Hero Analysis: Nova
Welcome to this week’s hero analysis. Every week, we take a look at one of Blizzard’s currently released heroes – an in-depth look at a hero can give us insight into Blizzard’s hero design. Alongside design, as players, understanding the core ideas behind a hero can allow for better development of mechanical skills and usage of hero abilities in the most efficient way possible. As always, anything discussed within these articles are subject to change, especially as Heroes of the Storm is still in pre-beta stages – many changes will come but ideally, the core ideas will stay the same.
This week, we look at Nova – an assassin type hero from the Starcraft franchise. She is a sneaky ranged hero reliant on her abilities of deception and invisibility to maximize her effectiveness on the battlefield. While positioning is important, Nova has some abilities to assist her in getting to the right position to deal a massive amount of damage while staying safe out of enemy reach or even enemy notice. A player should look towards staying at the edge of battles and striking at the right times to deal a huge amount of burst damage only to disappear again when danger approaches.
Nova’s abilities focus on one of two things – long range burst damage and avoidance of enemies. With correct usage of each of these abilities together, players can find themselves a formidable force on the battlefield – picking off important targets in a blink of an eye and in the next moment throwing up a distraction while performing a fashionable escape.
Nova’s heroic trait is a passive effect that will make Nova invisible so long as she has been out of combat for a short time. She will be revealed when she uses an ability, auto attacks, or takes damage. A clever player will use this to position Nova at locations that usually cannot be reached without considerable amount of danger. Positioning while invisible gives Nova the edge with the element of surprise – enemies are less prepared to react accordingly. Due to Nova’s general lack of tankiness, using this ability properly becomes even more important. Nova needs to disengage from fights as soon as danger comes her way to give time for the invisibility to activate. Another thing to note with abilities that grant invisibility on a passive basis, whenever Nova is out of sight, she can be considered positioned anywhere on the map. This idea of paranoia that the possible presence of Nova, in wait and ready to kill, gives her team a considerable advantage earlier in the game. The enemy team can never be sure that they are only fighting specific enemies since Nova might be lurking invisible right behind them. Overall, this heroic trait compliments Nova’s playstyle of a glass cannon – she needs to be positioned carefully in order to make the best out of her abilities.
This is a skillshot damage ability. It’s quite a simple ability, simply aim and fire. But it should be noted that it only hits the first target the projectile collides with. Because of this aspect of the ability, it makes avoiding this ability much easier. It requires Nova to have a clear line to her target which prompts many options for enemy heroes. They can easily move behind a unit, rush at Nova, or respond with their own skillshot. This is an apparent vulnerability for Nova. To cover this, the use of her heroic trait can allow her to move to positions that not only give less time for enemies to react – not seeing Nova preparing to use her abilities – but also to allow her a clear shot at the enemies. Overall, the ability gives Nova more burst damage but as well encourage good positioning from the player to give the best chance of hitting the ability.
Nova’s second ability is a single target damage and slow. As the only bit of CC that Nova has, it is important to use it at the right time – even if it is only a slow. Whether it is to open up a gank from invisibility to ensure that Nova can hit her Q and then follow up with a few auto attacks to deal maximize damage. It might also be used in defensive purposes though, to increase the distance between Nova and pursuers in order to give her time to trigger her invisibility. This ability is a good addition to Nova’s kit overall, adding a bit of CC that gives her a lot of choices in what to do in many situations.
Nova’s last normal ability creates a clone of her at the target location that will attack enemies near it. It appears exactly like Nova to enemies but in its deception there are some problems. Firstly, it doesn’t move at all and simple just appears. This makes it a less effective illusion of the real Nova. But that does not mean a clever Nova can’t use it to deceive enemies, even if it’s only for a few moments. If Nova casts this ability from out of sight of the enemies, it would appear as if she just came out of invisibility. In a gank, this, although brief, a quick distraction can allow Nova to get an extra auto-attack freely or cause a slight change of position in Nova’s favor. During larger team fights, assuming the enemies have good awareness of the battlefield, it will be harder to use as a distraction but there is a way. When Nova is in need to disengage, she can step out of vision and then leave a clone behind – also out of vision – if enemies pursue, there will be a moment of hesitation in the enemies’ mind whether or not that Nova is real. Every moment counts for Nova, each second away from combat is another second closer to the safety of invisibility. The key aspect of this ability is that it relies on the skill of Nova and the awareness of enemy players. Dependent on how the clone is utilized, it’s effectiveness will vary. It’s all just mind games and in the moment reactions.
Nova is all about burst damage and paranoia. Both choices of heroic abilities, give to both of these styles of play.
First Heroic Ability
Quite literally a nuke – this is a global ranged, large AoE nuke. Its only downside is that long charge up time. This ability does immense damage and its global component makes Nova a powerful contributor to team fights. A well placed nuke can do significant damage to many enemy heroes and she can set up to do so even if she’s quite far away from the fight. Alongside its great team fight burst damage capability, the global range can be used to help pick off escaping targets halfway across the map. If an enemy just narrowly escapes a gank and is using the Hearthstone to teleport back to base, the availability of this ability creates a sense of impending danger. It would force enemies to carefully choose an unpredictable position to stand or potentially die anyways after a clutch escape. Not only is there huge burst damage but there is also the addition of impending danger at any moment – both of which Nova relies on. A perfect addition to Nova’s ability set.
Second Heroic Ability
Nova’s second choice is a single target long range nuke damage ability. When channeled on a target, it will fire three medium speed projectiles at the target enemy in quick succession. Its total damage potential is huge. But there is a condition, other enemy heroes can run into the path of the projectiles to “block” them and take the damage instead. So while using this, Nova needs to make sure that the enemy cannot easily get an ally in position to block the projectiles and perhaps completely negating the kill. This goes back to the idea of Nova requiring good position and a strong element of surprise. She needs to stand at a location at which the projectile path will be hard to block as well as give as little time as possible for enemy heroes to react. While perhaps it seems that this ability be most beneficial to begin a gank or a fight with due to Nova being able to position while invisible, it actually isn’t effective to start with the ability. By beginning with this, she’s locked into place while many enemies are still alive and ready to react. Instead, players should look towards the end of the team right to pick off a target that is escaping. They’ll have less chance to cover the projectile shots within the chaos of a fight and some enemy heroes may have died already. This ability should be considered as the finisher of Nova’s abilities, to finishing off a target in a situation that her team cannot finish kill.
Nova employs sneaky tactics and high burst damage to cripple enemy strategies and take down important targets. While her combat abilities are rather simple, the complexity in playing Nova comes from how she utilizes her invisibility and clone to gain an advantage over the battlefield. In order to do this, players need to predict the actions of opposing players – an in depth understanding of the game’s mechanics is absolutely necessary in maximizing effectiveness. With Nova, Blizzard has created a hero that is quite simple to play at a low level of skill yet as more experienced players get their hands on the hero; they can show off the power of their developed situational awareness. An experienced player’s speedy reaction and on the spot decision making is what makes a skillful Nova a force to be reckoned with. Blizzard has done a great job in creating a hero that is easy to get into and yet has such great hidden depth that only the most skillful player could effectively master and successfully pull off in tense situations.
Please join me next week, when we look at another hero from Blizzards already growing pool of heroes. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to keep an eye on Stormable for the quality content every week.