RiotScruffy on Skarner - Feedback Thread and TENTATIVE Changes!

Posted on at 7:50 PM by Moobeat
Do you guys remember Skarner? You know - big purple scorpian looking fella'?  After being a staple jungler last season, he's largely fell to the wayside in season three and RiotScruffy just ain't happy about that!
Continue reading for the full scoop, including RiotScruffy's intial thoughts on Skarner and a set of tentative changes aimed at leading the Crystal Vanguard back to glory.

RiotScruffy has tossed up a post looking for players feedback on Skarner, including what players identify the most with him, which other champs do Skarner's "job" better, and what some of his most frustrating aspects are.
"Hey All, 
I’m going to be doing some Skarner work and right here is one of the best places to start. There has been a great thread in the Champion Feedback forum (shoutout to Irish Red Cap) with a lot of good discussion on how people are feeling about Skarner’s current state.

So I’ve been doing some digging and unfortunately, poor Skarner is being picked 80% less this year than he was last year. Some of this might be from some nerfs he has received, but it may also be because newer champs are outclassing him in what he does best. Either way, I think we all agree that Skarner could benefit from a few improvements to make him more fun/viable for both Skarner players and their opponents. Keep in mind, the goal here is not "make Skarner OP." There will always have to be strengths and weaknesses to all champions. 
Before we get to any of the potential changes, we need to figure out what Skarner’s strengths and weaknesses are right now. I have a few questions for you all, and you can answer these as a SKarner player or even as someone who only has experience playing against Skarner.

• What are the most fun aspects of playing Skarner?
• What are the most frustrating/unfun aspects of playing Skarner?
• What are the most frustrating aspects of playing against Skarner?
• Are there champions that do Skarner’s job better than he does? Why? 
I have my own personal answers to these questions, but I may be only seeing one side of the coin. There are some Skarner players out there with wayyy more experience that I have, and I think there is a lot of valuable information that I may be missing. I have a feeling that once we get talking, we will come to some very useful conclusions. GOGOGO 

After a bit of feedback, he jumped back in to summarize a few common points:
"This is crazy how much good feedback you guys have lol. I can barely keep up with the thread. I'm seeing a few things popping up in almost every post. 
-Skarner's ult is AWESOME (jawesome?) and it is his defining ability
-Skarner is very mana dependent and without blue he suffers
-Skarner is very easily kited
-Getting permaslowed by Skarner is frustrating
-Skarner's E ability (Fracture) doesn't feel useful/can be somewhat clunky to use
-Other junglers (zac/j4/voli etc) are more reliable in ganking and teamfights

Am I missing anything?"

RiotScruffy also took the time to share his own personal thoughts on Skarner:
"Most fun aspects for me are definitely ulting a key target and feeling like I made a gamechanging play. Also I really love the synergy with his auto attacks and his spells when facing off against another melee champ. You can surprise people with your damage/tankiness. 
Most frustrating for me is definitely how he tends to be so easily kited in the late game. Especially when all of those ezreals get their iceborn gauntlet RAWEOENMDF! 
Most frustrating aspect playing against Skarner for me is that once he's got you in the permaslow it doesn't feel like there is any good counterplay/way to escape.

I think that some champs with big gap closers (j4/zac) may not be fair comparisons to skarner because they don't have his dueling power and CC. But even when looking at similar champions that need to get into melee range before becoming effective (udyr/volibear), he is much more easily kited."

He finally revealed his TENTATIVE plans for future Skarner changes:
"Ok, it seems like we are in pretty near agreement about Skarner's problems. He is definitely still a fun character, so we are not going to scrap his kit or something severe like that. I think a combination of a few good changes could really bring him back into a nice sweet spot as a viable champ.  
I am going to try these changes out and do some playtesting to see how they affect him. No guarantees that these are the right changes or the ones that will end up being in the final set.
I think a really powerful change that would make Skarner's kit more clear in its usage and counterplay would be to focus the W and E abilities more for a single purpose each. W can be his defensive and gap closing ability exclusively. Inversely, E can be more focused as a brawling/jungle clearing/damaging ability.  
-Overall mana costs reduced (probably looking at E first its super costly) 
-Hopefully removing permaslow by making the slow only occur on every other Q instead of all Qs after the first. To balance the loss in slow duration here, I want to make it a much stronger slow that decays over time but leaves gaps for people to counterplay. Hopefully this will be fun for skarner players too because they can now make some smart decisions when they want to use the new more powerful Q slow. 
-Increase the movespeed buff so that it is closer to other similar champs like Udyr and Volibear
-Possibly make the movespeed ramp up over time so its not too powerful of an escape "get out of jail free" ability
-Lower cooldown back to 14s from 18s like it was a few patches ago
-Strengthen the shield amount/AP ratios (to compensate for the loss of heal from E)
-Remove attack speed from the W buff 
-Instead of the heal, proccing the E mark on targets will now give skarner his attack speed buff
-Increase total damage, but split it up so that only some is up front and the rest happens when you proc the mark
-Reduce mana cost
-Look into better usability (faster projectile, faster cast, etc) may be one or all of these 
-Fix more edge cases so that the R will reliably go off on targets once it has been cast

These are still very much work in progress, and I still want your input on how you feel about these changes. I will also keep coming back to fill you all in on how these changes feel in internal playtesting."
He added:
"To clarify, the slow will still occur on the second Q. 
I am just as skeptical about any of these changes as you are, and I am thinking about all of the counterarguments very closely.

One of the biggest problems that I want to solve is the "feast or famine" that many people have mentioned. Making Skarner have more consistent engage, but some gaps in his sticking power is something that I personally want as a Skarner player."

He continued, responding to summoner comments on the new changes.

As for E no longer healing, one summoner pointed out that this has implications for offbeat picks like lane Skarner. RiotScruffy replied:
"This definitely makes sense. I think that there may be some losses to his kit to hopefully justify better gains. 
My thought here is that, by focusing more of the defensive power into the W shield, he will be more consistent in catching enemies late game and getting off his crucial ults/auto attacks.

I think that some of the changes will also help his kit in terms of top lane play. Moving the attack speed onto the E makes it more reliable, because you wont lose it when the shield pops. This should help him when trying to do short trades with the other top lane bruiser.

We will definitely see though. I will make sure to do a top lane test for him to see if losing the heal sustain makes it unviable. None of these changes are set in stone."

As for the changes to Q's slow, he noted:
"I'm seeing the feedback about removing the permaslow from Q. It's definitely a loss in power for Skarner, but with the goal of increasing his consistency, it could work out to his benefit. How would you feel about Skarner having a way to activate his slow right off the bat instead of delayed instead of having permaslow?"

For now, he ended the discussion by saying:
"Another thing to keep in mind, Skarner has very low play rate and sub 50% win rate right now. There is no intention of nerfing him."

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