Destiny players have discovered that the Level 35 Prison of Elders fight with Skolas is one of the more difficult boss fights in the game. This is because the encounter throws four different mechanics at PlayStation and Xbox owners, including two at the same time. This guide was put together to provide help and tips to beat Skolas and get those sweet House of Wolves rewards.
Note that this guide is only for the boss encounter. Please check out the Prison of Elders General Strategy Guide for tips on how to get through the first four rounds of any encounter and deal with the various modifiers.
The mechanics of the fight are broken down according to Skolas’ health levels.
Skolas at 100 to 65 percent health – Servitor Bonds
At 100 percent to 65 percent of Skolas’ health, he is bonded to two white Servitors that spawn on the left and right side of the maps. Killing one of these Servitors provides a 20 second buff to allow you to damage Skolas normally.
Note that killing the other Servitor while the 20 second countdown is still active simply resets it to 20 seconds. The buff does not stack.
When Skolas’ health reaches 65 percent the Servitor bonds are broken and he can be damaged fully for the rest of the fight.
Skolas at 65 percent health – Devouring Essence
A debuff called Devouring Essence will randomly be applied to one player when Skolas reaches 65 percent health. This lasts for 30 seconds and will kill the player once the timer reaches zero unless another teammate takes it off. The third player on the team will have to take Devouring Essence buff from the second player though as the last player that received it is “Immune” from picking it up again for 40 seconds.
The debuff has to be passed from one player to the next in order because of the Immune debuff. Example: Player 1 to Player 2 to Player 3 and then to Player 1 to start the cycle over again. This order can be disrupted though due to death.
Note that the Devouring Essence debuff will stay active throughout the rest of the fight and force the team to stick together. This is easily the most frequent cause of death either because the timer runs out and kills the player or players are scrambling to try and meet up to pass the debuff.
Skolas at 50 and 25 percent health – Dismantle the Mines
A “Dismantle the Mines” objectives that starts when Skolas’ health reaches 50 percent and a second will begin at 25 percent health. These spawn in random orders in the locations marked on the map below.
The Destiny 188.8.131.52 hot fix changed the minion spawns to be based on Skolas’ health. A new wave of minions will spawn at the following levels.
- 100 percent
- 65 percent
- 50 percent
- 25 percent
Note that minions will spawn at the same time as the “Dismantle the Mines” objective.
The good news is that the minions are all normal “red bar” minions and not Major “yellow bars.” The mix is Dregs, Shanks, Vandals, and Captains.
Like most of Prison of Elders, Titans should go Defender and equip Helm of Saint-14. If you don’t have that, go with Glasshouse for extended Blessing of Light armor or Armamentarium for an extra grenade. Grenade choice is your personal preference.
Hunters should favor Bladedancer heavy on invisibility with the Perks “Vanish,” “Escape Artist,” “Shadowjack,” and “Stalker” all active to help with reviving fallen comrades and dismantling minds. Mask of the Third Man is ideal, but Khepri’s Sting is an option. The main thing is to extend your ability to go invisible.
Sunsinger is the order of the day for Warlocks. They should also have the “Fireborn” perk on for self-resurrection along with the “Flame Shield” perk to grant an overshield when dishing out melee damage for increased survivability. Choose between Fusion Grenades for their damage ability or Solar Grenades for area denial.
Your primary weapon should be your best Arc burn primary to deal with the Fallen Captain’s shields. Scout Rifles such as Wolves’ Leash II and Fang of Ir Yut are ideal for picking off enemies from medium to long-range distances along with the Pulse Rifles Overoul Edict and Praedyth’s Timepiece. A fully upgraded and Ascended Hand Cannon like Fatebringer is best for short to mid-range encounters on the map.
At least one player on the fireteam should be equipped with an Arc shotgun. Two are ideal since they are the best way to bring down the white Servitors and Captains quickly. One to two players should have High impact sniper rifles similar to Black Hammer and the LDR-5000 to either dish damage to Skolas or pick off distant minions.
Heavy weapon selection should be your best one available. Skolas will teleport for short distances so go with Rocket Launchers that have either “Tracking” or the “Grenades and Horseshoes” perks. Machine Guns are best used for quickly burning through minions, but can do plenty of damage to Skolas as well.
The Patient Strategy
It’s best to think of the Skolas encounter as a giant toilet bowl. You want to stay to the outside rim of the cell and rotate to the left throughout. The middle of the map is dangerous and where you are bound to get flushed. This is what the rotation should look like.
Here is the basic breakdown of the strategy for defeating Skolas:
- Run left from entrance, destroy white Servitor and damage Skolas.
- Clear minions.
- Rotate around to the left to the platform on the other side of the map and repeat step 1 if necessary until the Servitor Bonds are broken at 65 percent of Skolas’ health
- Pass the Devouring Essence debuff from Player 1 to Player 2 to Player 3 and back to Player 1 when the countdown reaches 5 to 10 seconds.
- Rotate clockwise around the map from platform to platform as needed based on if minions and/or Skolas is overwhelming your position.
- Clear minions
- Damage Skolas down to 50 percent health
- Dismantle Mines
- Clear Minions
- Damage Skolas down to 25 percent health
- Dismantle Mines
- Clear minions
- Finish off Skolas
- Go to treasure room
- Get loot and dance
It requires patience and making sure that you don’t get needlessly aggressive and put yourself or a teammate in a bad situation. There’s no way to shortcut this fight now.
Breaking the Bonds
When you come out of the entrance, immediately run to the left side and bring down the white Servitor and take position on the upper platform. Put as much damage on Skolas as you can. If you get him to 65 percent and break his bonds, great. If not, that’s fine too.
If the Servitor Bonds are not broken, begin clearing out the minions that spawned. Once they are cleared out or you feel like you are being overrun, run to the raised platform on the other side of the map and either finish clearing out the minions or destroy the other white Servitor.
If you still haven’t broken the bonds, rotate around the left side of the map again to get the white Servitor that spawned on the raised platform.
Dealing with Devouring Essence
Communication is the key when passing the Devouring Essence debuff around the fireteam. The player with the debuff should be calling out the countdown starting at 15 seconds to let the other two know. Ideally, you want to pass the debuff between 5 and 10 seconds to ensure the debuff has worn off the third player in the group.
The Sunsinger Warlock can be a lifesaver when it comes to the debuff. If they have trouble reaching the next person in the chain to pass the debuff too or if the other two players are dead, the Sunsinger can wait out the full length of the countdown, die, and then revive. The debuff will be applied to them again, but that grants an extra 30 seconds and the immunity of other players should have expired by then.
Try to pass the debuff to one another in the safest spots on the map. That would be the raised platforms on the left and right sides of the map along with the tunnel alongside the entrance wall.
Dismantling the Mines
Since the mines spawn at the same time as a new wave of minions, the Bladedancer Hunter with maxed out invisibility options is the best choice for dealing with the mines, especially the one in the middle. The Bladedancer can use their super ability to quickly cross the map by jumping in the area and swinging to their destination and then can go invisible either by pulling the right trigger or using Blink Strike.
During this time the other two players should be clearing out as many minions as possible from the platforms on the left or right side of the map. One of the three mines will spawn where you are standing so that leaves the Hunter to go get the other two thanks to their invisibility perks.
The Titan should throw down their bubble in a pinch to protect one of the mines against incoming attacks. This will most likely occur if Skolas is attacking your position at a mine with his cannon, which does considerable splash damage.
Tip: The designated runner for the mines should pass the Devouring Essence debuff off to the next person before Skolas is damaged to the next level that the mine wave is spawned. This allows the next two players in the debuff chain to be right next to each other and on the relative safe spot of one of the raised platforms.
- Decide on one person to make the call outs on when to rotate to the next position. Having someone lead the fireteam in these decisions can cut down on confusion and a squad accidentally splitting up.
- Titan bubble placement can be a lifesaver. Placing a bubble with Helm of Saint-14 on the left platform at the top of the ramp can blind enemies that rush your position like the Sword Captains and Shanks and make them easier to take out.
- It’s possible to ignore the mines that start at the 25 percent of Skolas’ health, kill him and then defuse the mines easily once all the minions despawn. You’ll need the boss to be in a good open area and have full heavy ammo to pull this off though.
- Note that sniper rifles no longer stagger Skolas since the 184.108.40.206. hotfix.
Hat tip to the Destiny Reddit community for throwing out different strategies to try out to beat Skolas and confirming some of the changes with the 220.127.116.11 hot fix.
[Images via Destiny, Bungie]