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Old October 27th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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Unit Strategy Review: How to use Red Skull

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Unit Strategy Review
Unit: Red Skull
Author: Taeblewalker (with thanks to my reviewing group)

Face forward, True Believers! Marvel has come to Heroscape! Of all the heroes and villains that answered the roll for the Marvel Legends Master Set, Red Skull is the oldest, craftiest and arguably the deadliest. His point cost is less than that of the bulk of the units in the set, placing him squarely between Major Q10 and Spartacus in value. But, used correctly, Red Skull can be one of the most profitable units in the game – and for our guide, we are not simply considering the Marvel Legends set, but classic Heroscape itself.

We will begin with his stats.

Vital Statistics
Cost – 190 – Queen Class Unit
Size – Medium 5 – Vulnerable, concealable
Life – 5 – Average
Move – 5 – Average
Range – 5 – Short
Attack – 4 – Good
Defense – 3 – Poor
Master Manipulator – Take a turn with any unique hero you control – Tactical advantage high
Red Dust-of-Death – 10% chance to destroy either 1 figure up to 3 spaces away or all adjacent figures – longshot

In-Depth Analysis
We shall now look carefully Red Skull’s statistics, and draw strategies from our conclusions. Let us start with cost. Below is an explanation of Agatagary's cost classification:

Pawn class (expendable, units that can be useful, but are not worth enormous trouble to protect)
Bishop class (more useful than a pawn, but still somewhat expendable)
Knight class (units that are interestingly powerful and can have a significant impact on the game in and of themselves. It is advisable that they be kept alive, but if absolutely necessary they may be sacrificed)
Rook class (units that almost inevitably have a significant impact on the game, and whose death should be avoided as much as possible)
Queen class (devastatingly powerful or important units that should be protected at all costs)

Class:
Red Skull is a Queen Class unit. He stands aloof from most of the battles raging around him, directing the actions of other unique heroes from his perch. You have the blessed ability to use any unique hero you want, even if you choose to take a turn with the old Nazi himself.

To examine Red Skull’s core stats, we will break them up into two categories—offensive ability and survivability.

Offense:
Unlike most units with an Attack of 4, Red Skull has a Range of 5. Only a few other units, including Sonlen and Deathwalker 9000, share this distinction. The Red Skull's threat range of 10 may be lower than that of most ranged units, but you can’t beat the strength of his Attack at that Range without spending many more points on another Marvel unit. Dust of Death, while a longshot power, adds to his ability to threaten those who dare to come near. Best of all, his offense is greatly enhanced by his ability to manipulate others.

Survivability:
Red Skull’s stats, excellent by classic Heroscape standards, are mitigated by his poor Defense of 3. His Life of 5 is not bad but is also not great; you will need to keep him alive. His Medium size makes him vulnerable to a host of powers, and his high point cost make you loathe to lose him. His overall Survivability, on his own, is poor, but you will use him in ways that will make sure your opponent cannot reach him – or cannot afford to go near him due to the deployment of your other units.

Strategy:
Game play with Red Skull in a pure Marvel game is extremely straightforward and not of as much interest as in a mixed game, so we will not discuss that in the main strategy section. See the Optional Strategy section below for using Red Skull in pure Marvelscape. Here, we will discuss Red Skull’s strategy in a mixed game – and we will assume that all units from both Marvel Legends and regular Heroscape are available for draft.

This brings up the question of army size. Put another way, the average classic Heroscape army started at about 300-400 points and has now crept up into the 600-800 point range. By contrast, the average Marvelscape army rings in at about 1000-1200 points! Since Red Skull is such an expensive unit, and since you will need to buy several moderately to very expensive units to make the most of him, we will assume that your army will trend from 600 at the very least to somewhere in the neighborhood of regular Marval army sizes, with 800-900 points being a good average. After all, in a game with mixed sets, one should expect average army point cost to be in this general area.

The Red Skull is nothing if not dramatic. When the chips are down and his fat's in the fire, he always has a trick up his sleeve for getting away to return and Manipulate another day. Theracus is ideal for this purpose. Saylind and Brunak can also take the Red Skull to greener pastures if the going gets too rough. Every villain has an exit strategy, and you need one for him. Have a place where he can go if he or his bodyguards cannot overcome the assassin units your opponent will inevitably send against him. As a last-stand power, Dust-of-Death can take out an enemy or two, while his Attack of 4, especially from higher ground, can call the final curtain on would-be do-gooders who try to rid Valhalla, or Earth, of the Red Skull's presence. Recall that special defensive powers like Disappear, Scatter and Spidey-sense are useless against Dust-of-Death. If you really need to hide him, he is concealable enough to hide behind trees and ruins, as well as other figures. In the end, he is a 190 point figure who, if he lasts until the end of the last round, just might win the game for you on points alone.

So who can be a viable bodyguard for the Red Skull? Krug, easily killed at range by your enemy in many scenarios, can fill this role due to the Red Skull's own ranged Attack. If you keep Krug near the Red Skull, even slightly behind him, you can use the Red Skull himself to take warning shots at any units that try to shoot Krug to death from range. This can keep Krug safe near the Red Skull until you are ready to send the big lug out to do battle. He can take out two tough assassin units at a time with his rage-enhanced Double Attack. Just be sure to let him "ripen" a bit with a few wound markers before using him in this way. This strategy is enhanced if you have the Arrow Gruts around as well. We will see more on the use of squads - units that don't benefit from Master Manipulator - shortly.

To make the most of the Red Skull you will want to draft at least three or four highly useful unique heroes and a squad or two to stay behind and protect him. There are three types of heroes that you will draft to make the most of Master Manipulator: the big bruiser, the squad clearer, and the bonding hero (bondsman).

A Bruiser (also called the "can opener") is a unit that is expert at doing damage to a powerful or high Defense hero/squad. Many of the Marvel units are ideal for this role, though any of the classic Heroscape units with an Attack of at least 5 or deadly special powers and decent Survivability can fit this role as well--Krug or Sgt. Drake Alexander, to name just two. Ideally you should draft a Huge and a Medium bruiser so you don't limit your offensive options due to size.

The second unit to draft, the Squad Clearer, includes heroes such as Brunak, Master Win Chiu Woo, and the Death Walker 8000 and 9000, among others. These heroes have special abilities or attacks that affect multiple units and are ideal for facing down squads. Some huge units can serve double duty as Bruisers and Squad Clearers. These units (such as Braxis or Jotun) make the most of Master Manipulator since your opponent will never be sure whether to fear for his heroes or his squads.

The third and final type of hero-which may also overlap with the previous two--is the Bondsman. The Bondsman is a unit that not only functions just fine on his own, but also can be activated through a Bonding power with a squad. Why a squad? The Red Skull is not invulnerable--his Defense is only 3, after all, and you will need to activate a squad occasionally when your opponent’s expendable units try to swarm or assassinate him. You will be loathe, however, to give up even a single order marker that could have activated a unique hero through Master Manipulator. Bonding squads are the ideal compromise since they will still allow you to use their bonded hero in at the same time. The best bondsman are units that work well when operating on their own away from their squads – don’t choose Marcus Decimus Gallus, Parmenio, or Grimnak as their primary value is in boosting squads adjacent to them. Choose instead Beasts like Krug and Mimring plus the Arrow Gruts or the various Human Champions plus the Knights of Weston (who are better defenders of Red Skull than the MacDirk Warriors).

Generally, the squads that you have drafted and kept back will allow the Red Skull time to blasts his own way out of trouble and make a quick getaway. These squads will not stop high-cost units from coming near; instead, you must use Master Manipulator to carefully choose the proper hero to activate so your opponent’s big guns never have a chance to get near him. Although they can be moved via bonding if necessary, the squad’s main job is to stop your opponent's cannon fodder and assassins.

If you cannot choose bonding units then Gladiatrons (on loan from Dr. Doom) are ideal to block the enemy’s advance since units cannot leave engagement with them. If all else fails and the Red Skull is surrounded, you may always use his Dust-of-Death – its effectiveness increases when you can use it against multiple targets,; the more figures that surround him, the greater the chance of a kill. With only a single enemy his chance of murder is only 10%. This increases by 7% to 9% per enemy, until, if surrounded by six units, there is an approximate 47% chance to kill at least one of the enemy figures.

Now that you know which units to draft, how do you use them? You will need to keep Red Skull where he can see his Manipulated cronies, so place him on high or in open territory. Other than that, choose your turns based on need. Remember, Red Skull’s primary value lies in the fact that you need not plan ahead, for the most part.

When you see that your opponent's Pawns and Bishops are approaching Red Skull, you will then want to place an order marker or two on them to activate them, so they can defend him. Remember to use your Bondsmen to keep your heroes' momentum going! Be sure that at least one of your Bondsman is set up for action before you do that. Be sure also to place a non-Bondsman unit in play so that your opponent won’t say, “She has Alastair as the only unit in position to hurt my forces. She must be about to activate the Knights of Weston.”

Getting back to the Red Skull himself, never let your opponent forget how foolish it is to approach him. He can throw dust and shoot at targets as they get too near. On the castle wall, he is frightening. His Attack becomes a 6 and his Dust-of-Death still has a range of 3! He can potentially take out a powerful unit with his pistols alone and possibly change the balance of the game with a lucky roll of the 20-sided die. The more turns you take with him, the more chances he has to dust enemy units, so when you reveal order markers on his card, be sure to sometimes activate him as well!

Optional Strategy
Pure Marvel:
For pure Marvelscape, choose him only in games where you can afford to draft at least two or three powerful to very powerful heroes, such as Hulk with Silver Surfer or Captain America with Spider-man and Venom. Place all three numbered order markers on Red Skull in the first two rounds before both sides’ units get widely deployed. The X Order Marker should go on another hero’s army card at this time. As the game progresses and your opponent’s heroes threaten Red Skull, place two numbered order markers on him while keeping one on another hero, perhaps Dr. Doom, just in case Red Skull gets taken out. This would be a good time to place the X Order Marker on Red Skull to bluff your opponent into thinking that all of your numbers are still on him. When you do in fact take turns with him, your Dust-of-Death power, while a longshot, is extremely aggravating to your opponent in a game where the average figure costs around 250 points! In the end, when you are down to one hero left besides Red Skull, if that hero is worth more points and is not too heavily wounded you should be willing to sacrifice Red Skull to keep it alive in order to win the game.

Shiori Gambit:
Since Shiori gains one Attack and one Defense when she has one unrevealed order marker on her army card, you can place the X Order Marker on her and take any turns you want with her via Master Manipulator.

Collecting Heroes: Kee-Mo-Shi, Ne-Gok-Sa, and the Shades of Bleakwoode can all add heroes to your army with Mindshackle and Soul Devour. The Marro can take turns with Master Manipulator, while the Shades can be a squad that protects Red Skull. Their Attack isn't very high, but their high Move, Stealth Flying, and Defense of 4 should serve you reasonably well against many attackers while they attempt to steal enemy heroes. Their chance of success increases as the number of Shades making attempts increases, at the same chances as Dust-of-Death when more targets are added.

Units to Avoid:
Instant Destroy Units: It would be a shame to lose Red Skull to the likes of Chomp or Lethal Sting. Watch out for Braxas, Dead-eye Dan, Grimnak, the Rechets of Bogden, Morsbane, Runa, the Shades of Bleakewood, Sudema and Sujoah.

Ranged Units Safe on Higher Ground: Everyone from the Aubrien Archers to the Zettian Guards can make a pincushion of Red Skull. Keep him back!

Sujoah, the Fiorlag Spiders, and DŁnd: Since Sujoah and the Spiders bond, they present a very real danger for the Red Skull. The Spiders can neutralize your squad and Sujoah is no slouch at flying in and taking out a squad figures adjacent to Red Skull, opening an adjacent space to hit him with Poison Sting. While Sujoah is attacking on the next order marker, the Spiders can attack the now "sleeping" squad figures and try to remove even more of them. Should the Spiders actually manage to surround Red Skull, you lose can all your turns with your Manipulated Heroes! DŁnd is dangerous for exactly the same reason that the Spider are.

For additional information see the Book of Red Skull


Last edited by Taeblewalker; August 20th, 2014 at 12:17 AM. Reason: Replaced USRC Marvel Badge
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  #2  
Old October 27th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Nice, a marvel guy!

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Old October 27th, 2007, 01:51 PM
Silver1327 Silver1327 is offline
 
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Quote:
Sujoah, the Fiorlag Spiders, and DŁnd: Since these units bond, they present a very real danger for the Red Skull. The Spiders can neutralize your squad and Sujoah is no slouch at flying in and taking out a squad figures adjacent to Red Skull, opeing an adjacent space to hit him with Poison Sting. While Sujoah is attacking on the next order marker, the Spiders can attack the now "sleeping" squad figures and try to remove even more of them. Should the Spiders actually manage to surround Red Skull, you lose all your turns with your Manipulated Heroes! DŁnd is dangerous for exactly the same reason.
How can DŁnd bond? He's a Hunter not a Predator.
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Old October 27th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver1327
Quote:
Sujoah, the Fiorlag Spiders, and DŁnd: Since these units bond, they present a very real danger for the Red Skull. The Spiders can neutralize your squad and Sujoah is no slouch at flying in and taking out a squad figures adjacent to Red Skull, opeing an adjacent space to hit him with Poison Sting. While Sujoah is attacking on the next order marker, the Spiders can attack the now "sleeping" squad figures and try to remove even more of them. Should the Spiders actually manage to surround Red Skull, you lose all your turns with your Manipulated Heroes! DŁnd is dangerous for exactly the same reason.
How can DŁnd bond? He's a Hunter not a Predator.
Sorry. I meant that he has the same power as the spiders. I said too much in one paragraph and condensed the wording too much.

Fixed!

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Old October 27th, 2007, 03:44 PM
C.R.U.D C.R.U.D is offline
 
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About topic

Nice article Tablewalker,Red Skull has been to risky for me to use for his big chance factor.I might think fo drafting him!

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Old October 27th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Re: About topic

Quote:
Originally Posted by C.R.U.D
Nice article Tablewalker,Red Skull has been to risky for me to use for his big chance factor.I might think fo drafting him!
Thanks. As always, we hope these guides inspire people to try things they were afraid to try before.

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Old October 28th, 2007, 02:50 AM
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Q9 also has a ranged attack of four.
Much like Shiori, I believe Red Skull allows you to use Marcu without the normal drawbacks.

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Old November 2nd, 2007, 12:37 AM
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From day one I've always thought that Red Skull's stats and even his look fit in very well with classic Scape. I've yet to try and use him in a classic game, though, but I've always meant to. This article cements that desire.

I also feel that spidey and venom, essentially super ninjas, and, to a lesser extent, Abomination fit in pretty well with the classic game, but I haven't mixed them yet either. I've only really mixed Cap with Realin, 4th Mass and Snipers or Sentinels because this combo practically screamed for me to try it.

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Old November 4th, 2007, 10:11 PM
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WAAHHHH! You mentioned Marvel.

Just kidding. Sweet guide.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 10:59 PM
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Red Skull has been one of my favorite Heroscape units since the day his stats were first revealed. An incredible figure who gets more useful the larger the point value of your army.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcb231
Red Skull has been one of my favorite Heroscape units since the day his stats were first revealed. An incredible figure who gets more useful the larger the point value of your army.
The great thing about 1000-point armies in a mixed game is you can have all those dragons, giants and trolls, as well as Hulk, etc. Even if all you have from the Marvel Set is Red Skull, you won't lack for bigger units with the x.5 waves (Orm's Return, Raknar's Vision, Aquilla's Alliance).

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Old December 15th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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I find that when using Red Skull, drafting heroes with multi-attacks (e.g. Major Q9 or Kaemon Awa) can often be a suitable substitute for squads. Basically, these figures act like squads, but can be activated with Master Manipulator, making for a more unpredictable and therefore more effective army overall. Has anyone had a similar experience with the Skull?

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