Villain Focus – Crossbones

Remember how we’ve got a series that looks at each playable character?  We’re also going to do that for every Villain!  Well, maybe not all of them *cough* Wrecking Crew and Risky Business *cough*. Since The Rise of Red Skull was released recently we thought that we’d start with a new Villain, Crossbones!

I’ve decided to just focus on stages 2 and 3 of the Villain since we only ever play on Expert or Heroic difficulty.  In total he has 30 Hit Points, which is the joint lowest in the game for a Villain so far.

He has 2 Scheme and 2 Attack, going up to 3 Attack on stage 3.  These are pretty average stats but you are definitely going to feel his attacks because of his two abilities.

The first is that as long as he has a Weapon attached, his attacks gain Piercing.  He starts with two weapons in play and if you are using one of the recommened encounter modules, Weapon Master, that adds a couple more.

His second ability concerns the Experimental Weapons deck, which is a four card deck that is placed next to the main scheme deck.  As Crossbones goes from stage 2 to stage 3 and whenever the main scheme advances, one more card is revealed from the Experimental Weapons deck and attached to him.  These can be discarded (we’ll cover them later) but will cost you resources to do so.

What all this means is that Crossbones will often be attacking you with more than his basic Attack value and also ignoring Tough status effects.  He has the potential to inflict a lot of damage and has some particularly nasty encounter cards to help with that.

Stage 2 Crossbones searches the deck and discard pile for Crossbones’ Machine Gun.  This is a bit more incoming damage at the start of the scenario and helps contribute to the burst damage that he can deliver sometimes.  Stage 3 Crossbones gets another Experimental Weapon (he does like his weapons!).


Rather amusingly, Attack on Mount Athena 1A has two errors on it!  The first is one of the recommended encounter modules.  It states on the card that you should use Hydra Patrol, but it’s actually meant to be Hydra Assault.  Here’s a link to the rulings section on Hall of Heroes for confirmation.  The second error is a spelling mistake in the setup instructions (‘rullebook’ instead of rulebook).  The spelling mistake is not an issue, but it’s a shame that the recommended module was incorrect.  The campaign book gets it right at least.

As for the scheme itself, it has a very low threat threshold.  This means that unless you are very lucky, the round that you go flip back to Alter-Ego form it will progress to the next stage of the main scheme.  It also gives Crossbones an Experimental Weapon right off the bat.


Another Experimental Weapon for Crossbones (spotting a theme here?).  This scheme also starts with one threat on it.  With only a six threat threshold, it’s never too far from progressing.


Guess what, another Experimental Weapon for Crossbones!  This time it’s only got a five threat threshold (as well as starting with one threat on it already), so you’re definitely in a tight spot.  I think that if you are on this stage of the main scheme you’re not likely to be able to afford to flip to Alter-Ego form (Justice players might be able to get away with it though).

Overall the main schemes have low threat thresholds and give Crossbones another Experimental Weapon each time.  This means that you can never really get too comfortable as things can turn bad quite quickly.


He starts with this in play, so he’ll have Piercing immediately on his attacks.  This has 2 ammo counters per player and means that you’ll be taking some indirect damage as he’s attacking you (before dealing the boost card).  However, this indirect damage doesn’t have Piercing (as it’s not an attack), so if you do have a Tough status then that’s the perfect time to use it (since Crossbones will just break through it anyway).

Because the damage of this is unpredictable you’ll need to be a bit careful early on.  Having more Hit Points is a good answer, even if it’s just Hit Points from allies.


It’s like Crossbones is deliberately taunting Rhino with this!  Getting an increase to both of his main stats while this is in play means that you absolutely want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.  The extra Scheme value is particularly bad in this scenario as the main schemes have such low threat thresholds.  Oh and to top it off it has three boost icons!  Great card for Crossbones.


Remember him from Bomb Scare?  There’s also two copies of this guy in Crossbones’ set.  They have weak stats overall but it’s their reveal ability that has the potential to put you between a rock and a hard place.  Most of the time you’ll probably just place the one threat on the main scheme, but with low thresholds that might not be possible.  It could be interesting to throw Bomb Scare in as one of Crossbones’ modules and double up on these fellas.


There are two copies of this and while it only surges in Alter-Ego, the Hero ability can be deadly.  If you’ve not been keeping on top of Crossbones’ weapons that increase his Attack value you could be in for a world of hurt.  Thankfully it’s only indirect damage, so if you’ve got some allies you can spread the damage around a bit, but it’s not uncommon to be receiving four or five damage from this card.


There are two copies of this and while is does have a cool name and art to go with it, it’s pretty tame as far as card effects go, particularly as Piercing is now something that heroes have access to as well.


There are two copies of this and it’s going to discard a LOT of cards from the encounter deck depending on which modules you have gone with.  You’re going to get another weapon for Crossbones or an acceleration token, neither of which are ideal.  It’s also got the new Incite keyword, which in this scenario is quite perilous.  This is probably one of his strongest cards.


There are two copies of this side scheme and while it’s quite easy to get rid of, you’re going to have to time it right as it has a when defeated ability that causes Crossbones to activate immediately.  Meanwhile, it has an acceleration icon.

I really like the design of this side scheme as it isn’t one that you’ll necessarily want to discard as soon as possible (like nearly all other side schemes).  You’ll probably want to discard it while in Hero form, but either way it’s going to burn through some of your resources and actions when you do so.  To be honest, it might just be worth leaving it in play!


There is only one copy of this and that’s just as well because it has a crisis icon.  The amount of threat it enters play with is going to vary wildly, but you’re going to have to deal with it as quick as you can due to the speed at which the main scheme can advance.


The first of the Experimental Weapons, it gives Crossbones +1 to his Attack value as well as Ranged (effectively negating Retaliate).  The +1 Attack may not seem like much, but Crossbones likes to stack weapon attachments and they can add up quick.  Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to get rid of, requiring only an energy and physical resource to do so.


Retaliate on the Villain is incredibly annoying, not only for the little bits of damage that it does to your character, but it means that allies attacking the Villain lose a significant chunk of their value.  In my opinion Energy Shield needs to be removed as quickly as possible.


I hate fighting against Radioactive Man and Power Gauntlets reminds me of him.  Thankfully the card you have to discard isn’t random this time, but it will still slow you down.  Even though this doesn’t increase Crossbones’ Attack, I’d try and remove this reasonably quickly.  However, if you can stun Crossbones a lot or always block with allies, you can probably ignore it.


The +1 Attack is good but it’s the +1 Scheme that is the most threatening.  As mentioned several times already, the main schemes have a very low threat threshold and Exo-Suit puts Crossbones’ Scheme value to 3.  When you add a boost card to that it almost certainly advances the main scheme.  This attachment is a bit more difficult to remove than the other Experimental Weapons, requiring one of each resource, but if you plan on flipping to Alter-Ego you should really get rid of this first.


RECOMMENDED MODULES

Hydra Assault, Weapon Master, and Legions of Hydra.  Yes that’s right, three modules!  This makes for quite a big encounter deck, but you’ll go through it quickly with cards like Raid the Armory.  Obviously, you can use whichever encounter modules you like, but it’s worth taking a quick look at the default ones.

Hydra Assault gives his deck a few more minions, both of which are quite good.  Hydra Jet-Trooper has Quickstrike, which is a nifty little ability that can catch you off-guard.  Hyda Flame-Soldier punishes you for not defending by discarding one of your supports!  Both of these guys have brutal boost abilities, so much so that you might consider including one or more copies of Target Acquired to counteract them!

The Weapon Master set has a couple of weapons in it as well as the titular Weapon Master card, which does horrible things to you if Crossbones has a weapon attachment (it’s rare that he doesn’t).  It’s a nice little set that I would probably always include with Crossbones as it plays into his fascination with weapons.

Legions of Hydra is one of the toughest encounter modules and it’s made even worse by the fact that Crossbones is a Hydra enemy, as the side scheme will enter play with at least seven threat!  In solo this can be nearly unattainable before Madame Hydra activates and adds two more threat to it.  The encounter set also has three Hydra Soldiers who are one of the best Guard minions around.


SUMMARY

  • Crossbones has a very low amount of Hit Points.  One strategy you may wish to consider when playing against him is to simply rush him.  Don’t focus on building your board state or dealing with all minions and side schemes that crop up, just throw as much damage as possible his way.
  • His main schemes all have a low threat threshold, making flipping to Alter-Ego quite risky.  I’d consider either including effects that can Confuse him or include some healing so that you don’t need to flip back.
  • Crossbones is nearly always going to have Piercing, so Tough loses a lot of value in this fight.

On the surface Crossbones seems like quite an easy Villain, but I don’t think that tells the whole story.  It feels like you are constantly walking on a tightrope.  The main schemes are so precarious that one unlucky turn in Alter-Ego or an Advance can move things along a lot faster than you’d like.

I like the Crossbones encounter and I think it is a good first Villain for The Rise of Red Skull box and a more satisfying experience than Rhino.  Anyway, that’s the end of the first of our Villain Focus articles, I hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers,

Tim

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