Nova is a character from Starcraft who brings high range and high burst potential at the cost of being squishy with no escape moves. This post is going to go through Nova’s talents that she has to choose throughout the game. I have played Nova a lot of find that she has a lot of potential to snowball the game from early on, while scaling into a high burst (albeit very squishy) lategame assassin. This guide is not going to explain how to play Nova but the talent choices and build paths that I see a lot of high rank players take and the reasoning behind them. Generally, in higher skill games then there are a few talents that are almost always chosen. Lets start by checking the different choices at each talent tier and which ones are recommended.

Level 1

  • Conjurers Pursuit
  • Psi-Op Rangefinder – Possibility
  • Ambush Snipe – Recommended
  • Tazer Rounds

Most players take Ambush Snipe as it gives Nova a lot of burst potential You can use this burst to put a lot of pressure on enemy lanes and make them fear your roaming and ganking (which is what you should be doing). If you notice, however, that the enemy team are full of heroes you cannot burst down (all tanks/tanky heroes) then take Psi-Op Rangefinder so you can put out some more damage over longer team fights while staying further away from the enemy team.

Level 4

  • Perfect Shot
  • Remote Delivery
  • Gathering Power – Recommended
  • Envenom

This level is simple. If you take anything other than Gathering Power (possibly Envenom in a game you want to win very quickly) then you miss out on a lot of damage. You want to almost always take Gathering Power but if you notice the enemy team has a lot of squishy heroes and the map allows you to roam a lot then Envenom is very nice for guaranteeing kills on any overextended hero. Some people like using Remote delivery to give Nova some more utility. I don’t think the utility is worth the damage you are losing but you could possibly make it work.

Level 7

  • Explosive Round
  • One in the Chamber
  • Anti-Armor Shells – Recommended
  • Covert Ops

The standard choice for most Nova players is Anti-Armor Shells. This is because it allows you to stealth/move inbetween auto attacks which makes you harder for the enemy to pin down and also synergises well with the level 1 talent “Ambush Snipe”. Successfully utilising this style of moving/weaving auto attacks into combos is key to becoming good with Nova. With Nova you want to combo your Snipe with Pinning shot and an auto attack then instantly move. A stationary Nova is a dead Nova.

Level 10 (Which Nova ultimate?)

  • Triple Tap
  • Precision Strike – Recommended

Both ultimates have their merits. Triple tap is an excellent ultimate that turns you into the best ambusher in the game. If a squishy enemy is alone, combo them and Triple Tap when they run away. Experienced players, however, will be caught less than inexperienced ones which makes Triple Tap better against newer/less experienced players.

Precision Strike provides a lot of aoe damage and can be used in combination with other heroes CC abilities such as Zagara’s Maw and Zeratul’s Prism ultimates. If you become good at aiming this ultimate then it can be just as good as Triple Tap at killing fleeing enemies. If you can land this on a few enemies in a team fight then you almost guarantee winning the fight.

So take Triple Tap if your team has very little crowd control and the enemy team has only squishy heroes, meaning that anyone who blocks Triple Tap will take significant damage. Choose Precision Strike if your team has some crowd control or if the enemy team has competent tanks. Usually Precision Strike is the ultimate you want to choose.

Level 13

  • Lethal Decoy – Recommended
  • Advanced Cloaking – Possibility
  • Headshot
  • Spell Shield

Some Nova players swear by Advanced Cloaking and the regenerative power it provides. However, the extra damage Lethal Decoy gives you can often be the difference between scoring a kill or having them escape on 5% hp. An extra 25% of your damage is a lot of damage to miss out on for the sake of some regeneration and movement speed and you will usually mount up at any opportunity possible to make the movement speed even more negligible. Lethal Decoy also makes your decoy appear slightly more “real” as it does some damage to the enemy. Even good players can sometimes be tricked by this during a hectic team fight.

Level 16

  • Railgun
  • Crippling Shot – Recommended
  • Double Fake – Possibility
  • Overdrive

Crippling shot is usually the best choice at this level due to it’s insane potential to increase you and your team’s damage on the target you have crippled. This talent actually means sometimes you can quickly focus down a tank on the front line with the help of your team.

If you find yourself always being focused and the enemy have lots of ways to reach you easily then consider taking Double Fake for the extra confusion your decoy can cause. The first time you use this is the most effective time so make sure you use it wisely and you can sometimes win a teamfight off the back of the enemy team using cooldowns just to reach your decoy.

Level 20

  • Fast Reload
  • Precision Barrage
  • Rewind – Recommended, situational
  • Bolt of the Storm – Recommended, situational

In higher rank games then Bolt of the Storm is very useful mainly as an escape but can sometimes be used to get an important kill. A fast Bolt into a Crippling/Snipe combo against an unsuspecting squishy target can often seal the team fight although this is a very risky play.. Rewind can be insane on Nova if you have a team that is good at protecting you and the enemy have few ways to reach you before they kill the rest of your team. Most Nova players do not take the ultimate upgrades although against a team of squishy heroes Fast Reload can be quite fun to pick off survivors after a teamfight (or during a teamfight from a safe distance)

A quick note on playstyle

With the build listed above, you want to play very aggressively from the start, constantly darting between lanes and sniping anyone out of position/overextended. Even if you get no kills remember that as long as Nova is not visible on the map, the whole enemy team must play cautiously. Use this to your advantage.

In teamfights then you want to try to position yourself in a place that allows you to target squishy targets without getting caught. Often you cannot do this in which case you will want to be in your back lines and bursting down tanks with your talented Crippling Shot. If you have to focus tanks, try to communicate to your team so they can help you focus them down during your Pinning Shots duration.

You are wrong! My build is better!

I’m not saying this is the only Nova build it is just the way many Nova players build her. This is why I have not mentioned combos such as Overdrive and Triple Tap or her decoy build.They definitely have potential to work but they are just not as effective against good players who understand how to play against Nova.

Let me know what you think!

Comment below if you have any questions or if you have a different build that you feel is more effective.