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Skaarf Abilities & Tactical Breakdown

Skaarf Abilities & Tactical Breakdown

  • Vainglory
  • |
  • Dec 09, 2014


Skaarf’s fire-based abilities light the target ablaze, burning enemies for 3% of their max health for 3 seconds. Skaarf’s basic attacks and fire abilities will refresh the burn duration. Each of Skaarf’s basic attacks will also increase the damage of the burn by another 3%, up to 12% per second. This fire does not burn turrets and deals reduced damage to Kraken.


Skaarf spits a fireball that deals crystal damage to the first enemy or creature in its path.


Skaarf hurls goop onto the target location. Enemies walking through the sticky substance are slowed. Skaarf’s fire abilities will set the goop ablaze with a burst of damage that extends slightly beyond the gooped area. Once aflame, a gooped location will not slow but will apply damage over time.


Skaarf inhales deeply for 1.5 seconds, slowing fleeing enemies and accelerating closing allies. Skaarf then exhales flame for 3 seconds, incinerating enemies in a cone in front of him. While exhaling, enemies moving against the flame are slowed while allies moving with the flame are accelerated. Skaarf may move freely while spewing fire, but he cannot basic attack or use other abilities.

Skaarf is a little flamethrower who incinerates anything in his path. As Vainglory’s first mage, Skaarf specializes in long-range abilities and should stay out of reach of would-be attackers at all costs.

Let’s break him down …

Spitfire is a long-range harass that takes anticipation and guile to hit regularly. Most importantly, this skillshot will hit the first enemy or creature in its path. That means you can easily have a enemy hero lined up … but instead smack your spitfire into a lane minion between you and your desired target. In the time it takes you to realize what happened, your real target may have already escaped — or worse, might have turned and smacked you in the snout.

When using Spitfire, take the time to move around enemy lane minions or look to launch your fireball immediately after clearing a hole through the little buggers. If you’re facing a Skaarf, stay squarely behind allied minions at all times, or else move conservatively out of range.

Spitfire’s overdrive (maxed ability points) significantly increases its damage and decreases its cooldown. It’s worth maxing in almost all situations and play styles.

Utilize Fan the Flames to renew Spitfire’s burn duration, increase the burn’s intensity and bully opponents out of lane. If you see an enemy is building health, that’s a prime target.

Goop is your means of “zoning” the enemy. The mere act of dropping a goop puddle forces the enemy to reconsider its path to you, an ally or a destination. The chance of getting slowed and susceptible to follow-up (including getting lit ablaze) will be a significant deterrent. Look to goop between you and a melee enemy to protect yourself. Look to goop on top of an enemy nearly simultaneous to throwing Spitfire. Look to Goop behind enemies to prevent easy escape. And look to goop in narrow or bottlenecked areas where the enemy will have to brave the sludge or fall back. Remember that a goop puddle lasts longer when it’s not lit ablaze. It’s easy to think of Goop as “step 1” of a two-step process of lighting people on fire. But great Skaarf players will use Goop for psychological warfare and tactical repositioning every bit as much as lighter fluid.

Goop’s overdrive dramatically reduces its cooldown and increases the duration of normal and burning goop. Strongly consider maxing Goop and focusing on zoning the enemy (even at the expense of a third point on your ultimate).

Dragon Breath — like much of the rest of Skaarf’s abilities — has layers of depth easily overlooked. Yeah, tap the button and exhale fiery death, melting opponents like sad, little wax candles. But the act of using Skaarf’s ultimate is filled with meaningful choices potentially lost at lower skill levels:

When should you start Dragon Breath? 

  • Option 1: From a safe distance, fully out of enemy range. You lose all the benefits of Skaarf’s breathing mechanic, but it ensures you’re still alive to spew all that fire. This is most effective when positioned nearby, say, just on the other side of the brush from where the fight is occurring. Journey Boots’ passive move speed will help you get into range afterward (and help protect you a little).
  • Option 2: During a teamfight, when the enemy is preoccupied. Much more dangerous, but ensures maximum damage output (if you survive) and will keep enemies from escaping during your wind-up.
  • Option 3: During a duel or skirmish when they enemy has given up the fight and turned tail to run. Use your inhale to slow their escape, then bring them to their knees.
  • Option 4: If your allies are in trouble and want to disengage, use your inhale to accelerate their movement toward you. You might get out of a fight that would have otherwise been an Ace. Not only that, but you are spewing a massive pillar of flame, so the enemy has to decide whether the chase is worth getting crispy.

It takes practice and thoughtfulness to maximize your ultimate’s damage output without ending up roadkill. But once you have a couple reliable tactics down, it’s incredibly gratifying to grill enemies alive. And if you can coordinate well enough with teammates, you can even use Dragon Breath to accelerate allies movement into battle.

Skaarf is fine 1v1 so long as it’s from a distance. But if you find yourself face to face with Glaive’s muzzle in the jungle, it’s likely already too late. Whether it’s crossing the lane’s midway point or straying into the enemy-side jungle, you simply cannot afford to get caught out because there’s a million ways for Skaarf to die from ganks and gap-closers and few means of escape.

Your teamfight position is largely related to the Dragon Breath discussion above. In general, your place is safely at max Spitfire range (or even generally farther away until ready to Spitfire). But if you can find an angle to get behind your opponents, you’ll have a much easier time landing abilities and can also cut off enemy escape.

Bottom line: Trail behind your team until you can fight on your own terms. And don’t forget you can use Spitfire to check the brush for lurking enemies!

  • Weapon not recommended. Mages are inherently crystal-power based. But if you want to try an off-meta weapon build, see if a Tension Bow purchase baits the enemy into counter-building health. Since Skaarf’s fire burns enemies based on their max health, it could theoretically work!
  • Otherwise, attack speed is a safe bet, especially since it works well with Fan the Flames’ escalating burn damage.
  • Build defense. Items such as Crucible, Aegis and Metal Jacket are all viable and will help Skaarf survive long enough to do damage. This synergizes very effectively with Broken Myth. Combined, Skaarf can be an effective tank-breaker.

  • Build energy. Skaarf is incredibly ability-reliant and can easily get energy starved. Frostburn (stickiness) and Eve of Harvest (sustain) are both incredible items for Skaarf. In fact, build both!
  • Build pure damage. There’s nothing quite like a mage with a boatload of crystal power. Build a Shatterglass (or eight). A well-placed Spitfire or Dragon Breath when loaded with crystal power is a sight to behold.
  • Build Cooldown. The more fireballs the better.
  • Build move speed. Positioning is so important for Skaarf, so buying all the way up to Journey Boots (where the extra defense kicks in) is recommended.


Ringo has no specific counter to any of Skaarf’s abilities. And if he gets behind, Skaarf can bully him with little recourse.


SAW’s slow movement when spun up makes him a sitting duck for Skaarf’s Goop puddles and Spitfire skillshots. When playing as SAW, it’s essential to maintain move speed even at the expense of Spin Up and damage output.


Krul needs to stick around for long fights to be effective. But against a Skaarf, the longer Krul sticks around, the hotter and brighter he’ll burn amid Skaarf’s flames. And burning undead flesh doesn’t smell very good. Kruls also often build health, which will work against him when facing a Skaarf who knows how to effectively attack from a distance.


Petal’s munion pets and seeds can protect her from Skaarf’s skillshot fireballs. That’s enough of a game-changer for Petal to take the upper hand in most matchups.


So, you’re in lane lighting stuff on fire and minding your own business. Next thing you know, you’re gutted like a fish, lying dead on the cobblestones, while that fox/panda ninja dude laughs in your face and runs away. That’s pretty much how Skaarf vs. Taka goes. When there’s an enemy Taka in the game, don’t overextend, scout trap the brush near lane and use flares as much as necessary. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long afternoon.


Glaive can easily close the distance gap … and avoid your skillshot fireballs … and stun you out of your ultimate … all with Afterburn. And from close range, he’ll beat you down with his axe.

  • Use Spitfire before dropping a Goop puddle. Anyone on fire will light the puddle ablaze.
  • Focus on maximizing and maintaining your burn damage. This element of Skaarf’s abilities is easily underestimated. Take one match and dedicate it purely to burning your way to high max health damage. (Can you reach and sustain 12%?) Once you realize the full potential of Skaarf’s burn damage, it will permanently change the way you play.

You’re ready. Take Vainglory’s first mage into the Fold and light ’em up.