Introduction - TL;DR - look at yellow highlights
This is my first guide on mobafire, but Swain has been my main champion for quite awhile now so I'm confident in this build. I believe he is severely underrated by most people, I see so few people playing Swain, which means a lot of people don't know how he works, which causes them to lose. Warning: this guide does not provide skill, so don't be mad at me if you fail. I will be going over the role you play in team fights and what to do in each phase of the game in this guide. I will give examples of different ways you can go about dominating your enemy. This build is built specifically for my playstyle, which is cautious, you should be selfish and know when you can or cannot win a fight. I suggest you read the How to Play section and not just look at items, I provide a lot of examples.
Pros / Cons
-Strong DoTs to kill all would-be escapees
-Extremely tough for a mage
-Great at staying in the lane once you hit 6
-Snare and slow
-you can be a red or white bird with skins...I do both!
-Weak early game with mana problems and low health (compensate with pots and meki)
-Doesn't have heavy burst - I.E. Brand Cassiopia
There are a few reasons to get ignite. One is to stop champs that have lifesteal, like yourself. The second is obvious, it gives you more damage! I would like to point out here that the %damage increase from Torment also applies to Ignite, so yours is better.
You use this for the standard things in LoL, closing the gap for ganking, and creating a gap to escape.
The runes are also pretty standard with Magic pen marks and quints, MP5 Seals, and AP glyphs. I am currently experimenting with other runes and will update if I feel that it works better.
What to expect if played correctly
Examples of my end game Swain scores are ~ 10-3-5 ~ 18-2-7 ~ 11-5-9 ~ I would like to point out that 75%(rough estimate) of the time in games I have the least amount of deaths, this build stresses survival and the ability to take down the enemy teams ranged carries. Not going to get into detail here, it will be spaced out throughout the guide.
Played this on 9/25/11 - I thought this would be a good example of what you should expect, the 17/6/22 will be games where they don't surrender.I even got a perfect game and a ranked win. And I just wanted to say, that in the ranked game I lost, I was 5-0-0, unfortunately those were the only kills we had.
Items- and why I chose them
x2 - with the meki pendant along with your runes and your passive you should have no problem staying in your MIDDLE lane. The health potions are to make sure you stay alive until 6 if your mid opponent is for ex, Brand or Cait (if they have any skill that is, you can easily crush these 2 if you outplay them), (least deaths blah blah)
Onward to mid game
Originally I got tear of goddess instead of the chalice, but even in my most fed games I reached maybe 350 mana extra and saved the arch angels for last item. Swain just really doesn't spam spells. The Chalice is great especially if its an AP mid on the other team. Build the catalyst right after, and RoA ASAP. Average RoA completion = 20-22 min ~ 16-19 if you crushed your opponent. I will sometimes wait to upgrade boots if I have the gold for RoA when I B.
Personally, I think every swain build should include this item, gives you armor and AP to make you even tougher while ulted, AND, Swain's ult remains in effect after you active the 2 seconds of invulnerability. I will go over different ways to go about using this later.MAKE A KEYBIND FOR THIS ITEM, I always put it in my first item slot
Optional End-Game ItemsNow you have many possibilities on what to do next, I will give you recommendations, but you should always build for the game on hand.
If you want to watch them do nothing to you while they focus you (which they will if you did your job] you can grab WotA and Spirit Visage, or just WotA and Rabadon's.
Another possibility is Rylai's and Abyssal Scepter, the scepter can work on swain because you will be in close to the melee at times because we have Zhonya's and do not fear MORTALS
You can try all the combos for yourself and see what you like the best.
I recommend buying 2 wards for your side bushes if you can afford them, I normally do this on the trip back for boots and chalice. Once again this helps me to keep my deaths down
Why I don't build MAEJI'S SOULSTEALER
While I am very confident in my ability with Swain, I do not trust my team enough to buy this item, if they feed and i start dying more, this will hinder my ability to carry.
The Basic Combo for swain is W-E-Q, you snare them and dot them, its simple, once you get your ult you may want to start popping before you do anything else, example of why = in case you get annie stunned, if you are not ulted you are done for.)this way you will be healing and if you got your dots and ignite off, she is probably going to die
-Other combos- If your opponent is smart and starts to back off when you come in to cast your combo, you may not get much time on decrepify before they escape its range. If this is the case, just cast your Decrepfiy first, followed by Torment, and you can snare them when they run. Q-E-W
Just run ahead of your minions and run the melee minions to the casters, snare, ult, auto attack. repeat!
How to play Swain
I'm going to use this section to explain Swain Strategies, he is the Master Tactician after all.
To play Swain well you must be able to do a few things well
1.Land your Snares!!!
Everything you do is dependent on you landing Nevermore, once you land it you can pop your ult while running forward and casting your skill combo, with ignite up you should be able to kill squishies (Example - most mid characters.) at 100% if all works out to your advantage. Study your opponents movement patterns and try to hit them when they go in to auto attack for a last hit.
You can also use your snare to help you run from a gank without having to use flash, Simply
1.snare on top of self if its a melee with a way to close the gap (Jax, Jarvan, Akali)
2.Pop ult and snare
3.Just run to your tower or flash if needed and pop out of ult asap.
2. Be good at going in and out of fights
Eventually you will probably be forced to stay in your ult until you run out of mana, but until then you should be doing business as normal with a small change ---, 1.snare, 2.ult, 3.dot them, 4. back off and release ult form until CDs are up again
3. Know when to use Zhonya's!
There are times when you may be CC'd to much to even use it, but generally you want to wait until you are 20-30% health, as to soak up as much damage as possible before they have to switch targets
For a 1v1 or 1v2 fight, try to save it until the very end so they don't run away and instantly cast Nevermore on top of yourself once its done to create distance.
4. BLUE BUFF You can start killing blue once you hit 6 or 7, you should use your combo and pop out of ult once nevermore fades, and keep repeating, he's kind of slow at killing it without help. I cannot stress enough how important blue is to Swain, it allows you to stay in your ult for longer and go in and out faster. Also I don't build CDR so this will get you to close to max
Team Fighting Tips
Some of this was covered in the last section but I just want to point out a few different things I do.
1. Your snare is a great for initiating, a lot of the time if you land your snare late game while having a stand off in a lane, that person will die. This means that even if you aren't carrying the game you may still be indirectly responsible for many of the enemy team's death.
2.Once you have your Zhonya's you can even start to initiate fights yourself, just snare and run/flash in like you would during early game, if they engage a fight you can just pop zhonyas and let your team finish what you started.
3.After using Zhonya's try to create space with the enemy team again by flashing out or running back towards your team, if they chase you, you will most likely live while your team mops them up.
4. Utilizing Ult form correctly All I really want to say here is that you should make sure you are safe before dropping out of ult form. The time in between when you exit and the CD resets is your most vulnerable point. If you happen to have just popped out of it and they attack you, you are probably boned.
If you read this whole guide and take a few games to get the feel of Swain, you should start to see great results, but as I stated in the beginning, this doesn't give you the skill needed to play him.
Please vote me up if you like my build, and don't be a hater if it doesn't work for you. Also please give me ideas on how to improve this guide, I would be happy to include new sections
I will be adding sections to this build over time with tips to beating some of Swain's more difficult mid opponents such as Brand and Caitlyn