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Swain Build Guide by TheMightyKhoner

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League of Legends Build Guide Author TheMightyKhoner

Dispatching Worms : Khoner's In-Depth Swain

TheMightyKhoner Last updated on March 21, 2012
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Top Lane
Ranked #16 in
Top Lane
Win 48%
Get More Stats

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Please do a few things for me...
// Read through it a bit, and see my reasoning behind my build and skill sequence.
// Play a custom game first! You know how annoying it is to have a first time champ on your team.
// Get a feel for the abilities, and when to use them.
// Have patience, you will not be MLG right away. Just give it some time.
// Last hit your creeps in lane, this will give you the edge on who wins and who doesn't (Unless your Support or Jungle!).

About Swain ::
Swain is a sort of off-tank mage, capable of destroying the enemy carry, and sustaining the enemies burst while doing it. Swain does not have any form of burst damage just a constant stream of consistent dots. He excels in the solo top and mid lanes, and he translates well into late game.
My thoughts on Swain ::
// Swain is one of my favorite mages.
// Swain is completely unique.
// Swain can 5v1 a team if played properly.
// Swain is an underrated solo top.
// Swain should almost always get the first kill in lane.

Lore ::
The earliest account of Swain's existence comes from a Noxian infirmary doctor's notes. According to them, Swain limped into the ward without cry or complaint: his right leg was snapped in half, with bone protruding from the skin. A small, scowling bird seemed affixed to his shoulder. The doctor gawked in horror as the young adolescent answered questions about his health and age with a calm, even stare. Even behind the echoing crack as the sand counterweights reset his tibia, Swain’s measuring gaze never flickered, nor did his eyes twitch from the pop of his fibula. He refused the doctor’s recommendation of magical treatment for the leg’s inoperable damage, requesting only a spare crutch before shuffling away. He next surfaced in documents from the Noxian military, although it is evident that they are incomplete. Normally a crippled boy would be turned away in shame from Noxus’ proud legion, but the records indicate his first designation was that of a ranking officer.

The men who've served under him (and survived) have remained in his charge with unshakable faith and loyalty. He leapt through the High Command's hierarchy, often ascending when superiors requested demotions to join his unit. A cunning strategist, Swain was decorated after every battle he fought, regularly hobbling in contemplation at the front of the assault. His rise to power seemed unceasing until he was suddenly relegated to inactive status prior to the Ionian Invasion - a bewildering decision which reeked of bureaucratic subversion. If Swain was upset by the events which unfolded, he never belied it. His face was so implacable that it was popularly rumored to be a mask, disguising something utterly inhuman beneath. More controversy surrounded the bird that never left his shoulder, whose name he whispered only to it. When Demacia escalated its presence in the League, Swain was immediately returned to active duty.

"If you haven't yet lost the ability to ask, you may not yet ask for relief."

Terms Used ::
AA = Auto-attack [Basic Attacks]
AD = Attack Damage
AP = Ability Power
CC = Crowd Control [Stun, Fear, Slow, etc.]
Creeps = Team Spawned Minions
Fed = Having more kills than others.
MS = Movement Speed
MR = Magic Resistance
APent = Armor Penetration
MPent = Magic Penetration
CDR = Cooldown Reduction
OOM = Out of Mana
HP = Health
MP5 = Mana Regeneration per 5 seconds
HP5 = Health Regeneration per 5 seconds

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First, lets take a look at the Pros and Cons..


+ > High Sustain
+ > Very good in lane, and teamfights
+ > Has a skill shot!
+ > Has insane spell vamp
+ > Has a toggle ult
+ > Has a snare


- > Has skill curve
- > Can be shut down easily.
- > Easily Focused
- > Long Cooldowns
- > Screwed if you can't hit abilities
- > Needs farm

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Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

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// Summoner's Wrath : Makes your Ignite increase your AP when on cooldown. Since your Ignite is almost always the reason you get first blood (a.k.a. on cooldown often), I like to take this one.

// Mental Force : Gives you some more AP early on, and it's the best choice possible.

// Sorcery : CDR is always nice, it's not that much, but it leads into...

// Arcane Knowledge : Gives you more MR. More MR = more damage = more kills = more money = good.

// Havoc : Extra damage, this also scales into late game. Most masteries only affect early game. But this one is solid all game.

// Blast : More AP for late game, makes you do more damage, makes you get more kills.

// Archmage : This one is awesome, it probably gives you the most out of any AP mastery. At around 480 AP (what your at full build, not including Rabadon's Deathcap passive), this will give you 24 AP.

// Executioner : Another mastery that works all game round, this really helps picking up first blood kills in lane.

// Resistance : This is a little extra resistance to help in lane, nothing much but it helps.

// Hardiness : See above explanation.

// Durability : Extra health, gives you some more tankiness, and leads into..

// Veteran's Scars : More extra health, this time just a flat bonus, I like getting this to make me more of a threat in lane.

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Summoner Spells

Swain is the only champ that I feel (as of now) that must run Flash Ignite.
"Why though?"
Simply because Flash is known as the best spell in the game, and it is particularly good on casters such as Swain. And it's the most versatile, it can be used both offensively and defensively. I get Flash on every single mage, no questions asked.

Now the need for Ignite definitely varies between mages. But for Swain it is a must, it is the reason you will consistently get first blood in lane. It's as if it was made for Swain. It synergizes so well with his Torment and reduces healing by 50%.

(Note : Don't take anything other than these two, you will just be gimping yourself and Swain).

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Item Sequence

Rod of Ages

Hextech Revolver

// Sorcerer's Shoes : Swain is very, very slow. Even with boots, I get boots early so I can be where I need to be if need be. Also the extra magic penetration is nice.

// Rod of Ages : Health, Mana, Sustain, this item is so awesome on any AP carry. I get this for the early sustain in lane, and the tankiness in team fights. The mana also allows me to stay on the battle field for longer.

// Hextech Revolver : Spell Vamp and early AP make you really mean in the lane, once you get this your sustain is through the roof. Depending on how the game is going I'll build Will of the Ancients immediately, or just leave it as a Hextech Revolver awhile.

Starting Items

Item Sequence

Health Potion

Health Potion

Health Potion

// Boots of Speed : This is pretty standard for all AP carries. I like to get it because it gives me MS, and gets me closer to those Sorcerer's Shoes.

// Health Potion : The cheapest items in the game! Also some of the most useful, these keep you in lane longer. Need I say more?

For Defense

Item Sequence

Banshee's Veil

Spirit Visage

Frozen Heart

Guardian Angel

Zhonya's Hourglass

// Abyssal Mask : Awesome item, this is especially good on Swain since he is an in-your-face type AP champion. This'll make anyone who does magic damage (including you) hit harder, at the same time it gives you MR and AP.

// Banshee's Veil : This'll give you more health, mana and MR. I like to get this if the enemy team is very pokey. ( Nidalee, Dr. Mundo)

// Spirit Visage : This gives you early MR, CDR, and health. Very good stats for how cheap this thing is. I like to pick this up with a Hextech Revolver early on in the game. It makes your ult heal for insane amounts.

// Frozen Heart : Mehh.. not the best item on Swain but it's good for any champ who relies heavily on mana and need armor. So this is viable, but there are better choices.

// Guardian Angel : Another meh item for Swain, it's a great item, probably the best defensive item in the game, but their are better choices to be made for our particular champ, such as the next.

// Zhonya's Hourglass : Best item for short to mid range mages in the game. 2 seconds of stasis!?! That's a Kayle ultimate in your pocket. This is so close to being a core item, it's truly awesome for Swain.

For Offense

Item Sequence

Rylai's Crystal Scepter

Void Staff

Will of the Ancients

Deathfire Grasp

// Rabadon's Deathcap : The most used item for AP carries. It's like the Infinity Edge of AP. It gives you around 190 just by itself with the passive, and the AP % mastery. That is a lot of freaking AP. This is such a great item and is always in my endgame build.

// Rylai's Crystal Scepter : "BUT Swain ALREADY HAS A SLOW!" I know but just imagine being tankier than your tank and slowing the entire enemy team by pressing R. This is what happens with Swain when you get this item.

// Void Staff : Good item, but I prefer Abyssal Mask on Swain. Because Swain is that tanky mage that runs in and disables the enemy team, this makes you more of a enabler then a carry. Which is kind of your job. So Void Staff if you want to be more of a carry, and Abyssal Mask for being the tanky enabler.

// Will of the Ancients : Gives you AP and makes you heal ridiculously with your Ravenous Flock toggled. This paired up with Zhonya's Hourglass and Rod of Ages makes you invincible if you play it smart. Overall because this item is so cheap, and gives so much, I believe it to be one of the best items in the game, it works especially good with Swain.

// Deathfire Grasp : Another cheap item, that comes with a Gp5. This synergizes well with Swain as well because his Torment increases the damage a significant amount. Although I rarely find this item in my endgame build, it is very, very strong and viable.(Note : If you are going to buy this make sure you try to use the on use before you start dealing a ton of damage, the higher health they are the better.)

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Carrion Renewal
Restores mana for killing an enemy unit.This is why Swain has so much sustain in lane, he can regain mana very quickly and effectively simply by doing the easiest thing in the game.. farming! This combined with your Ravenous Flock makes you so hard to be forced out of your lane, as far as laning goes Swain has one of the best sustains in lane because of this little passive.

A low damage, channeling slow. This slows for incredible ammounts late game, but is still very strong in the early levels. It allows Swain to easily hit his Nevermove, it's as if these abilities were meant for eachother. I grab this at level 3 and max it last.

Tips :
// Use this to guarantee you hitting your Nevermove.
// Use this to slow an enemy ganker!
// Use this to slow an escaping enemy.

A skill shot, AoE snare. Without a doubt this is what makes Swain such a threat. With a huge range, it allows you to grasp (literally.. they're claws!) enemies from afar. Not to mention they are rooted for 2 seconds. I take this at level 1 and usually max this second, but if I find myself against a high mobility champ / someone I need to lock down in lane, I'll max it first for the damage output.

Tips :
// Throw out in front of an escaping enemy, most of the time they won't react quickly enough.
// Use this to harass in lane from far away.
// Use this to snare gankers and run away.

A short range DoT debuff. This is your main form of harass in lane, it has good ratios and pretty high base damage and it's the most reliable. It also increases damage dealt by Swain to the target by 20% (@ level 5) this includes items ( Deathfire Grasp and summoner spells ( Ignite).

Tips :
// Use this to harass in lane! Whenever they get close just throw it on them and AA.
// Use this then a Deathfire Grasp to make an enemy very unhappy.

Ravenous Flock
AoE toggle that damages 3 surrounding enemies, Swain is healed for a percentage of the damage dealt. Completely unique ultimate that makes Swain so tanky, as it restores a huge percentage of damage dealt and has very high base damage. It also helps your sustain in lane, and almost helps you survive ganks with ease. This is one of my favorite ultimates of any champ.

Tips :
// Get blue, and keep this on at all times in a teamfight. You can't turn it back on for 10 seconds!
// Use this to farm minions quickly.
// Use this to restore health in lane.
// Don't untoggle if your sure you won't need to toggle in the next 10 seconds.

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Early Game (1-8)

Grab your Boots of Speed and 3 health potions head to your lane (mid or top?). Protect / Leash for your jungler if you need to. Farm your lane as best you can, that is the key to winning mid, is who can get farmed the fastest. Swain is very easy to farm whilst harrassing your opponent, as you can do it with your Torment constantly. Last hit creeps as best you can, and take minimal damage from the enemy. Poke until you get your enemy half health, Decrepify lay down a Nevermove, throw a Torment onto them, toggle your Ravenous Flock on and hit them with your Ignite. Stay as close as possible to them and try to get some AA's off. You should always try to get first blood as your lane will snowball immensely.
(Note : By AT LEAST one Sight ward every time you go back, 75 gold for being ungankable? Yes please.)
Your Goals :
// Outfarm opponent
// Score first blood
// Snowball your lane
// Don't push tower
// Ward your lane constantly
// Get blue

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Mid Game (9-16)

So you've probably built your core items and your working on some damage. Laning phase should be breaking soon, so you want to farm up as much as you can before it does. At this point team fights should be breaking out, your job is to shut down the carry. Run in with your Ravenous Flock on and do your full combo described in the previous chapter. After the carry is laying face down being nommed on by ravens, you'll want to move to the next lowest health target. Do your full combo, rinse and repeat.
If after your core items you...
Need Sustain? Get a Will of the Ancients
Need Tankiness? Get a Zhonya's Hourglass
Need Damage? Get a Rabadon's Deathcap
Need Utility? Get a Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Need Burst? Get a Deathfire Grasp
(Note : Don't ever turn your ult off in a teamfight if you don't have to. It's a 10 second cooldown D=)
Your Goals :
// Get Dragon
// Get Baron
// Win teamfights
// Establish Map Control (WARD!)
// Don't Die
// Round out your build

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Late Game (16+)

This doesn't differ to much from mid game except that you should be a whole lot tankier, and doing a lot more damage. The goal is the same.. destroy the enemy carry. The only difference between mid and late game, is that the tides usually turn, you can start to see the game turning in a teams favor and they usually win. So around this time the last fight will usually happen in which either side is aced and the game ends. Since this'll be happening soon you'll need to be prepared, make sure you have a Elixir of Brilliance and maybe a Elixir of Fortitude, make sure you have Blue buff, and make sure your Ignite is up. Never split up from your team, stick together and catch an enemy out of position.
Your Goals :
// Prepare for final fight
// Stick together
// Maintain Map Control
// Dominate Baron / Dragon
// Win Final Fight
// Win Game

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Final Comments (TL:DR)

1.) Insta-Lock Swain
2.) Get to your lane
3.) Whenever your E is off cooldown throw it on the enemy.
4.) Farm
5.) Farm
6.) When you hit level 6. Q the Enemy. W the Enemy. E the Enemy. Ult the enemy. Ignite the enemy. Kill the enemy.
7.) Win lane
8.) Build a Rod of Ages, Will of the Ancients and Zhonya's Hourglass.
9.) Use all abilities and ignite on enemy carries in teamfights.
10.) Use Zhonyas Active when focused.
11.) Win Game
12.) Profit

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Thanks for reading my third guide on Mobafire. I truly appreciate it. And hopefully (err.. most definitely) you will be pwning with Swain now. I will constantly be making improvements and updates to this guide.

Please tell me what you think of it in the comments, rate it, and give me some pointers.

Shout out to JhoiJhoi for the awesome guides, and formatting.

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