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League of Legends Build Guide Author cheesemaker

Making cheese out of: Swain

cheesemaker Last updated on January 4, 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

Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

What is this guide about?

This guide is about tank Swain. The purpose of this guide is to inform the reader about the capabilities of tank Swain such as: what/how to build him (my style), combos with his abilities, and how to initiate (and survive) a team fight. This guide is still in the making, so there will be more content to come as I gain more advice. I know AP Swain is a strong build, and I encourage people to try that build out... but this is a build to really piss off your team in the lobby (if you are the last one to choose and there are no tanks) and still stand a strong chance at winning the game. Provided your team does well. I don't know the effectiveness of this build in a arranged team, he obviously cant "tank" as well as the true tanks can. This however has been working for me quite well in solo que, and was inspired after one of my solo que games.

Basically, this guy tanks, snares, and drains life to sustain himself in the midst of combat. This build carries a well-coordinated 4 DD (damage dealer) team to victory.

Swain's Abilities

  • Carrion Renewal: is his passive ability. For every creature you kill, a bluish-green bubble will appear around Swain and for the next 5 seconds, he will regenerate his mana 3x as fast. I tend to grab mana regen from the support tree and clarity seals, this allows me to last hit efficiently and rewards me for harassing the enemy players with Nevermove.
  • Decrepify: is his Lazerbird(?) ability. It's a single-target spell that slows the enemy player and damages them for the next 3 seconds. I tend to level up this ability last, because i like the mid-game crowd control with Nevermove more, but if I went AP Swain (for example) I would level up this ability after Torment because of his main damage dealing combo.
  • Nevermove: is his snare ability. It can be a hit-or-miss type of move most of the time; it's the kinda move thats only good as the player behind it. The delay (to me) is a one-thousand count in my head, so the timing most enemy players have to make is rather difficult; making this a rewarding ability to use often. Its holds them in place for 2 seconds, dealing nice flat damage. What's really nice about this move is, it's the set up for your main damage dealing combo. (Which we'll get to in a second, *chuckle*)
  • Torment: is his damage-dealing ability. What's noticeably important about this ability, is the 8/11/14/17/20% boost to all of Swain's damage for the next 4 seconds. It's a freaking amplification spell, and its f**king OP. This IS THE damage dealing combo, and this ability combos into practically ALL of your other ability's.
  • Ravenous Flock: is his beast-mode ability. This ability is what makes tank Swain possible, because its send out 3 ravens that return to heal you with 50%* of the damage you dealt. It last's as long as you like, provided you pay the scaling mana cost to use it. This also triggers Carrion Renewal, so it's rather effective around minions.


Just gonna throw a few combination of ability's out there and explain what I'm trying to achieve by using them like this:
  • Decrepify>Nevermove: Standard level 2 snare combo. Harass with Decrepify, allowing you to set up for a more accurate placement of Nevermove. Best used when an ally champion is about to gank your lane.
  • Nevermove>Torment>Decrepify: Standard level 3 damage dealing combo. Harass with Nevermove until it lands, target enemy champion and Torment them, run where they were previously running to and Decrepify them. If all goes well Torment will amplify Decrepify, dealing massive damage to the enemy player.
  • Nevermove>Ravenous Flock>Toremnt>Decrepify: Main level 6 damage dealing combo. Much like the level 3 standard, the level 6 standard just subs in your ult before the torment for maximum efficiency. Throw in a flash-forward after Decrepify for good times.
  • Ravenous Flock>Torment>Nevermove: Standard post-6 defensive combo. When being initiated by the enemy team, turn on Ravenous Flock and Torment the initiator (or non-tank pref) and remain in close proximity to them. Watch them. If they are going after your squishy or you, Nevermove the gap. If they are running away, Nevermove their attempt to exit.
  • Remember: Nevermove is a moderately-tough ability to truly master. Don't get frustrated if things don't always go your way the first time. The enemy players are always trying to evade this ability, punish them if you can but realize this **** ain't always 100%.


The masteries set-up that I went with is 9/0/21, maxing out the utility tree. I did this for a number of reasons:
  1. Archaic Knowledge gives 3% CDR and 15% magic penetration, maximizing Swains damage dealing potential without going deep into the Offense Tree.
  2. Awareness increases experience gained on Swain, and I max this out.
  3. Meditation & Perseverence maximizes Carrion Renewal's utility as a passive ability, I choose to sacrifice magic resistance and dodge for this.
  4. Quickness, Intelligence, and Presence of the Master compliment Swain as a caster-tank, giving him 6% more CDR and 3% more movement speed. Presence of the Master I feel is a necessary passive on tank Swain, because one of the best ways to initiate a fight, is by using Flash. This passive allows you to use that more.

  • Necessary Runes: 9x Marks of Insight. 9x Seals of Clarity. 1x Qunit of Insight. As a caster Swain needs to deal magic-type damage for enemies to consider him a threat, and also to live. He also needs to be able to sustain his mana pool in the field. I believe these runes are an essential requirement to have on him whenever I play a game.
  • Optional Runes: 9x Glyphs of Warding. 2x Quints of Swiftness. I chose this set of runes because I wanted to maximize his utility as a tank, specifically anti-caster. Alternatively, Quintessence of Fortitude can be another good option on Swain.

Summoner Spells

Rather than going into a detailed list of all the summoner spells, I'm just going to take a shorter route and explain my philosophy behind tank Swain and why I chose what I did. I think tank Swain isn't really a tank, he's actually more of a tank-carry like Malphite. He has decent CC, moderate damage output, and moderate damage intake. To compliment this I chose Exhaust and Flash.
  • Exhaust is an offensive-defensive summoner ability. I forgot to mention earlier that getting the Cripple summoner ability provides a nice resistance reduction to any enemy champion it's used on. I like to use this to either flee away from an enemy champion while using Decrepify, or close in on an enemy champ. in combination with Nevermove. If you don't prefer to use this summoner ability, I'd suggest either Ignite or Cleanse in its place instead.
  • Flash I prefer over Ghost for the element of surprise and utility it governs. I like to juke with this ability alot, I can terrain jump with this, and I believe I've already mentioned some of its offensive uses earlier in this guide.

How to: build Swain

This is how I turn Swain from a caster to a tank, in just 15 minutes!!!

Swain starts off the game as a caster. Following the recommended item build, I get a Doran's Ring and Health Potion when the game starts. Doran's Ring is such a valuable item to Swain early game, you'd be a crazy fool NOT to get one. If things aren't going your way early game, try stacking Doran's Ring. At worst, you have the best rage build out there.

If you don't fail in the early game, get the item that prohibits the most damage to whoever you're fighting in your lane with. Most characters usually depend on AP to carry them through, so picking up either a Null-Magic Mantle(ideal) or Chain Mail(OR Cloth Armor!) and Boots of Speed should be your first priorities. Ideally this means you are striving to obtain either Spirit Visage and/or Glacial Shroud as your first means of defense.

In order to keep your damage from falling short in the mid game, start focusing on building up AP by buying Blasting Wand and/or Amplifying Tome. You also want to maximize your speed already, so finish your Sorcerer's Shoes. If you got the Spirit Visage, you want to start building into Abyssal Scepter most of the time. The magic resistance de-buff is GREAT for withering away enemy champions, and the items are extremely relevant towards fighting enemy casters. If you got a Glacial Shroud by the end of early game (instead of Spirit Visage), I recommend a Rylai's Crystal Scepter for snaring potential with ALL of your spells. Sometimes, I'll build Spirit Visage after Glacial Shroud for all-around versatility.

Each game is situationally different, and in the end, whoever completes their build fastest usually does the best late game. There are 3 item compositions, and late game is dedicated to completely finishing these compositions. By the 25 minute mark, you should have:

Doran's Ring+Spirit Visage+Abyssal Scepter+Sorc. Shoes
Doran's Ring+Glacial Shroud(Frozen Heart)+Blasting Wand(Rylai's Crystal Scepter)+Sorc. Shoes
Doran's Ring+Spirit Visage+Frozen Heart+Blasting Wand(Abyssal Scepter OR Rylai's)+Sorc. Shoes

As you can see demonstrated from the poorly-designed diagram above, Blasting Wand can be built into 2 of your late game options which makes it a viable choice after obtaining your primary defensive item. I wont go too much into detail, because this new patch is give me a bunch of new items to try out. Generally tanking first, get power later.

Laning Phase (Ambiguous solo-duo lane walkthrough)
  • Early Game: Your first priority during early game (no matter what) is to farm your tank build. At this point Carrion Renewal will make its shine in conjunction with Nevermove and later on Decrepify; in terms of your harassing potential. Move the enemy out of position with Nevermove and keep pressure on them with Decrepify, auto-attacking, and Torment. At this point in the game, you are very vulnerable without defensive items. Play evasively. Remember, Always try to land minion kills whenever possible to reap the benefits of Carrion Renewal. Especially in this phase of the game.
  • Mid Game: Finishing your tank items and boots becomes your priority during this phase of the game. Everyone has more items, and some people will try to gank. As you are finishing your staple item, stick to the lanes and let them come to you. Swain doesn't try to gank. He either kills, or does his best to prevent ganks in his lane. Whatever money you are left with should go to AP itemization, each game is different.
  • Late Game: If this already didn't occur, start pushing whatever lane is ideal and try to initiate a team fight. To do so, have all your carries next to you and begin to mark ideal targets. Catch one of them with Nevermove, and proceed to combo in with Flash, Ult, Torment, and Decripify. OR, just Flash in and leave Ult on, saving your moves for individual enemy champs. Generally, leave Ult on until target is eliminated, then toggle off to save mana and Torment>Decripify with the rest of your mana. It really depends on team compositions and situations at this point. Thank you for reading, good luck with your games and have fun everyone.