The easiest way to win with Nova is to tilt the enemy because they keep dying to a shitty Nova more than your team gets tilted because they have a shitty Nova. Feast on the ragequitting and bask in the glory of stealing every kill and doing little else.
I played ranked a few times and got Gold 3 but I'm obviously someone that should be Master+ because my self-entitlement directly translates into skill.
Here are my stats on my smurf account to prove I'm mad decent at video games.
Go-to Build: https://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculator/nova#kzum
<> is the business. Hide someplace of little value and wait for the go signal. The 1s leeway is clutch for when you absent-mindedly auto attack a minion, or when one of myriad ways to lose stealth happens. Mage Nova is best Nova, so the mana refund allows you to roam and hide uselessly without needing to tap/base for mana. The increased slow allows you and your allies to ensure your gank on the tank succeeds.
If you suck at skillshots (and thus wouldn't go Q build) then <> is alright. Safer poke but you will have to back for mana more often.
Option three is useless because mounting is still faster and the mana regen means nothing when this build gives you constant mana refunds and thus don't need the regen.
If you're on a bad bribe map then you're on a bad Nova map. Bribe is essential to being useful while looking useless, and denying the enemy team their camps is tantamount to tilting them on a macro level since Nova shouldn't have a macro presence but you're gonna out-macro the shit out of noobs. Saves mana and time, and gives a globe for more mana/HP if you need it.
If you picked Nova on a bad bribe map then <> is next best. Again Mage Nova is best Nova, so reducing the mana cost is better than the increased cast range/duration (speaking of, you should never take <> because it's useless 100% of the time).
Get ready to top the hero damage charts because this is where it begins. Hit your Qs and let the absurdity begin with that 2s cooldown and mana refund. With 5 stacks on Q you should never stop being top hero damage.
<> used to be the pick, but not this day. Your autos should only be used when you're left to clear a lane alone pre-10 and when you've already used your W and have nothing else to do. AAs are surprisingly effective at killing archer minions after you Q one to near-death without any damage boost. <> reduces your ability to hit minions, and no one follows up on the armor strip (including yourself), which leads to an overall loss in DPS.
<> is Nova's only ult. While it can be used as a finisher in a team fight, doing so means you're either desperate or don't know its best use: clearing minion waves. With this ult Nova becomes a macro god, deleting minions on the other side of the map while your team and the enemy are fighting god-knows-where for god-knows-why. Hitting structures is encouraged if a lane is pushed up already, but the most value comes from getting 7+ bribe stacks at the push of a button. If a lane is pushed against you then it's a free lane reset so your team can keep brawling elsewhere. Early on wait until the minions are already clashing, as you won't be able to one-shot 'em until later.
<> seems meager but is a godsend. Longer range on Q means safer poking every 2 seconds, makes it easier to secure kills, and has the added benefit of doubling your Q stacks for your inevitable whiffs. 3 hits in 6s > 5 hits in 10s, allowing you to keep pumping out that damage.
<> sucks with the increased cooldown, you're better off using your improved mana-refunding shot and focusing on Qs. The armor talent is useless.
<> for that sick nasty lane clear for the lane you're in so you can ult a different lane's minions (+more bribe stacks). The AOE harasses more enemies for dismounts and such, and again makes securing kills easier in case you hit something other than your target. Leave armor stripping to someone else since your Q is already winning the game, and your decoy is only used to block skillshots and briefly distract minions/mercs, so the increased damage is moot.
Nova only has 2 choices at this tier: the extra nuke and rewind. Most often you'll want to the extra nuke so you can keep macro-stomping casuals and not feel so bad using it in a fight. Rewind is less useful since your Q resets should have already won the game at this point, but the extra W for slows and extra decoy for vision isn't bad. But it's no nuke.
TL;DR specialist Nova is god-tier and the only reason you keep losing is because your team mates are incomparably tilted at your pick.
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