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Swain Build Guide by jon678910

Middle [8.4] Bringing back Big Black Bird Boy - Swain Mid

Middle [8.4] Bringing back Big Black Bird Boy - Swain Mid

Updated on February 24, 2018
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League of Legends Build Guide Author jon678910 Build Guide By jon678910 54,111 Views 0 Comments
54,111 Views 0 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author jon678910 Swain Build Guide By jon678910 Updated on February 24, 2018
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Runes:

Sorcery
Phase Rush
The Ultimate Hat
Transcendence
Gathering Storm

Domination
Cheap Shot
Ingenious Hunter

Spells:

LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport

Teleport

LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

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Table of Contents


Hi, I'm jon678910. I ended season 7 in platinum solo, and gold in TT and flex. I tend to enjoy bulky mages, with Vladimir having my highest mastery score. I enjoy playing both top and mid, but have been focusing on the latter as many of the mastery changes have been unappealing to me.

Swain was one of my first few champions picked up, and the one I mained for the majority of season 3. That being said, though I liked his concept, his kit was quite boring. The rework fixed this to a large extent, but also completely changed his playstyle. This guide will mainly highlight my item and rune choices, while giving some insight as to the use of his abilities.
Pros

+Solid sustain after first back
+High damage at close range
+Great waveclear in the form of Death's Hand
+Strong teamfight presence
+ Ravenous Flock makes makes early invades quite strong
Cons

-Both Vision of Empire and Nevermove are highly telegraphed
-Low range
-Low mobility
-Reliant on picking teamfights (Soul fragments)
-Weak Early

Ravenous Flock


Ravenous, while quite weak in terms of damage, allows Swain to close the gap between him and his enemies. It is also essential for setting up for Vision of Empire. It can be used with any CC, but you’ll find yourself using it most often with Nevermove. It can punish aggressive dives, especially in the early game, when Swain is at his weakest. The two most important things to remember are that it does have a cooldown, and that it can be used to proc Phase Rush.

Flock is Swain’s only way to sustain health in the early game, and stacks can be obtained through the aforementioned Ravenous or by landing Vision of Empire. It is also Swain’s only health scaling, and one of the reasons building him bulky is the way to go. The Fragments dropped after death are relatively insignificant in lane, but can provide powerful sustain in a teamfight.


Death's Hand


Death’s hand is Swain’s main waveclear tool, as well as his strongest nuke. It works a lot like New Destiny, wherein you want to get up close to maximise shots hit, and thus, damage. In mid lane, you’ll rarely find an early opportunity to use this on your lane opponent without landing Nevermove, but it can be used to clear low health minions efficiently and restore mana while doing so (more on this in the items section). Furthermore, this ability gets a very low cooldown as it’s levelled up, making it much easier to clear both waves and jungle camps as the game goes on.


Vision of Empire


Vision of Empire has a high cooldown and a significant delay (1.5 seconds). That being said, these drawbacks can be largely ignored given the reward for hitting it: a soul fragment from each champ, solid damage, and an 8 second reveal. Its range is huge, being longer than even Final Spark. Its large range means it can be used to cut off vital paths or scout. It can also be used to pick up assists from far away, or force an enemy (usually ADCs) to move in order to disrupt them taking tower. Just be wary of the fact it does half the damage to minions.


Nevermove


Nevermove is Swain’s main setup, and is vital for landing his main combo. It hits on the way out as well as the way in, dealing damage both ways. Unlike abilities like Whirling Death, you can’t choose when to make it return. Ideally, you’ll want to hit to hit the enemy champion at the end of the claw’s range, but this isn’t necessary if there isn’t a minion wave. I’ve found the AoE to be quite forgiving for the former scenario.



Demonic Ascension / Demonflare


Demonic Ascension performs similarly to Swain’s old ultimate. It provides him with healing and damage, but also has the added benefit of granting some max health, which could save you from getting bursted down. It also synergises extremely well with the items and runes chosen, which will be elaborated on in those sections.

Demonflare is a nuke that Swain can cast once he has reached the healing threshold required. It can deal a significant amount of damage at maximum soul fragments, and behaves a lot like Tides of Blood, meaning it can be body blocked. It will end Demonic Ascension, however, so it should be held unless you have the burst to kill a target.


The Combo


Rod of Ages


This item is core on Swain, and should be rushed. Backing early and picking up a Catalyst of Aeons can solve a lot of Swain’s mana problems, as Death's Hand returns 3% of maximum mana on a kill. This means that, at level 6, at base mana and level 3 (75 mana cost) Death's Hand, you’ll get 17 mana back per minion, meaning around 4.5 minions will need to be killed to be breaking even. With catalyst, this is increased to 26 mana back, which means only 3 minions need to be killed. In a harder lane, you could even pick up a Sapphire Crystal early.


Morellonomicon


The changes to this item really favour the new Swain, with the stats, Health and AP, being much more appropriate to a bulky mage. Not having to sacrifice health for grievous wounds is great, and the extra penetration gives some more damage.


Ionian Boots of Lucidity / Sorcerer’s shoes


Both good options, but I often opt for the lucidity boots for both the CDR and summoner spell cooldown. I find the extra damage somewhat unnecessary, but you may disagree.


Rylai’s Crystal Scepter and Liandry’s Torment


I’ve grouped these 2 together as they compliment each other quite well, and should be bought back to back. They also have great synergy with Demonic Ascension, being able to keep people in it and greatly increase its damage, respectively. Rylai’s has the added benefit of allowing you to chase quite well in late game when combined with Swain’s ridiculously low cooldown on Death's Hand.

Why not Everfrost? Hextech GLP fills a niche that can be covered by building Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter. However, it sacrifices both the raw stats of Rod of Ages and the Demonic Ascension synergy that Rylai’s has, making it much worse for teamfights.


Zhonya's Hourglass


While extremely powerful on Swain, it is somewhat unnecessary to pick this item up in the early game. In many cases, the sustain from your combo and Demonic Ascension will keep you from dying in lane. That being said, going for an early Stopwatch isn’t a terrible idea in a hard lane, but buying the full item hinders Swain’s damage quite a bit.


Void Staff


Got its AP nerfed in 8.4, but it’ll still do the job of shredding enemy magic resist. In other cases, it will likely be best to sub it out for Morellonomicon, and if you’re still missing out on magic penetration, take Sorcerer's Shoes.


Spirit Visage


I personally dislike this item. The increase to healing can be useful, but having only defensive stats becomes less relevant when you have a Zhonya's Hourglass. That being said, if you really don’t need the damage, and are mainly trying to zone or disrupt the enemy team, it’s an ok buy.

Phase Rush


Phase Rush offers mobility to Swain, which is a powerful tool given his need to get in close. It can help you get out after trading with the enemy laner or allow you to follow up on a gank. As stated previously, the fact that his passive counts as a spell synergises quite well with this.

Why not Summon Aery / Arcane Comet / Electrocute? Both Aery and Arcane comet are made for poke. I’ve found this to be problematic since that won’t happen in mid lane most of the time. In many cases, you’ll use your combo if you hit Nevermore, making Electrocute much better. That being said, I’ve been able to live without the damage, and Phase Rush becomes significantly more relevant as the game goes on.


The Ultimate Hat


With Swain’s long ultimate cooldown (120 seconds) I find this really helps give him some safety. The fact that there is no mana cost, and only 1 soul fragment is needed to activate Demonic Ascension, means that this can be used to give you that extra bit of health when you need it.


Transcendence



Outside of Death's Hand, Swain’s abilities have a very long downtime, and getting a bit of CDR can help mitigate this. In particular, having more opportunities to get soul fragments gives some leeway as to when you can engage a fight with a guaranteed 5 stack Demonflare.


Gathering Storm / Waterwalking / Scorch


Gathering Storm is my preferred choice for this slot, but any of these can be decent for their situation: Gathering Storm for late game AP, Waterwalking for better roams, and Scorch for early pressure.



Cheap Shot / Zombie Ward


I generally run Cheap Shot in this slot for the bit of extra damage, but Zombie Ward is an extremely good defensive option. That being said, this slot can accommodate any other domination rune except sudden impact.


Ingenious Hunter


This rune is just used for the Zhonya’s synergy, and having it fully stacked brings the cooldown quite close to Demonic Ascension’s cooldown with the core build. It also gives a reduction in trinket cooldown, which is helpful for dealing with ganks.

Why not Inspiration? Inspiration gives power early at the cost of a lot of power late. Perfect timing at 10 minutes isn’t terrible, but sacrificing Ingenious Hunter means giving up on close cooldowns between Zhonya's Hourglass and Demonic Ascension.
  • Blue buff
  • As highlighted in the Cons section, Nevermove is quite telegraphed, and is most reliable to hit at the end of its range. Getting engaged on makes this ability very hard to hit, especially at the end of its range. Skirmishers and divers generally have reliable gap closers, which increases the risk of hitting the minion wave if you get jumped. Outside of this, champions like Fiora have access to Riposte, which can easily parry Nevermove.
  • Most top laners will have access to tenacity, be it from Unflinching, Legend: Tenacity, or an early Mercury's Treads pickup. This is problematic as Nevermove has a root duration of 1.5 seconds, and Vision of Empire has a 1.5 second delay, meaning lowering the root duration will mess up your combo a lot of the time.
  • In top lane there is very limited use from Vision of Empire, as well as restricted roaming. In mid lane, Vision of Empire can be used to scout both Baron/Herald and Dragon quite easily. Picking up kills/assists on a fight that has already started in bot lane is also an option.

Early Game


Most of early game should be spent farming. Without mana items, you’ll end up going through your mana fairly quickly, especially if you use your combo to get some soul fragments. Death’s Hand can still be a good way to clear a group of minions, which will generally be 3 melee or 3 ranged. If you brought Scorch, poking the enemy laner through low health minions is an option too.

If your jungler ganks, you can generally get a Flash, assuming the enemy laner is pushed up. If the jungler has CC himself, this will be even easier. If the enemy jungler comes for an invade, use Vision of Empire on them, either where they are fighting or in the path he will take to get to your jungler. You can then follow up if needed.

You generally want to back when you have enough gold for a Catalyst of Aeons, but if you get shoved out (by a Xerath, for example), you can back earlier and pick up a Sapphire Crystal. If you have spare gold, you’ll probably want to pick up some boots. Generally you will teleport back to lane, but against heavy roamers, like Twisted Fate, you may wish to teleport to bot lane when he does.

In terms of duelling, it depends on the matchup. Most mages can be duelled at level 6, especially if you manage to land the combo and you are at 5 soul fragments. Demonic Ascension is a Flash magnet though, so try to fight closer to your side. If the enemy mid laner decides to stick around on low health, don’t be afraid to flash in for point blank Death's Hand or Demonflare pop.

Mid Game


During mid game, shoving lanes becomes much easier, as mana becomes less of an issue. This leads to being able to spend way more time roaming, and with Death's Hand getting to a very low cooldown, you can reliably help with objectives. Try to pick large fights, but prior to picking up a stopwatch, avoid getting in too close until you have the damage necessary to kill targets.

When roaming, use Vision of Empire early if possible. In bot lane especially, it can be used to block a path and allow the support to engage. If the enemy jungler is a threat, don’t be afraid to use Vision of Empire on bushes instead. In a winning fight, you may opt to activate Demonic Ascension early, for the Rylai’s slow. This is especially true if you have an AP support who can make up for damage.

Late Game


Late game is when you’ll want to teamfight. With both Zhonya's Hourglass and Demonic Ascension at around a 60 second cooldown, you’ll have them up for just about every fight. Engaging a teamfight with Swain is straightforward. Using Nevermove or any allied CC into Ravenous Flock is the easiest way, but generally it’s wise to avoid using your combo, so Vision of Empire can instead be used to zone the enemy adc or generate soul fragments. Use Demonic Ascension at the start of a fight, and Zhonya's Hourglass if they focus you. It is key to try and move to a central position, to meet the threshold faster. The longer you hold it, the more value you’ll get, but if you have the opportunity to kill a carry, use Demonflare. You may need to reposition to prevent it hitting the tank, and Phase Rush and Flash should help with this.

In between fights help grab drakes and baron if needed, or clear camps if you need a bit of cash on the side. At this point in time you can also try and use Vision of Empire on unaware targets for soul fragments. This is important as people generally won’t be out of position outside of teamfights at this stage in the game.


Overall, while Swain may not have the strongest early game, he can become devastating as the game goes on. Much like Rumble and Vladimir, he can single-handedly turn the tides of a teamfight, while offering utility the other two can't. [8.4]'s AP changes have helped streamline his build a lot, and I hope more people will consider picking him up.

Either way, thanks for reading! I've tried to format this as best I can, but if you have any suggestions, pertaining to either that or the content of this guide, I'd appreciate the feedback.
League of Legends Build Guide Author jon678910
jon678910 Swain Guide
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