League of Legends: Skarner impressions

League of Legends’ newest champion is Skarner the Crystal Vanguard, a fighter/jungler that looks like he just stumbled out of a Pokemon game into Summoner’s Rift. After some time clicking around as the big, purple scorpion, we gathered some impressions and suggestions for players looking to check him out and make the most of out of this new character.

At first, we really couldn’t make heads or tails of the guy. Riot classified him as a fighter, but he lacked the ability to initiate a gank, and besides his Fracture ability, it didn’t seem like he had anything to poke enemies with to chisel away their health. His Crystal Slash felt weak, too, and didn’t to do enough to chunk enemies’ health. To confuse things even more, he’s a hybrid AP and AD champion, which makes building for him difficult without knowing what he does. But after a little while we realized that his moves, when used in conjunction with each other, make him a formidable foe on the battlefield, even if he’s a little weaker than we would have liked.

After firing his Fracture into a group of enemies, he’s able to run in using his Crystalline Exoskeleton (which also grants additional attack and movement speed) and start spamming his Crystal Slash. And when we say spam, we mean spam. It costs barely any mana, and thanks to his innate ability, which cuts down cooldown time with each attack, it’s available almost all the time. Even more importantly, each successive hit with it does additional damage and slows enemies caught in its radius. Since it’s an area of effect spell it damages and slows all enemies around Skarner, making it great for chasing down foes. At first we considered picking up a Frozen Mallet to help him chase, but found that his Slash essentially replaced the need for it. Instead, we went for move speed boosting items like the Trinity Force, which let him keep up with enemies so that he could use Crystal Slash to keep them slowed. It also helps him with his melee attacks, since Trinity Force doubles Skarner’s damage every time he casts a spell—and Crystal Slash counts as a spell. Now, we’re building him sort of like we build Jax, and it’s working out pretty well.

Above: A closer look at Skarner jungling

Even more important is his Impale ultimate, which lets him drag a helpless enemy for 1.5 seconds. This might not seem like a huge amount of time, especially considering it needs to be executed in nearly melee range, but it’s an absolute game changer when used effectively. If an enemy is near the tower it can drag them behind it completely, or it can be used to pick the DPS out of a group of foes in order to make for easier focusing. It’s also possible to attack while it’s being used, and firing a Fracture and spamming Crystal Slash while dragging an enemy into a tower can lead to absolutely devastating results. Oh, and he’s a scorpion who stabs and drags enemies—try doing that without yelling, “GET OVER HERE!” We dare you.

Also of note: he’s an effective jungler, mostly thanks to Fracture. After hitting an enemy with Fracture they’re marked, and Skarner heals every time he damages them, letting him be fairly self-sufficient killing creeps. That said, his lack of a really strong dash or teleportation move makes him weaker than many other junglers when it comes to ganking, so his jungling ability is mostly useful to give two teammates a solo lane for bonus experience.

Despite the fun we’ve had with Skarner, we still feel like he might need a little bit of a buff in an upcoming patch. He’s good, but requires a strong team in order to succeed, making him a fairly weak carry. A boost to his Crystal Slash damage or his base stats could make him a much more well-rounded character, and one we’d love to keep playing.

Aug 19, 2011

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  • garfunkling - August 20, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    I'm glad you guys are finally getting some LoL coverage no matter how slight. I would love to see more. Possibly some build features?
  • ALinkToTheZack - August 20, 2011 3:27 a.m.

    I've never tried League of Legends, but I've heard it's easier to get into than Dota. I'm super pumped for Dota 2 because I love the original though.
  • JDHutch - August 20, 2011 1:30 a.m.

    100def* for thornmail
  • JDHutch - August 20, 2011 1:29 a.m.

    i personally love skarner, i pickup boots of swiftness first to keep up with opponents better, manamune next, helps to increase mana and damage with crystal slash as well as auto attacks. next is warmogs for the health boost, comes in handy since exoskeleton keeps my with longevity early on. thornmail after that, usually for the 200 def bonus, or force of nature, depending on the enemy team. its either a rod of ages if i want the bonus to hp and mana or i invest in more def. i pickup atmas impaler later on to increase my damage dealt with crystal slash and auto attacks more. by this point i have 4k+ hp, and good defense, and finally a trinity force to seal the deal. confusing champ at first to get used to but once a build is made you like hes a breeze.
  • cyberaltair - August 19, 2011 11:16 p.m.

    Just a quick note, since Trinity builds out of Phage, just like Frozen Mallet it also slows opponents. Sure it's only a "chance" but it still does something. People might not notice it because completing Trinity removes the ice and Sheen animation.

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