Nova - A new way to play. Versatile Team-play. Updated (Patch 21 - Samuro) by Santy

Nova - A new way to play. Versatile Team-play. Updated (Patch 21 - Samuro)

By: Santy
Last Updated: Aug 11, 2017
36 Votes
Build 1 of 1


Build: Chaos, confusion and destruction!

Level 1
Level 4
Level 7
Level 10
Level 13
Level 16
Level 20

Threats to Nova with this build

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Threat Hero Notes
Stitches Stitches wants to play and he loves fishing for friends to ply with. 1 hook in the right spot and you are history. Also Slam can reveal you and deals a ton of damage if upgraded. The Putrid Bile heroic can keep you slowed and visible, while the Gorge heroic right after a hook, practically guaranties you die one way or the other. Still the only way to harm you is to hook you first, and that is hard to do even if the target is not cloaked.
Medivh Your best friend and your worst enemy. He just denies you kills all the time. His "Force of will" spell is like having "Cleanse" on 5 second cool-down, that can be self-cast. He is not a treat but killing him 1v1 is near impossible, and if you don't blow your target immediately, expect him to use "Force of will" to save any teammate nearby.
Artanis Typical Protos. Charges you and won't let you go. Or die in that matter. Whatever you do, do not get inside Artanis's charge range. Most Artanis players can't hurt you, because he is hard to play right. But a good Artanis will charge you, use prism, and then finish you off with his AOE. Late game you have no chance to take him down. If he specs into his trait it takes 3 or 4 people to kill him. The way to deal with him is to kill the rest of his team, and then kill him with your teammates.
Arthas Slow. Root. And lots of damage. Just like Artanis, stay away from his Frozen Tempest, and you will be fine.
Diablo He is a grabby little fellow. And plays rough. Trowing people around, headbutting them. Just not cool. And every time you send him packing back to hell, he comes right back. Don't let him get close and just blast him to bits wit hyour teammates around.
E.T.C. The Rock Cow has some nasty AOE abilities. Avoid getting too close, unless you want to dance till you drop dead, in the middle of a Moshpit. Other than that he is just 1 giant target.
Li Li She likes flowers. And being very annoying. And yeah that is the reason I play Lili. To annoy people :) Her blind cuts lots of damage. If she take the water dragon at 10 you have no chance to kill her 1v1, but if you over-commit she might actually kill you. in group fight however she is harmless.
Muradin Jumps all over the place and hits people on the head with his hammer. He is basically the evil version of Super Mario. Just don't let him stun you or use Heymaker on you.
Chen He is too tanky to kill unless you surprise him when he is low on health. Also he can stick to you and kill you if you are revealed and try to run away. His basic abilities are AOE and can reveal you. If he takes Wandering Keg at level 10, he can easily hit you by accident, if you are out of position and corner you in place for easy kill. Give him some space and avoid engaging unless you have a teammate with you.
Cho Cho-Gall has lots of AOE and a ton of health. The bad thing is he can reveal you easily. The good thing is, if you are careful, dodging most of the abilities is easy. Actually Nova is in a way counter to Cho-Gall, because of her surprise attack + burst damage combo. In fact she has highest win rates when playing against Cho-Gall. Let him engage the team, and deal constant damage to him, from safe distance behind your front-lane.
Gall Cho-Gall has lots of AOE and a ton of health. The bad thing is he can reveal you easily. The good thing is, if you are careful, dodging most of the abilities is easy. Actually Nova is in a way counter to Cho-Gall, because of her surprise attack + burst damage combo. In fact she has highest win rates when playing against Cho-Gall. Let him engage the team, and deal constant damage to him, from safe distance behind your front-lane.
Leoric He can be surprisingly annoying. His AOE strike ability - Skeletal Swing as well as his heroic - March of the Black King, can reveal Nova. The problem is that after that, Leoric can use his Drain Hope on you so you can't return to cloak, and he can chase you with his Wraith Walk. That and his huge regeneration abilities make him extremity hard to engage 1v1. Try to take him on only with a teammate nearby.
Lunara You can go 1v1 with her, but I do not recommend it especially early-game. If you do, make sure you kill her, or she will use her Crippling Spores to apply more poison damage and kill you. After fighting her immediately go back to your base to replenish health. In all other situations she is easy to deal with as long as you flank her. If she takes Leaping Strike as heroic, be careful and avoid her as much as possible. Remember that she is one of the few heroes that you can't chase down or run away from, because of her speed.
Murky I play Murky and respect him a great deal when he is on the other team. Only dangerous Late-game, and only if the player using him is really good. Then he can actually kill most assassins or specialists in 1v1, creating the "OMG I just got killed by Murky?!" moments. Nova is no exception, so make sure he never gets the chance to strike first and use Octo-Grab on you! A good Murky will be able to soak most of your damage, use Safety Bubble with Rejuvenating Bubble Talent at level 16 and do his combo on you. So make sure that when you attack him, you kill him immediately, or things can turn bad. Also a note on hunting his egg. To get anything by killing the egg, you must coordinate with your team, so they kill murky first. Don't spend your time looking for the egg, its a waste. But note the direction he comes from, when he re-spawns, and maybe you can stumble on it, and make yourself a tasty murlock omelet. If your team finds the egg, do not destroy it. Instead, when murky dies, use your Precision Strike on the egg location, so you take him out for a full duration.
Rehgar Overall powerful hero. Like many supports he can reveal you, if he takes the right talent, but he is not nearly as dangerous as Kharazim or Uther for example. He can't really hurt you, unless he lands the perfect Earthbind Totem, or takes Bloodlust as his heroic.
Sylvanas Only scary if you don't kill her with your opening combo and she has Windrunner at level 13. Its perhaps the most common talent on the tier. Also both her heroics can prove dangerous in some situations.
Tassadar Even though he can see you while cloaked from level 1 with his trait - Oracle, that ability has a long cool-down. He is really hard to kill as well, but as long as you avoid him, he is just a minor annoyance. In team fights you are going to be visible as well with this build, so makes no difference there. Tassadar is considered a hard-counter to Nova, but I just find him slightly annoying more than anything else.
Abathur Usually a target. Most abatur players are easy prey to Nova. However a really good Abathur player can make your game, seriously miserable. Clever mine placement and AOE abilities cast after Symbiote can reveal you in the worst possible moment. You have to be careful with every step you make. Also any time you attack someone a competent Abathur will turn the fight in 2v1, and possible save his teammate and get you killed. It hapans every 1 out of 10 games with him, but when it does, it just sucks big time.
Tychus He is surprisingly annoying to play against. His Q as well as his trait just shreds you in seconds, and his Frag Grenade is the finishing move, or the opening salvo if he spots your shimmer. As long as you do not attack him alone 1v1, before level 20, you are OK. The nice thing about him is, that he can't really run away from you, after he takes some damage.
Anub'arak With Dampen magic at level 1, his 2 stuns and the possibility of 2 AOE abilities, he can become dangerous if you are not in stealth and he decides to ignore everything else, and just chase you. But outside of that possibility he is nothing but a nuisance.
Raynor Target. Never fight Raynor 1v1. That is it. He can win the AA war, but you can slow him down, so he is no danger at all.
Brightwing With her reveal talent at level 4, she can surprise you and blink on top of a target. The problem is, that creates 1v2 situation. She can immediately use Polymorpf on you after.
Li-Ming Surprisingly hard to kill, because of her Teleport ability. Also she refreshes abilities really fast, deals a ton of AOE damage and has insane range. Can reveal you with a lucky hit. On maps with little space for you to maneuver she can be really frustrating to fight against. If she goes for Teleport build, with the talent Calamity at level 7, and Wave Of Force heroic, she also gets big burst damage and becomes dangerous. As long as you poke her from behind, or from the side you are ok.
Falstad After his latest changes he becomes a bursty hero both with his DPS and Mage builds. The extra survivability he gets makes him a tough to take down as well. Try to not engage him alone, because if he survives your initial attack, you have no way to disengage, and will probably die.
Alarak He is not scary at all, as long as you do not let him combo you. Be aware that some Alorak players are very good in diamond league, and they can outplay you, if you are careless with your positioning and they spot your shimmer.
Valla Valla has some serious burst damage, as well as AOE, possibly stun at level 10, and sone self-sustain. In the general case you have the upper hand, with yours stealth. Valla has low health pool so you can blow her up, but if she reveals you and gets on top of you in a team fight, things can get really bad, really fast. Make sure it is you that shoots the first bullet.
Kerrigan If she gets you in her combo you are dead most of the time. Once she opens on someone else she is no longer dangerous. Be careful with her heroics. Maelstrom can reveal you, while Summon Ultralisk can be re-targeted on you, and can kill you, since it is really fast.
Kharazim He has 2 talents that can reveal you, and can stick to you with Dash, dealing damage. If he takes ether one of those talents, give him some space and avoid him at all cost. Be careful, because he can dash in at any time creating 2v1 situation. Also he is incredibly hard to kill.
Sonya Once you decloak she can use her chain to close in and chase you to death. If you use Pinning shot on her that gives you time to enter cloak again and escape. Keep in mind that as a bruiser she is not as damaging as a melee assassin, but she is also way harder to kill if build for sustain.
The Butcher In a team fight he is not that scary, because he will open with his combo before you attack. Try to use a decoy to bait his Ruthless Onslaught. Be extremely careful with his heroic Lamb to the Slaughter. If he land it on you .... lets just say its a sad and pitiful thing to watch.
Thrall As all melee assassins he has lots of self-sustain, and can chase you down. His Feral Spirit can reveal and root you. Even more dangerous is his heroic - Sundering. Try to poke from away, before he responds and engage with a teammate not in 1v1, unless he is severely damaged.
Xul The hardest specialist to play against. Bone Prison can guarantee a kill on you, if you are not careful with your positioning. If he manages to get in range and use it retreat as far towards your defenses as you can. Also make sure to slow him with pinning shot. His Bone Armor can be upgraded with evasion to basic attacks, making him really hard to kill. Both of his heroics are dangerous, even if easy to avoid. If you get in range of Skeletal Mages, while visible you are in deep trouble. More so if Poison Nova hits you.
Samuro Samuro is the only hero, that can create more chaos than Nova, with his clones. Avoid fighting him, unless his clones are on CD and you know which is the real one. Late game as you build your AOE, you can really punish Samuro hard. Just stay away and uses Snipe often. He has no self-sustain so you can tire him down and win the war of attrition.
Tracer With her is like a game of Darts. But you are only allowed ho hit the center of the board. If you hit your snipe and quickly follow up you will kill her. Yet she constantly jumps around. Its worse than Illidan. You will usually miss!!! If you do, or she reacts in time after the snipe, you are D-E-A-D - dead!!! At that point you can't run away and you can't win an AA battle. Do not engage her before she uses her Recall. EVER! There are many ways to force Tracer to use her Recall. Once that happens she will in most situations burn all her Blink charges to get as far away from the figght as possible. This is the moment to hit her hard! On the other hand if she is in your team she is awesome hunting partner, behind enemy lines. In ranked it is a bad idea to have both Nova and Tracer. But in QM she is as much fun, to play with together, as Zeratul. If you have all 3 in a team.... Here's johnny ;)".
Greymane Once he uses Darkflight, to jump on you in Worgen form, you have to use Pinning shot and run away fast. If his heroic is on cool-down you should survive the initial attack, and be able to cloak, before he catches up to you. If the heroic is available, it's GAME OVER. Even trying to poke him from afar, can be extremely dangerous. After a team fight, where he lost more than half health, you can burst him down. If you hit all your abilities! Never try to fight him 1v1, even after level 20 it's very dangerous. He kills Nova so fast, that if you blink, you will miss it. You stand a chance only with Rewind and Precision strike. You must bait him to attack a decoy. I suggest doping a decoy, using rewind to drop another decoy and engaging only after he uses all his abilities on them. He has 2 choices to try and run, or attack you. Use Precision strike only after you know what he decides, because if you miss with it.... Well you know - GAME OVER.
Illidan Dangerous the whole game, and really mobile. Also you are dead, if he takes The hunt as a heroic and use it on you. As long as you stay cloaked and let him engage your teammates first, he is easily killed. Wait for him to use both his Dive and Sweeping strike. That should leave about 2 seconds where he has all abilities on cool-down. This is the only moment you can reliably hit him with Snipe. Use pining shot first and Snipe him from as close as you dare go. In a one on one situation never run. Use Pinning shot on him and try to burst him or he will kill you while you retreat. If you are facing a particularly pesky Illidan, that just waits for you to show up, to use The Hunt on you, its worth considering Ghost Protocol at level 20. In QM I sometimes I enjoy the trill of hunting Illidan all over the map, and killing him any time he goes for my team. But that can not be possible with a really good Illidan player.
Zeratul Hard to locate. If he opens on you there is no chance for you to escape. If you try to kill him you have a slim chance to live. In team fights let him attack your team first and don't engage before that. When he is revealed try to kill him ASAP. Both of his heroics are extremely dangerous to you. Void Prison can get you revealed and killed easily. But if he takes Shadow Assault, get as far away from him as possible, when he uses it, and do not reengage before it expires. That thing is worse than Illidan using The Hunt on you, and can kill multiple heroes in seconds.
Nova Nova is not that dangerous. I put Nova at 9 because, you will face her only in mirror matches on Quick Match and I wanted to separate the possibility. This is a Ranked build. The real threat number greatly depends on the other Nova's skill and build. Usually the game turns into a competition on who can score more kills and wipe the enemy team more often. Or which Nova can stalk and kill the other one more times. Its a question of pride to prove you are the better Nova. :D That turns the game into a complete chaos. And to hell with all restraint. If you find yourself in a double-mirror match with 4 stealth heroes I feel your pain, and wish you a good luck. Sorry :)
Uther Target.
Azmodan Target.
Chromie Target.
Gazlowe Target.
Jaina Target.
Malfurion Target.
Nazeebo Target.
Rexxar Target.
Sgt. Hammer Target.
The Lost Vikings Target.
Tyrande Target.
Zagara Target.
Gul'dan Target.
Auriel Target.
Kael'thas Target.
Dehaka Target.
Johanna Target.
Lt. Morales Target.
Tyrael Target.
Zarya Target.

Content and important notes. Top

After patch 16.0 (Li-Ming patch), Nova is generally considered nurfed and even less desirable in ranked play, then before. My goal was to find a new play-style for her, differing from the one-trick-pony burst build.

This is a long read. For a fast summary of the build and playstyle go to last section "Summarized explanation".

Keep in mind that to understand the way to play this build you need to still read all my ramblings. Sorry for that, but explaining a new way to handle a hero turned out to be hard and long guide to create. :)


1 - Content and important notes.
2 - Change Log.
3 - About me and Nova. (Feel free to skip.)
4 - Build purpose.
5 - When to pick Nova in ranked play?
6 - How to play this build.
7 - The math behind the build.
8 - Talent choices in depth.
9 - Playstyle in depth. Tips and tricks.
10 - Silly Rambling. (Feel free to skip.)
11 - Summarized explanation.

Threats section

In threats section I have listed all heroes. This is a pretty safe build. Lots of heroes are completely harmless to you, as long as you play safe. I have also added the heroes you can easily harass or even 1v1 as targets. (Threat level 0). Some tanks, with stuns and lots of health can be hard to kill, as well as some supports with too much healing potential. Try to always fight them with a friendly hero helping you.

I would split it like this:
Threat level 1 - Not dangerous, but just annoying to play against.
Threat level 2 and 3 - Not dangerous, unless in a very rare specific situation.
Threat level 4 - Little dangerous, but you are safe, as long as you don't fight them 1 on 1, and make sure they don't see you uncloaked until you blow them up.
Threat level 5+ - The only heroes that pose actual threat to you, each one more than the last. - Tracer, Greymane, Illidan, Zeratul.
Threat level 10 - I have used this threat level to include the heroes I consider targets for Nova or at least completely harmless. It was done purely for visual purpose.

The only actual pick I consider counter to Nova is Zeratul, (or Illidan with The Hunt as heroic).

"Chaos, confusion and destruction!"

I never use any other build or variation. With any other hero I would say pick your talents according to the match, but with Nova there is 1 talent in each tier, that is just too good in my opinion.

Important: I am not saying this is how you should play. That is just my play style. I hope you try and like it. Everyone has different preferences and gets best results with different builds. It might not work for you. If it does I would like to hear your feedback or ideas for improvement.

Please rate and comment.

Keep in mind that Nova needs practice to play well. Also this build will require high skill to pull off, because you wont be contributing much in the early-game if you can't gank the lanes well. Also it is unforgiving if you overextend too much.

Change Log. Top

12.08.2017 (Patch 2.27 - Garosh)
Minor changes and spelling fixes. Bigger update soon to come.

22.10.2016 (Patch 21 - Samuro)
I Removed the variation builds, since they were just worse way to play, and had lower performance.
Moved Nova's targets to threat level 10, for better visuals.
Included all heroes in the threats list.
Added section about my credentials with the hero.
Added Covert Mission talent.
Added Contents.

10.08.2016 (Patch 19.4)
Added Auriel to treats list. Some cosmetic changes.
Moved Kael'thas to threat level 0, due to changes in last patch.

22.07.2016 (patch 19)
Added Gul'dan to treats list.
Moved Kerrigan in higher treat level due to changes in last patch.

22.06 (patch 17.5)
Added Medivh to treats list.
Updated Threats list.
Fixed some spelling mistakes and ambiguities in the text.

19.05.2016 (patch 17.3)
Completely revised the "Treats section". A bit more information added to "When to pick Nova in Ranked?" "How to play this build" and "Playstyle in depth. Tips and tricks." sections. Minor visual polish.

15.05.2016 (patch 17.3)
Added "When to pick Nova in ranked play?" section.

25.04.2016 (patch 17.3)
Added Tracer to treats list.
Added "Summarized explanation".

19.03.2016 (patch 16.5)
Reorganized sections.
Revised the "Talents" section and updated accordingly to last patches.
Finished "Playstyle" chapter.
Added lots of tips and tricks.
Removed old, no longer true content, that got changed in patches.

Created (Patch 16.0 Introduction of Li-Ming - after hero rework).

About me and Nova. (Feel free to skip.) Top

Hi all.
My name is Alex. My battle tag is AVRadev. I am currently Diamond league player and I have been playing HoTS for a little over 1 year. I play all the different roles in the game. Currently I have over 430 combined hero levels and more than 2500 games played. Over 450 with Nova including Quick Match. Nova is the only hero I currently have at level 20, and she has been there for a long, long time.

The day after the rework I played ranked with this build and got 13 wins and only 2 loses. Later on there were number of changes buffing Nova, so its even more viable. My current win percentage with Nova in ranked is 61% and she is my most played hero. This build is meant to be used in ranked. I find it harder to use in Quick Match (QM), when the system put 5 damage-dealers in each team, especially if there are more than one Nova and/or Zeratul in the game.

Build purpose. Top

Rule 1: Never go for the kill alone! Nova is meant to do a bunch of things as a lone wolf - harassing, scouting, poking, flanking, backdooring.... But playing fair and fighting 1v1 is not one of them. Every wolf has a pack, and a pack can take down prey and predator alike. Always let your buddies engage first, and when the enemy thinks they will have an easy kill, surprise them with a Snipe to the face. There are exceptions based on the hero you attack, their current health, etc... Especially late game. But in general the easiest way to get killed is fighting 1v1, and the easiest way to never die, is to never fight alone.

It's my strong believe, that Nova has sufficient burst regardless of her build, so its far better to develop her in a way to counter her weakness. The main reason for Nova to be undesirable pick, is the limited options she provides other than burst damage. The point of the build is to get as much from Nova as possible. Its not aimed to do 1 thing great, but rather be reasonably good at everything. What you end up with is a hero that plays very similar to Valla, but with cloak and extreme burst damage.

The build relies on constant poking the enemy and contributing to team fights as best as possible. Core traits are: Advanced Cloaking, One in the Chamber, Explosive Round and Lethal Decoy.

Do not expect to get as much kills as before the rework, unless you learn to recognize, who you can burst, and who not. Also who you can chase down and when not to try. Often your teammates will finish the enemy heroes you opened on with your combo. Heroes of the storm is extremely team-oriented game. The point of this build is to blend in best with any team. As with any other hero its not that important to just score kills by yourself, but WIN the games!

When to pick Nova in ranked play? Top

The problems with playing Nova in ranked are .... just too many. If you tried to play good Nova, you know what I mean. Honestly Nova carried me through the ranks, from rank 46 all the way to 22. (In pre-season). After that I had to improve my hero roster a lot, but Nova still was my go-to, "comfort" pick, and I rarely lost a game with her until rank 10. (Again in pre-season). I still have the highest number of wins with her in Hero league, flowed by Artanis with half that number.

One thing to note is, that once you go over Platinum 3 or so, people usually stop acting aggressive and immature, when they see Nova in the pre-pick. That is because the players are generally better and understand, that flaming at someone is just so stupid. There are exceptions :)

So simple rules of when to pick Nova.

First: Your team MUST have proper composition
They must be able to hold the other team 4v5, while you hit from the back, or from the side. That is actual, basic military strategy - your team is like an anvil, holding the other team in one place. And you are the hammer that pounds on the enemy, when they cant retreat, or protect themselves from 2 sides.

As long as they do damage and can take a punch, you will be able to mop up the battlefield.
What does that mean exactly? - 1 tank and 1 proper healer, as well as 2 damage dealers. Also at least 2 of them have to be melee, or they won't be able to hold.
Tank: Muradin, Johanna, E.T.C..... are good for that. Keep in mind that bruisers such as Artanis, Tyrael, Anub'arak are not as good options - they lack Crowd Control, or the ability to soak lots of damage for prolonged periods of time.
Healer: Lt. Morales, Auriel, Malfurion, Uther.... are good options. Semy-supports like Tyrande or Tassadar won't be able, to properly sustain the team.
Damage-dealers - Best option is 1 "AOE burst assassin" like Kael'thas, Jaina or Li-Ming, and 1 "sustain damage-dealer" such as Thrall, Raynor, Zagara, Xul, Sylvanas, Valla, Artanis, Sonya....

There are other compositions that work, but this is the general rule. If you become really good with this playstyle, you can run Nova with most compositions. Still it will require proper understanding of the game mechanics, as well as superb decision making.

Second: The enemy team MUST !NOT! have a lot of self-sustain in prolonged fights.
Most people say the other team must be squishy. That is not entirely correct. True, the squishier they are, the better. But remember that low HP heroes usually have high damage, which can be dangerous both for you and your team. In reality any composition, that can't stay in a fight for long time, will eventually drop in health. It doesn't matter if a hero has 5000 HP, when he has lost 60% of it.

So here are the 2 types of compositions, that have high self-sustain and should be avoided.
Double-tank: When there are 2 tanks, that means 2 heroes who can take lots of damage, and have lots of Crowd Control. Paired with a good healer, its very hard to kill anyone, since the squishies will be well protected. The disadvantage is, that they have low damage, so you can relatively safely poke them all the time. To score kills you must create multiple situations, the other team has to respond to, so they are forced to split, becoming easy targets.
Double-support: This is the worse case for you. Basically there is too much healing, so no one drops in HP. Generally that comp also has more damage, and is more dangerous. To pile up the bad news, many healers have revealing talents that will expose you. Kharazim, Tassadar, Uther... In fact killing a single healer, is much harder, than killing any specialist or assassin, including melee heroes, (who pose a danger to Nova) like Xul, Illidan, Sonya, Thrall... Yes supports are not nearly as dangerous, but are so hard to take down with sustain damage.

Generally avoid playing Nova against 2 tanks. And more so against 2 supports, especially if both are some combination between Lt. Morales, Kharazim, Uther or Li Li.

When not to pick nova!

Besides the mentioned compositions to avoid I would say "Don't pick Nova when multiple people on your team start raging aggressively, even if you have the best possible compositions in both teams. 1 person like that can be played with, if you KNOW Nova is the right hero. As long as they don't intentionally trow the game. But more than 1 is always a disaster. The worst thing possible, is to start a match with ruined team morale, and your teammates disliking you. It will make them play sloppy, or even trying to lose the game. Besides if they rage against the pick, then they have no idea how to play a game with Nova on the team. Therefore they can and will force you in bad situations, without even realizing it. That will probably cost you the game.

Another thing to avoid is multiple heroes, that are dangerous to you. Take a look at "Treats" on top later. It contains ALL heroes that pose ANY danger, no matter how small. At least in my opinion :).

My personal rule is: Newer take Nova if there are 2 heroes on the other team, with threat level 5+. Or 1 hero with threat level 5+, and 2 or more with threat level 4. It's not that they will be that dangerous, and kill you all the time. Those heroes are not listed as threat level 9 or 10 for a reason. The only actual pick I consider counter to Nova is Zeratul, (or Illidan with The Hunt as heroic) because this is the only hero that can sneak on you, and makes it impossible to engage before he does. And when he engages usually one of your teammates dies. The reason for the rule is, that you will have really hard time killing anyone, so basically you will be mostly useless to your team.

How to play this build. Top

With 1 word - Dirty! - DIRTY, DURTY, D-U-R-T-Y!

Your role is to rotate lanes and gank enemies. You newer play fair. You always attack with numbers advantage and never alone. Scout the map and ping to your team what you discover. Attack heroes 1v1 only when you find hurt enemies with low health. Then you put them out of their misery. Making sure all they hear is the sound of your "C-20A sniper rifle". You are a ghost. A shadow stalking in the darkness. You attack from all sides, when least expected and strike fear in their hearths. As soon as anyone splits off hurt, running away to safety, you are there to great them with a bullet. The moment they attack your team, or even clump together, seeking safety in numbers, you drop a nuke on their heads. When your team knocks down the front wall of their base, you get in and tear everything down, any time they dare show themselves outside. You make them look behind their backs all the time. As the Spore Queen says "There are many terrors in my gardens at night!" and you are by far, the worst one to meet alone.

The playstile is a combination of 4 things.
[*] Confusing the enemy and creating chаos with Holo Decoy, improved with Holo Stability and later Lethal Decoy.
[*] Supporting your team in teamfights with constant damage thanks to One in the Chamber.
[*] Zoning enemies from your retreating team, or keeping them away from map objectives with Precision Strike. Also deal huge damage in combos. (For example with E.T.C. during Mosh Pit).
[*] And wreaking enemy defenses in your spare time at later stage of the game. (In a test on Quick match I managed to singlehandedly destroy all 3 backward keeps. At lvl 20 takes about 5 seconds to burst down half health on a keep and get out with no damage.)

As a finishing touch, if necessary you can also defend waves of mercenaryes and minions pushing your defenses. You can also help in taking murk camps all thanks to the Explosive Round / Lethal Decoy combo.

This build is focused on you dominating in late game. Your role as Nova is to constantly harass the enemy all around the map. Poke enemies at key locations such as objectives and dash out damage, then move away before anyone can strike back. Later your job is to flank the enemy in a team-fights, kill heroes with low health, scatter the enemy with your heroic and secure kills, by chasing the retreating enemies with low health.


This build gains power with leveling up. Ultimately your goal is to help your team as best as possible until late game. At that point you can go wild. The power behind it is the complementing talents. designed to hit the whole enemy team hard. Basically its an AOE burst damage build.

To summarize:
Lethal Decoy does 40% of ALL your damage.
Explosive Round does 50% splash damage of ALL Snipe's.
Rewind lets you use ALL your basic abilities 2 times.
Holo Stability lets your Holo Decoy use Snipe 2 times.
One in the Chamber adds 80% damage to your basic attacks after each use of ability.

Your optimal engagement looks something like this:
Holo Decoy-AA- Pinning Shot-AA- Snipe-AA- Rewind- Holo Decoy-AA- Snipe-AA- Pinning Shot-AA- Precision Strike-AA

It takes about 8-9 seconds to execute. Precision Strike changes places often, depending on situation.

Also at times you will want to burst the enemy really fast, so you will skip Pinning Shot and AA's and go straight for pure AOE burst:
Holo Decoy- Snipe- Rewind- Precision Strike- Holo Decoy- Snipe
Removing AA's makes it possible to do in 2 seconds.

At level 20 the full combo AOE burst can stop pretty much any push.
For example I have had a situation where all my teammates were dead at level 22 and the enemy was pushing a keep with 25 minute Dragon Knight. I managed to hold until my team re-spawned 40 seconds later. I had damaged the whole enemy team to half health. The Dragon Knight was pretty much dead - (10 - 15% health). The keep still had half health left. All of that, because the enemy was careless and clumped together, rushing at the keep with no minions to support them, thinking that Nova can't deal AOE damage to all of them

The math behind the build. Top

To put it in numbers:
The splash from snipes is:
50%(your first Snipe) *2 (because of Rewind) =100%
20% (50% of 40% - first decoy) *2(because it fires 2 times) *2(because of Rewind) =80%
The extra damage to basic attacks, because of One in the Chamber is 7 * 80% = 560%
The extra damage to basic attacks, because of One in the Chamber that decoys do is a bit over 210% of your basic attack per decoy or 420% total.

In total in 9 seconds you deal 1.8 times your Snipe damage in splash (not regular attack damage) + another 1.8 of your Snipe damge to the primary target + the damage from Precision Strike + increased AA damage equal to 7 + 560% = 12.6 regular attacks to a single target + 9 regular attacks to a single target of decoys.

Those are optimal numbers. In most cases is somewhat less. The AI on the decoys is not super smart and they have limited area they attack. Also they can get killed after their opening salvo.

Talent choices in depth. Top

Here is why I have picked those talents as well as some notes on the rest. I have rated them as:
[bad] - No useful benefit and no synergy with other talents.
[average] - Useful only in builds dedicated to 1 function / boosting 1 ability.
[good] - Nice talent with good synergy with other talents. Useful in multiple situations.
[best] - Talents with huge individual benefits. They outclass all other in their tier, and have strong synergy with most of the other talent tiers.

Level 1

[*] Tactical Espionage -[bad]- A lot of players have mana problems, because they spam abilities as soon as the cooldown expires. You should learn when to use your ability and which one is best in the situation. You can easily spent the whole game backing to your base only 3-4 times. If you eventually are out of mana, its much better to pick a good moment to portal back, refill and go again. Besides the presence of Nova on the map, makes the enemy play generally safer. They don't know if you are back in base filling your mana, or stalking them from the shadows. Late game you will have plenty of mana anyway.

[*] Advanced Cloaking -[best]- Before you could get this much later. The speed boost makes it so that now you never have to mount up. That means no decloaking and no time wasted on mounting, and no horse-sized shimmer for your opponents to see. Also when you are chasing a hero down, you just get the speed boost in seconds because you cloak. There is the added bonus, that the one chased can't see you any more. On top of that during team fights, you can roam the battlefield and get in the best position to strike. Or simply to lay a decoy, spook them and quickly move to the other side and kill the support, or the squishy assassin, that is no longer covered because the enemy team is chasing the decoy and is out of position. Also after a fight the enemy can still see the shimmer on Nova, when she runs away. The speed boost without having to mount, can get you out of lots of nasty situations. Lastly you can roam the map so fast early game, that the opponent will feel like there is 1 Nova in each lane. After the general mount speed was nerfed form 40% to 30%, this talent also got slightly nerfed by 5%. At present with the slow movement across the map, I would recommend you mount move to the place you want to go, and unmount before you get in the enemy team's vision range. So you still have small shimmer.

[*] Longshot -[average]- A very nice talent to keep Nova safe. You can open on enemies from further away an you can land Pinning Shot on a retreating target easily. Unfortunately you lose the mobility of Advanced Cloaking, and once Advanced Cloaking is active, you can chase your enemy easily. Still its the second best pick in the tear and very useful in defensive situations, or if you are playing against another stealth hero. Lastly it is very strong in a build designed for maximum burst. However in my playstile Longshot is underperforming, and Advanced Cloaking is a core talent.

[*] Covert Ops -[bad]- This extra slow isn't really worth it. Its only for 2.25 seconds. If the target can be killed in that time by you or a teammate, usually it doesn't mater if the slow is a bit bigger. It can help land Snipe easier, but you should be able to land it with no slow at all. That way you can use Pinning Shot to prevent enemies from retreating, or to add extra damage with One in the Chamber.

Level 4

[*] Covert Mission -[average]- I will start with the Bribe talent. This seams to be very popular, and for people that can't use Holo Decoy properly, Covert Mission will be the most beneficial talent. (But here is the kicker. The people that can't use Holo Decoy properly, are the ones, that give Nova such a bad reputation, and should not play Nova at all. Period. But that is another matter and I digress, so back to Covert Mission.) Here is the thing. The bribe talent she gets has so many problems - from actually getting the stacks, using them safely, to getting any value from the camp itself. Stacks for Covert Mission are very slow to fill. The talent makes you lane with Nova, which you newer want to do. To fill 2 stacks so you steal a siege giants camp, you have to stay in lane for 6 minion waves or kill 5 heroes. That is crazy. I have newer liked Bribe, because it is so cost inefficient. The only hero that can use Bribe efficiently is The Lost Vikings. Also it is very hard to get value from stolen camps. And you want to use Nova to steal camps, not take your own. Usually you get 0 value. Just because of the type of merc camps available on different maps. The camps are strong when pushing with the minions or heroes. Alone they get cleaned very fast. The only camp type that is an exception is siege giants, since they attack with longer range than towers and forts. And still they can get 1 tower killed at most, when they attack from the side on certain maps. And this happens only the first time you steal the camp. Lastly. Contrary to common belief, Nova can actually solo camps. And rather fast and safely. You can kill the siege camp and capture it 2 or 3 times faster, than the time you will spend in lane, farming stacks for Covert Mission early game. Late game, when murk pressure actually matters, Nova takes the easy camps in about 15 seconds. Only map where this talent is viable is Blackheart's Bay, just because of the coin collection. Holo Stability will get you, several TIMES more value every game, even on that map.

For detailed information about the Bribe strategy, murk camps and how to approach them, I will make another chapter in the future. For now just remember that Covert Mission seams like a nice talent, but it is a trap talent for the most part.

Holo Decoy is a multi-tool, that is often underestimated. It can be used to block some incoming skill shots, lure enemies to waste their abilities (and mana), divert damage from your team, force towers, murks and minions to attack it, while you dish out damage... The Holo Decoy ability makes or breaks every Nova player, aiming for high skill.

[*] Remote Delivery -[bad]- The extra range and vision is nice, but the other talents are just more useful. It gives you just a bit more scouting capability, but Nova already has plenty of that, besides Holo Stability reveals an area for much longer, so it is much better for scouting. You can use this to put decoy on one side of the enemy team, while you are on the opposite side. When the enemy team responds, they will leave the squishes open for attack. However this is just comfort talent, that is rarely usefull, and you already get the ability to fool the enemy team in such fashion with Advanced Cloaking.

[*] Rapid Projection -[good]- This talent allows you to use Holo Decoy more often (every 9 seconds instead of 15), without draining more mana. But when I pick this I often find myself not taking advantage of the faster cast. My other abilities are on cool-down, so it is not that useful on its own.

[*] Holo Stability -[best]- Holo Decoy is your means of causing chаos. The more chаоs the better. Math aside after some testing I discovered, that most teams ignore the decoy when she appears. They withdraw, wait out the decoy timer and engage again. In team fights it gives you the ability to continue landing auto-attacks after your abilities are on cooldown, because the decoy is present and the enemy doesn't know which Nova to attack. Without this talent, if you engage after using Holo Decoy, in 5 seconds it disappears and the enemy knows which is the real Nova. Then you can be in trouble. Also sometimes when you cast Holo Decoy, but do not engage, the enemy team ignores the decoy, but when it doesn't go away they get confused and attack it anyway, if you take Lethal Decoy later. Also it can zone the enemy team. Because you have vision on them, they will have to kill the decoy, or your team will know exactly when and how the treat is coming. If Holo Decoy is cast first when attacking a fort or a boss monster, it doesn't disappear before it is killed so they do not re-target you or your team. This is great for soaking damage and lets you do lots of siege damage, while being completely safe. You are the team's primary scout. When using Holo Decoy for scouting, your team has vision of the area for much longer, and knowing where the enemy is going, is very, very important.
Lastly if cast during a long fight it has time to fire Snipe 2 times. This talent combined with Lethal Decoy, Explosive Round and Rewind gets you one incredible AOE burst damage.

For the math lovers, here is a little comparison. With Rapid Projection you can cast Holo Decoy every 9 seconds and the decoy stays for 5 seconds. With Holo Stability you can cast Holo Decoy every 15 seconds, but it stays for 11 seconds. Math suggests that Holo Stability is better. If a team fight goes on for 45 seconds you cast 3 times and get 33s instead of cast 5 times for total of 25s. Decide which is better in your current match and go with it. My experience as well as win rates by tallents, point to Holo Stability as the better pick by far.

Level 7

[*] One in the Chamber -[best]- This talent changes the way Nova fits in. This is your biggest single target damage boost. You methodically punish enemies with abilities each followed by AA. Usually it is Holo Decoy-AA- Pinning Shot-AA- Snipe-AA. Often you can pick a target and kill it with 1 ability and AA, instead of 2 abilities. So now you can attack a different target instead of withdraw and wait for cool-downs to expire. Also casting Holo Decoy now adds to your damage. This also work with heroic abilities at level 10. If you pick Rewind at level 20 you increase the bonus to 7 attacks in a row and can bursts almost any hero. Now to do the damage it takes 7-8 seconds instead of 3, but ultimately the damage dealt is higher, compared to all other pics in this tear. This is the only talent that gives you a boost, without making you trade for it with some downside. Most importantly now you can actually participate in prolonged team fights.

[*] Anti-Armor Shells -[bad]- This talent is a viable pick only in a burst dedicated build. You trade extra damage in 1 attack, but you are unable to attack again for 5 seconds. In reality there is no damage increase, just doing your prolonged damage in 1 second.

[*] Snipe Master -[average]- Again a talent dedicated to bursting targets down, but with "high risk-high reward" condition. Unlike Anti-Armor Shells, Snipe Master gives you increased damage. But only if you land each Snipe on a hero. Unfortunately there are multiple downsides. The extra damage is on ability, so even if you land all Snipes perfectly its still less than the extra damage form One in the Chamber when chained properly. If you miss 1 Snipe the time to build your burst again is huge so it can cost you multiple kills and ultimately the game. Worst of all your utility is reduced, because you cant use Snipe on minions, murks, bosses, buildings... and at times you have to. If you take Explosive Round at level 13, you still have to hit a hero as primary target or the bonus is lost. Because of the "damage for utility" trade, I rate this as average talent, and still think that its just not worth it, even after the multiple buffs it got.

Level 10

[*] Triple Tap -[average]- A very nice heroic. It ensures the target fleeing away, will get killed for sure. Before the rework it was a must for me, but the more skilled your opponents are, the less effective it is. Also when used, it leaves you vulnerable while you execute it. It can be blocked by the enemy team or interrupted easily. Worst of all, as soon as you use it in a team fight, you become primary target, and you can't fool the enemy with decoys.

[*] Precision Strike -[good]- This heroic can be dogged easily and does more damage, only if you catch multiple opponents. That aside the versatility is great. It has a global cast range, so you can help your team even if you are not with them. You can use it to zone the enemy team if they are chasing your teammates. Helps defend points such as the altars on "Towers of Doom", the turn in points for coins, tribute locations... Very helpful when sniping an enemy, that has already retreated out of normal range, or behind enemy gate/fort. Best of all, just the mean look and sound when it is cast, creates panic in the enemy team. And we all like chaos. Also in the middle of a fight, it does not leave you vulnerable, because you don't have to channel the ability.

Level 13

[*] Double Tap -[average]- There is usefulness in this talent. An extra ability with slow, and one more boost to your AA from One in the Chamber. Not to mention 1 extra time to slow. Note that Rewind refills only 1 charge not 2. It works well with both Perfect Shot and Crippling Shot at level 16. However at this stage any good Nova, should not be out of combat long enough, for this to be very useful. You need to help your team, not walk around and let them play 5vs4 game, so your stacks should rarely grow to 2 unless you are scouting the enemy team, or preparing for team ambush.

[*] Psionic Efficiency -[bad]- Only viable if you decide to take Perfect Shot at level 16. However useless for anything else. The range increase is negligible and actually not needed. At this point of the game mana should also not be an issue at all.

[*] Explosive Round -[best]- I know is seams counter-intuitive to pick this. Yet its not so. In fact it is just like Li-Ming's Calamity, or Auriel's Searing Light. Even though it seams a weird choice, it actually gives the best results, if you are willing to learn a harder playstile. At no extra cost you get splash damage every time Snipe is used, and the area is really big. Besides 50% of Snipe is 258 damage at level 13, and 350 damage at level 20. Nova always had problems early game and became better and better later on. Same apples here. Until this point you made her flexible, and buffed the single target damage. Here is where her deadlines starts to really pick up. After taking Lethal Decoy at level 16, your decoy also splashes for 50%, which is 20% of your Snipe damage. With Holo Stability at level 4 that happens 2 times. With Rewind at level 20, you can cast both Snipe and Holo Decoy again. I have rated this as [best] mostly because of its remarkable synergy with all other talents, even though its really powerful on its own.

Level 16

[*] Perfect Shot -[average]- Using Snipe with half cooldown (3 seconds instead of 6). Very nice but it relies on you landing your Snipe on a hero. Similar to Snipe Master, but not nearly as punishing. Unfortunately this talent is a half measure. Using Snipe twice as often increases the sustained damage, by giving you burst more often. Actually this is somewhat counter productive. No hero will wait around for 3 seconds, to get a second Snipe to the face. They will escape or simply turn around, and kill you. If you want more sustained damage, there are better ways, than to upgrade a skill-shot with a talent, that adds no damage per hit. The only reliable way, to stick to your target, and land your Snipe both times, is to take Double Tap at level 13, but that can create mana problems.

[*] Crippling Shot -[good]- The vulnerability makes it so that all damage the whole team puts on the target is increased. If you take Double Tap that can help the team even more. The problem with it is, that you can cast it only on 1 target during team fight. Other heroes have ways to do the same to multiple opponents. Also you rely on your team to do the damage, as much as you rely on yourself, and sometimes they wont be with you, or simply won't react in time. And most of the time you will be flanking, and hitting a back-line enemy hero, who is way out of range for the rest of your team. The effect is 2.25 seconds, since that is the duration of Pinning Shot. If you take Double Tap at level 13 then Crippling Shot will be 2 times as powerful. And that is the most common build for Nova. However remember that we are not aiming for max burst to 1 target, but rather max impact on the game, to help the team.

[*] Lethal Decoy -[best]- Doing 40% of your damage is a great improvement as far as damage is concerned. Now its much harder for the enemy to distinguish your decoy from you. Holo Decoy can be used to poke the enemy team and basically dish out damage, while you sit back and watch. Also can defend objectives from the enemy without exposing yourself. Lastly you can use it to finish off an enemy at low health or even behind a gate, and not have to lose your stealth. Lethal Decoy generates the highest burst damage potential in this tier. Crippling Shot gives you only 25% increase, so unless you rely on teammates to make the kill, this is better and gives you lots of utility as well.

Level 20

[*] Fast Reload -[average]- Great talent. I have managed to kill whole teams with this during team fights. If you took Triple Tap at level 10, then this one is a must, most of the time. But be warned if you get interrupted even once this is useless talent, and you wont be killing anyone with your heroic for a long time, while Triple Tap is in cooldown. It's another double-edged sword and its easy to interrupt even by less skilled players. Even though it is fun to play with in Quick Match, there are much better options in the tier, and taking Triple Tap is a mistake in the first place. Not having Precision Strike will hurt your team, more than you can make up in kills with Triple Tap. And yeah a late game team wipe with Fast Reload basically wins the game. And it is so cool to do. But ultimately if you can actually do it, than in 99.9% of the cases the game was already won, long before you got to level 20.

[*] Precision Barrage -[good]- Definitely useful. Yet your heroic already has global range. You can use it for combination of heroic talents with some heroes. Another application is, when the enemy is pushing you really hard all the time. You can use this to disrupt and scatter them, preventing heroes with a lot of sustained DPS to attack. Also the fast reload between casts, increases the chance to actually hit multiple opponents exponentially.

[*] Ghost Protocol -[average]- It sounds really nice, but 2 seconds is a very short time, if you are trying to get away from the enemy team. Also it has one big flaw - you have to be decloked to use it. There is no way to activate it and burst your abilities preventing decloaking. I can see some uses, but this is a poor substitute for Bolt of the Storm. Also you have no reason to run and hope not to get killed, if your enemy is dead, and all other talents give you ways to kill really effectively. It can be used to prevent abilities like Illidan's The Hunt, or The Butcher's Ruthless Onslaught. However I prefer to bait The Butcher to hit a decoy, or wait for him to attack a teammate and simply kill him. As for Illidan I just drop a Precision Strike on top of me to zone him and prevent damage, and then hit him with my combo of 2 Snipes and 2 Holo Decoys thanks to Rewind.

[*] Rewind -[best]- This is the reason Nova becomes unstoppable at level 20. You just deal huge amount of damage in a mater of seconds. And if the enemy team is stupid enough to clump too close together, they are in for a lot of trouble. If this build is played correctly, Nova should be able to impact the whole team fight, and turn a losing game around. At times you will even charge in front of the team to soften up the enemy, stop multiple murc camps pushing your lanes as you pass by, or simply backdoor their defenses. In teamfights you open with Holo Decoy, and follow up with Snipe and Pinning Shot. Then you use Rewind and repeat. Sometimes the Pinning Shot can be skipped. If the enemy team tries to flee you cut them off with Precision Strike. If they try to cut them off with Precision Strike. But I still have to see a team try attacking. Usually they run away or just scatter. :) The same combo can be used to bust keeps in about 7 seconds down to half health. Rewind basically is like having Rapid Projection, Double Tap and Perfect Shot with the click of 1 button, for the price of 1 talent instead of 3.

Playstyle in depth. Tips and tricks. Top

Rule 1: Always play safe. A greedy Nova is a dead Nova, and a dead Nova is useless Nova.

Experienced players know, that sometimes you have to give some of your damaging talents, so you can take defensive, safety talents. That is because a dead hero does NO DAMAGE. For Nova this goes a step further. Your mere presence in the game will keep your enemy afraid of ganks. As long as you live they have to play safe, use the fountain more often, have to back out of a lane frequently, and newer play too aggressive. The moment you are killed, they take a breath of relief, and push your whole team in all lanes with no fear.

If you find yourself wondering if attacking a hero, or chasing one down is a good idea, that means you are about to make a risky move and might get killed, with no kill of your own. Sometimes you have to let one go. Besides an exchange where you get killed, to take out an enemy hero is a bad one, except in very, very rare cases. Late game the time it takes you to respawn, is long enough that, you will miss more than 1 opportunities to kill an enemy safely.

One small, but useful general tip:
In case you have to run away as a team, make sure to move just a bit before the tank, who should be the last to withdraw, covering the team (if he is any good at playing a tank). This is because you want to drop a decoy behind the team as soft "peel". It could provide few extra seconds to escape, possibly block an ability, add some confusion, and past level 16 damage and dismount the chasing heroes.

Early game

Early game is a race to reach level 10. At that point a team with heroic abilities is much stronger than one at level 9 or less. Make sure that your teammates know to newer let a lane have no heroes in it, so you can roam the map, and help where you are needed.

HoTS has no items to buy, or another way to get stronger, but gaining GLOBAL (team) experience. 1 lane generates more xp, than killing an enemy early. Also the death timers at this point are too short for the kill to make meaningful impact.

Your role: Aid your team. If a team member is pinging for help, its you that has to go. Always! Change lines all the time. You should stay in 1 lane only to land your combo, make a kill and move on. That way all enemies will be looking behind their shoulder for you, and can't pressure your teammates. And in case they don't, and actually overextend, you will be there to punish them. If you cant kill anyone drop a Holo Decoy and move on. This way you are giving a silent nod to the enemy, reminding them you are stalking in the shadows, for the moment they go after your buddies. Also that can trick people in other lanes, paying attention to your position, to feel safe and give you an opening, when you change lanes.

Most important. If your teammate is in trouble and you are near, a well placed Holo Decoy will frighten the enemy, block a skilshot ability, and surprise and confuse them long enough, for your teammate to make it to safety. Combining that with a Pinning Shot to slow down the enemy hero, and followed by Snipe to the face, works wonders for saving a team member. You will be surprised how effective that is, and it will force your foe to turn tale and run for all he is worth, even though you can't realistically do anything more at that point. This will make lots of people really grateful to have a Nova in their team as well.

Small tip:Newer mount! There is another reason Advanced Cloaking is so powerful. It not only lets you move between lanes super fast, chase easily and reposition in fights. When you move you generate a shimmer that the enemy can see. The small tiny Nova generates a small, tiny shimmer. A small tiny Nova, mounted on a giant horse, generates a horse sized shimmer. The pun aside trying to sneak on someone like that is not funny at all in the middle of the game, when you are wondering if somehow the enemy is cheating, each time they nuke you out in seconds, before you even land a single ability. And don't even get me started on the elephant sized lizard mount. If you use your mount to move across the map, always dismount before you get in your enemies' vision range.

Level 1-6.

At the early stages Nova is somewhat fragile. Avoid using auto-attacks as much as possible. Hold at the fountain and let your team select lanes. Then go to the one with 2 of your teammates and secure a fast kill, if you can. In higher league games you will probably go 5 heroes mid lane, and then split to soak as the first minion waves meet. Be careful in this situation and never overextend. With all 5 enemy heroes present, you are the number 1 target on their list. And before level 7 you are not good at 5v5 fights. After initial contact, start roaming the lanes. Locate which lane has only 1 enemy hero and try to help your teammate to take him out. Identify heroes that you should constantly harass with your combo Pinning Shot- Snipe-AA. Those can be Lt. Morales, Sgt. Hammer, Zagara, Sylvanas. After combo withdraw immediately! Your damage capability at this points is too low, to finish the kill and you are more useful to your team roaming and harassing, rather than returning to your base for healing.

Use your Holo Decoy as much as possible, but do it smart! If the enemy is pushing hard in a lane, make them waste abilities on a decoy and take some of the pressure from your teammates. Place your Holo Decoy where you would be, if actually attacking. No one would be fooled by decoy in the middle of 3 enemies. A lot of heroes have mana problems early game, because lots of players spam their abilities instead of using them at the right time. In a lane with your specialist try to kill the enemy hero. That will allow the specialist to do his damage.

If you don't have a good place to land Holo Decoy it is always useful to do it right before the enemy towers. That way you will drain their ammo, with no damage to your team or even minions. This is especially effective with Holo Stability at level 4. If towers have no ammo or your team is pushing a fort, placing your decoy on the other side of the gate is very helpful for vision.

When chasing a hero, that is running toward his own towers, drop a decoy under them, so it will soak the tower shots. That way both you and your teammates can go near the gate and finish the kill, without taking damage. In fact most of the time in lane, you know you have to follow under the towers, so the first thing you do, right before engaging, should be to put a Holo Decoy to soak the damage. The safety area towers provide lets enemy heroes to soak xp, and as soon as they are attacked, to back in the defensive perimeter in front of the gate. Using Holo Decoy to soak the towers, eliminates that safe space. That usually increases the distance you can chase 2 or 3 times. Now the enemy hero, that usually would be safe, is instead way out of position, and has to cross the gate. Which can often result in a kill.

Level 7-9.

After One in the Chamber, you can start hitting the enemy harder in lanes or on objectives. Here is where Nova gets her single target damage boost. Start landing your combo Holo Decoy-AA- Pinning Shot-AA- Snipe-AA- on the best target you can safely hit. It can be a support, back-line assassin such as Jaina or Li-Ming. Sometimes the best target is some tank who dives for your back-line. E.T.C. for example.

Time your abilities well. Properly done your damage output is going to ramp up really fast. Your attack speed is 1 attack per second. That is not affected by ability casts, so in 3 seconds you should have used your abilities and done the extra damage from 3 attacks. That is 540% Auto attack damage compared to 300% before level 7. At this point you can do enough damage that you can kill most heroes if they are about half health. Before in teamfights you had to use 2 abilities to finish damaged heroes. Now you can do it with 1 ability and an AA. So you can spread your damage and kill 2 heroes instead. Don't hesitate to trow down a Holo Decoy, just to increase your next AA damage if you see a target, with low health, and the rest of your abilities are on cooldown.

Mid Game

This is where things become complicated. Different maps, team comps, and decisions made, will shape your game in that faze. Usually you are focused on doing objectives, dealing with murk camps or fighting the opposite team. Make sure you are prepared, because as the game progresses you will have to do much more than chase down and kill heroes.

Level 10-12.

You now can influence the game globally. That means you can damage multiple targets. Use your heroic to zone enemies and cover a team retreat. Force your opponents to pick between splitting up, making them easy targets to your teammates, or taking a nuke on their heads. Interrupt channeling objectives such as a tribute, dragon knight, coin turn in....

Here are some tips:
One in the Chamber gives bonus damage after Precision Strike as well.

If you get spotted, putting Precision Strike on top of yourself, followed by your combo, can save your life, by damaging the attacker severely and making him disengage, so you can retreat. Especially true for melee heroes.

Don't forget to keep an eye on the mini-map. If an ally is in trouble a well placed Precision Strike can save them.

If the teams are engaged, but you are far away for some reason, you can still change the outcome, by nuking the hell out of the other team.

If you get killed, remember that you can drop your heroic as soon as you spawn. The enemy team will not expect that, when they see your death timer just expired and know you are in your base.

Don't hesitate to use Precision Strike on a strong enemy minion/murk push. Or to help finish forts/keeps when each second counts. Sometimes you just have to, and you probably wont need it immediately after. The cool-down is not that long, and there is no point hording the ability for a potential moment, that may never come. Especially since most people can dodge this, if they are not slowed by Pinning Shot.

Good targets are Diablo/ Li-Ming/ Nazeebo who are channeling abilities and can't move. People slowed by Jaina or stuned/rooted in place.

If you are chasing use Precision Strike in front of the running target, not on top of them. If you place it on top they will outrun the blast. When placed right in front, the time for the opponent to react will bring them in the center, so they cant outrun it. If they are fast they can turn back or try to go around, but that means you will great them with a Snipe between the eyes.

Best thing about Precision Strike is that it combines well with lots of abilities:
E.T.C. - Mosh Pit - as soon as the enemy is stunned drop Precision Strike for sick damage.
Jaina- Ring of Frost - Same deal.
Gazlowe- Grav-O-Bomb 3000 - When he casts use your Precision Strike. Huge damage with stun.
Zeratul- Void Prison - Enemies in the prism and invulnerable. It lasts about 4 seconds. Count to 3 and use Precision Strike. If your timing is off Zeratul can cancel his ability early, but best to be on point and not risk it.
Zagara- Devouring Maw - Same deal here, but Maw cant be canceled.

Level 13-15.

No significant change. Only now you can help defend lanes. Very useful in situations the enemy is ahead and sends waves of mercenaries your way.

On the Cursed Hollow map, during a curse you can 1-shot the whole wave of creeps. Rotate lanes for big xp boost.

In team-fights, if a low health enemy is hiding behind another hero, or minions, now you can still use Snipe and the splash will kill them. No need to chase and expose yourself.

If the enemy heroes clump close together, or have to go through a tight spot, a well placed snipe will deal a lot of damage to all of them.

Late game

Time to try and end the game. A few ways to do that. Win a strong objective (Punisher/Dragon Knight/Garden Terror). Do siege damage and slowly overpower them, after taking the keeps down and pushing the core. Or Wipe the enemy team and kill their core.

For all of those you need damage, damage and some more damage.

Level 16-19.

At this point you can start using your decoy much more effectively. Landing your Snipe is very important. But what makes or brakes any Nova player is the way they use their Holo Decoy. Positioning is key. With Lethal Decoy now you can fool the enemy much easier, because your Holo Decoy will dish out a good amount of damage.

Now you can score kills that otherwise would be near impossible, and with plenty of risk. For example an enemy hero standing behind a gate on low HP. Drop your Holo Decoy on them and let it do the killing. Same goes for enemies deep in the back line surrounded by other heroes. usually killing them would be suicide, but now its easy. Especially since the decoys fire Snipe, which thanks to Explosive Round sploshes damage as well, and makes your decoy a valuable killing tool.

Remember that casting Holo Decoy, dose NOT break cloak, so you can constantly harass the enemy, while being completely safe. Now you can break channeling on objectives with a decoy as well.

The damage boost makes you as effective at wiping enemy minion/murk waves, as Sylvanas. (Well maybe not her, but you get the point ;) ) Just remember that Snipe is a skilshot and explodes around the first target hit. The way you want to use it, is to cast Holo Decoy in the middle of the thickest group of enemies. When the decoy fires there is explosion all around it. At that point of the game you want to fire your Snipe in the middle of the enemies as well, and since your decoy is present, it will soak all accidental minion damage. This technique resembles the way skilled Zagara players go to the middle of the minion wave before casting Baneling Barrage for maximum impact.

Level 20-30.

Time to go to town. Post level 20 you become unstoppable. Your combo practically doubles and since you do insane burst damage you, become almost twice as deadly. Level 20 is the strongest time for Nova in general. You just got your last talent. Nova gets huge boosts with her talents. In a way more so than most other heroes, just because she has low HP and utilities in comparison, so she is balanced with strong talents.

Now you have another safety net in the form of a second decoy. If a hero manages to find you and try to burst you use Alt+E to cast a decoy on the position you are right now. Don't try to run, but move towards the enemy! Cast Precision Strike on top of yourself if you are attacked by a melee. If it is a ranged hero put it on him and move towards him. Use your Snipe then Rewind and repeat. If the enemy tries to disengage he is dead. If not its 60-40 chance in your favor.

Silly Rambling. (Feel free to skip.) Top

Some long, silly, angry(ish) rambling here, that lots of Nova players can probably relay to. Feel free to ignore. I wrote this mostly as explanation, why I prefer that build. ;)

Every Nova player runs into the same problem at some point. If a team with Nova is winning, than they just win even faster and having Nova changes nothing. If the team is loosing, than there is no way to recover, because its essentially 4.5 vs 5 heroes. And its always the Nova player that takes the heat, because: "Nova is a tear 5 hero!", "She cant push a lane", "She is useless in stooping enemy murcs attacking the forts".... While in reality your teammates just don't know how to properly play with Nova in the team, and get wiped out.

The worst feeling ever is when you chase down and kill the last 2 enemy heroes after a team fight, where all your allies were killed as well, but you realize that 2 or 3 pesky catapults are attacking your core, from the side where you lost a keep. So you return and try to stop it only to realize that you cant kill the deam things fast enough. So you sit there, knowing that you entire team watches you embarrass yourself, while the core is killed by minions.

This is why my build is the way it is. Because if you are a "one trick pony", you are just useless when your team needs a proper war-horse. With a saddle and stirrup and all that. To solve that problem my playstyle and talents are dedicated to broadening the usefulness of Nova. You must be able to do tasks on your own.

If there is a murk camp pushing a lane and a teamfight is happening at objective point its much better that you are the one to split and stop the push, not another damage dealer, or worse the team tank. That way you will arrive late to the fight, but that is ok, because Nova is most effective engaging damaged foes anyway and her stelt prevents the enemy from knowing you are not there. Also with Precision Strike you are not with your team, but your global cast heroic is. So its actually not 5v4 fight but rather 5v4.5. Its really satisfying to change the outcome of a teamfight by pressing 1 button from the other end of the map.

How often have you wanted to get rid of that backward enemy keep on 30% hitpoints, that your early push
didn't manage to destroy and it stayed that way for 10 minutes while the game was lost with a split-hair advantage. Now you can just sneak up to it and tear it down in seconds.

Ever felt useless collecting coins, taking murk camps, gathering seeds for a terror, or killing spawns for a punisher? Now you are as effective as a specialist.

Ever picked Nova in hero league and 3 people went "omg Nova - gg", "no Nova", or "uninstall game you f*****g troll!". So 25 minutes later - victory screen - 100 000 siege damage on Nova. Please tell me now that I am doing a troll pick and we are gg from the start.

Summarized explanation. Top

To understand how to play the new Nova properly with this build, will take time, practice and for you to read through all said above. If you did - bravo. Still this chapter can help clear some things, so you might as well just read it ;)

Most people assume that Nova is this hero, that once decloaked is so squishy she just dies from 1 attack. That is wrong!!! Actually Nova has more health than Valla, Raynor, all spelcasters - Jaina, Kael'thas, Li-Ming. She can take almost as much damage as most specialists and supports. The decoy at full health takes 6-8 shots from a tower to be killed early game. As far as auto-attack damage is concerned her DPS is just as high as most assassins, and higher than a specialist. So don't be afraid to fight with Nova in a 5v5 after you are no longer cloaked!!! The worst mistake any Nova player makes is trying to run from a fight after her combo, when the other person has around 10% health left just to get killed, when all that was needed to kill them is a simple right-click.

The way to fight is hit and run guerrilla warfare until the other team commits to a fight. Than you harass and flank them from a safe distance, so they have to both fight your team and protect their back-line from you. Once someone drops low and try to withdraw, find a good position, kill them and continue the harass. In case the fight starts going bad, or you can't accomplish much with flanking, move behind your front-line and hit hard killing people 1by1. At that point they have to run away, but you can easily chase and finish all stragglers left.

Don't ever wait in a bush for more than 5-10 seconds. I never do even for that long, unless I have someone with me and we are ganking a lane together, waithing for the enemy to move to the middle of the lane. Instead do something useful. And please don't spend your time looking for Murky's egg, or try to sneak and kill Abathur under a fort. You waste your time.

In fact your playstile should be almost like you play Valla once you engage. Use your mobility and stealth to get in position flanking the enemy, hit hard and fast, killing a weakened enemy and withdraw before anyone can respond. Than repeat again. If you have no such opportunity don't just stay there looking at your teammates fight 4v5. Pick a target, hit it hard and move back before you are targeted. Than stay behind your tanky teammates, hit from a distance, focusing the lowest health hero you can reach. If you have no target in range wait 2-3 seconds cloak and flank.

If necessary you can also solo siege camps with ease and as fast as any specialist, without loosing any of your health. The camp with 3 murks can be a bit slower, but its still easily doable. Also with that build at level 16 you can stop most pushes. At 20 you can even stop the bottom push on Dragon Shire with 1 bruiser camp and 2 siege camps.

The talent choices:
Advanced Cloaking gives you incredible mobility to reposition and unmounted you are much harder to spot when cloaked. Also you can chase anyone down with your 30% speed boost.

Holo Stability makes it so hard to distinguish you from the decoy. It makes your scouting ability so much stronger. And can be used to drain turret shots and grant vision behind the fort front wall.

One in the Chamber Is the singe most powerful boost to your auto-attack damage, that any hero can get.

Precision Strike gives you the power to zone out the whole enemy team and turn a fight around from the other side of the map. And combines well with so many other heroics.

Explosive Round fixes the biggest hole in your basic kit of abilities. Now you have AOE damage, and stooping pushes late game can be the difference between winning and loosing.

Lethal Decoy just gives you 40% to all of your damage. And now you can kill without uncloaking and in places that previously were impossible.

Rewind basically doubles your burst potential. Its like having Rapid Projection Double Tap and Perfect Shot with the click of 1 button for the price of 1 talent instead of 3.

Most importantly all of those talents are so much more powerful, than any other talent in their tier. BUT they all synergies so well together that its like their power doubles. If you want to carry a team you can now do it with Nova :)

I hope you liked my build. Please rate it and leave a comment if you have questions or suggestions.

See you all in the Nexus :)

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