What is a Nova? Well in Dungeons and Dragons a Nova is a round of unprecedented Wupp Ass. The turn you set your sights on that nasty adversary and pull out all the stops.
We have seen DPR (Expected damage per Round via reliable means)…
This is not that thread.
This thread is devoted to what people want to see.
THE BIG NUMBERS.
Just how much can your build possibly hit that Dragon/Demon Lord/Cleverly disguised minion?
This thread will serve to remind us of the glory that is Nova as well as point out tried and true strategies to achieve ridiculous numerical greatness.
If you have a Nova that you feel is worthy of this thread feel free to submit it here.
If a Nova is deemed admissible or non admissible by the Char Op community then such builds will be added and removed as the case may be.
Novas will be categorized as follows:
Encounter Novas are Novas that utilize AP's, a Set up Round, and Encounter/At Will powers.
Daily Novas are Novas that utilize whatever means possible.
"Solar Flares" or "Flares" are Novas that utilize AP's but no Set Up round. There are Encounter and Daily Solar Flares.
"Mini Novas" are Novas that use no AP's, no set up round, and no Daily powers.
All Nova submissions should be completely fleshed out and utilize valid, non-situational tactics to achieve a concrete number.
Special Thanks: LDB for paving the way and of course for format ideas Obtusehobbit for the name Nelphine for helping inspire and establish "Solar Flares" Langeweile for his awesome Iaijutsu: Guide to Alpha-Striking and solid advice. To the guys on IRC for helping me Everyone in the Char Op community for being you.
Nova power base: Encounter and Daily Nova Features: melee, single target, setup required, item dependent Other Features: solid DPR, above average Striker resilience Nova Strategy: Multi Attacks, Action Optimization, Bloody Cheese, Damage Stacking
Damage Inc. Longtooth Shifter Ranger - Blood Fury Hunter/Eternal Seeker
Nova power base: Encounter, Daily, Solar Flare, Mini Nova Nova Features: Melee, single target, 1 or 2 round novas, item dependent Other Features: Average Striker Resilience Nova Strategy: Multi Attacks, Action Optimization, Bloody Cheese, Initiative Optimization, Damage Stacking
Nova power base: Encounter, Daily, Mini Nova Nova Features: Melee, single target, 1 or 2 round novas, item dependent Other Features: Average Striker Resilience Nova Strategy: Multi Attacks, Action Optimization, Bloody Cheese, Initiative Optimization, Damage Stacking, Accuracy Optimization
Nova power base: Solar Flare Nova Features: Melee, single target, 1 round Nova, item dependent Other Features: above average Striker Resilience Nova Strategy: Multi Attacks, Action Optimization, Bloody Cheese, Initiative Optimization, Damage Stacking, Accuracy Optimization
Nova power base: Solar Flare Nova Features: Melee, Multiple targets, 1 round Nova, item dependent Other Features: excellent mobility, Charger Nova Strategy: Multi Attacks, Action Optimization, Bloody Cheese, Damage Stacking, Crit Fishing/Optimization
The following sections’ intent is to address tried and true Nova strategies in the forms of classes, races, powers, feats, and items. Nova strategies will be broken down by their respective labels.
How much damage you deal won't mean squat if you can't hit Demogorgon. There are many obvious ways to hike up that attack bonus such as the excellent Expertise Feats presented in Heroes of the Fallen Land, Power and Item Bonuses from items such as Ring of Heroic Insight and the Horn of Baldagyr, and of course finding a way to generate some good ole Combat Advantage. There are more sneaky tactics as well like the Soul Thief's Soul Thief Action as well as the Shifter's Accuracy power. Keep a lookout for all the possible ways to get that bonus up there, especially if you plan on using a Power Attack.
A good rule of thumb for Accuracy Optimization standardsShow
85% and above is basically considered to be standard. Thus:
Level 1: +11 versus AC, +9 Versus NADS Level 11: +21 versus AC, +19 versus NADS Level 21 +31 versus AC, +29 versus NADS Level 30 +40 versus AC, +38 versus NADS
This tactic is exactly what it sounds like. Garnering as many actions possible in a single explosive round. There are many ways to achieve this such as Action Point Optimization via the Adroit Explorer Paragon Path, or the Vistani Foresight Feat. Once the Action Point is gained however, you'll need to actually be able to spend it. That's where the Crown of Victory and The Charm of Abundant Action come in.
Action Points are going to provide many of you the extra Standard Actions necessary to craft a formidable Nova. Some of you Rogues, Rangers, and Summoner types tho might need a little more to throw you over the edge. That's where Minor Action Optimization comes in. Nothing beats adding extra damage via Minor Actions, whether it be a simple swipe of the Rapier ala Ruffling Sting, or tacking on that extra damage with your Storm Genasi with Promise of Storm. A couple quick examples would be The Ring of Free Time and the Epic Destiny feature Bountiful Seconds from the Master of Moments Epic Destiny.
There are many, many ways to get these crucial extra actions. Below are a couple of Great links to help you out.
This Nova strategy revolves around taking on the bloodied condition via the Bloodfury Weapon power. Bloodied or not.
After using The Bloodfury Weapon our main damage contribution lies in the form of the Battlecrazed Weapon. This weapon scales depending upon the enhancement bonus by delivering an extra 1d6, 2d6, And 3d6 damage per attack. This will become extremely effective as we use multiple attack powers such as Blade Cascade and Hurricane of Blades.
Tho probability based novas lose some of their appeal on paper, we all have seen what devestation can be wrought from the expert crit fisherman.
Cast enough dies and eventually you will Crit. This is the Crit Fisherman's mantra. The more rolls the better. Avengers are the goto class for this of course. Picking up the appropriate Mastery feat in Epic is a great way to increase your "threat range".
Optimizing your criticals after ensuring you crit is the flip side of the coin. Devastating Critical comes to mind.
To Damage stack is to Mack the Attack! The clever Nova optimizer finds the ways to get the most bang for their buck. Be it thru feats such as Weapon Focus and Called Shot, items such as Iron Armbands of Power and Belt of Titan Strength, and Paragon Path abilities such as Death Dealer, Pit Fighter, and Blood Fury Hunter;
the Nova master will find a way to stack all those Power, Feat, Item, and Untyped bonuses into a force to shatter kingdoms.
Being able to smack a Demon Lord for 1000 points on the first round is pretty sweet so say the least. But what if that wiley, depraved, scum sucking soul eater beats you to the punch and dazes you? Bye bye birdy. Well for those of means there is Initiative Optimization, the art of striking first, striking hard, and striking last. Sure there's the goto feats of Improved/Superior Initiative, but be sure to be on the lookout for great little items such as Eye of Awareness and powers like Begin the Hunt and the Bard's Synchronicity. It may be the difference between life and TPK!
There's a reason Twin Strike is held in such high regard. It applies static damage twice. So kick this up a notch to Blade Cascade and Hurricane of Blades and all of a sudden your dealing your STR damage, Weapon Focus Damage, and Iron Armband of Power damage to each attack. Color me impressed.
I think all of us know what this encompasses. Stacking extra damage and Combat Advantage with a 2 feat investment merits mention. For you that are unsure your looking at Lasting Frost, Wintertouched, and a Frost Weapon.
Fat burning is a very specific strategy.It involves obtaining an obscene amount of THP’s and “burning” them away thru the Bracers of Zeal.This essentially converts the THP’s into raw damage.Some of the more prominent means of obtaining these THP’s are Rune of Hero’s Resolve, Immortal Endurance, and Bloodfury.
This Handbook will use the following system for ratings: Red - Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option. Purple - Situationally useful…meh. Black – Middle of the road. Blue - Good stuff. You probably want this. Sky Blue - You want this. Gold – Pretty much as good as it gets. No excuse not to take this.
Race to Glory
Races born to Nova
Half Orc – With a STR and DEX bump, a PP suited to the Nova, and excellent damaging feat support, you could do worse.
Human – Extra Feat and the only race who can be an Adroit Explorer? Yep.
Longtooth Shifter - +2 to damage rolls when bloodied means win for Bloody Cheese builds.
Dragonborn – STR bump, +1 to attack rolls when bloodied and possibly utilizing Dragon Fear makes this a potential candidate. Feat support pushes this one higher.
Gnoll - +2 to damage rolls when bloodied and +4 at level 21. Yessiree Bob. Let’s not forget Ferocious Charge for you juggernaught types!
Stormsoul Genasi- Picture this, an Encounter power minor action that adds 1d8 damage to any Thunder or Lightning power. Now scale it by tier. Now call it something awesome like Promise of Storm. Oh ya daddy like.
Assassin – Generally lackluster nova wise, unless your a Ranger and multiclassed into Assassin for Soul Thief.
Avenger – Accuracy and Power gives this class a running start to capitalize on decent Nova potential. However it is Oath of Enmity that makes this a stand out for Crit Fishers.
Barbarian – Charging tactics, Rages, damage buffs, all point to the possibility of big numbers. It is worthwhile to note that this is a definite candidate for multi-classing as the Free Action Daily affords a +2 untyped damage bonus till EOT. Now that’s cooking with gas!
Bard – Bard? Bard?! Yes that’s right Bard. The only class capable of juggling a Ranger, Rogue, Monk Multi-classer to fully utilize a Two Blade Style,Death Dealer, Bountiful Seconds Eternal Seeker. Ya he’s blue... get over it.
Battlemind – I’ve seen rumors of outlandish potential Novas via Brutal Barrage. However given the current state of errata, as well as less than detailed examples of Nova breakdowns, I’m afraid I will have to go with this rating until convinced otherwise.
Ranger – So many ways to bring the pain with Two Blade Style. With the plethora of PP’s and ways to go about bringing doom to your foes, I’m surprised my biased nature isn’t awarding this made to Nova class a higher rating.
Rogue – Necessary for the Death Dealer PP. This as well as sneak attacks, Minor Action attacks, and general awesomeness, makes this guy a contender.
Slayer – I have yet to see a defining example of this one’s potential, but judging by the buzz, untyped bonuses to damage via DEX, and a look see of LDB’s Slayer’s Guide, this guy has a very, very bright future.
Paths of Glory – Paragon Paths
Adroit Explorer - This Paragon Path is important for two reasons. The first is the 11th level feature Ambitious Effort. This allows us to essentially acquire another Encounter power of 7th level or below, or acquire an additional use of a power we already know (7th or below). Minor Action Ranger Dangers will likely opt to choose an existing power they know such as Ruffling Sting and then at 21st level when its upgrade time (A power 13th level or below) opt for Nonchalant Collapse. Champion of Humanity is where the nookie is. Two Action points per day? Every Day? Well I’ll be a hornswaggled greased up varmint at a slumber party for that kind of action!
Bloodfury Hunter - Longtooth Shifters are already awesome for Bloody Cheese. +2 to damage rolls while bloodied sets us on our way to Nova dominance, Bloodfury Hunters are the cream of the crop. Shifter’s Action gives us a boost to our damage until the EOT equal to our Wisdom Modifier. Awesome. Bestial Accuracy is a terrific way to offset that nasty -2 from Power Attack. Just make sure you have the baddy quarried and your off to the races. Unleash the Beast offers yet another damage stack equal to your wisdom modifier. It takes a minor action to engage and you must be bloodied. It's a Power bonus, so it won't always stack. It is worthwhile to note it’s usefulness with Encounter Novas as the more prominent picks for Power bonus items are Dailys.
Death Dealer - This PP is one of a kind. Due solely to Slaying Action. Spend and AP and get +2 to each damage die. That’s right… damage die. I’m talking to you Two-Weapon Bloody Cheez Rangers.
Soul Thief - The Assassin has a pretty bad name here on the Char Op boards, and with pretty good reasoning. The Soul Thief Paragon Path however, is a true diamond in the rough. Soul Theft is the nitty gritty of this PP. Whenever you reduce an enemy to 0 HP’s you gain a “soul shard”. You may expend a soul shard as a Free Action against your Assassin’s Shroud target to gain a +1 to any attack roll, skill check, ability check, saving throw, or have the target gain an additional shard. You may have up to 5 shards at a time and when you take an extended rest your shard value resets to 1. This is crucial as it effects reliable Nova output via Soul Thief Action.Soul Thief Action is where it’s at my friends. After you spend an Action Point to take an extra action you receive a bonus to attack and damage rolls equal to 2+the number of soul shards you have. So this number is always at least going to be at least 3.
Moonstalker - Somewhat situational given the necessity of the prone condition, however the ability to stack this PP's prone bonuses with Headman's Chop and Gauntlets of Brutality lends serious weight to keeping foes on their backs.
Battlefield Archer – Archer’s Glory is money. Drop a foe and gain an Action Point. Word.
Bloodfury Savage –a plethora of damage buffs earn this a place here.
Kensei - A straight up +1 to hit and +4 to damage is nothing to scoff at. Good for any Nova build.
Pathfinder – Action point and gain a Move (minor) action. Worth mentioning.
Pit Fighter- Spend an Action Point and add 1/2 your level to any Standard Action attacks until EOT. At 16th level you'll be adding your WIS mod to all your Fighter and Pit Fighter attacks. Not amazing, but it's something.
Destined Scion - We'll start out with this bad boy from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom. Let's see, a +1 blanket attack bonus, Demigod stat bumps, and an auto-hit after a miss level capstone power? Ya... awesome.
Demigod - The godfather. Somewhat overshadowed now by Destined Scion and Indomitable Champion imo, but the regeneration and Encounter power re-use is nice. Still a contender.
Eternal Seeker - If this one had a stat bump it would be unquestionably gold. As it stands the ability to poach extra actions via Haste, Rune of Hero's Resolve, and Minor action goodness via Bountiful Seconds makes this ED Nova'tastic. And let's not forget snagging Hurricane of Blades with your multi-attack Ranger. Uber.
Legendary Sovereign - At first glance one may not see the reason for this ED's inclusion. taking a closer look we see a few interesting features which makes us reconsider. For one it has a stat bump, granted it's a CHA stat bump so this ED will only work with a few select builds. For crit fishers this ED is noteworthy in that each time you crit you will be granting an ally a standard action, this has devastating potential. And finally, the most impressive and unique power in this ED's arsenal is Sword of Kings which allows us to choose one Encounter power with the weapon keyword. As long as we do not miss all targets with the power the power is not expended. This alone makes the ED inspiring.
Perfect Slayer - I had someone approach me concerning inclusion on this ED to the guide. Here is what he said verbatimShow
The Perfect Slayer epic destiny is like a Battlecrazed Weapon on steroids for a MC Assassin at level 30. The level 26 utility is a minor action use your assassin's shroud power, but subject the target to four shrouds instead of one, and the next time you invoke them the shrouds do max damage. A multi-class assassin can use that to full effect since his limit is on uses of Assassin's Shroud, not on number of shrouds.
The second goody is the capstone feature at level 30, that shrouds don't disappear when you invoke them unless you want them to. Basically this means that for a minor action setup, the next attack does +48 damage, or 36 damage on a miss, and every subsequent attack made against the target until the target dies does 4d6+24 extra damage from shrouds, and 3d6+18 on a miss. And, it would stack with Battlecrazed or Promise of Storm. It's obviously in tough competition with Eternal Seeker, since you have to generate enough attacks to make it worth while, but especially for encounter novas at 30th, and for DPR in general (this lasts until the target dies, not until end of a turn... combine with a Scavenger Bird Ki Focus and you can move them to a second target before the first one dies too).
I am on the fence concerning this ED's practicality but as it stands it is definitely worth mentioning. Thanks jmcminn!
Punisher of the Gods - Interesting on several levels. The obvious reason for this ED's inclusion would be the level 30 feature Bringer of Dooms which grants maximum damage to the target of your Immortal Curse. The curse is easily applied as a free action when you hit a non minion enemy. As a fringe benefit, once per round you may gain a standard action on a crit, this has the potential for some serious crit fishing/action optimization synergy. For a final bit of Daily fun, you have a built in Repel Legions power which allows you to mow thru your targets legions to actually get into place to deliver the Nova. Now that's something. No stat bump for this ED which on a topical level decides its general rating, however, the right build may find this ED to be madatory.
Reincarnate Champion - This ED merits serious mention given to the cornucopia of potential Racial feat poaching for Nova exploitation (Gnolls, Dragonborn, and Longtooth Shifter). Not to mention there's a stat bump. Nice.
WarMaster - Being able to spend as many AP's as you can possibly scrounge up is straight up $. Being able to grant your allies Standard Actions every time you spend an AP? We're talking Mexican slum lord dinero amigo.
Action Surge – If this were an EOT effect it would certainly merit a higher ranking, is somewhat useful for say a Hurricane of Blades or Blade Cascade Attack, hence it’s rating.
Called Shot – A Ranger necessity. Our Prime Strike targets will eat +5 extra damage per attack. Note that you will need the Prime Punisher feat to exploit this via melee attacks.
Echoes of Thunder – adding a non typed bonus to damage rolls until EONT that stacks per tier simply by opening with a Thunder power is definitely doable.
Headsmans Chop - If you plan on knocking your targets prone then this is a must. +5 Damage to those on their back. This works well with charging prone builds (ala the new Slayer) and of course the ranger with Nonchalant Collapse.
Improved Initiative/Superior Initiative - Strike first, strike hard, strike last.
Lasting Frost – Target hit with a cold power gains Vulnerable cold 5 – part of the Frost Cheese Trifecta.
Martial Mastery - Regaining an Encounter Power after an Action Point is invaluable. Note the synergy with Minor Action attacks ala Master of Moments/Bountiful Seconds/Ring of Free Time builds. Nonchallant Collapse is an obvious candidate for this.
Prime Punisher – You’ll want this if you like +1 to hit melee and the potential for Called Shot awesomeness.
Power Attack - Initially the -2 to attack may be a little off putting. Rest assured the scaling bonus is well worth it. +2/+4/+6 untyped damage bonus is nothing to scoff at. With the proper preparation this feat is a necessary inclusion to any Nova build.
Rapid Assault - On the first turn of the encounter you receive an untyped, scaling by tier damage bonus. This would be much more uber for novas if it wasn’t solely relegated to basically your set up round. However it is still cool enough for “Mini Novas” to gain recognition here.
Rending Tempest - This Feat is nothing short of spectacular. Adding an extra (W) dice to each successive attack until the End of the Turn is Novarific. A must for multiple attack Ranger Novas.
Solar Enemy - This is a Channel Divinity Feat, so it is somewhat limited in it's applicatiion to traditionally "non nova" builds. However, with the proper hybriding/MC' this Feats' awesome payoff can be exploited. A close burst 2 Minor Action Encounter Radiant vulnerability 5 to multiple targets. Already have Radiant vulnerability? Well now they have 5 more. Steady Shooter – +3 untyped damage if you don’t move with a crossbow. I suppose it’s doable.
Vistani Heritage/Vistani Foresight - This investment of two feat slots mimics the awesomeness of the Adroit Explorer Paragon Path. Being able to rock 2 Action Points in one turn is amazing. Being able to do it without being Human or an Adroit Explorer is downright visionary. Keep in mind you will need Item support in the form of Crown of Victory or Charm of Abundant Action.
Weapon Expertise (and it’s ilk) - Essentials offers several options in the forms of Heavy Blade Expertise, Spear Expertise, Axe Expertise, and Master of Arms. There are fringe benefits, but the gist is a scaling +1 per tier to attack via feat bonus. If you don’t utilize this basic strategm theres something wrong with ya cause your nova attacks will be missing holmes!
Weapon Focus– a scaling bonus per tier to damage is the basic nuts and bolts of any nova build.
Wintertouched – Classic Frost Cheese, gain CA against a foe vulnerable to cold.
Multi Class Feats
Adept Power – Potential Blade Cascade or Ultimate Confrontation? Word Up G.
Bravo – minor action per Encounter to gain a +2 untyped bonus to attacks and damage rolls to a designated target ala Hunter’s Quarry style? Wow.
Berserker’s Fury – A Daily +2 to damage rolls until EOTE is awesome. Being able to get Hurricane of Blades without going Eternal Seeker? Priceless.
Cyclone Warrior – Not only will this open up all of your fighter feats and PP’s/ED’s… an Encounter untyped tier stacking bonus to damage as a Free Action is undeniable.
Disciple of Divine Wrath - Oath of Enmity until EONT. Now that's what I'm talking about.
Hero of Faith – The only reason I am even mentioning this is because how amazingly hoodwinked I was into thinking this was amazing. Until I read the fine print. The Oath of Enmity drops the moment you hit. Talk about a one shot deal. Lame. Thank Buddy Jesus for Disciple of Divine Wrath. Monastic Disciple – Tack on damage via Flurry of Blows is sweet. If your going to pick up Bountiful Seconds via Eternal Seeker it’s a must.
Novice Power – The ability to snag Hurricane of Blades and various Minor action attack goodies is very nice.
Shadow Initiate – Free Actions for extra damage, even if it’s only 1d6 (1d6+3 at 11 and 1d6+6 at 21!) is pretty cool. Being able to qualify for Soul Thief? What’s another word for stupendous? Ok we’ll just go with stupendous.
Sneak of Shadows – Qualify for Death Dealer. Get Sneak Attack once per encounter. Ok.
Two-Blade Warrior – 2 Bastard swords in each hand, the possibility of Blade Cascade and Minor Action attacks for a couple of feats? Ya that’s good.
Battlecrazed Weapon – The meat and potatoes of the Bloody Cheese strategy.
Belt of Titan Strength – the massive damage bonus makes up for the fact that it’s a Power Bonus and a Daily.
Blood Fury Weapon – The secret ingredient of Bloody Cheese.
Bracers of Archery - Essentially Iron Armbands of Power for you Bow types with an ignore cover Daily. Kaching.
Bracers of Zeal - absolutely essential for fat Burning.
Charm of Abundant Action– A Nice alternative to the Crown of Victory (see below) however you’ll have to drop it in most cases.
Crown of Victory – downright essential if you plan on using those extra Action Points. Nice because there’s no drawing and stowing down side.
Dice of Auspicious Fortune – because hitting means winning. Store up 3 1d20 rolls per day. Hopefully they are good ones!
Eye of Awareness- If you can afford the head slot, the +5 bump to Initiative and +2 to Will make this gravy on hot buttered biscuits.
Gauntlets of Brutality- The prone condition is somewhat situational, but if your optimizing prone tactics at all such as Moonstalker or even using Nonchalant Collapse with your Ranger Nova, this becomes a little more ideal.
Gauntlets of Destruction – Re-rolling 1’s considerably impacts you average damage. Do the math and you’ll see what I mean. A 1d10 average is 5.5. With these bad boys its a 6. With an 108 attack nova that's 54 damage, not to mention it's gonna work for all that extra damage as well. Just might actually be gold.
Iron Armbands of Power – Damage bonus all the time. Yeah.
Frost Weapon – Free Action turn all damage with this weapon to Cold damage. A Frost Cheese Staple.
Ring of Free Time – An extra minor action per encounter is worth the ring slot/price for some builds.
Ring of Heroic Insight – It’s a Power bonus and it’s a daily but the +2 to attack and +6 to damage forgives these minor injustices.
Scabbards – These come in varying degrees of cool. They are Power bonuses so they won’t stack with everything, not to mention it’s the first hit only. But for you damage stackers it’s worth it.
Stone of Earth – Invaluable if you need to keep that Ultimate Confrontation combo going.
Torc of Power Preservation – If you plan on re-using that Hurricane of Blades I would suggest you have this.
I highly suggest putting Storm Genasi in as a sky blue race. The only reason they aren't gold is that promise of storm takes a minor action to activate; but once you have enough attacks (or have few enough attacks), getting the extra damage on every attack is actually better than getting another attack. (Say for example, you get 9 attacks on a nova round; without Promise of Storm they do 100 damage. Then dropping one of those attacks loses you 100 damage, but you get 24d8 damage in epic, which averages 108 extra damage, but if you have a good crit rate, then it can reach as high as 150 extra damage, which is better than that one attack would have been). It's so good that my alpha-strike party in Langeweille's group has 2 actual Genasi, and a Deva Soul of the World genasi; even though no one in the party is str based (and neither of the two genasi are int based).
Additionally, while you might think the keyword requirement is bad, again, having my alpha-strike party go with lightning weapons and losing Morninglord actually ended up with more damage than a radiant mafia (which I usually consider as one of the best keywords.)