Build Guide by TheWorldAsunder
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Swain: The Hobbling Carry
He can carry, even when his team feeds!
Here's a score sheet from a couple games recently.
All of Swain's abilities are DoTs. As such, Ignite is great to have with them as it's the same range, and stacks on the regular DoT damage. Ignite is a no brainer.
I find this amazing for mobility, and gives you all the early game ganks you need for mejai's. You can also take ghost or flash here for getting away, though. But I find you'll rarely need it once you have spi visage and another health item.
This passive is amazing for early game laning. You can harass a whole lot more if you're last hitting well.
Decrepify AKA Laser Bird:
This skill is great early game to help a teammate in a lane harass, as well as slow them down if you're in a solo lane. However, it's not your main damage skill, so it isn't amazing to prioritize over torment.
Your basic root. Does good damage with high AP, but still torment is better to prioritize.
This move is amazing. It does some high damage, and causes all of your other abilities to do even more.
Ravenous Flock (Ult):
This move is one of my favorites in the game. It gives you immense lifesteal, extra damage, and with a spirit visage on, can save you from MANY situations. Use it if you ever find yourself running, or if you're low on health in a lane and have mana. Popping it can cause you to gain almost half your health in a couple seconds in a good size group. Also- if running past the ghosts or the wolves away from someone, and you have enough for ult, pop it. 4/3 crows at once can get you plenty of health back.
Your opener varies. If they are already slowed, hit them with torment first, if they aren't you can use Nevermove or Laser bird to stop them. Preferably nevermove, so that you can torment then shoot your laser bird, but if they're moving fast, laser bird can cause it to be MUCH easier to land root.
Option 1 (Enemy is slowed already):
E->Q->W (Predict movement)
Option 2 (Enemy isn't slowed, or is standing out of E/Q range):
Option 3 (Enemy isn't slowed, but is just within range of E/Q):
Remember- USE YOUR IGNITE. If ignite is up, throw it at the end of any of these combos if you think it'll land a kill.
WHEN YOU HAVE ULT:
Ult WILL give you extra damage if your opponent doesn't look like he's about to die from just the dot. Even just 1 crow can be the extra 100 damage. So throw out your ult if you don't think it'll work, and chase, hope for 2 crow hits, and maybe an auto attack.
Swain like any caster needs spell pen. So that was an easy choice. Ability power was another easy one considering everyone can use some extra. As for CDR: Swain's skills have a short timer, but note, he's generally throwing them all at once on one target. With enough CDR (These runes + visage and maxed mejai) he can throw them out, and quickly have enough to throw at another target. So it's a great thing to have CDR on him.
Health, MP/5 and AP are all things Swain needs. This is probably his best starting item. Along with that, you can take a health pot with it, in case you mess up in your harass, and get hurt.
Swain is an EXCELLENT early game harass. If you're not doing massive damage to them early game, you're probably doing something wrong, or you're laning against vlad. (Which Swain should never do.) As such, you'll probably be getting first blood, or at the least an early kill unless you're stuck with a really bad partner. Especially at level 6, when many will underestimate your ult's lifegain, and you can almost stand right next to another champ in ult with your dots on them. You'll probably win. As such, taking mejai's early really benefits Swain if he can get his stacks up even to 2 by level 8ish, he's set to do really well. Of course, if you're having a ton of problems getting a kill, don't get mejai's, opt for getting your arch first.
Magic pennnnnnn. Nuff said.
Extra mana, good MP/5.. It's a great item, take it.
Oh god, take this item, please. It makes you stay alive MUCH longer in any fight, as you have extra health, and your ulti gets a huge boost off it. Along with that, you get nice CDR for exactly the reasons I listed for the runes above. I love spi visage on Swain more than you know.
We're getting into optional item territory. Rylai's isn't NEEDED, but it is a great item for Swain. It gives you extra survivability, and some good extra damage with a slow. I MAY take rod of ages here though, instead, for some extra mana with the extra health. If there's a tank you're having trouble with, skip over Rylai and get a void.
This item IS completely optional. You can take plenty of things here. I put void because there's likely a tank on their team you're having trouble with. If that's the case, void is great to deal with him.
Here's some suggestions for other items I like in this last slot, though:
This makes you really hard to kill what with all the health you got before. Taking it here is a good thing.
If their team has disables, banshee can help. If you're having a real tough time earlier in the game, put it earlier in the build, and skip over an item, progressing normally after you have it.
Rod of Ages:
AP, Health AND Mana? Yes. This is good. However, you may want to get it earlier, as with banshee's.
Yes, it seems weird, but this is actually a good item on swain. If their whole team is melee dps, DEFINITELY GET IT. If most of their team is, you can decide. It's also THE anti yi of the game. If you get this, and you get even more money, sell spirit visage and get a Warmog's armor, too. The warmog's plus thornmail makes you outlive almost anyone that would melee you, and with 20 stacks + mejai + archangel, you're doing quite a bit of DPS too.
Pure AP. That's the only reason.
Head to whatever lane you want. Mid is good for swain, and I'd take the same items (Doran and health pot) regardless of which lane I went. If you're doing a sidelane, try to secure bushes with your partner. His root is GREAT to use from the bushes, then rush in for laser bird and torment. If not in sides, just keep harassing with laser bird when you can. Note: Whenever you hit with laser bird, try to get a couple auto attacks in. Don't try to push too hard, but do remain aggressive. If they can out range you though, and you have a life lead, let them start moving toward you, then move toward them with a laser bird ready. If they can out range and they have a life lead, just stay back and last hit a ton. Stick by tower if you have to. Your first trip back should net you mejai's and if you're lucky, boots too. With those two, you can be a bit more aggressive. Once you have ult, you can be even more aggressive, and pop it whenever you need health. If both enemies in the lane move toward you to focus, ALWAYS POP ULT. They may never make it to you, but having ult out before they're on you will let you live through plenty of ganks.
Once you have sorc shoes, start moving to other lanes and getting ganks, build the mejai's stacks as best you can.
Hopefully you have mejai's stacks now. If not, don't worry, once you have spi visage, you'll be able to live better, and can likely get some kills in. Keep moving around, working on your build, and ganking with your team. Remember to use ult and ignite like I suggest.
Stay behind your tank, but always root people whenever you can, and always throw torment and laser bird on anyone in range. If they move to focus you, pop ult and run back. If they are starting to run low on health, pop ult and move forward, trying to root them or laser bird them.
EXTRA SPECIAL NOTE:
Blue buff is your best friend. It will let you hold ulti on for a very very long time. Grab it whenever you think you'll need a sustained ult.