I created a spreadsheet reference that details the damage of specific ability combos per level as well as the minimum abilities needed to take down specific targets at level 16. The sheet can be downloaded here (Excel required).
How to Use the Reference
The workbook is divided into 4 tabs:
- Summary: Displays the minimum ability combo needed to take down a specific hero at level 16 assuming equal levels. I used level 16 because that is the earliest Nova has access to her entire arsenal of talents. Please read the comments for specific heroes.
- Abilities & Combo: These tabs display the damage per level of specific abilities and ability combos. Keep in mind that it does not take into account when Nova actually gets the talent so a level 13 combo with overdrive/crippling is not realistic. Keep in mind that combos that show 2 snipes assumes the player got Rewind for the instant second snipe.
- HP: This tab shows the base HP for each hero at each level. Huge thanks to matej_zajacik for posting the hero attributes in spreadsheet form so I didn’t have to manually enter all of them.
There are a few key points that can be derived from the reference.
- Damage buffs from Nova talents are additive and not multiplicative. This means Overdrive/Crippling Shot adds roughly 18% on the most damaging combo instead of its advertised 25%. Both Gathering Power and Ambush Snipe reduce the relative effectiveness of the level 16 damage talents. That said, both Overdrive and Crippling add significant power to the Nova Combos and should be taken (See Below).
- The critical breakpoint in the summary tab is Tyrande. After her, all heroes either cannot be killed by Nova alone or requires Precision Strike to do so. Precision Strike is basically a huge mark that tells the target they are being ganked so I’ve naturally found my success rate to be much higher if it’s not used.
- If the player is taking Overdrive/Crippling, then Ambush Snipe is really only useful for taking down 4 specific heroes: Zeratul, Brightwing, Li LI, and Tyrande. If none of the heroes are present in the game, then it’s probably better to just take the extended snipe range for added utility. (Nazeebo’s kill break point is also affected by Ambush Snipe, but that assumes he doesn’t have any stacks of death ritual which is highly unlikely).
- Nova can solo 23 heroes with Overdrive/Crippling and 19 without. The key though is that she can solo 13 heroes without Precision Strike with Overdrive/Crippling while she can only solo 4 heroes without those talents. Thus, for maximum efficacy, those talents are required.
- Nova is currently very strong and is arguably the best assassin not named Tychus. To put that in perspective, she can take down or nearly take down the three most used tanks in competitive games right now (Tyrael, Anub, and Arthas) with her damage talents in about 2.5 game seconds if all her abilities hit. Even the heaviest used tank, Stitches, will only have 15% health left if Nova uses her most destructive combo on him with max stacks. The combination of high damage and burst cannot be beat.
- Stay alive! Without her gathering power stacks, Nova’s power is significantly reduced and her take down breakpoints all increase. Conversely, this makes killing enemy Novas even more important.
- Triple Tap: The reference sheet uses the talent build in my original tactics guide and Cyasteve’s comprehensive Nova guide which can be found here. In both cases, Nova’s burst is emphasized which means doing as much damage in as little time as possible. Triple Tap, with its long channeling time and limited targetability (enemies can take the hit for allies), is not conducive to this concept. Thus, it is ignored. That said, I have been testing Triple Tap in high level games and have some thoughts on its uses which I may write up later in a follow-up guide.
- Envenom: Envenom is not viable in competitive play at the moment due to its long cooldown period and damage over time aspect. Again, as Nova, you want to maximize burst before the opponents can heal the target. Thus, the reference sheet assumes Gathering Power is picked at all times.
- Be Adaptable: The sheet is merely a reference and game situations can force you to change from specific take down breakpoints. In particular, be cognizant of burst healing from Uther and Rehgar which can ruin your perfect gank. This is particularly true as you move towards higher level games where players are more likely to cover each other and be in better positions.
I checked the values in game, but mistakes may still be present. Please let me know if you spot any and I will update the sheet. Happy hunting!