Swain Build Guide by Nisshoku003
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Jericho Swain: Master Tactician, Noxian High General, Black Rose Member, Giant Demonic Bird, Bets you taste like chicken.
I find swain to be a pretty versatile caster, able to take many different roles. Due to Dominion's shorter game length and team skirmishes, this is one possible build that focuses on turning Swain into more of a burst caster by mid game and a carry / defender by late game, without using items that develop over time like Rod of Ages. Other possible build types not shown here include: a tanky Swain with defensive masteries / items, and a more traditional caster Swain with the traditional utility Masteries.
This guide was made because Swain isn't a common champion in dominion (or in general,) and has some (IMO) pretty awesome quotes.
[*] Damage over time / synergistic spells (Torment) often catch players off guard
[*] Can often solo multiple opponents mid game onwards
[*] Good sustain with his Passive for Mana and his Ult for health mid game onwards
[*] Dat joke and taunt
[*] Initially squishy
[*] Always Mana Hungry
[*] No innate movement escape Ability
[*] Has relatively short ranged Abilities
As with runes, this build uses the new 21, 0, 9 offensive caster build taking all relevant AP amplifying Masteries in the Offensive Tree along with increased Neutral Buff Duration, increased MSPD, and increased Mana/Lv in the Utility Tree. The Offensive Masteries simply continue to bolster Swains damage while the utility Masteries attempt to boost his MSPD and Mana pool.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Due to Swain's nature as a more late game carry type mage and this build's focus on burst/ damage, runes include the standard offensive caster Magic Pen Marks, Mana Regen/Lv Seals, AP/Lv Glyphs, and flat AP Quintessences.
- Always useful on mages, more MPen, more damage.
- Due to the increased leveling speed in Dominion, scaling Mana Regen seals outshine their flat counterparts really fast. The increased Mana helps keep Swain from having to rely on health relics and going back to base as often. More Mana leads to more Abilities and more damage.
- Again, better than the flat AP version due to Dominion's mechanics, more AP, more damage.
- This may be somewhat counter intuitive since the last two mentioned the increased leveling in Dominion. Compared to Glyphs, scaling AP Quints become better than their flat versions a little later and do not provide as large as benefit either. At the same time, the first fight at the Windmill is more or less guaranteed to happen so the trade off here is slightly less damage later to increase the chances of getting kills, gold, Items, and damage earlier.
- Becomes amplified by Torment, counters Lifesteal, kills enemies that try to run, and can achieve death from the grave. This should be spammed anytime you get desperate or think you can get a kill.
- Large late game AP boost, directly boosting your damage and indirectly boosting your healing. This should be reserved for larger, extended fights.
- Will increase damage output but not to the same extent as the above two.
- Provides defensive and utility through increased MSPD.
- In the case of a CC-heavy enemy team like Kass, Talon, Garen, Fiddle, etc.
- Due to Swain's high Mana costs.
- May be used in conjunction with Zhonya and Swain's other abilities to potentially defend against three enemies.
- Possibly for that extra space may get you to a tower or the Spawning Pool.
- If running the bottom lane, could be used for farming / pushing
- Swain's Ult plus health relics is typically enough to sustain. If you kill your enemies, you can just teleport back to base anyway.
- Early game, dying is normal and the timer should be short enough. If you're dying constantly late game after getting Deathfire and Zhonya without getting any counterkills, something is wrong.
- You're a burst in this case, not support. If you need to check a bush, use Nevermove. If you think they're still there, go around.
- This is Dominion, What's a neutral creep?
This build aims on initially getting 1 level in all three spells in an attempt to increase early game crowd control with Nevermove and Decrpify without sacrificing too much damage from Torment. From there, simply max the highest damage spell whenever possible.
- r / Ult - A toggle ability that transforms Swain into a Giant Demon Bird. While in this form, up to 3 birds fly between Swain's nearest targets and himself, dealing damage and healing Swain. While in this form, mana is drained continuously and exponentially so prolonged transformations is usually detrimental. Typically, short bursts of transformation is optimal to conserve Mana.
The ability's cool down is rather short though so farming / regaining Health and Mana with it in conjunction with Swain's Passive has minimal drawbacks with sufficient AP. One important point related to Zhonya's Hourglass in that the ability is not channeled. Swain can be in any crowd control status (besides dead) and the ult will continue to deal damage (assuming the ult has already been toggled on).
- e - A single target DoT nuke / damage amp where Swain throws a purple and green fireball. All subsequent damage from Swain done to the target will get amplified whether it be from abilities, summoner spells, or Items.
- q - Another single target DoT nuke that acts as a slow where Swain releases his pet bird to shoot a continuous laser at the target. This spell works as a tether where the spell can be broken if the target becomes untargetable / moves out of range. The location of the tether will remain fixed at the point when the spell was cast so Swain need not stick around.
- w - Essentially a delayed area of effect nuke and snare. Has a pretty obvious animation and sound when trying to gank with but can be synergized with basically all of Swain's other abilities. Can be used to clear minion waves as well as for damaging and rooting enemy champions. Decrepify, can slow enemies from escaping the snare, the snare can be used to keep enemies in range of Ravenous Flock, and Nevermove's damage can be amplified by Torment.
- Passive - A regenerative Passive that lets Swain recover Mana for every unit he kills. Can be used to farm minion waves since for every minion killed, Swain gains back some of the Mana used. Early on, it still isn't a good idea to rely on this to spam abilities due to Swain's initial low damage output. Early Mana sustain is still possible though with last hitting minions like in Classic.
- Due to the increase in combat, death and the initial race to the Windmill, MSPD and boots tend to be rushed as a first or second item. This will be item slot 1 for me.
- I've tried both rushing a NL Rod and rushing straight to the next item but I'd be too much money behind or have too little early AP respectively. Eventually, this will be used to make a Rabadon. Until then, it occupies item slot 2 when I play.
or - Basically obtained for the same reason as the Boots of Speed in addition to MPEN but a Meki Pendant into the Codex can be build first for earlier Mana sustain.
- This should be Swain's first major item for several reasons: Mana Regen, Cool Down Reduction, more AP, and the active. One thing Swain arguably initially lacks is an instant nuke. Deathfire's active deals magic damage equal to 30% of the target's remaining health on a 60 second cool down. This damage gets amplified by both Torment and additional AP. Due to previous item placement, this will be in item slot 3, directly above the previously mentioned skill.
or - The first NLR bought after obtaining a Deathfire can be built into either of the two items based on the enemy team and your own performance. If the enemy team has a high amount of autoattack carries (or just hurt a lot), Zhonya's active and armor can give you enough time to eliminate the enemy. If you are confident in your own and possibly your tank's abilities, choosing the Rabadon first is possible. Whichever you didn't buy first, will then be bought second.
Either way, Rabadon will occupy item slot 2, replacing the earlier blasting wand, while Zhonya will be item slot 4, above Swain's ult. Personally, I choose Zhonya over Rabadon because of the synergy between the active and Swain's ult. Since Swain's ult is not channeled, it's possible to turn on Ravenous Flock, turn on Zhonya, and essentially park on top of your enemy.
- Provides a additional AP boost as well as additional survivability through Spell Vamp for a fairly cost efficient price. Increasing damage and as well as healing by Swain's Ult through both stats given. If an ally also got one and team fights are becoming more common, the item's aura can also stack.
- The last item slot would be taken up by this item for its bonus health, more AP, and on cast slow to both help with escapes and ganks. An interesting case with this item is that the slow applies to each of the three targets of Swain's ult.
Other Potential Items
- Good item with Health, Mana, and AP. I would always get it in classic but with Dominion's shorter game time, I much prefer instant gratification than waiting for the item's full potential. If additional Health and / or Mana is mandatory, this item can be rushed after Sorcerer but before Deathfire, removing Lich and retaining the build's remaining items.
- Another good item that I would get in classic for the Mana and AP but again due to the amount of time the item takes to reach full potential, I'd rather get something with immediate results in Dominion. If desired, I would replace Deathfire in the build with a Tear of the Godess and subsequently upgrade that after completing the Rabadon.
- By late game, Swain will have enough AP to make use of Lich's Proc, again being amplified by Torment. Additionally, the item grants more AP, plus MSPD, MRES, and Mana, a nice mix of defensive stats along with Lich's Proc and AP. This item would occupy item slot 5 and I've only gotten this far. Like AP assassins, this can be made after Rabadon instead of Will.
- An offensive oriented item that may or may not be cost effective depending on the enemy's MRES. At low MRES, this item will not increase damage by too much since the MPEN granted is a %. If the majority of the enemy is beginning to stack more than 40-60 MRES on average, this item begins to be favorable. This item could be bought in place of Lich Bane.
- A nice item but used primarily to counter enemy mages with its MRES. I tend to shy away from this item in other cases because the item's debuff aura can often give away your position. When MRES is mandatory, the earlier Blasting Wand could be upgraded into this in place of one of the last three items.
- I would actually recommend against this item since for about 400 more gold, you still get AP, CDR, and Mana from Deathfire plus the active.
- Arguably not needed but allows for a really cheap early way to sustain Mana while also providing a fair amount of M. Res.
- Alternative to Sorcerer's when CDR is favored over more M Pen. One situation where this might happen is if additional CC is needed.
- Another potential response to high AD enemies with its passives and Armor. The item additionally provides a large amount of Mana, overall buffing a sustain oriented Swain.
- A very good item if playing a more tank Swain since it increases the amount of Health healed with his Ult. However, even with how cost efficient it is, a burst Swain may as well use the money and item slot for more offensive items.
Hextech Sweeper - Should be pretty self explanatory in that the item is used to counter stealth like Shaco, Twitch, and Eve.
- I have personally never tried this item but could see it being very powerful on a tank Swain since his abilities require him to go up close and take shots anyway. The active would then synergize with Torment again. However, on a burst / carry Swain, you're trying to get more AP.
- Sadly this thing is not available on Dominion :/
Swain should initially take more of a support role early on due to the lack of abilities and items. With the starting Boots and Blasting, he can still put out a fair bit of damage, but should not attempt prolonged fights without support.
Once the initial Windmill fight dies down, Swain's should attempt farm kills / minions, mostly by ambushing enemy champions and minimizing death. Once at Lv 6, Swain should be able to openly confront enemies and / or farm minions more effectively. It's worth noting that in Dominion, 1 minion wave is generally less dangerous to handle, but worth about as much gold as a champion kill not including bonus gold from sprees.
Once Deathfire is completed, Swain should be able to consistently slay enemies with the item's active. The casting order should ideally be Torment, Deathfire, Decrepify / Nevermove, throwing in Ignite early for healers and late for those attempting to run. If an enemy may run, Nevermove or Decrepify can be cast first to CC. At this point in the game, Swain should be able to farm champion kills in addition to minion waves more frequently.
If Zhonya was first, Swain should be able to begin soloing multiple enemies with his already established burst and the combination of Zhonya and his Ult. If Rabadon was completed first, the same strategy from early game applies. Because Swain's Ult's attack is not channeled, if Zhonya's active is used while the Ult is on, Swain will keep attacking while invulnerable. Additionally, if more firepower / defense / size is desired, Surge and the Storm Shield also stack.
Together, Swain can dive single or even multiple weakened enemies under their own tower, root them with Nevermove and take them all down. The reverse is also true if the enemy team attempts to dive a Swain with Zhonya under his own tower. In addition to preventing damage, Zhonya's active then usually grants enough time for a second rotation of Torment and Decrepify.
Hypothetical Late / End
At this point, Swain should be able to defend against multiple enemy champions simultaneously with the additional damage and sustain from Will and Rylai.
While not mandatory, with 4 abilities, 2 summoner spells, and 2 actives, a total of 4 single targeted skills, one AoE targeted skill, and 3 self targeted buffs. Smart casting definitely decreases the amount of time to cast combos by removing the need to actually click on your target.
This build does turn Swain into somewhat of a glass cannon susceptible to group ganks until late game. However, map control, map awareness, quick planning, and fast reflexes tend to be enough to help with this issue.
A large Mana pool is NOT a focus of this build. Choose your fights and use your Ult in bursts.
Even still, certain individual champions will give Swain a harder time than others. Among them include high MRES tanks, AD carries with Lifesteal, and champions that cause some kind of nerf to healing.
For MRES stacking tanks, Swain can either get a Void Staff like mentioned earlier, or call in AD ally champions. Lifesteal carries can also be dealt with in a few ways. The first would simply be to burst them down before they can start attacking you since Lifesteal sustain is only possible when the enemy is actually in your face. Related to this, Zhonya's Hourglass can be used to prevent the carry from healing. If neither of those options are possible, Swain can still kite with Decrepify, Nevermove, and later Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
Skills (and their respective champions) to be wary of that can nerf Swain's healing include:
- While active, reduces the healing and regeneration of all targets he auto attacks by 50% for few seconds.
- When enhanced with Preparation will reduce the healing and regeneration of all targets hit by 50% for 5 seconds.
- While active, reduces the healing and regeneration of all targets auto attacked by 50% for 3 seconds.
- Reduces the healing and regeneration of the target by 50% for 5 seconds.
- Reduces healing and regeneration of the target by 50% for 8 seconds.
- Reduces healing and regeneration of the target by 50% for 5 seconds in addition to dealing true damage over the next 5 seconds.
Jericho Swain: He snares, he slows, he sustains, but wait, he does more... much more... Once past mid late game, Swain becomes a Giant Golden Demon Bird... actually, not unlike