Skarner Build Guide by Diverse
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Not Updated For Current Season
Hello, and welcome to my Skarner guide. Skarner is one of my favorite junglers as he has some of the highest mobility, ganking potential and clear times in the game. He also has some of the deadliest late game potential out of any melee bruiser as he can easily focus down any carry out of position with his ultimate and the slow from his Q ( Crystal Slash). Skarner was one of the first junglers I ever learned and for that reason has a special place in my heart. He does have slight mana problems around mid game (6-12), but an early Philosopher's Stone easily solves this issue and late game the mana costs are so miniscule in relation to Skarner's mana pool and regen that mana problems fade out entirely.
All that being said, building jungle Skarner is much different from building lane Skarner, as the junglers are forced to build defensive items and GP5's in order to remain in the game. This is because as a jungler you won't be farming as much as a normal lane would and thus will need the extra gold from Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold. Furthermore, junglers are usually some of the first people to die come teamfight phase and thus will need the extra tankiness in order to do the most possible damage in a teamfight. This guide should be interpreted as such, and hopefully by the end will teach you a thing or two about jungling with the Crystalline Arachnid.
This section will cover the thought put behind my mastery choices.
These masteries are standard melee bruiser talents, taking 21 in defense and 9 in utility in order to fix mana problems, improve run speed and increase buff durations.
I did not take points in Hardiness as the 6 armor that it provides won't do much early game and won't help at all late game versus a fed AD carry. The other points are pretty standard in the defensive tree, taking CDR ( Enlightenment ) for increased clear speed, Bladed Armor for increased clear time, Initiator for mobility, and Indomitable to reduce damage from jungle creeps early game.
The points in utility improve mana pool and regeneration to solve early game mana problems, improve run speed to increase gank success and improve jungle speed, and a final point into Runic Affinity to extend the duration of jungle buffs.
This section will cover the thought process behind each of my rune choices and why each of them is best on Skarner.
is an absolute must on Skarner. Skarner, being a highly mobile champion, greatly benefits from being able to move around the map very quickly. This greatly improves Skarner's clear time as he can move from camp to camp faster and is thus able to gank earlier. Furthermore, the swiftness quints will greatly come in handy when Skarner begins level 4 ganks where he will need to be able to chase and stay on a target with his W and his Q.
The attack speed marks greatly improve Skarner's clear speed and overall damage output as the attack speed greately synergizes with Skarner's passive, Energize. Shorter cooldowns due to the improved attack speed is a great asset that should not be taken for granted, as in this guide we max our Crystal Slash first and thus do crazy AoE damage to jungle creeps and players alike.
Greatly helps with the early game aspects of jungling, as jungle creeps do a lot of damage and can overwhelm new junglers with their high damage. For instance, if someone gives you a bad leash on blue, it would really hurt a new player and traumatize them for the rest of the round because of the amount of damage they took from the initial blue buff. These flat Armor Seals will be a sort of safety net for if, god forbid, something goes wrong in the jungle and you're dealt a bad hand. Even a new player can jungle with these bad boys on their side.
The Magic Resistance per level glpyhs greatly help Skarner get more durability by late game. As Skarner should be built a tanky bruiser, these glyphs will help mitigate the magic damage that Skarner will will be absorbing late game.
I don't want to get into too much detail about summoner spells on Skarner, as there is basically only a couple that are even remotely viable on him.
For obvious reasons, Smite is your bread and butter of the jungle. Without it, Skarner would be promptly torn to shreds and re purposed as a floor mat for Blue Golem to sit on.
Flash gives Skarner all that he could possibly need in the game. It gives him an escape to run away from counter junglers/ganks, it gives him chase for ganking in a lane, and it gives him an initiate for when it comes time to flash+ Impale the AD/AP Carry.
Ghost Second to Flash, Ghost gives great chasing potential as well as a potent escape. It is viable, but not recommended as Flash offers the same opportunities, but better. Viable if jungling at low levels.
Exhaust If you want to kill someone 1v1, exhaust should be your go-to summoner spell. Any counter jungler will immediately be exhausted and killed before they can even run away. While having the extra offensive summoner might be alluring, being ganked and not having an escape is not. Taking Exhaust also reduces your late game potential because you can't initiate a fight as well and you won't be able to disengage if you are engaged on.
Ignite Another summoner that can be used to kill another champion 1v1. Though Exhaust is better for dueling another champion, Ignite is equally useful in securing a last second kill. I personally don't use Ignite for the same reason that I don't run Exhaust on Skarner, he doesn't have any escapes.
Low Summoner Level:
Heal Only viable at LOW levels, as you won't have a rune page or a full mastery page to clear your jungle. I have personally never run Skarner with heal, but I'd imagine it would come in handy when at low health in the middle of red buff.
Everything else, i.e. Teleport, Revive(lol), Promote, Clarity, and Clairvoyance.
This chapter will explain the basics behind Skarner's abilities and how each of them influences jungling and gameplay.
Energize Skarner's passive. Basically, the more Skarner auto attacks a target, the shorter his cooldowns become. This is extremely important in jungling as the more you auto attack, the faster your Crystal Slash and Crystalline Exoskeleton will come up. Auto attacks also refresh the cooldown on Fracture, but we won't be taking a point in that until late game. It is imperative when fighting a champion, whether in teamfights or in ganks, to auto attack him to proc your passive and let you spam your Crystal Slash more, thus increasing your total damage output.
Crystal Slash is Skarner's Q. It is the bread and butter of Skarner's damage and is the primary reason for his great clear time, gank potential and late game damage. Remember to constantly spam your Q in teamfights, as the damage it does is insane and it will furthermore slow everyone around you, allowing your team to pick up easy kills with no possibility of the enemy running away.
Crystalline Exoskeleton is an extremely important ability for mobility, defense and, believe it or not, damage output. Let me quantify my previous statement by reminding you of your passive, Energize. Energize decreases your cooldowns based on your auto attacks, i.e. attack speed. Crystalline Exoskeleton when maxed provides a whopping 50% attack speed, thus decreasing your cooldown on Crystal Slash by 1.5-2 seconds letting you spam it more and deal more damage.
Fracture is honestly not that useful on Skarner in the jungle. While I'm told that it's quite useful in lane Skarner, the mana costs are simply too high and the ability itself doesn't really do much unless it's leveled up and maxed early. I thus don't usually level it up until I'm forced to, as Skarner already has mana problems as it is and could use the points in Crystalline Exoskeleton more, unless I really need the extra 80 damage it offers at level 1.
Impale! This is Skarner's signature instant-rape move. When used on a target, it instantly suppresses them for a whopping 1.75 seconds. Not only does it give a nasty suppression, but it also allows you to drag the target with you! This ultimate, when combined with your Crystalline Exoskeleton and movement speed quints will allow you to drag a carry from the enemy turret directly into the center of your team. Squishies beware, Flash + Crystalline Exoskeleton = One dead carry.
This chapter will cover how I level up my abilities and the thought process behind leveling them up in this particular order.
Impale > Crystal Slash > Crystalline Exoskeleton > Fracture
Max Crystal Slash first. It does the most damage out of all of Skarner's abilities and will be what you use to clear the jungle.
Next, max Crystalline Exoskeleton. Crystalline Exoskeleton provides Skarner with much needed mobility and a useful shield which also allows you to proc your passive, Energize. I won't get into too much detail over how useful this ability is, as I have discussed it in the previous chapter.
Max Fracture last. You can choose to put a point into it early, but it honestly won't offer much damage and the mana cost that corresponds with it is far too high for the minimal benefits it offers. Does decent damage, so if you desperately need the extra 80 damage, feel free to put a point in, but refrain from doing more than that, because then you're cutting into how effective your Crystalline Exoskeleton will be.
Max Impale whenever it comes up. It's an amazing ultimate, and should be leveled up whenever possible. If you want an in depth explanation into the ultimate, refer to the skill explanation that I offer in the previous chapter.
Skarner is an extremely mobile, high damage bruiser and should be built as such. Skarner's damage revolves around auto attacks and damage off of his Crystal Slash and should thus be built with attack damage in mind as Crystal Slash scales off of AD, with only the bonus damage scaling off of a mere 40% of his AP. You thus want to build with AD items in mind, as the ratios on Skarner's abilities don't really provide much sustenance for AP items.
I'm now going to walk you through how to build a successful jungle Skarner.
Start with a Regrowth Pendant and 1 Health Potion. This will let you build an early Philosopher's Stone and get your mana regeneration up to par to get you through Skarner's early game mana dependance.
On your first back, you want to ideally buy a Philosopher's Stone and a Boots of Speed. As I previously stated, the Philo Stone will fix your mana issues and the Boots of Speed will further increase your clear speed and gank potential. Most importantly, however, BUY WARDS. DO IT. Whenever you go back, buy 1-2 wards and ward the enemy jungle. I'll go into detail about warding positioning later in this guide.
On your second back, you want to rush a Heart of Gold and get your double GP5 completed. If you have enough gold, finish your Mercury's Treads and begin working towards your Sheen. Also, don't forget to BUY WARDS.
On your third back, you want to finish your Sheen. This is going to increase your damage output by an insane amount. From this point on, Skarner is an insanely fast and scary opponent.
From here on out, it's entirely up to you how you want to build Skarner. Generally, it's best to build Warmog's Armor next to increase your tankiness even further, and Atma's Impaler to give you armor, crit chance and AD based off of your health. from there it is IMPERITIVE to build Trinity Force. This item will literally double your damage output AND make you more tanky while also letting you chase people better with more movement speed and the slow on your auto attacks. From here, upgrade your GP5 items into Randuin's Omen and Shurelya's Reverie. Shurelya's will make you more menacing as a Shurelya's + Impale might as well be a Flash + Impale. Randuin's Omen Makes you even more tanky and will counter the late game AD Carry that we're all so afraid of.
Alternatively, you can rush Trinity Force instead of AtMog's if you're feeling confident in your game. For instance, a Skarner that is 8-0-5 at 15:00 may want to rush a Tri-Force instead of the AtMoggs as he obviously doesn't need the tankiness and can instead afford to further his already insane damage. Really, the option is up to you, if you think that you are completely dominating the other team, feel free to get a Tri-Force and let the raping begin, but if the game is about even, or if you're losing, AtMog's is the way to go.
Obviously, your item build is not always going to be the same. Builds change based on the team combination. This chapter is dedicated to showing you which items to buy based on the enemy team composition.
Versus heavy magic damage:
A great item on Skarner, it provides attack speed, which synergizes extremely well with Energize while also increasing the damage Skarner's auto attacks do. Furthermore, it counters AP champions by giving you magic resist for every auto attack you deal.
Honestly, this is not entirely a counter against AP, but it offers great resistances to all incoming damage (besides true damage T.T) and also helps the team by giving them resistances as well. Didn't include it in my item build because supports usually pick up Aegis, but if they for some strange reason do not, definitely pick it up.
Extremely good for late game as people start to wrap their builds up. At this stage in the game, AD carries will be extremely deadly, so the GA helps prevent the instant death-by-carry that might otherwise take you by surprise. Also gives MR against AP carries.
Not a bad item on, Skarner. It gives MR, health regen and movement speed, all of which benefit Skarner greatly. It's very costly, however, and shouldn't be bought unless you're getting absolutely destroyed by an AP heavy team, or until late game.
Versus heavy AD:
Great item versus AD carries as it slows their attack speed by a whopping 20% and thus decreases their total damage output. If the passive wasn't enough, the 99 bonus armor it gives should be enough to mitigate most of the incoming damage.
Should only be bought if you're seriously getting DESTROYED by an AD heavy team. otherwise, try to stick with your already awesome armor items ( Atma's Impaler, and Randuin's Omen).
Thoughts on Hextech Gunblade:
There has been an upsurge in the number of guides that use a Hextech Gunblade on Skarner. Skarner's main source of damage comes from Crystal Slash, which only has a 40% ap ratio. Crystal slash has an 80% AD ratio, making it much more effective to build AD. The active slow is weak compared to the AoE from Randuin's Omen.
You also have Fracture, with a 70% AP ratio, and Impale with a 100% AP ratio. Fracture isn't very useful unless you max it first however, and Impale's best asset is not its damage, but its utility.
The Sustain given by the hextech gunblade is also unnecessary, due to taking items like Shurelya's Reverie, and Warmog's Armor. All in all, the hextech gunblade is a very cost inefficient item for Skarner, since many of the stats it gives are wasted, and the total cost of it is 3650g. While it may be viable on a hybrid character like Jax, the stats on gunblade are simply wasted on Skarner
I thought it might be easier to visualize where to ward than me explaining where to ward, so here's a map of where to ward. Remember, it's YOUR job to ward certain areas as the jungler, and not doing so might mean the difference between your mid getting ganked or you ganking their jungler when he's not expecting it.
Blue buff ward:
Purple Bot Jungle Ward:
Red Buff Jungle:
That should just about do it on warding. These are the major areas that the JUNGLER should ward. While everyone should be buying and placing wards, these positions are required for junglers to cover. Thanks to Leaguecraft for the warding guide and corresponding pictures (http://leaguecraft.com/strategies/gameguide/1271-warding.xhtml)
Skarner's jungle path is very standard.
Normal: Wolves , Blue, Wraiths , Golems , Red , Wraiths (Level 4) --> Gank
If Blue Counter-Jungled: Their Blue, Wraiths , Golems , Red , Wraiths , Wolves (Level 4) --> Gank
Level 2 Gank Top: Wolves , Blue (Level 2) --> Gank
Thanks for taking the time to read my Skarner guide! I wish you the best in your upcoming games, and I hope this build suits you well. Feel free to leave a comment, I'll be updating the guide periodically. Look forward to seeing you guys on Battlecast Skarner release :D