Overwatch's Jan. 7 Experimental Card patch notes

Sigma and Wrecking Ball may no longer be the game’s best dynamic duo.

After a short holiday break, Overwatch’s developers have headed back to work to bring balance to the game. They’ve started the year off with a bang by testing nerfs on several of the meta’s most popular heroes in the Jan. 7 Experimental Card. 

For the past month, competitive Overwatch games have included damage-heavy compositions often led by tanks Sigma and Wrecking Ball. With high survivability and disruptive abilities, these two tanks have stood above the rest as obvious choices for both ranked players and professional teams. This week’s Experimental Card attempts to take both of them down several notches for a more balanced experience. 

Alongside Sigma and Wrecking Ball, damage dealer Ashe has also seen increased playing time. In the hands of a skilled player, Ashe can rain down damage and destroy enemies on the backline, especially when damage-boosted by a Mercy player. The developers are also tackling snipers in this experimental run, tuning down some of Ashe’s scoped-in hits and tuning up Hanzo’s effectiveness in her place. 

These changes can be tested on the Experimental Card, which is located on the Overwatch home screen. As usual, these changes are purely experimental. They aren’t guaranteed to go to the live servers in their current state and may be changed or discarded before implementation. 

Tank changes 


  • Experimental Barrier redeploy cooldown increased from one to 2.5 seconds 

For weeks, players have been using Sigma’s myriad of obtrusive abilities to cause chaos in ranked and professional games. This massive experimental change would alter how Sigma players survive within a fight. On the live Overwatch servers, Sigma players can redeploy the Experimental Barrier with abandon. This change would make them have to think more actively about their shield placement. 

Wrecking Ball 

  • Adaptive Shield per target reduced from 100 to 75. 

Wrecking Ball’s main draw is his ability to disrupt the enemy team by rolling in, causing a disruption or getting a kill, then escaping before the team notices. His Adaptive Shields add protection based on how many enemies are around him, encouraging this kind of high-risk gameplay. 

“The combination of [Wrecking Ball’s] high mobility and high shield capability has made him a bit too slippery of a target,” community manager John Nash said on the Blizzard forums. This 25-percent reduction in shields will make Wrecking Ball players think twice about a wild trip into the enemy backline. 

Damage changes 


  • The Viper’s Aim-down-sights damage reduced from 80 to 75. Aim-down-sights recovery time reduced from 0.7 to 0.65 seconds. 

As other damage dealers received comprehensive nerfs, Ashe has risen above the fray by remaining extremely dangerous in the hands of capable players. Her primary weapon, the Viper, has landed in a “slightly too powerful state when combined when damage boosts,” according to the developers. With a boost from Mercy or the use of Baptiste’s ultimate, Amplification Matrix, Ashe players can take down a 200 health enemy with a single shot. 

Noticing this trend, the devs have reduced the single shot damage when Ashe players are scoped in, referred to as “aim-down-sights” damage. To balance this, her recovery time will be slightly decreased so that players can go back to hip fire damage or throwing Dynamite in a shorter amount of time. 


  • Storm Arrow shot recovery time reduced from 0.3 to 0.25 seconds. 

While he’s no Ashe, Hanzo has also seen a slight uptick in playing time over the past few months. This minor change makes his Storm Arrow a bit more dangerous, reducing the recovery time between the ability’s five shots. This will make Hanzo better equipped to shred shields or take out a high-health target.

These changes can be tested on the Experimental Card starting today. If these changes pass muster with developers, they’ll likely make it to the live servers sometime next week.  

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