Swain Build Guide by xxIAMLEGENDxx
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.
ALTERNATIVE FINAL BUILD #1
ALTERNATIVE BUILD #2
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.
Introduction to The Master Tactician Guide
Good day to all the people looking a this swain build/guide. This would be my 7th one and I will be doing Swain , the Master Tactician. This is currently my favorite AP mid, and probably the only one I am good with. I am decent with other AP mids, but I rarely play it. So here is my take on Swain and I how I play him.
This guide i will be showing you right now is what I have the most success with whenever i play Swain. Please bare in mind that all of us don't have the same opinions on builds and this is just what I really think goes the best for me. The only way to know is to give it a try! If you're having some troubles feel free to PM me or maybe you just have to practice more. Don't worry no one's perfect at their first few games. However for me though, it seems like Swain got to me fairly quickly.
Chapter Under Consturction - Your Enemies For Life (Mid)
A Short Overview of Swain
The Master Tactician
Swain is a ranged mage which can deal a lot of damage when his combos are properly done and chained. Swain is weak at last hitting, and relies on basic attacks to do last hits. His nevermore is a high mana ability and has a high cooldown at early levels. Decrepify deals damage over time, so last hitting the minion with this is also not the best option. Torment can be used, but I like to conserve mana. What I like best about Swain is Ravenous Flock. This is really more of a free Spell Vamp type of ability. This gives Swain more sustain in lane and overall makes him difficult to kill in team fights. With blue buff, he is even stronger especially because he is really mana hungry. However, Swain is quite underrated and is not used too often in ranked games. A person who can play Swain properly is really viable to play him in ranked games.
Why play Swain?
Swain works best when he is in mid-lane, and can also be a top laner. Swain might take some time to master, but this is normal. Swain is really great to use and fun, he can be built with a mix of tankiness like Abyssal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass and still do a lot of damage. Adding to this is Ravenous Flock. This gives him so much more sustain in lane and survivability in fights. I have videos below for Swain. Those are 2 videos of me playing Swain and one of them is actually my third time playing him so this is when I found out I really like how he operates.
>Has a 2 second root and a slow.
>High survival in team fights
>His ulti is basically spellvamp
>Not mana hungry early-mid game
>Has awesome skins
"If you haven't yet lost the ability to ask, you may not yet ask for relief."
The earliest account of Swain's existence comes from a Noxian infirmary doctor's notes. According to them, Swain limped into the ward without cry or complaint: his right leg was snapped in half, with bone protruding from the skin. A small, scowling bird seemed affixed to his shoulder. The doctor gawked in horror as the young adolescent answered questions about his health and age with a calm, even stare. Even behind the echoing crack as the sand counterweights reset his tibia, Swain’s measuring gaze never flickered, nor did his eyes twitch from the pop of his fibula. He refused the doctor’s recommendation of magical treatment for the leg’s inoperable damage, requesting only a spare crutch before shuffling away. He next surfaced in documents from the Noxian military, although it is evident that they are incomplete. Normally a crippled boy would be turned away in shame from Noxus’ proud legion, but the records indicate his first designation was that of a ranking officer.
The men who've served under him (and survived) have remained in his charge with unshakable faith and loyalty. He leapt through the High Command's hierarchy, often ascending when superiors requested demotions to join his unit. A cunning strategist, Swain was decorated after every battle he fought, regularly hobbling in contemplation at the front of the assault. His rise to power seemed unceasing until he was suddenly relegated to inactive status prior to the Ionian Invasion - a bewildering decision which reeked of bureaucratic subversion. If Swain was upset by the events which unfolded, he never belied it. His face was so implacable that it was popularly rumored to be a mask, disguising something utterly inhuman beneath. More controversy surrounded the bird that never left his shoulder, whose name he whispered only to it. When Demacia escalated its presence in the League, Swain was immediately returned to active duty.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Magic Resist
Greater Glyph of Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power(3) Provides 14.85 AP You'll need 3 of these as it gives you that flat 15 AP which in general is good for early game domination. This will not really help you in last hitting but it will in team fights. Must have!
Greater Glyph of Ability Power (9)Grants 10.7 AP You'll need 9 of em, still the same as the quint it gives you flat AP which again helps in your overall early game domination. This is also good as you can burst down people a lot faster.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration (9)Provides 7.8 Magic Pen The reason why you get 9 of these is because you would want to shred off some of that magic resist against your matchup. It basically helps you increase your damage on them and this of course also works with everyone else on the other team. It seems like a slight amount but really helpful.
Greater Seal of Magic Resist (9) Provides 6.66 MR You would want to make sure you have these. Not only that they are flat MR seals, but they help you so much in laning phase. These are the perfect runes for you because most mids are AP.
The whole main point of this runes are : EARLY GAME DOMINATION!
As a role of an AP caster, it is best to take the21-0-9 masteries where you take 21 in offense and 9 in utility. These masteries help add a little bit more damage and also gives you a good amount of magic penetration and mana regen and max mana.
You would want to make sure that Runic Affinity is included in your masteries. It is beneficial for you as you require the blue buff. In team fights, you run out of mana very quickly as "Ravenous Flock" is an initial 25 mana per second and this adds up even more per second.
Furthermore, this is just the typical AP masteries that an AP caster would take. Since you are not going as a tank, it's not required to go 9-21-0. You just want to make sure you can deal as much damage as you can in the fights and survive.
Q > E > W ( Easy harass combo, Slow , Torment , Root)
W > E > Q > R (Root , Torment , Slow , Ulti)
Q > W > E > R (Slow, Root , Torment , Ulti - with this it's easier to land the root)
R > E > Q > W (When opponent engages, Ulti , Torment , Slow , Root especially when he runs away)
Level 1: Always start with Nevermove
Level 2: Get Torment next.
Level 3: Always get Decrepify , whatever you didn't get at level 1 and 2.
Personally, the reason why W or E is best taken first and second is because sometimes you have to look at the situation.W is best taken if you find yourself getting chased down at level 1 because of counter jungling. This is really common, especially with teams that have Morgana. With this, at least you have a chance of escaping. Just don't get yourself caught in roots, taunts or any CC. With W, you should be safe. Doesn't matter who you hit with it, as long as you don't die.
Q should be maxed lost because personally, they aren't the most useful ability for Swain to max first. This isn't his main damage dealing ability, it's Torment. Take note his nevermore might be difficult to land at times especially when the mid laner is mobile. If you're new to Swain , I suggest you try the Q > W > E > R combo. This will slow the opponent, making it easier for you to land your root then follow by your torment and ulti. Don't forget your wards.
Overall, it's best if you max your W first and then followed by your E. Just take note you alternate some of these at times because they have their own uses. A nice example is Decrepify. If you're against a Talon mid, the chances of you landing nevermore are extremely low where as Decrepify can slow him for a duration.
Useful Starting Items
Boots of Speed + 3x Health Potions are standard opening items for Swain and many champions as they give you a movement speed boost, and additional 450 HP to recover health from the damage you received from laning phase. The reason why these are the best options is because you would want movement for escaping either ganks or if you are against a high mobility champ. This is pretty much straight forward, just add a Mana Potion if you really think you need mana.
It's best having at least one Doran's Ring early game, regardless what situation you're in. I personally like to buy always 2 of these, because it gives a sufficient amount of health, AP and mana back for killing minions. Works even better with Carrion Renewal! The only time I really purchase only one is when you get an early advantage let's say two early kills. That way i'll just rush Catalyst the Protector. Also, last hitting well will definitely give you more gold so try to last hit as much as you can.
This is the item you would want to rush if you don't want to buy Doran's Ring. Really gives you good amount of health and mana which is beneficial for Swain. Adding to this, you should get Chalice of Harmony next. Really gives you that edge of having more mana regen as well as that Magic Resist which is good because you're usually against an AP matchup. Of course when you're matchup is Talon, I'd prefer getting Chain Vest over it. Finish the item by buying Rod of Ages.
Beneficial and Optional Items / Spells
Swain has a lot of other optional items. It's best to look at the situation that you are in. You maybe against many different opponents, ranging from tanks to bruisers to AP casters. Below here are some viable items for Swain but also looking in depth to the situations. Take note that not all the photos I use below are necessarily the ones I use in my build. I place the top 3-5 items with description below, these are the items that are the most beneficial. The others are just optional.
Take note: The 5 items below each chapter are not going to be your final build either, along with the boots of your choice. These are just examples of beneficial and optional items for Jayce.
|Very easily said to be the most used Summoner Spell. Flash is without a doubt a very useful spell, probably the best for almost any champ. It helps you escape, chase and chain some combos. This is possibly one of your only way to escape, especially if flashing over walls. This is really a must have.|
|Again very famous spell and probably one of the most useful again. Although they nerfed this item extra CD, it's still useful as ever. Personally i love this especially when you're in 1 v 1 situations against the top laner. Whether if it's escaping or chasing, Ignite is basically a strong spell because it deals true damage over time.|
|I really personally wouldn't get this. It's a decent spell because it gives mana but it's not really the best type of spell suitable for Swain . Besides you have Carrion Renewal + maybe one Doran's Ring. This is already good enough to have enough mana during laning phase. Again, Flash and Ignite are self-explanatory.|
|These boots give you 25 MR and a unique passive that reduces the duration of CC which is great for AP heavy teams and teams that have a lot of CC. I mean this is not bad either, but I suggest you get this if the enemy team is really that CC heavy. Malzahar , nautlius , Zyra team comp is an example.|
|This is the primary boots you would want every time. This gives you 15 magic penetration, which again works very well with your runes as well as your 8% magic penetration from your mastery page. Really there's nothing else much to talk about this because this is what every AP caster should get.|
|These boots give you 15% CD. These are still helpful for you in a way because of that CD reduction. Personally though, you don't heavily require it and you already get CD from items like Athene's Unholy Grail. Swain is more focused on dealing damage so with these boots you won't be dealing as much damage.|
|You can get this if you're desperately against a whole AD team. This will definitely help you out a ton just to cut down their damage. However, if you're match up is Talon , it doesn't necessarily mean you need Ninja Tabi. You have to look at the overall of the other team. if they're only AD is Talon then why get this?|
|This is the main item you want to buy against Heavy AD teams. This is also probably the most beneficial for Swain. This gives a huge amount of 100 AP, 50 armor and of course a unique passive rendering you invulnerable for 2.5 seconds. This will really help you especially if you're the initiator in the fight.|
|Not adviseable to buy, because it doesn't really suit Swain. But I guess you can take this because it gives armor, health and mana. Personally, I will never really buy this. It's an odd item, a mix of Chain Vest and Catalyst the Protector. I prefer buying Zhonya's and Rod of ages than this.|
|This item gives you 90 armor and 20% CD. Really personally I would not get this because it isn't the best item for Swain. Really it's still helpful because the main point her is heavy AD team. This is still viable because it gives Swain mana and CD. This is more suitable for Swain rather than a Randuin's Omen or Thornmail.|
|This is a decent item because it gives 50 AP, 30 Armor , health regen and a promote unique passive. But really this is more of a support type of item and this doesn't help you in any other way but it's AP and Armor. Also, the most important thing here is the unique passive. I don't like to push the lane.|
|This is the item you would really want for Swain. It's good for him because it gives MR, A big amount of AP and of course the unique passive reducing the MR of nearby enemies. You must add this into your build, really gives the MR you require and of course the AP. However, this item is really famous for most AP Mids.|
|Again, a very great item for Swain. Gives MR , AP , CD and a great unique passive of regenerating 12% of your max mana on kill or assist. This is really great because one assist can be as easy as one Torment you land or any of your abilities. Even one Ravenous Flock you hit is an assist as long as you kill them.|
|The reason why this item is viable is because it gives MR, CD , health and that unique passive which increases your health regeneration effects by 20%. Now that unique passive is really great for your ulti Ravenous Flock. This just increases the amount of health you receive back, something similar to Spell Vamp.|
|This item is quite famous for people like Ryze. However if you want the MR , mana and health this item is not that bad as well. Not only that, but it blocks one ability. It may not seem much but it still works. For example, Karthus ' Requiem. This is viable, but I personally dont like to get this.|
|Very viable item, this is the new Archangel's Staff, with just upgraded special unique passive. The great thing here is the shield it gives you when you activate it. Of course the AP given is not so bad either because Swain sure is mana hungry. Personally not my favorite item for Swain , but viable!|
|This item is extremely viable for Swain. I think you fare well off already with your ulti Ravenous Flock though. I still get this at times especially because you get so much health back from this item and Ravenous Flock. That Spell Vamp and ulti is ridiculously overpowered. Great for any AP mids.|
|This is another viable item. It's been buffed to a 100 AP, but the unique passive of 25% was dropped down to 15%. This is a really good item nonetheless, just personally don't get it for Swain. However, I guess you can get this if you wanted to kill some high health targets. Useful at times.|
|I like this item because it gives Swain overall tankiness again. Adding to this is the AP it gives you and the slow unique passive when dealing spells. This basically works with your ulti Ravenous Flock. If you get to do your full combo, you'll find this will help you chase down some people trying to run away.|
Laning Phase/Understanding Items (Mid)
Laning phase and Understand items on the lane you are in is possibly one of the most important skills you would want to know about along with map awareness and overall the decisions you make. What's really important when going Swain is landing your root which can sometimes be difficult to land especially on mobile champions. Use Decrepify to slow your opponent first, making Nevermove easier to land. Otherwise, Swain is quite an underrated AP mid, just not used much in ranked games.
Now let's get to the laning phase and understanding the items you purchase early game. These are the very common early game items for Swain, and i'll explain in detail the reasoning on why they're useful and also their disadvantages.
|So this is pretty straight forward for almost every single champ. You want to take that extra bonus movement speed because again it helps you in a lot of ways. First of all, during laning phase hels you escape ganks a lot easier. Adding to this is when the opponent initiates on you. Sometimes it's easy to tell he wants to fight you, but if you're not fast enough to let's say run away, you'll receive heavy damage.|
|Again, the best along to go with Boots of Speed. Synchronizes well together, and very useful early game. These give you 150 health, and since you have 3 of these they give you 450 health. They basically help on your laning phase because it gives you more sustain and you wouldn't want to be constantly returning back to base. If you lane well and farm well, you get more gold which amounts on more health pots.|
|The 3rd item you must always buy for Swain, especially once you return to base. I personally buy only one of these, and then stick with Catalyst the Protector. This item just gives you a slight amount of HP good for early game, AP , mana regen and the unique passive which restores on kill which is like your Carrion Renewal.|
|Sight ward||One of the most important laning items. You simply just can't lane without a slight vision of the map near the brushes or the river. What's so good about this item is that junglers like to constantly gank especially when they like to shut you down or if the top laner is friends with junglers, usually they would do that a lot. This helps you keep safe from ganks basically. Take a Vision Ward especially for people like Shaco.|
|My favorite early game item. This basically just increases your survivability in lane. Because every time you level up, you restore health and mana back. This just makes you stay in the lane longer. This then builds into Rod of Ages , which again is a strong item for Swain overall. Pretty famous among some AP mids.|
|This is a good mana regen item. This helps Swain around the Level 8-10 Areas. You need to wait for around the 12 minute mark before you get your blue. Adding to this is it's MR. This is really good to prevent too much AP damage going to you. Also this way, it makes you look tanky because of that MR you have. Make sure to buy Athene's Unholy Grail in the mid game. Definitely will help.|
Just my Swain Gameplay!
Please click the text with the underline above and this will send you to the original youtube video.The quality there looks a lot better. For some reason it looks downgraded when you watch it here.
I would like to thank all the people that viewed this build. Personally, i think Swain is an overall beast!
The builds above are based on what I have the most success with and I've gone through the things that can help you out in game through my experience in playing Swain. Again as I say, please do not count on runes, masteries and items alone. There is a lot of combinations, but this is personally what I like to go with.
Here are the people who made this guide very special <3. You should really check them out.
jhoijhoi, TinyStar , Isthatok, Ice Creamy
You can find their work here: