Skarner Build Guide by Hashire
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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.
Greetings. I am Hashire and this is my first build submitted to MobaFire. I am submitting this build in reference to the previous top rated Skarner build created by bitpik, as bitpik has chosen to archive the build as of the Season Two major update. It goes into much more detail about Skarner than I will, so please feel free to check the build out here.
I do apologize now since my guide will be a wall of text, as I do not know how to make all the fancy tables, links, and pop up icon windows that most other builds have. If anyone wants to help me make it look more appealing, please feel free to message me/do so.
This build can be run effectively in either solotop or in a duo lane. Do what's more suited to your own playstyle.
With that out of the way, here is my take and version of Skarner inspired by bitpik.
I take 9 Greater Marks of Destruction as Skarner. (MOBAFire doesn't have them selectable yet. These Hybrid Penetration Runes are tailor made for Skarner as he does tons of both Physical and Magical damage in small packets.
9 Greater Seals of Resilience greatly help Skarner's early game as he is very squishy during that period. Should one use Skarner as a Jungler instead, these Seals also aid in that feat greatly.
If one uses Skarner in a duo lane and early defense isn't as much of an issue, 9 Greater Seals of Clarity can be taken instead to combat Skarner's mana issues throughout the game. Combined with the Philosopher's Stone and Meditation, Skarner should always have Mana handy even without Blessing of the Ancient Golem.
9 Greater Glyphs of Shielding helps Skarner be more tanky late game, and again is usually the Jungler's Glyph of choice
3 Greater Quintessences of Fortitude help ease the pain off of Skarner's early game weakness. These can easily prevent an unfortunate First Blood death and extra Health is great all game and for all champions. A larger health bar also discourages being the focus of the enemy team.
As I mentioned before, Skarner is very squishy early on. I put 21 attribute points into Defense to combat this.
Resistance and Hardiness give him the extra defenses he needs, and Durability and Veteran's Scars pads his health bar to make him more resistant to harass.
Indomitable may seem small, but the damage it will nullify early game from minions and stray attacks builds up significantly. Siege Commander is there for when mid game rolls around to help your team push towers faster. However if it's known that another teammate is bringing it, it's perfectly reasonable to take the points from Siege Commander and Indomitable and place them into Evasion to help during teamfights.
Skarner doesn't really need external CDR due to Energize, but the three points in Enlightenment don't hurt at all. I don't take Initiator instead simply because Skarner isn't one; he crumbles under focus. Once a teamfight has started and the Tank (or unfortunate carry victim) has taken the initial burst and CC, that is when Skarner should scuttle in and make a beeline for the enemy MVP.
Mercenary over Honor Guard is purely personal preference. I take Mercenary because Skarner is very item dependent, so in my opinion every gold piece counts. However, Honor Guard adds a noticeable flat % damage reduction which makes Skarner that much more tanky. If one is confident in their ability to get fed, by all means take Honor Guard instead.
Juggernaut is the Jewel of the Defense tree that is so desirable. The 3% extra Health combined with Durability | Veterans Scars, Fortitude Quintessences, and Sunfire Cape gives a noticeable health boost late game, and 10% free Tenacity is something every champion would love to have.
One point into Offense for Summoner's Wrath to boost our Summoner Spells of choice.
The remaining 8 points go into Utility. Expanded Mind and Meditation help to further combat Skarner's mana hungry nature. Improved Recall is there to get us to the next level. The final point goes into Scout because Wards save lives. Even moreso in a solotop lane.
My Summoner Spells of choice are Surge and Ghost.
Surge gives Skarner a 12 second Steroid, and a greatly appreciated one as it boosts his damage twofold; Skarner loves extra Attack Speed as it lets him use his abilities more often, and the bonus Ability Power boosts his overall damage output for each ability used.
Ghost is for the extra chasing power when a Crystal Slash slow has yet to be applied and/or the victim uses a blink to create some distance. The extra movespeed also lets Skarner drag an Impale victim that much further into his team and/or turret.
Teleport, Flash, or Cleanse can be taken over Surge if so desired. Teleport will allow Skarner to split push when a lane is pushed to your opponent's undefended tower. With Siege Commander, the tower will take significant damage before the opponents can retaliate if they don't have a Teleport themselves. Flash will give Skarner that emergency escape button for when things go horribly wrong and can be used to instantly close a gap to land a Crystal Slash slow, but cannot be used with an Impale victim in tow. Cleanse is purely defensive and gets rid of all that pesky CC (and now Exhaust!) that could prevent Skarner from sticking to his target. However, using Mercury's Treads combined with Juggernaut is usually a more acceptable alternative unless the enemies are focusing Skarner with chained CC.
I take Crystal Slash at the start incase a level one teamfight breaks out, or in the case of your team standing in wait to gank the enemy jungler before going to lane. Max this skill first to bring Skarner's main offense to bear as early as possible.
Crystalline Exoskeleton is our next priority at level two. The shield helps block early game harass and any DoT skills as well as a movespeed and attack speed buff for sticking to targets that get cocky and foolishly get too close to Skarner when they don't have an advantage over him. Max it second as the active buffs only last as long as the shield is up.
I get Fracture at level 4 and max it last. Early game it's usually too costly to use as ranged harass and late game the damage is rather minor. Useful for last hitting minions at max range to prevent zoning and melee harass, and it can be quite useful as a sustain if mana is not an issue. However, most opponents won't let Skarner peacefully smack around minions and may very well out damage any health Fracture brings in, so this is usually only a safe idea when alone.
Impale is Skarner's signature move, and the one that gives him his identity and greatest presence in teamfights. Use this skill after a teamfight has been initiated to suppress and pull out the enemies' biggest threat to your team (Usually the AD Carry, if not then the AP Nuker) and drag them right into the line of fire of your teammates to focus down. The exception to this is if the enemies have a powerful channeled ability with them, such as Katarina's Death Lotus, Nunu's Absolute Zero, or Fiddlestick's Crowstorm. (Although no good Fiddlesticks would be channeling it in plain view of people who can stop him.). In cases such as this, wait for the target to start channeling and then immediately Impale them to prevent as much damage as possible.
It can also be used as a surprise removal if someone on your team is being chased. Pop out of the jungle and drag off one of the pursuers into the darkness to deal with them and help your fleeing teammate.
I don't recommend using it in 1v1 fights unless there is a friendly turret within drag range as Skarner cannot autoattack for the duration. However, the Suppression will allow him one free Crystal Slash, and Impale deals two packets of damage by itself so in close fights, it can make the difference between getting feed and being food. However, if the fight is that close, I would recommend avoiding committing to more 1v1 fights with that person. Level Impale at 6 | 11 | 16 as any Ultimate.
Note that the item order I listed is not set in stone. It goes without saying that each item should be gotten as they are needed. The order I have listed is for the best case scenario when feed is abundant.
Starting with a Regrowth Pendant will give Skarner the sustain he needs in solotop, and builds into the Philostone that will feed his mana pool throughout the game. The Mana Potion helps cover the gap between the game's start and affording said Stone. If in a duo lane and lucky enough to be aided by Soraka, skip the Potion to save that much more gold.
Buy Boots of Speed on the same trip back as the Philostone and upgrade them to Berserker's Greaves as soon as possible. These boots will offhandedly give Skarner CDR by virtue of attacking more often. However, if your opinion is one of the many that say Greaves are useless, or if the enemy team has lots of CC, then upgrade to Mercury's Treads instead.
Next is your first major early game purchase: Sheen. If yu can afford it after getting the Philostone, skip boots for now and go straight for this. Sheen will greatly boost Skarner's damage output and suddenly makes him a huge threat to watch out for.
This step is optional, but I feel it helps to do so. After Sheen, purchase one part of the Hextech Gunblade; whichever part is deemed more important. I personally always take the Bilgewater Cutlass because Skarner benefits from the Lifesteal more than the Spellvamp from the Hextech Revolver early on, and the Cutlass comes with a miniature version of the Gunblade's awesome active ability.
Whether the optional step is skipped or not, the next purchase is to finish the Triforce. Buy Zeal first as Skarner benefits more from the increased attack speed and movespeed, and doesn't need the chance slow from Phage with Crystal Slash being spammed. Once Triforce is finished, Skarner really will be dealing Tons of Damage as he'll constantly be abusing the Force-Proc on recharge, and the overall hybrid stats benefit Skarner on all fronts.
Once the Triforce is finished, move onto the Gunblade. It won't be terribly expensive at this point if the optional step was completed and the Triforce's power will let Skarner farm up the rest of the gold easily. Once it's complete, Skarner will suddenly have much more staying power as every offensive move he makes will be healing him. It becomes much easier to simply muscle your way through small skirmishes similar to Akali (albeit a bit slower). The active ability solidifies your role as a chaser and pretty much guarantees your chosen victim cannot get away without significant help from his team.
Next comes the Rageblade. Like Jax, this sword is one of Skarner's best friends. Extra Attack Damage, Attack Speed, and Ability Power; everything Skarner could ever want in a fight. It's also very easy to keep up full stacks outside of battle with Crystal Slash's tiny recharge time.
With all that offense out of the way, defense is all that's left. Sunfire Cape is the perfect Armor item for Skarner. The Health and Armor boost naturally make him more tanky, but it's the Passive that makes it really shine on Skarner. Because he constantly sticks to his victims in melee range, the burn damage adds up quickly and significantly.
Wit's End is the Magic Resist item of choice for Skarner as it gives him even more of the attack speed he loves, and he can easily keep the stacks at max in a fight where he would need the defense most.
Sometimes however, one of the defense types isn't needed due to crippling overspecialization by the enemy team. As such, I will list a pair of alternate defensive items for each stat for the one that isn't needed.
If the enemy team is largely AD based, replace Wit's End with either Madred's Bloodrazor or Randuin's Omen.
Madred's Bloodrazor will give the missing attack speed from replacing Wit's End while adding a small amount of armor and attack damage. This alternative really shines when the passive can be abused, and with the Tanky DPS metagame, that's quite often. The extra damage is based off of the opponent's max health, so it'll help give the edge on enemies who get health passively such as Jax, offtanks such as Garen and Jarvan, and health based tanks such as Cho'Gath. It'll also decimate any builder of Atmogs that doesn't invest in magic resist.
Randuin's Omen sacrifices the attack speed of the Bloodrazors for much more defensive stats. More armor and added HP as well as a chance passive to slow any assailants. The active is also the bane of any autoattack based champion such as Master Yi, Jax, and Tryndamere, as well as making it even easier to chase and stick to people.
If the enemy team is stacked with heavy magic damage, the Sunfire Cape can be replaced in favor of a Hexdrinker or Abyssal Scepter.
The Hexdrinker will give Skarner some extra attack damage and magic resist for a cheap price. The passive ability is what makes it important, however. Once a minute, anytime magic damage drops Skarner under 30% of his max health, the Hexdrinker will produce a shield that absorbs the next 300 magic damage dealt on the next four seconds, often saving Skarner's life from the offending burst unless he is locked down by CC. It also effectively nullifies the threat of being picked off by an unfortunate Requiem or random Trueshot Barrage provided the blade didn't trigger beforehand.
Abyssal Scepter will give your abilities that extra punch and some magic resist, but the real selling point is the Aura it gives to enemies. By dropping the enemies' magic resist not only are your abilities doing even more damage, but your magic damage allies are as well. And as Skarner is melee based, he can easily debuff the entire enemy team at once.
Once again, the item list and order isn't set in stone. Build the items as they're needed.
Why I don't take Manamune
I get asked by my friends why I don't take Manamune on Skarner to alleviate his high mana needs.
Simply put, I personally don't like bringing the item because it doesn't pack the same utility as the Gunblade or Rageblade. With the Philostone and Meditation, Skarner should have plenty of mana when it's needed for fights as long as some restraint is used; don't recklessly spam your abilities outside of big fights or to farm minions. Instead, focus on last hits and straight up autoattack for minions depending on the game phase. Getting the Crest of the Ancient Golem will effectively do Manamune's job without taking up a slot as well.
However, in no way is Manamune a bad item on Skarner. In this build, a capped Manamune would add 70.5 attack damage and enough mana regen to never have to worry about spamming to your heart's content, and Skarner can easily hit the mana cap simply by the nature of his playstyle.
If one wishes to take Manamune on Skarner, change the early item order as follows: Start with a Meki Pendant and Health Potions and upgrade to a Tear of the Goddess as soon as possible (Don't get the Philostone). After Sheen is purchased, finish building Manamune before going on to the Triforce (Manamune replaces Hextech Gunblade).
Take the attribute points from Meditation and Scout and place them all into Swiftness as well to get some free movespeed, however little it is.
This option sacrifices the ability power, sustain, and utility of the Gunblade in exchange for a greater amount of attack damage and an endless mana pool for as much reckless skill spamming anyone could want. It also makes solo lane a bit harder early on as the health regen is lost, but if this trade off is an acceptable one in your opinion, by all means do so.
Early game, Skarner needs to not commit to a fight unless there is a level one teamfight or jungle gank going on. Despite having the highest base attack damage in the game alongside Cho'Gath, extensive use of abilities early on will run him out of mana quickly even with a Philostone, which will prevent him being able to defend himself effectively should the need arise.
Once a Sheen is purchased however, this all changes. The proc from Sheen will make Skarner a scary threat early on and he should play as such. Be more aggressive and actively punish opponents who step forward to harass and last hit and they'll quickly fall back into easy zone territory or even turret hugging. Don't use abilities on minion waves however unless the healing from Fracture is needed. By not only last hitting and keeping the minion waves in the middle of the lane, it becomes easy to zone the opponent out of experience range while not exposing yourself to a gank from overextending. Only push the lane if your opponent is killed and your river bush is warded or all other opponents are accounted for. Siege Commander will help make the tower fall that much faster from repeated pushes with the opponent away from it.
When mid game rolls around, the teamfights will begin breaking out. Stick with your team as Skarner is just food to enemy ganks unless they are foolish enough to only send 1-2 people, or the gankers are low on HP.
As mentioned early on, wait for the tank to initiate before using Crystalline Exoskeleton and rushing to the highest priority target. Impale them and drag them into your team to focus down. Even without Impale however, Skarner is a threat. After the initiate, rush in to the enemy squishy and start sticking to it while at the same time slowing the entire team, and burning them all as well if Sunfire is purchased by this time. If left unchecked, Skarner will tear apart any non-tank he gets his claws on.
During downtimes, still stick with your team to help push lanes as your Siege Commander helps increase the damage your allies do to towers as well, resulting in them crumbling much faster.
In conclusion, Skarner can be a very scary threat in the right hands. A lot of people underestimate Skarner due to people not knowing how to play him, and this can lead them to making stupid mistakes that cost them their lane and possibly the game by feeding Skarner.
I hope my first guide is helpful to Skarner players as this build benefits me greatly.
Feel free to comment and criticize, although please keep the negative variety tasteful. I.E., no just plain insults of why x item is terrible or why the guide is bad. Instead, state what yu disagree with, give some reasons, and generally be civil and I will be happy to debate and consider.
Once again, thanks to bitpik for the inspiration for my Skarner setup.