Brains and Flash are the two bots included with the Power Up expansion, and both are a little more technical to play than the bots in the base game. Like the other bots they each have a specialism in one aspect of the game, so let’s take a look.
Brains is all about tech, which means a theme of gaining and manipulating upgrade cards. Originally Brains had a lot of flexibility with swapping upgrade cards, but it was quite situational, and so we gave Brains the ability to Augment – strengthening the weapon and support rows with face-down cards.
Brains’ power is quite direct, adding cards to rows (and fuelling them with upgrades) to increase in power. However, there is some complexity in managing those rows to make the most of the Bolster ability, as well as making sure you don’t Augment with the cards you might need later.
Strategies as Brains
Brains can get a lot of raw power through extra upgrade cards and use of Bolster, but you’ll need to manage the strength of your rows carefully so that your weakest row is the one you want to pivot to. Using Bolster shortly followed by Hack Shot’s held action can help you quickly switch from defence to offence (or vice-versa).
A strategy I like to use as Brains is to recharge on the third turn (meaning no cards need to be picked up) and immediately use Bolster during the upgrade step to play a card into a row. This keeps you on tempo, whilst also allowing you to aggressively use your high value tokens earlier in the game. You can then continue to use Bolster to pull ahead when your opponent has to recharge a little later.
Playing Against Brains
Bolster affecting the weakest row means that whilst Brains can have a lot of raw power, it doesn’t allow for very skewed strategies. It is also energy intensive, requiring a lot of energy to use but also to keep ‘powered’ through cards.
As one of the slower bots, Brains can be vulnerable to aggression. The turn 3 recharge strategy allows Brains to use those high-value tokens on defence, so use that time to build your weapon row, play your Boost and 0 tokens, then continue to press the assault on turn 4 onwards.
Flash, as you might guess from the name, is about speed. But where Turbo’s speed is represented by movement, Flash’s speed comes through manipulation of Initiative values of cards. Flash’s sub-theme is around the new Disable mechanic, allowing them to effectively gain extra defence or attack by reducing the strength of an opponent’s row.
Flash is a very technical bot, requiring quite a bit of work to get the most out of it. Flash’s power comes from manipulation and control of game tempo as well as your opponents game state, but if you can time and combine your abilities just right you’ll get a lot of power out of this bot.
Strategies as Flash
Being able to go first is situational, depending on your position on the range track, but when used well it can ensure you are attacking from the position you want. The ability to Recharge first (rather than last) lets you surprise an opponent who expected you to be vulnerable. You’ll need to be boosted to set this up though, so an early attack
Where Flash’s ability really shines is in the late game. Quite often, games can come down to whichever bot gets the first successful attack in, and so having energy stores for later in the game is key.
If your opponent is playing only support cards, you can combine Reposition to move a support card to the weapon row, and then use Ion Shield to disable it which can be a very powerful combination.
Playing Against Flash
Disable doesn’t just hurt you the round it is played – that card is missing from your row every single round and so it effectively reduces the row by 1 power every round from then on. Recharging often can limit the effectiveness of Disable by allowing you to aggressively expend higher value tokens.
Whilst Flash can seal up the end-game, early game power is lacking (and there’s often not much Flash can do to add extra power like other bots). This means that early aggression to get a few early hits in can let you take extra risks before Flash is in a strong position.