Skarner Build Guide by BoomTheBear
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.
This is my first Mobafire guide, so I bid you welcome and thanks for coming!
I'm not sure whether the format of this guide will be perfect, fluent, easy on the eyes or much more, but the effort will be earnest and hopefully informative!
My first guide will be for my favourite champ of all time and who I spend most of my time playing: Skarner! I'll give everyone's fave purple scorpion a good overview, but the focus will be on the playstyles and roles I play him from and know him best from: the Jungle and solo top.
Thanks for reading and comments are always welcome!
Who or What is Skarner?
Skarner is a scorpion, that much is obvious. There's a tasty bit of lore about him i could go into, but you can find such tidbits on Skarner's main page on this site, so I won't replicate the information. The basics are: he was asleep, now he's not, so he's primed and ready to kick *** in the League.
Skarner is a melee fighter champion. He's pretty bulky as well so he fits into a neat little slot between these two roles, which is part of the reason he makes a good jungler. The other reasons are he kicks so much *** at doing it, but more on that later.
So why would you want to play Skarner?
- You like the idea of playing as a non-humanoid champ.
- You like playing in the jungle; or alone early game, yet have an important part to play in team fights.
- You like getting into the fray up close and personal.
- You don't mind taking hits for the team or being "that guy" who starts the party by making the first move to pick a fight.
- You don't mind noisy champions ( Skarner is very noisy when you're having a good time!)
- You like the playstyle of "Hunter and prey", stalk, ambush, chase, kill.
The final point sums up Skarner nicely in my opinion, and he's very good at doing it. He's very mobile and has some of the best chase mechanics in League of Legends. If you plan your ambushes correctly, you are very, very difficult to get away from. It also makes it dangerous for the enemy to roam in your jungle if they attempt to shortcut main lanes whilst on low health.
Let's look at what Skarner can do first, before going more formally in how to get into the playing mindset of this purple beastie.
What can Skarner do for me?
Heaps. Well, if snares, area control, tanking, crowd control, initiation with a dollop of damage dealing on top is what you're looking for then yes, Skarner can do heaps indeed!
Skarner's abilties make him good at doing all of the above, and hunting in the jungle with no problems. If played on solo top the abilties also lend themselves to farming and sustainability too.
I won't go into depth on what the ability IS per say (as you can hover over the colourful icon to see these facts and figures) but rather what role it plays for our purple friend.
Passive - Energize
This passive combined with Skarner's Q ability is what makes him so good at locking people down and keeping up a good chase. Effectively attack speed contributes to cooldown reduction. This is very nice because attack speed also gives our clawed friend a damage boost as well. If you're building the Thresher build (due to choice, or a good Jungle game) then this passive means your abilties are going to refresh a lot, which means a lot of damage, and a rapidly refreshing shield. This passive is awesome.
Q Ability - Crystal Slash
This is your go-to ability, the bread and butter. Area of effect damage by itself isn't terribly notable aside from minion farming and jungling. Hold on though, if the first use hits a target, the subsequent uses gain additional magic damage and snares targets for a short time! The low cooldown of this skill, when combined with Energize means you can keep targets permanently snared so long as you are attacking them. This ability is very important to your Jungling, farming, ganking and escaping. I'll go over how it is used for each role in detail in that section. generally though, MAX THIS FIRST. Despite the low damage figures, the spammable nature means it becomes a high damage ability so long as you have the mana to handle it.
W Ability - Crystalline Exoskeleton
A damage shield with a cool utility buff, attack speed AND movement speed, both of which are very welcome for any jungler, but particularly one with Energize as his passive. The damage shield scales off AP, so in my opinion the damage is blocks is not as majorly helpful as the buffs it grants while it is up unless you hoard AP like a Veigar. The buffs though are what enables you to emerge from the Jungle like a purple bolt of lightning and lock down the target. In this small window of panic they generally won't break the shield and once you're on top of them, the fun starts. Once you've landed a few auto attacks, the shield should be ready for when they use any escape tools so you can close the gap again. After Q this ability is the most important of your three primary skills imo.
E Ability - Fracture
This skill isn't bad, but it is not quite on the same scale as the other two. This said it has its place. It is very good for Skarner if he is on top lane. Fire this at a minion line, place yourself in the middle and Crystal Slash away to gain your health back. This can be used in the Jungle too to give you sustain BUT in my opinion, Skarner doesn't need to worry about that too much in the Jungle. He can get away with focusing on making his ganks strong via pointing the other 2 skills early, because he is a very strong early game ganker and he needs to capitalise on this.
Once you have some attack speed items, this ability becomes semi-spammable, and the damage is worth noting so near the endgame it does start to get some use. it is helpful for picking off a low health runner as well, and farming creeps in lane.
Ultimate - Impale
Skarner is one of those champions who when he turns 6, he becomes something else. This ultimate is awesome beyond belief. It is one of the best initiates in the game, it prevents people from running from you and your team, you can move enemies around. It has several cool uses and the damage it deals is pretty nice too. I'll go over how to use this beast more in each role section, but I will say this; do NOT use this on a Banshee Veil! You may recharge it quickly with auto attacks, but this ability is precious and can alter the outcomes of fights pretty drmatically if used correctly.
So that's what Skarner can do for you! AoE control - check. Chasing - check. Ability that prevents escape totally? - check. This is one serious jungling toolkit!
Skarner has revealed what he can do for you, but what can you do for him to help him rack up those kills and assists like he loves so much?
What can I do for Skarner?
Some guides might say to you that small difference in runing and masteries are recommended when you change lanes and such. For this guide I am going to make no such comment. Not because I feel I am miles ahead of the meta- but because when I have played Skarner (usually jungle) and ended up being top lane instead, I make no changes to my runes or masteries and the success I have enjoyed top hasn't been affected at all. The only major difference with skill order, playstyle and not taking Smite.
What can you do for Skarner? Can be summed up in Three main catergories of your duty to this purple bundle of joy before the game has even started:
- Which summoner skills do I pick?
- Which masteries do I use?
- Which runes do I pick?
...all of course, with a WHY? Items and skill sequence also factors in your roles towards Skarner but these are dynamic, should not be set in stone and assessed as the game goes on. I will go over these in different detailed scenarios when I go over the early-late game for both of Skarner's potential positions: Jungle or Top lane.
There are only two items which are above this law of dynamics, so let me quickly say why...
I grab these boots every game. The +25 MR is pretty nice, but the 35% tenacity is the real gem. Skarner is going to be getting up close and personal, and people will try to snare, stun and fear you as you close in on them. These boots help stop these attempts from allowing your quarry to live to see tomorrow. They are VERY important. The only exception is an enemy team with very, very limited CC indeed.
Even if the enemy team has only a couple of champs with a snare, I pick these up. I don't like people getting away from me!
I grab this every game as well, and it is usually my first build. This item is amazing for Skarner. It gives health, mana, attack speed, movement speed, damage and ability power. We make use of all of these stats. The real goodie though is the passive. Crystal Slash is spammed so much that the passive is going to be adding lots to your damage output. If the whole Trinity is too much for your bank manager to handle, aim for Sheen early as possible for the passive effect. It will make your ganks much more dangerous.
From here onwards the guide will always be divided in two! Information found under a GREEN heading means this is my recommednation if you are playing Jungle Skarner.ORANGE is if you are playing top lane.
Absolute no brainer. Smite allows you to jungle quickly and take the big camps for blue and red buff as soon as possible. By level 3 you will have both buffs under your belt thanks to this baby. If you are Jungling you need to pick this.
I prefer Flash as my second choice for Jungle. Why? Having an extra escape tool is always handy as Skarner's W is not reliable if you are under attack, and his Q can't help you escape from ranged targets. Also; Flash allows you to appear out of nowhere on top of enemies and begin your assault. it's also really handy for getting closer for Impale.
Other than Flash - I have taken Heal if my team is lacking a champ with this skill. I'm usually building Skarner as a Trintank if I pick this skill though. it helps you stay around in fights a bit longer and helps your team. In the past I used to pick Ghost which can be handy as combined with Crystalline Exoskeleton you can reach very high speeds. With the runes and masteries i suggest though, movement speed isn't too much of a problem and very few champs will be able to outrun you anyway. Exhaust could have uses to help you gap close to lock down a target, but Flash does a similar job, but gives me a potential escape as well.
I will always pick Flash as lane Skarner for the same reasons as Jungle Skarner, except this time I don't need to take Smite so I can pick Flash freely.
For my second ability it will either be Heal, Ignite or Exhaust. It depends on what my team has. If my team has a lot of heals, I will take one of the other two. Likewise if Exhaust is carried by one or two of my team, I will take Ignite. Ignite is generally a good choice, it helps take down enemies, prevents annoying healing for a bit and on top lane it's all about the sustain, so anything that helps you take down the enemy is welcome.
If you're worried about time away from your tower, you can pick Teleport as well, base this decision upon who is your opponent. if you are against a major pushing force, this may be a good idea to give your tower staying power.
I use the same masteries for Skarner whether I am in top or Jungle: 21 Defense, 9 Utility.
Even if you are building Skarner itemwise as more of an agressive champ, I think his natural bulk lends itself to defensive masteries. You are melee, so the extra bulk is very helpful to living long enough to dish out the damage you can.
To this end the bonus armor, magic resist and health all help me early game, especially if I am jungling. The health regen gives a little help between jungle camps and for living out skirmishes on the top lane.
The cooldown reduction is nice for late game, and the bonus movement is very good. Juggernaut is worth taking for both the health and the tenacity, as with Merc treads we're onto nearly half duration for CC!
In utility my main aim is to grab Quickness and the extended rune buffs. Initiator, Quickness and Quints of Swiftness mean at level 1 without boots I am at 350 base speed, which is 5 points less than some champs who have boots, and faster than some who do. This mobility will scale upwards as we rank up Crystalline Exoskeleton and grab movement items such as Trinity Force and Force of Nature. With W up and these 2 items, we'll be well over 500 movement speed and that means nobody is going to be able to run away from Skarner before they get snared. it also means we can move between lanes very quickly and generally be where we are needed most.
Again, I don't differ my rune build based on which lane I am on. I feel the runes picked work for both Jungle and top lane equally well.
15% additional attack speed from the word go. This is very nice for jungling and top laning. it works beautifully with Skarner's passive and allows you to get some benefit from it even early game, when you don't have the items to thresh it up like you will later.
+13 Armour from level 1. This is mainly for jungling, as with a Cloth Armor we hit 59 armour at level 1, which is 37% reduction, makes jungling much easier. it works for top lane as well as it is usually physical champs who are sent top so it'll give bulk in the early game, which is when lane Skarner needs it, as unlike a Jungle Skarner, he takes a while to grow into himself and perform.
+MR per level for a nice +24 MR at level 18. This is for the late game which is when AP carries tend to get a bit heavy. Even if you jungle or roll on top, you will fight the enemy AP carry at some point so these runes are welcome.
4.5% movement speed boost. With initiator active and swiftness masteries, we hit 9.5% boosted movement. Skarner has naturally high movement speed so he gets more from these boosts than some champs do. Some people may argue that these qunits are unnecessary but I like to take them as several times it has been the fact enemies COULD NOT escape me at all that has allowed me to start dominating. Likewise it is this fact that has saved me many times from ganks. I know Skarner snares and can Impale but if you can't get close in the first place, then what can you do? Movement speed is great for any jungler imo due to the nature of the role, but this is just my opinion. The flat health and flat AD runes might help our very gank *somewhat* but movement qunits remain effective all game, and actually get better as we get more movement speed items.