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League of Legends: Skarner Skins’ Review – StrategyZero
Apr 052013
Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard
Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard

Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard stands as a unique specimen among the many champions in the League of Legends. His arachnid nature is nicely exploited by his skins as they cast him under more conventional or fantastic lights. If you are looking forward to some impalements better choose the best exoskeleton for the vanguard with his skins’ review.

Sandscourge Skarner
Sandscourge Skarner Splash Art Sandscourge Skarner Model
Category: Regular
Price: 975 RP
Concept: Skarner as a dangerous desert scorpion.
Model: New model for Skarner.
Particles: No new particles.
Animations: No new animations.
Sounds: No new sounds.
Splash Art: The background displays an arid and fissured deserted zone where the extreme conditions are unforgiving with the wildlife; as the crude skeletons demonstrate. While around Skarner the cave and ground are reasonably clear the rest of the setting is a mess of tones meshing with each other into an undistinguishable whole. Skarner’s portrayal also melds into the shadows a bit but considering his placement it’s acceptable. His dry, bark-like exoskeleton is finely painted; though his tail seems a bit dull. Still, the depiction is quite good and the piece well composed. All in all, it’s quite a nice piece that feels a tad rough in places but that is a good spotlight for this scorpion.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Sandscourge Skarner is a fabulous interpretation of the crystal arachnid as a more conventional but very attractive scorpion. The red, bark-like exoskeleton covered in thorns gives a natural impression of camouflage plus the bright colouration reflects his lethality. In fact, the design is a marvellous adaptation that alters his classic structure as much as possible. The result is a fierce specimen with unambiguously deadly aspect. A certain amount of his classic style is still present and the bluish abilities could have been modified for a better fit; despite the interesting contrast of colours. Nonetheless, Sandscourge Skarner is an extraordinary skin that any fan of arachnids will surely enjoy. Sadly, it’s a bit expensive for just a re-model nowadays.

Earthrune Skarner
Earthrune Skarner Splash Art Earthrune Skarner Model
Category: Regular
Price: 520 RP
Concept: Skarner as a construct of crystal, stone and tendrils.
Model: New model for Skarner.
Particles: No new particles.
Animations: No new animations.
Sounds: No new sounds.
Splash Art: This piece suffers from a general roughness that gives an interesting rustic air that fits the elements displayed yet seems disappointing anyway. A structure resembling a tower is visible on the left and, maybe, a waterfall on the right as the shadows of the tree leaves cover the ground. However, it’s all so crudely depicted that it loses all its natural magic. Skarner shares some of these problems as the depth of field is quite abrupt. Therefore, the front of his body is brightly shaded, with ample amount of details, but the back seems captured by the background’s fog. In general, it’s a good portrayal of Skarner but it leaves the feeling that it could’ve been better.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Earthrune Skarner is a interesting interpretation of the crystal vanguard as a golem made of stones, gems and tendrils. The fantastic aesthetic is hardly dull due to the numerous decorative runes and complexly tangled tendrils. While the stones seem a bit precariously held together and the tail rocks are simply loose the result is, nevertheless, appealing. As a purely magical construct Skarner feels different yet familiar; while his abilities match the rune and gems colours. In the end, Earthrune Skarner is a great choice for Skarner fans especially if they’d like a more fantastic and inventive version of this peculiar scorpion.

Battlecast Alpha Skarner
Battlecast Alpha Skarner Splash Art Battlecast Alpha Skarner Model
Category: Legendary
Price: 1820 RP
Concept: Skarner as a robotic, assault tank.
Model: New model for Skarner and his spires. New smoke for his exhaust tubes.
Particles: New particles for his abilities, auto-attack and spires.
Animations: New animations for his abilities, auto-attack, emotes, capture, standing idle, walk, recall and death.
Sounds: New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack, recall and emotes. New voice-over and new quotes for Crystalline Exoskeleton and Impale, recall, death and when buying certain items.
Splash Art: The background is a blurry mess of suggestions where one can only guess at what is depicted. It could very well be a scene near a factory or inside a similar facility but nothing is concrete. Skarner also suffers from the diffuse environment as many parts of his body, which shouldn’t be obscured, are difficult to appreciate. Only the central area around his head escapes the fog but it also seems a bit sketchy. The colours aren’t always vivid and so the metallic surfaces don’t convince as the sparks do. On top of this all, the close focus means that it’s not easy to get a general idea of his appearance. All things added together, we end with a piece that attracts attention with its visual effects yet doesn’t display Skarner’s legendary self as deserved.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Battlecast Alpha Skarner stands apart from the usual Battlecast robot. His industrial, almost antiquated, style doesn’t carry the same weight as his colleagues. Instead of appearing as an imposing machine of destruction he seems like a clunky and flimsy prototype. That may explain the ‘Alpha’ part of the name but it certainly doesn’t project the menacing and deadly aura that Skarner usually carries. That may go in tandem with the cartoony style of the design. In spite of the chainsaws and harpoon the weapons don’t really seem lethal and Skarner can even seem comical.
Moving on, the particles are rather dim and unimpressive. In fact, they are sometimes barely noticeable. The same applies to the sounds. They are different but they fail to attract attention. The animations are a mixed bag. Most of the animations are merely adapted and don’t add anything new. His walking animation is noticeable for being actually simpler and less interesting that his classic one. Only the recall and emotes take advantage of his new figure but they feel like an extra.
The result is a robot that feels far from a scorpion-tank and closer to an experiment or work in progress. That does have its own appeal and it would be interesting to compare it with the final product. Maybe the skin could’ve started as a prototype and evolve into a final form; yet that is the terrain of ultimate skins. What we have is a robot that seems to be in its early stages of development and while interesting it’s not as attractive as what it could become.
In the end, Battlecast Alpha Skarner is something different from the norm. It has a distinct, rustic identity but also misses some of the characteristics that make Skarner attractive. If you like the idea of a skin with an experimental angle then this is something novel. However, it’s not the skin that better represents the Crystal Vanguard so it’s better left for dedicated fans.

Guardian of the Sands Skarner
Guardian of the Sands Skarner Splash Art Guardian of the Sands Skarner Model
Category: Regular
Price: 975 RP
Concept: Skarner as an armoured, animated Egyptian statue.
Model: New model for Skarner and his spires.
Particles: New particles for his abilities and spires.
Animations: New recall animation.
Sounds: New recall sounds.
Splash Art: Sooner or later a shared splash art would’ve ended biting more than it could chew and this seems to be the problem this time. The background is practically just sand. There could be a sand storm but not even the outline of a desert is visible.
The trio of Guardians all fail to be adequately displayed. Skarner’s head and body are clear but with his pincers so far away and his aspect so alien it’s difficult to indentify an armoured scorpion. Besides, his front legs, which hold the pincers, don’t appear to be attached to the front of the body as they should. Add to that that his tail and left pincer are very blurry and his right one looks like a creature’s maw and is hard to put Skarner together.
Rammus, for the most part, is clearly depicted. However, the design from the chosen perspective doesn’t make it an easy job to distinguish his classic lines. On top of that, half of his body is almost omitted: blurred by the sand or plainly out of sight. Thus one can get only a partial idea of a strange creature after searching for a while for a head.
Finally, Xerath is depicted in a sketch: buried in sand and as part of the background only a general idea of his aspect is noticeable. His energy body looks like plastic and his armour like dull wood. Truth be told, it’s a disappointing portrayal of a champion. As it that wasn’t enough, his body seems somewhat deformed in the chosen position and that makes him look wider and with longer limbs than he’s supposed to have.
In the end, this is a piece that simply can’t cope with the extent of its ambition. It aims at depicting three champions in all their glory but it only partially does that. A portion of the depictions of the champions in the foreground is attractive, due the colours and style, but they appear strange. The background stands as mere filler and the champion relegated there ends up like a draft.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: In theory, a scorpion is a perfect fit for a skin based on the story of the Shurima desert. However, the actual implementation doesn’t provide a clear view of neither scorpion nor Shurima. The base of the model is a streamlined, dark-blue scorpion with small pincers and a very weird, monstrous face. Over such unconvincing figure there are four plates of regal armour that, by themselves, try to present the Guardian of the Sands concept. Truth be told the armour is nice but also brief and not really revolutionary; it does what it can. Considering the model work, one gets the feeling that this started just as an average 750 RP re-model that got promoted to 975 RP due to the particles and recall.
Speaking of which, the particles are more than a re-colour of the classic ones but still feel like one. They don’t add much in terms of sand or magic they merely keep the visuals consistent. The recall is distinct, it has to be said, but bears no relation to the skin’s theme. Actually, they could’ve been afterthoughts added to the skin to reinforce the theme so clumsily stated in the model.
This ends up making the skin difficult to recommend. It does have the features expected at its price: new model, particles and a recall. However, neither of them present the Guardian of the Sands aspect well. Had the skin another name it would only have a passing resemblance to that line of skins; mostly due to the colours. Perhaps a more evident Egyptian style would’ve displayed the theme better. It’s not that the skin is bad, it’s that it says nothing: just a blue scorpion in golden armour. If you are a fan of Skarner then you might like the different aesthetic but the concept doesn’t come across well.


Skarner may still be restricted to his release skins but that is hardly a big issue. Both Sandscourge and Earthrune Skarner are great choices that any fans of scorpions or magical entities will find attractive. The models do struggle a bit with his classic structure but manage to accomplish distinct looks anyway.

Sandscourge Skarner is a wonderful but expensive adaptation of a lethal desert scorpion: bark-like exoskeleton and bright colours mark his style. Whereas, Earthrune Skarner is a fantastic interpretation as a stone, gem and tendril golem with a strong magical feel.

The legendary option is Battlecast Alpha Skarner. It’s a skin with a unique robotic feel. Instead of choosing the deadly machine of destruction it seems to aim at an experimental sample. That certainly gives it a different feel but also doesn’t take advantage of neither Skarner’s qualities nor the new form’s features.

Guardian of the Sands Skarner is a skin with a different style but a frail concept that is thinly represented. For fans of the Shurima desert it’s not a skin that says much but fans of the Crystal Vanguard may appreciate the distinct looks.

If you like Skarner then you should only worry about which concept you like the most; legendary options aside. Both his release skins offer quality re-models and please with their original themes. If you like Skarner then neither Sandscourge nor Earthrune should disappoint.

  22 Responses to “League of Legends: Skarner Skins’ Review”

  1. Yay! I loved reading this review since I love Skarner so much. Though I’ve already bought Earth Rune Skarner, it was still interesting to read what you think of him. Thanks for the review.

    • Not at all, glad that you enjoyed it. Skarner is one of those exceptions with release skins that are really good. Let’s hope that further additions to his wardrobe at least keep or, better, improve the quality of his looks.

  2. thank you for the review, Zero.

    I like both Skarner skins but went with Earthrune for personal reasons.
    I do think Skarner deserves a new skin soon, lets hope he gets his much awaited Battlecast Skarner in 2014.


    • Not at all and hope you enjoy the earthly scorpion.

      Certainly looking forward to his Battlecast incarnation; as long as it’s a impressive as Skarner deserves.

  3. There’s a slight update on skarner, may you review?

    • It’s only a texture update so while there are changes they aren’t major and apply to all skins equally. We gave it a good look but it doesn’t seem like it has much of an impact on the reviews. It’s mostly a brighter colour palette and some additional detail so we think that the general analysis still applies.

  4. i hate the new skarner VU for sandscourge is makes him shiny… and smooth. i prefered it when he looked rough and kinda rocky

    • To an extent, texture updates seem to be content with just increasing the resolution of the textures. That means that everything is smoothed out but that’s not always the most fitting look. We agree that not every texture or even visual upgrade has made the most of each champion and skin.

  5. Quick thoughts on Battlecast Alpha Skar?

    • The model doesn’t convince because of the cartoony style. The rotating saw blades don’t really seem deadly and it could even be said that giant bladed pincers would’ve been better. Besides, the particles don’t really impress. Maybe the final version of Battlecast Alpha Skarner will improve but so far it doesn’t astound like a legendary skin often does at first glance.

  6. Disappointed in this site and myself that I disagree so much with your reviews :/ was hoping I liked them, they are very well written even if I don’t like them. I’ll have to look at even more of your reviews to see if I can find a viewpoint that I don’t see as ridiculous. Sorry :/ good luck though, like I said, well written.

    • We would like to know more about what you find wrong with our reviews. All feedback is welcome so that we can improve them and make them more useful.

      Take into consideration that we review skins with regards to the price they have. Therefore, even though a skin may look fantastic if it’s too expensive for what it offers it won’t receive a good rating. For instance, some 1350 RP skins are quite well done but would perfectly fit at 975 RP as there are skins with a similar technical level. Other skins do justify their price with additions that don’t usually fit 975 RP.

      As we see it, the higher the price of a skin the more it should offer and the more polished, consistent and elaborate the changes should be. Skins aren’t cheap so they should justify their price well.

      • Yeah, that disappoints me, the fact that you take price into account. I was looking for reviews that were more specifically about the skin itself, and didn’t take into account other factors. I look for good skins, I guess we just have different ideas of what makes up a good skin. However, like I said, you get your ideas across well and as a whole everything is well written, so props to you for that, I just disagree. Probably could have just kept my mouth shut I guess :/ wanted to express my opinion though.

        I just believe the price shouldn’t be a primary factor in judging a skin.

        Keep on writing though, people seem to love them!

        • We understand your point of view and it’s a valid one. All feedback is welcome so we appreciate the fact that you took the time to share it.

          Initially, we considered reviewing skins in the traditional way: ignoring the price. The problem is that more expensive skins usually have an advantage because they have more technical resources available. Besides, the categories of skins are practically defined by their price.

          In the end, the price becomes too big of a factor to be ignored. That’s not to say that we don’t appreciate a skin beyond their value. Skins from the same category can be easily compared as the price is no longer relevant.

          If you simply look for good skins then the site can still be useful. You’ll just have to think in which category you are looking for them. Then, the price is no longer important and all that remains is a traditional review; for the most part.

          We try to make the reviews as useful as possible for people that simply want good skins regardless of price and people that do take price into account. Of course, we have to reach a compromise as we can’t write without a defined structure.

          In the end, we try to list all the features of a skin so that if you just want a skin that offers a lot you can find it. The rating is a guide that tells people that a skin is remarkable for some reason. Then you can look into the review and see what it’s all about.

          We think that having the most information available is for the best. That way, at the very least, you have data with which to make a decision on a purchase.

  7. It seems that in every single review you’ve done, you’ve never been really impressed by the sounds. I’m kind of curious, what impresses you? I bought this skin, and think the sounds are pretty damn cool. The proc for the passive is way more noticeable, and all of the sounds for emotes pay attention to the smallest of details. Not to mention, the VO is very unique, and doesn’t sound like any other skins in this game.

    I think you write these reviews too quickly, and don’t explore detail of the skin. Sometimes, not every visual effect, sound, or animation is supposed to “stand on it’s own”. Sounds can easily get on people’s nerves, and if they’re always grabbing your attention, you’ll get really annoyed.

    The skin should be looked at for it’s overall thematic, and while you may not like this thematic, that doesn’t mean the work Riot put into it was “dim”. Having said that, I do agree that the particle could have been way better, and that’s why you may not have been impressed with the sound sounds. The two go hand in hand, and it can sometimes be hard to look at each individually. However, as a reviewer, it would be nice if you tried this approach in future reviews. You may get a new perspective on these skins, that would be helpful to the readers.

    • You raise some valid points. Particles and sounds go hand in hand so if one doesn’t work well it can drag the other down. It’s also important to take into consideration that League is a noisy game and in fights it can be difficult to notice the unique sounds of a skin.

      We understand that sounds, as well as particles, don’t always have to be asking for attention; yet there are exceptions. For example, the ultimate. In that case the ability has to shine in all aspects because it’s the champion’s big moment. The same can be said about a core ability that sees a lot of use. The defining characteristics of a champion have to embody the new theme.

      Our problem with Battlecast Alpha Skarner is more general than specific. The particles could’ve been better and it could be said that the sounds are good; even if they lack impact when it counts. However, when you add it all together, model included, it doesn’t give the feel that one expects from a Battlecast skin.

      Even if we break the assumption of what a Battlecast skin should look like we find that it doesn’t make the most of Skarner’s core characteristics: a giant, powerful scorpion. The Battlecast Alpha looks frail and even forcefully conforming to the scorpion image instead of taking advantage of it. It seems to try to be a strange tank instead of a mechanical scorpion.

      When reviewing, we try to put more emphasis into the whole feel of a skin than in individual aspects. After all, while the skin may have some good and bad aspects if it works overall it can be more than the sum of its parts; something we’ve noted before.

      The word dim is used to describe the particles alone. However, we do think that the skin, on general terms, doesn’t make the most of all the elaborate technical work present. That might be Battlecast Alpha biggest problem: it has a lot of resources yet doesn’t manage to make the most of them.

      • Thanks for the quick reply! I’d agree with everything you wrote. The one thing that I’d argue is the importance of the ultimate. Some champions (like Elise), have ultimates that just toggleable forms. It’s harder to make a cool sound from this, because it is by nature very simple. I think that in order for a sound to be truly iconic, it will need support from another discipline. For example, Yasuo’s ultimate gives the SFX a lot to work with (really cool animations), which is part of why PROJECT: Yasuo’s ultimate is so recognizable. The design of a champion really does matter.

        I’d also agree that this game get’s really noisy. It would be nice if they had a dynamic mix system so that we could hear sounds more clearly in team fights. That’s probably be a hell of a lot of work though…

        • Not at all, we were around so it’s reasonable to reply.

          We completey agree that not every ultimate is the same. Champions with low-cooldown ultimates definitely shouldn’t have huge sounds that reverberate all over the battlefield; though they could still be distinct. Nonetheless, the iconic abilities of a champion should stand out so particles and sounds can do a lot to make them remarkable. After all, they define the theme and identity of a skin.

          PROJECT: Yasuo is a good example of nice sounds as well as iconic particles. The price is high but the skin also has several extras that justify the price; extras that we didn’t notice the first time around. So, we agree that we should give more than a passing view to skins; we are careful but also fallible so we should try harder. Besides, the feel of the whole skin is more important than individual parts.

          League can get noisy but the music is also something that can get in the way. It might be dynamic and all yet it may be a better option to turn it off to better hear the champions in action. At least, that’s what can be done for the time being.

          Having a dynamic mix audio system would be great. Imagine if sounds were dampened when an ultimate is in progress to centre the attention on it. Then if another ultimate is used it could overlap and reduce the sound of the first as if it were an answer to it. We can dream.

  8. Hey zero,

    What should i take between guardian of the sands Skarner and battlecast alpha Skarner regardless of price? Sorry for my english, it’s quite bad.Love ur reviews.

    • It depends if you prefer the more rustic, industrial style of Battlecast Alpha or a more polished desert style. Both are skins that suffice but don’t do enough to be more than acceptable. In that regard, you get what you pay for in both cases. The real difference is the concept which is a prototype robot and a sand guard.

      In either case, the execution lacks the necessary elements to make the concept really interesting. Regardless, Battlecast Alpha, being a legendary, is more elaborate and so does more in that regard. The result isn’t as effective as it should be but if price isn’t a concern a legendary skin will almost always offer more.

  9. Heyya Zero :D,

    I would like to need your help this time.

    So my girlfriend [which i’m going to proposal her soon] is asking a duo skin which i said her ” Xerath and Skarner “. She agrees and asking me again about which skin line is good.
    I just need which one can make Xerath and Skarner look great. Since this is one of rare cases two champion share the same skin lines 3 times already, I just need a short comparison :D.

    Thanks early first.

    • The problem is that skin quality varies greatly so choosing a specific line of skins for both Xerath and Skarner means that one champion can end up with a rather nice skin and the other with a passable one.

      As a duo of skins Guardian of the Sands Xerath and Skarner show the most consistency. Neither is a great skin, unfortunately, but both are good enough. The problem is that both are just good enough. They have problems in communicating their message and it shows.

      Battlecast is more interesting as it’s a great skin for Xerath. For Skarner it means a legendary skin. Not a bad legendary but not the best it could’ve been either. The experimental angle is interesting but some things that are nice about Skarner are lost.

      Runeborn Xerath and Earthrune Skarner is an uneven pair despite the apparent closeness in price tiers. The problem is that Earthrune Skarner is a very nice remodel but Runeborn Xerath is rather unambitious.

      There’s no ideal solution in this case. If money isn’t a problem then Battlecast could the best choice provided that Battlecast Alpha Skarner’s uniqueness isn’t an issue. An alternative would be to simply go with a very good skin for each champion like Scorched Earth Xerath. For Skarner Sandscourge is expensive for a remodel; despite being a really good model.

      Hope it helps. With more information we may be able to better tailor the recommendation to your needs. Best of wishes in your proposal.

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