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Swain Build Guide by Garybaldo

Middle [9.23] I look out upon humanity, and see only a feast...

By Garybaldo | Updated on December 13, 2019
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Swain
    Toplane Birb
  • LoL Champion: Swain
    Midlane birb

Runes: Grasp option 1

1 2 3 4 5 6
Resolve
Grasp of the Undying
Demolish
Conditioning
Overgrowth

Sorcery
Scorch
Transcendence
Bonus:

+1-10% CDR (lvls 1-18)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)

Spells:

1 2
You'll be running this most of the times
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport

Teleport

LeagueSpy Logo
Support Role
Ranked # in
Support Role
Win 51%
Get More Stats

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies

Champion Build Guide

[9.23] I look out upon humanity, and see only a feast...

By Garybaldo
Who are you?
Hello! I'm Garybaldo (also known as Papá de Nisman because of my summoner name). I'm an Argentine Swain main who plays in the LAS server, my current elo is Gold, and even though in normal standards that means I'm trash at the game, I play Swain at a good level considering my elo (that's how I see it anyways).
I started playing in pre-season 9, and picked up the Noxian General in a free champions rotation some months after, and have since fell in love with the champion, and played about 100 ranked games with him this season and picked up over +175k mastery points with him.

Yes, I know I have more mastery points with Shen, however Swain is my favorite champion for ranked


And here's my OP.GG


Now that I'm done distributing information nobody asked for, Let's get into the guide!
Back to Top
Swain is a combo-oriented combat mage, he's a very reliable pick that you can run mid, support and top, he's very fun to play and he's not too hard to learn. Junglers will love to gank your lane, if they land their CC you can pull them back with and follow up with Nevermove for an easy kill.

excels at teamfighting, as he can follow up on initiations very easily with Ravenous Flock and pull their carry out of position so your team can blow them up, and not only that, but he also will drain HP from all 5 members of the enemy team while he fires Death's Hand as a shotgun and pulls everybody towards him with your Nevermove + Ravenous Flock.

All of that happens while he's absorbing a lot of damage, since he's healing from Demonic Ascension (which also increases your max health for the duration) and is already stacking a TON of health, Grasp of the Undying + Overgrowth + Ravenous Flock means a LOT of extra HP, not to mention you're building stuff like Rod of Ages, Liandry's Torment, Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage, Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass (not only makes you tanky but its active also helps you survive in teamfights), all of which give you considerable resistances.
If all I said still didn't convince you that Swain is the best champion in the game, take a look at this
Yes, I'm the one playing there, that's my old nickname.
Back to Top
Strenghts
+Great scaling
+Vision from far away with
+Really, REALLY fun to play
+AOE hp drain and explosion with and
+Decent on-lane sustain if you land your abilites
+Is tanky and does damage at the same time
+A beast in teamfights
+Synergyzes extremely well with a lot of champions because of
+Good burst mid to late game
+Playable when behind
Weaknesses
-Poor early game
-Short range
-Immobile
-Lots of hard matchups
-Combo reliant, very punishing if you miss
-Needs your team to do their job to get his full potential
-Counterable with grievous wounds
-Weak without
-No waveclear early game
-Vulnerable to ganks, especially pre-6
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  • Passive ( Ravenous Flock ): Swain right-clicks on top of a CC'd enemy and pulls them towards him, dealing 20-105 (based on level) (+30% of ability power) magic damage and harvesting their soul, which restores 4% / 5.5% / 7% of his maximum health and mana. Collecting soul fragments will permanently increase Swain's maximum health by 5. Nearby enemy deaths also grant soul fragments
    Use this passive every time you can, as in 99% of the cases it highly benefits you, stay tuned for allied cc about to come
    or when your E hits someone (you'll notice you can use Ravenous Flock when you see a set of arrows pointing at a champion, sort of how it happens with Kayn's Umbral Trespass)
    .

  • Q ( Death's Hand ): Swain fires five bolts of eldritch power which spread over distance (something like a shotgun), they pierce through minions but stop when they hit a champion, each bolt deals 55 / 75 / 95 / 115 / 135 (+40% of ability power) magic damage to all enemies hit, extra bolts do 15% / 20% / 25% / 30% / 35% bonus damage.
    We will want to max this first as it is our main damage tool, and we need its cooldown to be as low as possible.
  • W ( Vision of Empire ): Swain summons a demonic eye that grants vision of the targeted area by 2 seconds before exploding, dealing 100 / 150 / 200 / 250 / 103 (+70% of ability power) magic damage to all enemies hit (does half the damage against non-champions), if hit, it slows targets by 25% / 35% / 45% / 55% / 65% for 2.5 seconds, reveals them for 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 seconds and if it's a champion it also harvests a soul fragment.
    We will want to max this third, because even if it scales very well when leveling it, your E takes the priority because it lets you land combos more often, and casting this without your E will result in a miss most of the times.
    HOWEVER, if you feel like you can trust your team to hard cc the enemy, you can max this second

  • E ( Nevermove ): Throws a demonic hand, which deals 35 / 70 / 105 / 140 / 175 (+25% of ability power) magic damage to all enemies it goes through, to then come back (sort of a boomerang), making an AOE explosion which deals 35 / 45 / 55 / 65 / 75 (+25% of ability power) magic damage and roots all enemies hit by 1.5 seconds.
    We will want to max this second as it is our engage tool and our way to land all our other abilities, but it's not important enough to max first than Q.
    HOWEVER, if you feel like you can trust your team to hard cc the enemy, you can max this third


  • R ( Demonic Ascension ): Swain frees the demon within for 12 seconds, gaining 125 / 200 / 275 (+5 per soul fragment) bonus health for the duration of the ability, while Demonic Ascension is active, Swain will drain all enemy units within range (dealing 90% reduced damage to minions), dealing 35 / 50 / 65 (+14.167% of ability power) magic damage per second and healing by 20 / 35 / 50 (+16% of ability power) per second for each enemy hit (also reduced by 90% against minions).
    Once Demonic Ascension is active, Swain will have the option to cast Demonflare (which will be automatically cast when Demonic Ascension's duration has past), which will make him explode and deal a minimum of 100 / 150 / 200 (+50% of ability power) magic damage to all nearby enemies, plus 75% of the health Swain drained during Demonic Ascension. Demonflare's damage is capped at 200 / 300 / 400 (+100% of ability power).
    We will want to put points on this ability ASAP, since it's the most important part in Swain's kit and what makes him excel at teamfights.

Tips and tricks

The basics

  • Your kit works in a sequence, if you miss something, you break that sequence, your combo goes Nevermove then Ravenous Flock then Death's Hand, if you miss something, you can't continue it, although feel free to weave in some autos in between if you're confident (works best with Grasp of the Undying).
  • Death's Hand will deal more damage the closer you are to the target, which means, if you want to get its full damage go point blank to cast it, HOWEVER, be wary of not putting yourself in too much danger while doing this.
  • When casting Nevermove be careful not to throw it in a direction in which minions will block its way back, it's very frustrating when that happens.
  • Your waveclear combo is Death's Hand + Nevermove to the whole wave, never use Vision of Empire for waveclear as it does reduced damage to minions. Here's how it is
  • Use Vision of Empire's ridiculous range (3500 UNITS) to grant vision on important objectives, keep track of missing laners scout enemy buffs, farm an assistance on a sidelane (maybe steal a kill? c;), help your jungler fight someone while you're going at them, get creative!

    Look at where I am at the minimap, it's insane!
  • Feel free to use Demonic Ascension to escape if you're low health, it's not on a tremendously high cooldown and most of the times you'll be running Ultimate Hunter.
  • Try to wait for Demonic Ascension to charge its full damage before exploding (you'll notice it when the area starts glowing), however if you're dying recast it before they take you down because it won't explode if you die without casting Demonflare.
  • You can use Zhonya's Hourglass while in your ultimate, you'll keep draining health and if the ultimate timer ends you will explode, even if you're still in stasis.

    The not-so-basics

  • You can add your Vision of Empire to your combo too, just throw it just when you hit Nevermove (or a tad before), in the position where your target will end up after casting your Ravenous Flock (between you and him), this way, you'll get 2 soul fragments and therefore, heal twice as much and recover double the mana.. Here's the full combo:
  • Use Vision of Empire on your feet when fighting a melee champion or when you have someone on your face, if they stay, they get hit, slowed and you can run them down or get away, if they escape the area, they can't hit you for its duration so you have a shot at escaping.
  • Vision of Empire is also a very good zoning tool, use it to block the paths of escaping foes or when they chase you, you may also use it when you want to make someone lose a cannon minion (that one is particulary satisfactory to pull off, hehe).
  • When you throw Nevermove, you should move (you can use Flash for a more drastic result) to adjust the direction in which it comes back, use this so enemies can't dodge your root with ease. Here's two examples:

    That last video also shows the reason why Phase Rush is SO GOOD on the general
  • Use Vision of Empire on distracted or farming enemies, it's hard to land on its own but if the other player is looking somewhere else or caught in the animation of auto attacking you might land it (or make them lose some minions).
  • When your team is doing Baron or Drake, don't waste your mana in hitting the baron (only if your whole team is there and they have enough damage), you will deal 0 damage to it (you won't be able to activate Ravenous Flock on it and Vision of Empire will deal reduced damage to it), instead, try to grant vision of choke points with Vision of Empire to see if the enemy jungler is coming, zone the other team out with Demonic Ascension and pull the jungler out of the baron/dragon pit with Nevermove + Ravenous Flock so he can't use smite. Here are some good spots for you to place your Vision of Empire, depending on the situation you're in (Blue circles are for blue side, red circles are for red side, blue and red circles are for both sides).


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Early game
You need to get this first back every time you can since having mana is an essential for staying in lane, however it's better to purchase Blasting Wand if you have between 850 and 1070 gold (if you're only 30 gold away you can wait for it)
Always buy pinks, they'll help you a lot in having more map control and evading/fighting the enemy jungler
Purchase them ASAP after Catalyst, you need the movement speed to dodge stuff and move faster in general, remember you're using an immobile champion
Rush this when facing AD assassins, the lethality they'll build will do nothing against you
Don't prioritize building this, early game you're in desperate need of mana, not AP, however, you can afford to do it if you're snowballing
I'm not a fan of upgrading boots before finishing Rod of Ages however you can go for it if you feel comfortable
Mid game
Swain's bread and butter, gives you the mana you need for your combos, the HP to make to make you tanky and the AP you need to own some noobs, perfect for the general
With all the damage in the current meta you absolutely need this item, it's a great tool for staying alive while you're ulting, and it gives you some AP, some really needed 10% CDR and the resistances you need to survive those pesky AD assasins like Zed, Talon, Rengar and Kha'Zix
Late game choices
Build this item 99% of the times as its increase of damage over time syngeryzes very well with your ult, it's a very good item, however, pass up on it if you desperately need something else
Has a very good synergy with Liandry's Torment since it procs the passive of "If their movement speed is impaired, they take 2.5% of their maximum health per second instead", so you're doing even more damage per second
Build this into heavy AD compositions, it's very good on Swain because of the mana and 20% cdr, the armor it gives you will help you a lot in dangerous situations since you can give up the damage you lose by building it and still do quite some damage. On top of that, this item's passive is very good against certain champions like Yasuo, Jax, Irelia, Jinx, Master Yi and generally everyone who depepnds on attack speed
Very good against healers like Dr. Mundo, Maokai, Volibear and fed Master Yi s, the magic pen is cool too
A very good item that you'll want to build in most cases, its passive makes you less vulnerable to burst and cc, the mr helps you survive in teamfights which is very important, since Swain wants to get close to the enemy to deal the most damage, and you need to be bulky to do that. On top of that, it gives you a nice amount of AP and the 10% CDR is really helpful
Mana is great, CDR is great too, a nice amount of AP, more waveclear, this is a very good item for Swain, however I find it to be suboptimal since you get so much more from other item choices, this ain't half bad tho
Works best when you have something like a Soraka or Yuumi on your team, so you amplify your own healings as well as theirs
Great for that awkward moment where the MR gained from
Banshee's Veil does not cut it. You'll want to get at point blank distance so you can proc this item's passive and deal increased damage
Very good choice if you want some extra damage and the enemy isn't building any MR, however, be careful as you'll be less tanky than you should and you may get burst down before you can do something, this is a risky item choice and should only be purchased in very favorable situations
If all enemies are building a lot of resistances or you need to take out that unkillable, MR stacking Dr. Mundo, Galio, Garen, Sion, Poppy, etc this is a very good item choice, those suckers will be dead at your feet as soon as they see you coming
Great choice for a more burst-oriented build, use it when going in with your ult, you'll be fast AF and deal a ton of damage



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SORCERY TREE


Summon Aery, OK: It's good if poke is what you're aiming for, however I find it suboptimal since Grasp of the Undying does a better job on that and also gives you some juicy max hp.
Arcane Comet, DISGUSTING: Never run it, it's the worst keystone you could ever pick on Swain (yes, it's even worse than Lethal Tempo), why so you ask? With Ravenous Flock you literally take them out of the area in which Arcane Comet will fall, it's like having no keystone at all. Proccing it with Death's Hand or Demonic Ascension you say? It doesn't slow or anything so it won't guarantee a hit. Proccing it with Vision of Empire you say? 99% of the times it won't be the first ability you land so the slow won't guarantee the comet hitting. Waiting a little bit after hitting Nevermove to pull them back? Well, on the way in it won't slow or anything so it won't guarantee a hit, and even if you hit them only with the way back, are you really gonna lose 0.5 seconds to wait for an insignificant comet to blow at their feet and possibly give them the chance to escape if they have any tenacity? And what if you Ravenous Flock someone off of anyone else's cc? It's completely useless

Phase Rush, OPTIMAL: It's the best option here, you make up for your lack of mobility in your kit with a burst of movement speed which lets you get away or run enemies down.
Nullifying Orb, SITUATIONAL: You can run this against assassins or heavy ap.
Manaflow Band, GOOD: Mana is always good on Swain.
Nimbus Cloak, BAD: Used to be optimal for Swain when it gave the ult movement speed, it's not any good now.

Transcendence, OPTIMAL: You'll be going with this most of the times since you don't build cdr early to midgame, and you need it a lot.
Celerity, MEH: I guess it works with Phase Rush and Nimbus Cloak, but I think it's too minor to be useful.
Absolute Focus, BAD: Most of the times you're gonna be in the middle of the teamfight, taking damage and absorbing health, not safely on the backline, that means this rune will rarely be useful to you.

Scorch, GOOD: It's cool if you're going for poke, more so if you're in an elo where matches don't usually go past the 25 minute mark since Gathering Storm won't get to scale.
Waterwalking, BAD: This rune is designed for junglers and roam heavy midlaners or supports, you're not any of that so you're better off choosing another rune from this branch.
Gathering Storm, GOOD: Free AP is always cool, take it over Scorch if you think the game will be long.






DOMINATION TREE


Electrocute, GOOD: Works really well with Swain as you combine a lot of different abilites to damage enemies (a simple Nevermove Ravenous Flock + Vision of Empire or auto will proc it), very good if you're going full damage.
Predator, ???: I don't really know, never used it but it shouldn't work.

Dark Harvest, OK: Very fun off-meta run for Swain which relies on snowballing, it'll work very well when you have a lead since it resets when you get a takedown, making you able to proc it on all 5 members of the enemy team instead of bursting one like Electrocute allows you to do.
Hail of Blades, USELESS: Do I even have to explain why attack speed is useless on Swain?
Cheap Shot, OPTIMAL: Works with Ravenous Flock, one of the best champions to use this rune on.
Taste of Blood, OK: I guess it's good if you want more sustain than Ravenous Flock already gives you.
Sudden Impact, USELESS: Maybe you can use it when exiting brush? But that's it, no synergy with Swain's kit whatsoever.

Zombie Ward, SITUATIONAL: I mean, if you think you're gonna be taking down lots of wards go for it.
Ghost Poro, GOOD: Vision is key when playing Swain, as your immobility makes mispositioning very punishing, extra vision will give you more oportunities to scout the enemy jungler and adjust to their movements.
Eyeball Collection, GOOD: If you have confidence in snowballing early game go for this.

Ravenous Hunter, BAD: Most of your damage is AOE, you'll heal nothing, this is pure bait for Swain, don't fall for it.
Ingenious Hunter, MEH: Works with Zhonya's Hourglass and it's not half bad with that, however that's about all if does.
Relentless Hunter, BAD: The movement speed it gives you only works out of combat, so it's not helpful
Ultimate Hunter, GOOD: You can't fight someone if you don't have ult, this rune helps you a lot to accomplish that condition.




RESOLVE TREE


Grasp of the Undying, GOOD: Very good for Toplane, when you're poking kiteable melees, you'll stack a lot of HP, you'll heal a lot and you'll deal good damage with auto attacks.
Aftershock, BAD: I was doubtful about if this would work after 9.23's Aftershock rework, after it tho I'm pretty sure this is not any good on Swain
Guardian, USELESS: When playing support Swain you won't be going with resolve tree, and you're not gonna be standing right on the face of your adc all of the time either.
Demolish, GOOD: You're gonna be stacking crazy amounts of HP, this rune scales with HP, go wild.
Font of Life, MEH: It's decent for support Swain and practically useless for solo-lane Swain.
Shield Bash, USELESS: You have no shields on your kit.

Conditioning, OPTIMAL: You're gonne be building just enough resistances for this rune to be neither useless nor overkill.
Second Wind, MEH: You don't really need this rune since you already have a lot of sustain, but go for it if you feel like you really need it.
Bone Plating, GOOD: Good against high burst matchups or team comps.


Overgrowth, OPTIMAL: Stacks with Ravenous Flock's soul fragments and Grasp of the Undying, you'll have a ton of hp going on.
Revitalize, BAD: Your heals aren't high enough for this rune to be useful.
Unflinching, OK: Legend: Tenacity is better, however you can use this if you like it better.






PRECISION TREE


Press the Attack, USELESS: I'm not even going to explain why this isn't useful, it's obvious.
Lethal Tempo, USELESS: I'm not even going to explain why this isn't useful, it's obvious.
Fleet Footwork, COULD WORK: I mean, if you're going into a hard-poke matchup you can run this, however it'll still be very highly suboptimal.
Conqueror, USELESS: Believe me, I tested this, and sadly you can't use it :(
Overheal, BAD: It decays if you stay out of combat and the shields you get from it are minor, plain bad.
Triumph, GOOD: Good rune on any champion, with the heals you can last longer on teamfights and dive better, great synergy with Ravenous Flock too since that'll heal you when you kill an enemy too.
Presence of Mind, OK: If you want more max mana this is is gonna be your go-to.


Legend: Alacrity, USELESS: Attack speed = Useless on this champion.
Legend: Tenacity, OPTIMAL: You're vulnerable to hard cc as Swain, this helps you solve that, it's a great rune to have on the general since you'll be much more of a threat if you can't be locked down by hard cc.
Legend: Bloodline, USELESS: Lifesteal only works on auto-attacks, so don't ever run this.

Coup de Grace, GOOD: This will help you finish off your enemies, it's always nice to have.
Cut Down, BAD: You're gonna be stacking a lot of HP when playing Swain, so taking this rune doesn't make any sense.
Last Stand, GOOD: Good for taking out enemies just before dying, works very well with Triumph, because as long as you're dealing that extra damage and taking out enemies, you will be healing a lot more so you don't die in the process.



INSPIRATION TREE


Glacial Augment, MEH: I guess you could run this on support Swain and do decent, not bad.
Omnistone, ??? I don't think this rune would work on Swain but only time will tell.
Unsealed Spellbook, MEH: You can swap summoners but it's like having no keystone whatsoever, don't like it, see for yourself.

Hextech Flashtraption, BAD: You have practically no use for this.
Magical Footwear, BAD: After the nerfs it's not any good for champions like Swain, you can't wait 12 minutes without boots on an immobile, weak early game combat mage, not worth taking any more
Perfect Timing, MEH: It's OK if you want to have a free stopwatch, however it takes a lot for it to become available and it'll only contribute on 200 gold for your Zhonya's Hourglass, underwhelming.


Future's Market, GOOD: You'll want to rush Rod of Ages, this will help you get that earlier, specially good because you need its passive to stack up, and it takes 10 minutes to fully do that. Be wary because tolls for being in debt are a pain in the ***
Minion Dematerializer, GOOD: Makes up for Swain's lack of good waveclear earlygame, use 1 on melees and 2 on cannons
Biscuit Delivery, BAD: You have enough sustain, and if you want extra mana that bad you can go Manaflow Band, only take this when you already equipped Nullifying Orb.

Cosmic Insight, BAD: Contrary to what you may think, the 5% extra CDR does not help at all, since the reason why you need cdr on Swain is to spam Death's Hand, not because he has high cooldowns.
Approach Velocity, UNNECESARY: If someone is CCd, you'll already close the gap with Ravenous Flock, so you don't really need this rune.
Time Warp Tonic, SITUATIONAL: If you're gonna start Corrupting Potion and you're looking for early game poke you can run this.
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Early game

As I mentioned a couple of time already, Swain's early game is weak, however he's not utter trash, he's very good at 2v2ing and helping your jungler 1v1 since he can turn around fights with his Vision of Empire from far away, and help their jungler a lot with Ravenous Flock, use this to your advantage and pay attention to your jungler and the enemy jungler, if they're fighting, you should be the first one to impact on that through Vision of Empire.
Outside of that, try to farm up and survive early game while collecting soul fragments to get more tanky, stay in lane and poke the enemy down, it's hard for you to get a solo kill without your Demonic Ascension unless the enemy is very stupid
Mid game

You're considerable more powerful once you've past level 6, try to roam and go for skirmishes in the river if possible, take objectives while gaining control of the teamfights with your Demonic Ascension, however, don't go too ham until you have Zhonya's Hourglass as you will die quickly and you won't have a chance to cast Demonflare.
Buy Rod of Ages as soon as you can, the faster you purchase it, the sooner you'll get rolling with good damage and survivability, however, NEVER stop taking CS, you gotta keep your numbers up so you can get your items faster.
Late game

Once you start stacking items you become a higher threat, at 4 items the enemy is gonna have a very hard time stoping you, let alone at full-build stage.
You're not a very good sidelaner in terms of pressuring enemy towers (however you can go for a 1v1 when defending a turret against certain champions) instead, try to group up and teamfight, pick enemies off with Nevermove and overall be an unkillable beast with crazy damage and take over the game with that.
League of Legends Build Guide Author Garybaldo
Garybaldo Swain Guide
[9.23] I look out upon humanity, and see only a feast...