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Skull damage is a joke now

Recently I had to resort to skull damage (just because the last week’s campaign requires Khetar troops, and most of them uses skull-related skills). I didn’t do that since scaling troops appeared, so was surprised why it’s so ineffective.

After some research I discovered that skull damages either overlooked long ago, or deliberately nerfed to the ridiculous levels.

  • Any mana crystal cluster gives full mana for involved stones and double mana for mana surge (that is guaranteed on any 5 stones and more, I believe). Any skull cluster gives attack damage only with maximum +2 bonus, regardless of amount of involved skulls. There is “critical hit” that is supposed to be analogue of mana surge - but it gives nothing at all.

  • Most of mana attacks can hit arbitrary target - or even all units at once. Skull attack can hit the first unit only.

  • You can deliberately block skull attack: with magic shield, with damage reduction, with evading - simply placing unit at the upper positions. You cannot guarantee blocking of magic attack, as you cannot predict it’s attack pattern in most cases - and only submerge can shield you indefinitely (there is also hiding, but it works only while there are other, non-hiding units).

  • There are innate reflecting abilities that can turn enemy attack against him - again, for their use it’s enough to put the unit at the upper position. There are no magic reflecting innate abilities, and existing effects reflect damage only once.

  • There are tons of units with magic attack that totally ignores shield. But only handful of units that can sometimes ignore shield with a skull attack.

And for all of that, skull has only one redeeming trait: you can hit the same target repeatedly or simultaneously with several attacks - if you are very lucky. (Note that there are several magic units that can hit the same target several times too).

I think, it’s the very wrong situation and must be revised to the side of more skull damage. Actually, even simply making it on level with magic damage will improve them immensively.

And “Critical hit” looks like a bug for me. I will file the bug report for that.

The fastest Difficulty 12 explore team uses skull damage. Case closed.

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You could give the team details so other can see if they agree…

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[1206,6529,6638,6566,3040,1,2,3,3,2,1,3,14029]

image

Some teams substitute King Bloodhammer with Scylla.

Open with Leprechaun with Firestorm from Slayer talent. If Zuul’Goth fills, cast it. Otherwise, if Flammifer fills, cast that to fill Zuul’Goth. Killing an enemy will trigger Doomstorm from King Bloodhammer. It will also trigger Enrage from Bloodlust trait on Slayer. All enemies will be burning, which means you’ll do Enraged+Fireblade (3x Skull) damage against them and one shot everyone.

Works best in Ghulvania, as there is only one troop (Kelpie) immune to burning, but you can just use Zuul’Goth on him if he shows up.

If you know of another team that can clear explore 12 in 30 seconds, let me know.

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  1. How good would be that team without Zuul? And Zuul isn’t “Skull Damage” at all.
  2. “Doom Storm” implies +5 skulls that counts different, I believe. That even emphases how pity “simple” skulls are, and how strange attempt to defend their weakness.
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Zuul is only used to instantly kill one of the enemies and create 12 skulls. You kill the other 3 using pure Skull damage cascades because you’re combining Enrage+Fireblade.

Skulls are crazy damage because the damage is modified by things like Enrage (1.5x damage and ignore traits), Hunter’s Mark (double damage from skulls, not applicable here), and Fireblade (3x skull damage vs burning enemies).

If you don’t have Zuul’Goth, you could get a similar time by swapping in Infernus potentially, because a single four match will burn all enemies, then you just need to match skulls.

In that case, I would do something like Hero(Slayer) + Infernus + Apophisis + Fist of Zorn. The last two troops are empowered and transform green and yellow gems into skulls, respectively.

The doomstorm is so that skulls fall more often. Bonestorm works the same way, but Scylla creates a Bonestorm on 4+ matches, whereas King Bloodhammer creates a Doomstorm on enemy death. In my testing, I want the Firestorm to stay up when I cast Leprechaun, so that more red gems fall and fill Zuul’Goth. I don’t want a Bonestorm before I’ve cast Zuul’Goth.

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Interesting, thanks.

I don’t have Slayer to level 100 yet, but it still seems pretty effective :+1:

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It is.

Pharoah Hound can also be used instead of Bloodhammer, for a safer version of Scylla, basically.

Disagree strongly that skulls need buffed. If they worked as OP seems to want, every skull converter in the game would basically become an instant-win-on-cast

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I use that Zuul team with Thrall instead of KBH or the other troops mentioned. Without the Scorpius team, there isn’t anything close to the clear speed for any of its variations.

The legendary or mythic troops - or the first gen Doomed weapons - that convert into skulls are used in looping teams - some of the best teams used in the game. Unfortunately only a few spell damagers can loop. The Zuul who gets an Insta-kill spell also can backfire. Any buffs to the mechanism of skull damage will make these teams even more meta than they are.

By the way if you wish to use skull damage more effectively, check out these variations:

  • Archer with his traits and talents can one-shot at a chance.
  • Fireblade talent
  • Razor Armor talent
  • Eagle Eye trait on troops (like Tracker etc)
  • Lethal Toxin trait on Webspinner troop
  • Savage Strike trait on The Lord of Slaughter troop
  • Electrified Plating trait on Tina-9000 troop
  • Voracious trait on Kruarg the Dread troop

There could be others too.

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Ok, I can agree that specifically constructed teams can wipe out neutrals very effective with skulls.

But it still not addresses a problem. Not everyone have this troops. Not everyone will compose such teams. Not always this troops are available at all. So… What the point? “I can make uber-powerful team basing on skull damage, then skulls are overpowered and not need to be set in line with magic”? No. Moreover, for such overpowered team, it’s not even matter if skulls will be made more lethal - just because for you they are already lethal enough. You cannot kill the same enemy twice, and there are no more skulls suggested, only damage of one skull attack (that is too low now, if you didn’t enhance it with numerous buffs).

Basically, I am concerned with “pure skull” damage (that is capped on +2 now) - and, mind you, it would be +61 even if the full field involved, that even not close to pure attack of your troops. And “criticals” that theoretically must enhance skull attack, but actually does nothing.

A “critical hit” gives an extra turn.

Yes, this is how spells differentiate themselves from skull damage.

You can deliberately block spell damage with barrier, mana drain, silence, spell resistance, submerge, stealth, and so on. But again, refer to the previous point: spells differentiate themselves from skull damage by having multiple targeting options that, by nature, prevent them from being countered as easily.

You can stun such troops. I think a spell-damage reflection trait would be interesting, though.

I would also classify this as a feature. See points 2 and 3 above.

This applies just as well to spell damage as to skull damage.

You’re suggesting that there are overpowered skull-based teams that are so overpowered that scaling skull damage up won’t make them any better? This seems to undermine the premise of your argument.

This is incorrect. The dominating feature of skull damage is that it can easily lead to extra turns, whereas most spells cannot. In addition, there are several important traits (damage multipliers with certain statuses), talents (fireblade), and effects (hunter’s mark, enrage) that significantly amplify skull damage.

You have illustrated several important differences between spell and skull damage, but I do not believe that they support your claim that skull damage needs to be buffed. Indeed, skull- and spell-damage teams are both prevalent at the highest levels of competitive gameplay, which counters your belief that the two types of damage are not on equal footing.

If anything, what I conclude from this analysis is not that skull damage is worse than spell damage, but that the meta focuses too heavily on repeatedly getting extra turns.

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One word to describe it.

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Are you nuts?
Skull dmg is so powerful in the game that almost every time you have to fallback to a skull spam team. Most gw def teams based on skull spam (see the fuckin tome teams).
Also skull dmg is nonsense, you match 3 gems and do 50-70 dmg on average. Very few spell caster troops can compete wit this efficiency.
Skull dmg can be shot down? What? Doom skulls hits like a truck even when the attacker is entangled, how they are shut down?

Skull dmg should be nerfed and not boosted if anything is done to it at all!

Your other argument is that not everybody can make those effective teams or not everybody will make them. It is their problem. If somebody wants to make a good skull dmg team he can get a ton of help in global chat, even whole teams.

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It seems, we are talking about different aspects. Let’s start from the main discrepancy:

Um, did you see the starting argument? Opponent says that he can destroy 120Lvl monster team in 30 seconds. It’s not about “making it any better”, it’s pure damage only. Yes, in such situation (where each attack kills someone) only way to improve is to make killing of several enemies at once. That isn’t feature for skull damage (except accidental cascades, of course), so yes, it cannot be made better.

Difference lies in two opposite directions: for low level teams even high skull generation will do nothing now - just because skull damages itself are undermined. And for very high level monsters (I am stuck on Bone Dragon 250Lvl in the current event, for example) no way of buffing skull damage can give you victory: because more skulls means less damage in the current circumstances.

I have no idea how exactly you taken my proposal, but it was quite humble (so I wonder why everyone so agitated): make skull “points” in line with magic points - every skull gives one damage, and critical strikes double this bonus. So hypothetical “8x8 skull field” would give attack+unit bonus+122 damages. Not attack+bonus+2, as gives any skull group more than 4 now. It’s buffing, of course, that is very important for low level battles, and also very high level battles - but it’s negligible for described situation “high level player vs low/middle level enemy”, because player is too overpowered anyway.

And now to your contradictions.

It named “extra turn” for all other cases - including 4 skulls. Why 5+ skulls must have different name? I think, you are wrong here.

No. You can prevent spell damage to specific troop - but not negate it completely, because enemy can target someone else, that is impossible with the skulls. And all such cases (except hide) requires active actions. Unlike listed magic shield, damage reduction and evade that simply innate to the unit on the start of battle (and magic shield can be renewed easily in several hero classes).

Exactly. But only skull damage capped.

Explain it, please? I don’t understand. I know only two ways to get extra turn: match 4+ stones, and get extra turn as effect of used magic. Making 4+ with spells is much easier (and predicable) than making it with skulls. And “get turn as side-effect of spell” is applicable only to spells, obviously.

Very very good point. That sums up the argument that skull damage is not a joke at all in this game.

@Smiling_Spectre1
To add, skull damage can be easily enhanced by debuffs on enemies like stun (to remove skull dmg reduction, agility), Hunter’s Mark, etc. See how many troops and classes support those debuffs on the enemies. Compare that to the debuff that enhances spell damage - faerie fire. How many troops and classes can apply that status effect to enemies as effectively as the Hunter’s Mark can be applied.

Skull damage is really not a joke, friend.

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Can you read my reply above, please? I don’t want to repeat it all again. Basically: attack damage and effects, associated with skulls are not joke, and never was. But pure skull damage (i.e. damage that skulls themselves done) is capped to nothing now, and I see no any real reason to it.

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I get it. But spells that do big damages usually need lot of support (mana generation). Skull damages need no mana collection at all, albeit hitting only one troop.

I don’t know if this helps. If magic and attack on all troops are made zero, it is really skulls (those bonus skulls and doomskulls) that can do damage. I am not counting spells that read “(magic x 0.5 + 20)” because I may also consider troops with Razor armor or Plating traits. I hope that answers it.

P.S.: This is not an agitated response. I think all posters above (including you and I) are just in a discussion. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure how you reach this conclusion, but you should not be focusing on skull damage in this event in particular anyway, because this event’s medals only buff spell damage.

I can’t speak for others, but I am in stark disagreement with the proposal that skull damage should be buffed. My response simply counters the points that you’ve raised.

The Zuul-d12 team certainly does not fall into the situation of a high-level player vs. a mid-level enemy, because the player’s stats are weaker than those of the enemy troops.

This disagreement is merely semantic: it is certainly the case that a critical hit grants an extra turn, but you seem to be disagreeing on the basis that it should provide some other tangible benefit. This does not affect my argument.

Again, this is a semantic disagreement. You can certainly block spell damage partially by the methods I’ve described above. You are misrepresenting my argument by phrasing “deliberately block spell damage” as “negate it completely”. I have stated, and do agree with you, that it is difficult to negate spell damage completely, though it is possible in certain circumstances (for instance, with Dawnbringer’s cast).

Barrier and damage reduction apply just as well to spell damage as to skull damage.

This response does not make sense to me as a counterpoint to my argument.

I disagree. Matching 4+ skulls is a simple, predictable way to do damage and to get an extra turn, and is indeed what most skull-based teams rely on via gem conversion. On the contrary, most spells simply do not have the functionality to do damage and result in a predictable extra turn.

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And to add to Qoob’s point, though I don’t know why because OP seems determined not to see the reasoning of the majority — ensuring extra turns is already really powerful in itself because it ensures more hits with skulls

So your argument completely falls apart that “this wouldn’t be more powerful in the most powerful teams, because you’d still only be killing one opponent per skull match” because NO—you’d be looping one-shot after one-shot, and you’d only need a cascade of 4 to win in most cases.

That would be the definition of “OP”

And you can’t just argue about “Pure Skull Damage” in isolation. If you ignore all the compounding effects, like from Fireblade or Razor Armor, you’ll inevitably lead to an unbalanced situation.

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