Overview

Nova is a ranged assassin and one of the few (alongside Zeratul) who remains almost permanently in cloak. Unlike other cloak users, she can attack from afar and is capable of dealing huge spike damage. Her primary role is to roam across the map supporting lanes and team fights. Outside of her burst she is very weak and if found uncloaked, she is almost guaranteed to die unless her team protect her. 

To play Nova effectively you need to be patient and often stand at the edge of a fight. It's not always wise to engage early and instead, wait for a fight to playout so that you can then pick a low health, high value enemy. It's also worth noting that Nova is particularly strong on the new StarCraft maps (particularly Warhead Junction). 

Guide Updated: 07 January 2017

Pros

Cons

Very high burst potential Almost guaranteed to die if caught out of cloak
Able to scout for the team Requires exceptional positioning
Great at picking off squishy targets Outside of her burst, she can do very little
Can easily frustrate the opposition Needs to land all her abilities to be effective
Her Orbital Strike allows you to deal damage anywhere on the map Terrible at lane clearing

Abilities

Permanent Cloak, Sniper (Trait) – Two traits for the price of one! Obviously, the cloak is what helps define Nova, as she is used largely for roaming and picking off targets. Being able to have increased vision and attack range helps her accomplish that. Just keep in mind that you're not truly "invisible" when cloaked; observant enemies will notice the slight shimmer around you.

Snipe (Q) – This is your main source of burst, and an important ability to land consistently. Being in stealth means it’s more difficult for your enemies to see it coming, so make sure to position correctly to hit your Snipe. If you miss, you’ll be lacking damage until the ability comes back off of cooldown.

Pinning Shot (W) – In the quest to make sure that your Snipe lands, Pinning Shot can be undeniably helpful. Slowing down your target makes it easier to land a skill-shot, and the extra damage certainly doesn’t hurt either. Just be aware that Pinning Shot has a shorter range than Snipe by default, so be conscious of your surroundings before you decide to use it to lead your combo.

Holo Decoy (E) – Due to having no mobility, effective use of Holo Decoy can be imperative to Nova’s survival. Since the decoy acts on its own, it can sometimes be difficult to trick people with it as it's fairly predictable. However, it can still do things like tank turret shots on a dive and create confusion when enemies have several different things to focus on. If you choose to take Talents for the decoy, it can become much more effective in the later stages of the game.

Triple Tap (R) – Against an unorganized team, Triple Tap can be an absolute nightmare for your opponents to deal with. Its damage is absolutely massive, and when lined up properly, can decimate a squishy enemy. However, opponents who are more aware will have their tank line block the shots, making it much more difficult to hit your intended target.

Precision Strike (R) – When used correctly, Precision Strike can actually deal more damage than Triple Tap, and hit multiple targets. However, due to the delay, many Heroes will simply be able to leave the area of effect. Therefore, this Heroic is most effective when used as a follow-up to your teammates’ crowd control, making escape no longer an option. The global range on it also means you’ll be able to nuke your foes from anywhere on the map, so make sure to pay close attention to what your teammates are doing, as you may be able to win team fights for them even if you’re not in position. 

Talents

Level 1: Covert Ops

Nova has very little crowd control and gains it all through talents. Covert Ops allows her to cause a heavy slow when she has used Pinning Shot, as long as she has remained stealthed for 5 seconds. Considering Snipe has a 6 second cooldown, you really should be making constant use of this talent as once you've used all your abilities you want to back away and re-enter Cloak. A slow of 55% is enormous and makes landing Snipe shots incredibly easy. 

Variable: By default, Nova's Snipe isn't as long as her Pinning Shot. This makes life a little tricky for her as it means if she does want to use Pinning Shot, she needs to get a little too close. Longshot increases the range of Pinning Shot by 30% and also allows the follow-up basic attack to have increased range. It's effectively a talent that offers exceptional ranged poke. 

Level 4: Rapid Projection

Nova relies heavily on her Clone in order to scout, distract, bait and protect herself. You'll use it constantly so you can quickly run out of mana. Rapid Protection reduces its cooldown and mana cost provides much more sustain and massively reduces your reliance on fountains.

Level 7: Sniper Master

The next equivalent to Gathering Power, Snipe Master allows you to gain a 50% damage increase to Snipe. The catch is you cannot miss with it or it'll reset. In all honesty, any skilled Nova can keep this up and it's a huge welcome boost to your damage. Just be sure to use Pinning Shot first to slow targets, to gaurentee your Snipe. 

Level 10: Orbital Strike

A large, global AOE that deals reasonable damage is excellent and Orbital Strike provides some much needed group wide pressure. If you can land it against a close knit group of players, it'll cause huge problems. 

Variable: I'd argue Triple Tap in the current meta is the weaker choice but it does work well on large maps. Although it can be body blocked, a clever Nova can work around this by using it late in a fight. Larger maps that have been added to Heroes of the Storm also ensure that it's incredibly easy to find Heroes by themselves, with no ability to find cover. 

Level 13: Double Tap

Having two slows from Double Tap is particularly useful because it means after your opening burst, you can then slow any enemies trying to attack you, or slow another for your next Snipe. It also means you get that touch of extra damage from having two Pinning Shots. 

Level 16: Crippling Shot

It goes without saying, Pinning Shot now causes vulnerability and a huge bonus damage against your target (+25%). This also pairs brilliantly with Double Tap for you and your team. If your Snipe is maximized (+50% damage) you can pretty much one-shot squishy Heroes. 

Level 20: Fast Reload

It's almost certain that during a team fight you'll get a kill with Triple Tap. Having it reset on kill allows you to snowball pretty heavily during the course of a fight. On large maps such as Warhead Junction, you'll regularly be able to find lone Heroes just waiting to reset your Heoric. 

Matchups

These Hero Threat Levels (1 being lowest threat and 10 being highest threat) are to help you determine which enemy Heroes can give you a headache. For the Heroes listed here, take extra care as they're particularly dangerous for Nova. 

Hero

Threat

Kharazim: His ability to constantly reveal an area when he uses Radiant Dash can cause real problems for you. If he's in the enemy team, be conscious of the fact he can do it. 

6/10

Jaina: A free kill if you open first but if you miss, she'll destroy you with her combination of chill/Ice Block. Just make sure you use your decoy before attacking so she spends her cooldowns.

7/10

Kerrigan: A little trickier due to her pull/root but easily killed if you use your decoy. A clever Kerrigan will ignore it however and if she leaps on you, you're as good as dead. 

7/10

Kael'thas: If he sees your cloak shimmer and catches you in Gravity Lapse, you're dead. If not, there's a good chance you can always kill him 1 on 1.

7/10

Lunara: Her movement speed and twitchyness makes it difficult to land your shots against her. With her recent buffs she can also survive your opening burst and then stack you with poison. If out of cloak and she does, you're in trouble.

6/10

Tassadar: The complete counter against Nova, his trait allows him to constantly reveal you and his shielding will prevent your burst against his allies. Take great care when he's in the enemy team. 

8/10

Chen: His mobility, splash damage and general annoyance means that if a Chen is on the enemy team you can gaurentee he'll leap at you the moment you appear. 

6/10

Zeraltul: Zeratul is fantastic at hunting Nova down because once he's on you, you really can't escape. If he's on the enemy team, wait for him to attack first and then focus him. 

7/10

The Butcher: His charge combined with Hitching Post can pretty much gaurentee your death unless your team has an immediate Cleanse. 9/10

Tips

This list of tips and tricks are just a handful of things we think will help your Nova play. We'll continue to add to the list as required and if you have any tips you'd like to share, let us know in the comments below and we'll place them here. 


1. Try to use the long grass to hide your cover when firing when not cloaked. You should also use these hidden locations to buy you time to re-cloak.

2. Always try to use your Crippling Shot followed by Snipe. You'll slow them, gain the damage modifier and find aiming easier.

3. You should only really use Snipe at maximum range when poking/harrassing an enemy or if your team is in front of you. 

4. Your decoy is amazing skill for body blocking. As one example, used infront of Stitches Hook it will prevent you being snared.

5. You need to be patient with Nova to really play to her strengths. There's no use attacking if you'll fail to kill the target as you'll leave yourself massively exposed. 

6. Always try to save your Bolt Of Storm for escaping. If you must use it to pursue a kill, make sure there is no one else around you so you can quickly re-cloak.

7. Learning each map is important as there are lots of hidden areas or small nooks that you can hide in to avoid line of sight even when not cloaked.

8. Always try to use Orbital Strike (if you take it) when enemies are stunned or body blocked to prevent them escaping its radius.

9. Always try to position yourself so that when you do fire, you can quickly escape.

10. Before using Crippling Shot or Snip, summon your decoy first. Hopefully this will cause the opposition to use their cooldowns against it, which will buy you time if you are chased. 

11. Don't worry if you die a lot as Nova - she takes a lot of practice but can be invaluable to a team.

12. Always roam the map. You can't clear lanes so you need to be moving across all three to pressure the opposing team and their Heroes.

13. Larger mounts show larger "shimmers" when you're cloaked. Try to choose a small mount. 

14. Just because you're invisible doesn't mean that you are invincible! Your shimmer as you move is a 'tell' to good players who will AoE the space you are in to try to take you out.


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Last Updated: Jan 07, 2017

About The Author

Burnell 1
Lover of all things MOBA, Lewis splits his time between Heroes of the Storm, Paragon and SMITE.

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