Skarner Build Guide by GargoPat
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.
Introduction ~ About the Author
I'm Gargopat, a league of legends player with a real knack for jungling (as you can tell by my profile, which contains all jungling guides). This is my guide to jungling as Skarner in season 3. I have been playing a lot of Skarner lately, and he has carried me up through at least 2 divisions now, so I want to share with you all the way I play Skarner. I know there are a lot of good Skarner guides out there, but I guarantee you that you will not regret reading this one!
Skarner is a tanky, mobile chaser and disruptive champion, with tons of crowd control and spammable skills that makes him a threat to any lane he ganks. The only way to play Skarner is in the jungle, where his built-in sustain and skillset makes for fast, efficient clears and effective ganks. If you want to read how I play this (unfortunately unpopular) champion, then read on...
Please note that this is not THE way to play Skarner, but MY way to play Skarner, for there is no set way to play Skarner. Every game is different, so you will need to adjust your build accordingly. You may disagree on some points and agree on others, but everybody has their own way to play champions, so don't go saying "this guide sucks, that's not how to play Skarner!" I didn't comment on your Skarner guide and tell you it blew chunks, did I?
|+ Naturally Tanky
+ Very Quick Clear Times
+ Great Chaser
+ Low Mana Costs
+ Great Initiator
|Skarner is a tanky, sustained-damage jungler with great chasing skills. He has many build roles, often filling the role of tank and initiator, but can also be a high-damage carry. Skarner is a champion that can be very rewarding through his ganks, and amazing late game. Using his ultimate, he can grab enemy high-value targets, and with his team, kill them off before the suppression even ends. He scales well with attack speed, movement speed, health, and armor and magic resist.|
|- Blue buff dependant early game
- Weak 1v1 in early game
- Only viable in the jungle
- Overlooked by other junglers
|Skarner is not suitable for all team compositions. He deals a mixture of physical and magic damage, with different scales on attack damage and ability power. Because of this, your team will have to have the right balance of physical and magic damage, so your team is not walled by pure armor or magic resist. He also should be picked under certain circumstances. For example, if they have strong 1v1 duelists suck as Master Yi, then Skarner will be at a disadvantage due to his low 1v1 plays. Skarner is a very team-based champion, requiring strong teamwork. to be used to his full potential.|
Why Pick Skarner?
Do you need a tank that excels at chasing? Do you need an effective initiator with an ultimate that basically guarantees the death of the enemy ADC? Do you need a jungler? Do you need a strong initiator/tank with an ultimate that can guarantee the death of the target so unlucky enough to get targeted by it?
Then let me introduce Skarner, the MotherFu**ing crystal scorpion from hell!
Skarner is a good, tanky jungler, sort of like a second support. He is not a carry jungle, so if he gets all the kills, your team may be in a bit of trouble. Picking Skarner is all about the enemy team comp. If they have an effective jungler who can counter-jungle easily, gank more often, and win trades with little difficulty ( Lee Sin), then Skarner may not be a viable pick. You should also not take Skarner when your team has one main damage type. (EI: All AD, or All AP.) Skarner does hybrid damage, so he works best with a hybrid damage team. Also, if your team will require constant strong ganks, Skarner is not the best choice. And do NOT pick Skarner if you already have a jungler. His laning is a joke, don't believe anything anyone says otherwise.
Selecting Your Runes
Greater Mark of Attack Speed
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
These are your typical runes for Jungle Skarner. These synergize the best with skarner's kit in the jungle.
Greater Mark of Attack Speed: More attack speed means you proc your passive more often, and therefore reduce your cooldowns on your abilities faster. They also scale well into late game, making them the only real attack speed bonus Skarner needs.
Greater Seal of Armor: These seals reduce the damage taken from jungle monsters and enemy champions, making them the most viable choice for Skarner. They are extremely cheap, and very effective, so there is no reason not to have them.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Skarner doesn't need any flat MR,and by the time you need magic resist, these runes will grant more then their flat counterparts.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: These allow Skarner to run around the jungle faster, and they improve his already phenomenal chasing ability.
Greater Glyph of Attack Speed: If the enemy team has no magic damage other then the support, you can swap out the scaling MR glyphs for more attack speed. This is only viable when dealing with an AD mid such as Talon, an AD top such as Garen, and an AD jungler such as Xin Zhao.
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction: These glyphs are the same scenario as the attack speed glyphs above, only use them under the right circumstances. They start you off with 7.5% CR, increasing to 27.5% with the blue buff. They let you spam your skills faster, which is useful because Skarner relies on his spells to jungle efficiently.
Greater Quintessence of Percent Health: If you don't have any movement speed quints, you can't really use just any quints on skarner. These particular quints however, increase Skarner's maximum health, making him exceptionally tanky, proving to be viable options. If you pick these runes though, you may want to build additional health items to maximize the effect of 4.5% increased health.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE THESE RUNES?
If you don't have these runes, then try running:
- Greater Mark of Attack Damage / Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
- Greater Seal of Armor
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist / Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction
- Greater Quintessence of Armor/ Greater Quintessence of Gold
These runes are not the optimal runes for skarner, but they can be used to fill until you can afford the optimal runes. If you cannot afford the best skarner runes, then don't play skarner, his runes are very specific.
Choosing your Masteries
Tier 1: Summoner's Resolve will grant 10 bonus gold each time we use Smite. Durability gives us the same health as about 6 Greater Seal of Scaling Health. Tough Skin will reduce damage taken from jungle monsters.
Tier 2: Hardiness further reduces damage taken from jungle monsters, and enemy champions. Bladed Armor increases jungle speed by reflecting damage back to the creeps.
Tier 3: Relentless reduces slows effectiveness, stacking with Boots of Swiftness. Veteran's Scars increase our early game health for survivability.
Tier 4: Tenacious reduces all crowd control duration, not effectiveness. It stacks with any tenacity item. Juggernaut makes buying tons of health more worthwhile.
Tier 6: Honor Guard reduces all damage by 3%. Best mastery in this whole tree.
Tier 1: Summoner's Insight reduces the cooldown of Flash, making it a very powerful mastery. Meditation helps with our mana problem. Improved Recall is very useful for making quicker escapes.
Tier 2: Mastermind further reduces the cooldown of Flash, and Smite, so we can cast it faster and gain more gold.
Tier 3: Runic Affinity makes blue and red buffs last longer. Best mastery for a jungler who really makes use of these buffs.
Picking your Summoner Spells
If you don't take this, there must be something wrong with you. This is a must for junglers! It grants bonus gold, it drastically increases jungle clear speed, and is essential for securing buffs such as Dragon and Baron Nashor. I don't care what you say about not needing Smite to jungle, just take it!
This is just the best spell for Skarner. Combining it with Impale, your ultimate has roughly 750 range, making it great for surprise initiates or ganks. It also helps if you need to escape a sticky situation. It goes over walls, which is why I take this over Ghost.
energize ENERGIZE: A great passive for Skarner's kit in the jungle, it reduces cooldowns by 0.5 seconds with each hit. More attack speed (Hence our attack speed marks) Procs this more often, allowing for more spamming.
CRYSTAL SLASH: A great ability for clearing the jungle, but even better for ganking. The slow on the enemy will either secure a kill or make them burn their summoner spells so escape. Always max this first for its damage, slow increase, and the mana cost is so low, it should be nerfed. 85 physical damage and 72 magic damage (excluding bonus damage from ratios) every 3.5 seconds (before cooldown reduction) is insane.
CRYSTALLINE EXOSKELETON: Bonus attack and movement speed, in addition to a shield. This increases durability in the jungle, in addition to procing your passive quicker thanks to the attack speed buff. Always spam this when you have a blue buff, but be sparing without blue buff, as it drains your mana quickly. It also allows for greater chasing potential thanks to the movement speed. Always max this second.
FRACTURE: A rather uselee ability. Sure it provides a heal, but it is so slight you may not even notice it. Sometimes I get lucky and manage to snag that last hit for the kill with this, but not very often. The heal amount is increased with Spirit Visage. Take a point at level 8, but max it last. People say don't put a point in this at all until forced to, but the way I see it, it won't allow you to max your other skills any faster. And when you get a kill on an opponent with a sliver of health who is just out of melee range with this skill, you will be thanking yourself for taking it.
IMPALE: A great ultimate. A huge amount of damage, and a suppression on the target. This allows you to effectively take out the enemy ADC, drag him back to your team, and destroy him. You can cast Crystal Slash while dragging the target for extra damage, and also cast Crystalline Exoskeleton for movement speed while dragging them. You CANNOT Flash, so don't waste it. But you CAN use other abilities like Ghost and Crystalline Exoskeleton while dragging an enemy to gain a movement speed boost and carry them further. Be sure to cast this on the high-value targets, like the squishy carries. Take points in this whenever possible.
- Boots of Swiftness: Great boots, thanks to the reduced slow effects. This passive stacks with tenacity, the
mastery, and the
mastery. With these boots, slows and crowd control effects will barely slow him down. Basically, there are no brakes on the rape train.
- Spirit of the Ancient Golem: A vitally important item for Skarner. Health, tenacity, and cooldown reduction. I always rush this, and try to buy it even before I buy any boots. It also gives great mana and health regeneration in the jungle, and increases your jungle farming throughout the entire game.
- Iceborn Gauntlet: CR, armor and some ability power is nice, but the best part is the slowing AOE passive. It clears up jungle times, and synergizes well with Crystal Slash. Each time you slow with Crystal Slash, you can land a basic attack that will add more slow. The cast Crystal Slash again, and repeat until they are dead.
- Sunfire Cape: This ups Skarner's DPS, adding more magic damage to his hybrid damage output. It also grants more armor and health to make Skarner even tankier. This is an offensive tank item, so if you want to be really tanky, I'd recommend building something else like a Warmog's Armor.
- Frozen Heart: Tons of armor, a solution to your mana problem, and an aura that reduces the attack speed of annoying champs like Teemo and Jax. It also brings this build up to 40% cooldown reduction.
- Locket of the Iron Solari: Thanks to new updates, this item can no longer be rushed as an early-game item. The new recipe builds straight out of Aegis of the Legion, making it trickier to buy early-on. It is still a really good tanky-support item, and can be useful for saving your allies from enemy spells like Requiem or Javelin Toss.
- Mercury's Treads: If you didn't take the Spirit of the Ancient Golem, then you need some tenacity! This item also helps against an AP-heavy team composition, but if you already have tenacity, take another pair of boots.
- Zephyr: The final tenacity item. It is the most AD-offensive of any tenacity item, offering attack damage and attack speed, two stats that Skarner benefits well with, allowing for a more offensive build. It also offers cooldown reduction and movement speed, so every stat synergizes well with Skarner's kit. If you don't take Spirit of the Ancient Golem, this should be your second tenacity choice, before Mercury's Treads.
- Randuin's Omen: Each time someone hits you, they get slowed. Reduces the effectiveness of kiting champions, and chasing champions, improving Skarner's weak escape tools. It also makes Skarner really tanky, and helps shrug off a decent amount of physical damage.
- shurelya's reverie: Most people build this on Skarner, but I feel that while you are a support jungler, you aren't a support! If your support builds this, then don't bother getting one yourself. It helps your chasing, but I find there are better alternatives. The main upside is that you must build an early philosopher's stone, giving more sustain in the jungle and increasing your gold income. The speed boost is great for chasing foes, especially with the
- Spirit Visage: This item gives a ton of magic resist for a relatively low cost. It also increases the heal from Fracture, your health regeneration, and all sources, like any lifesteal or spell vamp you might have.
- Trinity Force: When you want a nice even mix of all stats, and for some reason you have a white-hot hatred of the Iceborn Gauntlet. It also gives extra movement speed, increasing your chasing ability. It is great for the damage/speed build.
- Warmog's Armor: When you feel you aren't tanky enough, and want to fix that.
- Runic Bulwark: *Removed from the game*.
Hunter's Machete + 5x Health Potions are the standard opening items on any jungler, for the items it builds into are fantastic and serve many roles and suit different scenarios.
Spirit Stone provides some nice sustain in the jungle, and has 3 viable build paths to choose from. It is also rather cheap, and increases jungle clear speed.
This is a great item for Skarner, as it helps with his mana problems, and inproves his clear speed with the passive proc, and ability power increases damage.
This item grants needed tenacity, and also grants health, cooldown reduction, and mana/health regeneration, stats Skarner makes great use of.
These boots provide tons of movement speed, and reduce the effectiveness of slows, which stacks with Relentless . They help with early ganks.
This item offers armor, and fixes any mana problems you might face. It can build into Iceborn Gauntlet and Frozen Heart, two items used in this build.
This item makes the permaslow skarner. Each time you cast Crystal Slash, you trigger this passive, and slow with your next attack.
Since Skarner needs to be close to a foe to do damage, this item will boost his magic DPS considerably. It also makes him tankier.
A great tanky item, it now builds into Locket of the Iron Solari. Note that the passive between two of these will stack on you, for the aura from your own item doesn't affect you.
This item builds into Frozen Heart, or Randuin's Omen. Both of these are great items, and either is a viable pick for chasing and survivability.
This aura lowers attack speed of foes, and also brings our completed build up to 40% cooldown reduction. It fixes our mana issues completely.
Finishing off the build, this item's aura doesn't affect yourself, but if another teammate has this item, their aura will affect you, and yours will affect them too.
Start by buying a Hunter's Machete and 5 Health Potions. Be sure to put your first point into Crystal Slash. Clear the golem camp, and make sure to get a smiteless leash. If you can't get a smiteless, then Smite off the blue golem, and then go to the wolf camp. If smiteless, go straight to the elder lizard camp.
After the blue golem, you will be level 2, so put a point into Crystalline Exoskeleton. If you did a smiteless clear, go straight to the elder lizard camp. If you used Smite, go clear the wolf camp, and then wraiths, while you wait for Smite to come off cooldown.
After clearing the wariths and wolves, or the lizard camp, you will be level 3. Put your 3rd point into Crystal Slash. At this point you can keep jungling, or look for a gank.
Don't gank unless you have at least 75-80% of your health! Don't do a gank if you'll only feed the lane you ganked.
When ganking, try to come in behind the enemy team. It's much easier when the lane is pushed.
Afterwards, head back to the jungle. You want to make sure that you clear the jungle camps in between ganks, for the extra experience and gold, and also so that the enemy jungler doesn't get the chance to steal them for themselves. Continue to look for ganks where needed, and keep clearing the camps.
If your middle lane needs the blue buff, by all means let them have it, unless they are feeding hard. You don't want to give them the buff, and them die to the enemy mid lane 10 seconds later. If your mid lane is manaless, or doesn't want the buff, take it for yourself. Such as with a Katarina mid, you can take the blue for yourself to get the buff and experience.
If you can afford it, buy sight wards! They help so much. Planting wards throughout the enemy jungle will help you steal their camps in safety, and also keep track of their location to help your allies. Always buy 2-3 wards in between fountain trips.
If you're finding a lane hard to gank, buy vision wards instead, and clear out any wards they have. This will help with future ganks, and be useful so the laner doesn't have to spend as much money on wards. Warding is everybody's job, not just the supports!
When going for big targets like Dragon or Baron, make sure to have the area secured with wards! You don't want the enemy team catching you off guard and getting an ace on top of dragon.
In a team fight, Skarner excels at disrupting all enemies thanks to hybrid AOE damage from Crystal Slash, and additional magic damage to anyone hit by Fracture. Be sure to save Impale for high-importance targets, like a squishy carry, or if an enemy is focusing your carry, you can use it to pull them off and away from your carry. You can also save it for a fleeing enemy to make sure they don't escape with a sliver of health.
The Sunfire Cape is a great item to have in a teamfight, as it deals constant magic damage to all nearby enemies. The Locket of the Iron Solari is another great item, as the shield works on all your allies, and just might help them escape with a fraction of health left over.
In a teamfight, you should be disrupting high-value targets like casters or mages, and be tanking damage for your team. If you have to, you can peel an enemy off an ally who is under attack. Remember to protect your carries! If the carries die and your team has no damage, then you are not likely to win the team fight, and will have to retreat.
If you see an ally being an idiot and jumping alone into a 1v2 or 1v3, don't follow them to "help". If they are screwed, then leave them. Don't give the enemy team 2 kills because one guy on your team has no common sense.
Skarner has his share of weaknesses. Here is a list, and how to counter it:
- Poking: Skarner is susceptible to poke. Stay on your toes, and be prepared to activate Crystalline Exoskeleton or Locket of the Iron Solari to shield yourself from damage.
- Hard CC: Hard crowd control can mess up Skarner's mojo. Be sure to get some tenacity, and take the
- Quicksilver Sash: This item was built for one reason and ONE REASON ONLY: To f*ck with all Skarner players. That item was only added into the game to nerf the overpowered beast that is the crystal vanguard. If they use it on your ult, chase them and spam your Crystal Slash to keep them slowed.
- Cleanse: ^^ As if that item wasn't enough, they had to nerf Skarner even more, as one nerf couldn't tame the savage beast. Same goes, just keep chasing them.
- Tenacity: Riot really hates Skarner. He's too strong, and they can't remove him from the game, so they must come up with strategies to bring his power levels down so they can be considered in the same class as every other champion.
- Olaf & Gangplank: These bastards. Their abilities make your ultimate useless. Don't target them with your ult and you'll be good.
June 11, 2013
-Uploaded Guide to MobaFire
June 13, 2013
-Edited Gameplay chapter thanks to Patch 3.8
-Edited Skarner's Abilities Chapter
-Added a Teamfights Chapter
June 23, 2013
-Edited Runes Chapter
-Added a "Why Skarner?" Chapter
-Added Lore to the intro
-Edited Items Chapter
June 27, 2013
-Edited Abilities Chapter
-Edited Items Chapter
-Added a Weakness Chapter
-Edited Masteries Chapter
July 9, 2013
-Edited Items Chapter
July 22, 2013
-Edited "Why Skarner" Chapter
-Edited "Buying Items" Chapter
-Edited "Gameplay" Chapter
-Edited "Wards" Chapter
-Edited "Teamfights" Chapter
August 5, 2013
-Edited Runes Chapter
-Re-did Masteries Chapter
-Re-did Abilities chapter
-Edited Summoner spells chapter
-Added "Purchase Order" Chapter
-Edited Gameplay Chapter
Thank you for taking the time to read my guide to jungle Skarner! I hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you liked it, maybe you'll want to upvote it, and leave a comment why you liked it. If you want to suggest something to me, leave a comment and i'll try to answer it for you! And if you found my response helpful, maybe +rep me! If you enjoyed my work so much, then check my signature for my main guide on Trundle.