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Skarner Build Guide by ZLOK

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League of Legends Build Guide Author ZLOK

Skarnerantula - A personal take on crystalline arachnids.

ZLOK Last updated on October 5, 2013
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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: 23

Honor Guard

Defense: 7


Utility: 0

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There are a few things I deem absolutely essential to play this purplish blue arachnid-thing.
I absolutely need my build to have:

  • 40% CDR
  • +222% AS
  • Some amount of bonus mana.
  • As much AP and MS as possible.
  • Added HP or resists would be extra nice.
This is why I made this guide, this is how I play my Skarner.

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First things first, it is absolutely essential and crucial that you understand the importance of Greater Mark of Attack Speed in this build.

We're aiming to be near that magical 2.5 attacks per second border to draw maximum advantage from Energize. This is also why I have elected to run with  no  Boots of Speed which will bite us in the the rearview mirror if we do not compensate. Fortunately Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed will make early skillshots and zone-abilities easier to escape and lategame will add that little extra oomph we need to murderlobster everything.

The most important thing to understand is that what makes Skarner viable in solotop is his awesome base stats. They are not awesome if we are too many levels behind. And this entire build is expensive as heck. Farming is absolutely critical for Skarner. He chews through mana faster than rabid dogs chew through pre-digested immigrants. And without additional attack speed he will be limp in the water and might as well flop about, give up, and go tanky.

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Runes & Masteries! How do they work?

As previously said the 15,3% increased attack speed from marks and 4,5% increased movement speed from quints is something I find absolutely crucial. But Seals and Glyphs? Figure out what works best for you. I'm running armor and scaling MR for added survivability, this build is otherwise severely lacking in this department. This is also why I elected to go for Hardiness when I had some leftover points from all that was tasty in offense.
I tried running support for added mana and mana regen, it wasn't near enough. Even the added lifesteal & spellvamp felt lackluster. All in all I would much-prefer the Spellsword mastery from offense if we're going for a bunch of AP anyway. Although if you still feel down on the defense you could eschew all masteries below Spellsword and shuffle them into defense. This will allow you to go down and get Block which can be extra-nice against basic-attack heavy teams.

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Fracture sucks. So we'll start with it. It deals terrible DPS compared to Crystal Slash doesn't slow, doesn't help ganks. What it does is to allow you to poke and farm at increased range, which is important on the melee-est of champions.
Fracture isn't what will allow you to clear the jungle the fastest. It's what will allow you to gank with the most hp at level 2. So let's go for that if we're jungling too.
Regardless of role, pick Crystal Slash at level 2. It's your mainstay, your slow and your shield won't help you much until you can shove many ranks into it.

Get E first, Get Q second, Max shield first, Max Q second, Max E last.

E is designed for sustaining, but you'll be using it to poke, costs almost thrice as much mana as Q for a 31% damage increase per cast. Adding the much lower cooldown of Q means it's better in terms of damage, slow, and AoE. It lacks range which is where E "excels".

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Items, itemization, and alternatives.

There is only three criterias we need to focus on here. 40% CDR, +222% AS, as much AP as possible.
Unfortunately the advent of Season 3 has made this incredibly difficult to pull off easily. So we're leaping a few hoops and performing other tricks to get where we're going.

Let's just start with getting the biggest hurdle out of the system: "NO BOOTS?! What is this, I don't even..." You're right, it's silly. But hopefully the +32,5% movement speed from the final build will make up for them. I thought it did, play around with it.

If you want boots, I'd suggest Ninja Tabi, we're already low on armor and we get Tenacity from Zephyr. Another viable alternative is Berserker's Greaves. But I don't think they add enough AS for the item slot, even if they are a lot cheaper than whatever else we're shoving in there.
A third alternative is to buy Boots of Speed and sell them once you get your second zephyr.
Anyways, let's get down to the crux of the matter.

  • Sapphire Crystal - Built into a tear and ups your startmana above the "painful" treshold. You can get a Doran's Ring instead for the mana recovery and the added hitpoints.
  • Health Potion - There is enough gold left for a potion, I'm not a huge fan of squandering my gold on cremes and lotions but if it's necessary it's necessary.
  • Tear of the Goddess - The tear sorta solves mana problems, we'll still eat through it but with it we get a little more mileage out of the little blue bar.
    (Do not go back just to assemble the tear. Instead wait until the time is right. You'll have plenty of time to charge it anyway.)
  • Nashor's Tooth - 20% CDR, 50% AS and 65 AP, what's not to like? As icing on the cake it also deals 15% AP as magic damage on basic attacks, that's nice.
    I build my tear early so I can stack it up, and my tooth fairly early because it helps farming by a metric ton.
  • Sheen - I'll probably get this sooner than assembling the staff, even if just because the staff is so expensive to assemble and Sheen adds a good amount of damage to our attacks.
  • Archangel's Staff - Assembling this early makes our shield better and stacks it quicker but sacrifices damage throughput. Whichever is entirely up to taste and how the game goes.
  • Zephyr - At 25AD, 50%AS, 10%CDR, 10%MS, and 35%Tenacity this is my favourite item hands down, it just isn't terribly useful on most champions. But on Skarner it's lovely, we'll need some amount of tenacity anyway.
  • 2nd Zephyr - The movement speed from the second Zephyr is what is going to allow us to chase and grab people and pull them to a land far far away. This one doesn't give Tenacity so is a little more expensive for what it does compared to the first, but I have found no better alternative.
  • Wit's End - Attack Speed and Magic Resist is yummy. You may go with Blade of the Ruined King instead if you prefer. Doing so would move your damage further over in the "mixed" category and will be most-effective against low-armor targets where Wits End will be most-effective against low-MR targets. Unfortunately it'll also cost you more gold, which we're already strapped for.
  • Trinity Force - I really, really wanted the phage effect. Alas, I cannot have everything. This adds the final touch of AS to give you 2.49 attacks per second but can easily be replaced by Iceborn Gauntlet which is much cheaper and increases physical survival more. Unfortunately it doesn't increase movement speed which will hurt your roaming.
Total cost of above final build is 17483 gold.

It is possible but not recommended to buy a philosopher's stone and turn it into an Eleisha's Miracle. If done by level 14 it'll net you a permanent +15 MP5 upgrade to your champion. I used to swear by Philostone, but I usually sold it. Now with the use of tear and Sheen I don't feel a need for it anymore.

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Summoner spells

These are all covered in opinions and circumstances. I prefer Ghost and Exhaust as ghost will allow me to get places quicker and exhausting an enemy ADC can turn a teamfight, we're close enough anyway.

  • Ignite isn't bad for Skarner, it's just better on almost everyone else. It's greater range is wasted since we're in melee anyway, and we keep a sustained slow so it shouldn't be to take runners out. Our shield is good enough to take a couple of tower hits too.
  • Flash is great! If you're losing. We're not Galio, Janna or Fiddlesticks. A flash-ult is nice, but not as nice as ghost-impaling people into 1v1 town. And if it's not for flash-ulting it's mostly for escaping botched ganks or other bad situations. Without boots we either flop over, or if we have our zephyrs pop a shield and outrun everyone but Captain Chestbeard or Miss "I'll chase you until you Fracture me" to whom the most-proper response is to Fracture her.
  • Barrier is actually fairly neat. But we already have a barrier on our stick.
  • Cleanse is great if we get counterpicked or the enemy team has many lockdown abilities which is the bane of our existence.

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Pros, Cons, and Counters in reverse order.

Anyone who can pop our shield in one hit, or successively lock us out of melee range will have countered us. Be very aware of skillshots that immobilize or stun. Dodge them or suck dirt. Enemies that can successfully zone us out are also dangerous.

Skarner is great against ... anyone... no really. Mixed damage means we aren't as easy to counter as an overfed carry. Large AoE coupled with good movement speed keeps us where we'll do the most damage. And once our shield is powerful enough not do perish if stared at harshly we have enough movement and attack speed to basically do whatever we want. Added bonus: We can refresh it before it expires.

The cons:

  • Early game is difficult.
  • Boots are more expensive since we have six legs.
  • Once hit by bad-effects we're easily shut down.
  • It's hard to be blue.
  • Extremely reliant on farming.
  • No really.
  • Ganks are setup-heavy
  • First really effective during the latter half of the game.

The pros:
  • Can take out multiple opponents singlehandedly if a lot more fed.
  • Blue Murderlobster
  • Good Slow
  • Benefits team
  • Blue Murderlobster
  • Strong ganks with proper setup
  • Dangerous to gank after level 6
  • Blue lobsters are faster than blue hedgehogs and 76% more murdery.
  • Extreme survivability unless locked out of melee range.
  • Not sure if this qualifies, but can solo baron without lifesteal items.
  • There is definitely more pros than cons.

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Finishing words

This guide isn't for the faint of heart, or well everyone.
This guide isn't even a very good guide. You should go check out the other high-ELO guides if you want a good Skarner guide. This guide is FAR too farm-reliant and the build is a bit on the expensive side.
This guide is meant mostly as an inspirational article for people to peruse and scoff at.
Give it a spin, pulling this build off is AMAZING fun and will have enemy team go "QQ OP!"
This guide was made very late because it took me this long to figure out how to cope with the item changes from s2 to s3.
This is my first guide. If it sucks, so be it.