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Skarner the Crystal Dominator
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I start with a Sapphire Crystal and Health Potion every time. The extra mana keeps you in lane longer and enables you to cast fracture a little more freely, and it's also a prerequisite for sheen. Sheen is very important for Skarner, because it doubles his attack damage every time you use an ability. Seeing as Skarner's "Crystal Slash" is very, very spammable, this fits perfectly.
Moving on, I usually purchase a pair of boots next in case the chance arises for a chase, or of course if I need to make a rapid escape. This combined with his Crystalline Exoskeleton ability makes Skarner a very difficult catch early game. That doesn't mean you can just rush in with exaggerated confidence. If the shield granted by Crystalline Exoskeleton is destroyed, Skarner's speed boost is lost, and you're once again easily targeted. Upgrade these boots to Merc treads as early as possible, for the added defense bonuses.
I like to get my hands on a Giant's belt next, because the huge amount of health it grants is a great start to tanking Skarner up a bit. It's also needed to make a "Rylai's Crystal Scepter", which is another wonderful item for Skarner. The slow effect is really nifty because you'll be aiming to spam your Q ability a lot. You can also use fracture to slow them from a distance if they're that little bit too far.
After buying the Giant's belt, I go out and farm a little for a Hexdrinker. Throw in a few ganks here and there too, because Skarner's actually really good when it comes to ganking. Anywho, This overlooked item is actually really good considering the price. The attack damage increase isn't massive, but it's still very helpful. The Magic resist is also quite noteworthy. Then of course you've got that wonderful unique passive ability, which can really save your *** a lot mid-game. Once I have that one in the bag, I finish turning my Giant's belt into a Rylai's scepter. Now go out and show the opponent just how fearsome a good Skarner player can be, and farm some minions for the ever-nearing late game.
NEARING LATE GAME
Okay, so nearing late game now, we want to get a hold of a Frozen Mallet. Considering Skarner is primarily a melee fighter, the attack damage and slow effects are very necessary. The health is also perfect for this semi-tank build, which, added to Rylai's bonus, makes your Skarner that much more menacing and difficult to kill. Also, Combing the slow effect with that of Rylai's scepter means that the opponent will be constantly slowed with every single move you make. That's just cruel, eh?
Now we've entered late game and we really want to settle this, aye? Time for some Hextech Gunblade action! Yeah, that's right, this is a beautiful weapon for Skarner. I don't know how he holds this thing with those huge claws, but damn, he can sure as hell make good use of it. Attack damage, Ability power, Life steal AND spell vamp. Everything Skarner needs in one compact item. Not to mention that nifty little ability that damages and slows an opponent, which is great for initiating fights against carries. I'd have suggested buying it earlier, but I'm more concerned about gathering some solid health for skarner prior to it, so that you've got substantial survivability.
If you haven't won by now, you'd better upgrade that Sheen to a Trinity Force. Again, a lot of Skarner players would suggest purchasing it earlier, and that's totally understandable. Though I like to instead focus the large amounts of gold on solid increases like Health or damage earlier on, as opposed to a large number of smaller scattered effects. Anyway, if you still haven't won after that, you really need to try to identify the issue. Is Ashe there cutting your allies down on a critical hit rampage? Hell, why deal with the issue yourself when you can just sit back and watch her essentially commit suicide with your newly acquired "Thornmail" that you swapped out for that "Hexdrinker"! Or of course, when you're up against an Ability Power heavy team; get yourself a force of nature instead, and powerhouse your way through all those explosions like a boss (Running into enemy explosions is not actually recommended). If those tanks are causing you grief, I'd probably swap out the "Hexdrinker" for a "Black Cleaver", or perhaps a "Last Whisper/void staff" depending on whether they've focused on armor or Magic Resist.
*Excuse any spelling errors and such. I didn't spend as much time as I would've liked on this because It's rather late*
*EDIT - Changed the build a bit from Rod of Ages to Rylai's scepter. Also changed the explanation to fit said alteration*
Once you've got your starting items, head straight for your lane. This isn't a jungling guide if you haven't noticed. If you're closely accompanied by your fellow laner, run straight into the brush. Have your finger hovering over the Q key, and be ready to spam like hell, in case they beat you guys to it. If this is the case and they were in fact waiting right at the edge of the brush for you, just retreat. As they chase, keep hitting the Q key constantly. After the first hit with Crystal Slash, your next one will slow the opponents for easy escape. Once you're safe you should return to base, heal up, and come back to your tower ideally just as the minions arrive.
If you managed to enter the brush first, go right to the edge with your comrade and wait like a true predator. As soon as the enemy touches the brush, hit them with crystal slash and exhaust. Then just give him all you've got, accompanied by your ally. If both the enemies are there, focus on the one your comrade is attacking, but hit them both with crystal slash, in order to slow attack and movement speeds.
First thing about laning at lower levels is to approach the enemy minions and champions early game with utmost care. Skarner is squishy as hell early on, and you don't want to find yourself stunned, exhausted, surrounded, etc (as with any champion). That's not to say you won't be able to achieve a first blood. Once you get to level 2 and you've got your Crystalline Exoskeleton, you can chase enemies with great succession, given your ally is close by for support in case of retreat, and you don't get too carried away. I tend to hang back and rack up exp until I reach level 6. That's when Skarner gets serious.
Lure the opponents back to your tower. Try to avoid dealing damage with fracture at this stage, because you don't want them running in fear. You can afford to melee them because you're actually encouraging retaliation so that your turret will target them. If this is the case and your turret does in fact target one of the enemy champions at any stage, grab them with your ulti and pull them back further into turret range. Feel free to bask in the glory of a well-played maneuver when they're lying dead on the floor.
ENEMY TURRET OFFENSE
This same tactic is great throughout the whole match. But there are other instances where your ulti can come in handy. For example; when your team is pushing and you face a turret guarded by two or three enemy champions, you can run in behind the safety of your minions, grab the squishiest of the bunch with your ulti, and pull him out for your allies to literally feast on. Bam, you've got one less champion to deal with. 80% of the time the remaining defenders will run out to help their ally as you're pulling him away, in which case your allies can pounce on them all from a much safer distance of the turret. Voila, you just initiated a nice little rapage.
AGGRESSIVE PLAY AND GANKING
I avoid using the ulti for instances other than these. Especially if you have Frozen mallet, you should have no trouble chasing them down. However, if the whole enemy team is running, you can stop them in their tracks and initiate a battle by grabbing the closest foe and pulling him/her back to your comrades. Naturally, the enemy team will turn around and try to save him. Perhaps only for a mere second, but enough for your allies to catch up and stun the hell out of them, killing a couple, if not all.
Other than ulti tips; once you reach beyond level 8 or so and you've got a hold of some decent health (via giant's belt for example), you can play pretty aggressively. Don't be afraid to initiate small fights (2v2 for example) if there aren't any tanks about. Skarner has good survivability, and a well timed "W" will get you out of many tight situations. He has incredible chasing potential too, so try to lure opponents as far away from their turret as you can. Then throw out a fracture, activate Crystalline Exoskeleton, get up close, spam crystal slash (which activates Sheen's ability for your melee attack in-between), and there's pretty much no chance of escape.
Ganking is another thing Skarner has amazing potential for. Especially once you've got Rylai's, for that beautiful slow effect. By approaching from behind the opponent, throwing in a fracture, activating Crystalline Exoskeleton and closing in with Crystal Slash and melee attacks, you're bound to get the kill. The most irritable thing with ganking however is when the opponent escapes via flash with roughly 20 health. Then there's those allies that get too carried away, and chase through turret fire. Inevitably, this ends in a death, and no kill (unless the opponent hasn't played League of Legends before). Just put simply; don't be greedy. Let them escape if chasing puts your life at risk. This is especially important for Skarner early on, because you're very squishy!
*I plan to add more to this in the future. I really must leave now, but I'll check back tomorrow for updates and such, including an explanation for the summoner skills and other minorities like that*
Alrighty! Thanks for reading lads! I appreciate any comments, and suggestions are more than welcome. :)