Red Guard Ranged Build – Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

In my own playthrough of Jaws of the Lion, I played as Red Guard with a somewhat standard Shield Spikes build. However, I wanted to figure out if other tactics are viable and I think I’ve created something interesting that very possibly could work.

This build is based on the fact that Red Guard has two hands. In one of them he has his shield, and in the other, he has his sickle.

This is my attempt at a sickle-based ranged attack build.

Level 1

Flaming Sickle

Top: This is one of our main ranged attacks. It works really well with Flame Shroud.

Bottom: Ideally, no enemies should ever get up close to you, but when they do, this can be okay. And the loot is nice.

Blinding Sickle

Top: This is much like Flying Sickle but instead of pulling the enemies in, you tell them to stay where they are. The choice between these two really lies in whether you want to risk taking damage to deal some extra damage (with Flying Sickle) or stay away from them (with Blinding Sickle).

Bottom: This is the exact same as Flying Sickle.

Swift Strength

Top: The top is obviously going to be very useful in a ranged build. You won’t necessarily need the PULL 1, but it’s always nice to have in case of well-placed traps or in combination with Flame Shroud

Bottom: This is one of your only Jump abilities. Use it wisely.

Flame Shroud

Top: This can be very effective if played right. You definitely will want to follow it up with some well-timed PULL abilities, such as Flaming Sickle or Swift Strength to finish them off.

Bottom: A Move 4 is great, especially since it has such low Initiative.

Overall: The hardest part of this card definitely lies in figuring out when to use the top ability. You need to plan two-three turns ahead and make sure that you can take advantage of the PULL from other cards – or make sure that whatever enemies focus on you will die when they move closer.

Healing Sands

Top: This is an amazing heal card for level 1. Being able to heal a third of your max health is wonderful. The one lossless XP also means that you can pump out a fair bit of XP every game.

Bottom: Ideally, no enemies will ever attack you, but for those turns where that is inevitable, it’s nice to know that they will have Disadvantage.

Shield Spikes

Top: This is the offending card that I am trying to dethrone with this Red Guard build. It really is a great card, though, as it will make sure that not only are you not taking damage, but you are also hurting the enemies in the process. However, for this build, this ability won’t do us much good.

Bottom: In a Shield Spikes build, you wouldn’t normally give the bottom action much attention, but a Heal 2, Range 2 is quite okay.

Twirling Stabs

Top: As previously stated, ideally, you won’t ever be adjacent to enemies with this build, even less so a lot of enemies, so this top action isn’t really going to be all that useful for us.

Bottom: A bottom attack is always useful, but as with any ranged build, it’s even more important to keep moving to avoid the heavy-hitters.

Overall: This is going to be one of the first cards that we replace, so don’t get too attached. Maybe you could use it a bit in the beginning if only for the XP.

Shocking Advance

Top: This is another melee attack that isn’t all that useful. However, this card can come in handy for those turns where a melee monster is next to you. Immobilize and then another card for moving can be a life-saver in certain situations.

Bottom: Move 3 is always nice and will probably be the main action for this card.

Desert Night

Top: I guess this attack is technically a ranged attack and so therefore, it will fit in okay, but the elements are definitely not for us.

Bottom: A one-time Move 6 with Jump and 1 XP can almost certainly save anyone from certain doom, but unfortunately the slow Initiative won’t let us get out quickly enough, so it needs to be paired with a very quick card.

Shield of the Desert

Top: A melee attack. Unfortunately. Not good for this Red Guard.

Bottom: Shield 3 would be excellent if we were playing with Shield Spikes, but we’re not, soooo…

Overall: This card is sort of meh for this build. Really the only thing it has going for it is the 10 Initiative.

Level X Cards

Warrior of the Sun

Top: Being able to IMMOBILIZE all adjacent enemies is guaranteed to be a life-saver at least once if paired with a Move. Otherwise, it can also be used to keep ranged enemies close to you to give them Disadvantage as well as one less damage due to the Shield.

Bottom: Attack 2 or 3 as a bottom action can also save you if you get tired of running and prefer killing the enemies that get too close.

Blade Dance

Top: This is a verrry funny ability, especially if you have Flame Shroud active. Otherwise, it’s also just nice to have a bit of Move as a top ability.

Bottom: If timed well, this card can deal 2 damage to four enemies, but it requires a very specific circumstance that hopefully won’t happen too often.

Precision Strike

Top: This melee attack can become an Attack 7, which is quite amazing, especially if you consume Fire to give yourself Advantage, so you won’t draw that inevitable Miss card. However, we’re trying to move away from melee attacks which is why this card won’t be included.

Bottom: This is a very meh ability. It’s really only useful in certain situations where you have Flame Shroud or there’s a trap in front of you.


Blade Dance and Warrior of the Sun.

Replaces: Twirling Stabs and Shield of the Desert. If you feel like you have consistent enough Fire and Light generation to give you the extra damage (and XP), you could also replace Swift Strength.

Level 2

Barbaric Instincts

Top: This is actually not that bad if paired with Flame Shroud. It equates to 3 unblockable damage to someone, as well as giving you Shield 1.

Bottom: This is a verrrrrrrry meh ability. Of course, WOUND is always nice, but hopefully your teammates will be able to do that for you.

Harvest Sickle

Top: Yet another ranged attack, confirming the fact that a ranged Red Guard build is definitely and possibly maybe viable.

Bottom: This is great for picking up all those coins lying around at the end of a scenario.


Harvest Sickle.

Replaces: Shocking Advance. At this point, we’re just trying to get rid of the melee attacks.

Level 3

Strangling Chain

Top: This is a great ability. Especially for bosses and other special occasions. Even just paired with any Move, it can deal some serious damage and make sure that they stay away.

Bottom: It would have been perfect if the IMMOBILIZE and Move were switched, but alas.

Warmth of the Sun

Top: This is just a no. We don’t need more melee attacks – especially not when it’s a loss card.

Bottom: Another Heal 4, this time as a bottom action. That is wonderful.


There’s really no obvious choice here. This could go either way. I would probably go with Warmth of the Sun for the bottom, but I can also see how Strangling Chain for the top would work.

Replaces: Warrior of the Sun.

Level 4

Radiant Sickle

Top: Would you look at that? We’ve been blessed with yet another ranged attack.

Bottom: This is just an upgraded Shield Spikes bottom ability, which (spoiler) is the card that we are going to swap out for this.

Burn Away the Dark

Top: This could also technically count as a ranged attack, and mass WOUND is great, but… the other card is a sickle.

Bottom: This combos well with Desert Night the previous turn, but other than that, it’s nothing special.


Radiant Sickle.

Replaces: Shield Spikes.

Level 5

Sand Devil

Top: This is an amazing level 5 card for Red Guard! It both works as a way to deal damage, take less damage and control monsters.

Bottom: This works very well as a card in the first play of any scenario, being able to get into position.

Overall: I would recommend using this card for its bottom ability the first rotation and then after you’ve rested, use it for its top ability so you don’t have an odd number of cards when you rest again.


Sand Devil.

Replaces: Desert Night.

Level 6

Flying Sickle

Top: This. This ranged card is really great. It deals a lot of damage and works well with Flame Shroud. This card is going to be used almost exclusively for its top ability.

Bottom: Attacking, moving and then attacking isn’t always going to be that useful, but when it works, it works. Much like Red Guard himself.

Fierce Brilliance

Top: If you allow the enemies to move adjacent to you, you will give them DISARM for the current round as well as the next round – due to the fact that DISARM is removed at the end of their following turn. That’s great. But… with this build, we’re going to be using PULL a lot, and that would make this card work at half power. And that’s not great.

Bottom: You still don’t want to end your turn next to enemies, so unless this is used in situations where it will kill the enemies, it isn’t worth it.


Flying Sickle.

Replaces: Maybe it’s time to let go of Healing Sands. Heal 4 was a great ability, but the fact of the matter is that Warmth of the Sun gives you the same heal, but as a bottom action instead. And this build desperately needs some good bottom actions.

Level 7

Horns of the Beast

Top: Meh. It’s a melee attack. Granted, it does allow you to PUSH two enemies away.

Bottom: This would be great if one were to be playing with Shield Spikes, but we’re not.

Vicious Ballet

Top: This ability also isn’t that great for this build. It’s another melee attack. The elements also don’t really work all that well if you’re playing 2-player.

Bottom: This is sort of the only useful ability from level 7, being able to move and give unblockable damage.


Vicious Ballet for the bottom action.

Replaces: Blade Dance.

Level 8

No Fear

Top: Again, this is another card that would work really well if this Red Guard wanted to include Shield Spikes in their deck, but we’re not budging.

Bottom: In theory, this sounds like a good bottom action. It is after all a potential Heal 15, Self, but there are also really good odds that you will be wasting some of these charges when you have full health.

Prismatic Sickle

Top: We got another ranged attack! This one isn’t all that spectacular, seeing as we aren’t really using elements all that often, but it can certainly help your allies a lot.

Bottom: This will annoy your friends and make you rich. Lovely.


Prismatic Sickle.

Replaces: Vicious Ballet. I know we just got that card, but let’s be real, it wasn’t that great.

Level 9

Soaring Shield

Top: This is a very good top ability. STUN is amazing, Attack 4 is amazing, and Jump is amazing. It’s a good card.

Bottom: Oh, how Shield Spikes taunts us. But we will not be tempted.

Let’s just look at the other card which is also good.

Honorable Fury

Top: This is a really good ranged attack. Attack 7 at Range 4 with Advantage is amazing. And it’s not that hard to pull off if played a turn after Prismatic Sickle.

Bottom: Move 3 is fine, whereas 3 unblockable damage to all adjacent enemies is good.


Honorable Fury. I know that Soaring Shield has a very huge chance of being game-changing if used optimally. Being able to Attack 4, targeting all adjacent enemies and STUN them is amazing. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still melee. And the other card is simply not. It’s better. Honorable Fury is ranged and has the potential to be an Attack 7!

Replaces: Flaming/Blinding Sickle. You may decide for yourself whether this replaces IMMOBILIZE or PULL. And I know. Removing one of the other sickles is controversial, but it just isn’t that great anymore.

1 thought on “Red Guard Ranged Build – Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion”

  1. Really great guide here. I’ve viewed the ranged cards as kind of throw away because I haven’t worked out how to really use them effectively. I just hit level 4 so it was fun to see some of what the game has in store for me here on out.
    I would love to see a similar guide for a shield spikes build. I know they’re a dime a dozen online but I really like this format.
    Keep it up! Can’t wait to see some guides for other characters as well!

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