Henry and Astro are the more complex of the two bots in Duel, with Astro requiring time to setup for a strong play and Henry requiring some finesse to bait your opponent into poor situations.
Henry is all about power tokens – an important part of the game and one that most often triggers the choice for that all important Recharge turn.
Fun fact: Henry was modelled on Henry hoover (a durable retro vacuum cleaner familiar to a lot of British people), and I like to think that we captured some of that ability to just keep on going and going longer than any other bot.
Whilst Henry’s focus on power tokens suggests an endurance theme, this bot also has some sneaky little traps to take advantage of opponents misplays.
Strategies as Henry
Henry’s Max Power ability is expensive, and at first glance it might just seem like a ‘safety net’ allowing you to swap a small token for a large one (or vice versa) to make up for a mistake. However it has even greater potential in the mid and late game where you can force the use of lots of held actions during a combat, only to pull the rug out from under an opponent and make all of that extra damage or defence irrelevant.
Henry’s action cards let you get more value out of your power tokens, whilst your opponent gets less use out of theirs. Henry doesn’t need to recharge quite as often for power tokens, which is an advantage in the mid game where you have a stronger row than your opponent after their early recharge, but could leave Henry vulnerable in the late game.
Playing Against Henry
Playing against Henry is a marathon, not a sprint, and a lot of Henry’s power is from their unique action cards. Saving your defensive abilities to nullify a potential hit from either Power Shot or Disruption Blast lets you keep pace with Henry and force a recharge earlier.
Henry’s ability, Max Power is expensive to use. If you can manipulate Henry into using it at times where the player won’t get ‘Max’ value (by changing 1-2 damage, or swapping some of the middle strength tokens) Henry will quickly run out of Energy. Even better, if you can turn the tables and trap Henry into playing a power token poorly whilst low on Energy, you will nullify its purpose completely.
Astro’s theme was clear early on – a sniper that plays defensive, maybe tricky, and takes just a few big shots.
Fun fact: The original concept for Astro’s appearance was to be loosely modelled on R2-D2. Whilst you can see some similarities, everyone’s favourite Astromech also informed the name.
In the early design, Astro was the weakest of the bots. After all, playing defensively may stop you losing, but not losing is not the same as winning. We worked to give Astro some unique abilities to overcome the offensive weakness of being at long range, whilst nudging players towards the intended playstyle. As the game developed Astro became one of the strongest bots, and subsequent re-balancing resulted in Astro being a powerful bot, but one that required some setup (and early vulnerability) to succeed.
Strategies as Astro
This bot loves being at long range. Not only does it provide extra defence (allowing time to build a strong set of action cards), but also many of Astro’s abilities are at their most effective at long range.
It is also clear that Astro leans heavily into support cards. The extra movement they provide (which Astro usually wants to retreat) along with defensive or controlling abilities allow Astro to stay safe whilst building up for a big Sniper Shot.
Cards like Traction Control really let you lean into Astro’s play style, whilst Arm Weapon can be used to take Sniper Shot for a second time before your opponent can recover!
Playing Against Astro
Astro wants to build a large support row, with any upgrade cards that offer extra defence, and take a small number of powerful shots. To defeat Astro, players need to take an aggressive stance.
Moving out of long range is one important tactic, and opponents of Astro would do well to keep pushing the range marker towards short range. Even if Astro can counteract this with Stealth Mode, it can only be used once per recharge. If you’re lucky enough to have a held action with move (or advance) on it, saving it for Astro’s Sniper Shot can save you a ton of damage.
Of course, whilst Astro is playing defensive Support cards, the opponent is best building a strong weapon row. Though the cards that give defence equal to support might seem impenetrable, they are single use only (until a Recharge). Judicious use of power tokens can eventually overwhelm these defences whilst Astro’s counterattacks will seem weak by comparison.