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Skarner Build Guide by Palthios

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Not Updated For Current Season

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Palthios

Get Over Here! Season 3

Palthios Last updated on December 11, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 9

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Coming Soon
*Video guide

*Launched guide

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I. Love. This. Champion.

Skarner was my go to jungler and most played champion in Season 2 ranked. I'm proud to have sported a 65% win ratio with 83 games played. I've no doubt about that success repeating itself in Season 3. Skarner has a lot going for him. Hes a very well rounded champion, but my success with him is mainly attributed to one thing. He fits into a very wide range of team comps. Most tanks like Malphite for example, need a specific comp that can follow up on his ultimate. Skarner brings the fight to his team. This allows him to fit into just about any team comp.

Mastering a small group of champions is proven to be the best way of gaining elo and Skarner's team comp versatility makes him the perfect champion for junglers to learn. Making this my first new Season 3 guide was a no brainer, considering my past and no doubt future experience with him. I'm very happy to present you guys with how I've been so successful with Skarner. Enjoy the guide.


- Good jungle clear
- Good map mobility
- Good damage for a tank
- One of the best post lvl 6 ganks
- Anti carry ult

- Very blue buff dependant
- Reliant on Flash for initiation
- No instant gap closing ability
- No built in team buffs or debuffs
- Has almost no fan art :(

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Runes & Masteries


Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed






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Crystal Slash

: This is the bulk of your DPS and its what makes Skarner such a good jungler. You know you jungle when your main ability is a spammable AOE. The second use also applies a slow to surrounding enemies, so this is really important for ganking as well.

Tips and Tricks

  • Tip: Never stop spamming.

Crystalline Exoskeleton

: Great jungling ability. The bonus ATS synergizes with his passive to generate more Crystal Slashes and the shield will of course negate damage. The bonus movement speed is great for ganks and increased map mobility.

Tips and Tricks

  • Tip: Always activate this when leaving the spawn pool. Will be off CD by the time you need it. You can also use it inbetween camps when you have blue buff.

  • Tip: Use at the start of a gank to close the distance.


Theres 2 kinds of Skarner players. Those who get this at level 4 and those who don't get it until they have to. I fall into the latter. But if you get this at level 4, I wouldn't try to convince you otherwise. Its great in the jungle and good in stand up fights. I don't get it early because the extra points into your shield result in better ganks.

Tips and Tricks

  • Tip: Try to hit as many targets as possible to maximize your damage and the healing effect.


: This is what makes Skarner who he is. I honestly believe this ability to be the reason why Warwick will never pass Skarner in popularity. Its the same effect, but Skarner has the ability to move while suppressing someone. This allows him to bring the fight to his team, which negates the need for a specific dive team composition.

Tips and Tricks

  • Tip: You can turn around right before the duration ends to position the enemy behind you and increase their distance to safety.

  • Tip: Dont ever use this on Olaf (when he has ult), Gangplank (when he has oranges), Alistar (when he has ult), or anyone with Quicksilver Sash.

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Summoner Spells

Im not going to bother going through all the spells because you only have 2 options with Skarner.

Mandatory Spells

  • Smite: None negotiable. All junglers need Smite to secure and possibly steal objectives. Meaning: Blue buff, red buff, dragon, baron. Jungling isn't the right role for you if you cant understand the importance of Smite.

  • Flash: None negotiable. You need this to be able to initiate and ult effectively.

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Early Game

  • Hunter's Machete / Health Potion x 5: None negotiable. You need these items on first clear to be efficient.

  • Spirit Stone: You can always buy this on your first trip back and its a super important buy. This takes the place of philosopher's stone to help with Skarner's mana issues and it will help you jungle faster.

  • Boots of Speed: It's really important that you pick these up soon. Without it, your going to move around the map like a snail. No boots means slow movement speed. Slow movement speed means less farming and less ganking.

  • Sightstone: Don't think of this item as a ward generator. Think of it as a GP10. That's basically what it is. This item is the reason Heart of Gold no longer exists. It gives you health just like HoG did, but instead of generating gold, it gives you free wards. This item is a must. You need to provide your team with ward control as soon as possible.

  • Ninja Tabi: The Black Cleaver makes these boots more important then ever for a tank. Chances are that you'll be up against a team with that item. If that's the case, you still have the dodge from these boots to help you against an ADC. You don't need the tenacity from Mercury's Treads because you have it in masteries and Spirit of the Ancient Golem. I also like getting these as a jungler because they're so cheap.

  • Spirit of the Ancient Golem: I'm really happy with this item. I'm always looking for ways to cheaply build a tank, so this is a dream come true for me. Its the perfect starter item and the tenacity is very welcome.

Mid Game

  • Aegis of the Legion: This item is vital. As I've already said, Skarner is a tank that brings the fight to his team. Its only natural to have an item which buffs your team. I don't always build this though. Its vital for some supports like Taric or Leona to have this item. If my support builds this, I take Warmog's Armor in its place.

  • Ruby Sightstone: I build this now for the extra health and ward control.

  • Negatron Cloak: You need more magic res at this point.

Late Game

  • Iceborn Gauntlet: As a Skarner player I knew this item was made for him before I even tried it out. I really hate the nerf to Frozen Heart. They made it more expensive for no reason, seeing as how you lose the Warden's Mail passive on combine. That's the main reason I no longer use it. Second reason is that I have more then enough armor. Third reason is that Iceborn Gauntlet prevents me from becoming irrelevant offensively and gives CC. It synergizes perfectly with Crystal Slash. The Sheen proc scales on your BASE attack damage, so you don't need to build anything offensive to make good use of it.

  • Abyssal Mask: You're probably wondering why the hell this item is in my build. First of all, its pretty cheap. You get a very high amount of magic resist and you also get MR reduction. When they nerfed the AOE, this turned into a tank and short range caster item. Every single one of your abilities deal or scale on ability power. This gives you a very notable increase in DPS and increases the effectiveness of your shield. This item is more powerful then ever when you consider how hard it is to effectively build high amounts of magic resist in Season 3.

  • Runic Bulwark: I don't build this until I have to. The upgrade price is expensive for what you get.

    Build Summary

    The build covers every angle. You've got high resists, high health and good utility, while managing to not become irrelevant offensively. I feel the build has unique elements from what I've seen on the site, so I hope you guys try it out.

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Jungle Routes

Its necessary go to for wolves a second time because you need Smite to kill red buff or its gonna kick your ***. The only way to get around this would be to get a no Smite leash on blue buff.

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Early Game

Lane Priorities

Bot lane: This is your main priority. Shutting down this lane affects the entire enemy team. How? Because getting a double kill in this lane leads to getting a free Dragon in many cases.

Mid lane: Generally, theres only one champion per team that will deal a significant amount of AP damage. So obviously, shutting that champion down will give your team a major advantage. This lane is next on the list, but its also the hardest lane to gank because of its small size.

Top lane: This is the furthest lane from Dragon, which is a very important early game objective. You cant expect to be babysat in this lane unless its not possible for the jungler to gank the other lanes. There are some exceptions. If there's a strong carry like Jax top its ok to give that lane special attention. That's one of the last champions that you want to get out of control.


Tip: ALWAYS ping the enemy you're about to gank. This will alert your teammate that a gank is about to happen. If you don't do this, you run the risk of your teammate not knowing that you're coming to help and they wont react properly. Even players with good map awareness can make the mistake of not seeing their jungler coming for a gank.
Tip: If an enemy is over extended, you can forget about lane priorities for a second and gank that player. As a jungler its important to take advantage of stupidity. And its definitely not wise for most champions to push far from the safety of their turret. Its a free kill in many cases.

Counter Jungling

This is something that I don't bother with very much anymore. After the jungle changes, its not worth the risk in most cases. The only time that I do counter jungle, is when its obvious that I can. If I'm near top and I see that the enemy jungler is ganking bot lane, that would tell me its safe to see if his blue buff is there.

Regular jungle camps aren't worth any risk now that the respawn times are so short.

Sharing Buffs

Red buff is going to end up in your hands for the first 2 or 3 spawns depending on how long the laning phase lasts. It will help your ganks considerably. But after the laning phase you want this in the hands of your ADC.

Blue buff is a different story. You want to take the first one, but you should be giving the rest to your mage in most cases. There are some cases where I do take Blue. If someone like Vlad or Kennen is mid, I'll take blue buff because they don't use mana. Its going to be more beneficial to me. I'll also take it if I have a bad mid. There's no point in giving a buff to someone that's already died twice by the time 2nd blue buff spawns. That's a good sign that your mid is just gonna die again and give away the buff while hes at it. Always ask if your mid needs second blue. Sometimes they will be nice and let you have it. Its a big help to Skarner to get 2nd blue.


  • Initial Spawn Time: 2:30
  • Respawn Time: 6 minutes
  • Reward: 150 global gold + 25 bonus gold to whoever deals the killing blow

Controlling dragon goes a long way to winning a game and the first can be the most important. Early game gold advantages set the tone for the rest of the game. If you can get dragon without the other team knowing, you'll have a major advantage. Why? Because they wont know the respawn time. Lets say you get dragon at 10:47, type "dragon 16:47" into team chat. This way your whole team knows when to get into position for the dragon respawn. Repeat this process and get in the habit of doing it. Do the same thing for Baron.

When to Dragon

Getting dragon is huge for your team, but going for it at the wrong time can be devastating. You can end up getting dragon stolen and giving kills to the enemy team at the same time.

You never want to go for it when the entire enemy team is alive. If they have ward control over dragon it can go very badly for you. The only safe way to go for it in that case, is to buy an Oracle's Elixir and scout for wards. Another option would be to place a Vision Ward near dragon. Vision Wards will reveal other wards in the area. If you don't find any, its safe to assume that you can take dragon. But there could be other wards nearby that can still alert the enemy to your position.

The best time to go for Dragon is after at least 2 enemies die. If your bot lane scores a double kill this is the perfect opportunity, if they're in good health. Ping dragon immediately if it can be done. If you have a support to heal, getting dragon will be no problem if you're equipped for it. The enemy jungler wont be able to stop you, because he would be walking into a 3v1. You just need to keep him out of Smite range. It would be a good idea to have your mid lane come as well for the extra support if possible.

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Team Fighting


Focus is the most important aspect of team fighting and it should be discussed with your team every game. One mistake people make is calling out one enemy champ as the focus. You cant always focus the same champ due to different circumstances, so you need to prioritize.

Here are some factors that should be considered when choosing a focus:
  • Durability
  • Damage
  • Ability to escape

Obviously you dont want to focus the tank. At all. If the enemy tank gets hit by anything other then aoe attacks, your not playing correctly. Dont put any effort into killing a tank until all other champs are dead.

Someone you dont want to put too much effort into killing first would be someone like Shaco. Garen is a good match for him because you can just silence him and take away his ability to escape. But otherwise your going to end up doing massive damage to him just to spend valuable time chasing. If you can do enough damage to take him out of the fight, thats enough. Focus someone else afterward.

A perfect focus would be someone like Annie. She has massive damage, aoe stuns, short cooldowns, and shes squishy. She cannot be allowed to live long or you will lose fights every time. Annie is a game changer in the right hands.

But like I said, you cant always focus the same person every time so here is an example of prioritizing an enemy team, by taking the above factors into consideration:

#1 Annie
#2 Ashe
#3 Shaco
#4 Blitzcrank
#5 Rammus

Simply prioritizing your targets goes a long way to winning a game.

Your Role In Team Fights...

... can vary depending on the situation. If your team is on the attack, you want to Flash and ult the closest carry. If your team is on the defensive, its important to realize when you need to peel someone like Irelia off your ADC. There's going to be times where you're the only one capable of doing it.

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Mid Game

Tip: Dragon is still an important objective at this point, so you need to be aware of any opportunity to get it. That's your job as a jungler. Getting Dragon is a team effort 95% of the time, but its pretty easy for you to get it by yourself at this point as long as your team has ward control. If you have vision on at least 4 out 5 enemies and they arent near dragon you can probably solo it before you would be in any trouble.

In most cases you'll end up killing dragon after a successful team fight, because that's the safest time to do it.

Tip: Don't forget to make use of your free wards. Map control is one of the most important aspects of this game.

Here's a map of some proper ward locations:
Blue/Green = Aggressive wards for blue team
Green = Neutral ward locations
Purple/Green = Aggressive wards for purple team

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Late Game


  • Initial Spawn Time - 15:00
  • Respawn Time - 7 minutes
  • Reward: 300 global gold + global buff

Baron can be a game changer, but its important to realize that it doesn't ensure a win. Ive seen many players get really cocky with Baron buff and make stupid mistakes. Baron buff is an advantage that you want to have. Its going to make you more powerful, but its not going to make you invincible. Getting cocky is just going to lead to you wasting your buff.

When to Baron

Mid game Barons are possible, but highly unlikely. 75% of the time, the first Baron kill will come after everyone has hit lvl 18. Its really hard to get Baron otherwise, because you need to be geared up to get it quickly. Getting Baron unnoticed is near impossible in lvl 30 games. Players understand the importance of it and will keep wards over there. Even without ward coverage its pretty easy for an experienced player to anticipate a Baron attempt.

The best time to Baron is right after a team fight. If you get at least 3 kills and the other two retreated to base, that's your chance to get Baron. But you have to do it quickly. 2 members of the enemy team cant win a 2v5, but its entirely possible for them to steal Baron from you at the last second. Especially if one of them is the jungler. Sometimes killing the enemy jungler is all it takes to force a baron attempt.

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Video Guides

Coming Soon

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Patch Notes

v1.0.0.150 - 2012-10-25

*Crystalline Exoskeleton Cooldown increased to 18 seconds from 14
*Impale will no longer finish casting if the target escapes the range during the cast time

v1.0.0.132 - 2012-01-18

*Crystal Slash mana cost adjusted to 20/22/24/26/28 from 15 at all levels
*Crystal Slash slow decreased to 20/25/30/35/40% from 25/30/35/40/45%
*Impale cooldown increased to 130/120/110 from 110/100/90

v1.0.0.127 - 2011-10-19

*Attack Speed per level increased to 2.1% from 1.44%
*Energize will no longer activate when attacking Towers.
*Crystal Slash Mana cost decreased to 15 at all ranks from 22/24/26/28/30
*Fracture will now heal Skarner if Fracture kills its target.
*Impale duration increased to 1.75 from 1.5 seconds

v1.0.0.125 - 2011-09-14

*Crystal Slash
Physical Damage increased to 25/40/55/70/85 from 20/35/50/65/80
Magic Damage increased to 24/36/48/60/72 from 20/32/44/56/68
Missile Speed increased to 1800 from 1600

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Final Thoughts on Skarner

I firmly believe Skarner to be a top tier tank, as well as a top tier jungler. The Season 3 changes did nothing but help him and thank god for that. I'd be heart broken if I had to give up on him. He was and will continue to be the champion I look to when trying to gain elo.


My Youtube:

This channel contains all of my current video guides and will be the home of my future guides as well. You might find some music that suits you in my favorites as well :)

My Pandora Stations:!/stations/play/696416964612193687

I have an indie and an electronic station if you're interested.

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Centuries ago, there lived a race of creatures as ferocious as they were wise. The brackern were unusual beings blessed with the earth's primal magic, embodied in the form of crystals. Their kind knew of an arcane ritual to bind their life's essence to a crystal, communing with the magic embedded in it. With this power, the brackern thrived in the Odyn Valley, protecting both creatures and crystals alike. Despite attacks from those looking to claim the primal magic, it seemed that nothing could get past the brackern's defenses. Nothing, that is, until the devastation of a Rune War.

A vicious battle was fought near the Odyn Valley and the unleashed chaotic magic poisoned the crystals. The brackern began to grow sick and die, and no amount of defensive magic could reverse the effects. To avoid extinction, their only course was to hibernate underground until the wars stopped. The strongest, most intelligent brackern hibernated closer to the surface to awaken first and assess the world's condition for the return of their race. The recent mining operations and violent escalation in Kalamanda were enough to awaken the first of these vanguards. When Skarner burst to the surface, he lashed out in anger and confusion. Reason eventually won out over his anger when he realized that the agents of the League who found him were simply functionaries. Skarner was invited to the Institute of War to share the brackern's story. In return, the summoners told him about the history that his kind had slept through. Much had been done to curb the unchecked use of magic since the Rune Wars, but it was obvious that the world was not yet safe for his kind to reawaken. For now, however, there is a place where Skarner can use his power to change the world into one to which his kind could eventually return: the League of Legends.

"The humans have not yet learned to control their magic - what once was Kalamanda is now a crystal scar on the history of this world."