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Swain, The Master Tactician.
Hello this is my guide to one of my favorite characters in league of legends. Swain. I like him because he's a "tough" mage whose AP scales fairly well and a man who can lay on a lot of deceiving hate. This is my first guide, but I've had quite a bit of success with Swain so I'm confident in the build.
I didn't like swain right off the bat, but after he was released he got quite a few minor buffs in the following patches leading up to where he is now, and he's gotten playable and fun.
Deceptively strong with DoT spells.
Tougher than most mages, can build somewhat tanky if the need arises.
Great staying power in the lane once he hits six.
Has a Snare and a Slow.
Grumpy old man.
Doesn't have the supreme burst power some mages do.
No real escape, with a slow movement speed.
Like most mages he's pretty squishy at the start of the game.
Ignite is pretty critical to swain's early game in my opinion. It allows him that extra amount of damage to complete his "strike" combo. At level 18 using it with torment is just an extra way to deal about 500 true damage which is very nice.
Flash is just a standard thing to use with a character like him with a lack of escapes. In a tough spot? Just flash away. He can also flash into a laser bird to start up his combo on a fleeing opponent.
While I feel both Flash and Ignite are critical to get on Swain if you for whatever reason would prefer something like Ghost to Flash then more power to you. I find these "Alternatives" pretty useless, but I can understand their usefulness in some situations. Any other summoner spells I'd stay completely away from.
When it comes to glyphs I find Swain doesn't really benefit all that much from the cooldown reduction, his cooldowns aren't that huge and that extra 5% reduction he would receive isn't as good as the magic resist. You might also want to go with AP glyphs, but I don't know I really don't find it as good as MR, but if you do then go for it.
Finally my Quintessence picks, I only use one magic pen one this is to bump me up to 10, and use the other two to give squishy early game swain a little boost in the form of a health increase.
With the recent changes to doran's I'd recommend now starting with the Sapphire Crystal and two health potions. This allows you to rush into Catalyst most likely getting it on your first trip back. This will boost your already awesome staying power in your lane, I usually farm until I have enough for the boots of speed and catalyst before blue pilling.
Alternative Opening Game
Depending on who I think I'll be laning against I may get a Doran's Ring instead. After a lot of trial and error starting with Doran's Ring is better in a lot of circumstances, but it slows your build by just a bit so you have to decided whether or not that's worth it. I'd try both openings and see which you prefer, they're both very viable.
You obviously want to get Rod of Ages as soon as possible so it can start working on itself to be a better item. It really is awesome on Swain, once I started getting it I never went without it. Both the Health and Mana just make him more of a threat in team fights. The Hextech Revolver is a pretty cheap way to make his ultimate even better, so I tend to pick it up early as well. The Sorc boots should be self explanatory, merc treds are obviously a good alternative given the circumstance on who you're facing.
This is where you want to get, once you have these items you'll be more or less set to be a wrecking machine. Upgrading to Will of the Ancients and going after Rabadon's Deathcap should both be self explanatory.
These are all in my opinion viable final items for swain. It all depends on the circumstance and who you're fighting. If you're fighting a AD heavy team, obviously go for the hourglass, but if they're more AP heavy pick up the Scepter or Banshee's Veil if you find it necessary. Enemies have a ton of HP? Grab that Deathfire Grasp. Basically just analyze the game's situation and go from there.
As long as you have your main core these are just items you should pick up to help you go along with the in game's situation.
I like to play Swain as a sort of "snake" character. I just harass meekly with torment for the first three levels, I never try to lower my opponent's health too low which may sound odd, but if you're too aggressive you can either get burned or you'll scare your opponent into being very cautious. You want them to think you're just old man swain and you aren't doing much. I try to have my opponent's health be around 50-70% when level four rolls around.
At this point unleash your combo. If you're good you can use your Q followed by your E before snaring with your W, if you also use ignite while your damage is being boosted by E, you will deal a lot of damage, and before your opponent knows what just hit them that meek swain just rocked their world.
This obviously doesn't always work seeing as someone characters are naturally tougher than others but it's a good plan to use against those characters who are more squishy. Continue to just harass with E and switch it up into your full combo. If you're last hitting successfully you shouldn't have to worry about mana. Drop a W and hope to get lucky. Using his wide variety of moves will make it difficult to read what you're going to do and that's exactly what you want.
Due to the fact he has such great staying power Swain's "Mid Game" is fairly strong. There are only a handful of characters that can keep up with him, so be wary of ganks. Just keep harassing your opponent; your job is to make them farm as little as possible and to farm as much as you can yourself.
If you get the chance Swain's a pretty nice ganker due to his slow/snare combo. Use this to your advantage to weaken your opponent's in outer lanes. Only go back when you have an important purchase to make, you shouldn't have to go back at any other time. So farm, farm away and turn into a bird creature thing that everyone runs in fear of.
Your job is to kill. You want to be dropping people like bad habits. Due to your bulk + ultimate you don't have to be as cautious as most mages, you can really get in there and do some damage. Remember your ultimate will do work on your enemies automatically so pop it as soon as any clustering goes on before going to work on whatever squishy you can get your hands on.
+ Nevermove is a reference to the narrative poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.
+ While Ravenous Flock is active, Swain has three seperate /jokes and an additional /taunt, unlike other champions with "true forms".
+ The transformed model closely resembles one of the Greater Daemons of Tzeentch, Lords of Change, from the Warhammer universe.
+ Swain's raven is named "Beatrice".
+ The color of Swain's form in ravenous flock varies, depending on what skin Swain is chosen to be in. In his original skin, he turns black, whilst in his Northern Front skin and Bilgewater skin he turns white and red respectively.
+ Swain was designed by Coronach.
+ Swain was a member of the Black Rose, a dark group that has been around since before the rise of the military goverment in Noxus. They are thought to no longer exist, but Leblanc the Deceiver is its leader and is working on getting the Black Rose back into the public's eye.
+ Swain is one of the few champions to have an Art Spotlight, along with Cassiopeia, Karma, Renekton, Trundle, Maokai, Nocturne and Lee Sin.
+ According to Babaganoosh, Swain was unable to compete in the Ionia Versus Noxus Grudge Match due to have just been recently promoted to the Noxian High Command and thus needed to take time away from the League to put all his affairs in order.
+ Swain's name may be a reference to a character named The Mastermind, made by flash producer TheSwain: both characters bear a good resemblance in tactics and intellect to one another.
+ Swain's innate ability when he went live was "Whenever Swain kills an enemy unit, his mana regeneration is increased by 300%". While true, it only affected his base mana regeneration, which wasn't clear. It was changed to its current incarnation to give nearly the same effect, but in a form that is much easier to understand.
Taken from League of Legends Wiki.
Updates to the Guide
+ February 1st, updated starting items due to the price increase of Doran's Ring.
+ August 9th, just fixed some grammatical errors and updated a few minor things.
+ August 15th, Updated the primary build's core items to reflect just that, the core items and not potential luxury items that you should or should not get depending on the circumstance. Some people were obviously confused.
+ August 16th, Updated an alternative opening, and added a few luxury item choices.
+ August 28th, Added Rylai's to Luxury items, fixed a few errors.
+ October 27th, Added Archangel's to Luxury items, updated few minor things.
+ Novemeber 27th, Updated guide to reflect new masteries, and updated the section explaining them.