Dave M's Guide to Skullbreaker
In this series, we will give you a quick breakdown of each champion. This is geared mostly towards people who have not played with this champion much, so it’s not an in-depth tactical treatise. This is more of a quick breakdown and assessment of the champion.
We will grade each champion’s offense, defense, support, mobility, and control. We’ll explain each grade and then give you a quick vision of a dream activation for that champion.
In a separate series, Grumpy has written about how champions match up with each other. Here are the matchup evaluations for Guardians, Maelstroms, Slayers, and Shapers.
Here is the grading scale for each category:
Skullbreaker is an archetypal Slayer, controlling an area through his sheer threat alone and putting all his damage into a single big swing. Plus, to back this up, he has scary followers and is a great banner crusher.
Here's a post Grumpy wrote about Skullbreaker when he was first released.
Here are Skullbreaker's Cards:
Offense - Outstanding
Being the only champion that can access a 10 accuracy, 10 damage attack, Skullbreaker can put out the single biggest attack in the game. What this equates to is a potentially decisive attack that does not give the enemy a chance to respond, unlike if split over multiple attacks. With his low protection stat and limited range, I'd recommend using his ultimate, Finisher, when you can: 5pts and a 4 hex push on a KO is fantastic and better than it going unused. Go For The Belly's 4 hex push with a KO can really put enemy champions out of play. However, his standard Jawblade is great too at a 5/7, plus easy access to boons via the Toothbearers' Set Up The Boss! passive so you can cater to target different opponents.
Skullbreaker only having the one attack without any range can limit his ability to use I Smell Blood or Go For The Belly. Therefore he works well when enemies are drawn in with a banner or pushed closer by an ally ability.
The Toothbearers themselves have one of the best attacks amongst all followers in the game. 6 accuracy (often 7 the first time due to Hunting Call) makes it great against high dodge champions: anyone with a 4 dodge, 2 armour profile should watch out. Plus, Club Bash's autowound allows it to chip down high armour champions, or take out tough followers such as the Quartzlings.
Defense - Bad
Whilst 4 dodge and 8 wounds looks good, his armour 1 means Skullbreaker is a real victim and will often go down at least once in a game. Infact, his greatest defence is that no one wants to go near him - the best defence is a good offence! It is ironic that the biggest bully of champions is particularly vulnerable to followers' attacks. What's worse, Skullbreaker's passive means if he is KO'd, he can be moved through followers too, meaning it's harder to stop him getting moved. The good thing, however, is that his high health pool and good dodge means he's unlikely to go down in one hit.
The Toothbearers are often priority targets for the enemy and likewise go down easily without Skullbreaker's high health pool to protect them. Thankfully, their autowound on Club Bash means they function well when only one is left too.
Support - Awful
Hunting Call looks good, but it's rarely used after the first turn: you'll likely be planting banners and moving in later turns instead. Regardless, it's good to cluster followers near him in deployment for a nice Hunting Call.
Otherwise, the only other support game the warband has (outside of killing everything in sight) is Feral Howl. Again, this is often rarely used: you'll likely be moving or recruiting instead. But, when used it can be a nice set up for Jawblade.
Mobility - Good
His mobility is close to outstanding; Skullbreaker is one of the premier banner crushers in the game. The Toothbearers' Set Up the Boss! is key to Skullbreaker's mobility in the clash phase, and it's good to get him a movement boon to increase his threat range. With this, he can threaten multiple enemy banners, particularly as Out of My Way! means followers can't block his path. Don't forget that Set Up The Boss can trigger twice if you attack a champion or large follower: meaning he can potentially move 4 hexes in the clash phase.
Likewise, the Toothbearers themselves are quite fast, with their Rush skill in particular letting them get to where they need to be in the plot phase.
Control - Good
Skullbreaker's control game is through his sheer threat: the danger of coming anywhere near him. Again, this can be augmented by his mobility and holding his activation until last. Enemies have to think twice about coming anywhere near him, particularly if you have a banner(s) nearby. This means he has a good banner game. He can dominate hex clusters or protect groups of followers from Maelstroms through his presence. The Toothbearers' lack the same level of control, but their speed makes them handy (if fragile) ways to block enemy movement.
It's Knowledge (so banners are crucial) and Raith'Marid (no ultimate) has Undertowed a hex out of reach, with followers to block it. He also has access to Skullbreaker's Banner.
The Toothbearers activate first; they Club Bash (81% chance to hit) a splashling, giving Skullbreaker a movement boon and limiting Raith's access to his banner. With that boon and a small bit movement, Skully cannot be Tided out of reach. The big orc can now reach Raith's banner and has a 48% chance of one-shotting a full health Raith (if no boons) with Finisher: that's a 4-9 point swing, plus potentially pushing Raith 4 hexes.
Matchups and Scenarios
Skullbreaker was released since Grumpysarn's excellent matchups and scenarios articles. To give my take on his matchups:
Luella is his biggest counter: being able to take a hit from him and hit him and slay the Toothbearers reliably. Halftusk has similar strengths, plus Skullbreaker has no plot phase ways to move the frogs and hates to waste an attack on them. Raith has the durability to take a hit from Skullbreaker, plus easy access to accuracy boons and multiple pushes from the splashlings. Although vulnerable to the Toothbearers, Mourneblade can pin Skullbreaker down and Skullbreaker's warband doesn't have enough attacks to clear the Knightshades in one go.
Grimgut hates this matchup. He has barely any ways to hurt him and Skullbreaker waltzes straight through the Retchlings. Similarly, like Rangosh, Skullbreaker likes to prey on more vulnerable Maelstroms like Titus and can potentially slip away from a surround pound. Nia and the Quartzlings are both vulnerable to the Toothbearers, whilst her only way to slow Skullbreaker is to hope for a Shimmer. Shayle can struggle to Earthquake the good dodge on Skullbreaker's warband, plus is vulnerable to both Skully and the Toothbearers.
And for scenarios - all of them! He's killy enough for Life and Death, has a good banner game and dominates an area for Quest and Knowledge, and is flexible and fast enough for Change and Chaos.