28th February 2021 – 11pm
Astra is a Controller, with some aspects that are specific to Sentinels. Her particularity comes from the fact that she can trigger her abilities at any point on the map, wherever she is. Of course, there are serious downsides to this. Let's see in detail how her abilities work and how to play Astra.
Before anything else, we advise you to familiarise yourself with Astra's abilities.
Astra is probably one of the most complex Agents to use. She requires many qualities: a good game vision, a precise sense of timing and excellent communication with allies
Game vision is essential to know where to place the stars at the beginning of a round. It's necessary to be able to anticipate opposing positions as well as the movements, with a minimum of information at disposal.
Timing is essential, even more than with other Agents. Astra's abilities are easy to avoid if she launches them a little too early or a bit too late. Because the abilities are placed on the ground long before they're used, their trajectory can't be corrected. It's therefore necessary to be reactive enough to decide which of the three abilities should be used at a given moment.
Finally, communicating makes it possible to compensate for the two previous points. Thanks to the information provided by her allies, Astra can more easily make strategic decisions. When she's far from her stars, whether in human or astral form, she's unable to see her enemies and therefore can't determine the best time to trigger her abilities.
Astra's greatest strength is undoubtedly her ability to cast her abilities absolutely anywhere on the map. However, this advantage is compensated for in many ways.
First of all, Astra can't use her abilities without having been at least once in Astral Form. It's therefore essential for her to put down her stars before the fight, preferably during the buy phase. Keep in mind that Astra is vulnerable and can't injure her enemies in Astral Form. She should therefore spend as little time as possible in this form.
Moreover, by placing her stars in advance, Astra gives a lot of information to her opponents. They can see stars and adapt their strategy accordingly. They can either guess which site she wants to attack or defend, or simply reposition themselves so that they're never reached by Astra's abilities. In the latter case, it's also an advantage for Astra who can control the areas around opponents by threatening a star explosion at a specific location.
With Astra, one does not wonder where she's going to attack, but when. It's only on this notion of timing that she has the potential to surprise, unless she hides the stars in nooks and crannies. That is something that is especially valid when she plays in Defense, but difficult to apply in Attack.
1 Use – 15 seconds cooldown
Unlike Gravity Well, Nova Pulse takes a little time to be triggered. Opponents have plenty of time to get out its area of range once the skill has been launched. All the more so as they are unlikely to stay around a star that is just waiting to explode. However, this makes it a good control tool to disperse. By forcing enemies to move, they must react immediately and can't stop to aim and shoot.
The stars that Astra wants to transform into Nova Pulse are best placed in corners, where the enemies don't suspect their presence. They're then more easily surprised by the trigger and affected by it.
1 Use – 15 seconds cooldown
Gravity Well is triggered very quickly and slows down opponents. Unlike Nova Pulse, which disperses quickly, Gravity Well concentrates opponents on one point and slows them down in their movements. Coupled with Raze's grenades or Sova's arrows, Gravity Well becomes a death trap, especially if the enemies are weakened. Gravity Well also works to dislodge an opponents hiding in a corner or to create bottlenecks at various entry points.
The stars that you want to transform into Gravity Well are best placed a little bit in front of the entries. When opponents pass through a door, it becomes too late for them to turn back and avoid the gravitational effect.
2 Uses – 15 seconds cooldown
Nebula is a classic smoke, comparable to Brimstone's in its triggering and Omen's in its effects. There's not much to say about its normal use.
What makes the ability unique is Dissipate. When Astra picks up one of her stars by pressing F, it triggers a small Nebula. This is an effect that should not be underestimated, because it allows many things.
First of all, it's an effective bluffing tool. When seeing a Nebula forming, opponents will never really know whether it's a real Nebula or a Dissipation effect. This is very handy during point to point rotations, because by the time opponents understand that Astra used Dissipation on Point A, she's already on her way to point B.
Dissipation also allows the creation of smoke corridors without having to spend stars. This is ideal for moving from one obstacle to another, regardless of the distance. Indeed, by aligning her stars correctly, Astra can trigger Dissipation in her path and cover long distances without being seen.
Astral Form is what allows Astra to place her stars. It goes without saying that one should NEVER use Astral Form during a fight or in a place that is not safe. Isolate yourself or make sure you're protected by your allies. Keep in mind that in Astral Form, you can't see nor hear the enemies around you.
As for Cosmic Divide, it can be used in many ways, depending on the angles and situations. Cutting the map in half in its entirety is of no real interest, the ability is mainly useful to cut sites in half. Depending on whether you're in an offensive or defensive position, the aim is to place the veil in such a way that you're covered from enemy fire and create disadvantageous situations for them.
In Attack, this usually means cutting the site from top to bottom to create two separate combat zones. When attacking from the left side of the division, defending opponents on the right side can't see or hear you. They're therefore forced out of their safe positions.
In Defense, it's preferable to cut a site from left to right, in order to block the opponents' view of the site. This offers greater positioning options for your team and opponents take a very serious risks trying to look beyond the veil. When facing Cosmic Divide, it's best to send a Sova's drone or a wolf of Skye as a scout to see what's going on behind.
Don't underestimate the fact that Cosmic Divide muffles sounds. We're not just talking about footsteps' sounds (even if it's very useful, of course), but also the sound of abilities, including Ultimate ones. For example, Breach can throw his earthquake and shout "LET'S GO!" through the veil without the opponents on the other side suspecting anything.
It's not advisable to spend all the stars of Astra on the same site. The attack would then become too predictable and the opponents will know exactly where the assault is going to take place. Placing stars on both sites helps to maintain uncertainty in the enemy team.
Stars spent on a site that is not attacked will not be lost, as Astra can pick them up at any time. Even better, the little Nebula that triggers when a star is recovered can bluff an assault.
Once the assault is over and the site secured, retrieve any remaining stars on the map and position them defensively. Placed on entry points, Gravity Wells are excellent tools to slow down assaults and pick opponents. They combine very well with the offensive abilities of your allies.
But whatever happens, make sure you have at least one star to place around the Spike. By triggering Nova Pulse as soon as you hear the sound of the defuse, you're making sure that you hit your opponents. They're then at your mercy.
In Defense, Astra's gameplay is close to that of a Sentinel. She has to choose how to distribute her stars and where to place herself.
By placing 5 stars on the site she defends, she can ensure a role similar to that of Cypher. She then gains time so that her allies can come and support her in the even of an enemy attack.
But she can also place her stars on one site and defend another. This way, she has an impact regardless of which site is attacked by enemies. This requires a lot of attention to mini-map and excellent communication between teammates.
As we said earlier, Gravity Well is probably one of the best tools for slowing down an assault, when placed at an entry point. However, they shouldn't be triggered too early, in which case the opponents will only have to take a few steps back and wait for the ability to fade.
Astra works extremely well when coupled with Agents with area abilities. Astra keeps her opponents in place while her allies eliminate them. However, she pairs poorly with other Controllers and Sentinels.
But Astra also has Agents who counter her quite naturally. Jett can easily get out of Astra's abilities by dashing or jumping. A reactive Raze will also be able to bypass the stars on the ground thanks to her Blast Packs.
Astra's Cosmic Divide can be countered with recognition abilities such as Sova's Drone or Skye's Wolf. By laying smoke along the division, it's also possible for opponents to create safer crossing areas.