I have stumbled quite a few times about the expression "nova" in combination with the monk. What does it mean? E.g. "for building up nova rounds".
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The term Nova in 4e is not specific to the monk, it's not specific to any particular class, though it's something that a lot of striker builds center around.
Typically what it means is that you'll spend all of your actions in a given round (and many of your resources) on a single set of attacks. A typical nova involves the spending of an action point, and if available, one or two minor action attacks.
Many novas require a round to set up (such as getting into a stance or activating an aura or possibly both) and expend much of your encounter level resources and some daily level resources.
Here is an example of a Nova from a daggermaster rogue with two-weapon fighting and an OK MBA:
With a turn to set up, the Rogue is dealing mongo damage to a single (or a couple) of targets with the tradeoff of using a lot of resources. This is the kind of round series that will change an encounter and can be game breaking.
With regards to a monk specifically, their options for pulling off a nova are more limited than other strikers. They do not have any minor action encounter attacks, though you can take a theme that will add one, this limits the amount of damage you can do in a single round (at most 3 attacks in a single round). They do have a feat to let you use Flurry of Blows again following an action point.
All that to say, if you want to go Nova, the monk is not a good choice. This thread has a L16 monk that does OK, but it's not a top nova build at 16 by any stretch (The Rogue I outlined properly equipped would outclass that fairly easily).
Nova means spending a lot of resources for a spectacular result.
In DnD4, you use several encounter and possibly daily powers, item powers, and possibly even an action point, to achieve as much damage as possible. It is a Nova, because:
Novas are not specific to Monks, and in my understanding it is not a special build, it is a special sequence of actions of any build. Of course you can optimize a build for Nova or for At-will, but all classes have options to do more damage for a limited time.
The round a 1st level Knight uses his only Power Strike can be considered his Nova round.