Skarner Build Guide by Saavedro88
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Not Updated For Current Season
This is my Skarner build guide. It may not be perfect, and it may not be the way you think he should be built, but I have found that this is the perfect build to fill ALL of the most neglected roles in any given match, and that is to be a TANK, to be the INITIATOR, and to be the JUNGLER.
Please keep in mind that this is a GUIDE and is up for your full interpretation and is available for you to use however you like. You wanna use a different item? Go ahead, no one is stopping you. This is simply the build that I personally prefer, and use the majority of the time.
Why I play Skarner
HE'S A TANK!
The most recent meta of the game is to have the one AD carry, and then as many tanks as possible. The problem is that this usually only ever happens if everyone on your team is in communication with each other, like, if you are all buddies and chattin' it up on Skype. Skarner is a prime example of a multi-role champion, in that he can be an AMAZING tank while still being functional in other areas.
HE'S AN INITIATOR!
The current meta also requires at least one very good initiator per team to be able to position the team well and take out that carry we were just talking about. Skarner is, IMO, the best champion in the League for this. Face it. That ult. It's OP. When partnered with Flash, and all the movement speed I've put in this build, there's no stopping you. Flash in, grab some poor unsuspecting Sivir, and boom. Before she can even ult to escape, she's dead.
Also, quite frequently, you can even become a type of assassin, which may be a stretch, but hear me out. One of my favourite things to do with Skarner is, while both teams are at a stalemate, poking at each other, trying not to initiate a big team fight, I LOVE to find a way to sneak around beside/behind them, Flash out, Ult the carry and W - Shurelya's Reverie right into my team's awaiting attacks. I mean arms. This will take some practice, and the most important thing to remember in these cases is to have PATIENCE to wait for a perfect opportunity.
HE'S A JUNGLER!
Skarner is also most importantly an amazing jungler. Not the fastest in the League (UNVERIFIED), but he is pretty darn quick, and his ganks are incredible. First off, the movement speed from his W allows you to position yourself perfectly (I also frequently use Flash to initiate a gank. Trust me, you won't need it to get away), his Q slows them significantly as they try to run, and his ult can bring them back if they get to close to their own turret.
BUT BE CAREFUL!
I honestly only recommend this build as long as you are playing with at least one other tank-Y champion. While this build does give you a nice chunk of health and resistance, it's not a full on TANK build, and having another tanky champion around can help significantly.
In case you hadn't noticed it yet, there is quite a bit of movement speed built into this guide. Skarner is ALL about MOVEMENT SPEED. I don't care what anyone else says, if he can't get there, he doesn't work, and that's the bottom line. That's why I go with Boots of Swiftness. Sure, the extra Armor/Magic Resist/Whatever that the other boots can give you CAN be handy, but really, they're aren't worth it when compared to how well the bonus movement speed synchronizes with Skarner. I see a lot of people build Boots of Mobility with him, which is perfectly fine, but I don't like them, simply because the point at which you need the movement speed the MOST is in a fight, which is exactly when the Boots of Mobility drop back down to being Level 2's.
The reason I take Sunfire Cape over other items is quite simple: As a Skarner, you are the initiator tank. Your JOB is to be right in the middle of the entire team fight, doing as much damage as your wimpy little pinky finger can mash out of that Q every 2 seconds, and, primarily, drawing everyone's fire. The Sunfire Cape helps a great deal with this role. It's range is also very close to the range of Skarner's Crystal Slash, allowing you to deal significant AOE damage to the entire enemy team.
FORCE OF NATURE
I take Force of Nature for obvious reasons: Magic Resistance, SUPER fast Health Regen, and most importantly - MOVEMENT SPEED. I will occasionally take a Guardian Angel instead of the Force of Nature if I find I'm up against a team with virtually no Magic Damage, but these instances are few and far between. And of course, the MOVEMENT SPEED bonus from the Force of Nature is just too good to pass up.
I Honestly feel that Trinity Force is a GREAT item for Skarner to build. It gives you a fairly decent amount of damage output, syncs well with your passive, Energize and it's GREAT for early game tankiness. Just about every time you pop your Q in the mid game, you should be able to proc the Sheen passive, which is very useful for damage. And of course... You guessed it... MOVEMENT SPEED.
The final two items you should be building in any given match are Shurelya's Reverie and Randuin's Omen. Why? They are surprisingly expensive, but mainly, the Gold per 10 Second items that they are built off of are worth milking for every last CENT. Occasionally I will build Randuin's a little early if I find I'm somehow dying too quickly in teamfights, but the Force of Nature and the Sunfire Cape are much more worth an earlier buy. The passives that Shurelya's gives are nice, but as stated before, you don't really need the health regen or mana regen past the very early game, and the Cooldown Reduction isn't significant enough for you to nullify the Gold that Philosopher's Stone will give you. It is nice for very late game pushes/escapes, and I really only build it for the extra health towards the end of a match.
Of course, you should ALWAYS be buying Sight Wards ANY time that you have the spare gold and an open build slot. Oracle's Elixir is a very nice item for Skarner to have because he is so tanky, but PLEASE keep in mind that you will be running FACE FIRST into just about every team fight (if you're playing Skarner properly) and it just may not be worth wasting the gold for. And of course, after you're full build, buy ALL the Elixer's!!
Items I SOMETIMES Build
I will every now and then buy a Thornmail. Take for example this game I recently played against a team that had a Vayne, a Master Yi, and a Xin Zhao, who all rely heavily on their auto attacks. For this game, I did also buy a Frozen Heart, which, as you'll see below, is quite rare, but in the end, the combination of both items helped greatly for that match, but they also had very little AP on their team, so I was able to get away with not having the Force of Nature.
As stated previously, I will occasionally buy this item when I'm up against teams that have little to no Ability Power champions. Guardian Angel is a nice item, but I feel that it falls off later in the game where, when you die, the rest of your team is sure to die immediately afterwards, leaving you to revive seconds later with no hope of escape. Every now and then, though, there are some games were I just can't play without it.
Items I DON'T Build
A lot of people choose to take Frozen Heart on Skarner, but most of the time, I find you just don't need it, either your support has already gotten one, or you aren't fighting a team that you can really use it against. A lot of the carries these days are building attack speed later into the game, by which point you've already steamrolled your way to victory, if you're using this guide properly. The armor is pretty nice, but you've got an instant armor/shield every 7 seconds with his W and the health the Sunfire Cape provides is a lot more useful. You also really won't need the Cooldown Reduction or the Mana as late in the game as you would be to be able to afford a Frozen Heart.
In My Opinion, Wriggle's Lantern is not for Skarner. I could see how a lot of people would want to build it on him, as he does have very quick basic attacks, which would be nice for the lifesteal, and of course, the ward is always nice. In my mind though, the bottom line is that it just doesn't end up to be useful. With my build, Spell Vamp would be much more useful than Lifesteal, and I don't build that either. I will always buy wards, so I wouldn't need that from the Lantern, and it doesn't build into anything that I would want to have as Skarner in the late game. I'd honestly rather have the Gold Per 10 Second items.
WELCOME TO SUMMONER'S RIFT!
Start off with Boots of Speed and Health Potions and take one point in your Q, Crystal Slash. Starting out, your Q is your bread and butter, smack that key EVERY. SINGLE. TIME it comes off cooldown. This will be your main damage dealer to the jungle camps, and it will allow you to take them all down very quickly. After you take your W, Crystalline Exoskeleton at level 2, always begin a camp by popping it to help with the cooldown on your Q and to resist as much damage as possible.
My Jungle Route/Ganking
I am FULLY aware that this section is pretty confusing right now, and I will work on trying to get some pictures posted to help clean this section up a little. The main things you need to know: steal wraiths, jungle as fast as possible, gank as often as possible.
I will very nearly ALWAYS steal the enemy jungler's wraiths. In fact, the only instances that I DON'T steal them is when I'm going up against a jungler that I know starts at the Red Golem, such as Riven or Shyvanna. Stealing Wraiths can be accomplished VERY quickly with just Skarner and your team's mid champion. Park in the river bush till 1:30, run towards the wraith camp, check the bush near the path that goes between the enemy's two turrets while your mid checks the bush behind the Red Golem, and be in the middle of the Wraith camp when they spawn at 1:40. It's fairly important that you hit the Wraiths first, otherwise they will run at your Mid and you won't be able to take them down quickly. ALWAYS remember to leave ONE small Wraith alive, or they'll respawn before the enemy jungler arrives at the camp.
If I'm not stealing wraiths, I start at my wolves. They can be taken down VERY quickly with the aid of your team's Mid, usually before the Blue Golem Spawns.
Have your Mid leash the Blue Golem for you. If your team's bot/top champions are helping you taking it down quickly, save your Smite. If the leash fails, use the smite; it will take to long to wear it down to dead and you will lose too much health.
If I started by stealing the wraiths, I now do my wolves. If I have successfully stolen the Wraiths, I will be level 2 at this point and will have my W, which I use to help me take the wolves down faster. The thing you need to remember as you are jungling with Skarner is that you can LEAD the Wraiths and the Wolves. What do I mean by this? What I mean is, because you built your masteries to include Bladed Armor, They will continue to deal damage to themselves as they attack you. The way to make this work is to make sure you take down the Big Wraith or the Big Wolf first, because the little ones will run after and follow you very closely, allowing you to finish them off with your Q and Bladed Armor as you are already heading to the next camp.
Next are MY Wraiths. Remember what I just said, and concentrate on taking out the big wraith first. This will also conveniently place you in the middle of the wraith camp, so you can successfully spam your Q to deal damage to all of the Wraiths at once. Finish off the Small Wraiths as you walk away.
If you were able to save your Smite from using it on the Blue Golem, go to the Red Golem. I always use Smite early so that I can have it to use again sooner rather than later. Remember that the little Golems at the Red camp are casters so they won't follow you very far if you try to lead them. You shouldn't need to though, your Q should take them down for you as you concentrate on the Red Golem.
If you had to use your Smite to take the Blue Golem, go to the two Large Golem's camp BEFORE red. Business as usuall here, pop W when you get there, mash Q like your life depended on it. Take the Red Golem after the Two Golem's if you used your Smite on the Blue Golem.
After this first sweep of the jungle, you should be level 4 and you should have some time before anything has respawned to perform a gank. This early in the game, your ganks will NOT be impressive, but all you have to do is run in with your W and, if you can, land the slow with your Q if you think you can actually kill someone. If you DON'T think you can kill someone, Gank anyways. The shock of an early gank will cause them to fall back, allowing your teammate to farm freely, and possibly even burn up the enemies Flash and/or Heal, which is ALWAYS good.
After the Gank, head back into the Jungle till you have at least 875 Gold, then head back to base for your Philosopher's Stone and a ward for your top laner.
By the time you are Level 6, you should at least have your Sheen, and hopefully you've been successful enough to buy your Boots of Swiftness as well. This is when you start ganking ALL the time. Run in with your W, try to land a Q on your target (or on a VERY handily located minion as you run past it) so that your slow can be proc'ed, and grab them with your ult, dragging them back to your teammates. As you are dragging them or shortly thereafter, you should be able to pop your Q again, proc'ing the slow which will cause them to very likely not be able to escape.
Jungle as much as possible and steal Wraith's as often as you can. Continue to gank as often as possible
You may have noticed that I don't take Fracture till absolutely last. I find that Fracture is an absolutely worthless ability, and has no place in my build. Yeah, sure, the health it grants is neat, but not substantial and the damage it does isn't worth leveling it up early enough to use in the jungle.
By the mid game you should have your Trinity Force, and by the time you get your Giant's Belt you will be quite the force to fear. Remember that positioning is everything. Use the Flash - Impale combo as much as possible to land epic initiations that will make all of your teammates want to have your babies.
It is VITALLY important to remember that your ult CAN be a HINDRANCE to the team. If you ult on someone who is dealing a large amount of damage and drag them towards someone who is low on health and trying to escape, guess what? You're gonna have a bad time! Keep in mind that your ult can be used simply to drag enemies away from someone who is low on health and trying to escape. The Cooldown isn't necessarily short, but most of the time it will end up being worth it.
Teamfights in the Mid Game are all about you. Get right up in the middle of the enemy team and spam your Q like your tiny little crystal heart depended on it. Always try to run in with your W activated, as this will lower the cooldown on your Q significantly. The damage you are able to put out at this point between your Sheen proc, your Q, and your Sunfire Cape should be enough to grant you a win in every team fight, provided your team is fighting properly and your initiation worked properly.
Also remember that you can tank turrets very well with only your Trinity Force and a Giant's Belt. Always use your W for the added resistance to the turret, and for the bonus attack speed. Your Q doesn't affect turrets, unfortunately, but it is worth popping on enemy minions every once in a while to keep your slow proc'ed in case some enemies show up and surprise you.
Keep doing what you do best, TANK THAT INITIATION!! By this point, the enemy carry has probably figured out to stay well away from you, so all you can really do is wait for someone to get out of position, and if you feel like it, you can ult them towards your team, but the best way that I like to initiate a late game team fight is to wait for someone to get out of position and pop my Q on them, slowing them from being able to escape as my team barrels down on them. Keeping popping Q as you work your way into the center of their team, doing as much damage to as many of them as possible. Save your ult for that one pesky low health dude who is JUST about to get away, and make sure they pay for their insolence by dragging them straight towards your AD carry. Your movement speed at this point is going to be SCARY high with your W activated, and you should be able to have your way with whoever it is you're dragging along. Pop your Randuin's and your Shurelya's as often as necessary. One of the biggest problems I have in the late game is remembering to use my item's ACTIVE abilities.
That's All Folks!
So that's it! I hope you've enjoyed the read, and I hope this guide grants you success as you venture into the world of the League's best crystallized role-filler!
If you see anything blatantly wrong with this guide, please let me know.
Feel free to comment as you see fit, and please vote for this build if you find it helped you!
Thank you all, and I will see you on the Fields of Justice!