Build Guide by LordSlash
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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.
Hello. My name is LordSlash, but you can call me Slash to spare the formalities. You may remember me from such great films as, "Citizen Slash", "Slashablanca", or "A Slashwork Orange". Such appearances really established my career as a famous actor, and I bask in their filming memories each day.
I'm actually a League of Legends player, just like you, obviously. I'm a nobody, and my skills are sub-par, but I like to think that I know the champions I do quite well. Swain is an example. While I only play in the 1500 range in ranked, I feel my knowledge of Swain and his mechanics can be adapted for use at almost any ELO. Try for yourself.
I'm going to have tons of raging caster players breathing down my neck over some of these selections. I understand why very well. Many of you are oh so used to your bountiful mana regen seals, and your tenacious magic pen quints. However, using these does not supplement one of Swain's biggest weaknesses:
He is a horrible laner until level 6.
Yep, you heard me. Swain is a bad laner until he gets his Ravenous FlockFLYING GREEN BIRDS OF D0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000M to replenish his health at his own whim. All you can do is sit and last hit in lane while trying to get some harassment off. You can't go and tower dive at level 3 like other zealous champions who shall not be named... *cough*
So, what will we do to supplement his laning as well as support his role as a caster overall?
Greater Mark of Magic PenetrationMagic penetration marks. This should be really obvious and straightforward. If you don't understand why a caster would take magic pen, you may want to read another guide. Just saying.
Greater Seal of ArmorArmor seals. I know this is the one that's going to get me a bunch of downvotes, but whatever. I'll explain. Swain needs to be able to endure his lane. Since the practical scenario for Swain is a solo lane, chances are, you'll be put against an unfriendly enemy AD carry. But hey, it's cool, you can take more hurt from them thanks to your armor seals!
"BUT SLASHIE, WHAT ABOUT MY MANA REGEN!"
You silly goose. Why would you need mana regen when you have a passive as great as Swain's? All you need to do is make sure you're last hitting as much as possible and mana should never be an issue. Besides, you have the mana regen mastery.
Greater Glyph of Cooldown ReductionFlat cooldown reduction glyphs. Swain's spells are on rather irksome cooldowns. To be able to dish out more damage, you need more spells to dish it with. This will enable that.
Greater Quintessence of HealthFlat health quintessences. These are great on just about everyone, although some may prefer penetration quints over these, depending on their champion. An extra 78 health easily supplements any major early laning issues a Swain may have.
Start with a Doran's Ring. This provides a chunk of everything useful to you; mana regen, health, and AP. What's not to love?
Next, after you've farmed a while, go ahead and buy a catalyst the protector. This gives you amazing lane staying power because upon level up, you gain extra health and mana. You can spam spells and trade blows one second, then be back to full the next. Plus, you need this to make your Rod of Ages. But don't worry about finishing it just yet.
It's almost mandatory you get Boots of Speed now. Your opponent in lane will be getting them right around now, and you can't afford to have them faster than you if you want to have even a chance of landing Nevermove.
After the boots, buy a Needlessly Large Rod. This gives you a huge, early chunk of AP to begin "doing work", as they say. You won't finish your Rabadon's Deathcap just yet, though. Patience, my little pet. You need to finish those ratty boots you've been sporting all this time.
If they have a threatening anti-mage caster opposing you, such as Kassadin or Malzahar, it could be worthwhile to pick up sorcerer's shoes.
If they have a good amount of CC, Mercury's Treads are a necessary purchase.
If they have a standard and balanced looking team, don't be afraid to buy Ionian Boots of Lucidity. Remember, the more spells you can cast, the higher your damage output.
Let's look back at that rod giving you that unsettling chunk of AP. It's time we made it give you an uncomfortable chunk of AP. Complete your Rabadon's Deathcap.
Then, finally finish your Rod of Ages. This will give you some beefiness, as well as other mage stats that increase over time. It only takes about 10 minutes to reap full benefit, so you can usually afford to hold its completion off this long.
Your next item will be a Banshee's Veil. This is such a universal defensive item. It gives you magic resist for your pesky Ryze nemesis on the other team, HP for beefiness, mana for your spells, and a big "screw you" to one spell. Quite a nice deal for this guy.
Don't worry! You're almost done now! Buy a Zhonya's Hourglass to give you sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card, so to speak. You can run into the other team rambo style, pop your ult, then pop the active of this item while your team pummels them. While I don't generally condone this sort of -reckless- type of approach, that's just one of the many uses for the invulnerability active of this item. Never forget you have it. It could be what saves you from that meanie Karthus' Requiem.
Lastly, purchase a Void Staff. Let's be honest. It's so, so, so late in the game now. Jimbo on the other team there's got brick walls of MR. You need SOMETHING to counter it! Never fear, Void Staff is here.
"But Slaaaaaash, why no archangel's staff?"
Silence, troll. I shall answer you. It's just that....archangel's is bad. Not just on Swain. It's bad as an item in general. It gives you a little bit of mana that could take all game to expand, and a little bit of AP. Not to mention it gives no survivability or anything special like that. Truly a terrible buy.
"Well okay, but why no rylai's? Is it bad, too?"
Well, no. It isn't. It's just that Swain already has a slow and a snare. Mages should only purchase rylai's if they have no reliable CC of their own as it is. Mordekaiser and Vladimir are the first to come to mind that can be categorized like this.
Level your TormentE up first. When you do that, you cause all your spells to cause more damage after the initial collision of your E. This makes it so you seem to level all your skills at once.
Level your Decrepify up second. This gives you more damage over time, and increases your CC strength.
Level your Nevermove last. You only need 1 point in it. It may increase well in damage with further ranks into it, but Q is more reliable for primary damage output because unlike W, it cannot miss.
Obviously, take points into your Ravenous Flock whenever possible.
I always use Ghost and Ignite.
Swain has no extra mobility or methods of escape, so he needs the speed of ghost quite often.
Ignite synergizes very well with his damage-over-time moveset. I feel very improper when I play Swain without this.
If you're doing draft mode, and it looks like your lane will be exceptionally hard, it's alright to take Teleport instead of ignite, as long as you feel it will significantly improve your lane performance. Don't use it regularly, however, as Ignite is superior in most situations.
"But Slaaaaaaaaaaaaaash, why no flash?"
Flash is for burst casters like Anivia, not damage over time assailants such as Swain.
All in all, Swain is a great champion. He can lane well beyond a certain point, and he can carry games quite easily if he is played well. Read this guide and its setups, then try them for yourself. You never know, you may find a lucky feather for yourself.
Anyways, thanks for reading, and please don't forget to rate and comment. Seriously. I'll hunt you down and hold your socks hostage if you do. That's right. I'll even hold onto Mr. Footsie. But enough of that, how about you? What do you think of all this?