Swain Build Guide by V0idbane
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Runes: Waging War
+1-10% CDR (lvls 1-18)
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)
Ability Order Methods
Threats & Synergies
Ranged damage, a root that compliments your own, and the desire to stay within the same effective range.
An unconventional pairing that offers both significant survive-ability and overlapping techniques.
Champion Build Guide
This build was developed as the result of experimentation and theory-crafting which focused on team play and achieving objectives. This is not designed for overwhelming power or to exploit system mechanics to your benefit. It requires focus and forethought to play effectively, often becoming dependent on team co-operation.
If this prospect has dissuaded you, then I suggest trying a different build.
To create a stratagem, you need to define your objectives.
League of Legends is a Tower Defense game:
To defend your own towers while assaulting the opponent’s.
A battle for territory, a war…
And Swain is built for war:
The ability to deny retreat and reposition the enemy,
The ability to reveal the field at great distance,
The ability to fortify one’s self while weakening your adversaries.
These are the tools of a Siege, the tactic this build focuses upon:
To create constant duress, develop hesitation, and dissuade effective cohesion while allowing you and your allies to focus on the objective.
To this effect the Runes focus on survival and fortification while rewarding extended lane pressure, in turn demoralizing foes even when they are able to force your retreat.
You compound this feeling with Boots of Swiftness and Rod of Ages:
They cannot escape, and they cannot halt your growth.
These perceived inadequacies lead to recklessly overdone responses in both offensive and defensive maneuvers from lane opponents.
Do not play their game, make them play yours: You have time and an ally who is ready for any openings you can provide.
Be certain to communicate clearly with your lane partner to prevent disastrous misunderstandings.
More than the ability to damage and Root your targets, Nevermove provides a much more lethal opportunity to reposition your foe at your discretion while restoring yourself.
These are the brief openings that will turn a standoff to a slaughter, just one little pull beyond their zone of control.
Even a missed Nevermove will herd them, controlling them. In conjunction with Vision of Empire you can create seemingly unwinnable movements onto your foes.
Death's Hand, in contrast, offers no such control… at first. The description fails to clearly express how weak the attack begins, and while sudden it can seem lackluster in comparison to other champion’s primary form of attack.
Because for Born a Tactician, it isn’t.
Compare, if you will, the mana ratio to damage of a successful Nevermove striking outward and then on the return into the Ravenous Flock. Not even considering the restorative and fortifying properties of this utilization of Nevermove, you will find the damage to be much more efficient than that of Death's Hand… to a point.
This is why the deviation from developing Nevermove past 3 ranks to focus on Death's Hand exists: the mana cost begins to outstrip your sustainability past that point while Death's Hand becomes optimal between ranks 2 and 3 at those Champion levels in my experience.
Born a Tactician tends to peak around mid-game where your defenses and sustainability can overwhelm most burst damage. This would be after you have purchased your WAR item, which is determined by your understanding of the enemy team’s damage type and quality.
As a default, Aegis of the Legion built into Locket of the Iron Solari is effective against Physical and Magical burst damage as well as granting you a method to protect your allies. Bami's Cinder into Sunfire Cape excels at enabling aggressive counter pushes against overly aggressive Rangers while enhancing the damage of Nevermove further. Chalice of Harmony into Mikael's Crucible, while seeming a deviant addition, effectively shuts down most Mages with Crowd Control while heightening your sustainability when subject to said effects yourself.
Each of these items also synergize with one another, causing their worth to be more than the sum of its parts.
Adaptation is crucial for success. TRADITION items represent deviations from the typical build structure that preserve the desired structure of the FACTORS and WAR items but offer specific utilities should such scenarios arise.
Example scenarios include taking Abyssal Mask in lieu of Rod of Ages when paired with an aggressive Mage partner against an equally aggressive Magical Damage focused enemy, synergizing with Sunfire Cape readily. Zhonya's Hourglassis an invaluable replacement to Sunfire Cape when subject to repeated guerrilla attacks from the enemy Jungle or when lacking team cohesion, also allowing Demonic Ascension’s aura to be maintained. Spirit Visage enables prolonged engagements when burst damage is less of an issue, more than Mikael's Crucible, in turn increasing health scaling effects. Finally, Gargoyle Stoneplate is a more expensive alternative to the Locket of the Iron Solari in situations when repeated team fights require your direct engagement at the cost of damage and utility, stacking the health benefits of much of this build during activation.
Aftershock’s Armor and Magic Resist bonus allow you to jump the early game soft cap for damage reduction, lasting a full second longer than Nevermove’s root.
Do not underestimate Demolish’s scaling, particularly after Turret Plates drop.
Overgrowth does not appear to have a cap on health stacks, granting the 3.5% health multiplier as an additional benefit not a substitute.
Biscuit Delivery allows you to easily remain in early lane in conjunction with Ravenous Flock, one of the weakest phases of Swain’s survival.
Cosmic Insight affects Sunfire Cape’s Immolate.
Nevermove has a larger hitbox upon striking a target on the return trip, to the point of being able to use a nearby minion to trap an evasive foe.
Vision of Empire offers an almost full refund should it strike enemies in mid game if kept at rank 1. This is due to its Mana cost not increasing while the amount a Soul Fragment restores scales up with both your level and Maximum Mana, which this build increases via Biscuit Delivery and Rod of Ages early game.
At times, activating Demonic Ascension to weaken a wave of minions for your partner to finish off can be more effective than waiting for the opponent to engage. It will either force a reluctant opponent to intervene, or deter a potential ambush while active.
Aftershock’s Damage, Demolish, Locket of the Iron Solari’s Shield, and Sunfire Cape’s Immolate damage all scale with health, and are increased during Demonic Ascension.
Sunfire Cape’s Immolate will apply its extra damage on enemies struck by Nevermove’s root even if they are outside your passive effect’s radius. The nova effect will apply the same damage within its area briefly after.
Mikael's Crucible can cleanse effects ~0.2 seconds after activation, creating a brief pre-emptive window.
“Keep him under strain and wear him down.”
“When he is united, divide him.”
“Attack when he is unprepared, sally out when he does not expect you.”
“These are the strategist’s keys to victory. It is not possible to discuss them beforehand.”
“Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.”
“Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.”
“When I wish to avoid battle I may defend myself simply by drawing a line in the sand; the enemy will be unable to attack me because I divert him from going where he wishes.”
“One able to gain victory by modifying his tactics in accordance with the enemy situation may be said to be divine.”
“In good order await a disorderly enemy; in serenity, a clamorous one. This is control of the mental factor.”
“Do not engage an enemy advancing with well-ordered banners nor one whose formations are in impressive array. This is control of the factor of changing circumstances.”
“When he pretends to flee, do not pursue.”
“Do not gobble proffered baits.”
“Do not thwart an enemy returning homewards.”
“To a surrounded enemy you must leave a way of escape.”
“Do not press an enemy at bay.”
~Sun Tzu, The Art of War