Uses for spinal's skull summon

Since the patch I’ve been playing spinal, trying to find the best uses for his new skull summon move. Some notable properties:

  • Ballparking the total duration based on setups where you can substitute it for other moves, it seems to have about 30-35 total frames.

  • The rules for cancelling into it are a bit weird. All normals cancel into it. For specials though, there are some rules. Searing skull never cancels to it, nor do any doubles or linkers. Soul sword and boneshaker both can, but only on block or in a juggle (same for slide,) and heavy soul sword can’t cancel to it at all.

  • The shadow cancel window for spinal’s specials seems to be some time after the active frames end, meaning it’s always going to be unsafe on block to cancel to it, and when used as a juggle from soul sword it doesn’t get much additional time for setups, if any.

  • In instinct, you gain four skulls instead of three.

So, when are the best times to use it? Obviously vs some characters you can use it safely from fullscreen but we want to get the most juice out of it as possible. The most obvious time to use it from close range is in juggles. As an AA, doing 2HP xx medium sword xx summon nets you 10% and 4 skulls, 5 in instinct, and still leaves you with enough time to meaty. You can also do 2HP xx skull, summon, but because the skull can’t be cancelled into the summon you’re only barely plus–not enough time for a meaty due to the distance. On the other hand, in instinct you’ll still end up with 5 skulls, so it’s your call whether you value the meaty or the curse more.

The time you’re most likely to use it is after launcher ender. You likely spent skulls to get into the combo, meaning it’ll almost always be worth doing after your ender. If you just do launch straight into summon you’re plus enough for a meaty, so if you’re a super risk-averse player you can go for that. Your best offensive option, though, is juggling into 2MK xx summon. You have a load of KD time to work with; my personal favorite setup is to follow up with an immediate low skull. It hits really late, making it very plus, and while it can be punished by some wakeup shadow moves like wind kick, it’s safe from others and will make some reversals whiff. Plus, in instinct you’ve set up a long term threat your opponent will have to deal with. Obviously you’ll have to mix up the strengths you use, but you’ll get decent setup time from the other strengths anyways.

As I’ve mentioned before, having skulls bouncing in instinct can also provide coverage to safely summon more skulls without being fullscreen. It’s not totally safe, if they have a bar they can punish while ignoring the skull, but if they’ve been cursed for a while it’s likely that they’ll lack the meter to do so. You just have to time your summon properly; make sure there’s a skull in front of you moving toward your opponent when you summon.

Anyone else got good spots to use his summon?


I have a feeling at least some of these are to prevent you from canceling into it accidentally mid combo and getting yourself killed.
…well, figuratively speaking, anyway. Spinal’s already dead.