Skarner Build Guide by Glacialwrath
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 guide is not complete in formatting and "pretty pictures" and such-- if you rate it, I ask that you kindly rate on content for now, until I get a chance to pretty it up. Thanks~ Glacialwrath
This is my guide to Jungle Skarner. To give a bit of a background, Skarner was the first Champion I ever played. At lower levels I laned with him, then pretty much forgot all about him. Recently I have tried many different options in lane-- to my dismay that none of them really work. However, fear not! I would, without a doubt, say that Skarner is the best Jungler if played right.
So, why make this guide when others exist? Well, a slightly different build, a few extra notes to help people out, and my passion for my 2nd favorite Champion in my favorite role all make good reasons, I think.
What's my background? My first ranked duo queue, 5v5, with him-- first ranked 5v5 period with him actually, I got Legendary. If that's not enough, I don't know what is.
Now, I'll make things clear. You don't want to read a guide that is too long. I don't want to write a guide that is too long. We want things just the right size, along with being effective, right? Right. So, without further ado, let's get to it~!
Pros / Cons
-One of the best junglers around
-Not hard to use, and not especially hard to master
- Impale is one of the best ultimates in-game
-Diverse enough to fit on almost all team compositions
-Can be played at all elo levels
-Has the best laughs. Type /laugh 3 times and you'll see...
-Has an awesome Easter Egg! Once per match, in a random bush, in an allude to Pokemon, you'll hear him go "Skar, Skar, Skarner!"
-He can't really be built to specify one specific thing-- your team needs dedicated tank(s), AD carry/ies, etc. He's a mix.
-Blue buff reliant early-game.
-Weak ganks pre-6.
-Looks pathetic on his dying animation :(
-Although Sandscourge Skarner is an awesome skin, Earthrune is one of the worst in existence. I look forward to when (shhhh!) Battlecast Skarner is released.
Runes are incredibly flexible on Skarner, however, these are the ones that I feel are most viable. In this guide, I will just list what I use, followed by other replacement options:
I use these personally. Skarner is an amazing ganker and chaser, and these will help insure that after you Impale, your enemy doesn't get away alive. Every bit of movement speed helps. Also, these will help you move about your jungle faster, and, in the case of an emergency, get to a lane that needs your help desperately. I personally feel that there are no other options.
However, you may wish to consider these for extra damage or survivability:
Greater Quintessence of Cooldown Reduction can be really nice, as it provides extra cd reduction-- something that is always valuable.
Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed also works in much the same way, due to his passive.
Greater Quintessence of Spell Vamp can boost your survivability throughout the whole game. I find I don't need it, but if you're new, you may wish to use these if you already have these runes.
Greater Quintessence of Health Since Skarner is weak pre-6, you may wish to use these if you are new to increase how long you can last. I personally don't recommend them.
I personally use these to help live during early ganks. Skarner excels at post-6 ganks, but unless everyone is doing absolutely perfectly (which won't happen), you'll likely need to gank before then. And you'll need to out-survive the damage someone will do to you, because let's face it-- you won't be full health, and you'll need to survive with whatever you have, to help out whoever needs your aid.
Although you can go with armor per level seals, I find that the item build gives you enough later, and it's best to survive as much as you can early, to snowball later on as much as possible.
These are some other options:
Greater Seal of Attack Speed: More Attack Speed=less cooldowns thanks to your passive. A nice offensive choice, especially considering the item build. However, you really should be okay in this regard.
Greater Seal of Ability Power: More AP=more damage, I really can't explain it better than that. However, as a hybrid tank/support/dps, I think surviving to fulfill that role is better.
Greater Seal of Magic Resist: I use glyphs for this, but if you feel that you really need to stack this for that nukey Veigar, be my guest. Just don't complain when a fed Sivir suddenly chips off all of your health. Besides, we're talking mostly early game, and we want to balance.
To balance out early game. Ideally as a Jungler, you'll want to prioritize top, since he's all alone. However, you may find that mid or bot needs your help-- possibly with some AP damage coming your way. This will ensure that you will live, they will die, and that everyone is happy. ^-^
If that isn't to your liking, I would follow the same example-set as above for Seals, for the same reasoning. Save me some typing, and you some reading, and just refer back to them :)
Skarner needs to be balanced in all stats, as he is the definition of a hybrid. This provides more damage, and, thanks to your passive, more cooldown reduction. Early game, and especially around level 6-10ish when you'll be ganking a lot, this will have an amazing effect with your ultimate, Impale.
Once again, prefer to be less of a hybrid? Refer to the other options. Same as Glyphs and Seals. However, I would stick to these.
I could go into a lengthy discussion here. I sorta will actually, since it is necessary. However, I'll abstain from using "well using the damage from the 95th percentile of all Skarner users..." Let's keep that out of it and just reason, so that we both understand it, okay? Okay.
Philosopher's Stone gives you the mana regeneration you'll desperately need early game, and extra gold. It also builds into your Shurelya's Reverie later on. You should get this on your first back if at all possible.
Heart of Gold builds into your Randuin's Omen later on, and gives you more tankyness early, along with extra gold.
Thornmail may replace Shurelya's Reverie. Note that however, your cooldowns will suffer from that.
At this point, you may be wondering why I haven't mentioned Wriggle's Lantern. Wriggle's, in my opinion, is bad on Skarner. Why? He clears the jungle fast enough as it is, but, there are times you may purposefully want to clear it slowly. Why? As we mention time and time again, Skarner's passive, Energize, makes it so that attack speed=cooldown reduction. How? The more you auto attack, the more your cooldown times "disappear." Every auto attack reduces your CDs. So, while you're waiting on your Impale for that perfect gank, and you're attacking the jungle.... And what you're attacking just dies.... That's bad. Don't go Wriggle's Lantern on Skarner; in my opinion, it is just terrible for him. You get life from Fracture, survivability from Crystalline Exoskeleton, and damage from elsewhere. You don't need it, nor want it.
So, first, build Mercury's Treads. You need the speed, and you don't want CC to affect you in your ganks. These are vital to you. Next work on your Trinity Force, starting with Phage for the extra survivability, and more importantly, the slow from it-- that can really help you. Next go Sheen for the massive damage boost it gives Skarner.
Next you'll want to build Shurelya's Reverie (thank you throatslasher for providing good reasoning as to why this should come before TF), as it gives you extra speed for ganks and running away-- at this point in the game, teamfights will occur. I'll get to that aspect later in the guide, but, for now, you'll need this for initiates, running away from a bad situation, ganks, and of course, the amazing stats it gives-- the health and cooldown reduction is awesome.
Finally, finish off your Trinity Force for more damage, and everything Skarner wants really-- it's an awesome item for him, and I really don't think there's a more "this item fits Skarner" item. Extra move speed, extra AP, extra... Everything.
Usually you will want Randuin's Omen first. It has an amazing on-use effect for team fights (and you're partially a support, partially a tank), and has amazing stats for surviving attacks. Against an AD-heavy team, you may actually want this before Shurelya's Reverie-- though usually not.
Against a more AP-heavy team, or just a fed AP (if a fed Ahri starts running around assassinating everything in sight), build Force of Nature first.
Because of the finished build of Randuin's Omen versus Negatron Cloak-- with Heart of Gold already bought along with Warden's Mail-- is so close, this situation is very rare. However, should you be truly facing balanced threats, you may wish to build a Warden's Mail, Negatron Cloak, and then go back to finish both your Randuin's Omen and your Force of Nature.
But, the really interesting part... Is why not go with Hextech Gunblade? Hextech gives you really good offensive and sustainability stats... Why not choose it?
Truth be told, if you're still being hurt at this point, there is nothing wrong with going with Hextech Gunblade. However, at this point, you are usually so tanky that you want to help your supportive, and damage-y side.
Phantom Dancer gives you more CDR (cooldown reduction) thanks to the extra attack speed, and Energize, your passive. The boosted movement speed is nice, and the crit chance just makes you hurt even more. And remember, you want your Impale up as much as possible.
Ah, time to explain Masteries. Okay, I know that most people don't want a massive explanation, especially since these are the most easily tweaked, and thus, you probably just want to hear my own quick reasoning? Okay, deal.
Summmoner's Resolve: Extra gold on Smite. Awesome. You need it for farm.
Hardiness 3/3: You need this to survive. You'll find you really don't need Resistance.
Tough Skin 2/2: Necessary for early jungling.
Durability 4/4: More health, to survive more. Vital. Plus, Vigor doesn't help Skarner much when he needs it. Fracture works as his health regeneration anyhow.
Indomitable 2/2: You need it for early game. Evasion in this tier isn't worth it. Honor Guard could be taken later on instead, and is definitely another viable option.
Bladed Armor: Faster Jungling. Vital.
Initiator 3/3: Vital for ganking, and sometimes chasing.
Enlightenment: Vital for Skarner since he is a spammer.
Juggernaut: Less CC'able, more survivable. Take it.
Summoner's Insight: You want Flash up as much as possible. Switch to Summoner's Wrath in the offensive tier if using one of those summoner spells-- though bare in mind you won't be able to get Runic Affinity.
Expanded Mind 3/3: Skarner is mana-hungry early game, and late game this still helps. Vital.
Swiftness 1/4: With the Quints and such, you don't need a full 4/4. Consider more points in this if you took different Quints than Quintessence of Movement Speed
Meditation 3/3: Helps you jungle early game, helps you overall late game. Vital, though, as stated, you may wish to put more points in Swiftness instead. Be wary.
Runic Affinity: I would say this is needed-- if not, you may have to be a bit more decisive on using your abilities... As a spammer. Especially since you are Blue-buff reliant, go with this.
Now, why no Offensive points? Truth is, Skarner simply doesn't need them, and with them, he'll be too frail. You'll have trouble in the jungle, and should you survive, your ganks will be compromised should they turn and focus you. Follow the 0/21/9 suit and you'll fare much better.
Skill Sequence And Skills Explained
I will first explain each skill, then, the skill sequence to go with.
Crystal Slash. Your main ability. How do I explain it? Spam. Spam. Spam. Spam. Spam again. It has a cooldown, but remember that gets lowered through auto attacks. Unsure what to do? Spam this. Spam it more. More!
This deals damage on the first hit, and charges you up for several seconds. While charged, using this again deals bonus damage, and more importantly, slows. This is why Skarner is such a good ganker and chaser. He can slow. And slow. And slow. You can also, and should also, power it up on a minion or two, then use the boosted slash (his claws will be glowing) on the champion itself. If you approach someone who is at the river, and they flash toward their turret (top lane), flash to them. And spam this. If your top lane is smart, he will be with you, and you will still get the kill. Give him or her a cookie. If he or she stays back, it's time to gank mid or bot more.
Crystalline Exoskeleton. A shield, that boosts your speed, and attack speed. Lower cooldowns from the boosted attack speed, a shield to take damage that is nice at all ranks but especially nice later on... It's awesome!
So.... When do you decide to use this? You don't. See an opportunity to take someone out or do something? Just use it.
When you have blue buff early game, or late game when you just don't care, spam this as well to move faster from place to place.
You can also tank turrets with this (BRIEFLY!), and you can tank Baron Nashor for a bit using this and your next ability...
This you need to use sparingly, sorta. It has a relatively high mana cost, does pretty low damage, and the health regeneration really isn't all that much.
When "farming health", use this on as many minions or jungle creeps as possible, and hit them all once-- or just kill them with it. Crystal Slashs work too. This will restore your health.
You can also use this if someone has a miniscule amount of health, and you need to take them out from a short distance while on cooldown with Crystalline Exoskeleton.
You can also use it to killste--snipe.
Impale. This is what defines Skarner as a champion. This is what you want to use for every gank possible, this is what you want to use in team fights, and this is what you have been working on to lower the cooldown of in the jungle all the time.
This is also one of the best ultimates in game, and just cruel. And funny. You use it on someone, and it suppresses them. They can't do anything. Meanwhile, for a very short time, you can drag them around. And laugh.
When ganking, use this immediately (unless they are overextended to the extreme) and drag them back. You'll, if you can (and should), want to use Crystal Slash once to power it up, so you can slow them right afterwards. This, as a suppress, also stops other champions from taking action-- bear this in mind, and I'll explain this more later on. Moving on!
Q>W>E. Simple as that! Crystal Slash is our number one tool, and Fracture is too weak to really be worth leveling. Pick up Fracture at level four. Easy? Easy!
These exist on every guide. Most people know them. Do you want to read a lengthy description? I'll provide what is needed, without the lengthy BS involved.
Instead of Flash, some other options exist:Ghost can be used similarly to Flash and is definitely a viable option. Exhaust along with your Crystal Slashs make your enemy abysmally slow.
Now, I should probably go more in-depth with Ghost. Ghost is certainly viable, however, should you put a point in the offensive mastery tree for it, you won't be able to get Runic Affinity, which I find invaluable. If you don't mind this, then it really comes down to instant versus prolonged. Flash can get you away before CC (crowd control) can affect you, or you to them before they have a chance to react. In a quick situation or in a close call, Flash is better. However, later on in the game over a long stretch, Ghost may be better for some players. Typically, however, the Flash+ Impale combination is unrivaled, and should be chosen.
No-no's:Ignite: Simply doesn't help your support/tankyness kit enough. Either finish them off with your extreme ganking abilities, let your partners do it, or it just won't happen. Amazing summoner spell, just not right for Skarner.
Surge: Really just doesn't do enough. I would never pick this. Most AD carries don't, and Skarner doesn't fit this role.
Heal: Use and abuse Fracture. Not as helpful. Just don't. If you -really- want it in teamfights... I'd still say other summoner spells are better.
Clarity: You may have mana problems early, but you're the jungler! Just keep control of blue buff.
There are other summoner spells in existence like Clairvoyance that I didn't list, simply because, they should be obvious not to use.
Creeping / Jungling
Your role as a jungler is to allow your top lane to get extra experience, by being alone. You are also responsible for making sure that when lanes are having difficulty, you aid them. Also, although others should buy wards, it is vital that you aid them as well. Prioritize items, but if you have gold left over, buy some wards, and help lanes that may be ganked, or just in general.
I hate giving a "this is what you do" jungle route. Find what you like. However, I suggest starting at Blue (actually, you -do- need to start at Blue), and then going to Wolves. Some junglers can start at Red-- Skarner is too Blue buff reliant to follow this route. Next, go to Red buff, after Wolves. Even if you don't need it-- why? You may need it soon, and at this level, you want it ready, in case an early gank needs you. It takes too long to get it at this level in time for an "oh ____" situation, and your early ganks are weak without it-- but actually pretty good with it due to the slow. Depending on the cooldown of Smite (you'll need it), you may have time/need to clear Wraiths. Assuming an early gank is not needed, go to Wraiths if they are still up, then, Wolves, followed by the double Golems. From then on, follow this general route, but mainly just follow a path of group by group, hitting whatever is along your way.
There are two methods really:
Method One: Use Crystalline Exoskeleton and start Crystal Slash spamming to take down the mobs, changing your auto attacks to whatever has the highest health when needed, without doing it too much to slow your auto attacks. Fracture as necessary, but don't constantly use this or you'll waste mana.
Method Two: If you are trying to regenerate the cooldown on your Impale, just pop Crystalline Exoskeleton and auto attack the creeps to death, occasionally using Fracture for health as needed.
Remember to use Crystalline Exoskeleton to move from camp to camp as well.
How to Gank:
Make your team aware that pre-6, they must be overextended to gank. Only gank in this situation, or if your teammates aren't being so smart, but have the enemy incredibly low and engaged-- yet still risky and you need to secure. Then kindly remind them why you were prioritizing other lanes :P.
Pre-6, wait-- but not too long. If there's no opportunity, say so, and move on to your jungle. Otherwise, wait in the bush, and ping that you're there-- and a target if you feel it's needed. Then, rush in with Crystalline Exoskeleton, and spam Crystal Slash. Fracture if they either turn to beat on you, or if they're incredibly low, yet a fair ways away.
Post-6, same as above, but be ready to use Impale to drag them over to your partner. If the situation calls for it-- and this is super risky, yet incredibly rewarding-- you can actually Crystalline Exoskeleton to them on their turret, and Impale there, giving your partner a chance for the kill assuming they're low. Don't do this until you have had a lot of practice with Skarner, as this is one of the harder techniques to master.
When Blue Buff is Taken
Skarner is susceptible to invades-- when they send everyone to gank your Blue buff at the start and steal it. So, with such a mana-hungry champion at low levels, what do you do?
If you survive or die, either way, attempt to take their blue. I kid you not, I have done this multiple times and succeeded. You will nearly die, and unfortunately, this will take all 3 health pots without a leash. It's the best out of a bad situation.
Ah, team fights. If things are going well, you'll likely be level 9-11ish when these break out. Well, what are you to do?
You need to be decisive early. You want Crystal Slash to hit as many as possible, but focus it on a main champion or two. With your Crystalline Exoskeleton and that, you can disrupt a bit, deal AoE damage, and with the item build, be a psuedo-tank. You are not the tank, but in certain cases, you can act like one.
Impale in team fights is amazingly strong. However, as it's about to start and everyone does "the dance" (we all know what it is. You move back and forth, poking each other, trying to show each other "Oh I can hurt you more, I dare you to come here"), decide your potential Impale targets. Figure out 2 or 3, as the first you choose may not get close enough. Now, either use Impale to initiate, or counter-initiate. You do -not- want to use it on a tank. Ever. Ever. Don't make me get the bug spray.
Now, for initiation, simply Crystalline Exoskeleton in, and Impale, and drag your helpless target back. You may be forced to do this. Proceed to Crystal Slash spam.
For counter-initiation, use Impale on the initiator. The ideal one that comes to mind is Katarina. Everyone fears her Death Lotus, but if you see it coming, use Impale on her as it starts (trust me, you have no need to fear the initial damage), drag her back, and laugh as you watch her die by your teammates.
You can also use Impale as a means of just general CC against the likes of Soraka and such, but this is highly situational. Use your best judgment.
Phew! We got through this guide, and hopefully you've learned either why you should choose Skarner, or how to play him better, or both!
Special thanks go out to Jhoijhoi and Matt for their guides-- thanks guys!!!
And an extraordinary thanks goes out to the player Trollseph for helping me with the item build!
Finally, I'd like to thank those that have helped out the guide with wonderful comments and votes.
One in particular I'd like to bring into the spotlight is throatslasher, for the amazing point of getting Shurelya's before TF. Thanks~!