Skarner Build Guide by Cervance
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Skarner is a fun and unique champion that I loved from the moment his abilities were announced. Take Jungle Cho'Gath, give him
and Zeal, then multiply it by ten, and you have Skarner.
Skarner is a powerful jungler due to the brutal nature and unpredictability of his ganks. Once you board the Skarner train, there's no escape save a timely Flash or Exhaust or another powerful slow. And unlike many other junglers, Skarner can gank effectively starting at level 2!
The advantages of jungle Skarner are offset by the difficulty of his early jungle path. I've failed in the jungle and fallen behind more than once, before I realized exactly what Skarner needed to clinch it and get his train rolling again. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you'll be able to share the pleasure I've had repeatedly dragging Annie into Cho'gath's gaping jaws.
Nimbleness . Greater Seal of Armor work too, just remember to adjust masteries to max Harden Skin instead of Nimbleness.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction and Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction reduce the cooldown on his shield, allowing Skarner to escape faster in cases where you can't stand and fight. Greater Glyphs of Warding also work.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed, it's possible, and very fun. Sometimes I take two armor penetration quints and one movement speed quint.
In 0/21/9 format, we go for maximum armor and damage reduction, maximum move speed, and extended buff duration. The only completely necessary points are 9 into defense to pick up
With 21/9/0, we can get more damage and a slightly faster jungle, but lose move speed crucial to Skarner's kit.
With 0/9/21, we have some extra experience and perks, but now our jungle is less safe and slower than either of the above paths.
Smite is obvious.
Note that Smite also deals damage to H-28G Evolution Turret, Summon: Tibbers, and Omen of Death.
Ghost has the best synergy with Impale, as move speed directly improves its power.
Ghost is also better at chasing and sticking than Flash is.
Flash is powerful on any champion.
Note that you cannot Flash after you've impaled someone, so Ghost is usually much stronger.
Exhaust is also very powerful on Skarner. The cumulative slows and extra resistance shredding really marks a target for death after an Impale. If you do take Exhaust, remember to play judiciously, as you will not have Flash or Ghost to use to escape, while other champions will carry them to chase and kill you.
Cleanse is an okay spell to take in Ranked games if you see an opposing team packed with Exhausts and stuns. Usually its better to build a Quicksilver Sash and save the slot for something stronger.
Other options aren't nearly as powerful. Ignite is inferior to Exhaust, as it is nearly impossible to escape Skarner with low health, and the damage reduction from Exhaust will serve you better in endgame team fights than a little damage from ignite. Junglers shouldn't take any of the remaining spells for any reason.
Main Route and First Items
Skarner's ideal jungling route is the same as most other champions. That being said, he can gank effectively starting from level 2, which allows for a great deal of variation in his path. Note that early ganks leave you open to counter jungling, so be wary if your opposing jungler is strong at this, such as Nunu or Shaco.
Level 1: Blue buff
This camp, with the set-up listed above and below, requires at least a leash to clear safely. If you cannot get a leash for any reason, skip blue buff and red buff until you're a higher level.
Buy Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potion. Level Crystal Slash. Have your team surround you at blue buff, in case the opposing team tries for a steal. At 1:55, blue buff spawns. Have your mid leash the buff, and have the nearby lane stick with you and attack it until it has half health. Use a Health Potion as soon as you take damage. When it has under 455 health and nobody is in range of experience, (experience range is smite range) Smite it. Finish off the lizards with normal attacks to conserve mana. As a note, lead with Crystal Slash before you attack to get the extra cooldown.
It's very important to lobby for the nearby lane to stick with you. It lets you finish faster, with more health, and protects you for the most part from a level 1 gank. Make a point that if the lane helps you out, you'll be able to gank safely, while if they don't, you won't be able to gank until you finish your route and recall. Chances are they'll come and help, otherwise you know what lane to ignore...
Level 2: Gank/Wolves and Wraiths
Wolves and Wraiths are easy for Skarner to clear at any level. Don't waste your Smite on these guys.
If you wish to continue jungling without an early gank, level Fracture and proceed to wolves. Hit them all with Fracture and lead with Crystal Slash for the best results. Chug another Health Potion when the old one runes out.
Proceed to Wraiths, using Fracture and Crystal Slash to take them down. Clearing this camp will net you level 3. As always, keep a pot running if you need it.
If you wish to gank at level 2, put a point in Crystalline Exoskeleton instead. CAUTION: Ganking at level 2 and failing will put you behind in your route, so only attempt a gank when the lane in question already has the advantage and you won't lose much health. After ganking a lane near blue buff, finish Wolves and Wraiths as normal and re-***es your position.
Level 3: Gank/Red Buff and Small Golems
To clear Red buff safely you'll need 400 health, 250 mana, Smite, and a Health Potion.
To clear small golems you'll need 250 health and 150 mana.
If you wish to continue jungling without a gank, level Crystal Slash again and move on to Red buff. Once again, use Fracture and Crystal Slash, keep a pot running, and smite it at under 525 health.
Move on to small golems, rinsh, wash, repeat. Congratulations on level 4.
If you wish to gank at level 3, level Crystalline Exoskeleton and proceed to a lane adjacent to your Wraith camp. Level 3 ganks are significantly less dangerous than level 2 ganks, as with a failure you can mooch half a level from the lane without harm, and can clear small golems to get level 4, leaving red buff for later.
Level 4-6: Gank, Mooch, Wolves, Wraiths, Small Golems
Even if you don't attempt a gank at all before you finish your route, you're likely to be at fairly low health. Gank a lane near your golem camp only if your partner can help you kill your target faster than they can kill you. If you aren't confident in this, recall.
Buy a Sapphire Crystal, a Health Potion, a Mana Potion, and a sight ward. As Skarner can only jungle effectively if he can spam his skills, the addition of the sapphire crystal and mana potion should let you clear your second blue easily.
From level 4 on, you have the freedom to do what you need to do to win the game. Gank overextended lanes, hold lanes for your friends, and counter jungle if their jungle is on the other side of the map. Your goal should be to reach level 5 and arrive at blue buff by 7:25 to get it a second time. Drop your ward off at dragon, and try to keep it up for most of the game.
To clear your second blue buff, chug your potions and see how much mana you have. With over 400 mana, you can spam everything, Smite, and finish easily. With less than this, use only Crystal Slash and Fracture. You'll finish in about the same time with the same health, but you'll save mana.
Do not attempt Blue Buff if you have less than 200 health or mana and no potions!
Sometimes, the enemy team will charge into blue buff and your team loses. In these cases, although Skarner's jungle is held significantly back, it isn't completely ruined. Once you see the enemy team in their lanes, check your Blue buff. If it wasn't taken, ask your mid to come and leash it so you can finish your jungle as normal. If it was taken, kill any of the lizards the other team may have left.
Start with Wolves, using Crystal Slash to kill them. Use a Health potion.
Move to Wraiths, smiting the big one and killing the rest with Crystal Slash and Fracture. Use potions as necessary.
Kill the Small Golems and recall or gank. Mooching some experience off a solo lane is a good idea here.
Buy a Sapphire Crystal and as many Mana potions as possible and kill Wolves, Wraiths, and Small Golems again with Crystal Slash and Fracture. Use potions as necessary. Gank and mooch where you can until Blue buff respawns. If you're level 4 make sure you have extra health and mana and use only Crystal Slash and Fracture to kill it. Otherwise, from here, proceed as usual.
Items, Items, Items!
Everybody loves their items. I build Skarner as a hybrid offtank. There are many other ways to build Skarner, but Sheen and Vampiric Scepter will allow you to jungle with ease and be a much larger threat than a Skarner building Wriggle's Lantern.
Sheen has amazing synergy with Crystal Slash and vampiric Scepter, giving you loads of life steal and jungle sustain without needing Wriggle's Lantern. Buy your boots after you get these items, or your jungle and damage will suffer.
Every Game Core
Mercury Treads are amazing boots on any melee champion. You'll find yourself extremely weak to crowd control if you don't buy them. Bilgewater Cutlass is one of my favorite items. It gives you extra AD and a clutch slow to use before your second Crystal Slash hits to ensure that absolutely nothing gets away.
Finish your Gunblade and buy Banshee's Veil and Warden's Mail to get tanky. Prioritize based on who's the bigger threat on the enemy team.
Against mostly AP or mostly AD teams, get a Force of Nature or Thornmail instead of the useless item. You have to invest in tankiness early, before the important team fights for Inhibitors and Baron starts. Sunfire Cape is an alternative to Randuin's Omen, but the damage is definitively lackluster. Banshee's Veil is a must, to help avoid crowd control after you Impale someone, in order to get the most out of your ultimate.
Triforce will significantly improve your damage. Nothing special here. For your last item, try a Guardian Angel or something. None of my games have ever progressed past this far, so I don't have a last item listed.
Other ItemsAs always, if you don't like the way I build Skarner, there are great alternatives. Take the time and look at some of the other builds submitted for him and you should eventually find something you like. Here we go, in no particular order...
Crystal Slash usage racks up stacks quickly and the damage is good. This should be built ASAP as Skarner can really effectively use its numbers.
Skills and Tricks
Skarner's passive is a great one. Use your abilities before you attack to make the most of it while jungling. A particularly good usage of it comes after level 6. Keep a neutral minion camp around to use as a cooldown reduction platform after you gank with your ultimate, so that it's up for every gank.
Not much needed to be said about this skill. You can use it on minions while ganking to proc the slow effect for when you catch a champion. Otherwise, you should be mashing Q as hard as you can just about all game.
Gives you move speed as long as you can maintain a teensy shield. Not always the best skill to spam, as its your escape mech. Ideally, use it to stab the hapless Annie and feed her to Cho'Gath, then save it until you need to escape or chase.
Fracture is actually Skarner's best jungling ability, but taking it first means he can't gank effectively at level 2, and the time you do this, Cho'Gath in mid will cause Annie to blow her Flash, and you won't be able to capitalize. Fortunately, if your team leashes blue exactly as you asked, you'll reach level 2 without even needing a health potion, and Crystal Slash is only slightly weaker while jungling, but much stronger while ganking.
Probably one of the funnest and most effective ultimates in the game, when applied correctly. The key to using it correctly is to avoid being stunned, snared, or slowed while it is in effect! Wait until the first round of disables are off, then blow Ghost and Crystalline Exoskeleton and stab Annie. You'll have a long 1.5 seconds to drag her away from her team, and chances are you'll have someone on your team ready to capitalize. Almost always dragging someone with Impale will cause them to Flash to escape. A high damage teammate with a silence such as Cho'Gath or Malzahar will coordinate well with Skarner.
Before attempting to gank a lane, do a quick mental checklist, asking the lane in question if necessary (communication over ventrillo, skype, or mumble helps greatly):
1. Is your Ghost/Flash/Exhaust up?
2. Which way is the lane pushed?
3. Which team would win if forced to fight?
4. Are the other side's summoner spells up? Flash or Exhaust will quickly spoil your gank.
5. Which side is in better shape? Ask if your allies have enough mana to help you out.
6. And finally, does the target champion have an escape ability?
Depending on your answers, you should be able to predict whether the gank will be a success or failure. The worst gank to try would be a level 6 Kassadin with Flash/ Exhaust against a helpless, manaless Annie. The best gank would be against that manaless, flashless Annie in return. If you do have a chance to gank an Annie with a Cho'Gath on your team, remember to have him wait in the bushes with you.
Once you've found a good target, ping them, tell that lane not to push, and ask any questions as necessary. Ideally, you'll be able to run straight past the bushes and pull off the gank even if a ward caught you. Ideally, you'll be able to cross a minion wave while ganking, proc'ing Nimbleness and powering up Crystal Slash on them. Obviously, hit them as hard and fast as possible, but be wary of towers and don't give up your buffs.
Once you hit 6, ganking is funner and more deadly than ever. Assure your teammates that you can catch up to the target and ask them to save high damage abilities like Death Lotus and skill shot crowd control abilities like Enchanted Crystal Arrow until after you land Impale.
If you gank a lane and fail, you don't have to crawl into the jungle set back. Many times in the guide I've mentioned mooching. Basically, mooching is sticking in a lane for a wave to get the experience from the wave, which will put you ahead of their jungler without putting your lane behind. The trick is to zone the enemy from the experience line. This is easy if the lane is extended too far. The enemy may just recall to base, meaning your gank actually was successful, and you've given your lane free farm while denying the enemy experience and farm. Keep in mind that its not kills that win games, but farm and experience. Just don't take the lane's gold.
Don't even know why this section is here. I guess the point of League of Legends is to have fun, so make sure you're having fun. If you're not having enough fun, build Shurelya's Reverie, ghost, stab that poor Annie and feed her to Cho'Gath. That should make you smile.