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Heroes of the Storm: Nova Needs a Nerf

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By alexander hinkleyDate: Jun 30 2015 Views:

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Heroes of the Storm is still a new game considering it was only released at the beginning of June so players shouldn’t expect it to be perfect. One of the few glaring problems with the game right now is that Nova is easily the strongest hero out there, to the point of being legitimately broken. Just the presence of Nova in a match makes the entire thing feel unfun. I have never personally seen a Nova do poorly in any game where one was present. One can confidently predict at the start of a match that Nova will lead the game in takedowns and be proven right every time by the end. I’m not alone in this assessment, either. Simply Google search “Nova is OP” and you will find countless forum posts and Reddit threads complaining about her since the game was still in Alpha up until even now. Most heroes can’t destroy a full health enemy hero in the blink of an eye before they can even react. Nova is the sole exception. It’s like a League of Legends champion somehow snuck into Heroes of the Storm.

Heroes of the Storm Nova

In addition to her massive burst damage, one of the biggest problems with Nova is her cloaking. Unlike in League of Legends where there are various ways to gain vision of a cloaked enemy such as certain champion abilities or purchasable items, there are no such abilities of items currently available in Heroes of the Storm. Therefore it is absolutely impossible to detect a cloaked champion until they decloak. Considering Nova’s trait is that she is permanently cloaked while out of combat, this can prove to be an immense problem. Nova is not like Evelynn in League of Legends where she is only cloaked until she gets close to someone then you see her. Nova can literally walk right up next to you without you knowing it.

You are supposed to be able to see a visual distortion of the area moving which gives her away, but if you are already in combat with another hero you are probably focusing on them and not the miniscule details of the terrain around your own hero. Nova is impossible to see unless you are specifically looking for her, and even then it is still quite difficult if you are playing on the lowest graphical settings like many players do to smooth out game performance.

Nova’s cloak is just the beginning of the issues with her – her burst damage is off the charts. Her Snipe ability can deal up to 735 damage without any buffs, but most Nova players learn Ambush Snipe right off the bat which increases its damage by 20% so now you’re looking at 882 damage from that one ability. Most Nova players also learn Gathering Power which can grant up to 15% ability power, thus another +15% damage onto Snipe (as well as her other abilities) so now you are looking at roughly 993 damage. If that’s not enough, later in the game she can gain an activated ability called Overdrive which further increases her ability power by another +25%. So now Snipe can deal a hefty 1,176 damage. That’s a lot of damage as a bolt from the blue.

Heroes of the Storm Nova

The third talent Nova players typically learn is Anti-Armor Shells which increases base attack damage to 250% while also proportionately reducing the speed of her basic attacks. So while other heroes receive damage buffs to the tune of 20% or a buff of 75% on one attack every ten seconds, Nova benefits from a whopping 250% buff. Nova has 40 attack damage to start the game and receives +25 per level which means at level 20, you’re looking at 525 damage from each basic attack. This stat alone surpasses other similar ranged assassins. For example, Raynor starts the game with just 35 attack damage and gains only 12 per level – less than half what Nova gains. Valla starts the game with a mere 28 attack damage and gains just 9 per level. Valla’s passive trait does add +2% damage per basic attack with each attack she lands, up to 10 stacks, but even maxed out that is only +20%. At level 20 that means Valla’s basic attacks could potentially deal 239 damage with 10 stacks of Hatred. Nova’s attacks deal 525 damage without any need for building up stacks.

So Nova already has the highest damage output on basic attacks out of ranged assassins. Keep in mind that 525 damage is without her Anti-Armor Shells buff. 250% of that is 1,312. 1,312 damage from one basic attack? C’mon man.

The reduction to her attack speed is not even a real downside for two reasons. The first is that if the attack speed reduction is the exact same as the damage buff (which it says it is), then it isn’t a disadvantage at all. For example, say Nova can initially attack for 100 damage once per second. So in 2.5 seconds, you would have normally attacked twice for 200 damage. With Anti-Armor Shells, your attack damage increases to 250, but your attack speed is reduced so that in the span of that same 2.5 seconds, you will only attack once instead of twice. But if you’re dealing 250 damage during that time frame now instead of 200, does that seem like a disadvantage? If you extend the time out to five seconds, then initially you would have attacked five times for 500 damage. With Anti-Armor Shells, you’d be attacking twice for that same 500 damage. Still not a disadvantage. Only after five seconds does the attack speed timing start to come into play, but five seconds is a long time and most Novas are in and out long before that time limit would be reached.

Heroes of the Storm Nova

The second reason is that even if it did end up mathematically disadvantaging her over the long run, it doesn’t matter. Nova isn’t about standing and fighting; she’s about decloaking and blowing you up. She only needs the ONE basic attack and then if you aren’t dead (which you probably will be), she simply leaves and moves onto her next unwitting victim. Keep in mind that attack speed is the time between basic attacks, not the time for the first basic attack to go off. Therefore the reduced basic attack speed doesn’t actually hurt her.

So Nova can Snipe you for nearly 1,200 damage, then basic attack you for another 1,300 damage. Additionally she has another damaging ability called Pinning Shot which can deal 240 damage (+40% from her ability power so actually 336) and slow you by 30% for several seconds. This ridiculous little three-hit combo will deal nearly 3,000 damage to you in the blink of an eye.

But wait, we haven’t even talked about her ultimate yet. Precision Strike is an area of effect ability that deals 300 damage after a short delay. Remember the +40% ability power from her talents, though. So 300 damage turns into 420. Her level twenty talent then increases the charges of Precision Strike to two with a short cooldown so it’s definitely not unusual to get hit with two of them in quick succession. There’s another 840 damage that can be added onto the 3,000 damage from the previous combo and is also very useful in team fights.

As strong as Precision Strike is, Triple Tap can be dangerous as well. Triple Tap is a locked-on ability of three shots dealing 80 damage each. Ability power buffs increase that to 112 each so 336 damage total which can later have a reset cooldown if it ends up finishing off an enemy (reminds me of Darius’s ult that everybody complained about). The range on this ability is infinite. Once it’s started, it can never be outrun. It is possible to avoid it by ducking behind an allied champion and having them absorb the damage for you or by moving behind an allied structure, but by late game there are never many structures left anyway.

So judging from these damage outputs, either you are going to be completely dead, almost dead, or in the very best scenarios about half dead before you even realize Nova is attacking you. That’s not very fair now is it?

Heroes of the Storm Nova

Let’s say you do somehow survive the full brunt of a Nova ambush and you aren’t simply trying to run for your life at this point. Nova’s third ability is called Holo Decoy which, as the name of the ability implies, creates a decoy of herself that appears to attack so it can be pretty challenging to immediately distinguish which is real and which is not. Furthermore, using Holo Decoy doesn’t break her cloak so she can activate it, walk up to you, then start her combo and appear as if there is two of her. Which one do you attack? You have a 50% chance of choosing wrongly so this makes it difficult to even fight back if you do manage to survive!

Unlike other heroes that work on pushing lanes, killing minions, and taking down towers, Nova’s kit encourages her to be an itinerant character that simply roams around the map looking for the next victim. Even a few slight nerfs could make her more balanced. Rather than increasing her damage from cloak with talents like Ambush Snipe, Blizzard should instead be nerfing the initial damage she deals out of cloak. For example, breaking cloak should reduce damage dealt by 25% on the first attack. This small change would cut down on her simply waltzing up to someone while cloaked then nuking them. That doesn’t take skill. It’s basically a free kill. This is precisely why Nova almost always leads the game in hero damage, only sometimes being out-damaged (but rarely out-played in terms of takedowns and deaths) by Kael’thas and occasionally Illidan. It has gotten to the point that players dread seeing Nova on the other team and having one on your team only makes the game too easy. The only way to seemingly combat Nova is by having one on your side as well.

Heroes of the Storm Nova

Nova has all the hallmarks of an overpowered hero. Her base stats are higher than other heroes in the same role, her abilities are all insanely powerful, and she makes games where you have to play against her simply not fun.

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