatly increase your win rate. A GREAT Zen can also identify when they are going to be flanked before any damage is taken. If you only see 5 enemies shooting your Rein shield and notice Genji/Tracer is missing, SAY SOMETHING. “I believe Genji/Tracer is flanking, Roadhog get ready to hook them on the flank.” Don’t just stay quiet and then complain after you die. Also, make sure to assume the secondary position once you identify a flank is coming. Lastly, a GREAT Zen tells the team what to do. This is essential in solo queue—after all, an organized average team can beat a not so organized great team.
“Everyone group up before this next push.” “Let’s push on when I ulti.” “Let’s all go left/right.” “Don’t overextend, group back up on choke.” “Let’s try an early dive.”
This by far is what makes Zen my favorite support hero. Discording your targets increases the damage taken by a whopping 30%. Your main priorities—in order of importance—should be:
(1) Enemies troubling your team (whether it is a tracer, genji, or soldier, who has been on fire for 90% of the game). These will put you in the best win condition if you’re down or getting steam rolled right off the bat. By focusing their all-star, you’re making the other 5 enemies step it up.
(2)Tanks are next. Because they have the highest health they should be your next priority (or your first if they have no all-star). The 30% boost WILL absolutely shred any tank so long as you call it out and team fire.
(3) Flankers are your next target. They may be your first priority if they are giving you and your team trouble.
- Use discords to bait Zarya Bubbles and Mei Ice Blocks
- Use discords as a psychological tool. This one is important. Tired of a Pharah doing whatever her little heart desires? Constantly put discords on her when she flies up and see how quickly she starts playing passive. See someone trying to poke and get ulti charge? Put a discord on them and see how fast they stop.
- USE discords as a way to “wall hack”. This has come in clutch so many times. Alternatively, use discords when you’re behind your tanks so you know in what general direction to spam your primary. You’ll get many more kills this way—especially if you know how far below the discord icon an enemy’s head is. This one is probably my favorite and most useful little tip.
As a general matter, you and your team should understand that Zen cannot be a solo healer. He simply does not have enough healing output to do so. Zen should be using his healing as a passive way to gain ulti charge. His priorities should (1) Ana—you don’t want her wasting her bomb on herself, (2) squishies—especially those who are flanking on your team, and (3) tanks. Tanks are last because the “main” healer should be the one focused on keeping them alive.
SPAM SPAM SPAM. This is key. Screw your accuracy stat. A great Zen never stop shooting his primary fire. Get to know his rate of fire because once you master it, you’ll be a headshot machine. You’ll also be a flanker killing machine. For aiming practice, see this recent guide. Abuse the fact that Zen’s discords have no fall off damage. This and good positioning can get you many picks and put you in a win condition.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of the secondary fire. It should never be your go to attack. You’re better off spamming your primary. The only situations I really use secondary fire are (1) when the opposing team is grouping up at the choke, (2) when an enemy is dropping back/retreating, and (3) on snipers. As to (1) and (2), using your secondary fire here may get you free pick. Getting a free pick here will stagger your opponent and force them to either attack 5 vs 6 or to spend more time waiting for their 6th to respawn. As to (3), sometimes you’ll get lucky and pick off a Widowmaker who standing still aiming at someone else. Other than these uses, I highly recommend sticking to using the primary fire—even on Rein shields.
Transcendence (Ultimate Economy)
Transcendence can be a game changing ultimate. It can completely shatter the dreams of any Zarya, Rein, Mei, and Genji. It should be instinct for you to use transcendence if your team is trapped in any of these ultimates. Be cautious, however, if you have a Lucio on your team. Communicate when which one of you is going to ulti so that you both don’t waste your ultis on a single Zarya vortex.
Transcendence can also be used to fully heal your tanks in emergency situations. See that they are low on health on the point in KOTH? Don’t be scared to ult. Put them in a winning condition.
Transcendence can be used to stall a payload or capture point. Are there 3 seconds left in the round and you’re closest to the point? Ulti if your team is closely behind to put the game in to evertime.
Transcendence as a way to signal your team to push in. It should go without saying that you should communicate this to your team before you do it.
Who do you counter?
You can really counter anyone. That is what’s great about Zen. Your discord can put you in a condition to counter even the meatiest of heroes. For the most part, you are a direct counter to Tanks—especially when your team is focus firing. You also counter flankers. Yes, I said it. Zen can counter flankers. “But Mr. HolySheed, I thought flankers countered Zen!?!?” While this is popular opinion, I truly believe Zen can counter most if not all flankers. A discord and a couple headshots can and will greatly threaten the life of any Tracer, Genji, Reaper, etc. If anything, the discord can function as a psychological deterrent to flankers.
Who can counter you?
There are a few heroes who can counter you. With good communication and group play, however, these counters can become de minimis. Flankers can counter you if you have poor positioning, aim, and game sense. If you have two of these three, however, you could actually counter the flankers.
Widowmaker seems to be the hero I struggle with the most. She is probably your biggest threat as her ability to do one shot you and maintain her distance makes her your kryptonite. In these situations, you want to either stick close to your Rein OR identify where she is and play behind walls/barriers. You want to lost LoS.
Lastly, a diving Dva or Winston can counter you if you have poor positioning. If you are close to a friendly DPS, however, you two should be able to shred any of them. I personally do not consider Winston a Zen counter as I find him easy to discord and headshot. After all, once he uses his bubble, he’s really SoL.
- If your flanker is going to get out of your LoS, put a healing orb on him/her before it happens. Remember, the orbs stay on heroes for 3 seconds after losing LoS. That’s 90 health you’re essentially throwing their way.
- Keep an eye out for your Roadhog’s hooks. You want to immediately discord their victims and try and land a couple shots on them yourself.
- Always try and shoot and discord people not behind the enemy’s Rein shield before you focus on the shield itself. You’ll occasionally get a poker.
- Know where health packs are so that Ana doesn’t have to take her eye off the tanks for you.
- Zen is 60% communication, 30% positioning, and 10% aim.
Just a few edits based on the comments:
- Secondary is very good at catching sleeping enemies (from Ana darts or just enemies standing still)
- Secondary is and has always been a good way to try and get enemies before they turn corners.
- Very good flankers can still counter you. Good teamwork and communication counters them.