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Last Edited September 30, 2019

D. Va Main Tank - The Nichest Build This Side of the Rework

You can find me streaming on Twitch. For a free coaching session, hit up my Discord, and for more content, my Youtube.

Hello, and welcome to I Swear It's Legit. Since large tracts of D. VAs talents are probably on the chopping block, I figure it's a good time to go out with a bang. And what better bang than- yeah that's too obvious.

Here's a commentated VOD of me playing Main Tank D.Va on Tomb!


Forewarning, this build works on three maps, and on two of them it only really works if you stay in the middle and bottom lanes. I'll explain why in a moment, but if you want to learn D.Va, stick to Tomb of the Spider Queen, Infernal Shrines, and Dragon Shire.

Second forewarning; practice pressing Q-E into enemy gates in try mode. If you time it right, the mech slides back and forth across the gate and makes it exceptionally difficult to enter. This is going to be most of your bomb kills.

Tanking Basics & Terms

Alright, let's get to it! Since we're playing as a main tank, we need to be able to do about three out of five things; Scout, Peel, Damage, Sponge, and Lockdown. Most of these explain themselves, but I'll break it down anyway.

Scout means finding the enemy team and gaining vision on them; it also includes checking bushes, anchoring, and guarding rotations. For example, watching for enemies while Jaina Blizzards a wave.

Peeling is any action that moves focus off a squishy teammate and on to you; to continue the example, peeling could be using boosters to knock enemies off Jaina, or standing between her and Muradin so he can't stun.

Damage is damage.

Specifically, meaningful damage. Damage that actually contributes to a kill, not Kael'Thas flamestriking only for it to get snap-healed by a Morales. There's a difference between efficacy and fat numbers, and this is it. The other kind of damage is waveclear; Johanna's Condemn, Blaze's Q - that sort of thing.

Sponging entails soaking up damage that would otherwise hit your team, a structure, or a minion wave. If you're eating damage for numbers, you're doing it wrong; you need to be protecting something, not exploring masochism. This also encompasses self-sustain, as refillable HP is a resource just as much as cooldowns and mana.

Lockdown entails heavy cc; either a stun, root, silence, enormous slow, or whatever's equivalent.

Main Tank D. Va's Strengths

So, with that out of the way; D. Va excels at Sponge and Peel, provides good waveclear, mediocre damage (though it is sustained and AoE), and garbage Scouting. Lockdown is dependant on going Bunny Hop and having targets without escapes, so it's context dependent. Notice I haven't mentioned Bomb in any of this; that's because Bomb effectively does everything if it's timed right. The trick is being creative enough to understand the applications, and practicing it a handful of times first.

D.Va is also one of two tanks in the game with access to a very unique trait; Anti-Waveclear. While Tyrael reduces enemy waveclear by increasing the HP of his wave, D.Va does it by reducing the damage output of the enemy AoE. Whether that be a Johanna, Jaina, or Junkrat, every hero can be anticipated and blocked. Heroes with Anti-Waveclear need to make the most of it to get to their powerspikes - learn to love it!

Finally, D.Va has a rather unique self-sustain process. D.Va can actually "die" by taking too much damage on her mech - but instead of sending you to the respawn screen, you're simply ejected, and find yourself as an immobile ranged DPS. Twenty seconds of auto attacking anything will give you your mech back - it's a little to wrap your head around, but you effectively have infinite hp - it's just time-delayed. D.Va's self sustain is calling new mechs!

Is This Easy Mode?

This playstyle hinges on D.Va's level one talent, Pro Moves. Pro Moves provides a stacking buff that grants 2% Movespeed per tick of damage taken from anything. It stacks up to fifteen times (+30% MS) and each stack takes 1.5 seconds to fall off. That means, after 1.5 seconds at maximum stacks, you lose one stack, not all of them.

Basically, it is very very easy to ALWAYS have around +26% move speed, since on the aforementioned maps you're never far from a wave. Additionally, D. Va LOVES being hit by select heroes; namely, Tracer, Tassadar, Zarya, and Genji; these heroes are the fastest shooters in the game. Note Tassadar particularly; he was just buffed quite a bit, and sitting in the wave (on his puddle) was what you were doing anyway.

So, we've overcome the mech's -15% movespeed and are now zooming around; that's great, but we need to achieve things BESIDES bodyblocking and eating skillshots. Enter Defensive Matrix; at 7, you're going to get your largest defensive powerspike in Aggression Matrix, which provides 1s of Cooldown Reduction for 1s of auto attacking against heroes. This CD reduction stacks if you're hitting two heroes; in frantic teamfights, it's easy to get matrices off back to back, matching enemy damage cooldowns coming back online.

The tricky thing with defensive matrix is that it has to be aimed at the hero causing the damage, not the damage; if Kael'thas throws a flamestrike, you need to DM HIM, not the flamestrike. This is the tricky part about D. Va, and is what makes or breaks her function as a tank. She's particularly well suited against backline-dive comps, like  Greymane+Thrall, since she can just sit her matrix on top of her Jaina, and the melees will naturally be inside of it.

You're a waveclearing fast-rotating monster and you're able to deny enemy wave clear with your matrix. If they dive your squishy, press Q. If you don't have Q, play passive until it's up. Congrats, that's the entire early game. Onto teamfights and bombs.

Teamfights (and Bombs)

Your role in a teamfight is pretty simple. Save your Q until you can either go past enemies and bodyblock (without feeding) or until someone on your team needs to be saved. If you see a good bomb, lob it. If your W is up, use it. If you can bodyblock, do it. And above all else, spam your voice line. Tilt is a tactic.

A good bomb is one that achieves one of the following: A kill, part of an objective, a save, or a barrier. You can use it with allied CC, to block a gate, to get part of a shrine, to force someone to walk back into your team - it's as creative as you. Practicing with bombs is how you get better at them, and one of the reasons I love this build is it gives you frequent bombs to practice with.

If you're using Bunny Hop, try to walk up with your movespeed to Ult, rather than use your Q; it's almost always better to walk up rather than use a cooldown, and it's easy enough to catch up by either having stacks or using fog.

Who Needs a D. Va?

Here's a slightly harder topic; when is this a good pick? It's all well and good to narrow down to the map, but we need to go a step farther; what comps is this good into, what comps is this bad into?

The first piece of the enemy team that matters is the tank. If it can displace you, it's bad. Garrosh, Diablo, ETC, and notably Stukov have excellent lockdown and knockback options that can make your bombs absolutely useless. Additionally, heroes like Dehaka and Falstad have options to deny precise placements - learn to look out for when displacement might be coming up.

Secondly, you want heroes you can W easily on waves. Johanna is your favourite enemy in the world, as is Blaze, Arthas, and Stitches. Kael'thas and Jaina aren't bad either, but Zul'jin and Hammer you'll want to steer clear of.

Finally, you want a team that you can enable; D.Va loves having an offlaner with an engage or any CC. Leoric's Entomb, Thrall's Earthquake, Imperius's Stun and Grab - all of these are hugely beneficial tools for you to follow up off of.

Additonally, D.Va loves melee assassins. Kerrigan, Alarak, Maiev - even Zeratul and Illidan, though they lack in CC, take enormous advantage from D.Va's Defense Matrix effectively giving them a hardened shield.

Those aren't your only synergies either! Be on the lookout for a friendly Stukov, offlaning ETC, hell even an Octograb - you can turn virtually any engage into a kill with good timing and fast, fat bodyblocks.

I Play to Win

With all that in mind, let's take it from the top, one last time.

Early game, use your Defense Matrix as Anti-Waveclear; deny enemy rotations by slowing their clear, then utilise your Q to dismount and rotate to the next lane. Once there, rinse, repeat.

Play cautiously when your cooldowns are down, especially your Q. It's your panic button; if you can't hit it in a panic, you're quite likely to be dead. Remember, D.Va's a scaling hero - give yourself time to get to your powerspikes!

At level four, your playstyle is naturally rewarded by fusion generator; no need to adjust!

Early game bombs are excellent on mercenaries - whether that be clearing enemy mercs, taking your own, or invading! You get the most value by invading and stealing, the second most by clearing their mercs+minion wave, and the least by simply taking your own. That being said, all use scenarios are perfectly valid; a lot of the time, you're not going to be able to invade, and that's okay.

Using bombs for objectives is also advised. On tomb, you can virtually free clear a lane of push. On infernal, you can guarantee a minimum of ten shrine monkeys with it. And on shire, you can guarantee a point capture by bombing on it. Remember, this is an ability limited only by creativity, so use it often and learn!

Your mech will die, and you'll need to auto-attack for a new one. Play accordingly. It's perfectly fine to lose your mech in an intense skirmish - just head to the nearest camp so you can really take advantage of that pilot DPS. Whether that's a neutral or hostile camp is irrelevant; if neither are available, look for a wave!

With Bunny Hop, play for engages the moment it's up - ping five times and run into their backline!

With Big Shot, play the same - you just have quicker mechs!

Your playstyle doesn't fundamentally change at levels 13 through 20; you can pick up some defensives, but your core gameplay loop is the same per teamfight. W the big damage, look for CD reduction, look for good bombs. Rinse, repeat!

Tips and Tricks, Bits and Baubles

Your Q ignores collision models, and can be used to get out of hostile bodyblocks or position yourself to block an opponent.

Your Q knocksback targets in the direction of the front of your mech when you collide; you can move in a small circle to move the tank and support away and the squishy mage towards your team, for example.

Your mech can continue quite a bit forward if you eject during your Q - use this to your advantage, and tap Q again to freeze it in place!

The exploding mech can 'slide' back and forth against a gate when thrown into it. Test it in try mode, it's quite oppressive!

If your mech is killed while you're using boosters, you can cast your explosion! You can't otherwise!

Ablative Armour gains more value when you're ahead, since your HP relative to enemy damage is quite high.

If you know you're playing for level 20 Big Shot, Expensive Plating at 13 becomes quite strong.

You can tap H to get the Stop and Pop procs while moving a bit - test it in try mode!

You only need to hit two heroes with Pew! Pew! Pew! to fully reset your mech. At 20, you become immortal.

Your W will reduce damage from a source regardless of their distance from the damage; casting on a Kael'thas, for instance, while the pyro connects on the other side o fhte map will still reduce the damage.

The TLDR at the Bottom

Clear wave, Q enemies, W dpses, E everything, bodyblock, zoom. Watch the first seven minutes of the VOD.

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Pro Moves
D.Va's Mech gains 2% Movement Speed for 1.5 second every time she takes damage, up to 30%.
For the purposes of this guide, Pro Moves is the best pick! It's also the strongest for any frontline-based D.Va.
Fusion Generator
Every time an enemy Hero deals damage while inside Defense Matrix, D.Va's Self-Destruct Charge increased by 1% (Max 15).
At 4 we take fusion generator; remember those frequent frequent matrices? They're now giving us frequent frequent bombs. These are useful for clearing spiders, bruisers, shrine monkeys - you get the idea.
Aggression Matrix
Basic Attacks in Mech Mode against Heroes lowers the cooldown of Defense Matrix by 0.25 seconds.
The aforementioned frequent frequent matrices' source. Auto splash converts into damage reduction with this!
Big Shot
Requires Pilot Mode. Deal 250 damage to all enemies in a line. Call Mech’s cooldown is reduced by 8 seconds for each enemy Hero hit.
At 10 we choose between Big Shot and Bunny Hop. Pick the latter if your team NEEDS an engage, or if it's going to get value. Clearing ten shrine monkeys with bomb and another ten with bunny hop is pretty good value. Big Shot is a little more defensive - It's a hyper long ranged poke, good waveclear, and a channeling interrupt. Pop quiz, which of those three maps has a channeling element?
Ablative Armor
Damage against D.Va's Mech that would deal 4% or less of your max health are reduced by 50%.
At level 13 we unfortunately have to think. Ablative armour will reduce more and more damage if you're higher level than your opponent, since more ticks of damage fall under the 4% mark. If you're lower level or getting bursted, consider Emergency Shielding for a life save. Expensive Plating is fine if you're going for the Big Shot upgrade at 20 and know the game will go that long.
Torpedo Dash
D.Va gains the Torpedo Dash ability, allowing her to dash forward and pass through enemies. Requires Pilot Mode.
At level 16, quite literally every talent is viable; if you're not sure what to take, Torpedo Dash will always give you a save, so just take that.

Otherwise, GG WP combos well with burst oriented teams, such as Kerrigan Li-Ming. Nanoweave is a better defensive than Torpedo if you're getting run down.

Suppressing Fire is reasonable if you want to siege at range with pilot, or have a beefy allied frontline.
Pew! Pew! Pew!
Instead of a single shot, Big Shot fires 3 shots over 0.5 seconds. Each shot deals 50% reduced damage.
If you're Big Shot, always upgrade it.
If you're Bunny Hop and it's not on CD, upgrade it.
The other two are both reasonable. Concussive pairs well with Torpedo 16, as you can bump targets into your bomb and bodyblock them.
MEKAFall provides VERY GOOD burst damage in an AoE - use it as part of a kill-combo.
Balance Patch - 08/28/19
There are no comments for this build.
Very cool discussion. I will try this build up on Unranked.