How Good is Russell? Empires and Puzzles HotM Review

Screenshot of Russell from Empires and Puzzles HotM

The Empires and Puzzles October 2021 Hero Of The Month is Russell. Yep… Russell. And when Russ isn’t grinding his 9-5, he’s busy fighting the forces of darkness, in a fantasy land, far far away… On his home gaming console.

Look, the problem with mediocre names is, everybody thinks you’re mediocre. -and before anyone writes to Ofcom, please know I have nothing against the Russell’s of this world. I just don’t think it’s a great name for a fantasy hero.

My name’s no better… David. I bet the developers won’t call a hero, David. And if they do, it’ll be like Davide, or Le Conjugueur.

…Should’ve called him Russellott, or something. Anyway…

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Caveat: This post represents game-play speculation and personal opinion. It is not advice.

Russell’s Element, Class, Special Skills, Passives & Talents

Russell’s base data:

Element: Fire (Red)

Class: Wizard

Mana Speed: Average

Special Skills: 1) This Special Skill never misses its targets. 2) Deals 350% damage to the target. 3) The target and nearby enemies receive 264 Burn damage over 3 turns. 4) [Element Link] Element Link gives +10% increase for any healing received for all Fire allies for 4 turns. This effect can’t be dispelled.

Passive: 1. RESIST ATTACK AILMENTS ~ This hero has an innate resistance against status ailments that affect Attack. 2. HEALTH MANA ON BURN ~ This hero gains 5% mana each time an enemy receives Burn Damage.

Talent: JINX ~ +25% chance to deal +15% extra damage per each active buff the enemies have. The extra damage applies to both normal attacks and Special Skills.

Russell Empires and Puzzles
Russell Empires and Puzzles HotM

Is Russell worth Levelling? (Empires and Puzzles)

If he compliments your team, then yes. Russell’s a class act, and on the right squad, could get up to some serious mischief.

Here’s the thing, Russell isn’t a mass-monster; he’s not gonna destroy the entire enemy team with one charge. But he could still be a Somebody, and that’s why I like him. He has this nice cheat-code thing going on, which I’ll explain after we run some base comparisons:

HeroMana SpeedAttackMain Secondary
Russell Average350% to targetThe target and nearby enemies receive 264 Burn damage over 3 turns
MarjanaFast458% to targetTarget receives 306 Burn damage over 6 turns
C DomitiaAverage 390% to targetTarget and nearby receive 324 poison damage over 4 turns
UraeusAverage485% to targetDamage bypasses target’s Minions, & all enemies with a Minion or Fiend receive 354 damage over 3 turns. EL: Summons a Minion for Holy allies
C JoonFast488% to targetTarget gets -35% accuracy for 4 turns
Russell compared to similar heroes

On the surface, and based on these stats, there’s nothing to see here. We should all just, move along.

Russell’s an Average speed hero, and doesn’t appear to do much for that. The only thing he’s got over Marjana and Joon, is that he targets nearby enemies with his Burn damage, opposed to the target only. But they all hit harder than him, soooooo….

But things aren’t as they seem. Russell does have value, and here it is:

He can’t miss, and he’ll keep hitting under the right circumstances.

Russell… I Can’t Miss! Sure-Fire Combustion

Russell may be a small man in this land of giants, but his hand is true and his sword (fire sticks) can not miss.

No matter what C-Kadilen says, nor Margaret, nor Bai Yeong, nor Motega, nor even the mutterings of his own Kin (Wu Kong). No matter the Buffs, or the Ailments, Russell will not lose his focus on the targets.

Now, as we’re only talking about his Special 350% hit, that may not appear earth shattering.

But what if he also inflicted Burn damage on the target and nearby enemies? And every time they took damage, he received 5% mana?

What if you also played Jean-Francois, a Fast mana hero who causes Burn damage to all enemies over 2 turns? And every-time the opponent took Burn damage Russell received 5% mana?

Well, then Russell would keep recharging, and keep hitting. Let’s take a look at his Burn-damage mana bonus in detail:

Russell’s Burn damage & Free Mana explained

The maximum mana Russell can receive from normal Burning is 25% per turn, that’s because Burn damage overwrites itself. So the math is:

  • 5 heroes burning X 5% mana = 25%

So adding more standard burners like Kelile, would only help to keep the opposition burning, so Russell could continue to accumulate his 25% mana per turn. -But it won’t increase his overall Burn-damage mana gain.

However, season 3 heroes like Gefjon/Sumle, have a Burn-damage Realm Bonus (Muspelheim), which will stack with normal Burn. This stack results in a doubling of Russell’s mana gain. Note: Sumle must be at low health to trigger this Realm Bonus. With that said, here’s the new math for those circumstances:

  • 5 heroes burning from Realm Bonus X 5 heroes burning from Jean-Francois X 5% mana = 50%

That means, Russell will fully charge his mana over 2 turns, without needing a single tile.

I don’t know who else can stack Burn-damage in this way, but I’m sure the community will discover all the options, quickly after his release.

Related: How good is Elizabeth?

October 2021 – Russell Empires and Puzzles Hero Of The Month

My final thoughts:

Russell isn’t a “must have” hero by any stretch of the imagination, but if I pulled him, I’d be happy to level him and explore how to best utilise him.

Imagine playing Russell alongside Emilio, that could work. This is the evolution of Burning (and Ailment casting in general).

It’s a really smart move by SG, because they’ve made a niche, some might even say Underpowered hero, useful in normal Raids (unlike the Fish). Russell is a hero who will make those around him better and more valuable, those like Jean-Francois.

It’s true, his damage isn’t jaw dropping and the Burn damage isn’t overwhelming, but the chance to get into a cycle of thudding heads on free Mana… without missing… Well, it sounds like good’ol wholesome fun to me.

*I’d like to thank the members of the SG forum whose research helped me better understand Russell.

Update: Following on from this post, I still can’t find a reliable way to stack 2 burn-damages, so Russell can get a 50% mana bonus. A 50% mana bonus would’ve made Russell a great hero on the right team, whereas a 25% mana bonus reduces his value somewhat. Basically, it’s the difference between one free hit every 2 turns, Vs. one free hit every 4 turns ~which is still good, just not earth shattering. If you need a 5-Star Red, Russell’s definitely worth working with. If you already have Elizabeth or some other Red Monster, Russell’s not gonna take their spot.

Old Cynic’s Hero Grade: Warrior

What are your thoughts? Did I get it wrong, or did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Thanks, good depth. His mana gain for a burn is nice. 25% extra turn if paired with another burner could mean 25% more damage (in very simple terms) which would put his damage around 420%… his inability to miss is nice too. Not a bad hero.

    The biggest drawback I see is that he if you pair him with another burner, they overwrite each other. You’d get the mana gain for Russel but it whatever burn lands first would go to waste as it would be overwritten. by the second. E.g. I have Emilio and love him. I also just got Nezdizha, and they both charge on 6 tiles so I can fire her first and then Emilio’s second (more powerful) version triggers because of hers. But on defense, they would suck as there is always the risk her weaker burn overwrites his stronger one. If burns stacked it would be easier to bring more than one.

    Either way he looks like a decent hero and I like the mana thing. They’ve done a few things around mana speed lately (Xnolphod, magic tower passives).

    1. Hey byzanthia, I see what you mean re losing out on Burn damage. I tested a few Burners to check for stacking and it’s what I thought too. You’d at least have to be aware of who-does-what before casting the Burn. I’d only play one other Burner with Russell myself, unless they were Stackers. In my mind J_F is actually a great side partner because he’ll hit all enemies for 2 turns, while Russell will hit 3 for 3 turns. Between them, they’ll get the job done.

      Thanks for stopping by

  2. Good review. I read on a beta blog somewhere that his mana gain was capped at 45%. Not sure if it’s accurate but I’d think there would be a cap. I will be looking to verify the details.

      1. Just posted a question on the community message board about a mana cap per turn since I couldn’t find anything elsewhere. Some report that rogues can dodge his attack. Maybe there’s a blind/dodge issue.

  3. Seems like he would be good on a 3-2 team with say Elizabeth and Tyr… maybe with a couple purple like Kunchen and Dominita?

  4. No cap Had to see it in a video. He gains mana per burn on each hero and it increases like an elemental link speed. The video I saw he was paired with Colen and he charged quickly once the enemies were burned. Looks like s fun hero

  5. Hi, I just got Russell, I have JF and Yang Mai maxed. I think they make a good trío. Russell gains maná from JF burn and Yang Mai elemental link

  6. He’s the hero that I’ve been waiting for. I want him b/c I also have Nadezhda. The beauty of this combo is that there is no waste of tiles. Nadezhda fires first chaege after 5 tiles(2 3-matches normally). Then she burns all 5 enemy 2 rounds with minimal fire damage, but still fire damage. Then 2 rounds later, without need to match any more fire tiles, Russell fires away. That’s like you know have a very fast “average” hero

  7. I have Jean-Francois and Nadezdha at max (she does burn on 1 charge), plus I pulled Emilio and Russell It’s been a bumper red month for me and a very high level of luck by ordinary standards. Problem is, since I recently maxed and LB’d Elizabeth as well, I only have 5 rings, so I will need to choose between Emilio and Russell (or wait) once I get my last ring.
    I’m not sure what to do now. Russell could be very useful, particularly with HOTM family bonuses coming into play as well if I can fit an off-colour HOTM in there. I’m not immediately pressed for an answer so I’ll mull this over for a bit. So nice to be spoiled for choice for a change.

    1. Hey Red, I was worried for a sec you were building up to ask me 🙂 That’s a lot of options and it seems you like the idea of Russell. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment… Oh, and congrats. Good luck choosing!

    1. That sounds great, and if that’s what you have then defo go for it. But if you have better options, it’s hard to squeeze Russell into a team.

      Thanks for stopping by Zack!

  8. Good thing I read your article mate! I have JF who doesn’t see much action but will w Russell. My main mono red is BT, g falcon, LL, Lizzie, and Scarlett.
    I’m thinking my 2nd mono would be zimkitty, JF, Russell, Santa, Zenobia. Or I could mix and match em and find the right synergy but my main red mono has worked out really nice.

    Anyways my question is do you think Russel’s elemental link will increase w zimkitty taking her elemental link from 4% to 14%? I mean it’s small but it’s a huge jump from sims 4% right? So I probably would do at least a zim JF and russ as a trio and maybe Santa for defense down and Lizzie. Either way it’s going to be fun once I get to work on him!!

    Have a good one

    1. Welcome Dez, thanks for reading, I appreciate it. As for your question, I don’t know because I didn’t pull him to try it out. My best guess would be they overwrite each other.

      If anyone knows the answer, please feel free to chime in.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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