Hero Guide: Nova

Nova is a nasty little hero – a ranged assassin. She’s a predator, a ganker, pure and simple. She can lane and pick up a few talents that boost her laning potential, but Nova shines when she’s cloaked, stalking, and punishing heroes low on life. Or not low on life. With a single ally nearby, Nova can bring almost anyone down. She’s fragile though, and a few hits from enemies is enough to kill her. Used correctly, Nova is brutal and terrifying. Used poorly, she’s free food.

November "Nova" Terra

Basic Abilities

(Q) Snipe – Deals lots of damage to the first target it hits. Her main nuke. It’s a skill shot, so practice aiming.

(W) Pinning Shot – About half the damage of Snipe, which is still pretty good, and it slows the target for 2.25 seconds. Targeted – click and you’re done.

(E) Holo Decoy – Spawns a decoy that stands around and shoots enemies for no damage. It can be talented to be a harasser. Using it doesn’t break cloak.

(Trait) Cloak – Stealth after 2.5 seconds of no fighting.

And two ultimates:

(R) Triple Tap – Reveals the target Hero and after a short delay, hits the first Hero or structure like a freaking truck three times.

(R) Precision Strike – After a short delay, deals a ton damage to enemies within a target area. Unlimited Range.

Basic Tactics

Linger around the edges of a lane. Don’t press forward, press along the flanks. Let your allies in the lane fight minions and harass heroes. XP is global so more than 1 person farming a lane isn’t needed and can slow things down. Be patient. Toss your decoy around to spook enemies in the lane. Try to toss your decoy before you break cloak – enemies tend to focus on it first and it leaves you a few seconds to get off a good shot.

Snipe is a good way to harass and keep enemies away from your laning ally. When an enemy begins to retreat to the fountain or just lurk and regen, toss the decoy to distract the towers and snipe. In the early game, most heroes below 1/3 of their max health are easy prey. Some are bit beefier. It helps to keep the health bars on to see how much health they have left.

Don’t bump into bad guys and avoid being trapped. You shimmer when close to an enemy and they’ll see you, or at least use a skill shot to knock you out of cloak. The decoy is a great way to confuse enemies. Don’t toss it when they’re shooting you, toss it as you round a corner or pass through some bushes for cover. When you break line of sight, drop the decoy and run. Mount up as quick as you can and get out of there.

In early and mid game, find a beefy buddy and stick around. You don’t have all your power yet and can be easy pickings, even if prepared. Follow a friend around and cause trouble. Let them start the fight, you finish it.


Talents are ranked by stars (* to ****). 1-2 stars is a skipable or team dependent talent; 3 stars is a recommended talent; 4 stars is almost essential.


Tier 1

  • Psy-Op Rangefinder (****) – Excellent talent. Increases the range of your main nuke. Keeps you out of harm’s way, lets you deal damage, easier to recloak.
  • Path of the Wizard (*) – It sounds nice at first but, if you do the math, it’s not great. At level 20 it gives you 1 extra Snipe. Hooray? Skip.
  • Ambush Snipe (**) – Not terrible, but not very good. Nova’s power is in her burst damage and you’ll need to fire a few things from cloak, not just Snipe. Get it if your team has heroes with good disables.
  • Tazer Rounds (**) – Situational, team dependent. The boost to Pinning Shot isn’t much but if you’re team lacks slows or stuns, which it probably won’t, this can help. You’re still better off getting the Rangefinder and just killing the enemy.

Tier 2

  • FN92 Sniper Rifle (*) – Her damage doesn’t come from her basic attack. Skip. Always skip.
  • Vampiric Assault (***) – A good talent to pick up if you lack a capable support or any warrior. You can gain this effect from shooting structures, minions, mercs – everything.
  • Focused Attack (*) – Base attack is no good. Skip
  • Poison Enemy (****) – A powerful DoT at every level. It scales well and can finish off a fleeing hero more than you’d think.

Tier 3

  • Battle Momentum (***) – Best talent in this tier. Her base attack is bad, but you will be shooting things. A lot. It speeds up the recovery of your nuking potential. Get it.
  • Digital Shrapnel (*) – Poor damage, doesn’t scale well, can be easily avoided. Boooooooo.
  • Explosive Round (**) Not bad, but another situational talent. If you lack a good laning warrior or need to help gather skulls, it can be useful. Still, you should be killing heroes and not farming.

Tier 4

  • Triple Tap (****) – Lots of damage, little worry. It’ll kill someone. Oh man, it’ll kill lots of someones. Pinning Shot, Snipe, Triple Tap —> Dead Hero.
  • Precision Strike (****) – If you’re fighting often for tributes or shrines, Precision Strike is a great way to increase map presence and still allow you to harass/nuke from somewhere else.

Tier 5

  • Advanced Cloaking (**) – If you need survivability, this might help some. The extra speed doesn’t work when mounted, though, and the regen is still very slow.
  • Spell Shield (**) – Situational, best avoided. If they target you outright, you’re going to die. Your best defense is to not be there, not reduce damage.
  • Holo Drone (*) – The damage from the decoy isn’t very good and it still expires after a time limit. Not worth the talent.
  • Overdrive (****) – For 5 seconds, you deal 25% more damage. Yes please. Turn this on, follow Triple Tap’s rotation and you’ll kill almost any hero you want.

Tier 6

  • Wounding Shot (*) – Short duration for a decent effect means it’s a bad talent. If it were longer, or deadlier, maybe.
  • Blood for Blood (***) Useful, but not always. It can heal you up some, add another slow to allow chasing, and deals a decent amount of damage. Consider this if you find yourself low on health often and need another slow for team fights.
  • Rewind (****) – Snipe, Pinning Shot, and Decoy are reset and usable once again. Snipe, Pinning, Rewind, Snipe, Pinning, Triple Tap —–> Definitely Dead Hero.

Tier 7

  • Onslaught of the Storm (**) – If you took Explosive Round, this is another good laning talent. It’ll clear minions pretty quickly with a Snipe.
  • Bolt of the Storm (**) – A good escape, which Nova lacks. It can help you get out of sticky situations that might otherwise kill you.
  • Fast Reload (****) – But, if you took Triple Tap, you’ll take this every time. Whatever you shot with the talent will die not long after so the cooldown will reset. It will easily swing teamfights in your favor.
  • Precision Barrage (****) – Like Fast Reload, the improvements to your Ultimates are not to be ignored. Two strikes from above? Anywhere on the map? Duh.

Final Thoughts

Nova is an assassin in its purest form. She disables, hits hard, and doesn’t do much else. She’s best used as that: an anti-hero hero, not as a pusher or a disabler. With Precision Strike she can be a decent initiator but that’s best left to drop in the middle of a fight or after the enemy team is grouped. Linger around the edges, be patient, and practice shooting moving targets with snipe. In a short time you’ll have people posting how she’s overpowered and your teams loving you.

Happy Hunting!

Travis Morrow is a writer who really likes peanut butter. He plays Dota2, HotS, and lots of tabletop games. Occasionally he jabbers on his personal site.

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