Swain Build Guide by Setotel
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.
Please, do take a seat; and listen to the tale I am about to tell.
There was once a masterful tactician, that lead his armies to great prowess and whom were known across the land, for their ability to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. However this is not a tale of the men at arms, but of the one that lead them.
Swain meant a lot of things to different people.
He was a terror on the battlefield; a sight to behold. Often tales were told of his enemies literally bursting into flames! Others told stories of his might being so great that they would shudder at the thought of meeting him.
To me though, Swain was someone who simply stood back, took his time, and defeated his enemies through simply outlasting them.
This, is his story.
Through my style of play, Swain acts out many roles.
He is the initiator, first to enter the fray.
He is the defender, holding out until relief arrives.
He is the rearguard, when a tactical regrouping is necessary he is the shield to protect the weak.
When everyone has come and gone, he remains. That is the style of Swain that I play. If this appeals to you, then by all means, continue reading.
The items I originally listed for purchase, will serve you well against a well balanced enemy team. They are not an end all buy list, that will win you the game; this is a guide, not a rulebook after all.
For your convenience, I've displayed each item I prefer to get first for more complex items. At any rate, on to the business at hand.
Boots of speed and three caramel coated apples. This is a universal opening that works well in almost all situations.
When I have the cash and the luxury to head back, the first thing I will purchase are sorcerers shoes. These will not only give you the movement speed that will serve you well to the end of the game, but also give you the magic penetration necessary for that extra weight behind all your hits.
Up next, the Rod of Ages. For a champion whose concept of fighting involves outlasting your opponents, this is a wondrous item to hold on to. It works like this: upon purchasing this staff, every minute, for the next twenty minutes, your mana reserves, health, and ability power, will rise by 20, 18, and 2, respectively.
In addition to the 60 ability power, 450 health, and 525 mana that you receive from simply holding the staff, you also receive a very nice gift. Every time you level up, you restore 250 health, and 250 mana, over the course of eight seconds.
An item definitely worth its weight in gold.
A massive 99 armor, and five hundred mana; in conjunction with a 20% ability cool down reduction, and a 20% area of effect reduction of attack speed for all nearby enemies. This item wears so well it feels like it was designed with Swain in mind.
Even when facing teams that are AP heavy, I still highly recommend getting this item.
Combine this item with Frozen Heart and you're a terrifying force to attempt assaulting. By wearing this armor you receive 74 magic resist, 40 health regeneration per 5 seconds, 8 movement speed multiplier, and a passive boon of .35% of your maximum health regenerated every second.
You have two hands, why not put another staff in one? Rylai's Crystal Scepter presents you with the opportunity to make a frosty entrance and let your presence be known immediately. 80 ability power, 500 more health, and a variable degree of movement speed reduction for every enemy you come in contact with; with a base layer at 15% slower. You will notice the impact.
Warmog's armor has a description nearly a paragraph long. In short, it gives you health, it gives you health regeneration, and it gives you more and more health. When you finally don this armor, you will laugh at your enemies desperate attempts to take you down.
Here we are, last but not least, . If you lack the funds to purchase all three Elixirs in one go, then buy them in this order: Elixir of Brilliance, Elixir of Fortitude, and Elixir of Agility.
Never underestimate these three potions. You'll not be spending your cash on anything else at this point really, so getting them gives you what amounts to free inventory space, of which you have no more room. A must have late game.
Congratulations, you're out of bed and dressed; that's half the battle won right there.
Was this your bag?
Since this is a guide, I will do my best to outline the various situations that you will encounter. Mostly this will center around the items you will buy in response to what you see occurring on the battlefield.
Onwards to victory.
What are you being hurt by the most? Is your lane dealing primarily with ability power, or attack damage? What is the enemy team composition primarily composed of?
The circumstances elaborated upon above will determine the third completed item you purchase. Whether it be or .
Is your lane facing an AD bruiser such as Tryndamere? Frozen Heart is the answer.
Is your lane facing an AP mage such as Ryze? is the answer.
Is your lane facing a mix between the two? Chances are Frozen Heart will be better to get first. It's passives and extra mana will hold you over until you can get Force of Nature.
Okay, we're all set. We have our third item down, suiting our lane accordingly. Now what? Press O for a moment. This will bring up the team registry and item display for your side and for every enemy last sighted. Now look at the enemy team composition, do you see 3 AD champions, 1 support, and 1 AP? You should be encountering more and more teamfights so plan accordingly.
It may be wise to forgo purchasing Force of Nature all together, in favor of Thornmail.
I once found myself having purchased 2 Force of Nature's, upon facing an enemy team composed of 4 AP champs and 1 support.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a great item, especially on a Swain wearing gear such as the above mentions; and this item works great whether you are alone or with your team. However, if you find yourself with a team relying heavily upon it's use of abilities to do damage, that is a team with few auto attackers, then replacing Rylai's with a Will of the Ancients may be a better choice.
is a great final item, but have you found that your enemies are building heavy magic resistance to you and your team? Acquiring a Void staff may be a better choice. Or perhaps Rabadon's Deathcap would be a good choice if you find that your present defenses are holding you over well.
Again, you're supposed to be a master tactician, do not blindly purchase items; plan accordingly.
If we approach strategically from the side...
I could talk at length about the various tactics that you can make use of. However, no amount of conveyed knowledge will replace hard earned in game experience, so take to the battlefield and get the feel of how Swain works.
Nevermove: Your single most disruptive, powerful, and immediately damaging ability you have to assault the enemy. Nevermove, otherwise known as the letter W. If you can not hit with Nevermove, then you will do poorly. It's as simple as that.
Torment: You're not malicious, you just want to win; the only way you know how. Torment, E, is an ability that basically empowers one of your basic attacks to do additional damage over time. With the added benefit that it will also make any subsequent abilities used on a Tormented enemy do more damage, in relation to the level of Torment.
Decrepify: AKA the laser bird, with a ridiculously short range. This ability slows the enemy some, and does damage over time.
Ravenous Flock: This move, is what will win you the game. This ability, is what will keep you alive, and ensure your enemies demise. This move, looks awesome.
Ravenous Flock is your ultimate. Unlike most Champions Ultimate's however, you are able to toggle your Ultimate on and off, at the cost of progressively using more mana the longer you leave it on; the move has a small cool down upon turning it off.
Ravenous Flock sends out three crows to, literally, rip a piece of your enemies flesh from their bodies, and bring it back to your demonic raven form to consume; thus healing you and damaging them. It hits up to three enemies at a time within a fairly substantial range, and prioritizes Champions over minions.
In good order, you'll want to Torment the enemy first, hit them with Decrepify, follow up immediately with Nevermove, while the whole time attacking them with your basic attack, and also having Ravenous Flock activated.
There's much more to it that just that however. When you get the hang of using Swain, have learned his attack timings and have a feel for how long it takes for Nevermove to activate. Then is when you will begin to shine.
Upon teleporting back to your ward in the bushes lining mid lane, you've found that your mid lane opponent has decided to push forward some, perhaps in an attempt to force the lane back enough to go buy items. Drop a Nevermove so that the edge of it is just barely under their feet, with most of the rune appearing closer to their own tower. Instinctively most individuals will be unable to flash in time to avoid the trap, and will therefore opt to running to what they perceive as safety, directly into our clutches. At this point charge out of the bushes with your Ultimate activated, hit them with Torment followed by a slightly delayed Decrepify. This will ensure that when Nevermove wears off they will still be slowed slightly. At this point you should be standing directly in front of their path of retreat.
Now is where you will really show your experience. Begin to fall back with them, continuing to stand directly in front of their retreating path, as best you can. This will disrupt their pathing and potentially force them to flash, if they haven't already. At this point Nevermove should be coming off cooldown, doing your best to hit them again will almost guarantee their demise. As it will be followed by another Torment and Decrepify, under a barrage of your basic attacks and your Ravenous flock, it is unlikely that they will have survived.
Nothing replaces experience, and you'll notice the difference when you look back upon your early games. So get out their and have fun.
Another opponent, another disappointment.
Are you taking mid lane? I like to take Torment first, it's good for harassing the enemy and will not force the lane past river. Whenever you have the opportunity, smack the enemy with your basic attack and fall back and follow up with Torment. Always remember that before mid game, you want your enemy to have you pushed to your tower. They can't farm, you can. Their jungler can't gank, yours can.
Are you bottom lane with an ally? Is your ally something other than support? I recommend taking Nevermove first. Many a time I have acquired first blood from locking an enemy in place with a tryndamere whom has exhaust standing directly next to them; after the enemy wanders into the bushes.
Passive aggressive play is the key to victory here. You need not continuously kill your opponent if you can simply power lane them so they receive limited income.
If you can, try to lure your enemies into a false sense of security. Sometimes I've intentionally missed hitting them with Nevermove, so as to reinforce the illusion that I have poor accuracy; only to horrify them later when they realize that I can hit them almost every time.
Continuously smacking the opponent with Torment and a couple auto attacks goes a long ways though; and when you can't kill them and they have to flee, with no ally support to hold the lane. Ravenous flock, combined with Nevermove on the mages and as many soldier minions as possible while Tormenting and Decrepifying the large mob and auto attacking it, to force the lane almost immediately to their tower for your mobs to attack and for yourself to slowly barrage away, will go a long ways.
Alternatively if you have the opportunity and see your lane having retreated while the jungler has come over half dead to hold the lane; consider wandering to a nearby lane and ganking them. A surprise Nevermove, Torment, Ravenous Flock, Decrepify with your allies assaulting them will help to keep the enemy in check.
As a last bit of thought, yes, getting Torment off first before Decrepify and Nevermove ensures more damage, however this also helps to lessen the element of surprise. Play it accordingly.
Yes, yes, yes, I've heard it dozens of times.
"OMG what's wrong with you, stupid noob!"
"How dumb do you have to be, to not take Ignite!"
"Haha, look at the noob! OMG he's building Rod of Ages now?! What a scrub!"
"Clarity Swain? You stupid noob!"
No doubt you will hear it many a time too. So, why, against the meta, would I take Clarity, over Ignite; and Teleport over Flash?
The answer is simple. Because it works; and it works so well that I insist on using it every time.
The concept behind my battle plan, when I play Swain, is to outlast the enemy. To take everything they throw at me, and keep going, to force them to withdraw from the battlefield, and die trying. And to that end, Clarity wins the day. Because when the team-fight is nearing its end and your side has found itself exhausted, suddenly you receive your second wind. In the form of Clarity and the boon of free mana it gives you and your allies. You will do more damage than Ignite ever could with the combined strength of your team at your back while you hold them in place and rip them apart.
Teleport on the other hand is simply a matter of preference really. Easily replaceable with Flash. I simply appreciate the luxury of immediately returning to the battlefield to strike down a tower after a teamfight; or alternatively being able to escape from mortal peril back to your home base while under assault when you realize that your Ravenous Flock will not last you through the engagement after being jumped.
Who am I?
Names Setotel, a pleasure to meet you.
This is my first guide here on Mobafire. This guide has been written through the experience I've acquired in hundreds of games and match after match playing as Swain; as well as Swain against enemy Swains.
I'll update and modify it as I see necessary.