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Skarner Build Guide by JackViper

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League of Legends Build Guide Author JackViper

Skarner - Maximize Your Shield

JackViper Last updated on October 6, 2012
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Jungle Role
Ranked #22 in
Jungle Role
Win 50%
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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: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 12

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Greetings, one and all. I'm Jack Viper, and this is my first guide here on mobafire. Actually, what follows should not be taken as a comprehensive guide. Rather, what I propose is simply a different approach to building Skarner than what I've seen over and over. Therefore, in the spirit of embracing new ideas, I humbly ask that you hold presuppostions until you have at least tested the build yourself. Otherwise, I gladly welcome any informed opinions or points of view.

Also, as this is not a comprehensive guide, I will not be discussing jungling beyond the basics. This is not a jungling guide. I mostly play Twisted Treeline and Dominion. I don't play much Summoner's Rift, but when I do, I play skarner jungle or top. Now, for the rest of you that didn't just close the page, let's continue, shall we?

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I'm sure we're all familiar with the idea of building skarner AP and, while quite fun, it simply does not perform up to par with the common tank builds. But why is that? I mean, you get massive shields. Fracture actually become an asset. You have decent healing. You have good damage. Why, you're a bona fide AP carry. Right? ...Riiight.

The reason that building skarner pure AP doesn't work is simple: you go splat. As a fighter, skarner has to be in meelee range to do ANYTHING, primarily spam autoattacks and Crystal Slashes. You have to build resistances or all the shields and healing in the world won't save you from instant incineration in a teamfight.

...but you're building AP

True, but I'm building AP items in a way that I don't go splat. I build a combination of AP, resistances, CDR, and attack speed in a way that gives me large shields that don't break and are always off cooldown. The primary focus of the build is to pretty much ALWAYS have Crystalline Exoskeleton up, therefore taking full advantage of the buff as well as taking little to no actual damage to our health pool.

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Pretty basic runes for skarner. I've experimented with others, but keep coming back to these. Attack speed marks for his passive and damage, flat armor seals and magic resist/lv glyphs for survivability. I like movespeed Quints on skarner for better chase, flee, sticking to targets with Crystal Slash, and dragging with his Impale.

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I've tinkered with masteries so much it isn't funny. I feel like the health and resistances in the defense tree are most important, but I'm not sure if Juggernaut is really all that useful. I like the movespeed and buff duration in utility, as well as Summoner's Wrath and Alacrity in offense. By all means, if you are jungling on SR you can take points from offense and give to defense. Of course, only get Summoner's Wrath , Summoner's Resolve , or Summoner's Insight if you use those spells.

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Summoner Spells

We usually want one of these

and one of these

It comes down to preference, really. I have tried Surge with varying degrees of success; it's not bad. You can use Revive in Dominion; I'll have to test it more. Anything other than these I wouldn't use at all.

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Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Fairly basic skill progression. I do like an early two points in Crystalline Exoskeleton simply because at level one it breaks too easily to be of much use. I still don't level Fracture until last because we won't have enough AP to justify its use until later in the game.

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Here we go, the build itself.

Early goals

We start with Boots for mobility. Depending on how the game is going, we can either rush Frozen Heart for instant tankiness and team support, or pick up Sheen early for more damage. Both of these items provide the mana we need for the duration of the game.

One thing that should be noted is that these primary items are central in most skarner builds. So, if you start a game planning on going with this build, and things aren't going too well, you can at this point 'hit the panic button' and just go the usual Trinity tank route. So there is some versatility in the early/ mid game. (You can also upgrade boots earlier if you so desire)

Midgame goals

Time to upgrade our boots and focus on the hardest part of the build - building that Rabadon's Deathcap. But that deathcap is what makes the build. It's what makes our shield big enough to not break prematurely. Stinger is cheap and gives attack speed and more CDR, so now our shields are rarely on cooldown.

Late Game

Next, we finish Nashor's Tooth. Our Shields are now always up due to max CDR, and attack speed. Then, finish Lich Bane for more AP, MR, movespeed, and a bigger physical nuke.


90-95% of games don't get this far. But, in case of a game this long, this item compliments what we already have really well. More AP, and some extra AD and lifesteal for all our attack speed and Lich Bane nukes. With the spellvamp, we are healing quite alot now.

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Tailoring Your Build Order to Your Game

This build order is not set in stone. Of course, you can and should tailor the order you build the items to the circumstances of the game. As most of these items are on the expensive side, you should prioritize what would be most beneficial at your point in the game. Ask yourself,

A good rule of thumb is to finish Rabadon's Deathcap as your 2nd major item. The reason being is that it just doesn't do much without the CDR and mana from Frozen Heart or Nashor's Tooth.

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Item Build Recap

To reiterate, this is how the build works:

  • Frozen Heart makes us tanky enough so that our shields hold up in teamfights.
  • Rabadon's Deathcap, along with other AP items, allows us to have BIG shields.
  • Nashor's Tooth gives us attack speed and takes our CDR to max, so that our shields are off cooldown by the time the buff ends.
  • Lich Bane provides a huge physical nuke every 2 seconds, as well as movespeed and MR. I find that skarner's naturally high base magic resist, along with runes, Mercury Treads, and this item, is plenty of MR.
  • Our Fracture is actually a decent aoe nuke with good healing
  • Theoretically, if our shield is always up, then we never lose hp

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Is this the BEST build for skarner?

Honestly, no. I do not make the claim that this build, or any other build for that matter, is the best build. Why? Becuase Skarner is such a versatile champion. He isn't "stuck" to any particular item build or playstyle. In fact, every stat in the game is beneficial to skarner, which is why I've seen people run everything from The Black Cleaver to Rod of Ages on him. There really is no "best" build for him, only what is best for your own playstyle.

What I am offering is a build that makes the absolute most out of Crystalline Exoskeleton, thereby making you really tanky AND do tons of damage.

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Thanks for reading, and tell me what you think. All thoughts and criticism are welcome, so long as it is constructive and courteous. And please, do not comment if you have not tested it yourself. Thanks again.