Skulla Part One: The Skeleton Army Rises
Skulla began his journey on the outskirts of New Tristram like any other character in Diablo 3. I snapped an immediate picture to record his starting stats at Level 1:
The Necromancer in D3 apparently begins the game wearing some kind of ridiculous Goth outfit, leather pants along with a weird vest thing that's open in the front to reveal a bare midriff. I guess this pasty-colored guy had to show off his rack of amazing abs! To be fair, the D3 Necromancer does look a lot like the D2 Necromancer, just after an extended amount of time spent shopping at Hot Topic. In gameplay terms, Skulla had the miniscle starting stats that all characters share at the outset of the game. The only active skill available at this first level was Bone Spikes, one of only three primary skills available to the Necromancer class. Bone Spikes causes a small circle of protrusions to appear from underground wherever the player clicks their mouse cursor. The damage is pitiful at only 150% weapon damage, making the Corpse Spiders skill used by Spyderman look like a heavy hitter in comparison. However, Bone Spikes would be one of the core skills used by Skulla on this quest due to its other property: it generates 24 Essence per hit. Essence is the Necromancer class resource, and unlike many of the other class resources, the meter does not refill on its own. Skulla would need to use the Bone Spikes skill in order to power everything else that he did.
There are a few places where the stitching is obvious between the original base game of Diablo 3 and the Reaper of Souls expansion grafted onto it. One of these is the leveling pace when starting out with a new character in the expansion; I was operating on the Expert difficulty level here, and the +200% bonus experience gain causes your character to level at an absurdly fast rate. (It's very obvious that D3 was originally conceived with a much slower rate of experience gain in mind.) Skulla had already hit Level 2 before he even entered the town:
He picked up the Bone Spear skill for this level, which I immediately put to use. Bone Spear is not one of the skills that I planned to use for Skulla's character build, but the Bone Spikes primary skill was sad enough when it came to damage that I decided to employ Bone Spear until unlocking the skeleton army. Bone Spear was simple enough to understand: it cost 20 Essence per casting and dealt 500% weapon damage as a straight line skillshot that pierced through enemies. This was a nice contrast to the Ray of Frost skill that Snowbelle had been using, which sadly stopped at the first enemy hit. So the gameplay here was pretty basic, tagging monsters with Bone Spikes to generate Essence and then using it to cast the much higher damaging Bone Spear skill. That would be more than enough to get me through the first few levels until the game proper could begin.
Skulla picked up the second Necromancer primary skill at Level 3, Grim Scythe. This skill swings a crescent-shaped attack in front of the Necromancer's position, dealing the same 150% weapon damage as Bone Spikes and, more importantly, generating 12 Essence per enemy hit. This immediately felt like a poor choice for a skill, as the damage remained so low that Grim Scythe only had value for Essence generation and nothing else. But even the Essence gained was pretty sad in comparison to Bone Spikes, as Skulla would have to hit two enemies at once just to break even and three enemies to come out ahead. Meanwhile Skulla would have to expose himself to melee combat to use Grim Scythe at all, and that was emphatically not the gameplay that I had in mind for him. It would be far safer to remain behind his minion army and cast Bone Spikes for Essence, which would also come far closer to replicating the path of the previous D2 version of Skulla. I ditched Grim Scythe as an option almost immediately and went back to using the Bone Spikes skill.
The first minion skill didn't unlock until Level 5, and in a reversal of Diablo 2, it was the Skeletal Mage skill that unlocked before the melee skeletal warriors:
The Skeletal Mage skill works in a fundamentally different way in Diablo 3. In the prior Diablo game, the skeletal mages needed a corpse to be summoned and were effectively a form of glass cannon DPS, frail things that would collapse if they came under any serious attack but which could dish out plenty of punishment from behind the safety of melee skeleton blockers. Here in Diablo 3, skeletal mages don't require corpses to be summoned and have no health bar at all. They are effectively immortal and can never die, but the tradeoff for that is a short duration: they only last for 6 seconds before disappearing back into the ether. And the cost of 40 Essence is fairly steep given their short duration, since the Necromancer maxes out at 200 Essence without boosts from items or Paragon levels. Without anything else to boost their performance, the skeletal mages tend to be on the unimpressive side.
Now with that said, there are a number of different ways to boost the duration and damage of the skeletal mages with different passive skills and high end items. One of the most important ways to improve this skill is to increase the duration of the skeletal mages, which makes it easier to get up to the maximum number of ten mages. I would be searching out the items associated with the Skeletal Mage skill for Skulla, as they would become an important part of his character build. The 400% weapon damage figure is also the damage per skeletal mage attack, not over the course of the summoned duration, and therefore increasing the time that the mages stick around and their attack speed can greatly improve the overall damage. I found that Skulla could typically keep about three mages going at a time for the moment, interspersing summoning of the mages with constant uses of Bone Spikes to keep generating Essence. The skeletal mages were happily much faster here in D3 than they had been in D2, where they were constantly getting lost or trapped on various terrain features. If they were only going to hang around for a few seconds, at least they were a lot smarter about it.
Skulla didn't come across anything particularly interesting as he made his way to the Cathedral for the first time. It was there that he reached Level 9 (still leveling up at a tremendous pace) and unlocked the Command Skeletons skill:
This is another skill that operates in a fundamentally different way from the Raise Skeleton skill in Diablo 2. Back in the prior game Raise Skeleton was the most basic starting Necromancer skill, creating a melee skeleton from an individual corpse which would fight in hand-to-hand combat with enemies. The melee skeletons could be surprisingly study if the player put a bunch of skill points into Raise Skeleton and Skeleton Mastery, but their damage output was poor and they mostly served as blocking dummies for the real damage dealers, the skeletal mages. Here in Diablo 3, the Command Skeletons skill has both an active and a passive function. The skill passively raises melee skeletons from the ground every two seconds, up to a maximum of seven, which attack nearby opponents for 50% weapon damage per swing. Corpses are not needed to raise these skeletons and as far as I could tell they never seemed to die. While the damage output looked poor at only 50% weapon damage, that figure is per hit and per skeleton, which translates into a pretty solid rate in practice. Much of the time Skulla didn't even have to do anything, as these melee skeletons hacked down his opponents without ever dying.
There's also an active component to the Command Skeletons skill though, which comes in handy against elites or other bosses. The Necromancer can spend 50 Essence to command the melee skeletons to attack a particular target, which focuses all of their attention against that monster and increases damage by 50%. The skeletons glow bright green when this skill is activated and charge towards the indicated target; in fact, it can ONLY be used if there's a valid target selected. For someone who spent a lot of time controlling an army full of dumb skeletons in Diablo 2, this skill is a godsend for being able to direct the focus of your minions. While Skulla typically didn't need it against random normal critters, I would sometimes pull out the active function just to group up all of the melee attacks against one target, or to put a meat shield (bone shield?) between Skulla and something nasty that was trying to attack him. These skills were effectively trading the complexity of needing to come up with bodies and preseve the lives of the skeletal minions in favor of more complicated skill interactions between the active and passive functions. It was just different enough to be interesting, and I did my best to get used to the new ways in which these skills functioned.
After rescuing Cain, I was treated to this amusing cut scene spectacle:
Never mind that row of skeletal warriors all lined up together, let's just talk about the Fallen Star like nothing unusual is going on!
I was continuing to use Act One to test out different skills that might be useful for Skulla, and the third and final primary skill available for the Necromancer class unlocked at Level 11. This was known as Siphon Blood, and it created a bloody link between Skulla and his target whenever he put it to use. Siphon Blood pulled away the life force from the creature being drained, dealing 300% weapon damage and healing Skulla for 2% of the damage dealt while also restoring 15 Essence for each tick of the skill. Unfortunately this skill was also not very practical for general use, largely because it was a channeled skill that forced Skulla to stand in place while using it. That's almost always a bad idea in this run-and-gun action game. The additional damage on Siphon Blood was similarly underwhelming because the whole point of the character was to use the minions for damage, not Skulla himself, and the Essence generation was worse than Bone Spikes unless I had him stand in place for two seconds like an idiot. No thanks. As we'll see, there were much better ways of restoring health than using Siphon Blood. This confirmed that Bone Spikes would be the primary skill of choice for Skulla, as I had suspected would be the case.
Skulla had no issues making his way through the outdoor areas of Act One while searching for the Broken Crown. The skeletal warriors were doing most of the work at the moment, with the mages kicking in minor damage without being needed overmuch. Skulla turned up his first legendary item in the Den of the Fallen, in the form of the Crushbane legendary two-handed mace. I used it with the knowledge that something better would drop soon enough, given how Skulla's level (and therefore the quality of the items that could appear) kept rising rapidly.
Level 13 brought the arrival of Skulla's next summonable minion in the form of the Command Golem skill. This horrifying abomination also had a passive and an active function, with the passive function causing the golem to walk around attacking enemies at 450% weapon damage per swing. The active function of the golem differs depending on which of the five skill runes gets used. This was the basic version of the skill, the Flesh Golem type, which would cause the creature to collapse into a pile of corpses and immediately reform again when activated. This particular active function was useless for Skulla, who didn't use corpses for any of his skills, and I planned to replace it with a better version of the golem once it became available. I was running the golem itself largely for flavor purposes, employing a golem here because the original Skulla had made use of one. The damage output wasn't terribly impressive and I wouldn't be able to pump up the golem later on in the same fashion as the skeletal warriors and mages. Command Golem was a skill that might potentially be replaced down the line with something better; I'd have to wait and see how things played out. I did wish that the golem was a bit less Lovecraftian in terms of its hideous appearance.
Here's a picture of the whole crew acting together against an elite carrion bat. The golem and the skeletal warriors were in the process of mugging this poor creature while the mages got in their shots from a distance. Note the green glowing outline around the melee skeletons, indicating that Skulla had used the active Command function here. It was a little bit difficult to see at times and I wished that the graphical indication were a bit more obvious. I used the Command active to focus the skeletons on one elite at a time, downing them individually so that the minion attacks weren't spaced out across a bunch of targets. It would have been nice if Spyderman could have commanded his Corpse Spiders like this!
The new skills kept arriving as Skulla hit Level 14 and unlocked his first curse in the form of Decrepify. There are only three total curses associated with the Necromancer in Diablo 3, somewhat strange given how many of them existed back in D2, and a number of the old curses were combined together into the three remaining options in Reaper of Souls. Decrepify is pretty similar to its prior function, reducing enemy movement speed by 75% and damage by 30%. Even better, the curse has a wide area of effect that I captured in the screenshot above, and lasts for a full 30 seconds of duration. As someone who was used to juggling a much smaller Dim Vision area of effect with a miniscule 2-3 second duration, this was almost too easy. At a non-existant Essence price of just 10 per casting, it was easy to spam Decrepify without needing to worry much about running out of resources. The curses in Diablo 3 are very powerful and I'm surprised that they don't seem to attract too much attention from the playerbase. Perhaps it's because the players at the top of the leaderboards have optimized everything for maximum speed and damage, which the curses admittedly don't facilitate particularly well. Skulla's only complaint was that it could be difficult to spot the Decrepify indicator above the heads of the monsters, and I wished that the visual indicators were a bit more distinctive.
Three levels later the second curse skill arrived in the form of Leech. This is effectively an updated form of the Life Tap curse from Diablo 2, in which cursed enemies heal the attacker for 2% of their total health each time they are struck. This sounds really great but unfortunately the amount of healing received scales with the dreaded proc coefficient (therefore getting reduced in efficiency far below the stated value) and the number of cursed enemies hit. It was also unclear to me if the damage dealt by minions ended up healing the Necromancer, or if Skulla needed to launch his own attacks to gain the healing benefit from Leech. Note to self: need to test this further to determine one way or another. There's a later rune for the Leech skill (Cursed Ground) that would provide massive healing for Skulla independent of any attacks, something that I planned on testing when it became available. In the meantime, I was happy to get some limited use out of the Leech skill, since it had the same large area of effect as Decrepify and also had the minimal 10 Essence cost. Unlike in Diablo 2, it's perfectly possible to stack multiple curses on the same enemies in Diablo 3. The real limitation in this game is the hard cap of only six active skills at a time, without which I would have had all three curses running at once with Skulla.
This picture from a cursed chest back in the Cathedral showcases some of the madness of the skeleton army at its best. I found that Skulla's setup wasn't particularly well suited to a disorganized mob like this, as he had to keep re-cursing the new monsters as they appeared on the screen and that slowed down his ability to auto-attack with Bone Spikes and summon more minions. Skulla had a real need for more attack speed to cast faster; if I haven't mentioned this before, attack speed = casting speed in Diablo 3. There's no longer any difference between the two. Faster attack speed meant more opportunities to refill his Essence from attacking and therefore the chance to get more total skeletal mages into the battle. Much like the original Skulla, I found that the battles were easier when all of the opponents were coming from a single direction, with Skulla himself safely stationed behind the front line of his minions. This cursed chest battle was too chaotic and didn't represent a good tactical setup. At least I could reposition the minions if anything became too hairy, which, this being Act One, they never did.
Look at the picture above for a stark contrast in tactical situations. This was the ideal scenario for Skulla, with his skeletal warriors and golem frontlining in a straight hallway while the Necromancer himself hung out back by the skeletal mages in complete safety. I had the double curse debuffs from Decrepify and Leech running simultaneously, and all that Skulla had to do was auto-attack with left click and summon more mages with right-click. Now you might notice that the skeletal mages look a bit different in that screenshot, and this was due to Skulla running a different rune option. At Level 19 Skulla had unlocked the Skeletal Archer option: instead of mages the skill would instead raise archers, which dealt the same damage but provided a stacking attack speed buff of 3% per attack which would stack up to a maximum tenfold bonus of 30%. Given how important the attack speed stat was for Skulla this was a very nice benefit indeed, even if most fights didn't get large enough to reach the full ten stacks. The picture above was the somewhat rare case where Skulla had four mages (err, archers) out on the field and all ten stacks in place.
The other Skeletal Mage alternatives didn't seem to be terribly useful, certainly not as strong as the archer rune. Gift of Death caused the mages to leave behind a corpse when they died, useless since Skulla wasn't employing corpses at all for the moment. Contamination raised poisonous mages that channeled an aura of decay for their duration, which looked cool but did significantly less damage (only 100% weapon damage). Singularity consumed all Essence to summon a single minion that dealt 3% more damage for each point of Essence consumed. That sounded pretty bad: a single mage that drained all Essence to deal 1000% weapon damage instead of four or five of them each dealing 400% weapon damage? The math didn't seem to back that up, let alone suffering the penalty of draining all Essence at once and leaving nothing leftover afterwards. The last rune option of Life Support added 2 seconds of longer mage duration for a tradeoff of costing 10% of the Necromancer's maximum life. That also sounded dangerous but I'd have to test it out once it unlocked later. For now, the skeletal archers were clearly the way to go.
For some reason the Necromancer class has far more passive skill options than the other classes, even though they are still limited to the choice of only four passive skills at a time. At a guess, I think that this is due to the multiple different playstyles available to the Necromancer, everything from the summoning build that I was running here to melee Necromancers to bone skill Necromancers to blood skill versions of the class. Anyway, the top passive skill for Skulla was Extended Servitude, which extended the duration of the Skeletal Mage skill by 25%. At the moment that was increasing the duration from 6 seconds up to just short of 8 seconds, but there would be other items that Skulla could pick up later which would increase the base duration further, therefore improving the benefit of Extended Servitude as well. The other passive skill that I was running at the moment was Commander of the Risen Dead, which lowered the Essence cost of Command Skeletons by 30% (from 50 Essence down to 35 Essence) as well as lowering the cooldown of Command Golem by the same 30%. I found that I wasn't actually using Command Skeletons all that often, since it was basically overkill against random critters, and soon swapped this passive skill slot to Overwhelming Essence when it became available at Level 30. That passive increased Skulla's maximum Essence from 200 to 240 and made it less likely to run dry in any one fight. This was a passive that I expected to replace later in the game as Skulla picked up additional bonuses to maximum Essence from legendary items.
The other must-have passive skill that Skulla would pick up later was Final Service, the Necromancer version of the "avoid death" passive. Every class gets one of these passive skills that prevents death when your character falls to zero HP, after which the passive goes onto a 60 second cooldown. The specific benefit of Final Service makes the Necromancer immune to all incoming damage for the next 4 seconds after dropping to zero health, as well as consuming minions to restore 10% of maximum health per minion. This was an extremely strong combination for Skulla's minion-heavy setup, making him invulnerable for 4 seconds and essentially giving him a full health refill in the process. It was far better than the similar Unstable Anomaly passive skill given to the Wizard class, which only granted a damage shield upon hitting zero health and didn't actually restore any HP at all. I would slot in Final Service as soon as it became an option and hopefully need to use it as little as possible.
As Skulla neared the bottom of the Cathedral, I decided to swap out the underwhelming Leech curse in favor of the third and final curse in Reaper of Souls. This skill was named Frailty, and although it had first unlocked at Level 22, I waited to make the switch until the "Scent of Blood" rune became available at Level 26. The basic property of Frailty is to kill any monster that falls under 15% remaining HP. There's no savings throw or chance to miss here, once their lifebar drops down into the critical range they simply die. Chopping off about 1/6th of every opponent's health is a very big deal indeed, especially since many of the act end bosses enter into more dangerous AI scripting patterns when they drop low on health. Frailty helps remove the most dangerous part of these battles. On top of that, the Scent of Blood rune also increased the damage dealt by Skulla's minions by 15%, making this practically an uber skill for his setup. A curse that sliced off a good chunk of every enemy's lifebar and ALSO boosted minion damage by 15%? Skulla probably would have run this curse for either one of those properties, much less both of them.
I was able to make the first real test of Frailty against Leoric, and yes, it did function just as the text stated, dropping the boss instantly when his health bar fell below 15% remaining. The skeletal warriors and the golem successfully formed a front line and kept the boss away from Skulla, allowing the archers to fire away in safety from the back lines. This was a situation where the archers could stack up their full 30% attack speed bonus, allowing Skulla to get off more Bone Spikes attacks and therefore summon more archers. By the way, it was already apparent that nearly all of the damage was coming from the archers, with the damage printouts from the skeletal warriors sitting in the hundreds while the damage printouts from the archers were in the low thousands. One thing these screenshots don't capture particularly well is how many attacks the minions kept landing on the boss; much like with Spyderman's Corpse Spiders, the skeletal army was getting in at least half a dozen hits per second. I actually forgot to use Command Skeletons here and it didn't even matter, as Leoric was dead in less than 30 seconds. (He dropped Leoric's Crown as a legendary item, how appropriate!)
Skulla continued to use these skills moving forward in Act One, with the Decrepify + Frailty curse combo softening up his foes for the skeletal army of minions to do their work. The most noteworthy event to take place out in the wilds beyond New Tristram was the appearance of a key legendary item: Reilena's Shadowhook. This is a two handed unique scythe that causes every point of maximum Essence to increase damage by 0.5%. Since the default starting maximum for Essence is 200, that means a damage increase of 100% at a bare minimum, and likely more than that after stacking up additional maximum Essence from items and skills. (This very item had +20 to maximum Essence on it!) As an added bonus, Reilena's Shadowhook also caused Bone Spikes to generate an additional 4 Essence per enemy hit, outstanding when a bunch of monsters were clumped up together against the skeletal warriors. Now this version of Reilena's Shadowhook had been generated at Level 30 and therefore would quickly become useless as Skulla continued to level up, and the item is a poor choice to be equipped later on in the game because of its two handed nature. However, Reilena's Shadowhook is a fantastic choice to equip in the weapons slot via Kanai's Cube, thereby avoiding the two handed issue and still picking up the item's legendary property. Skulla could make use of the weapon for now and then stash it for extracting into Kanai's Cube later on. I'd been hoping to find this weapon at some point in his travels and it was a stroke of fantastic luck to come across it before even finishing Act One!
Backed by the power of Reilena's Shadowhook, the next couple of areas were almost insultingly easy. The weapon itself boosted Skulla's damage by 70% over his previous weapon, and then he picked up a further 130% damage boost from having 260 maximum Essence. This was enough to tip the gameplay over into lawnmower mode for the moment, the skeletal warriors themselves carving through opponents before Skulla could even summon some of his skeletal archers. Well, OK then - carry on boys! I knew this wouldn't last too long as the monsters kept leveling up alongside Skulla, and I enjoyed it for the time being.
The next useful rune for the Command Skeleton skill unlocked at Level 32. I had been using the "Frenzy" rune for the last few levels, which increased the attack speed of the skeletal warriors by 25% when Commanded. The new rune was "Dark Mending", which added the last property in that screenshot: skeletal minions will heal you for 0.5% of your total health per hit while being commanded. This was a fantastically useful property, as all seven of the skeletal warriors would be granting back that 0.5% of total health on each and every hit. There are legendary items that Skulla would be pursuing later on which grant additional attack speed to minions and allow the Necromancer to run the "Command" aspect of this skill indefinitely, with the skeletal warriors transferring from one opponent to another as soon as the first target dies. If my theorycrafting was correct here, it would mean that Skulla could ignore the Recovery stat completely and still have massive health regeneration from this skill. That would be a huge deal, as one of Snowbelle's biggest problems was a lack of any skills that boosted health recovery. I was hoping that Skulla could use this setup to keep his life globe topped off pretty much indefinitely.
The other cool aspect of the Dark Mending rune was its graphical appearance. The skeletal warriors changed from green coloring to red armor, and whenever the Command property was activated, they would start glowing with a malevolent red aura. The screenshot above showcases them when they were commanded to attack that particular elite opponent, exhibiting the telltale red aura. I found that Skulla's healthbar would fill up almost instantly as soon as I used the Command property, a good sign for the future. His character build was starting to come together.
I had been unimpressed with the first few Command Golem runes until finding this option at Level 36. The Bone Golem rune summoned a skeletal construct with an active function that created a whirling mass of bones at the targeted location, stunning opponents and dealing excellent damage (2000% weapon damage) over 2 seconds. Like the other Command Golem runes, the Bone Golem could use this active function every 45 seconds and otherwise would passively attack enemies that it encountered along the way. I had good success using the Bone Golem agaisnt clumped up groups of opponents, and although it's a bit tough to see in this screenshot, that's the scenario taking place above in the Northern Highlands. While the golem was nice to have for flavor purposes, as a callback to the original Skulla's golem in Diablo 2, I still wasn't sure that it was the best fit for his setup. Each skeletal archer did as much damage as the golem and Skulla could have up to ten of them! There was also no clear need for a golem anymore since the skeletal warriors were also immortal and unable to die, thus removing the need for the Iron Maiden golem with reflected damage from Diablo 2. I kept the Bone Golem in place for the moment while continuing to think about other options for that sixth and final skill slot.
Down in the Halls of Agony Skulla came across a double elite pack for the first time. The elites were all rolling with two affixes by this point, and this particular combination turned up Fire Chains/Arcane Enchanted along with Frozen Pulse and something else that didn't get captured in the screenshot. I made sure to tag everything with the Decrepify/Frailty combination and command the melee skeletons to focus on an individual target, then did my best to stay back out of the fray while summoning more skeletal archers and auto-attacking whenever possible. I should also note here that Skulla has absolutely no escape skills at all; the Necromancer class gets a teleport-like skill in the form of Blood Rush, which grants the ability to jump 50 yards away on a miniscule 5 second cooldown. I would have loved to take that skill as part of his setup, but nope, the original Skulla didn't have a teleport ability so the new Skulla doesn't get one either. This was an intentional restriction I was making to his character setup, just as I was avoiding skills like Army of the Dead and Simulacrum that a non-variant summoning Necromancer would almost certainly be using. I wanted to recreate the Diablo 2 gameplay as much as possible with the new Skulla, and that was very much what I was seeing here: the skeletal warriors holding the line up in front, the skeletal mages/archers dishing out most of the damage, and Skulla himself staying safe in the back while tossing out curses. It seemed to be working just fine even if it wasn't the optimal skill collection for maximum DPS.
Eventually Skulla made his way down to the Butcher at the bottom floor. I remembered that Snowbelle had taken some time to defeat this first act end boss, largely because she was still using Frozen Ray as her main skill for lack of other cold-based options. Skulla had no such trouble here since the skeletal army was largely online already, and his shambling minions quickly tore apart the big demon. The situation pictured above was pretty much the ideal setup, with the skeletal warriors completely surrounding the boss and with their Command function keeping Skulla fully healed at all times. You can even see the life restoration from Dark Mending kicking in with a little graphical effect on Skulla himself. The skeletal archers did most of the damage, the golem added in a bit extra, and Frailty dropped the Butcher as soon as his health bar fell below 15% remaining. Easy stuff.
That brought the first act of the game to a close in satisfying fashion. I felt as though I had a solid grasp of the basic mechanics for Skulla at this point, and I was looking forward to pushing through the rest of the campaign to unlock his remaining skills and start searching for his first legendary items. I don't think that Skulla ever dropped below 75% health at any point in time to date, and his lack of mobility hadn't proven to be a serious problem thus far. Time would tell what the rest of the campaign had in store for him and the skeletal army.