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Swain Build Guide by DawnofMeat

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League of Legends Build Guide Author DawnofMeat


DawnofMeat Last updated on July 8, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

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Thanks to Searz for the awesome guide format! You can find it here.

Hey guys, Paz here. I've been playing Swain for a while now, and he's by far my favorite champ. He can carry hard, 3v1 like a bawss (when fed a little), and is just all around a huge badass. He snowballs pretty hard, and beats out most people at mid (if you play smart). I'm not really satisfied with the guides here on Mobafire, so I thought I would make my own guide, and hopefully help out anyone trying Swain for the first time, or maybe teach an old hat something that they didn't already know.

See this great Legend by Matt for any abbreviations you don't understand.

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Pros / Cons


-Great burst damage.
-Snowballs really well.
-High lane sustainability.
-High survivability and all around tankiness.
-Can dominate mid and gank other lanes quite well.
-Large threat in teamfights.
-Unfazed by CC as his ult keeps going through stuns and the like.


-Mana starved throughout the game (can be somewhat ameliorated through items/blue buff).
-Shut down by ignite.
-Susceptible to high burst damage.
-Focused a lot in teamfights, especially if fed early on.

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There is really no substitute for the standard 9/0/21 build.


Archmage's Savvy: Extra AP is always nice.
Deadliness: You need 1 more point point and it's hilarious when you see Swain crit for like 200 dmg.
Sorcery: Why not? Free CDR? HELL YES
Archaic Knowledge: You NEED that extra mpen or you'll do meh damage lategame.


Nothing in here because most of the stuff is useless for Swain, however if you REALLY want to you can get some extra armor, mres, and strength of spirit. It will help a bit during the laning phase, but if you play smart you shouldn't really need to regen much health, and if you do you can just morph and eat them.


Good Hands: Why Good Hands over perseverance? The health and mana regen you get from it ends up being around 1 Hp5 and Mp5 END GAME. Also, regardless of how much you try not too, you WILL end up dying at some time or other, and endgame when the death timer is 70 seconds, respawning 7 seconds faster can be game breaking.
Perseverance: You need 1 more point and Swain doesn't really use ghost or teleport.
Awareness: 5% more EXP is freaking amazing... even if you have even CS, it can help a lot being just a little faster in leveling up for those early game lane battles. Also, the sooner you get to level 6, the better, because Swain isn't really the most sustainable champ until he gets his ult.
Meditation: Swain chugs mana like a boss, and every little bit of mana regen helps.
Utility Mastery: Swain is freaking imbalanced with blue buff, because it means his ult can last for a loooooooong time. More duration on it is just amazing.
Quickness: Moving faster is always beneficial, and it can help when you have to chase someone in your demon-bird form to ensure a kill.
Blink of an Eye: I always take Flash with Swain because he desperately needs the mobility, and along with Presence of the Master the cooldown will be rather short.
Presence of the Master: Swain really depends on his Ignite to ensure a kill early game and his Flash to get him out of sticky situations, as his movement speed is pretty bad. Having this mastery is a huge boost to his survivability and deadliness.

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Greater Mark of Insight
Hands down the best marks in the game for casters. You really need that mpen to be able to do terrible terrible damage.

Greater Seal of Clarity
I love these. These allow me to harass a bit more in the laning phase without having to worry too much about mana. Flat Armor runes could help if you feel you have difficulty at mid against champions like Ashe or Ezreal, but I would stick with Clarity.
Greater Glyph of Shielding
Glyphs aren't all that important for Swain, but having some extra mres early on can really help when trading blows with other casters. Swain does great burst even early on, and if you get caught by the opponent you can usually hurt them more than they hurt you because of these runes.

Greater Quintessence of Insight
More mpen is always good, however you can substitute these with Flat Health if you feel that you're too squishy, or Movement Speed if you think you do enough damage already.

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Summoner Spells

Shuts down champions like SeƱor Mundo and opposing Swains, and can help ensure kills early on. As well, ignite works with your torment, doing more damage while the DoT is on them.

Mobility is one of the things that Swain lacks, and Flash can really help him in this regard. He can flash in and morph to gank, or he can flash out of any sort of sticky situation. Great spell.

Can be a good surprise factor when people think you're too low and then KAPOW you clarity and burst their ***es down. However, I think ignite is just more effective, and you shouldn't have mana problems while laning unless you're getting starved by your opponent.


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Skilling Sequence

W > Q > E > E > E > R > E > W > E > W > R > W > W > Q > Q > R > Q > Q

Get your CC up early with your snare and slow, and then max your E ASAP. It does a lot of damage and makes all your abilities do even more damage, so you're indirectly leveling all of your abilities by leveling E. Neat, eh? Then get your W because the cooldown is really long at the start, and then finish with your Q for some more damage. As with anyone except for maybe Udyr and Poppy, level your ultimate every level it is available.

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Recommended Builds

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Starting Items

Doran's Ring
Everything you need early game: Mp5, Health, and AP. What's not to love? My item of choice.

Boots of Speed
Along with 3 health potions, these can be helpful against strong early game laners, or against opponents that use a lot of dodgeable skillshots, ie. Anivia.

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Core Items

Rod of Ages
Great item. Gives you the mana and health you desperately need, and also gives you a lot of AP for even more survivability from your ultimate. I usually get this before Rylai's, but if I have to go back and I can't afford the Catalyst, I'll just get the Giant's Belt, the start of the next item...

Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Sexy. Gives you a ton of HP and AP, and gives all your skills a slowing property, allowing you to chase efficiently as a giant demon bird.

Rabadon's Deathcap
What caster would be complete without this item? Adds a ton of AP, and increases your total AP by 30%. GODLY ITEM. The only reason I get it late is because Swain's AP ratios aren't the best, and survivability is more important than roflstomping early on.

Sorcerer's Shoes
The best boots for Swain by far. He needs his mpen to deal strong damage late game, and he can deal with CC because his birds fly out continuously even while stunned/slowed.

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Preffered Items

Banshee's Veil
Gives you some health, mana, MR, and overall more survivability from your special anti-spell bubble. Great defensive items if there are several casters on their team, or if their caster is getting their snowball on.

Frozen <3
I ADORE this item. Freaking fantastic. Gives me a ton of armor and mana, while also decreasing the ATS of my enemies. So what you're saying is, while I'm in the middle of everyone healing, taking no damage because of my armor, I'm also decreasing everyone's attack speed as well? Hot. But cool. Get it? Because it's froz- Never mind.

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Viable Items

Abyssal Scepter
Good if you have a bunch of AP champions on your team, or the other team is building some MR.

Void Staff
If there are 2 or more tanks, or everyone is building significant amounts of MR, grab a Void Staff. You'll shred through their MR like it's nothing.

Moonflair Spellblade
If the other team has a lot of CC (ie. Blitzcrank) and you feel you need the tenacity, grab this. Sorcerer's Shoes are too valuable to give up, so this item can provide some decent survivability in terms of CC reduction. Not my favorite, but can be useful against some team comps.

Zhonya's Hourglass
Can be used instead of Frozen Heart for some more AP, armor, and the invincibility buff. It can really help because you remain in your ult while you're invulnerable and can't move.