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Undead Skeletons

Blood Bowl Undead Skeleton
Undead Skeleton Overview:

Under previous editions of the rules Skeletons and Zombies were both seen as an Undead teams source of cheap fodder. With low agility they weren’t used for ball handling, but their cheap cost and Regeneration meant they were great at tying up the big hitters on the opposing side. However because of this, Zombies were pretty much nearly always taken in preference as they have AV8 as opposed to AV7. The Skeleton may move one square extra a turn, but this wasn’t really needed as much, especially compared to usefulness of extra armour on a player taking a lot of blocks.

Skeletons are now the cheaper option as Zombies were given a price rise in order to try and encourage a coach to select Skeletons on occasion. Most Undead coaches though still take Zombies as 40k is still really cheap for a player to let get hit and AV8 is still better than AV7. The price difference in the teams value doesn’t affect a lot and so Skeletons are still really not selected in favour of Zombies. Not to mention that you can sometimes get free Zombies from raise the dead.

This doesn’t mean that Skeletons don’t have their uses though. Assuming that you aren’t going to put them on the Line of Scrimmage (this is what Zombies are for) the extra movement comes in handy for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is easier to keep up with their faster team mates, sometimes you won’t have 6+ turns to cage down the pitch and have to make a run for it.

The second extra use for them is as a dedicated fouler. An extra square of movement will let you move to a downed target further away. Also being the cheapest player should you get sent off you get the best ratio of cost difference between your player and the opponent you fouled. It also loses you less TV off the pitch compared to the rest of your teams.

That is the only real advantage I personally see for Skeletons. For this reason I wouldn’t really look to start a team with one. The extra cost saving may come in helpful to perhaps afford something extra initially though, most coaches still don’t bother and I would only really go this route in a very bash light league. If you do start out this way you will probably be best off looking to replace them with Zombies over time anyway.

Dirty Skeleton:
  • Normal: Dirty Player/Block
  • Doubles: Sneaky Git
  • Stat Increase: +ST

Ideally if you are building a dedicated fouler you want them to take up as little team value as possible. This shouldn’t be much of an issue as most of the time their only chance of SPP will be from MVPs. If they get a third skill they may just be bloating your team value and you should consider firing them. Dirty Player is obviously the first skill pick, or you could go Block if you don’t go all out fouling with them and this will make them a bit more versatile when on the pitch. Doubles you would look for Sneaky Git, while most stat increases would just inflate their value and not really add to their usefulness. A +ST increase is obviously rather helpful as ST4 would be great. I would be gutted that it happened on him though as it would be usually be better rolled on pretty much any other team mate.

Undead Skeleton Summary:

Skeletons have been the black sheep of the Undead team for a very long time. Their Zombie team mates were give a price boost to make them more attractive but they still out shine Skeletons in their usefulness to the team. If you like fouling though and want to really go heavy this way, they are a cheap way to fill out your roster and are semi disposable should they get sent off.

20 Responses to Undead Skeletons

  1. Ian The Geek October 5, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    Would you consider wrestle on a few of these guys (or zombies). Seems a good way to pull down ball carriers that slip through and have block and a good way to pull down the opponents line of scrimmage when you’re on defence. Then it leaves the oppossing players vulnerable to fouling which this seems like a key hobby with the undead team.

    • Coach October 5, 2009 at 12:21 pm #

      Not really, I’d get Wrestle on a couple of Ghouls as they are more mobile to be able to actually get to the ball carrier.

  2. Ian The Geek October 5, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    What about the line of scrimmage though? The best tactic seems to be to put your worse players on the LOS when on defence. Being undead I imagine you’d have a few spare players so dedicating a few to wrestle rather than block wouldn’t be a major commitment would it? And it would help pull down strong LOS’s from the more bashier teams rather than just letting your guy get pounded.

    Although maybe I’m just thinking too much 🙂

  3. Ian The Geek October 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    Just a quick after thought before anyone spots it. If a skeleton had block instead of wrestle then they wouldn’t go down on a “both down” result. So I guess my question should be – What’s better on defenceBlock for a stand off or wrestle for taking both players down?

  4. Coach October 5, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    Varies on team to team and player to player.  Skeletons and Zombies are both slow and unagile, so I would take block. Taking down the bashing players on other teams is more beneficial to the more agile and faster teams. They can take better advantage of the gaps and also don’t have ST5 Mummies to get in the way of a cage and hit back.  Also their players after using Wrestle will be able to get up and move into a better position still, slow players can’t do that. Block combined with Fend negates this issue somewhat.

    That isn’t to say that you can’t have success using Wrestle, it still has the same benefits of hampering the opposition as if used on an Elf player. Block has the extra benefit of getting knock downs on players who have neither Block or Wrestle and therefore can also help skill up players who need casualties and MVPs to get their SPP most the time.

  5. Ian The Geek October 8, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    Cheers for your thoughts. Looking forward to your Ghoul and Wight articles. Would like to see your ideas on their direction. They seem to be the two positions with the most diversity for the Undead.

  6. VoidSeer October 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    I use skellys to tie up big guys and blitzers. Actually, I like skeletons more than zombies. Maybe, because the minis are more fun to paint, or mod.
    In that role, wrestle on skellys has potential. It also helps protect them, who would foul a skelly?

  7. Coach October 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Zombies are better at that though, as they have higher armour for those times the player you are tying up knocks them over.

  8. VoidSeer October 9, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    Yes, but I don’t like to paint them 🙂

  9. Rusty October 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Until/unless Coach updates this guide to LRB6, I just wanted to make a note on Skeletons in the newer rules. Skeletons now cost the same as Zombies at 40k, but come with Thick Skull on top of their LRB5 stats. This seems to make Skeletons even worse than in LRB5. In LRB5 a Skeleton could be used as a cheap, disposable Fouler and I occasionally took one or two if playing against Elves a lot, as I liked the extra MA and their lower AV was sort of countered by cheaper cost. So although Zombies were better, at least a case could be made for taking a Skeleton or two.
    Now, though, they are no cheaper than Zombies, so any argument for cheap Fouling or even cheap extra MA are gone. But does Thick Skull make them useful alternatives to Zombies as linemen? Well, no. Once they’re knocked down (same chance for each), the Zombie has a 16% chance of being Stunned, 7% KO and 5% serious injury. However, even with Thick Skull, the Skeleton has a 30% chance of being Stunned, 5% KO and a 7% serious injury, all due to its lower AV. If the opponent has Mighty Blow, it’s the same kind of story, only with slightly higher numbers all round; the Skeleton is still worse off than the Zombie. Only if the opponent has Claw does the Skeleton fare better in a block, as Claw negates the Zombie’s higher AV and so it has more chance of being forced off the field due to a KO than the Skeleton. So maybe in a Claw-heavy league you could make a case for buying some Skeletons, but I think that’s it unless I’m forgetting another skill that affects injuries.
    In summary, LRB5 Skeletons: worse than Zombies but cheaper; LRB6 Skeletons: worse than Zombies but the same price.
    Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Skeletons back at 30k cost with Thick Skull or maybe even 20k without it, but I’ve never actually used either so maybe it still wouldn’t work.

    • Coach October 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

      Thanks for that, though their price (and the Zombie price rise to 40k) was due to balance reasons. Even with those players costing more, Undead teams are still one of the best races in Blood Bowl.

  10. Rusty October 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Ah, you’re right of course, I’d forgotten about game balance and was only thinking about Skeletons vs. Zombies there, my mistake. I certainly wouldn’t argue against their prices as a whole.

  11. MattDakka October 31, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Against Claw player a Skeleton is better than a Zombie.
    To tie a Claw Minotaur it’s better to use a Skeleton than a Zombie.

  12. Arcane Azmadi August 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Wouldn’t skeletons be better utilised as expendable man markers? Zombies are too slow, Ghouls too valuable and vulnerable (same AV, no Thick Skull and most importantly, no Regenrate) and Wights are better used elsewhere. It’s the same thing I use skeletons for on my Khemri team (apart from kicking and fouling) as Khemri skeletons are identical to Undead ones and they don’t even get the choice of zombies at all.

  13. Coach August 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    A fair and good question. There are as I see it essentially two types of marking players. Cheap expendable ones for marking the opposing team’s bruisers and specialist skilled ones who are more frequently used to mark agile threats.. Neither Skeletons or Zombies are likely to advance that fast and only have general skill access, so both of these are unlikely to be considered for a skilled marking role.

    They are however both cheap and fairly expendable which pretty much negates them to the role of marking the strong / dangerous opponents to save your better players if possible or keep the opposing player out of the action. Those types of opposing players largely consist of strong, slow and low agility player types. Getting one of your players next to that type of opponent isn’t usually too much trouble and when they are doing a marking job, the movement doesn’t factor at all as they will be standing still, or will just need to stand up and move one square next to the target again. So for that reason I don’t really think the extra movement of a Skeleton really is that much of an advantage, there will of course be exceptions but you can’t cover every eventuality.

    Zombies have the advantage of the better armour though so will usually more often be able to just stand back up to carry on the marking job should they get knocked down. Skeletons have now had a boost by gaining Thick Skull which keeps them on the pitch more, but at the expense of them suffering stuns more frequently due to the lower armour. Any time your marking player does get stunned, unless you can use another team mate to do the marking job, the player you were marking will be free to move in their following turn. Hopefully by that time though they are too far from the action to make a big difference to the drive.

    Of course there are other player types that you may wish to mark, like the AG3 killer Blitzer builds. They may be positioned in areas that it is harder to get a player next to them to mark. They are also more manoeuvrable and harder to pin down and you may just give them a free hit on your player too.

    All things considered both Zombies and Skeletons have their advantages over each other for a marking role. You could argue either way so just use whichever you prefer. For me though the extra armour is the key stat in play and good positioning can go a long way to make up for what is only one square of movement difference.

  14. Setomidor August 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    In my opinion, Skeletons make better carriers of Dirty Player and Kick skills than Zombies. The extra move makes it easier to get into fouling position with the Skeleton, and Thick Skull is more important than the extra AV if the opponent tries to foul themselves (assuming that they have atleast +1).

    For Kick, it’s simply easier to keep track of a single Skeleton than yet-another-Zombie, and the extra move is useful when starting a bit further back in the field.

  15. PMJ October 20, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    I’m relatively new to Undead, and for some reason, seem to have skeletons that really want to level up. I now have 2 skeletons with block (started with 1 and got another from an opponent kill), and a skele which just hit level 2. I was wondering if there was any point in putting tackle on a skeleton to help out against elfy teams, or if I should really just stick to having a fouler and maybe a kicker.

    • Coach October 20, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      If you face a lot of Dodge players and you don’t have much Tackle then by all means take it. Skeletons don’t usually advance that quickly though, if you get one with more than two skills I’d be surprised.

  16. Anders October 29, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Perhaps this isn’t the right place for it, but for me it comes down to looks. The skeletons, with their skinny bodies and oversized pads – they’re just iconic. Can’t help myself, really. So, three zombies for the LOS for me, and then skeletons – AV be damned.

  17. Fernando February 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I have four zombies and four skeletons in my undead team. (2 mummies, 2 wights, 2 ghouls, the rest filled up with zombies/skeletons and left overs are in the bench) and Thick Skull have saved me more than once. So I think there’s use for both of them.

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