Build Guide by snowfreak13
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.
Welcome to my Swain build! This is my first build and while it may not work for some it has definitely proven it's worth to me on every occasion.
BUT FIRST: Please realize that a good build does not a champion make. My point is that even if you grab all of these items, you may not be doing all that great. On the flip-side, if you are regularly getting trashed as swain; these items will help take the sting off, but can not simply turn a game around.
But if you'd like to play a nice tanky-caster who is absolutely disgusting when fed then I suggest trying this build.
Pros / Cons
What's Swain like? Is he worth all that IP?
I'd recommend waiting for a Swain free-week if you are unsure, but if you like casters then make the plunge and grab him. Swain hovers between burst and dots damage and also has a bit more tankability than the average caster.
Great Harasser (especially early game)
Great Survivability (mid-late game)
CC, Damage, Heal, and Mana Replenishment built in
Absolutely OP if fed or given a level advantage
Can clear creeps reasonably well late game (armies/super minions)
Can not take a tower
Not easy to turn a bad game into a good one (bad swain is bad, good swain is good, not much turnaround)
Goes down quickly if focused by enemy team
Absolutely gets murdered by ganks unless CD's are up.
Mana problems during teamfights (UNLESS BLUE BUFF)
Can not nuke tanks very easily (neither can anyone else though...)
Swain's runes have some wriggle room, as do his masteries, so if you find one set not working for you I suggest trying the others.
NOTE: You'll see I used two different quints and seals. While you can dual/mix like that, I'd recommend going one way or the other. As Swain you WILL have mana problems unless you are playing carefully or grabbing blue buff at all times. His passive helps, but not enough to offset your nukey spellcasting.
That being said, I still prefer the Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power and the Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration Late game it doesn't matter too much, but the early AP will help you deal a bit more damage (and thus survive) since I don't buy any early AP. The MPen is just necessary for a caster, but you can do well with more or less of it. Really depends how you're doing in game, when it's too late to change. More Mpen will help you destroy the tougher, tankier targets. More AP is just straight damage for Swain. Mana regen equates to survivability.
Masteries are pretty standard. Definitely take the 9 in Offense for the spellpen, it will help you incredibly as the game goes on. For those <30's using this build, I highly recommend taking the 9 in Offense and taking the rest in Utility as you level up.
Now here is where you make a choice. A tanky Swain can do Defense instead of Utility but I strongly recommend NOT doing that. Swain is tanky, but he is not a tank. He should not be played as such but late-game you might find yourself being thrown into the role. Let your tank tank, and you will murder the team one by one while he does.
The 21 in Utility can be changed depending on what you like. If you find yourself not grabbing blue buff that often, don't get the points in neutral buffs. If you use ghost instead of flash, swap out the points, etc. That path is what works for me, but if something different seems to help you, don't hesitate to use that instead.
The one thing I will recommend switching is experience. If you seem to have trouble with your early game, put the 4 points in exp gain. While it is a bit of a 'waste' since those 4 points won't be used once you hit 18, it is worth it. I've already got 3 there, mostly for survivability. As Swain you will be harassing a lot, and thus making your opponents recalling constantly (or dying). The points will help you get a level advantage, which is something that Swain should never, ever, ever, be allowed to get. A level advantage of 2 or 3 levels will allow you to absolutely decimate squishies, go head to head with tanks, and pull off some double or triple kills depending on the situation. So if you are having trouble, just waste that extra point to get the exp.
This is the bread and butter, this is where I teach you how to Swain.
A few keypoints to remember:
Swain can't burst as well without being fed or having level advantage
Out of mana = dead
Ganked without mana or CD's = dead
This is your passive. It'll refill your mana on last-hits and champion kills. It's nice and you'll definitely notice it helping you. You absolutely NEED to take advantage of this. Between this and your ultimate you can sustain in a lane VERY well if you play it right. Use this as often as possible.
Your Q. This is actually your main damage dealer, believe it or not. It'll do decent damage as well as slow the enemy until they break the chain. By itself it is decent, does really well with some AP and Torment.
Your W. This is your snare. It does some damage but not enough. You want to use this to snare enemies so you can pounce on them. On the flipside, use this when getting chased or ganked to give yourself a two-second headstart.
Your E. THIS is probably your most important skill. It doesn't do much damage initially, but it is a wonderful DoT to have on your opponent. It will often make them over-extend because they don't see an initial hit in their health from it. Great to be used as a second ignite as well, if they are running away at very low health, hit them with this and let it finish them off. The awesome part though, is that it makes you do extra damage % to the opponent you hit. This is why Swain rules at 1v1. You can easily destroy a single opponent with this ability in conjunction with the rest.
This is the skill the enemy will call OP if you are winning. You deal decent damage (very good damage with AP and Torment.) But the big one is that this move heals you for a percentage of the damage it does. So the more AP you stack, the more this heals you, increasingly unkillable you become. Let's say you are facing a Tristana alone. You barely kill her, only 200 or so life to spare. you recall to base, grab an AP item like Amplifying Tome and come back. Tristana rushes you again. You are now doing slightly more damage with all of your abilities, as well as healing for slightly more the entire time. This is how Swain gains momentum. Never hesitate to use this.
I start with to harass easier. is not good by itself, and at level 1 it will easily be broken out of. is good for helping your team gank, but I do not recommend it as you are squishy and cannot harass in your lane until level 2.
Regardless, I start with , Grab , , then max and with a point in whenever I'm forced to.
is NOT a priority. It deals decent damage but it is not your main damage ability. It is your snare. The entire point of Nevermove is to snare them so that you can unload everything else on them. Maxing it or leveling it early will just cause you mana problems.
You want to last-hit creeps and try to keep your lane centered. You don't want to push up against their tower because you can NOT towerdive until late game. Also you don't want a huge amount of creep between you and them by being pushed back to your tower. Last-hit minions and throw your at them if they get a bit too close. Always hit and run. Do NOT go for a kill. You'll get it, just wait.
Once you hit level 3-4 you are ready for a kill. You want to hit minions and autoattack like a boss. Yeah I said it. I know you should only last-hit, but this is your moment to troll a first blood. You want to auto-attack minions and have your clicked and ready, on the edge of it's range. Try to center it on the edge of your range, so that half of it goes farther than you can cast.
When they walk into that, snare them. Now, they got a nice slap in the face and they are kind of nervous, but here is where you do the damage. Don't **** this part up.
You want to hit them with your followed immediately by your . them, then auto-attack as much as you can without risking serious injury (<50% health). They will die. Your burst damage is amazing against a single target.
Okay so remember how you totally owned that Malzahar at mid? Yeah I do, **** was so cash. Now you want to do that to 1-2 champions throughout the game, but with your ultimate on. GG. Now you're winning with Swain. If you aren't fed or out-leveling the other team, focus on single targets. Swain is incredible at decimating a single enemy who is alone, so gank often and gank well.
NOTE: The MOST important thing with Swain is to be fed or have level advantage. Without it you can survive and deal damage, but you won't be able to grab kills nearly as easily. If you can get a few kills before the game turns into teamfights, you will snowball into a killing machine. Swain is all about momentum. Recall as little as possible, even if you have a few thousand gold. The level advantage with Swain is top priority, with (not) dying in second, and items in third. Oh and your teammates. They're in there too.
Really up to your preference, as it doesn't matter too much on Swain (or any champ for that matter).
I prefer and because Ignite helps me get kills early on (and does more damage after your E!!!!!). Flash is just my preferred escape ability, as well as letting you get close for surprise burst damage.
is a viable substitute for Flash if you prefer it.
Don't take any of the team skills, you aren't support, you need to survive and deal damage.
is the big one. I've been struggling with this one for a while. As Swain, you will inevitably run into mana problems. But these problems normally arise after a double kill, or a teamfight. As in, you're going to be recalling anyway. You also have that wonderful passive which makes Clarity almost completely useless until late-game. BUT, if you prefer it, go for it. Swain is very mana-dependent so it does have it's uses, I just can't recommend it over the early-kills with Ignite or the escape of Flash. If there were 3 summoner spells, I'd take Clarity.
Items are very important on Swain, and the right mix can push his balance in different directions. If you build healing/armor you will become VERY tanky for a spellcaster. AP will make you win. Mana/MRegen are both very important as well.
So! What to start with; I prefer starting with a as well as a
From there I build it into Philosopher's Stone as soon as possible, with enough money for by first recall. You want to hold on to Philosopher's Stone as long as you can, but do not hesitate to sell it. If you are only 200 gold or so from a finished item, then sell it. Otherwise I would keep it until you are grabbing your 6th item. It gives decent regens to help you out as well as the extra gold.
Here is where you make your first choice. While I highly recommend getting early one because of your often ganks and harasses, it is NOT worth it if you think you will do poorly. I've played many a game without it because I thought I would do poorly and you will not be hurt by passing on it. Do not risk or waste the money on it if you think you might do bad. In fact, if you are just starting with Swain, do not get it at all. Until you know what you are doing, Mejai's will hurt more than it will help. I always see people rush it (sometimes as first item) but then lose stacks throughout the game anyway. To reiterate; this is a definite buy if you are doing well, but if you expect to die/lose stacks do not bother.
If you don't grab it, get a instead, to add to your healing factor as well as buff your teammates a tad.
Now regardless of your Mejai's choice, you want to grab next. This will help offset your mana problems as well as raise your max mana while you harass! Eventually it will give you some pretty decent AP as well. Turn your boots into if you have the extra gold as well.
Now note: these items were chosen because I play with mostly AP runes (as stated above). Early game, without these runes, you will have trouble grabbing kills. throwing an in there is not a terrible idea if you are playing without the runes. You'll use it eventually anyway, so no worries.
So your Core build is Philosopher's Stone--> --> with an optional Mejai's Soulstealer in there. From that you expand according to your gold and how the game is going.
If you are having trouble and dying often and will help you survive without giving you unneeded stats. Spirit Visage will help you heal for more as well as lower your CD's. Rylai's Crystal Scepter will add slow to your ult and your everything else as well as give you a nice health boost. If they have a lot of CC buy Mercury's Treads instead. Swain is slow and relies on AP and Mana to survive (via his ultimate).
If you are doing well and being fed, follow recommended. When you are having little to no problem you want to rush straight AP and keep your damage output insane. This will make the enemy team fear you and most likely focus you. Continue to get easy kills on single targets and try not to tank in teamfights.
If the team is Ignite heavy or has champs like Miss Fortune, Gangplank, etc. buy a to help you get rid of those pesky healing reductions.
Now once you have some decent AP, your most important item is . Zhonya's is incredibly useful on most champs but goes to a whole 'nother level on Swain. Swain's Ravenous Flock will KEEP HEALING YOU WHILE ZHONYA'S IS ACTIVE. What this means is that if you DO get ganked, you have a chance at walking away from a 4v1. It also means that you can use it as a second life in teamfights. Be aggressive and once your health gets low, pop Zhonya's and your ult will keep damaging them as well as heal you up. VERY useful but unfortunately won't help too much without AP. Not an item to rush. Get it mid-game if you're doing well; if not, save it for late-game when you have the gold.
Swain is less about buying items according to the situation and more about what you can afford to get at the time. This item build is expensive and very rarely will you end up finishing it with 5k to spare. That being said, if I'm 25/0 or something, I just start switching out items for . Adding movement speed is a good call as well with or something, because Swain is very bad at chasing (that cane doesn't help much, does it?)
Swain is a bursty tanky caster. You are squishy, but can heal like a BOSS with some decent AP. Level advantage and being fed will make it easier to get level advantage and get fed (see what I did there?) Swain is a champion that snowballs very easily. Get a few kills before level 10 and the game will go great for you.
AP, Mana, and MPen are what you need for items and runes.
To get kills: W-->R-->E-->Q-->Ignite
Any comments or suggestions are welcomed but what I would love EVEN MORE would be typo's as well as complaints. Tell me what you think is wrong or what you don't like and I will do my best to rectify it or decrepify it.