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Skarner Build Guide by Orapac

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.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Orapac

Skarner - The sting of death

Orapac Last updated on August 21, 2011
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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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 0

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Just tryout the build first before voting, and make sure to check up on it for when it gets updated.

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First off, This a a work in progress, and i will be constantly changing things on this guide as I find what works better, or how to build Skarner in different situations as i get more time to play him. This is my first guide on MOBAfire, just a heads up. Now onto the stuff you came here to find.

Anytime you talk to people who play Skarner you will either hear he is a great champ, or that he is so UP that it should be considered by the UN that it's a crime against humanity to sell him. This is because A) It depends on which team gets fed, B) if the person just sucks hard at Skarner or isn't used to his abilities yet, and C) He's brand spanking new and we will just need to wait to see where the next patch or two takes him. Personally, I believe right now with some practice and a good team Skarner can be a terror on the field of justice.Yes, you can jungle with him and Yes you can lane, but this guide will focus on laning for the most part since I have not yet had a chance to practice Jungling with Skarner (The randoms i play with are never good enough to solo a lane and always need my help which stops my jungle). The best (and at the same time worst) part of building Skarner, is that has has so many possibilities and combination and directions to choose from. I'll go into details on the items as we go and masteries once I try new ones out. INTO THE DETAILS!

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For Red, I pick Magic Pen(MP) right now because all of Skarners abilities (except his W) do magic damage in some way, with his Q doing Physical AND Magic Damage, but more on that Later. the Reason i like these Is because it lets me itemize for the stats I want instead of worrying to much about picking up MP from items since my runes and masteries help with that. His AD damage output doesn't come into play very much in the laning phase, but begins to make his presence felt starting more in mid game and very well into late (409 base damage anyone?)so i find that the magic pen for his abilities helps a lot more for early stages where you will need the ability to harass and work for first bloods. I am seeing some success with Physical Damage and Armor pen runes instead, so find which ones work for you. *Update* I am winning in an equal amount of games using any of these 3 rune types, so it really comes down to what the enemy is going to play and what items. a game of chance really.

For Yellow, I take Armor for Seals and Magic Resist for Glyphs for some nice lane survivability, and so that they mesh well with the Def masteries. With All the Armor, damage reduction and Magic Resist from Rune and masteries, it will really help by letting you take all damage items (if things get a little tough one tanky item will certainly help).

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*Once i get around to testing new masteries, I will add them in to this section*

Yes, Riot has classified Skarner as a Jungler, but he is also good at laning with a decent teammate and build, but he is very squishy, especially early game. So far I've had some pretty good success by using the Def trees mixed with my runes to give my self the survivability stats that is lacking in a high damage itemization I use. IE: Buy some armor items and have lower damage than Skarner usually starts with, or grab the Runes?masters and start building towards your god-killing weapons right away. Ill choose the god killing weapon any day. Again, these just really help with your survivability for laning to help build up your experience and gold so you can start ganking like all good skarners should.

For the 9 points in offensive, first and foremost, you use Exhaust, it is a great spell for Skarner, so buff it and make it even better. Next, i find the increased crit chance from Deadliness is a lot better then the small AP bonuses from Archmages Savy. Your Passive, plus your W means the faster you attack the more damage you'll dish out, and reducing your cool downs with Sorcery means you'll be pumping your abilities even faster, also it leads into the magic pen mastery- Archaic Knowledge, you need this since your abilities all use magic. I am aware you dont gett he whole "You go offensive mastery and it builds upon your offensive items" argument but right now im having some pretty good success like this. I will how ever be testing other builds so donnt worry.

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Ok, so with Skarner, there are a lot of possibilities here. If the enemy tem is proving very squishy just stick with the damage items, such as the build above. if they start hurting mroe, grab a tanky item. 2 things Skarner always needs is boots with minimum of 2 Movement bonus, AND an item to slow enemy champs on hit (Frozen mallet, or a Rylai's are good). now, ill go through the items in the build first and why i pick them, then ill go through the items that you can substitute depending on the specific game circumstances.

Primary Items

Manamune One of the most, if not the most important item to build first. Gives Skarner some much needed mana, snowballs his max mana each time you attack/use an ability, AND increases his Attack Damage by 2% of your max mana. Plus it already gives you some AD, AND mana regen, everything skarner needs at the start. I ALWAYS get this item. How ever, late game,I find that I end up replacing this for say, a Guinsoo's rage blade, or Atmas Impaler or something equally use full (you can always grab the blue buff to cover your mana).

Atmas impaler Armor and Crit chance, perfect for skarner, and the passive of doing 2% of your max health in damamge with physical attacks? Amazing, especially if you end up picking up certain tank items. Quite literally, the healthier you become, the more of a murderous death scorpion you will be.

Frozen Mallet More health (good for skarner AND increases Damage from the Atmas impaler. And even more importantly, slow enemy champions on hit, and with Skarners small attack range that is INTEGRAL to getting kills/assists. Also, more AD, so all around this will help you be a carry.

Guinsoos rageblade Attack damage AND Ability Power? What more could we need? A stacking increase of attack speed (hellooooo passive ability) and ability power? This my friends is called win. Insects 1, humanity 0.

Sorcerers ShoesMuch needed movement speed, and magic pen. Lets you keep up with your target, and ensures you'll do as much damage as possible. I haven't found that any certain boot is the end all be all for skarner, so in the next section ill outline the other decent boots to use.

Bloodthirster. Life Steal, so the more AD the more healing you get. It gives damage, so you heal more and hit harder. than it stacks up and gives you even MORE bonus damage and life steal. Something else that makes Skarner ridiculously terrifying. I usually get this second or 3rd, (manamume, and the bloodthirster/boots)

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Secondary/Substitution Items

Ok lets start with the boots..

Beserkers greaves The attack speed this gives is also great for skarner. if you find that you already do enough magic damage, then these are a solid choice to take instead of Sorc Shoes.

Ninja Tabi Dodge and Armor? always nice if you find your self being beaten down a lot. Really nice to take the pressure off.

Boots of mobility The movement speed doesn't terribly excite me. sure you can get back to a lane, or over to team fights quicker, or steal their red/blue buffs, or generally get every where you need to go, but it doesn't help in combat at all. not my choice and I highly don't recommend these.

Boots of Swiftness Honestly, If i wanted to move faster, I'll take these over the mobility boots mainly because the 3 movement is ALWAYS there, even in combat. again id take the combat bonus boots over this but these are a solid choice if your having problems with being out run even with Exhaust and slowing items.

Ionian boots of Lucidity Honestly, who DOESN'T gain from reduced cool downs? another solid choice.

In the end it's really about your preference/enemy builds but the top would be beserker's, Sorcerers, or Ionians, with Swiftness a close runner up along with ninja if your taking to much damage.

Tank Items: Remember, if your taking to much damage, you can always drop an item grab some survivability gear.

Aegis of the LegionNot the STRONGEST stats, but it does buff your whole team so not a horrible choice but It really comes down to your own survivability at some point.

Force of nature Lots of Health regen? that's always a nice thing, with a bit of extra movement speed and magic resist. all good, a solid survivability item.

Frozen Heart Armor, good, more mana, great, that extra mana making manamume more powerful? amazing. Reduced cool down? nuff said.

Guardian Angel Armor and magic resist? Sick. The res if you have the unfortunate occurance of dieing can be good, Especially if you went in for a gank or a 1v1 and they got a couple lucky crits and killed you right before you land your final blow, you'll come back with more health and mana than them, and be able to take'm down.

Leviathan Flat health increase, then a stacking health buff, and eventually a 15% damage reduction, which is coupled with the final Defense mastery, that makes 19% damage reduction alone.

Randuins Omen Armor, health (more Manamume bonuses!) and health regen flat out. The cool down reduction is minimal but you also have a chance to slow attackers when they hit you. The activate is also pretty nice to keep people from getting away, and hitting you less. Very nice item.

Spirit Visage Not super tanky, but does help your lifesteal a lot. could be worth trying, though i have not tested this yet.

Thornmail Armor (yay) and the more they hit you, the more damage they take. great for champs who have rapid auto attacks (Tryn, jax and Warwick for example).

Sunfire Cape Armor and Health, great for your survivability. Skarners job is to stick to an enemy and not let them get away....this cloak lets your burn all enemies every second they are near you. Honestly, seems like a good choice to me. more testing will be needed.

Warmogs Armor And finally, one of my favorite tank items, lots of health, and health regen, plus a snowball effect for the passive which increase both of those. Combine this with the impaler, and your getting a lot of extra AD. amazing IMO if you need to pick up a tank item.

Other Items:

Trinity Force Jack of all trades item. tons of stats, but not a lot of each. Semi decent item, and I wouldn't say NOT to get it, but its not my FIRST choice.

Black Cleaver AS, AD,and shredding the enemies armor? This is a very solid replacement item here. Sometime I will replace Blood thirster or Guinsoo's. all 3 of those are good items so it's more preference here.

Rylais Crystal Scepter If you want some more AD, a nice choice to replace Frozen mallet with this baby. Almost the same but helps with other attacks. Not to shabby.

Phantom Dancer With this, you'll attack very fast combined with your Q skill, and Zerkers greaves. a very nice item indeed, i highly reccomend this. Also lots of crit.

Lich Bane Solid item, not a whole a lot o say except the 150% is nice.

Infinity Edge Very handy if you find your self critting a lot. It helps that it gives you extra crit.

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Skill Sequence

I havn't found the "best" way to level your skills, but you will want to max either Crystal Slash, or Crystalline Exoskeleton first, as those will be your bread and butter (obviously taking your ultimate up a level when ever possible). You will want to start with either fracture , because the minor heal it will give you at first will be extremely useful if you can smoke a the majority of a minion wave with it and just hit them each. it also provides a range harass to help keep those pesky champs away from your minions so you can out level them, or Crystaline slash for the rapid cooldown and the fact that this is the ability your AD will be relying on. Crystaline exo skeleton s buff is nice but it does not absorb much damage at all at the first rank so pick up a damage skill first.

So if you take anything away from this, MAX Q AND W FIRST!

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Summoner Spells

Exhaust Your masteries buff it. It makes them slow, and take more damage, and we all know skarner needs all of it he can get, but the most important part here is, which I am reiterating, that it SLOWS THEM. They will be slowed enough to get your second Slash off, which will then keep them slowed, and from there just keep your auto attack going with your Exoskeleton up to keep your cool down on Q constantly coming off so you can spam it and keep them slowed and taking bonus damage. This is practically required.

Ghost Again, this keeps you up with enemies and lets you chase them down or swoop in for a gank. Secondly, you can sue this while you use your Ult to drag them quicker in the short time you have them, which that few extra feet could mean the difference between them dieing, or then escaping with a sliver of health and coming back with a vengeance and some new gear.

Other Summoner Spells:

Smite Really, this is the only other spell you should be using, and that's ONLY if your gonig to be jungling, although OF COURSE you know that...right? Right?

other than that, there arent any other spells for skarner. Revive is the worst, you don't need Clairvoyance, Clarity for mana is non important (manamume baby), screw heal (Blood Thirster) fortify can be someone elses job, you can't flash with Impale, so you get the idea...

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Team Work

Unless you get ridiculously fed and can buy all of the items form the list here that you've choose and can solo their team, your going to need team work as Skarner, and if you play well with other, your team will LOVE you! I mean think about it, you can shrug of the opening attack of a champ as you charge in, pop Exo Skele for speed and then drag the enemy champ back to your team with your ult, and you will pretty much guarantee a Kill, ESPECIALLY if someone pops a stun/exhaust on them. or a Damage over Time effect, such a Mord using his Ult + Ignite. good bye enemy, hello +1 kill and a ghost buddy!

This tactic is great from if the enemy over extends, or initiate a little bit early, or in a team fight when the enemy tries moving back. Its not the best to initiate with against certain enemies (Singed and his flip attack...) but it can work. All you need to do is either flank them on the side with the weakest person, or just run straight in like a made man (use either ghost or your Skele for this, but make sure the other is off cool down before you do). Now, right before you get in range for your Ulti, pop your second movement enhancer, and grab them! immediately start dragging them back to your team/tower and enjoy. If your really good, you can, at the last second, turn your self around so the enemy is behind you (Skarner drags them as if hes pulling them backwards) so you end up between them and their team. it gives you those couple extra seconds it takes for them to run around you to damage them more...

I like to think when i grab an enemy and pull them into the jungle alone, they scream like that guy at the beginning of Jurassic Park that gets pulled into the Raptor cage. Muwahahaha.

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Minion Farming:

- Get fracture to hit groups of minions for your heals to help you stay in your lane longer, and possibly last shot groups of them, or set them up to be. It also keeps enemies away so you can farm a bit more peacefully.

- if you can, pop your exo skele so you can spam your Crystal Slash more for the bonus damage. great for last hitting groups. Also the attack speed buff and speed buff help you either hit faster or get away form potential ganks which would severely effect your farming capabilities.

-Starting around level,6, you can usually start soling the jungle creeps 9with no smite cause that's how i roll, all anti champ baby) in a reasonable amount of time to get back in your lane to keep the enemies away or grab a gank.


- yes, kills are better than assists, but you still get valuable gold. if you can guarantee a kill for you or you partner (yes, you should neve be solo laning/midding)do it.

- Its often a good idea to just harass the enemies a bit with fracture, but save your mana. you want them to think they are pushing you back or that your afraid, so stay relatively close toy our teammate and turret. then when one of them runs in, Exo Skele/Ghost, and impale that sucker and run him backwards into your friend and the turret. easy ganks.

- When ever you've got someone impaled and pulling them backwards, always make sure to get off a Crystal Slash while they are stuck to you, so once you let them go you can hit them with your second one and slow them. pop your Exo up again to keep your AS up and Speed so when they run through bushes they cant juke you. You or someone else can always cast Exhaust or a slow/snare on them for good measure as the impale ends.

- if you get fed, just run around, grab the weakest person in a team fight from the flank and pull them right back or someone from the back if your feeling risky. once they die you 9hopefulyl you wont have the fight go the other way and you end up being ganked) get out fast, start auto attacking minions and jungle creeps to get your impales cool down reduced (I love his passive) and pick up the jungle buffs if you can. Make your job easier.

Really, unless you get so fed where you actually start feeling sorry for the other team (I never feel that way ;) ) Skarner isnt the first choice to Initiate fights, or run in head first to go mano e mano wit other champs. Surprise, planning, coordination, and fighting dirty are his strong suits.

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Will people ***** at you for pulling them into a group of your friends or a tower? hell yes they will. you'll be called so many names, but what they don't realize, THAT'S HOW SKARNER was designed. the Devs know that is how people will use skarner. hell blitzcrank can do it, he does have longer range than skarner to, but there is that annoyance for him of possibly grabbing a minion. The thing is, people are so used to seeing someone playing Skarner and just being able to face roll him, that they just get so angry when they see someone who should be a free kill for them, killing them instead (especially when the announcer says that you are god like and legendary). All you can do is remind them that the devs designed skarner to do what he does, and that they shouldn't complain because someone has mastered a good champion...or that the enemy team fed you ;), and just say gg at the end of the game no matter what happens. I've had enemies and team mates alike compliment me on kills with Skarner, since he is perceived as being useless. If you can start face rolling people, they will respect you and skarner, hate you, possibly want to murder you, and learn that once he gets buffed by Riot, things will be so much worse for them.

PS: if anyone has suggestions of masteries, runes or items builds, or strategies/tactics they think should be in the guide, lemme know in the comments and i will try my best to test them out. if they work out ill throw-em in and leave you a comment, and full credit. If they dont, well you'll still be notified if it didn't work to well.