Skarner – A Review

Posted: August 15, 2011 by atenthirtyone in Champions

It’s been almost a week since Skarner has been released. There’s been a bit of mixed feelings with this odd “monster” champion. I will be doing a short review with this champion, and what I personally noticed with him/it. First, let’s take a look at his abilities one at a time:

Energize (Passive) – This is actually a fairly good passive as it allows Skarner to spam his abilities a lot more. This passive helps Skarner with two things, specifically:

1. Jungling. With blue bluff, Skarner can spam low cooldown abilities to jungle a lot faster. This is vital as Skarner is not inherently a fast jungler so he needs every little bit of help he can get.

2. Refreshing his ultimate. In my opinion, Skarner relies quite a bit on his ultimate on everything that involves fighting enemy champions. Energize makes sure Skarner can get his ultimate ready faster and ready for every team fight or gank.

Crystal Slash – This is Skarner’s bread and butter ability. This ability allows Skarner to clear minions/jungle creeps at a decent pace as long as he has mana. However, this ability does not scale well into the late game. The reason for this is that it uses AD for the base damage, while using AP from the bonus magic damage that occurs when you use Crystal Slash repeatedly. Yet, every Skarner will still want to use this ability a lot in fights as it provides a respectable amount of aoe slow.

Crystalline Exoskeleton – This is pretty much Rumble’s Scrap Shield ability, except it has a higher base shield strength and provides an attack speed bonus. While on paper, it seems stronger than Rumble, there’s a few problems with it for Skarner. First, Skarner loses the movement and attack speed bonuses when the shield is destroyed. Second, Skarners do not always get to build AP which means it’s usually a lot more difficult for Skarners to increase the shield strength, whereas Rumbles generally will build enough AP to make his shield actually able to soak some damage. I will explain why Skarners cannot always build AP at the end of this article. That said, Skarner still really needs this ability as it allows him to get into close range so he can use his other abilities.

Fracture – This is supposedly Skarner’s ability that allows him to sustain. It’s a fairly weak aoe skill shot that debuffs the targets. When Skarner hits the debuffed targets, he gets a bit of healing back based on rank and AP. Yeah, AP.

Impale – The sole reason why I brought Skarner. This ultimate is probably the best part of Skarner. Essentially, this ultimate is Warwick’s Infinite Duress (a 1.5 second suppression) with a twist. First, you can’t interrupt this by crowd controlling Skarner like you can with Warwick. Second, it allows you to pull and drag the victim during the 1.5 seconds to your location, which essentially is a second crowd control.  With a fairly low cooldown for an ultimate and combined with Energize, you should be able to have this ultimate off the cooldown in every encounter.

Skarner at the moment is generally played as a jungler, although he may or may not be able to take top solo. I personally have only tried jungling with him as far, and I would need to play him more on solo top lane to feel comfortable enough to give insight and comments on that. For now, he seems like he is a jungler with his various aoe abilities and sustainability. He’s also featured in the Champion Spotlight as such, for whatever that’s worth. However, there’s a few problems with him as a jungler.

First, Skarner is slow and mana inefficient at jungling (requiring blue buff to keep up or at least not track too far behind other junglers). But hey, so what he can gank and that will make up for it, right? Not really. Skarner really only has one crowd control pre-level 6 and he does not really have enough burst damage to make up for it. While, his ultimate is fairly good for ganking, it’s an ultimate. Another jungling champion whom also suffers from weak pre-level 6 ganks is Warwick. However, Warwick has a good jungle presence. While, he’s not the quickest (still quicker than Skarner), Warwick is very efficient in terms of mana and safety (meaning his health stays relatively high). Skarner trades all of that for an ability that can slow. That’s not exactly the best trade.

Second, all of Skarner’s abilities use AP for the most part. The ratios are fairly okay for someone who’s supposed to be a bruiser. However, where the hell is Skarner going to get the gold for that? As stated before, Skarner is meh at jungling, which really encourages players to build Madred’s Razor / Wriggle’s Lantern to make Skarner not fall completely behind in  experience gain. Furthermore, Skarner depends on staying close to his enemies and doing sustained damage, which would mean he needs to build at least some defensive items to not die. Finally, junglers tend to get less gold on average than a laning counterpart. This leaves Skarner with a low amount of available gold to be able to afford AP items for both damage and healing sustainability (Fracture).

At the moment, I feel Skarner is outclassed by a similar jungling brusier-esque champion, Warwick. They both provide similar abilities and utilities to their team, but Warwick is far more versatile and more efficent jungler. Skarner’s only real strength over Warwick is Impale, which is a bit of a gimmick in my opinion. Yet, by comparing him with Warwick, do we really need to keep Skarner in the jungle? Look at Warwick, who can take a lane and abuse the farm for an extremely strong late game (generally as a tank). Perhaps, we should give Skarner a chance in solo top lane and learn the champion better. Oh, and I would love reader feedback on how you play Skarner and your successes/feeding failures with him. I apologize for the late article and a bit of a lack of LoL playing as I been busy with both work and travel.

Comments
  1. Gorgosch says:

    As a person that has never played Skarner, I now have understood that it is quite hard to level him and beeing effective in the game afterwards.
    What I unfortunatly not understood, what his skills are. In some cases it is a vague description.
    E.g. “pretty much Rumble’s Scrap Shield ability, except it has a higher base shield strength and provides an attack speed bonus”.
    This seems to be a shield giving attack speed. After what time does the shield drop? Or does it only drop if enough damage was dealt. Following your explanation it is a good idea to destroy the shild, cause it gives attak speed.

    Good luck with you new champ. My expierience over the last months. If skarner is to weak he gets buffed soon. If he is to strong he will be nerved.

    Ultimate at least sounds fun enough to give it a try at some point.

    • atenthirtyone says:

      The shield disappears when it absorbs the amount of damage it can take, taking away the bonuses in the process.

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