What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?


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Snake Sneak

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Joined: Saturday, 10th March 2018, 18:00

Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 05:15

What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

I continually hear that Animate Skeleton is one of the most powerful low-level spells in the whole game, and to an extent, I understand why this is. You kill something big, you raise its corpse, now you have a big ally. But... I don't really understand how you're supposed to use them so effectively. Let me explain:

-I'm a melee fighter, who has dabbled into Necromancy to get access to Vampiric Drain and Animate Skeleton. Eventually I want to transition to Animate Dead but that's going to take a while, because I want to wear heavy armor and hit things with a big mace. Usually, I fight things in corridors, because that's how you don't die. So I lure a pack into a hallway, kill the thing in front, and I want to raise it - but I can't, because the enemy behind it has moved into the square that its corpse is on, and so on down the line until everything is dead before I have a chance to raise any of them. I raise all of those skeletons, explore to the next fight, and if I'm lucky, some of them still exist by the time I get there. More often than not, most of them are gone. I get nearly no benefit from any of my animated skeletons.

-This time I'm a dedicated spellslinger, started as Necromancer and I'm using Pain to kill most things. Maybe I have a couple other assorted conjurations for reliable damage - but regardless, I don't want to get into a melee brawl with an ogre, so I kill it from far away with spells. Unfortunately, I've got more enemies closing in on me and its corpse is 4-5 tiles away. I can chase it down and try to raise it, but that's a huge waste of turns that I should be using to deal damage or get into a better position, or in many cases, just run away.

Really, the only time I can see Animate Skeleton being a significant boon is if you've killed one enemy while it's in melee range, you have a corridor nearby, other enemies are already approaching from the opposite direction, and you need to leave. In that situation, you raise the skeleton and he holds the line (usually for 3-4 turns, at best) while you leg it down the hall, being... roughly equivalent to a janky Blink scroll that only works in hallways.

Animate Dead solves these issues pretty handily by raising multiple corpses within LOS. Animate Dead is a good spell. You don't have to be on top of the thing you want to animate, so you can actually make use of it when you kill something from range or when an enemy is parked on top of the corpse. Animate Skeleton does none of this, and I think that making Animate Skeleton a wide ranging AoE like Animate Dead is would probably make it way too strong for a level 1 spell. But as it currently exists I can't figure out how to actually get any sort of good use out of it. Personally, I'd argue for making it targeted rather than only the square you're standing on, but I want to get the opinions of people that use it more effectively than I do.

How do YOU make good use of Animate Skeleton?

Halls Hopper

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Joined: Sunday, 23rd November 2014, 07:41

Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 05:36

Re: What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

I macro animate skeleton to 'c' and pretend I have auto_butcher turned off because the spell is too tedious to use "optimally." You're overthinking this.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 07:06

Re: What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

Yeah, just raise every raisable corpse. Skeletons last for quite a while, so they can still be around when you find the next enemy. There's an option for adjusting your autoexploring speed to match your slowest allys speed, if you don't want to run ahead of your undead allies.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 07:23

Re: What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

Don't fight the whole pack in a corridor, retreat from first monster in the pack, kill it (works in open too), create a skeleton, lure another monster from the same pack, kill it, create another skeleton and so on.

The spell really shines in Lair when a single hydra skeleton can kill a whole pack of other things and then you animate that pack too, the spell allows to have a snowball effect exactly like animate dead does.
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Barkeep

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Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 13:18

Re: What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

IIRC, ally AI is kind of counterintuitive. I haven't played much with allies in a while, but generally I remember that you want to give them commands fairly often. They don't always just go and attack stuff, but going 'ta' will let you choose a target and 'tg' basically lets them off their leash to go and attack as they see fit. Normally 'tg' behavior is closest to what I want in a fight.

But really, allies are pretty firmly in the 'very strong, very fiddly to use optimally' category.
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Swamp Slogger

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Joined: Thursday, 1st November 2018, 02:33

Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 13:33

Re: What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

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The M hits your A.
This is where mechanical excellence and one-thousand four-hundred horsepower pays off.

Vaults Vanquisher

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Joined: Thursday, 25th October 2012, 03:19

Post Thursday, 14th March 2019, 14:04

Re: What's the optimal way to use Animate Skeleton?

The optimal way is to raise a skeleton, put inner flame on it, then order it to retreat into an area you know enemies exist. When it reaches the destination, put it in guard mode then watch the fireworks and make the advancing monsters stand in flames while you finish the fight.

But seriously, it's even better to not use it and save your mana for vampiric draining.

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