Swain Build Guide by CasterMaster

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League of Legends Build Guide Author CasterMaster

Raven Metamorphosis ~ A Comprehensive Swain Guide

CasterMaster Last updated on October 29, 2013

Ability Sequence

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Ability Key Q
1
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Ability Key W
2
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Ability Key E
6
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Ability Key R





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.



Masteries

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/
Executioner
 
 

Offense: 21

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Honor Guard
 
 

Defense: 0

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pickpocket
Intelligence
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nimble
 
 

Utility: 9


Guide Top

Introduction ~ An In-Depth Guide


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Hey guys! It's me CasterMaster again with my second guide here on MobaFire. I would like to thank EVERYONE who has helped me out with this guide. This includes everyone who up-voted, those close to me and those who helped me get this thing completed! Yes, you too! Without further ado, I present to you:
Raven Metamorphosis ~ A Comprehensive Swain Guide!
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Swain is an close~mid ranged tanky AP carry, and is extremely powerful throughout the game. He utilizes dual crowd control skills but has no stun. His deadly ability Ravenous Flock is on a relatively low cool-down, meaning that whether he's in a lane or a team fight, using it is no problem. This also means that Swain is prepared in nearly any fight. He's also naturally tanky, combining Zhonya's Hourglass, Will of the Ancients, and Ravenous Flock to endure 2 seconds of free healing for not only him, but also allows nearby allies dealing magic damage heal as well. This makes Swain extremely powerful as he also excels at dealing massive single-target damage while offering tons of sustain.

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A song you should listen to while reading this guide =)
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(Credits to eshareth for this video, song by Two Steps from Hell, song called "Protectors of the Earth")


Guide Top

Why Swain and When?




Swain is a very unique champion. You don't get a lot of champions that can carry and tank at the same time. This is what he's best at. He's extremely powerful at taking out single targets while also just as powerful against an entire enemy team. Here are some of the major reasons you want to play Swain:


WHY PLAY HIM?
  • Extremely hard to beat and counter
  • Short cool-down ultimate
  • Powerful nuking potentials mid~late game in DoT form
  • Good skins
  • Carrion Renewal allows more reward for last hitting and more harass
  • Strong throughout the game
  • AoE snare Nevermove
  • Exceptional dualist and shut-downer
  • Very fun to play
  • He just looks so BADASS!

With that said, now we can take a look at some reasons WHEN you should play him. There are tons of times when you can play him (and if you're one of those instalockers, you can play him WHENVER), but for the sake of this guide, let's assume ranked position (and you're not trolling).

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WHEN TO PLAY
  • You need (or want to play) him...
  • Mid lane champion required (or carry)
  • You have a champion on the enemy team you want to counter
  • Low CC on the enemy team (stuns, silences, suppresses, knock-up)
  • A carry with good sustain, laning abilities and team fight presence

Yeah, I'm sure there are more reasons, but you can say that yourself. Swain is an exceptionally tanky type of carry, making him deal a HUGE amount of carry even while being invincible and hard to kill. People would rather kill tanks than you. However, that only depends on how you play Swain, and also WHEN you're playing him. Let's move on.


Guide Top

Statistics




At Level 1

  • Health: 385 (+78 per level)
  • Mana: 240 (+50 per level)
  • AD: 49 (+3 per level)
  • AS: 0.625 (+0.0235 per level)
  • MS: 310 (360 tier 1, 380 tier 2)
  • Armor: 12 (+5 per level)
  • MRes: 30

These stats aren't bad at all. With a good 463 health at level 1, he can take some hits. It's pretty average, and he has quite a lot of mana. You'd be able to use your skills in lane very often because of your high base mana and Carrion Renewal. Just watch out for over-spamming, it becomes addicting. Main problem is probably his move-speed. It's a bit slow, but that's ok. I've ran Boots of Swiftness on him, and I have to say it was pretty effective. Other then that, nothing else to talk about. Let's look at his stats at level 18.



At Level 18

  • Health: 1789
  • Mana: 1140
  • AD: 103
  • AS: 1.063
  • MS: 310 (360 tier 1, 380 tier 2)
  • Armor: 102
  • MRes: 30

He's got 100 more mana then Kassadin at level 18. Not that you probably care. He's got quite a decent amount of armor as well, now you throw in a Zhonya's Hourglass and it'll shoot to 152. You could get more, but I think this is enough armor. Magic resistance is always a problem, you'll have to fill in with Athene's Unholy Grail, Banshee's Veil or Abyssal Scepter. I find Mercury's Treads a pretty good item on Swain, so we may want to use that item in our build. If you build a Rod of Ages on him (it's core, you should!) then you add +630 health which will give you a pretty nice amount.


Guide Top

Pros / Cons and Description


Before we can simply learn and understand Swain, we need to know his strengths and weaknesses. All champions have strengths and weaknesses. Some have more than others, while some have hardly any weaknesses its unnoticeable. However, let us not get off-track. Here are some of Swain's powerful pros and deathly cons:


  • Powerful, dangerous, hard to kill: With Ravenous Flock to help your sustain and continuous damage, you're an unstoppable killing machine!
  • Huge bursts and constant DPS: A full combo from Swain will drop most champions quickly and will make them lose a huge chunk of HP.
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  • Very good lane sustain: Swain's ability to sustain the lane is superior to most champions. Carrion Renewal will quickly regenerate mana and Ravenous Flock will quickly regenerate health!
  • Utilizes two forms of CC: Decrepify and Nevermove are great CC tools in Swain's arsenal. Good for escaping and securing kills.

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  • Weak to healing reduction: Enemy mid champions usually pack Ignite, and Fizz is a hard-counter to you. Think before taking Will of the Ancients.
  • Requires time to master: Swain isn't one of those champions you can pick up easily. He requires practice! Play him often.
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  • Close-ranged caster: Many AP carries rely on their range to win. Swain's range isn't exceptional and fights best in close-quarter combats. Be wary of this in team fights.
  • Not CC immune: Don't think Swain will do well being silenced in a whole team fight. Watch out for enemy CC as it'll hurt Swain more then many other champions.

I can teach you a lot about Swain, but most of the stuff you have to apply yourself. This is what makes up a strong Swain player. It revolves around these key terms: COMMON SENSE, ACCURACY, AND TIMING. If you have these three traits (or maybe 2), then you'll become a pro Swain player simply by reading. Otherwise, you may need to practice a bit. Remember, practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent!


Guide Top

Rune Options








Here is my main rune page set-up for AP carries and I use it for Swain as well. Let me explain my choices:


Greater Mark of MPen
Pretty self explanatory here. One of the BEST marks for casters. They're primary and give a great boost to your damage throughout the game. It may seem unnoticeable, but it'll give you a great deal of increased magic damage.
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Greater Seal of Scaling Health
At level 18, it's a free Ruby Crystal that doesn't take up inventory space. Very useful and helps you take some additional hits and raise your effective health. It won't really show (since seals don't make too much of a difference) but it'll raise your survivability by a pinch.


Greater Glyph of Scaling AP
A primary rune for more damage as you level. They surpass Greater Glyph of Ability Power at level 6 which makes these runes superior. I find these to be just powerful, thus it'll make even the slightest difference. It also makes you continually grow stronger throughout the game, making you less item-dependent.
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Greater Quintessence of AP
Gives an amazing boost to your early game damage. It's like getting the Doran's Ring as a starting item for damage output. Just very useful, and I find it to be fantastic for harassment.



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First off, if you aren't even level 20, do not consider buying runes. It's just a waste of your Influence Points and they can be used for more important things. Those who already have a decent caster rune page can use that. There are tons of different combinations you can use but this is the best set-up that I've found. It provides a good balance between early and late game which is something you really need.


Guide Top

Masteries





Here is my masteries for Swain (and all my caster mages). As there are many ways you can run masteries for him, it's usually standard to run the new 21/0/9. I'll quickly explain them here:



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space TIER 1 ~ I decided to put 1 point to Summoner's Wrath as I am taking Ignite for my masteries. Upon using Ignite I will gain +5 AP and AD which is quite beneficial. Your next option here is Sorcery , since you don't need attack speed. Butcher can be taken here if you aren't taking Havoc because you're having a hard time last-hit.
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TIER 2 ~ I take Blast for scaling AP, which will continually make me stronger in lane as the skills are continued to be leveled up.
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TIER 3 ~ After tier 2 I take Arcane Knowledge and Havoc . I take them for slightly increased damage to enemies and to advance the tier.
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TIER 4 ~ I take Mental Force for a stroner early game. Spellsword is very useful after casting a skill, allows you to deal significantly more damage on your next basic attack. Don't underestimate it.
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TIER 5 and 6 ~ Now I take Archmage for obvious reasons. Increased AP the more I get is quite worth spending 4 points into. I finish with Executioner for massive increased damage to lower health targets as a finisher.



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TIER 1 ~ Choice is extremely preferable in this tier. If you have Flash, then take Summoner's Insight to decrease the cool-down on it. I also take a point in Improved Recall , as 1 second difference for every recall could make a difference (especially if it's after a fight and you really need to get out of there). Meditation is good for increased mana regeneration in lane, but you could take Wanderer instead if you don't plan on spending a lot of time in lane.
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TIER 2~3 ~ Most of the masteries here aren't very helpful. The ones that ARE helpful are the ones we're taking. Mastermind will greatly help if you've burned a Flash or Ignite early and continue to be useful later into the game. You don't really need the small amount of lifesteal or spellvamp from Vampirism , so we get Runic Affinity for increased duration of blue-buff. You could also take Biscuiteer if you want, but that's optional.
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Guide Top

Summoner Spell Options


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Flash
Your get-out-of-jail card. One of my favorite summoner spells of all time, I would take this on almost ANY champion except for some special circumstances. I mean I probably don't need to go over this skill anyways. You should know how to use it, and if you don't, read the above. It's mostly common sense. If you throw yourself into a team fight, make sure you have Zhonya's Hourglass available so that you can protect yourself. Otherwise, best not to use it offensively unless you are 100% SURE you can secure the kill SAFELY. Gambling the game isn't a good idea.

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Ignite
It's your finisher spell. I usually take this spell on almost ALL casters, and why not on Swain?. The damage on Ignite will be amplified by Torment, so even more reason to take it! It'll be good to use Torment and Ignite together to finish off champions below 10% health. Just a good summoner spell made right for Swain.

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Teleport
If you aren't taking Ignite and you love traveling across locations, you could also take this skill. It's very good for ganking the side lanes or finishing up enemies from a disastrous team fight. Getting this skill also encourages buying sight wards / Vision Wards. An excellent skill itself and also good against heavy-harass champions like LeBlanc.

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Cleanse
It's Quicksilver Sash as an item, but this spell also reduces the effects of the next incoming CC by a portion. If the enemy has tons of CC that prevents you from using your skills, you could take this skill (or just buy Quicksilver Sash). It's especially important on Swain because if you get stun-locked and you do not have Ravenous Flock on, you're basically screwed. Another note to mention is that Cleanse also removes summoner spell debuffs such as Ignite and Exhaust effectively, and knowing how most mid players will take Ignite, Cleanse is a good but situational summoner spell to choose.

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Exhaust
This skill is just devastating. It can really completely disable a single target. Since that's your role and your job, you just want to finish your enemy off. It's an alright spell though I don't think you should be the one to take it. Good for beginners.

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Ghost
If you hate Flash because you either don't like it or you've had enough with Wall Flashing, then you could also take this spell over Flash. Personally, Flash DOES take a higher skill level to perfect, but sometimes you just want to move really fast. Of course, always an option, and I'm not limiting you or anything. It'll also get increased by Summoner's Wrath so that you can put another point from the utility page to fully max out Swiftness .

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Barrier
This skill shines out in the fact that it can save lives better than Heal, although very self-centered. Another quick fix it provides is its low cool-down. Against any good player, they probably won't touch you once you've activated it, so it's quite a situational skill. Unless you know you're going to get bullied pretty hard in lane and later on, this might not be an amazing choice, but still not bad if you're looking for a safer lane.


Guide Top

Skill Overview


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Carrion Renwal
Swain regenerates 9 (+1 per level) mana each time he kills a unit. Units include neutral creeps, minions and champions.

Going out of mana? This passive is NOT going to allow that to happen. Not only does it make sure that you want to last hit all your minions in lane, but it allows you to constantly harass your lane opponent. Carrion Renewal is a laning passive, meaning it's most effective in the lane. Be sure to get those last hits! Killing those minions and getting your gold and mana at whatever cost. You refund a lot of mana with this skill, so you can keep up your harassment harder then pretty much everyone that doesn't have another form of mana regeneration. Blue Buff doesn't count, because if you get it, you'll literally be spamming skills all day long.

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Decrepify
Swain sets his raven to cripple an enemy. Over the next 3 seconds, the target takes 25/40/55/70/85 (+0.3) magic damage per second and is slowed by 20/25/30/35/40%.
Cost: 60/70/80/90/100 Mana
Range: 625
Cool-Down: 8 seconds (all levels)


Decrepify is strongest when at melee~close range. This skill usually helps you land your Nevermove as they're slow. You want to keep your target pinned down while Decrepify should be able to get its full duration. That's how you get the most out of it. Damage is key on Swain, you want to keep that up. Decrepify can also be used to escape or set-up ganks as the slow you get from it isn't bad at all. It's definitely not the most reliable slow in the universe but it's a lot better than nothing. If you land Nevermove first, get in close-range and use Torment and Decrepify for a huge chunk of damage. Otherwise, you'd have to land Torment and Decrepify first before you use Nevermove.

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Nevermove
Swain marks a target area. After a short delay, talons grab hold of enemy units, dealing 80/120/160/200/240 (+0.7) magic damage and rooting them for 2 seconds.
Cost: 80/90/100/110/120 Mana
Range: 900
Cool-Down: 18/16/14/12/10 seconds


Your only nuking potential lies here. Truthfully, this skill HURTS quite a bit once it's maxed. If you choose to max this second, you'd have a bit more of this skill to use since it reduces the cool-down. However, it's not a reliable skill so we max it last. It's very good for farming as well when combined with Ravenous Flock. Always try to take advantage of this skill. This is one of your good escaping skills as well. Enemy jungler inbound? Throw Nevermove at your feet and save your Flash for a more important time needed. Always be cautious when using this skill in the lane, because as soon as you use it, the enemy jungler will take advantage of the fact that you lost one defensive skill and will gank you. Just something to keep in mind. In team fights, try to snare down the carries and as MUCH targets as possible. It has a high cool-down, so make the most out of it.

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Torment
Swain afflicts his target for 75/115/155/195/235 (+0.8) magic damage over 4 seconds. During this affliction, the target takes 8/11/14/17/20% increased damage from Swain's attacks.
Cost: 65/70/75/80/85 Mana
Range: 625
Cool-Down: 10 seconds


Your bread and butter skill. Also gives the highest damage output to a single target, so you want to max this first as it'll amplify ALL the damage you deal. This includes your basic attacks, Ignite, items like Deathfire Grasp and even Torment itself is amplified up to an additional 20% damage to your target! Its mana costs are also quite efficient, so use this and a few basic attacks in lane to really hurt your lane opponent while filling up your mana bar with Carrion Renewal. Swain's laning phase is extremely powerful and if not shut down, can just dominate his lane opponent even if he's against someone like Kassadin and Morgana, both that're relatively easy pieces of cake against Swain. I guess I went a bit off-topic? In ganks, lead with his skill so that everything else you have deals more damage. If you're fast you can use Nevermove first and before it hits fire Torment at your target so that Torment will still hit first. In team fights, fire this at the most heavy-damaging champion on the enemy team so that they'll be marked and you and your team can quickly assassinate them.

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Ravenous Flock
Toggle: Swain transforms into the form of a raven. During this time, up to 3 lesser ravens strike out at nearby enemies each second, prioritizing champions. Each raven deals 50/70/90 (+0.2) magic damage and heals Swain for 75% of the damage dealt against champions, and 25% against minions. The cost to sustain Ravenous Flock increases by 5/6/7 mana each second.
Cost: 25(+5/6/7 per second) Mana
Range: 700
Cool-Down: 8 seconds


Once you get this skill, your lane opponent should be real scared. You can pop out your skills anytime and deal TONS OF DAMAGE to them in an instant. They won't have time to react because your Nevermove will keep them pinned down while the massive DoT from Decrepify, Torment and Ravenous Flock (and Ignite) will deal heavy amounts of unexpected damage. It's good to use it to heal from a minion wave and to even damage minions at your turret. You can take wraiths every once in a while too, just ask your jungler. In team fights, if you have Athene's Unholy Grail, then you can pretty much keep this toggled ultimate on for the entire fight. A wicked ultimate that makes you look cool and gives you a new joke and on a fairly low cool-down meaning you're always a threat, is just amazing.


Guide Top

Skill Sequence


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I take one point on Nevermove early to set up early level ganks and to avoid those early ganks. This is preference and if you feel that you want to start off knocking off your lane opponenets socks, you can start with Torment first. Max Torment right away as it's your main damage spell and also increases the amount of damage they take. From 4% to 20%, it makes a lot of difference. Max Decrepify next as you gain more slow and damage from it. Finish with Nevermove. It's your nuking skill and will snare for 2 seconds at all levels (which is what you need it for). Take Ravenous Flock whenever you can (derp).

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Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
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Here is another option. This works great for aggressive play if your jungler isn't ganking anytime soon. Ask your jungler before-hand and analyze the situation. This is risky as you have less defense against earlier ganks from the opposing team and you may have to risk death or Flash. Choose your own game-play =)


Guide Top

Skill Combos


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Here are some exmaples of skill combos you can you on Swain:

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For Maximum Damage Combo:
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Torment-->Insert Deathfire Grasp here --> Insert Ignite here --> Ravenous Flock --> Decrepify AND/OR Nevermove

Using Torment first will amplify ALL your damage output. If you have Deathfire Grasp, use it next as it deals more damage the more health they have. Follow with amplified Ignite and the rest of your skills.

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Higher Rate of Nevermove Combo:
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Torment--> Decrepify--> Nevermove

Instead of Nevermove first, you use Decrepify to slow them to make sure you'll land that Nevermove. Sometimes it's more important to snare them then for damage, and it's important that you don't miss. Quick note: All of Swain's abilities cannot be blocked my minions / champions, so you can be quite safe behind your minions when casting skills.

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The "Stand in the Middle of a Team Fight and not Die" Combo:

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Ravenous Flock--> Nevermove--> Zhonya's Hourglass-->Proc Will of the Ancients

Do this and you could go from 10% health to 80% health. I'm not even kidding, this combo will keep you ALIVE, and still do what you're supposed to do: CARRY.
Just standing in the middle of a team fight with Ravenous Flock up and unable to be harmed is quite dangerous. 3 random targets will continually lose health while you're invincible and gradually GAINING health. How OP is that?


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Items


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We're talking about Swain here, and Swain is an AP CARRY. Therefore he belongs in the mage category of items. Items you build on Xerath, Kassadin, Anivia, etc will usually work on Swain. However, because he's a close~mid ranged champion, you want to build more defensively. Unlike Xerath who has superior range and does not need as much defense items (build some anyways), you want to make sure you get more on Swain. Let's take a look:

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Boots and Pots
Past down from Season 2, this setup is no longer that great. If you're up against someone with lots of skill shots and they have a deadly jungler, these starting items would provide useful. With the increased base movement speed of all champions, you can already dodge skill shots without the need of boots (if you're lucky or know what you're doing). Still a viable start-up.
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ManaRegen + Potions
You can grab a ward or two while you're at it here. For mages, it helps some get the Chalice of Harmony that builds into Athene's Unholy Grail. Swain likes this item a lot, so why not? It'll boost your mana stability during team fights so you can leave your Ravenous Flock on forever. It's a very optimal start if you don't plan on going kill lane. Fortify yourself well.


Doran's Ring + 2x HP Pot
Doran's Ring is cheaper now, so you can afford to grab Health Potions along with it, making it an extremely viable start if you want to push for aggression and dominate your lane. Next to the best, this is one of them. Start with it and you won't be upset. Just so you know you'll be selling it later on anyways, but it does provide great mana regen for Swain along with his passive that helps you harass for no end.
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Mana and Pots
Going for the quick Catalyst the Protector and eventually up to a quick-time Rod of Ages, this is one of the stronger set-ups in Season 3. 2 health potions should often be enough to keep you up at your lane, while increasing your mana pool allows for more harass and eventually a killing blow.

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Tier 2/3 Boots
Not usually an item I would get so early in the game, but it does have its usefulness. Powers up your movement, meaning you can dodge and escape ganks faster. Also picks up your pace when you have to go back to heal or buy items. The enchantments should be gotten when you have leftover money after buying a big item.
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Double Dorans
After getting some farm, you can pick up a few Doran's Rings. They'll add to your damage, mana regeneration and effective health. You should also pick up some Health Potions too, they don't bite. You'll start dealing a bit more damage once you get this. Always a good early game start, though I'd greatly prefer Catalyst the Protector first.


Catalyst the Protector
If you're getting destroyed in lane (or want to get a quick Rod of Ages), then this is the item you want to get. Prior to getting Blasting Wand, you want an early Rod of Ages so you can charge it up faster. It's also viable to get your Rod of Ages first before getting your tier 2 shoes or even double Doran's Rings. As well as this item will increase your lane sustain to the max.
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Codex/Guise
If you took Amplifying Tome as your first item, you can build it into one of these. This will eventually become either an athene's holy grail or a Liandry's Torment. Both items are quite crucial, but I believe Rod of Ages is more important. I'd suggest getting a rod first before following up on either (or both) of these items.

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Sage's Rod
Not a must for Swain, but definitely suits him well. Gives AP, Health and Mana. Health to sustain damage as a close-ranged mage, mana to sustain your ultimate and AP to deal more damage! Since it builds from Catalyst the Protector, you'll also get the most lane sustain against your opponenet! Take this item first to charge it up to its full potential which is 10 minutes.
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The Mask of Death
Burn the hearts of your opposing summoners with this new Season 3 item. Providing a standard 70 AP and 200 health, this item doesn't seem like a lot. Think again. It also gives 15 magic penetration, allowing you to ignore a lot of opposing magic resistance, saving you time and not needing to buy a Sorcerer's Shoes. Since Swain is a DoT mage, you can take full advantage of the burning effect of Liandry's Torment, dishing out continuous burns to your opponents. They better pack a burn heal! But honestly, a great item for Swain.



The Non-Abysmal Scepter
Hardly touched in Season 3, this item is still extremely powerful on a close-ranged mage like Swain. Adding in tons of resistance and tons of spell damage while reducing nearby magic resistance of your opposing players, this item spells disaster to anyone you're up against. A definite item for Swain, adding both damage, resistance and utility to your arsenal.
Delightful Invincibility
Little changes to this item in Season 3. A perfect defense item and gives a LARGE amount of AP and some decent armor. Mainly the item's active is just DEVASTATING and can really save your life. Combined with Ravenous Flock and Will of the Ancients and you can endure 2 seconds of free healing while the enemies cannot touch you at all. Gives the second most AP as an item in the game, and definitely worth the cost.
A Cup of Mana
In team fights, you'll most likely be getting kills or assists. Otherwise, there's something wrong with your game. This item will allow you to keep up Ravenous Flock for an ENTIRE team fight, no problem. It gives cool-down reduction and since Swain's cool-downs aren't actually that great, it'll be very useful. Top it off with giving an average amount of AP you get from a full item and a pinch of magic resistance! Definitely a true item worth for Swain.

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Banshee's Veil
It's the great wall of china! Except it only blocks one spell every 45 seconds. Hey, that's not bad! Especially since you are a close-combat mage and you're fighting a team full of CC. It offers health, mana and magic resistance, some things you'll probably need. Blocking spells is also good. It can absorb something miniature like Fox-Fire or a game changing spell like Enchanted Crystal Arrow. Very viable, and take it if needed.

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Deathfire Grasp
Thanks to Season 3's new changes to this item, it becomes a deadly item. A good replacement for Athene's Unholy Grail, it works amazing with Torment for reasons that are too good to be true. The item deals flat damage AND amplifies all damage you deal onto them, just like Torment. You will deal so much more damage onto them, you don't even need a Rabadon's Deathcap! Definitely an item worth considering.

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Guardian Angel
A very powerful defense item. In fact this could be your only defense item in the whole game (though not the wisest choice). This is basically the ultimate survival item for carries (inb4 Zhonya's Hourglass. If you feel that you are just dieing too much, then consider this item. It'll give a great boost to your defense stats and revive you upon dieing. Makes assassination a lot easier.

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Quicksilver Sash
It's Cleanse as an item, enough said. Get this if you're constantly getting hit by powerful crowd controls (ex. if the opposing team have a Malzahar and/or Warwick that are going to hunt you until you are dead). If it's not a lot of CC, you can just get Banshee's Veil, but just another option. Best not to get this item too early however, as you'll lose a lot of your damage output. Just this or Cleanse for these situations. You may even want to turn this into a Mercurial Scimitar for the lols if you've completed your build.

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Frozen Heart
ONLY GET THIS ITEM IF LITERALLY NO ONE ON YOUR TEAM WILL GET IT AND YOUR OPPONENTS HAVE LIKE 4 PHYSICAL DAMAGING CHAMPIONS! It gives a huge mana pool which you don't actually need, a load of armor, a nice amount of cool-down reduction and AoE attack speed reduction. But it doesn't give any damage! Zhonya's Hourglass is by far a much better option. However, it's still "slightly" viable, so I think it's considerable.Very situational and close to not viable at all.

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Void Staff
It's +35% magic penetration. I see little reasoning on getting this item as you should be focusing the carries. If the carries REALLY have that much magical resistance you could go for a Abyssal Scepter instead. If they have over 140 magic resistance (which on carries I think is very rare), then blow them up and get this item. Still very glass cannon, but since you have a few AoE skills, it's considerable. Viable, but not preferred.

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Rylai's Crystal Scepter
A strong item indeed, but most definitely not core on Swain. This item would replace Rod of Ages in the main build if you decide to use it. If you think Athene's Unholy Grail is enough mana for you and you're going to go carry-hard mode, then by all means take this item. I'd just prefer Rod of Ages over Rylai's Crystal Scepter because personally Swain already has enough CC. Rod of Ages will give more health and mana to guarantee ultimate sustain for Ravenous Flock. Viable, but not preferred.

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Rabadon's Deathcap
A great item for Swain, although the Season 3 nerfs makes this item shine a lot less. Only boasting 120 AP (20 more than Deathfire Grasp and Zhonya's Hourglass), it still gives a large amount of AP into you. However, you already deal so much damage that this item is no longer needed on Swain. Other items that help your damage and make you tankier are better (in this case even Deathfire Grasp has more potential). However, it's still not a bad item if you want to nuke some crazy balls off your opposing players. Just I don't feel like investing a large amount of gold into this.

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Will of the Ancients
This item continues to be great. With so many people still running Ignite running around the place, this item isn't as bright as it used to be. However, it's still a beast item when combined with Zhonya's Hourglass and Ravenous Flock. It's a situational item, but can be used to replace many items in the main build. Still extremely good and on par with the rest of the items, definitely still a strong choice in Season 3.

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Archangel's Staff/Seraph's Embrace
If you're playing a winning lane, then you could get a Tear of the Goddess. On Swain, it's a lot easier to farm up maximum charges now, so getting a Seraph's Embrace isn't a bad idea. The main problem in getting this item in Season 2 was it was a glass cannon item that gave no defenses. However, Seraph's Embrace's active gives a shield by draining 25% of your mana and using that as the shield. A viable option, though I myself still dislike getting it.


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Health: , , ,

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Armor: , .

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Magic Resistance: , ( ), , ,

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We have a large arsenal of possible item choices for Swain. Some work better than others, and some, not so good. Prior to the massive amount of choices for AP, we have a decent amount of armor and magic resistance and health options as well. Your choices can change the game, so make wise ones! The above items are all the items that suit Swain most and are most effective compared to other items. As long as you remember that Swain plays the AP carry role. If you prefer someone more tanky, then go for Galio instead, because Swain is NOT and I repeat NOT meant to be played anywhere near tanky. He's just naturally good at survivability, and we want to amplify his naturally tankiness with items that'll not only help us become harder to kill, but also items that will boost up Swain's damage output.


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Countering




So, now let's learn some of the more important facts: COUNTERING THE OPPONENTS BUILD. You should probably check what your opponents are getting AT LEAST once per 30 seconds or per minute. It's good to analyze possibilities and what they're trying to do. We'll have a look at this now.

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Banshee's Veil
Man this item will piss you off the most. To be able to negate ONE spell is pretty deadly, not even including the magic resistance it gives already. It forces you to use a skill to remove that shield. If possible, ask your teammates to use a weak skill against that champion to remove the active.
COUNTER WITH: Void Staff and Deathfire Grasp

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Mercurial Scimitar
Just like Quicksilver Sash, this item spells disaster for your team's crowd-controls. If you find this item on the ADC, you will probably have to force its activation with Decrepify or Nevermove, so that your team has free reign to cast CC at the carry. Not to mention it hits relatively hard.

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Warmog's Armor
If they decide to go healthy mode, then it shouldn't be much of a problem. More health just mean they'll be more durable, and thus will also be strong against DPSers as well. In this case, get more damage output.

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Quicksilver Sash
This will stop them from being snared by Nevermove. There isn't anything you can do to stop them from removing crowd control, except by adding MORE crowd control because unlike Cleanse, it doesn't decrease the duration of other crowd controls placed afterwords.

If you have trouble countering a specific item or even a champion, let me know and I may put it here in this section.


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Gameplay


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Focus on last-hitting with your auto attacks. Try not to have a full mana gauge. If you do, throw a Torment and your lane opponent. Because Carrion Renewal will refund your mana easily, spamming skills is no problem, but don't drop too low. Keep at least 50% of your mana as Swain, because you want to have enough mana to use a full combo (when your jungler ganks). A good way to prevent ganks is to always pretend that the enemy jungler is in one of the bushes. This will help you from overextending. If you see the enemy jungler (by means of wards or they are ganking a dfiferent lane), you can attempt to 1v1 your lane opponent. If you know you won't win, this would be a good time to call for some back up.

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Around level 6~11 (or when you go B), you should buy 1 or 2 Sight Wards so that you can monitor the top and bottom brush. This will give your team a lot more map control of the location, and also you will know when their jungler will gank you. Otherwise, you can follow the same steps as the early game. If you notice your opponent playing safely, you can attempt to harass them and deal a large amount of damage. You want them to be scared of you, not think you're some harmless tanky champion.


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So you want to try to outfarm your lane opponent, check how many more kills/CS you have then them. If you are behind, then they're out-laning you, and you want your jungler to gank for you. Request a gank and hopefully you will get a kill or assist. Remember that Ravenous Flock is a short cool-down ultimate, so DON'T HESITATE TO USE IT . Late game is all about warding, you want to control Baron and Dragon, and you want to have a good lane sustain. If your turret has already been destroyed, be wary for ganks from other lanes, so read chat and see if they are M.I.A. You should also be watching the map, constantly aware of who can be seen on the field of justice. "Oh, I noticed that their entire team isn't on the minimap, I think they could be at dragon!" This is an example of what you should be doing (hopefully the jungler and the support are getting wards, but you should be as well!)

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There are a few things that you should be doing in a team fight:
  • You should be taking out their carries: Hit them with a Nevermove and they'll be in a good position for your team to destroy. Try as hard as you can to ignore the tanks and go for the carries/support. They are (usually) the squishiest chamipon, and you should have no problem taking them out quickly. Remember that if your health is low during the process and drops to a critical point, activate Zhonya's Hourglass to quickly regain some health. Then proceed to your goal.
  • Hopefully, you shouldn't be dieing: Keep a close eye on your position, and constantly analyze their team to see who is missing. Don't overestimate yourself, because even though you are tankier then most carries, you can still die. A single CC that hits you can spell trouble, because you will not be able to activate Zhonya's Hourglass and your ultimate may not be on. If you're about to get hit by a silence/etc, then quickly use Ravenous Flock. Once it's on, the only thing that will turn it off is either you reactivating the skill or you don't have enough mana to suffice.

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A few things are needed to be kept in mind when you're ganking the side lanes.
  • How much damage needs to be done
  • The most precise vs the most damage
If you gank and land Torment first, then the enemy will be quite aware and will know to dodge that Nevermove/ Decrepify before the gank is even successful. If you want a quick assassination, then lead with Decrepify then Torment. Then once you're sure, aim down your Nevermove and snare them for a guarantee lock-down. If you're going for damage, then use Torment first to make the rest of your damage.


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Conclusion




I would like to say that the amount of trouble this guide has put me through definitely was a pain, but now that it's finished, it's out for you guys! Remember that if you have any questions or feedback, please leave them in the comment section. I love feedback and always appreciate what you guys have to say. Tell me if I have anything to improve you know? For this guide, my other one(s), and for future ones as well! I hope you all learned something from this guide too! This is a guide that I want everyone to appreciate, so do please leave comment, feedback, errors and places I need to update. Your ideas, insights and opinions are greatly helpful because I want this to be the guide that people can go to and learn the most out of it. That's all a guide is for, to learn, improve, and to be the best player you can be! Remember to check out my other guides! =)!

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Special thanks to:

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jhoijhoi, for your great "Making a Guide" Guide that helped me learn how to code my guides!
Moonedge, for support and encouragement.
Searzocom, for support and inviting me to join the Mobafire community.
Keondre(Kat), for the outro banner and without, this wouldn't have been completed.

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Guide History


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It's not a matter of time, it's only a matter of when. I decided that this guide has been out for a while, so it should have a guide history shall it not? It's been through quite a bit and I'm impressed to see it still standing strong. Now, I present to you the history of the guide!

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(Credits to subzero9285 for this video, song by Two Steps from Hell, song called "Enigmatic Soul")

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Just a few comments!

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This guide...

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LAST UPDATE: OCTOBER 29, 2013


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LOG




January, 29, 2012 / My Swain Guide is released on Mobafire
January, 30, 2012 / Revamped the Defense Mastery Tree
February, 10, 2012 / Fixed some issues/bugs
/ Added some more details to Skill Sequence and Masteries
May 31, 2012 / MAJOR guide update completed
June 11, 2012 / Fixed some coding and spelling errors
September 22, 2012 / Update
December 27, 2012 / Season 3 Update
July 12, 2013 / Item Update


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