Nova Terra, Ghost, Burst Assassin [Chromie patch] by LonerVamp

Nova Terra, Ghost, Burst Assassin [Chromie patch]

By: LonerVamp
Last Updated: May 17, 2016
75 Votes
Build 1 of 3


Build: OitC Pinning Shot

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


Build: Holo AAS Build

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


Build: Sniper Master (bad)

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



05/17/16 (Chromie patch) - reviewed; no significant changes
04/07/16 (Dehaka patch) - reviewed; no significant changes
02/02/16 (Li-Ming patch) - extensive rework, testing on-going, content updated!
01/26/2016 (PTR Notes) - reviewed, looks like a rework inbound!
6/2/15 (Johanna patch and game launch) - reviewed guide.
5/27/15 (Kael'thas patch) - started this guide.
Build Disclaimer: Don't let me tell you how to play this Hero. Play her how you play her best! There are many Heroes and many builds that can be viable in the right hands. This is just one guide amongst many and is my take on this Hero. Have fun, and enjoy!

If you want to talk shop, I can often be found playing with friend and steamer Kennigma on
NAME November "Nova" Terra
CLASS Assassin
SUB-CLASS Cloaked ranged assassin
MY DIFFICULTY RATING Medium to hard, lives by landing skill shot snipe
MOBILITY No escapes, relies on cloak to hide
COMPETITIVE? Not really, player experience is a soft counter to her tricks

Nova is a classic Assassin. She lives and dies by the initial burst of damage she drops down on unsuspecting victims as she pops out of stealth. Her burst isn't usually enough to drop a Hero from 100% health to 0%, but she can do some good chunking if allowed to fire away unmolested. Out of stealth, she's a vulnerable, relatively weak Hero.

Speaking of, her Permanent Cloak, Sniper trait makes sure she is very difficult to see when sneaking around the minimap. She does unstealth to get mounted up, but will drop back into stealth after a few seconds. Most abilities will cause her stealth to break. Also, "stealth" and "cloaked" are typically used interchangeably when talking about Nova. Nova does not have an "invisibility" talent or ability. Only Tassadar has invisibility with his Dimensional Shift ability. Don't look like a fool by calling it what it's not!

Nova is all about Hero damage. Right now, she's an interesting mix between burst damage and longer-term ping-ping-ping damage depending on your build and what abilities you have off cooldown. For instance, unloading everything into Rewind to unload them all again plus a Precision Strike can bring some serious hurt on a singled-out target. Her siege damage numbers should always be pitiful, even on maps with bosses that she should be contributing damage against. In fact, Nova should not be laning, doing merc camps, and rarely even contribute to seed/skull gathering on those maps. Her main purposes is to be in stealth, and she needs to make sure she is never caught out of stealth by roaming enemies, because her main weakness is an inability to escape aggression. She also has relatively long cooldowns on her damage abilities, so once spent, she really wants to hide again for a while.

Also, one of Nova's main strengths is her ability to ambush and hide from the enemy Heroes. If Nova pinging shots into a creep wave to help someone clear, that is a Nova visible on the enemy minimap, and thus the enemy can play a little looser for knowing where she is or is not. Always keep those mind games up and don't let the enemy know where you are.

Nova should always be in gank or scout mode.

Nova's biggest weakness is her inability to get away when her stealth shimmer is noticed or the enemy team turns on her once she's exposed. Positioning is key, as well as knowing when you should reveal yourself and dump your damage or when your position is too risky to chance it. Master positioning, escapes, and hitting your Snipe and you pretty much know Nova completely.

That said, don't be afraid to stand on the wings of a team fight and start slinging in some damage, even if you're not finishing someone off or going hard on all of your abilities. In the past, Nova was an extreme burst assassin where she wanted to wait for perfect moments and drop someone hard with Snipe out of stealth. Those days are mostly gone, and she plays a little closer to her team and plinks out shots a little more often as well.

Which brings up one problem she may run into now with her most recent rework: Why would you pick Nova over any other ranged assassin, like Raynor or Falstad? A very good question!

One thing she does have in Precision Strike is an ability the contributes to wombo combos. If someone else can lock enemies down so they can't escape, that strike can chunk some serious health off everyone impacted.

Nova does not see all that much high level play. Once someone knows what to expect from Nova, it just takes knowledge of her presence and practice spotting her stealth shimmer to counter her tactics. And once revealed, Nova becomes a par Hero. There are niche situations in the current squishy burst meta, however, where Nova can be last-picked vs a very squishy team. Nova is crazy popular in Quick Matches, however, where she terrorizes new players who don't understand this strange thing called stealth.

Li-Ming patch notes:

(Q) Snipe
Cooldown: 8 seconds
Nova's bread and butter ability. This is a skill shot snipe with a long range and good damage. If you can't land this +75% of the time against normal enemies, you won't have a good time on Nova.
(W) Pinning Shot
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Excellent ability doing double duty as part damage and part utility with the slowing effect to allow teammates to kill slowed enemies or allow Nova to escape by slowing pursuers.

(E) Holo Decoy
Cooldown: 15 seconds
Basically, this is Nova's distraction ability. Can also be used when fleeing, and best used right after rounding a corner or just stepping inside a bush, as the enemy won't be able to see you drop it and will immediately think it's you when they regain vision. Note the will not dismount or interrupt objective-channeling Heroes anymore, unless the decoy does actual damage with the Lethal Decoy talent.
(Trait) Permanent Cloak, Sniper
You become cloaked (also called stealthed) and difficult to see. You're not invisible, and attentive players can still see you, but you're still very difficult to make out.

Nova's talents pretty much all deal with doing more damage in a variety of ways or trying to stay hidden better with stealth support or Holo Decoy talents.



Rapid Projection

One in the Chamber

Precision Strike

Double Tap

Crippling Shot

Precision Barrage

This is probably going to become a go-to build for Nova, which leverages her ability to put down a decent, steady amount of damage. Longshot helps keep her safer at distance to leverage One in the Chamber, and Double Tap + Crippling Shot can provide an extended period of time where the enemy is vulnerable. Precision Strike is preferred for zoning the enemy team, finishing wombo combo setups, or to deter an enemy chasing a revealed Nova. I opt for Rapid Projection just to get more chances to drop a Holo Decoy in the past of any skill shots or incoming damage that the decoy can soak up. When safe, Nova can also contribute some siege damage with this as well, without feeling useless waiting for a 4-second Auto Attack cycle.



Holo Stability

Anti-Armor Shells

Precision Strike

Double Tap

Lethal Decoy


This build attempts to leverage ye olde burst monster talent Anti-Armor Shells to chunk a bunch of health from an opponent quickly. While this can be paired for effect with Crippling Shot for extra bonus damage, I instead want to try out using Lethal Decoy which now does 40% of Nova's damage. That's a pretty good bonus as well. I pick Holo Stability just to keep that decoy out longer, and Rewind to lay the whole series down again. While not as ridiculous as her old burst potential, this is still some good burst damage in exchange for a really slow Auto Attack.


Advanced Cloaking

Rapid Projection

Snipe Master

Precision Strike

Psionic Efficiency

Perfect Shot

Precision Barrage

Snipe Master is a replacement for Gathering Power and hints at the chance for really good Nova players to capitalize on their skill with landing Snipe shots on Heroes. Sadly, this is probably not ready for real play yet (check notes below in the talents for Snipe Master and its limitations). We pair this up with Perfect Shot for maximum number of Snipe attempts, plus Psionic Efficiency to prevent her from having bad mana problems from all of the sniping. This can probably be replaced with Tactical Espionage at level 1, but I prefer better escapes without needing to mount by picking up Advanced Cloaking at level 1. Ghost Protocol looks solid here, as an option as well, to get away quickly and preserve stacks and prevent being harassed and missing a panicked Snipe attempt.

Tactical Espionage [ not recommended ] - Nova may hurt for mana, but no one ever takes mana-helping talents at level 1 for Nova. This *might* see action if picking up Perfect Shot at 16 (usually paired with Snipe Master at 7) and skipping Psionic Efficiency at 13, but otherwise there are always other better talents at this tier.

Advanced Cloaking [ situational ] - I've always liked this talent; I like being able to not be forced to unstealth and mount for any sort of move speed to get somewhere. This is probably the second best talent at this tier, and while it still gives the same old benefit when roaming lanes in the early game, Longshot is probably the more valuable choice here.

Longshot [ good ] - A very nice talent to keep Nova safer while doing her damage. Extra range on both Pinning Shot and her next Auto Attack is a good thing, and will work with other talents down the road like Double Tap or Crippling Shot.

Covert Ops [ not recommended ] - This extra slow wasn't worth it on the old Nova, and is probably the worst talent at its tier on the new Nova. In the old build it would get picked only 1% of the time, and this new iteration hasn't even been picked once to register on HotsLogs yet.

Remote Delivery [ not recommended ] - Of the three Holo Decoy talents at this tier, this one is probably the least interesting. The extra range and vision is super nice, but the other talents are just more useful more of the time

Rapid Projection [ good ] - If there is no special need to pick one of the other talents here, this is probably the best default pick. Holo Decoy can be used to block some incoming skill shots and damage, so the more you can put them down, and at reduced cost, the better for survivability.

Holo Stability [ situational ] - I can see this being useful if picking up Lethal Decoy at level 16, to keep the damage up. But otherwise, I'm not sure there is another reason to have a longer decoy goofing around.

One in the Chamber [ good ] - This talent fits into the way Nova should be playing now: at range damage, shot by shot, and retreating when needed. She can still do some burst, but it's not quite as rapid as it used to be. This talent tier is where you basically choose how you're going to play Nova (along with level 13 and supporting talents at level 16).

Anti-Armor Shells [ good ] - This talent is still a tempting talent to pick up for some max burst damage, but Nova doesn't do quite the same damage she did before, and the wait time in between Auto Attack shots is detrimental to staying alive. Essentially, this is still a good talent, but One in the Chamber is even more clearly a good talent at this tier.

Snipe Master [ not recommended ] - This could be a good talent with some changes. Right now, it's not enough of a damage increase to compensate for the difficulty in landing the string of Snipe shots needed. And it also means Nova's ability to help with structure damage or PvE damage is gimped badly, as a Snipe hit on anything other than a Hero will reset the stacks. So, with this talent, Nova wants to only shoot Snipe shots when assured of hitting her target. High risk, but it also means Nova is contributing a lot less. If the bonus damage gets higher or, more importantly, the stacks persist until death, then this talent will see more experimentation.

Triple Tap [ situational ] - This heroic is excellent, as it sends three shots that home in on your target. The problem is the target can still move, and the shots can be blocked by enemy structures, other enemy Heroes, or other objects placed in the projectile path, like a Holo Decoy. Some Heroes can Burrow Charge or Blink and disrupt the ability. And Nova herself can be interrupted while channeling it, preventing some or all of the shots from firing. So you have to take care when you use this ability and make sure your target has no way to prevent the damage. Master when to use this, though, and it's deadly. If you really want to pick up Rewind at level 20, you probably want to instead grab Precision Strike as your Heroic. Triple Tap only becomes excellent with the Fast Reload upgrade at 20, so if you're skipping that upgrade, skip Triple Tap as well. I loved this talent before the rework, but after the rework, I'm liking this talent a little less, not because it got changed, but because the playstyle for Nova has switched slightly. Precision Strike is useful for zoning and retreating, where before Nova could 100-0 people pretty easily and by having a huge offensive ability, didn't need to retreat much. But now, I want more Precision Strike cover and I also like the other level 20 talents a little bit better, especially Rewind.

Precision Strike [ good ] - This Heroic ability is a combo monster with Mosh Pit or Divine Storm or Ring of Frost or most anything else that keeps an enemy in its blast radius. Otherwise, most enemies will successfully retreat from the circle and take no damage. However, this does mean Precision Strike performs double duty as a zoning tool as well. This can be very useful for maps with area objectives that you can cover with a strike. Becomes useful when the team won't be willing to disengage, or when their disengage will be in the direction you want them to go. I would recommend this talent over Triple Tap any time you have a coordinated team and any desire for coordinated wombo combo team fights.

Double Tap [ good ] - There's little downside to this talent other than what you might give up to take it, and at this tier, that's not much. A second charge of Pinning Shot means you can use one for offensive purposes, and save a charge to slow someone chasing you. Or just double up with Crippling Shot at 16 for twice the vulnerability. This will be the default pick at this tier.

Psionic Efficiency [ not recommended ] - This talents seems nice, especially when paired up with Perfect Shot at 16, but honestly Snipe doesn't do the same damage that it used to do, so unless you're specifically needing to reduce your mana cost for spamming Snipe, this talent isn't much of a benefit. If Snipe Master gets buffed, this would support it well.

Explosive Round [ not recommended ] - Some might be tempted to pick this up for better laning support or on Infernal Shrines, but that would be a big shame. This talent honestly should be at level 4 and if so, could actually see reason to pick it up. But a laning Nova is an exposed Nova, and I would argue that she serves her team better by not being present on the minimap unless she's actually hurting enemy Heroes. Therefore, this talent should really never be picked.

Perfect Shot [ not recommended ] - Using this talent to get more Snipe shots off will mean Nova will have mana issues. I suppose this talent can see some play with Snipe Master, but right now, both other talents at this tier are more beneficial.

Crippling Shot [ good ] - Great ability for all builds, always lead with this shot so everything else you lay down does more damage. Not as impactful as her old version where Snipe damage was already really high, but still good with Double Tap for twice the vulnerability.

Lethal Decoy [ situational ] - Doing 40% of your damage is something to take pause at and consider this talent. Pairing this up with Anti-Armor Shells and Holo Stability is still a thing to do. In solo queues, Crippling Shot becomes a little harder to get good value out of as coordination is somewhat low, so this talent can make up for that shortcoming.

Fast Reload [ situational ] - Absolutely fun talent and I love it. This can break games wide open if you can clean up a late game team fight by stringing together several kills on hurt Heroes who have nowhere to go. Let your team know to look out for these shots and let you get the killing blow, so you can reset the ability.

Precision Barrage [ situational ] - Definitely useful if you use Precision Strike, especially with an organized team that wants to wombo combo a small area.

Rewind [ situational ] - Excellent talent, in fact, maybe broken for Nova. If she unloads her Burst Combo on a tank, she can nearly do the whole thing again by waiting for cloak, popping Rewind, and doing it all over again. This should drop anyone down. Does not reactivate heroics, which is why I tend to prefer Fast Reload over this, but this is a great option as well. If you play to pick up Rewind, really take a look at picking up Precision Strike as your Heroic. Triple Tap only really gets good with Fast Reload, but without that upgrade, Precision Strike is better.

Ghost Protocol [ not recommended ] - This talent replaces Bolt of the Storm which I never actually took anyway, as I liked the other offensive talents at this level. This ability looks interesting, but with one big caveat: You have to already be unstealthed in order to activate this ability. Boo. Fix this, and I'll consider it, but until then, it's of limited use to disappear for a few seconds or immediately retreat. Of note, this does synergize with Advanced Cloaking at level 1, as you'd immediately gain that movement speed. Worth playing with, as this is a unique ability.

If you really want to start the toxicity in your draft, you'll pick Nova early. This is bad, because she has plenty of hard counters that will make her life miserable, so you really want to pick Nova late. You want to target a largely squishy team that has very little, if any, stealth reveal, and minimal ranged stuns. For maps, Precision Strike works great on channeled map objective points with it's global range. Her vision is good for scouting positions, but I find her less interesting on maps like Cursed Hollow in the early game where it is time-consuming to gank roam the lanes early, and your approaches are very predictable. Also, it can be awful trying to get into good positions in the middle areas with high danger choke points. In the recent post-scaling changes meta, Nova actually has a place in all ranks of play, but she is still seen less in the upper ranks where players are keen-eyed and practiced at spotting her stealth shimmer. Nonetheless, she's an ok pick against the right comps.

If you see a Nova picked early or have an open chance to counter her late, pick up a vision-granting Hero like Tassadar, Brightwing, Greymane, or someone who can reveal her relatively easy like Chen, Stitches, or Johanna. Avoid squishier damage dealers. Mobility, range, and the ability to withstand a full burst from Nova are really key. Abathur might be a touchy pick if you expect the Nova to go Abby hunting or pick off a body-soaking Abby. Also, Heroes like Jaina make great bait targets for Nova, a she has the defensive talents and follow-up to go Nova-hunting herself.

Nova is typically a one-trick pony: She roams in stealth, sneaks up on squishy or hurt Heroes, pops out of stealth with a burst of damage intended to kill the target, then retreats and slip back into cloak to repeat as needed. Her positioning when coming out of stealth is of paramount importance, but you can't just hang back for half a team fight trying to get position. You need to contribute as quickly and safely and effectively as possible, otherwise your team is fighting a 4v5 fight, and those usually don't end well for the 4 side. Stay alive and hearthstone back as much as you need to; the enemy won't know you're gone and still has to play around your presence when they can't see you on the map. To that effect, don't stop in a lane to kill creep slowly. This reveals you on the map as either a target to gank or as a clue that you're not nearby. Never uncloak and give away your position if you are not participating in a game-changing moment or doing damage in a team fight!

...will employ hit and run tactics to do ranged damage and stay safe, participating in fights, but not dying early for poor positioning. She will be a master of map layouts and escapes.
...will make effective use of her Heroic of choice for effect.
...will hit far more Snipe shots than miss.
...will lay damage down on the correct priority targets for maximum effect.

As your match begins, analyze the list of enemy heroes you're up against, and start picking out squishy targets for you to hurt, and tanky warriors that you probably don't want to go bother attacking. Also, make note of any hard counters to you. A Tassadar who knows what Oracle does basically means you don't even want to try against him, let alone he'll just pop Dimensional Shift anytime you open up on him. Kerrigan can Primal Grasp you, and Illidan jumps around so much that you'll just embarass yourself trying to hit him.

First rule of Nova: Don't lane. I often play solo queue Quick Matches, and I purposely will sit back and not pick a lane and let everyone else pick lanes, that way I can double up with someone and end up roaming. A laning Nova is a sad Nova. And that's really for three reasons. First, she's terrible at clearing creep and dealing with any other enemy Heroes when she lacks that element of surprise damage out of stealth. Second, Nova really needs to be intimidating the enemy by harassing and ganking them. And third, if Nova is visible in the bottom lane, for instance, it means the other two lanes don't have to worry about her. But if they don't see Nova on the map anywhere, they have to adjust their play and worry about Nova sneaking around their lane. Even just having a Nova in the game should change enemy behavior, and as such, Nova should never unstealth herself for poor reasons.

If you see Illidan in a lane, don't bother trying to hit him with Snipe. Invariably, he will Sweeping Strike or Dive right as you fire. Always happens! Pick your targets for maximum effect and success. Chunk some health down, bait out some mana usage, finish ganks when you can, and otherwise set your team up for an xp advantage or resource advantage for the first map objective (mana/hp pools plus fountain timers).

As the match moves on, make sure you roam around and regularly check key points, such as the coin turn-ins on Blackheart's Bay or Tomb of the Spider Queen. Make sure you give your team as much information as you can when you're not actively killing enemies.

Around level 10, you can start going in for kills during team fights rather than just harass with friends. Make sure you cover your allies when they are in sketchy positions, intimidate and chase off attackers with your burst and a Holo Decoy. Even if you can't kill a Hero outright, just appearing can sometimes scare them off your team. Just be ready to retreat immediately after you blast your abilities out.

If you're playing against an Abathur or Murky, feel free to roam behind enemy lines and see if you can score a kill on either of them, if you have nothing else to do. Don't do this too early, or you won't be able to score the kill before towers kill you, or they respond and retreat. And don't waste too much time on this. Honestly, you should not be spending more time than the death timer hunting them.

As the game wears on, you need to know your targets and position accordingly as quickly as you can in team fights. Every team fight will start 4v5 as you will be off to the side and not helping, and you need to pick your moment quickly so you can get an enemy Hero either dead or retreating. Be ready to quickly identify clean-up opportunities or start to do some harassment damage on squishies as you can. You can roam alone, but be very careful and very purposeful in checking key areas for enemy activity, such as bosses, or to chase down low Heroes. Last, and not least, stay alive! A dead Nova not only means you're not putting any damage out, but the enemy team doesn't have to fear you slinking around!

Identify yourself as a primary target or not, and watch out for the stealth shimmer. If you get a choice, pick Tassadar to hard counter Nova with his Oracle which reveals nearby stealthed characters. He should use that on cooldown. Otherwise, give warnings on Nova sightings and watch your minimap so you know where she is at all times. If she pops up, do your best to punish her for showing up, stun and damage, preferably with poison so she can't stealth into the shadows. Don't roam alone with 50% or less health unless you know where she is. Lots of abilities can reveal Nova, for instance even Rehgar's Lightning Shield will damage her when nearby. In the late game, don't get low if Nova is around. Scout out her heroic and level 20 choices to see if you should expect Triple Tap chains. Look out for wombo combo Heroic setups if she picks Precision Strike. Identify if you have any abilities that will interrupt or break a locked-on Triple Tap and be ready to use them.
I'm an aggressively casual player looking to climb the ranks and enjoy my free time in Heroes of the Storm. If you want to talk shop, I can often be found playing with friend and steamer Kennigma on

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