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 Russells 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…

Before we start, please consider sharing a link to this post with your alliance or on social media. It really does help.

This post may contain speculation, personal opinion, and adult comedy. It is not advice and is solely for entertainment and informational purposes.


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.

Legends 2021 Family Bonus: 1/2/3 Heroes: +10%/+15%/+20% critical chance. Bonus for 2+ Heroes: Element Link affects all allies.

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, as 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 miss something? Let me know in the comments below.

[Please always check in-game Hero Cards to confirm details and never chase Heroes]

Enjoy the post? Please help me by:

  • Sharing it with your alliance
  • Saving an image on Pinterest

Want more Empires and Puzzles? Click here.

You can find all my mobile gaming content over here.

Images used by way of review/tutorial – Copyright owned by Empires & Puzzles: Small Giant Games
Thank you to all the people who provided feedback

Similar Posts


  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. Hi. I put max Russel in team with Gefjon and Emilio and mana no more increase like 10%. First activated Emilio and Gefjon next turn Russel. Maybe is your calculation about mana is incorrect or has my Russel bug?

        1. Stack 3 russels ,yes i have 3 with wu kong and level broken cos.rigard
          And use dragon attack the burn fron dragon replenishes russel nicelyand he recharges VERY fast. Cheers

  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

      1. I’m not sure if it’s I read it wrong or it’s I missed seeing a nerf on Nadezhda. I thought Nadezhda will burn all 5 enemies on her 1st charge but I just realized it’s only the target and nearby enemy. So the combo I suggested is not as ideal as thought it was.

  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!

      1. I did a quick test using Evelyn, zim and Russel. Elemental healing for Russel went from 58 with either zim, or E activated to 64 per turn after Russel fires.
        He’s fun, I enjoy using him.
        I don’t have but one of your top 10 defense heroes, so toy with different Hotm to capitalise on their synergies. Do you know if season 1 heroes will ever get a “family” bonus? If only all my slow season one heroes were shown some love! Take it easy.

        1. Hey Nurglesgift, thanks for the info.

          As for Season 1: Yea, I think they’ll get a Family Bonus in the end and it will probably appear to be really OP -but due to their overall weakness, it won’t make much difference!

          Like, a serious mana/health/attack boost or something.

          But who knows when? I’m sure they’re not a priority. Best thing a new player can do is get TC20 going, then HA10!

          Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hi Cynic,
    and thanks for the great job you’re doing!!!

    Regarding Russell… if i don’t have synergies for him except c.Kelile… who will you choose to max & emblem??? Russell or Khagan (w/out costume)???

    Cya from Italy!

    1. Hey Gixu, it entirely depends on what sort of player you are.

      If you’re F2P, and these 2 are your only 5-Stars heroes, and it’s unlikely you’ll get anymore, anytime soon….

      Then… it’s still a hard choice, because they’re both a bit l.a.m.e.. can I say that? We still cool?

      If there is any chance of getting another red 5-Star hero, I’d hold on to the Mats, but if not, and with no choice but to answer this question or never eat chocolate again:


      Why? Even though Khagan’s slow, he might actually be more useful on Defense for you. He has a nice Mana bonus and Defense boost (+63%), and if he fires, he might actually kill something.

      And, he does all that for only 2 tiles more than Russell.

      This question was like asking me if I preferred Brussel sprouts or soggy cornflakes 🙂

      1. Thx 4 the answer!

        I am a F2P, sometimes a C2P, and yes, i have only those Red 5 Stars (i have 3x Leonidas and 3x Richard… long way to HA Lvl 10…). And yes, i’m looking for strenghten my defence team.

        So, i’ll check if i can wait for someone better, otherwise.. .Khagan.

        Thank you!

  10. Hi man,

    after some month of using Russell, i think i’m a bit disappointed…

    Not having synergy heroes for him, i strongly prefer Marjana over him; he’s just used against Inari/cKadilen/Hanitra coupled with Uraeus for family bonus.

    1. Hey Gixu, I understand. It’s hard to rate anyone a Warrior at the mo, but Russell is in the right slot. Thanks for the feedback tho, I always appreciate it!

  11. Hey OC.

    Is his warrior status assuming he’s in a normal team?

    What would your rating of Russell be if paired with JF or Emilio?

    1. Hey Ap, yes the Hero Grades are primarily based on a hero in isolation, but if synergy is easily found among common heroes, then that would increase their value.

      I can see some of the synergies you’re referring to with them but for the purposes of the grade, it wouldn’t change it. Also, it’s just an opinion, it don’t make it right. Add to that the fact that the Deities are the heroes who just came blazing through the door breaking all the stats, then it puts normal heroes into a better perspective.

      Thank you for visiting!

  12. Hi OC

    I have had this guy on 3.70 since forever, but I am considering him to deserve the rings for three reasons.
    1. There are two many heroes with evasion power.
    2. I only have one of his class, therefore a lot of emblems.
    3. I need another 2021 hero to grant Bertila to create minions for everyone for the minion team. Yellow spot is used by Vivica because healer, discarding Uraeus. On the blue spot is Mr Pengui, which discards Alexandrine. The other option is Malicna, but I think Russell is a more reliable character.

    1. All sounds very reasonable. I do the same thing; I got Reuben levelled because I had no better. Gotta make do with what you got sometimes, right? Thanks for stopping by Mig-El!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.