Skarner Build Guide

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Run Run Run, it's the Gingerbread Scorpion!

written by TikoXi

Skarner Build

Starting items

  • OR
  • OR

Core Build

Late Game / Luxury Items

Situational Items

  • OR
  • OR
  • OR

Skill Order

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • Crystallizing Sting
  • Crystal Slash
  • Crystalline Exoskeleton
  • Fracture
  • Impale

Runes for Skarner

Masteries for Skarner

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Delving through Skarner builds, I've found a lot of common themes. But what I haven't been able to find is my personal favorite of an Attack Speed Jungle Skarner. Yes, I know it sounds like a really bad B-Movie, but let's continue. This build is slightly A-typical from traditional Skarner AND Jungle builds in two respective ways. 1) We are going to break the first rule of jungling, and will NEVER take smite. More on that later. 2) We will be one of the few heroes who can regularly and repeatedly outrun Master Yi, with or without his notorious highlander ability. *more often than not, however, you will be running HIM down* But again - more on that later.

    So welcome, folks - to the jungle.

  • Masteries and Runes

    Anyone with two braincells and a basic understanding of LoL can see we are going for a somewhat hybrid build with a bias on defence for the early game. You would be mostly correct with that assumption. I'm still playing around and experimenting with my runes, but being in the jungle, you will be fighting creeps. And creeps hit you. Some of them fairly hard in the early game. Hense lots of armor. Skarner's main source of damage in this build is from his attacks. Hense attack speed. His skills scale fairly well with a touch of AP, but I'm still mucking around with my blues - find what works for you.
    As for quints - I really couldn't care less. Extra armor, viable. Extra mana regen, useful - Skarner's mana SUCKS MAJORLY without the blue buff, and this build does very little to counter that. you may wish to compensate yourself. I've actually got lifesteal quints on my experiment line due to all the Attack Speed - maybe viable. I've yet to try it though.

    Masteries are all about killing minions and creeps. and absorbing as much of their damage as possible. Aside from a 1v1 gank or a little solo-lane harrassment and warding them off your carries so they can farm, this is what you will be doing for the early game. Killing minions. Late-game, when your team is all clumped up in the mid after you've scared the enemy into sticking in one massive group of 5, your guys can hold the turrets while you drive the lanes back faster than ANY other hero I've seen. Skarner with full items can clear a creep wave in 3-4 seconds without losing a single creep, and can tear down towers insanely fast. If the enemy isn't paying attention when you start attacking, they may not get there in time to save the tower. Whether they get you or not depends on your skills, your mana, and how smart they are. *and who they are, to some extent.*

  • Items

    First thing you should notice is that very little of the items have any defensive utility. *Cue trolling* HAVE FAITH MY FRIENDS! For you are mistaken! Skarner has one almost unique defence mechanism, shared only to my knowledge with the only Master Yi. Speed. Skarner is a fast little bugger with his W active. The sheild itself is reasonably strong - at rank five it can withstand 2-3 tower hits depending on your AP, and countless minions. Plus it's good for eating surprise ulties, like Lux, and Karthus, and for getting out of nasty AOE ulties like fiddles and nunu. The Attack Speed boost is just gravy on top.
    SO! Our Items reflect this. The boots really are just there to turn into berzerkers greaves, a cheap little item with nasty utility. If your first jungle run goes well, you should be able to buy these on your first B. Speed + Attack speed. Always good. And I will come to explain later why the attack speed is extra good ;)

    You probably shouldn't be ganking properly yet. Unless the lane you're ganking has a really good initiator *Veigar* Or the enemy doesn't really have any escape mechanisms *Teemo* Your Q is essentially a perma-slow if you can stay on them, very useful for the pickup kill, but you really don't have any massive damage output yet, so the best you can do is harrass and wound. You'd be surprised how few players will engage a skarner with his sheild up while he's zipping across their lane in front of their minions like that - Especially with a good support/carry in back farming.

    So, onto the items. You have your berzerkers greaves. From this point on you shouldn't ever need another potion. You have your sheild, you have your heal, you have your AoE. Why are you taking enough damage to warrent a healing potion? mana potion, understandable, but you really should be grabbing those blue buffs when you can. if you cant, a mana potion could go a long way. Next on your list is SHEEN. It in your reccomended items list. YOUR MANA SUCKS! If you don't have the blue buff, you will run dry INSANELY quickly. Mid gank, if you're not careful. Skarner is incredibly mana hungry and really doesn't have any way to regen it. The sapphire crystal helps, and sheen helps somewhat - but really you need that buff for any sort of sustained activity. You can jungle still, but good luck in the lanes or ganking.
    Now, this is where we deviate. Most people say RUSH TRINITY FORCE! I SAY YAY - but... Trinity is only the most expensive item in the game. And junglers need a little extra gold sometimes - so I pick up a relatively cheap Avarice Blade before building my Zeal. *Cue trolls* Oh, Avaraice blade isn't cheap, aw it's crit hit isn't even that good, why don't you have zeal, the only thing you can turn it into is Yumomu's - WHICH is exactly what we are going to do. While the Avarice blade is in your invo making money, we shall finish our Trinity's force and depending on how much gold we have, will either complete our Yumomu's Ghostblade or if we're hurting - focus on building our staple item: Phantom Dancer.

    The astute of you may realise this is looking an awful lot like a master Yi build. The fact of the matter is: it is. You get your Dancer. You get your Ghostblade. If you have cash to burn, you get a Hextech Gunblade, because lifesteal and spellvamp is always fun. If not, get a Cloak and Dagger for the tenacity. Get another Phantom Dancer. If the game drags on long enough, sell your boots and get ANOTHER Phantom Dancer. Because you can never be too fast! Adapt and tailor - if you want to get the most out of all that crit, get an infinities edge! If you're getting beaten up a lot, get a Warmogs/Force of nature (depending on what's more appropriate) If they've got a nasty stun you hate, get a banshee's veil. It's all fairly flexible. But at this point you should have a base movement speed of over 450 if not 500, and with your W+Ghost, I've hit over 700 movement speed. Just try and gank me, all 5 of you - Gimmy one bush and I'll escape. You will be tearing around the place pushing left lane, pushing right lane, ganking mid, Tearing up towers left right and center - you're impossible to catch unless you're not paying attention. Not so strong in a teamfight, but you do have one of the most infamous R's in the whole game. Catch a carry, pop your W, drag them into your mob of hungry babies and watch the enemy team stand helplessly back as you rip their core DPS player to shreads with no time to save them. If they engage - woe be to them. 4V5 now, and they're short a carry.
    I'm sure you can work the rest out ;)

  • Skills

    Why do you rush your W? OMG NOOB! Get your heal up! Get your AOE UP!
    What these people neglect to notice, while Skarner does have some of the harshest Cooldowns in the game, he also has the best cooldown reduction in existance. His passive. The more you beat on stuff, the shorter your cooldowns get. With enough champions and minions to attack, you can get your Ultimate Ability to have an effective cooldown of 14 seconds. 14 seconds! MANY a champion has been caught out thinking that since I've impaled someone else they don't have to worry about it. YOINK! Into my tower. Into my teammates. Watch your health melt. "OMG HAX!" I've ultied twice in the same teamfight on a couple of occasions, much to many peoples rage or amusement, depending on which side they are on and how mature they are.
    Max your W. You are all about the speed. Movement, attack, CDR, bonus health: All compacted into one conveniant button. Why wouldn't you max it?
    Your Q is a solid slow. Your E is a nice heal when used properly on a minion wave, and does a lot of damage to pick up a fleeing champ. Both Scale nicely with AP. Your Q even scales slightly with AD, which is just pure gravey if you ask me. With all the trimmings. I like to balance these two. Of course grab that ulti when you can - why wouldn't you?
    You don't have to double Q minions - especially late game when you one-hit them anyways. I only really q to pick up the heal on my E all in one go, or if I'm trying to clean out a zerg rush worth.*you've all had that moment with 20 caster minions and you struggle to kill them all? Skarner cleans them up in seconds.*
    Attacking heroes is exactly the oppsoite. SPAM your Q. Lock them down. keep them slowed. Your W should be used to maximum utility when required - great initiation, fairly strong shield, enhanced attack speed + indirect CDR - it's great for tower dives. about 7 times out of 10, I can towerdive a low health hero early game, skank the kill, hit my w and get out - without any minions, and I'll live. I'll be so low I have to B, obviously, the towers hurt young Skarners - but usually I will pick up the kill without sacrificing myself in the process. Bar twice in my history of playing Skarner have I towerdived, died, and not picked up anything. And both of those times I dived Veigar. Guess what happened -.- GUESS WHAT I WAS TOO STUPID TO SEE COMING! BOTH TIMES. Other than that... i get the kill. May die. May not. It's a kill. Kill means gold. Sure I may have fed the middle lane a little - but really, I got the gold. And people who think I'm playing selfish forget to realise that my equipment list involves some of the most expensive items in game. And don't worry - you pay that kill back may times over with the number of assists your R will get.

    If you have a hero running, chase them down. Nobody runs from Skarner. He's just too strong a chaser with a speed boost and a slow. Running is almost a free kill. Beware the ones who stay and fight. you have more health than they think with your E and your W, but remember, you are still quite soft. Don't underestimate your survivability - but then don't bite off more than you can chew. Late game - it rarely matters. If you feed your teamates with your R - nobody lives through it. Excapt Volibear with a flash. He is the only hero who gets away from me with any sort of regularity. He's fast - he's got a slow too and a TON of health. Volibear with 3 warmogs? Bit tanky - bit tanky...try not to chew on the tanks. You want the squishy casters and underfed carries...neuter their team with every R. That's what you're there for.

  • Summoner's Spells

    Actually had a Warwick Say this to me once. he tried to double jungle. He lost. Screwed our team over every step of the way. We salvaged the game only because the enemy team got really cocky and stopped guarding their lanes. And we all know what Skarner does better than anyone...we should have lost. And we all reported him for being an ass regardless. Never double jungle. Never.

    Without Question: Ghost and Surge. Ghost has so much utility - initiation and escapes. Sure there are time's I've wanted a flash, but once you use the flash, and you get caught again - what then? With Ghost - you almost never get caught. Duke through minions, get them stuck - you will outrun everyone. Only Yi with Ghost has any hope of catching you if you have your W up. But just remember, while you're retreating, your W has around an 9 second cooldown, and you won't be reducing it with your attacks. Thats a good lead you have to get if you're going to get away. but if anyone can do it, Skarner can. Also, what flash cannot be used for, is feeding. Pop your ghost for an initiation, run in, grab their carry with your R, pop your W - you will move insanely fast - if you come from the jungle, they may not realise what's happening until you're already back in the center of your team huddle with their player - and what happens now is a very brief 4 on 1. (all you can do is Q and W, so you won't be hitting them much. Chances are they'll be dead before your R breaks, so don't worry about it. If they aren't reQ to get the slow, and the rest is history).

    Ghost > Flash

    Now for the really controversial one. SCREW SMITE! Smite is for Pussy Champions who don't have the survivability to jungle in the first place. It's only real utility is in the early game for Skarner - that is to say that very first kill on the Golem. There, I said it. if you're worried, or don't have enough armor runes, get a leash. Works wonders for Skarner. Can save you one or two health potions. I want me a decent power. GIVE ME SURGE! Increased AP: Check. Increased AS: Doublecheck. Indirect Cooldown reduction? I cannot stress how much you should exploit that passive of yours. it is so unique, SO DAMN USEFUL - use and abuse it. Also, W+surge on a tower? Half health by the time your sheild wears off if it doesn't get broken. 1/3-1/4 health by the time surge wears off. Explain to me again why I should get smite?
    Surge > Smite.


    Any other ability - no. The only half viable one is a gank-focused Skarner taking Exhaust intead of Ghost for the catchup. I shouldn't need to explain why this is a bad idea but I will anyways. You have a slow - An AoE Slow *short range albiet*. Speed > Slow
    Also, as an additional bonus, in draft pick, without smite, you may fake your other team into thinking you'll be laning, tricking them into a null counter-pick AND maybe thinking you won't have a jungler. Can very easily be a fatal mistake.

  • Summery

    You have your armor runes only to protect you while jungling. Defensive masteries only to help you kill and endure minions and creeps better. Everything else about you is about the speed. Movement speed, Attack Speed - they = ganks, lane guarding, harrassment, CDR and map domination.  The obvious counterpart for all that speed is criticals. LOVE the criticals. Bit of AP for fluff, Bit of vamping for some bonus restoration, because hey, you hit fast and spam abilities, why not? Speed & Crit. You can figure out what to do with it. Unless you're chewing on hardcore tanks like Mundo and Volibear - Blitzcrank and Nautilus, you really should be able to catch anyone unawares and slaughter them 1v1 before anyone can get there to help. Better yet, if they do come, you can either re-engage with them if you have the mana, or dodge the gank and run if you dont.
    My only warning: WATCH FOR DARIUS
    He has a grab. He has a bleed. He has a lot of DPS. He has a moderate amount of health. He usually has a bit of armor too. Unless he is terribly underfed, you are horrifically overfed, or he's injured already: AVOID DARIUS LIKE THE PLAGUE! He is the only hero who can repeatedly execute ganks on me in a game. Others may get lucky or catch me at a bad time, but about twice as often when I engage Darius 1v1 or worse, when I'm outnumberd, I will lose horribly *and give him a free blue*

  • Pros & Cons


    • Fast: Hard to intercept and gank. Great escape utility. Amazing chaser too. Can get around map better than anyone.
    • Great Survivability: Sheild & heal, perfect on minions. Sheild & slow & surpression ulti. Perfect on Heroes.
    • Can unbalance a whole team fight in 3 seconds.
    • Can interrupt ganks and save teammates and towers like no other.
    • People usually underestimate you until it's too late. When you gank a lane with your ulti, Someone's getting fed and it sure isn't the other team. By the time they figure it out and group up better - you're already a speed demon. Switch to killing towers.
    • If the enemy team tries to grab the baron, go dive into the middle of it and enjoy your trible kill if not better. If you steal the baron in the process, you probably just nailed the coffin.

    • Mana - Starved. Without a blue buff, you're sustainability drops to 0. 9 times out of 10, when you die, you will be out of mana. Whether that's the cause or not is another matter. You were not paying attention, or did something stupid usually, and didn't have mana to bail your ass out. Happens to me still.
    • Squishy. Kinda like the former: If you don't have mana for your sheild or your heal, you really don't have any regenerative power at all. your speed is slightly above average and if that isn't enough for wahtever reason, expect a gray screen and start looking for if the blues are availiable.
    • Doesn't take on DPS tanks well. Cho Gath is difficult, especially when at full stacks. Blitzcrack is possible. Nunu is possible. Garen is possible. Volibear is very difficult. Jarven is possible. Darius is a nightmare. Tanky Fiora is also quite challanging. Xin Zhao has also proven to be more than a mouthful. Also anyone with a spammable silence *cough* Malzahar *cough* Kassadin *cough* Can really ruin your day.
      FYI: Fiddles is no match. Sure he silences and fears, but if he starts to drain you, just impale him or pop your sheild and start tearing him up. he doesn't have enough health to survive unless he has help whittling you down. If he uses his ulti, he's even more screwed. He teleports towards you - what more can you want? A WILLING victim, ripe for the harvesting. interrupt it with your supression - and enjoy your feast.

  • Jungle Running

    Standard Jungle run. Start at blue. if you have a leash, awesome. if not, doable. you got your point in q, get the leash to leash, pop your engage and start beating on the golem and q every chance you get to kill those two pesky lizards. These early runs are the only time I spam Q in the early game because clearing these creeps as fast as I can is everything in the early game. When the golam retargets you, use your potion. You will probably only have to use the one. You will probably level up once you kill them all, so get your shield and move onto the wolves. Spam ALL your abilities, you have that tasty blue keeping your mana if not maxed then certainly high enough to use. BYPASS the lizard elder after the wraiths. Go straight to the golems. If you have enough health, then go back to the lizard elder. If you had an excellent run and still have enough health to harass a lane for a little, do so. you won't be able to gank, especially because you should be on half health about or lower, but an extra player usually wards them off enough for your guys to get some free farm. If you can pick up a noob kill though, gold in your pocket.
    You will probably want to go back, even if you can keep junling because you want your boots and your blue buff will have worn off. Grab your boots. grab your sapphire crystal *I almost never can get any more than this on the first run* And get back into the jungle. if you can steal the enemy's blue buff, go for it. Always get a blue. you are all about the blue. Red is nice - but you need the blue.
    Many Skarners get slaphappy with their buffs and spend a lot of time in lanes and harrassing. This is a bad idea. You don't get enough gold or exp, get underleveled not too much but your items suffer - and that's what bites you mid game. If you are level 6-8 and you aren't close to your Trinity force, even with Avarice Blade, you aren't really going to have the damage output to take on other champs. You sacrifice defenicibility for speed and offence. If you don't have the offence, all you have is speed. And how many kills will speed alone get you? Remember to jungle. If they have a jungler too, you may want to ward their blue so you can steal it the minute it respawns. Buff you and sabotage them. Of course, then ward your own so you can counter-counter jungle if they try. Once you hit level 6, then the ganks begin. Especially mid game, that ulti is SO HORRIBLY overpowered its not even funny. while everyone else is struggling to get their ultimates and is having mana troubles, desperate to stay in lane, you show up with that ulti and people usually don't have enough to get away from it. Especially with a teammate or two helping. if you're playing defensively, which you shoudl with a Jungling Skarner, you can also drag them into towers - which is DEVASTATING for the enemy. Towerdiving our carry? Me no think so...
    Mid Game: All about the ganks. Stopping them AND starting them. Feed your teammates. Your assist count will probably rocket, but that's okay, because you still get a chunk of gold from each one and soon, you'll be able to gank on your own. Also, feeding their carries to your carries? What more could you want?
    Late Game: This is where it gets a bit weird. You will be uber fast. You can gank any solo one of their team. BUT WAIT?! THEYRE NOT RUNNING SOLO ANYMORE! most of the time their team will gang up into groups of 5 in the mid for protection from your harrassment. because you're a solo-specialist, you don't do well in teamfights, especially considering you will have painted a big bullseye on your head by getting so many of them killed. They WILL target you.
    So what do you do?
    You push. As fast and as hard as you can. Which is pretty fast.
    Top lane as far as you can before they come to try/kill you. By this point it doesn't matter if they do get the kill. If you're a real threat, all 5 of them will *which happens to me very frequently* And this is where you will realise why you shouldn't have taken flash instead of ghost. XD Avoid if you can. if you can't and they kill you, go do it again, cause they'll probably run back to mid to keep the rest of your team from making a push. If you get away, run back to base if you need to *it may actually be faster than B'ing at this point* and then go push bottom as far as you can. Push the minions back to the tower. When they get there, B-LINE for the tower as fast as you can, pop your surge, pop your W and watch the tower's health melt. If you kill it, clean up the minions and then get out of there, because they will likly try and gank you again. Head back to the opposite lane like a speedy little bugger and rinse and repeat. Force those side lanes. While they're trying to stop you from killing their towers at lightning speed, your guys will be applying the pressure to mid, dividing their forces - often unevenly. Either you or your teammates will win every time, they can't have it both ways against someone who can be anywhere he wants to be in half the time of any other hero. Before you know it, you will kill your first inhibitor and from there it's just a snowball into their nexus.

    This does rely on your teams ability to hold the central tower. This ONLY works if you do scare them into focusing on one or two lanes at a time. Until you do, maintain your standard jungle practice. It's a win-win situation unless they have a much better team-comp than you. *Or you have really sucky players - we all have to deal with them from time to time* This is just a common reaction to a good Jungle Skarner and how to exploit it fully as Skarner. If your enemy doesn't clump up - DONT TRY THIS!

  • Conclusion

    Attack Speed Jungle Skarner
    Always get blue buff. (the red for shits and giggles, you already have the slow. The extra bit of damage doesn't hurt...)
    Abuse your speed.
    Abuse your speed.
    Abuse your passive.
    Abuse your Ulti.
    Absue your enemy.

    Oh...and don't forget your teammates aren't all useless ;)

    As I said, I am still refining the runes, so any suggestions are welcome. Also, if someone could tell me how to tag items so they show up when you hover over them, that would be much appretiated.


    You thought Master Yi was hard to get away from...
    You haven't tried to escape the gingerbread scorpion...

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