In Heroes of the Storm, ‘enemy Nova’ is more or less synonymous with ‘watch your back.’ With an automatic cloak, extensive range, and sinister burst potential, Nova is the master of picking people off. Be they a low health tank or a topped off squishy, Nova’s notoriety as an assassin will have them on the lookout for her telltale shimmer. Between Snipe and her Triple Tap/Precision Strike heroics, injured opponents will have a hard time making it back to base.
Despite her invisibility, good Nova play requires pristine positioning – she doesn’t do well once caught out. Her Decoy can distract new players, but veterans will train themselves to identify the true Nova and chase her to her death. As such, she should be launching Snipes and auto-attacks from the fringe of the fight, keeping tabs of enemies who stray from the fray so she can pick them off.
Permanent Cloak (D)
Gain Stealth when out of combat for 3 seconds. Taking damage, attacking, using Abilities, or channeling reveals you.Basic Attack range is 20% further than other ranged Heroes, and you see 10% further than other Heroes.
Nova’s Permanent Cloak is what makes her the elusive threat she is. Though she’s not completely invisible when cloaked, even skilled players will have a tough time keeping track of a Nova who is weaving around a teamfight. A cloaked Nova is more visible when moving, making standing still or hiding in the bushes the best bets for remaining undetected. Nova excels at creeping up behind distressed enemies and eliminating them. This trait also extends Nova’s sight and attack range, giving her the edge in a long-range engagement.
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Deals 735 (146 + 31 per level) damage to the first enemy hit.
This is the key to Nova’s burst. Sniping an enemy out of stealth and following it up with auto attacks and Pinning Shot is what makes Nova such a terror to enemies with flagging health. This skillshot will be absorbed by the first enemy hit, making positioning and precision quite important in securing kills.
Pinning Shot (W)
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Deal 240 (50 + 10 per level) damage to an enemy and slow it by 30% for 2.25 seconds.
Pinning Shot doesn’t deal much damage, and should be used as a way to land snipes and sneak in more basic attacks. Most any hero can benefit from an ability with CC, and Nova is no exception. This ability is good for chasing enemies down and disengaging from enemies who have seen through her cloak.
Holo Decoy (E)
Cooldown: 15 seconds
Create a Decoy for 5 seconds that appears to attack enemies. Using this Ability does not break Cloak.
Holo Decoy is an ability with many uses. From granting risk-free vision to drawing out enemy abilities to dealing substantial damage in the late game, Nova will be using Holo Decoy throughout the game. Because it doesn’t break cloak, this ability is amazing at bewildering pursuers who are caught up in their bloodlust. Nova can also place this strategically to grant vision to key areas like boss pits or clumps of bushes. Holo Decoy has some amazing utility, and a Nova will need to master its many uses to unlock the hero’s full potential.
Triple Tap (R)
Cooldown: 100 seconds
Locks in on the target Hero, then fires 3 shots that hit the first Hero or Structure they come in contact with for 740 (113 + 33 per level) damage each.
Triple Tap is notorious for its insane burst damage. Landing all three charges on a single hero will chunk their health considerably, usually killing them if this is a followup to the rest of Nova’s kit. However, the shots from this ability can be blocked by structures and minions, not to mention other heroes. Because of its fickle nature, Nova has to be conscientious about everything around her and her target before firing. If Triple Tap is used to ambush an enemy squishy, it can tear through them before they can react.
Precision Strike (R)
Cooldown: 60 seconds
After a 1.5 second delay, deals 1000 (335 + 35 per level) damage to enemies within an area. Unlimited range.
With its global cast range, Precision Strike is great for controlling map objectives and snagging faraway kills. While it does less single-target damage than Triple Tap, its AoE damage can more than make up for that in a teamfight. This heroic is telegraphed by a massive indicator on the ground – with its delay, it can be easy to dodge. As such, Precision Strike is best used in conjunction with CC from the rest of Nova’s team. This ability can swing teamfights without Nova even being nearby.
Level 1 Talents
Recommended: Ambush Snipe
Surprise burst damage is Nova’s specialty, and accentuating that in any way is what she usually wants to be doing. Ambush Snipe makes Snipe hit noticeably harder when cast immediately after coming out of stealth. Nova has a 1 second window after stealth to get the 20% damage bonus, allowing those with quick reflexes to get off Decoy and Pinning Shot first.
Psi-op Rangerfinder also increases Snipe‘s damage over the long term, but Nova would rather cast fewer and more powerful Snipes than weaker, more plentiful ones. While Psi-op Rangefinder does improve Nova’s damage, it does nothing to improve her burst damage. This could be picked up for a more sustained-fire build, but doesn’t help to pick off stragglers more quickly.
Tazer Round‘s extended slow is pretty nice, especially on teams where crowd control is lacking. However, Nova is usually looking to improve her damage over her utility, making this a fringe pickup. In a lineup with a big focus on picking of enemies in the early game, this could help prevent enemies from making it back to base.
Conjurer’s Pursuit grants a nice increase to mana regeneration, but grants no lasting impact to Nova’s kit other than resource longevity. Nova is looking to melt targets quickly rather than get caught in a shootout, making this talent largely irrelevant to what she wants to do. That said, this can help Novas who are finding themselves useless in fights because they lack mana.
Level 4 Talents
Recommended: Gathering Power
Nova is first and foremost a player killer – she thrives on sending hero after hero to their graves with her burst damage. Gathering Power rewards a Nova who is involved in hunting enemies all game long, granting her a huge spike to her power level if she can maintain full charges. With her elusive nature and high ranged damage, Gathering Power allows Nova to deal insane damage in the mid-late game.
Envenom also enhances Nova’s damage, albeit more slowly. While landing an Envenom on a gank target is a good addition to Nova’s burst combo, its short range and long duration does not behoove her playstyle. Trying to land Envenom can force her into poor positioning, which is seldom worth it to land a slow DoT. This does supplement her damage, however, and can be a more reliable choice than Gathering Power in tough games.
Remote Delivery adds some extra utility to Holo Decoy, but the ability is already pretty damn useful and Nova should be ramping up her damage at every opportunity. For a full Holo Decoy build this is a possibility, but it will not scale into the late game as well as Gathering Power or Envenom.
While Nova’s mana pool isn’t abundant, with smart play it’s usually enough to get the job done. As such, Perfect Shot is not a great pickup except for in rapid-fire builds that need Snipe to be more easily castable.
Level 7 Talents
Recommended: Anti-armor Shells
While slowing her attack speed by 250% might not seem like a great idea, Anti-armor Shells supplements Nova’s burst damage even further, allowing her basic attacks to be part of her combo. This talent greatly reduces Nova’s already-poor lane clearing, but makes her an even more deadly huntress of heroes. A rotation of abilities and two basic attacks can be enough to take non-tanks from 100-0. This is a rather definitive talent on Nova and should only be ignored with good reason.
Explosive Round can make Nova’s Snipe‘s better at area damage, allowing her to clear creeps and punish enemy clumping, but Nova should not be concerning herself with such things.
Covert Ops doesn’t do nearly enough to warrant an pick over Anti-armor Shells. An additional 50% slow can be deadly for some enemies caught, but the impact of this ability is relatively low.
One on the Chamber could work for continuing a sustained fire build, but Nova’s expertise is burst, and powering up her intermittent auto-attacks is a much less bursty effect than increasing their oomph by 250%.
Level 10 Heroics
Triple Tap can do insane damage and secure ganks that were previously beyond Nova’s reach. Its single-target damage is potent and, with its level 20 upgrade, this ability can skip its 100 second cooldown if it gets the killing blow on a hero. In the late game, a Nova with a cooperative team can chain together several of these things for insane damage. That said, this heroic is prone to missing and may not be the most consistent choice because of that.
Precision Strike, on the other hand, allows Nova to affect ganks and teamfights that she otherwise neglected to show up for. Enemies who unwittingly clump in her absence will be punished by a well-placed Precision Strike. This ability gets much better when Nova’s team has some crowd control, especially something like Johanna’s Condemn. This is a more team-fight conscious pickup that causes Nova to miss out on some single-target damage for the ability to nuke multiple foes.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Lethal Decoy
Decoys are just distractions up until this point. Giving them 25% of Nova’s damage can be deadly, especially if she picked up Anti-armor Shells at level 7. Enemies will learn to ignore Holo Decoys after a time, making their sudden ability to deal damage an oft-overlooked fact. Especially when Nova builds more towards Holo Decoy in the next talent tier, Lethal Decoy can provide some surprising burst damage.
Headshot is amazing on Novas who just won’t let up pressure. Being omnipresent in teamfights and slinging out Snipes isn’t difficult, and having killing heroes rewarded with lower cooldowns only leads to more killing. It should be noted that this ability can lower heroic ability cooldowns as well as basic.
Spell Shield can help Nova withstand a little bit more pressure, but she is generally made of paper and this doesn’t do much to stop that. If an enemy Jaina or Kael’thas has Nova’s number and is repeatedly catching her before fights, Spell Shield can be argued for.
Advanced Cloaking does some cool stuff for Nova, allowing her to heal and sprint whilst cloaked. This will help her with getting to ganks more quickly and recovering between engagements, but its lack of damage is hard to ignore.
Level 16 Talents
Recommended: Double Fake or Crippling Shot
Double Fake is a good capstone talent for Novas who grabbed Anti-armor Shells and Lethal Decoy. Dropping two decoys at once will confuse enemies looking to kill the real Nova, and their added damage makes Nova a DPS machine at this point in the game. The ability for these things to distract enemies, especially now that they damage them with auto-attacks, should not be underestimated.
Crippling Shot can allow Nova’s team to burst down key targets early in fights, allowing for swingy victories. The increase to Nova’s burst with this skill is noticeable, and having other damage dealers on her team makes this a good pickup.
Overdrive can allow for some acute burst damage, but it puts more strain on Nova’s mana pool and is generally outclassed by other talents in this tier.
Railgun further augments Snipe and is good for continuing the sustained-fire build, as it allows Snipe to hit much more than one target. With a few talents towards Snipe, this allows Nova to gun groups of foes down.
Level 20 Talents
Rewind gives Nova a criminal amount of burst damage past level 20, especially if she’s built towards her Holo Decoy. Being able to drop two damaging decoys and unload her damage abilities before rinsing and repeating will have her hero damage soaring. This requires some quick fingers to use effectively, but Nova is nothing if not deft.
Bolt of the Storm is as good as ever, but Nova’s Permanent Cloak already grants her a lot of elusiveness. This allows her to survive and gank even better than before, but doesn’t boost her damage at all.
Fast Reload is great for Novas with coordinated teams. Being able to chain Triple Tap puts huge damage into fights – Nova just has to make sure to get kills with it.
Precision Barrage allows Nova two consecutive uses of Precision Strike, which is certainly worth the pickup if she opted for the heroic in the first place. Two of these in conjunction can decimate enemy health pools.