Crossbones seems to be the forgotten step-child of the core set. Maybe it’s the character people know least. Maybe it’s the direct comparison with Baron Zemo. So let me make the case for why you should consider including him in your team.
Crossbones’ role is a simple one: he is a melee bruiser. He hits above his weight class when he gets there, but he’s slow. So why would you take him?
Let’s start with the thing that most people are thinking: for three points, I’d rather have Baron Zemo. He’s faster. So much faster. He gives my other heavy hitters rerolls. He also has 5 damage base attacks. And he can inflict bleed.
Is Zemo good? Oooooh yeah. But that doesn’t make Crossbones bad. First some general points:
Crossbones can roll an 8 dice attack by himself. That’s more than Spider-Man, Captain America, or Ultron: all coming in at 4 threat rather than 3. In fact the only character in the core set who can roll more is the heavy hitter Captain Marvel. If you are living the dream and have enough to haymaker a strike as your first attack, you stand a good chance of being able to gain enough power to do it again on your second attack. 16 dice is real good output.
Terrain? What terrain?
Moving S is not ideal, but if you find yourself on a table with lots of size 3+ terrain, he actually gets a lot better, as he isn’t slowed by climbing as he is already speed S. Add in the fact you get cover while on it, and it makes his physical defence pretty good and his others… fine.
So strikes are all well and good, but where he really shines is overpower. This attack allows him to move again, placing within 1 of the target. It’s also a range 3 attack, which really helps it, especially as he is slow. Add in the wild throw, and it can have some great applications in a scenario game. Just be careful: if you throw you must throw the full S distance and the 1” place effect of overpower is not optional. The wild throw effect is optional, and there are times you’d be better to choose not to throw. Sadly.
Red skull does a lot that Crossbones likes. Like, a lot. First, you probably only need one more Cabal member to unlock that delicious leadership ability, and some great tactics cards. Then you get Red Skull redirecting attacks on to Crossbones, which then allow him to overcome his big weakness: being slow. That free move he gets when he is damaged is great, especially if you opponent had planned to play around him by just ignoring him. next, the Master of the Cosmic Cube placement effect can really make up for his low speed. It can get him up as far as a M move character, which is great. There is great synergy there, so if you are taking Red Skull already, crossbones is significantly better. Just remember to deploy him within Range 4.
It’s all about the scenario.
Lets get down to some specifics. There are certain scenarios where Crossbones is actually really good. And then some where he should probably be avoided.
Gamma Shelters: those three shelters are awfully close to each other. Add in the fact that you want to be within two to prevent taking damage, and people are going to be huddling. Throwing someone outside of shelter range, then placing yourself to contest the objective feels real good. Also, you can casually ignore the gamma radiation thanks to Inured to Pain.
Cosmic cubes: another one where he can break the rules by not being dazed during the power phase. He is guaranteed to have a power from step 1 of the phase, so he can use it to keep himself upright in step 3 where lesser characters might fall over.
Skrull decoys and Kree power core: not obvious ones for him, but not awful either. Cosmic cube him toward the centre objective and he has as much chance as anyone to pick it up, and a good chance to hold it if physical damage is what is opposite you. If the skrull/core is found wide, he’s in a decent position to get there next turn, and remember, he doesn’t care about terrain.
Extremis consoles and Infinity formula: being slow, camping an objective is actually something that feels less bad than with a “wasted” L mover like black widow. Plus if anyone tries moving in to take it off him, they’ll regret it and maybe find themselves thrown off it for good measure.
Meteor fragments: 2 energy defence just doesn’t cut it. Probably best left on the sides unless paired with cosmic cubes extract, and even then…
Spider infected: you know what makes a slow character sad? Being moved away from the action by your opponent. Or worse: into the jaws of a trap. Seems bad.