League of Legends: Every Day I’m Scuttlin’
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG DotA Reporter
Welcome summoners, to the patch v18.104.22.168 article for League of Legends, the game that shows us what happens when a Taric and a Cho’Gath love each other very much. This patch includes a rework to Pantheon, a massive heap of bug fixes and Skarner, The Crystal Vanguard.
Skarner is a tank/assassin hybrid, focusing on murdering the enemy carry while still maintaining a very strong team fight presence. He fits in line with characters like Rammus and Singed, both all of whom focus on screwing up enemy positioning while remaining hyper mobile.
When I first saw Skarner, I was eager to finally get my hands on a new jungler. None of the recently released melee characters have been able to get out of a lane, and the idea of being able to write one of these articles without screwing up my regular team’s composition got me really excited. Unfortunately, his jungling ability is lacklustre compared to nearly anyone you’d want to put in the jungle, and is extremely rune reliant. However, this is mitigated by the fact that he’s a great solo top lane, with strong sustain and an ultimate that’ll make your enemies fear your tower.
Skarner doesn’t truly come alive until hitting level 6, which unlocks possibly the best positional ultimate Riot has included in the game. Impale suppresses an enemy target before tethering them to Skarner as he scuttles away with his unfortunate victim in tow. This works very similarly to Rampage’s ultimate, The Chains That Bind, in Heroes of Newerth, except that there are no means of breaking this ability through range. Flashing at the last moment? Nope! If Skarner hits you with this, you’ll get dragged through a wall if it means you get back in line with his tether range. Unless you’re packing a Quicksilver Sash, Skarner can run off and do whatever he wants with you. While this ability in itself doesn’t do much damage, it all but guarantees a kill as you deliver the gift of a crystallized enemy right to the feet of your allies.
This would be a good ability on its own, but combined with his Crystalline Exoskeleton [W] he can do some truly horrible things to his foes. This thing is one tough shield, a fast movement speed boost and an attack speed steroid all rolled into one ridiculous ability. It lets him charge into the enemy team at mach 10, grab someone, then shoot off again while laughing at the puny attacks bouncing off his impenetrable hide. Combine this with assistance from Janna or Orianna for added trolling potential.
Outside of just using his terrifying ultimate though, Skarner has plenty of clever interactions between his abilities. His passive, Energize, allows his abilities to cooldown quicker the more he attacks, which is great with the aforementioned attack speed boost on Crystalline Exoskeleton. This lets you spam his bread and butter ability, Crystal Slash [Q] near enough every second for next to no mana cost. Standing near Skarner, especially in large groups can be a very dangerous affair as a result, since this lets him pump out an enormous amount of sustained AoE damage over a very long period of time. This gets nastier when Crystal Slash not only gets better after its initial cast, but also returns health when combined with Fracture [E], allowing Skarner to remain protected inside his crystal shell while also getting his health back when being surrounded by enemies.
At level 1, Fracture is a good choice if you’re in the lane for early harass and sustain. Crystal Slash on the other hand is a better pick in the jungle, despite its bugs there. Crystalline Exoskeleton is a great second level choice. Follow this up with whatever ability you didn’t pick at the start at level 3 so he can begin getting his combos going. From there, focusing on Crystal Slash will increase your damage output greatly, though I’d highly recommend getting a second level of Crystalline Exoskeleton early if you’re taking a good deal of damage from the enemy. Crystalline Exoskeleton is your best second pick, with Fracture being your last stop.
Start out with a regrowth pendant and a health potion. Philosopher’s Stone. Trinity Force. Tank it up. Pretty standard stuff, item-wise. One thing that can be a good offensive pick on him though, if you are crushing your opposition, is a Rylai’s Crystal Sceptre, which turns his Crystal Slash into a non-stop slow, though combining with the slow already gained from Phage can be a bit redundant.
For his Masteries, roll with either 0/21/9 or 0/13/17, depending on if you want to soak more damage, or are going for that precious move speed and faster flash cooldown. For Runes, you can roll out that standard burly melee page again – Armour penetration Marks, armour Seals, magic resistance Glyphs and whatever you prefer in Quintessences. However, if you want to optimize a bit, putting six attack speed and three armour penetration marks with armour penetration quintessences will up his damage output nicely. Be warned though that this does sacrifice his defenses, and being an unkillable jet engine of death is his main trick.
Skarner is not what I was expecting. I thought his damage was going to be greater, but I had no idea just how impossible he would be to kill. In the games I played as him, a single death was unusual, and going above a single death was usually only when suffering a crushing defeat. I barely got any kills either, but his assists shoot through the roof as he spams his area of effect damage everywhere while dragging people around. While his duelling potential is limited, when grouping with some teammates, his threat level sky rockets.
While I thought some of the recent characters were entertaining but flawed, Skarner actually has a place on a team, and works both for picking out a victim as an initiation and for dragging stragglers into his team’s area of effect spam. While it’s a shame his jungling isn’t great, this hopefully will get addressed when his Crystal Slash jungle bug gets sorted out, and he’s still a very good solo laner.
I’ve been enjoying him a lot. He presses my own particular joy button – screwing with enemy positioning. The character I learned LoL with initally was Singed, and I still cackle with glee after a well executed Fling to this day. Impale is the reason to play this character, and it never disappoints. It’s such a nasty ability that allows for plenty of tricks, most of them involving the other guy dying. If you have need of something on your team lineup that can drag people into horrible death traps, then he’s always going to be a good pick.
The reworked Pantheon is looking a good deal more powerful. He now has significantly more burst damage, with lower cooldowns to let him burst more often. The new critical change on his spear shot can be very satisfying to grab a last minute kill, and the reduced channel time on his ultimate means it can actually be used as an escape as well as an initiation.
The rest of this patch has been minor tweaks and a whole lot of bug fixes. The QA department has been working overtime on this one.
To discuss some of the changes yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, you’re missing out.