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To succeed as Skarner, you have to be one with the Skarner.
You can't just pick up this champ and expect to do.. anything.
As soon as Skarner hit free week for the first time the forums were flooded with "skarner is UP" thread's. Which is a shame because He is very fun to play, and play's a very large unoticed role in teamfight's.
Skarner is very good at spamming his abilities, which can help you deal alot of dmg, but will also do a number to your mana bar.
The 2 obvious way's to compensate for this is to get mana regen, and a larger mana pool. So you want to do so as efficiently as possible.
How much is enough? How much is too much? What to get and when?
Tear of goddess is a natural pick for skarner, using his abilities often will help to increase your pool very quickly, as well as offer ample regen.
Tear will also lead you to one of your key items:Archange's Staff
Skarner will use alot of mana going through the jungle, and alot during gank's and fight's. Because of this you alway's want to have blue buff. Which the CDR is a big help too, mostly for your W.
Skarner's passive ability decreases his cooldown's as you autoattack. This will help you use your abilites very quickly. Once you have solved skarner's mana problem, you will be able to freely use your skill's without worry. Otherwise you will have to manage your mana, and should be sitting on at least 250 mana so that you can burst if needed.
By increasing your AS you grant yourself more damage output through autoattack's, and decreasing CD's, but is it even worth it? Not in the early game.
If you were to rush AS, your not increasing your damage, your just dealing the same damage faster, while burning up your mana. Also since alot of your sustained damage is going to come from Q rather than attack's, your better off increasing another stat like AD or AP.
If you want to spam your abilities you need to have an efficient flow to make the most of what you have.
There are a few thing's to keep in mind while you create your combo's. One being that autoattack's decrease CD, and your shield increases your AS.
I find my killer combo to be Q W Q E Q
Though I will alter this slightly depending on the situation.
Firstly with Q you will deal physical damage while charging yourself.
W will raise your shield because now, your enemy is going to hit you with something, so you want to block it and get at least 1 autoattack in while you have the boost, to reset your Q asap.
The following Q qill proc the bonus mgc dmg, which will heal you if you have a hextech.
At this point your enemy will think they have dealt some damage to you and wasted your shield, so they will be more commited to killing you, and will likely have their skill's on CD. so you are free to attack.
The E should be landed on your target, and as many minions as you can mark. The E's line damage will also heal you with spellvamp.
The following Q will again deal mgc dmg to heal yourself, as well as all of the target's that you've marked.
If this hasn't done it yet, snag them with R and by the time you realease you will be able to do this full 5 punch combo again.
[b]But I thought I was a hybrid?[b]
Yes and no. This specific guide is for a mage jungler.
This does not mean you can go pure AP, but you have to know what you hybrid.
Know what work's for that specific match. If you are jungling and have your mana solved, than yes you want AS and to move quickly. But also try not to waste your item slot. Alot of the bigger item's I like to build will take multiple pieces, and you dont want to force yourself to save nearly 2K just to finish up 1 item and free 2 slot's. This is one reason you want to know what you are getting, and what is going to help me now?
If you think of a battle in simple term's.
You deal damage + you take damage = somebody dies.
So again looking for efficiency, I try to find small simple item's that will address my problem's, while playing to my strengths.
The first item i usually go for would be a hex revolver. Granting yourself some AP that will increase dmg to 2 attack's you will often use, and will also give you sustain through your W. Which remeber you only get the AS bonus while the shield is active! So indirectly, AP will give you attack speed, and more spam.
ANother reason this item is your key to victory is the spellvamp. Proc'd on your charged Q, and also your E's line damage.
Also remember that more AP will give you more life to E's mark's. So yes, AP = sustain.
Once you have some lifesteal and a bit of AP, you will want a boot, and some more AP. Don't worry too much about health yet. With AP helping in both " You deal damage + you take damage" than you will not be the one who dies.
playing as a mage you want your mana up, some dmg up to give yourself a presence and to stay alive. Building around your mana, regen, and AP you give yourself damage and sustain. So you will want item's like sheen, glacial shroud, tear of goddess, later on frozen heart, archangel's, malady, rhylias.
Rather than building health I prefer building armo's or MR's. These item's will offer you more utility as a mage mitigating damage, rather than soaking damage.
Glacial shroud will give you armor and CDR to help against an AD heavy team, and will also give you mana to help boost your AP through archangel's.
If you are facing as few as 2-3 CC's, and an AP heavy team I recommend merc tread's. Otherwise you want boot's of mobility, which will help reduce your jungle time, but also help you get from lane to lane as well as make escapes.
AP early, armor's in mid, health in late.
So I just go out there and kill em right?
Skarner will run an almost standard blue buff start. But with his difficult sloaw start, it can be frustrating feeling as if you are wasting your time.
I know Udyr, fiddles, and warwick can all do nice gank's at the 4 minute mark. Shaco or WW can gank great at a rushed L2 if they wanted.
Your not going to get that with mage skarner.
Playing as a mage skarner is mostly a support champ who will have more assists than kill's. Though as the game pregresses you will start grabbing up more kill's and adding alot of utility to your team.
buy 5 pots and cloth, leash blue, spam your Q, smite the blue golem, great success move on.
You will have to use potion as soon as you take a hit, and another immediately after so you can move on to wolves. Once you hit 2, grab W as it will mitigate more dmg than E would, and also helps you deal dmg through AS.
After wolves, you will need to potion again so you can take the wraith's. If you go to wraiths you will have to wait about 20 seconds or so before smite is on CD. If you want to do that instead of use a pot, that work's too. But id rather keep moving.
With shield and Q, you can focus out the smaller wraiths then take out the blue.
At this point you are too weak to take out red, so I prefer to go up the enemy wolves. After clearing that I go back down to my mini golems, then wraith, then wolf.
By now blue is expired, but your going to recall anyway.
Grab an item, then go for your red, then enemy blue.
This double buff gank is alot later than udyrs 4 minute gank, but now you have some AP with you, and a level 2 W.
For skill's I go with Q W E W Q so I can use all of my skill's, and then use shield with red to help me secure a kill.
With red's slow, you should be able to land a second Q for additional slow, and with the AP of your item your shield will stay up longer allowing more autoattack's, and for you to maintain your speed boost.
I also run Smite Ghost for summoner's.
You may not get the kill, but that is not the entire point of jungling, or the point of a gank. It is to create a better situation for your team than your opposition.
At this point (Level 5-6) Skarner can jungle any direction or roam the map freely.
Maintaining your bluebuff will give you all the mana you need for spam's. So keep control of that buff! If you can't grab the buff often enough, a meki will sustain his mana cost, but do not get it without your hex.
Why skarner's rule's teamfight's:
Remember all that use I was mentioning earlier? All that skarner add's to a teamfight?
I will now enlighten you on what nobody seem's to understand. What the hell mage skarner does.
Too often I will be *****ed at by my teamates because I have more death's than kill's. They do not at all mention the 15 assists I have, or the kill's I have helped secure that allowed us to push a turret. They just look at their KD compared to mine, and base my skill on that alone.
By building skarner as a mage you have to know how to position him, and how to make effective use of his kit. Mage skarner is full of utility, and perform's many roles at once being burst, sustained dps, AP dmg, AD dmg, tank, kiting, chasing, baiting. All of this, in every 5v5.
By building as AP you will be boosting damage to your Q E R. Q has a small aoe range, E being line damage as well as a heal.
AP will give you sustain through W's shield, as well as E's heal.
These two skill's will make you tankier than most people will suspect. This is why you don't need a higher health pool, you just need to fill your health pool faster. By building AP on your lifesteal.
E has a decent range on it, and the damage is not reduced through multiple target's. It behaves as fiddle's bounce does. With this skill you can solo push lanes very quickly, but in a teamfight you deal AOE type mgc damage. Which without alot of AP will still be 300 dmg. If you hit 3 target's, you just dealt 900 mgc dmg in 1 skill. This of course goes unoticed, because it was spread damage not focused.
With W and lichbane you will want to be fighting melee so you can deal some damage. But of course the enemy want's to kill you because you are "squishy". Or at least they think you are because you only have 2k health. Though you and I know, with all this AP and spellvamp, I don't need health, I just need a target.
You don't want to go ball's to the wall with skarner all the time. If the enemy team is clustered, you can bait and seperate them very easily.
If you E into them, and activate W while charging at them, they will think you are going to charge in. But all you want to do is head towards them, hit a minion, and use your W to escape backward's towards your team. They will likely throw some CC at you (not your 4 teamates) and maybe just break your 400 shield. Now that they are spread out you can pick a victim and R them while you ghost them further away and roflcopter as you stick yourself to them with charged Q thanks to that minion you hit.
Aside from kiting with W, and baiting with e, sometime's you do need to get up in the chaos. But do not be afraid! You only look squishy.
Rather than being a ranged burst champion, you are a melee sustain champion dealing heavy AP damage. Once you are up close and personal you want to time your shield's to actually last for you so you can take advatage of it's effect's. So wait until after you eat a burst hit, then activate shield so they are autoattacking your shield while you use your abilities to spellvamp yourself back up.
Lichbane will help deal alot of dmg every 2 second's (especially with 300AP), which again, is mgc damage added to the AD of your AA's, and Q.
You will quickly notice that even at mid range you can deal decent damage with E and Q while kiting and sustaining yourself, and be surprised at all the damage that you can deal while sustaining yourself. Not only is lichbane bursting for you, E is a burst, Q is sustained dmg, and W Q helps you lock onto them even without redbuff or a slow. And all of this mgc damage you are dealing is not only killing them, but is what is keeping you alive.
This dual use of AP, is what make's Mageskarner unique.
Yeh, I've got one of those:
As I briefly mentioned before you want early item's that will serve multiple uses. Especially with all that skarner has to offer.
Glacial shroud giving armor, mana, and cdr. But indirectly giving you damage.
Hextech for damage and sustain.
Sheen for additional AD proc's.
But what about the lategame, am I to be squishy forever?
That's up to you. I tend to tweak my build around mid game depending on the situation.
But here are a few item's I have found of great use to me.
Sword of Divine.
It gives you AS, direcetly impacting your passive. And although you won't have alot of AD, you will deal 100 mgc dmg every 4th hit. And you know what mgc dmg does? It heal's you.
And when you do want to burst out more AD, activate the item to hit harder.
It's expensive, but it's worth it.
A nice boost to AP, but now gives you a slow to E, charged Q, and R. Having this additional slow is NOT overkill. As a mage build I ignore trinity, or PD, so I don't have the MS that most champ's will. I can't alway's rely on ghost or W to keep me locked. And you will find that quite often you can lose your target after they flash becuase your slow quickly wear's off. With rhylia's additional slow it will help YOU keep locked on. But you now also have an AOE slow for those 5 on 5's that everybody say's you do nothing in.
Gives AP, MR, and every 2 second's you will deal your AP as mgc dmg. Need I say more? No.
Gives you that much needed AS if you arn't going with another AS item, but it also gives you MR reduction against your target. Which with your high AS, you will have full stacks on them very quickly, and will be amazed at how much more your E and Q will now deal. Also the more mgc you deal, the more you heal.
Also come's packed with slightly more AP.
It's just a must-grab after your tear. Solves all mana problem's, scaled your AP up rather quickly. Especially since most item's you buy come packed with mana as well.
Archaic knowledge, AS, minion armor pen, 2 points in armor,
boost exp, 2 points in buff duration.
You need the buff duration to help your early jungle. Which is also why you need the minion dmg and armor. The minion apen is not entirely useless. Skarner can very easily push minion waves and solo a turret with lichbane extremely quickly. Every little bit helps right?
I prefer this mastery setup over most as it cater's to his mana issue's and his early game, which I feel to be his weakest point's.
I prefer it over slapping more point's in the defence tree as doing so does not help your mage build, as it's not your job to be on the frontline at all times.
Oh a Shiny!:
Apen rune's and quint's.
scaling mana/5/level seal's.
flat CDR glyph.
The apen is going to actually make your autoattack's hit for something, will also help your Q. This is very helpful for the duration you are rocking the Sheen.
The seal's are really your call. I prefer mana seal's over armor simply because I find even with the armor seals it doesn't affect my personaly jungling very much, and I would rather have that consistant mana regen in case I can't get blue. But even with a blue, I spam like mad.
Flat CDR may sound overkill as you are a utility monster, but it's really not. It will indeed help you spam faster BEFORE you can grab AS, but it will also help get that W up a little quicker. Which if you can keep your W perma, you are one happy camper. If you didn't want the CDR, you could just as well toss in some AP glyph's as it will just as well help your early jungle. Though CDR is superior.
So there is my giant wall of text. Hopefully you have learned something about skarner, or at least will take the time to see him in a different light.
I suggest doing this mage as a jungler because his early game is rather weak while you are building for mana and utility, so you want to get to that point where you can farm quickly in the jungle safely and gank when appropriate. I find that skarner's biggest strength is that he has no specific strength. He is able to adapt so well to any situation.
And also that this early build and jungle route allow's the flexibility to put in more AD in your build with item's like brutalizer, also making use of your generic rune setup.
Going a hextech blade will give you massive lifesteal, to the point where you can almost ignore health altogther.
As long as you don't expect any praise for your effort's I hope you have some fun with mageskarner, and find the use in his unique jungling.
I'm willing to answer any question's.
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I disagree with you on a few things.
1. You say AS doesn't increase your damage, it makes you deal the same damage faster? that makes me lol right there. AS is way more important to you early game than mana. Esp, if you are jungling, blue buff is really all you need. AS increases, not only your "DPS" (which is what you should be looking at and not just damage) but survivability. Skarners base AS is the worst in the game. If you want his passive to be useful you need to get some early.
More AS = lower cooldowns = more dps (AA and abilities) = more survivability (lower cooldown on shield and E for heals)
2. You are right in that expensive items are kinda bad for skarner, he has a lot of gaps he needs to fill quickly to be effective. He NEEDS as, ad, ap, ms, survivability. All at the same time. If you spend too much time building for one area you aren't going to get the other areas covered quickly. That being said, I don't like the tear very much. Its expensive when you look at upgrading it to AA staff, and it doesn't provide a lot of AP until later, and after more mana items. Not to mention that's ALL it provides. some mana, and little AP.
AA staff is nice on mages because other mages are RANGED, they can afford the lack of survivability stats while making use of the snowball to more mana/more AP.
I found a chalice to be a GREAT item for skarner. Cheap as ****, provides some early defenses, and its really the only mana item you need to sustain. Then you can move on quicker to filling his other gaps.
I also use to start him off with a Philo stone, upgrading it later to EM. EM provides a LOT of mana regen, and tenacity to boot.
However, most recently, I've ditched starting with mana items, and replaced a summoner spell with clarity. This allows me to recover my mana pool for clutch situations, and covers me until i build mana items later on. (mana from sheen/mana regen from nashor tooth). This allows me to build for damage earlier, giving me a head start, and making skarner's early game not so terrible.
Just a couple things I noticed, let me know what you think
EDIT: Also, I feel that SotD is just awkward in this build. I never build this unless their is a Jax. Wits end and nashors tooth are way better options. Depending on if you need the defense or just want more CDR/AS
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My current favorite item setup for Skarner is:
<insert any/all tanky items here>
I really like manamune on him due to the fact he can max it out VERY quickly with his Q, it solves all his mana problems, and makes his auto attacks HURT.
Hextech kind of speaks for itself.
Note: I usually like to get hex revolver and sheen before I finish out either item. With this build, I can take a lot of punishment, and I dish out a TON of damage between auto attacking and Q spam. It's an expensive build, but I seem to do well once I get manamune and hex gun/sheen....which isn't that hard to get.
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I just like tear because it helps your mana for those times you cant get blue, also allows flexibility of manumane or archangels.
I will grab trinity with an ad build. Which is one thing i like aboit skarners jungle, his early build is flexible and hybrid enough you can adapt to anything.
I like archangels mostly because i find i get mana from alot of items i like. Lichbane and frozen heart worth mentioning.
Alot of ppl dont like sotd on him and preder nashors. Nashors is overkill for what you need. As only helps when you are in range to attack, which is a short duration. For this reason sotd will give you a higher burst. Also since it is burst dmg you can activatr for armor pen and boost your naturally high ad, and your q. This gives you CDR and AD, when really all you payed for was AS and 100 mgc every 4th attack.