Build Guide by Bobbeth
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.
Changes09/01/2011 - Removed Zhonya's Ring from Non-Core item list and added Zhonya's Hourglass and Rabadon's Deathcap.
THIS BUILD IS JUST ONE OF THE WAYS TO PLAY SWAIN AND MAY NOT BE SUITED FOR EVERYONE
IntroductionHello and welcome to my guide on how I play Swain. Stated above, this guide features a build that may or may not suit you depending on your playstyle. Before you start reading, be warned of the gigantic wall of text below. Feel free to share any feedback in the comment section.
Why play Swain?You may have heard many things about Swain such as he is not viable in the current metagame, or that his AP ratios are terrible. I would say that most of these statements are false. Swain is very underrated in my opinion, but he is nowhere near overpowered at his current state. Just a quick list of his pros and cons:
- Good in all types of lanes
- Flexible with items
- Excels in most 1v1 fights
- Not useless in team fights
- Can be built an offtank
- Very mana hungry
- Slightly slow for escaping ganks
- Short range on abilities
- May be tricky to find a balance of AP and health
Jericho Swain, The Master TacticianSwain is similiar in playstyle to Ryze. His pokes usually consists of bombing the enemy with spell combos before backing off, and repeat once his cooldowns are finished.
Passive - Carrion Renewal(Innate): Whenever Swain kills an enemy unit, he recovers 10 - 27 mana (+1 each level).
- Carrion Renewal now restores mana instantly.
Q - Decrepify(Active): Swain sets his raven to cripple an enemy. Over the next 3 seconds, the target takes 25-85 (+0.3 per AP) damage over time and is slowed by 20%-32%.
- Ability power ratio increased to 0.9 from 0.75.
W - Nevermove(Active): Swain marks a target area. After a short delay, mighty talons grab hold of enemy units dealing 80-240 (+0.7 per AP) damage and rooting them for 2 seconds.
- Nevermove ability power ratio increased to 0.7 from 0.5.
"The odds of hitting your target goes up dramatically when you aim at it." - Mr. Fortune Cookie
E - Torment(Active): Swain afflicts his target, dealing 75-235 (+0.8 per AP) damage to them over time and causing them to take 8%-20% increased damage from Swain's attacks for 4 seconds. Damage increase applies to summoner spells and items used by Swain.
- Damage increased to 75/115/155/195/235 from 72/110/148/186/224.
- Ability power ratio increased to 0.8 from 0.6.
R - Ravenous Flock(Toggle): Swain transforms into the form of a raven, during this time up to 3 lesser ravens strike out 50-90 (+0.2 per AP) at nearby enemies each second, one raven per target. Swain is healed for half the damage dealt by the Ravens.
Probably one of my favourite, cool-looking ultimate in the game. This is what I would consider to be your most important ability. Swain just isn't Swain if he does not morph and eat enemies! Use it to finish off enemies that are weakened from your combos. Use it during team fight for continuous damage. Use it during the laning phase to recover some health. Use it while... yeah you get the point. Do note that this will drain your mana ridiculously fast, so determine how long you'll keep it on before you actually use it. Also note that you can use Zhonya's Hourglass while this is toggled on; this allows you to deal damage and heal without being killed in team fights.
A general guideline for how long you should keep it on:
- Healing/laning - No longer than 4 seconds
- Chasing enemies - No longer than 5 seconds if it doesn't target them
- Team fights - No certain time, but keep your eye on your mana; once your mana drops to around 10%-20% be ready to turn it off
MasteriesLike I said, I go for a 9/21/0 build instead of a 9/0/21 build. I feel that the defense mastery tree has more to offer than the utility mastery tree for this specific build. You can try both out and see which is more to your liking. Here's just a quick comparison of what you'll be getting and what you'll be missing with a 9/21/0 build.
- Health regeneration based on 0.3% of your total maximum mana
- 60 extra health at level 1
- Increased AP by 4% of your total AP amount (similiar to how Zhonya's Ring works)
- 4% less damage taken from any source of attacks
- 5 mana regeneration per 5 seconds
- 3% movement speed increase
- 15 second cooldown reduction on Flash
- 15% cooldown reduction on your summoner spells
- Perseverance is a terrible mastery; for every 100 regeneration per 5 you have, you'll get 4 extra regeneration per 5 only
- Expanded Mind works well with an Archangel's Staff
- Greed generates 6 gold per minute, or 360 gold per hour
RunesWhen buying runes, there is one thing you have to know: runes are imbalanced. This is why you always see certain runes in every guide.
There is no better mark for Swain than magic penetration.
- 9x Greater Mark of Insight
I have seen some people go with armor, but I feel that Swain needs that extra mana regeneration.
- 9x Greater Seal of Clarity
This is where you can choose what you want. The decision is between flat cooldown, AP per level, and mana regeneration per level.
- 9x Greater Glyph of Focus
- 9x Greater Glyph of Force
- 9x Greater Glyph of Clarity
The choices you have now is flat health, flat AP, AP per level, or a stat not found anywhere else: movement speed.
- 3x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
- 3x Greater Quintessence of Potency
- 3x Greater Quintessence of Force
- 3x Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
Summoner SpellsSummoner spells are abilities that are not unique to a champion. From a list of 13 spells, each champion can choose 2.
This summoner spell synergizes very well with Swain's E, Torment, as the damage boost applies to it as well. Ignite by itself deals 410 true damage at level 18.
Flash at one point was considered overpowered, and was debated whether it was to be removed or not. They ended up increasing the cooldown by 15 seconds, which wasn't too bad. Flash still retains its use, from escaping ganks, catching fleeing enemies, or to position yourself better in team fights.
Cleanse has been nerfed previously as well, but is still great and will almost guarantee use every game. If it wasn't for Flash, I would take this along with Ignite.
Not as good as Flash in my eyes, but some people prefer this over it. Good for chasing down fleeing enemies.
Clairvoyance is an amazing summoner spell and atleast one person should get it on each team. However, Swain is not the best candidate for that.
If you find yourself with mana problems even with mana regeneration runes, this summoner spell may be for you.
Swain isn't too fast, so this will help you get around the map.
Ones To Avoid
Your ultimate already heals you.
This spell is considered to be **** on all champions with few exceptions. Swain is not one of those exceptions.
ITS GAMETIME!Oh wait, you need to know what items you want first!
Core ItemsYou'll notice I only have 3 items in the item section above (excluding Doran's Ring). This is your core, and the items you will get first. Swain is very flexible, and I find that any other items are totally up to personal choice. But first, why are these items your core?
|Tear of the Goddess
Swain can drain mana very fast in team fights. Although he can't spam abilities to rack up mana with Tear of the Goddess like other champions, it will still slowly build up and prolong the usage of his ultimate when needed. This can later be upgraded into a Archangel's Staff for a good amount of AP.
You can pick Sorcerer's Shoes or Boots of Swiftness over this, but Mercury Treads is my boot of choice. Without Cleanse, Mercury Treads will reduce the duration of disables and possibly save your life in many situations. After all, a stunned/slowed/feared/taunted Swain is a useless Swain!
|Rylai's Crystal Sceptor
I feel that this item is a must-have for every Swain. It has a good amount of health and AP, and its unique passive is just DELICIOUS. It stacks with your Q and makes it slow your enemies even more, and makes your ultimate even more threatening. Need I say more?
Non-core ItemsThere are many, many other items that are perfectly fine on Swain. Here, I'll list ones that I find popular and useful. I'll also give them a personal rating out of 10 on how well they work on Swain.
|Zhonya's Hourglass - 9/10
With the old Zhonya's Ring removed, in comes Zhonya's Hourglass and Rabadon's Deathcap to take it's place. In my opinion, Zhonya's Hourglass is definitely more suited for Swain, as it also has armor to further bulk him up. It also saves the active that allows you to pop your ultimate in the middle of team fights and be invulnerable when you get low on health. Note that unlike Zhonya's Ring, it's active is on a 90 second cooldown instead of 60.
|Spirit Visage - 8/10
My personal favourite on any champions with a heal of some sort. I usually get this after Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This item may seem pretty lackluster at first, but look more closely! "Increases healing and regeneration on yourself by 20%". This means that your ultimate heals 20% more than the original amount. This may seem like nothing, but it helps tremendously in team fights. It also gives a small amount of cooldown reduction, which this build lacks. I gave this item an 8 just because of the common Ignite that screws all Swains over.
|Rod of Ages - 8/10
It may seem odd getting this mid/lategame, but note that it only takes 10 minutes to reach its full potential. This item has everything Swain wants: AP, health, and mana that synergizes well with an Archangel's Staff. I recommend this item if you have a spare slot for it.
|Rabadon's Deathcap - 8/10
The other item that replaced Zhonya's Ring. This gives an insane amount of AP, which is awesome if you're looking for damage and not survivability. I wouldn't prioritize this, but I would consider getting it late game when my core and some important non-core items are completed.
|Deathfire Grasp - 7/10
Some people say this is useful, others say its useless. I personally find that in a tanky metagame such as the one we're in right now, it helps a lot with taking down enemies. Note that it gets a damage boost from Swain's E, giving him another burst to use at his disposal. I gave this item a 7 just because the range of it is a little depressing, and that its only truely effective against a team full of tanks (which seems to be everywhere these days actually).
|Abyssal Scepter - 7/10
Even though it provides a good amount of AP, magic resist, and even magic reduction, I wouldn't advise getting this unless your team or their team includes many casters.
|Lich Bane - 7/10
Many recommend this item, but I am unsure of how I feel about it. On one hand it gives plenty of AP, mana, magic resist, and valuable movement speed; but on the other hand it is pretty costly. I would only get this item if your team has been unable to push the other team's towers through midgame.
|Will of the Ancients - 6/10
This item gives a decent amount of AP as well as Spell Vamp for its cost, but similiar to Abyssal Scepter, I wouldn't advise getting it unless your team includes many casters. There are better items you could be getting instead of this.
|Aegis of the Legion - 6/10
This item isn't suited for Swain; it gives no AP whatsoever. The only time I would ever get this is if your team is getting steamrolled in team fights, and no one else has bothered to buy this.
Situational ItemsThere are a few items that I want to mention that will help you greatly in certain situations.
If you find you or your team getting many kills with little or no deaths in the early game, you should rush this item; otherwise just ignore it completely. Once you're able to successfully get plenty of stacks, you can just focus on survival items like Rod of Ages instead of worrying about damage items like Deathfire Grasp.
Even with the recent nerf, Banshee's Veil continues to be a great counter against caster teams that rely on stun/snare combos. It also gives a good amount of mana and health as well as magic resist. If you need it, get this after you finish your core.
I have learned through experience that if there is a Malzahar/Warwick or a ridiculous amount of disables with you as the main target on the enemy team, you should get this item ASAP. Not being able to fight in team battles can be incredibly frustrating. This item works just like the summoner spell Cleanse except that it also clears suppresses from the two champions I just mentioned.
Early Game/Laning PhaseStart off by buying a Doran's Ring and a health potion. The Doran's Ring will give you a good start to the game with more health, AP, and some mana regeneration. After this, you have 3 types of lanes to choose from:
- Mid, or middle lane (solo)
- Bot, or bottom lane (duo)
- -If you have a jungler- Top, or top lane (1v2)
Mid GameThis is when it all starts to be about team fights and pushing. Make sure whenever your team is about to engage the other team, you're near the front; either behind the main tank or beside them. The target of your spells will be on the DPS who can deal large amounts of damage. If they happen to have a self-healer of some sort like Dr. Mundo, wait until they use their ultimate before using Ignite on them. When you find yourself fairly low health, Flash out of the battle and run around your team in circles. Hopefully the enemy will chase you allowing your team to pick them off. Whenever you can, try to pick up the Ancient Golem buff which will give you a great amount of mana regeneration. Also remind your team to ward and kill Dragon whenever it's up for the extra gold and experience.
Late GameThis is the ending phase where it is all about team fights. If one team scores an ace, the other will suffer greatly in terms of pushing, and may even spell defeat. Make sure to ward Baron to know if the other team is trying to kill it, which you would interfere and possibly even steal it. Don't try to kill it if the other team is all MIA and are not dead. There is a high chance that area is warded and they're waiting for you. Like in mid game, your focus is on the squishy on the enemy team and to disable them long enough for your team to kill them.
General Tips1. If your enemy is playing very aggresively in the laning phase, go low health and try to lure them into thinking they can kill you if they turret dive. Snare them when in range of the turret and turn on your ultimate. You should be able to score a kill or two like this.
2. Wards are fairly inexpensive for what they can do. Map awareness is very important to avoid being ganked or to know what the enemy team is up to. Locations to place wards include bushes by lanes, Dragon, Ancient Golem, and Baron. Try to get your team to share the cost of wards instead of one person buying them all.
3. Communication is very important in a team game. Call MIA (missing in action) whenever an enemy is missing from your lane, and RE (returned) when they have reappeared. Discuss who to focus before engaging in a team fight. Ping the minimap if someone seems to be wandering around in a dangerous area.
Comments and Thank YouI have put a lot of effort into organizing this guide and trying to make it easy to comprehend. I hope you have learned a little something about Swain and the many ways you can play him. Please leave and comments or feedback on the build or the guide itself in the comment section.