Nova Rework by Murraythehuman

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Nova Rework

By: Murraythehuman
Last Updated: Feb 13, 2023
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Nova Rework

Time for some Called Shots

Nova is the first Pubstomp character in Heroes's roster. That is to say, she's a hero who is exceptionally good at taking out beginners and other players who don't know what they're doing, but any player who has played their fair share of games generally has no problem with Nova. This leads to an odd dichotomy where her perceived power from some players can be a detriment to their enjoyment of the game, while still leaving her as a largely unviable character with very few niches.

One big part of the problem is simply the fact that too much of Nova's damage is 'up front'. A Nova player can effectively land an AA, a W, a Q, and whatever piddling damage her clone makes all within the span of a single second. This basically means that if she comes near you, she can instantly get off 600 (unscaled) damage to you in a single instance before either leaving or chasing. While this high burst damage does fit the design ethos of a Sniper, it's simply not something that leaves much room for counterplay, nor does it have much room for player expression.

Pain Points
  • Too much up-front damage that leads to little room for counterplay.
  • Pinning Shot takes some of the fun out of using Snipe.
  • Clones have very situational practicality outside of scouting.

  • Add an opening for counterplay.
  • Delineate her playstyle to encourage more tactical use of her basic abilities.
  • Adjust the functionality of Holo Decoy to serve a more universal purpose.

Nova, as she exists currently, is a hero who cannot be buffed, simply because the immediacy of her playstyle is incredibly unfun to fight against and the beginner-unfriendly environment she'd create would just be unreasonable.

Combat Trait

Permanent Cloak
Cooldown: 3 seconds
Gain Stealth when out of combat for 3 seconds. Taking damage, attacking, using Abilities, or Channeling ends Stealth. Remaining stationary for at least 1.5 seconds grants Invisible.

Passive: Gain 15% Movement Speed while Stealthed, as well as 25% increased basic ability range.

Stealth is largely unchanged, bar one small buff to her basic ability range. This change stands to really push the 'sniper' feel of the character, however the overall changes to Snipe will prevent her from being able to burst a player down from outside conventional range.

Primary Abilities

40 Mana
Cooldown: 4 seconds Down from 6.

Deals 150 damage to the first enemy hit. Heroes hit are marked for 8 seconds. Marked heroes take an additional 170 damage from Snipe.

Here it is, the big bad change, but arguably the most important and necessary one. Having a quest for aiming your shot well repeatedly is a concept that has potential, but for Nova its only real purpose was always just to keep her from tearing up the competition in lower ranks. A bandaid solution that mostly just forces good Novas to not play as daringly as they'd otherwise like to.
As for this new version, the idea is fairly straightforward: MARK your enemy with the first shot, then hunt them down for the extremely lethal follow up. I believe this move would have to have its baseline damage scaling be 5% to keep it effective for the lategame. This change will create moments of extreme tension for her opponent when she approaches them in lane, while keeping her relevant in team fights due to the lower cooldown.
Also, to clarify: The first shot applies the mark, the second does not consume it, so by the time of the third shot, Nova will have dealt close to 750 damage over 8 seconds from this ability alone.
Pinning Shot
65 Mana
Cooldown: 12 seconds

Deal 100 damage to an enemy and Slow them by 40% for 2.25 seconds.

After the changes to Nova's Snipe, this move no longer needs any substantial changes to its own functionality, as now the Nova player has to decide whether or not to use the slow to help land the first shot, or to secure the follow-up.
Holo Decoy
50 Mana
Cooldown: 20 seconds Up from 15

Nova dashes in the target direction, gaining stealth, while leaving a Decoy in her previous position for 5 seconds, with 100% of Nova's current Health. The decoy will attempt to perform Nova's previous command, before attacking enemies on its own. Casting Holo Decoy will also grant Nova Unrevealable for .5 seconds.

Holo Decoys cannot apply marks of Snipe, and deal only 10% of Nova's base damage. Whenever a Decoy takes damage it deals that amount to itself, effectively doubling the damage it takes.

The dash length is about as far as a Valla Vault, except when used while stealthed, where it's 30% longer.

I've added mobility to a hero who hasn't previously had any, out-of-combat speed boost notwithstanding, which is something I normally avoid doing, and while it's not the part I expect to draw controversy, it's the part of this rework I find the most contentious. This change has effectively turned her previous 1 ability, Ghost Protocol, into a baseline one. In many ways, this is an extreme buff to Nova, giving her a move that previously was locked behind a 60 second cooldown, and making it only 20 seconds. This is one of the trade-offs that comes with losing A) easy vision, and B) sudden burst damage.
This change aims to give Nova some new ways to actually trick her foes, by having more direct control over her Holo Decoy's actions.

Using the buffer to prep multiple commands for the clone won't work, only the first command will be followed.

Heroic Abilities

Triple Tap
Unchanged, because it's not the focus of this rework. The teamwork element this gives to the enemy team is too fun and unique to fully remove, so there must be something else that would give this move an edge.
Precision Strike
Unchanged, because it's not the focus of this rework. It probably wouldn't see any major changes regardless.

Level 1 Talents

This talent tier is relatively flexible, as well as largely unchanged. That said, Longshot has now been modified to instead tie in with Nova's general purpose sniping mechanics, while Holo Projector lets Nova get right back to a 'classic' style of cloning herself.

Trait (D): Advanced Cloaking - After being Stealthed for 1 second, gain an additional 10% Movement Speed. While Stealthed, regenerate 3 Mana per second. (Unchanged)

Trait (D): Longshot: After damaging an enemy hero with an ability that had its range enhanced by Permanent Cloak, Nova's next basic attack has its range increased by 25%.

Active: Holo Projector - Activate to place a Nova clone at a distant location. It will attempt to replicate the next command Nova performs, before acting on its own. Shares a cooldown with Holo Decoy. Passive: While stealthed, the cooldown of Holo Decoy recharges 75% faster.

Level 4 Talents

Nova gets a dedicated PvE tier. A dedicated waveclear tool that works most effectively when alone, or take a weakened rework of Explosive round that has some utility in combat, or just take Bribes, which are now tied to her ability to land her Snipes.

Trait (D): Ambush Tactics - While stealthed, Nova's basic attacks instantly kill minions. Killing a minion this way refunds 50% of Permanent Cloak's cooldown.

Q: Explosive Rounds - When Snipe first hits an enemy, it also deals 50% of its damage around the target.

Active: Covert Mission - Damaging a marked hero with Snipe grants a charge of bribe. Nova can hold up to 20 charges of Bribe, and can consume 5 Bribes to instantly defeat a mercenary.

Level 7 Talents

Utility or power talents. Holo Stability now makes it possible to complete the illusion of Nova's clones, with some extra bonuses to further their utility. The other two abilities are roughly the same, though One in the Chamber has been nerfed to compensate for Nova's cooldown reduction to Snipe. Anti-Armor Shells has been reworded to be more helpful to those not familiar with the talent.

E: Holo Stability - Increase the duration of Nova's Decoys by 3 seconds, and they no longer deal self-damage for the first 2 seconds. Additionally, reduce the cooldown of Holo Decoy by 2 seconds.

Passive: One in the Chamber - After using an Ability, Nova's next Basic Attack within 3 seconds deals 55% additional damage.

Passive: Anti-Armor Shells - Nova's Basic Attacks deal 150% increased damage and decrease the Physical Armor of Heroic targets by 15 for 3 seconds, but her Attack Speed is proportionally reduced to be 60% slower.

Heroic Talents

Detailed above.

Level 13 Talents

A general 'power' tier, that can enhance Nova's Sniping. Perfect Marks works great if you can reliably survive long enough to land three Snipes. Ionic Forcefield helps Nova survive long enough to apply her second shot, and Double Tap makes it easier to land both shots against speedy opponents.

Trait (D): Ionic Forcefield - While Stealthed, Nova gains up to 30 armor over 2 seconds. This armor persists for 3 seconds after she loses Stealth.

Q: Perfect Marks - Snipe can now apply an additional mark, further increasing the bonus damage to marked targets by 75%.

W: Double Tap - Pinning Shot now has 2 charges, but its cooldown is increased by 2 seconds. (Unchanged)

Level 16

Again, mostly unchanged. Some extra nuance has been added to Crippling Shot so as to make it not just a part of a Snipe > stealth > Pinning Shot > Snipe combo, without completely removing that option. Lethal Decoy's power has been boosted, justifiable in that Nova must invest a talent in order for her Decoys to spawn close to her foes, as well as the lowered damage the clone would deal to non-marked foes. And lastly, Piercing Bullet resurrects some of the old Explosive Round functionality, in that it makes body-blocking against Snipe less effective, and can potentially double Nova's damage output.

Q: Piercing Bullet - Snipe pierces the first enemy hit.

W: Crippling Shot - When cast from Stealth, Pinning Shot lowers a Hero's Armor by 15 for the duration of the Slow, causing them to take 15% extra damage. If cast from Invisible, increase the armor reduction to 25.

E: Lethal Decoy - Increases the damage Holo Decoy deals to 40% of Nova's damage.

Storm Talents

Nova's 20 talents are mostly left unchanged... with one major exception. While Apollo Suit has some indirect nerfs due to it losing some synergy with Ionic Forcefield, all the other bonuses granted to Nova's trait should compensate for it. However, No Survivors should definitely see some adjustments to how Nova is played in the lategame, allowing her to clean up an entire enemy team by herself should the opportunity come up. This may be a bit too strong, but the dream situation is fairly unlikely to happen. The main change here is that Nova's level 20 game doesn't just amount to "unload Nova's upfront damage... twice".

R1: Fast Reload - Unchanged.

R2: Precision Barrage - Unchanged.

Trait (D): Apollo Suit - Reduce the cooldown of Permanent Cloak by 2 seconds. (Unchanged)

Q: No Survivors - If Snipe hits a marked hero, all nearby enemy heroes are marked. Takedowns refresh Snipe's Cooldown.

Closing Remarks

So, what have I actually done to Nova?

1) Increased her uptime, while solidifying her identity as someone who fixates her damage onto a single important target, at the cost of forcing her to make her intentions known ahead of time, reducing her frustration factor.

2) Enhanced her ability to play as a long range 'Sniper', without overly cementing her in that role. Players will sometimes look for a chance to land Q, wait until stealth happens, then finish the foe off with a long range blast from afar. Her foes will still have more time than before to run away to freedom.

3) Made Holo Decoy an ability with more skill expression and immediate practicality, and while it is still very different, it didn't require as extreme a change to their functionality or Nova's identity as many other reworks.

4) Given Nova some reasonably powerful laning options, without making it something she can turn into a dedicated role.

5) Given Nova an interesting gameplan in teamfights, where she's forced to find opportunities to land a shot against the same target twice, which may not happen that often, especially against her usual pray. But with only 4 seconds between each shot, it's not too big a deal if she's forced to change target.

Version History

  • Snipe's bonus damage is now listed as a flat value (170) instead of a percent increased (125%), I also lowered the bonus damage by a touch in the process.
  • Longshot now grants 25% increased AA range instead of 20%.
  • Holo-stability now only removes double clone damage for 2 seconds, rather than indefinitely. The idea was to sell the illusion better, but they'd also just be too tanky overall. This should allow them to still confuse enemies better, but still make it possible to deal with them once the illusion wears off.

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