Villain Focus – Taskmaster

Taskmaster is the third villain in The Rise of Red Skull campaign expansion and he has a couple of things that make him a lot different to play against than other villains.  In this article we are going to take a look at all of his cards and see what makes him unique.

In total he has 33 Hit Points, which is on the lower side.  Definitely another villain that you could try and just rush.

He has 2 Scheme and Attack on stage 2, going up to 3 of each on stage 3.  His stage 2 stats are fairly mediocre but the 3 Scheme on stage 3 might cause you some issues.

On both stages he deals you an encounter card.  Just like with Mutagen Formula, this can cause a few problems early on, but as far as abilities go it’s not the worst in the world.

It’s his second ability that is more notable.  After you change to hero form you must discard the top card of the encounter deck and take damage equal to the number of boost icons on that card.  There aren’t a lot of boost cards with no icons, so this means that most of the time you won’t be on full Hit Points.  This can be particularly threatening for characters who already have a low Hit Points value (such as Hawkeye or Black Widow) as it will put them very close to defeat from one bad attack.  This ability is also quite effective as making Tough status effects less useful (anything that reduces the power of Seven Rings of Raggadorr is good in my opinion).


Taskmaster only has one stage for the main scheme, with a high threat threshold of twelve.  For this scenario you must use the Hydra Patrol encounter set (just like you must use Experimental Weapons for the Crossbones scenario), but you have one optional encounter set (the recommended is Weapon Master).

The setup instructions reference Captive allies which we’ll cover later on, but it also states that you must put the Hydra Patrol side scheme into play (this is why you cannot change the Hydra Patrol encounter set).

The main scheme starts on one threat and adds one per turn (fairly normal), and has the extra effect that if you are in hero form at the start of the villain phase you must either place one threat on the main scheme or take one damage.  This is relatively minor on its own, but combined with Taskmaster’s forced response after you flip to hero form, could add up to a significant amount of damage.  You could choose to add threat, effectively turning it into an acceleration token.

With a high threat threshold and a minor negative effect, this main scheme isn’t too bad as far as schemes go.


Hydra Patrol starts in play and has a crisis icon, meaning that you must get rid of this side scheme before you can start removing threat from the main scheme.  Like a few of the side schemes from The Rise of Red Skull, this has a when defeated ability.  In this case, you must search the encounter deck and discard pile for a Hydra minion and put them into play.  This isn’t too bad as you can just find something that is easily defeated (like Hydra Regular), but you’ll still have to deal with them.

Overall, this isn’t too bad of a side scheme to have start in play.  In fact, when I was using Thor in our recent Showdown article versus Taskmaster, I used this side scheme to draw a couple of extra cards (by defeating the scheme and then triggering Thor’s “Have at thee!” ability) and then trigger Interrogation Room’s ability.  Obviously, that was just one specific example using Thor, but spawning a minion so that you can use Relentless Assault with the overkill isn’t awful either.


There are four copies of this side scheme in his encounter set and it’s one of the unique features of Taskmaster.  This is because there are a set of four allies specific to this scenario that you can rescue during the game.  These begin the game in a set-aside pile and are randomly placed under Captured by Hydra when they enter play.

It’s worth noting that Captured by Hydra always enters play with five threat on it, making it proportionally easier to defeat in multiplayer (although you might be fighting over who gets to remove the last bit of threat, as they claim the reward).  In solo play, five threat can sometimes be a lot to remove quickly, meaning that the acceleration icon is going to be a problem (someone like Hulk would probably have to learn to live with it).

The allies are all very good for their cost (see below) and are a nice reward for defeating the side scheme.  I really like this aspect of the scenario as it’s a thematic reward and also a powerful gameplay benefit.  Because there are four different allies to get it will also help with the replay value as you’re unlikely to rescue all of them every time.


There are two copies of this in Taskmaster’s encounter set.  They have two Scheme, making them a priority to get rid of before flipping to Alter Ego form.  Two Attack is not much of a threat generally, but they gain Piercing and Ranged (which ignore your Tough and Retaliate).  3 Hit Points means that they are easily defeated though, so they are unlikely to pose much of a threat.

The boost ability is subtly good.  The one damage in Hero form is unlikely to be a problem, but the one threat while you are in Alter-Ego could cost you dearly.  I would rate this minion as slightly above average in terms of quality.


There is only one copy of this in his encounter set but that’s okay because it’s unique.  It gives Taskmaster +1 Attack which isn’t too much of a problem, but it also gives his attacks Piercing, which is significantly more of a problem.  Doctor Strange won’t appreciate this and neither will Spider-Woman.

To discard it you have to exhaust your Hero and spend a physical and mental resource.  That’s not an insignificant cost, so it’s possible that this will hang around for a while.  The main reason to remove it is because of its Piercing effect, so if your character doesn’t make use of Tough status cards then you can probably ignore it.


Just like with his sword, there is only one copy of this in his encounter set.  The shield gives him Retaliate 1, which is also annoying against Tough, but is mostly horrible against allies.  If you’ve ever played with an ally-heavy deck you’ll know that Retaliate significantly reduces the value of allies if you use them to attack with.

To discard it is the same cost as the Sword; exhaust your character and spend a physical and mental resource.  Retaliate is also a problem if your character attacks a lot.  Aggression decks in particular are probably not going to be a fan of it.  Deciding how quickly you discard his shield depends on how often you or your allies attack, but that’s likely to be significant, so I can definitely see this being a priority over his sword.


There are two copies of this in his encounter set and unlike most other attachments there’s no way to get rid of it without triggering its effect.  This attachment is basically going to reflect the next attack back at you.  So, the ideal solution is to attack Taskmaster with as little damage as possible (usually one).

However, as Facebook user Daniel C pointed out recently, it seems that you could use Concussive Blow without paying for it with a physical resource to perform a zero-damage attack (which would also Confuse Taskmaster).  This is quite cheeky but seems fine by the rules (I can see why it would leave Taskmaster confused!).

Obviously, you want to hit Taskmaster for as little damage as possible when this is in play, but depending on your current board state it could definitely alter what you play during your turn and the order that you do things.  It’s an annoying card that captures the essence of Taskmaster quite well; I like it.


There are two copies of this in Taskmaster’s set and it varies quite a bit in its potency.  If you are in Alter Ego form you discard the top five cards of your deck and if there is a Thwart card discarded Taskmaster will scheme.  The same thing happens in Hero form but this time you’re looking for an Attack card to cause him to attack.

Obviously, you could not find the type of card referenced and then this just becomes ‘discard the top 5 cards of your deck’.  While this does move you more quickly towards emptying your deck and drawing another encounter card, it’s not too much of a problem.  However, if you do find the type of card referenced then it tacks an Assault or Advance onto it as well, making it significantly worse.

The chance of triggering the second effect is obviously dependant on your deck.  If you are playing Aggression you are more likely to trigger the attack than someone playing Leadership.  I’d also suggest that you are more likely to trigger the second effect if you are playing solo, as your deck will have to cover more bases and is likely to have a decent number of both thwart and attack cards.

Mimicry is probably one of Taskmaster’s strongest cards.  At worst it’s going to discard five cards from your deck (and give you the associated feel bad when you see a card you needed sail by), and at best it’s going to be another Assault or Advance.  I think it conveys Taskmaster’s ability to copy other people’s abilities quite well.


There are two copies of Hunted by Hydra in Taskmaster’s deck and it contains the new keyword, Incite.  This means that when this card is revealed you add threat to the main scheme equal to that card’s Incite value, in this case one.  As Hydra Regular is also in Taskmaster’s deck, there are enough cards with Incite that it’s probably worth keeping the main scheme more than one threat away from defeat.

The when revealed effect of this card only works on players in Hero form (but it will affect all players, so in multiplayer it becomes more potent) and it causes them to take one damage (not a big deal) and also discard a card at random (significantly more annoying).

Overall I’d say that this is probably not going to be a card that you’re too worried about, although you might have to pay more attention to threat on the main scheme if there are more cards with Incite added to the deck.


There is one copy of this side scheme in his deck and it’s quite an effective card.  Not only does it have a hazard icon on it, it will also give all minions that enter play a Tough status card.  Oh, it also have three boost icons as well!

I think that the only time that this will grant minions a Tough status is if it’s revealed first in a cluster of encounter cards.  All other times you’ll want to get rid of it before it’s able to give any minions Tough or give you an extra encounter card.  It only comes in with two threat per player, so shouldn’t be too hard to remove.


RECOMMENDED MODULE

Weapon Master is the recommended module for Taskmaster, but I think it’s more suited to Crossbones.  I’d rather pick a module that has minions in to try and get some more targets for Taskmaster’s Training Camp.  Obviously, Taskmaster has his sword and shield which will trigger the Surge effect for cards like Weapon Master, so it’s not totally unsuited, just not my preference.


SUMMARY

  • Has a relatively low Hit Point total and only a couple of Guard minions, meaning that a rush strategy is possible.
  • His main scheme has a high threat threshold, meaning that you have a bit of slack with regards to threat.
  • Does extra little bits of damage here and there meaning that you are going to have to keep a better eye on your Hit Points than normal.

Taskmaster is a satisfying scenario to play and is a fun experience.  He has a couple of interesting mechanics, the most notable of which are the side schemes that reward you with an ally.  I really like this and I hope they do something similar again in the future.

Taskmaster sits comfortably in the middle in terms of villain difficulty.  As always, changing which encounter module you use with him will alter your experience.  Overall, I like this scenario.

Cheers,

Tim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s