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Swain Build Guide by crystalfortress

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League of Legends Build Guide Author crystalfortress

Mid Lane Swain: Fear my Flock

crystalfortress Last updated on August 18, 2014
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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.



Offense: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 0


Utility: 9

Threats to Swain with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Akali Oh man, Akali has such a tough time in this matchup. Your large early game harass and crowd control can prevent her from getting any kind of favorable trade, she's squishy as heck and has very little sustain, and needs the farm to get her snowball going. Keep in mind though that even if you've done a good job of keeping her suppressed, when she hits 6, she becomes very bursty and mobile. Use your crowd control to keep her away from your teammates and stop her from roaming.
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Hi there, my name's Crystalfortress, and this is my guide to mid lane Swain, as well as my 6th guide on Mobafire. Swain is a very different sort of mid lane champ, with a diverse set of strengths and lots of different ways to be built. Swain is usually consistently strong at all points in the game, making him a fairly good generalist pick. This guide will show you the many ways in which I build and play Swain. If you enjoy the guide or it helped you become better at Swain, please don't forget to upvote the guide and leave me a comment. Anyways, let's get down to business!

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Pros & Cons


  • Tankier than most carries
  • Very strong damage, aoe and single target.
  • Strong crowd control
  • Great sustain

  • Short range on abilities
  • Mana expensive pushing
  • Countered by Grievous Wounds
  • Low Mobility

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The offense tree is obviously the best choice for mid lane Swain, since your main objective is doing damage, and that's what this tree does. This is my personal favorite way to go through the tree, avoiding the weaving and spellblade points because you don't autoattack and the double-edged sword point because you aren't melee.


I enjoy putting the remaining 9 points into the Utility tree. The main bonuses that you get from this are mana regeneration, quicker summoner spell cooldowns and longer blue buffs. You also get quicker recalls and slightly more from potions, but these are very minor advantages. If you prefer, or if you are in a very rough matchup, consider putting these points into the defensive tree instead.

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These quints are par for the course on AP mid laners, and Swain benefits from their substantial damage boost just as much as everybody else. Definitely usually the best quintessences.


These provide you with quite a lot of health late game, and are usually better than any alternatives you can come up with. The late game tankiness is especially helpful on Swain because of his short range.


If you are against an AP mid laner, these are really important to get. They will provide you with protection against the magic damage that they will be throwing out, especially early game.


These are really great for magic damage mid laners, providing you with a large boost in damage throughout the entirety of the game.



These are pretty solid quintessences on all champions, because move speed is literally never a bad stat. I bought these initially because they were good on all champions, but I still sometimes use them against skillshot reliant enemies.

These could be good to use in a rune page for if you come up against an AD mid laner against whom you'll need the extra armor. In this situation, I would probably replace the magic resistance glyphs, since you won't be needing that stat.


These could be used if you either like to have lots of mana regeneration because you aren't good at managing your mana or if you have a blue buff-reliant jungler. You will miss out on some late game health though.

These are good alternatives for magic resist glyphs if you either would rather have more scaling damage or if you are against an AD mid laner.

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Summoner Spells


Flash is just a great summoner spell. On everybody. I mean, what champion doesn't benefit from the ability to jump through freakin' walls? And for Swain, it's especially great because you don't have any mobility built into your kit. You can use it for more than just using walls to outplay your enemies, though. It can help you engage on enemies by jumping in to close range. It can help you escape bad situations by jumping away. Just such a great spell.

Ignite is great for helping secure kills in the early game, giving you that little boost in damage that you need to finish off that low-health enemy. It also applies grievous wounds, decreasing enemy regeneration, which can be awesomely helpful against certain enemies. And you know what's really fun that makes it even better on Swain than usual? Torment actually increases it's damage too.


Teleport could be good on Swain if you are in one of your rough matchups. First of all, you can use it to create teleport ganks at any of the other lanes, something which Swain does exceptionally well compared to many other champions due to his high amount of crowd control and single-target damage. In addition, if you are against an enemy that has a high amount of harassment (which is what makes up most of Swain's bad matchups), then you can use it to recall to base without costing you too much in terms of farm in the early game.

While for the most part Swain counters assassins by harassing the heck out of them early game, it can still be a good idea against some of them to pick up Exhaust in case they do get some good opportunities to all-in you. Besides, you never know, they could get a good gank from their jungler and then all of a sudden they're scary all-in masters, so it could be a good idea to take it against an assassin, even if you do counter them sometimes.

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Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

This is the main leveling order that I use in most games. I usually level Torment first for the good early game harass (especially if you follow up with some autoattacks, they're increased too). However, you could also level one of your crowd control abilities if you think that you might need it against your lane opponent. Next, you want to get a level into each of the other two abilities that you didn't level, in whichever order you prefer against your specific lane opponent (probably Torment second if you didn't take it first). You pretty basically want to get all abilities available as soon as possible because your full combo early game can wreck face. Next, I always max Torment first because it increases the damage of not only itself, but everything else that you do because of the damage amp. Next, you have to choose between maxing Nevermove or Decrepify next depending on one thing: is there a single enemy that you really need to peel and keep away from you or your team? If so, max Decrepify first. Otherwise, I would suggest maxing Nevermove next because it decreases the cooldown, and having your hard cc on cooldown can make or break a situation. Obviously, level up your ultimate whenever it's available.



One of the most brutally simple passives in the game. Pretty basically just gives you a few Doran's Ring passives, which scale with level and a large % maximum mana regeneration on getting a kill or assist. One of the things that makes Swain's early game so brutal for melee-range enemies, because you can just keep on throwing out spells with very little effect on your mana bar so long as you farm well.


Upon being cast, this spell creates a raven at your location that locks onto the targeted enemy, dealing damage every second over the next three seconds and slowing them. However, the crow doesn't follow you, it remains at your original position. If the enemy gets a certain distance away from the raven, it ends the effect prematurely. This spell makes you a beast at kiting a lot of melee enemies, because if they continue to pursue you, they will not only be slowed, making it hard to pursue you in the first place, they will take a whole load of damage. This spell also makes it a whole lot easier to land Nevermove on an enemy if they are slowed.

This is your 900-range, aoe snare. Yes, you read that right. You might be asking "But crystalfortress, that sounds flipping incredible! What's the catch?". Well, if you would shut up for a second, I would be able to tell you. The catch is that it has a visible effect that shows the area of effect to both teams and a fairly long delay before it goes off, making it fairly easy to dodge. Unless, of course, your enemy so happened to be slowed by something like, say, a Decrepify. That would make it harder to get out of the aoe.

Torment is your somewhat short range, but potentially very punishing targeted damage over time. Right off the bat, it does a pretty solid amount of damage over time. However, the part that really sells it is the damage amplification. At maximum level, all of the damage you deal, even from autoattacks, Ignite, Deathfire Grasp and anything else, is increased by %20. That's huge. That %20 increase is the reason why you max it first and why you start off all of your harassment and all-in combos with it.


Anybody who has every played against a Swain has horrifying memories of this ult. After making the horrible mistake of early picking Akali in mid lane one time and getting countered by Swain, I still can't look straight at a raven for too long, or even people with canes. And that's all because of this ultimate, which is pretty freaking great if used correctly. This ultimate is a toggle (however it still has a cooldown). When toggled on, you become a scary-as-heck huge bird god that sends out a few ravens to random enemies near you (favoring champions) and deals damage to them, bringing back a large amount of the damage done on the return trip. However, this ability has huge mana costs that increase the longer it is on, so don't leave it on for too long.

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This section would be huge if I didn't shorten it somehow, so I'm putting the whole thing in spoilers.


starting items


Early Game Items


Core Items




Trinkets & Enchantments



health melter



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Swain has a very good early game against some enemies, and a fairly tough one against others, and it pretty basically only depends on whether you have the range advantage. If your enemies outrange you, the best path is usually to play passively and get as much farm as you can, requesting a gank from your jungler if they're not busy. You have really good follow-up on ganks because of your strong crowd control and single-target damage. If you outrange your opponent, harass as much as possible, because your harass combo is very strong and you have good mana sustain with your passive. Early game, your combo goes Torment into Decrepify into Nevermove, autoattacking if you are comfortable getting that close to your enemy. Once you get your ultimate, you can also egress on an enemy with your ult on. Just make sure not to leave it on too long, because it really can cost a lot of mana.


So long as you haven't been denied too much farm, your mid game has the potential to be very strong. If your opponent outranges you, try to keep a fairly solid amount of farm going without getting pushed out of lane too often. You are a fairly good roamer, not because of any kind of mobility, but because of your fairly strong crowd control and single-target damage. If you took Teleport, you can use this to make global plays by ganking other lanes. If you outrange your opponent and have done a good job of keeping them from farm, consider staying in lane to try to deny them more, preventing them from roaming as well. Just make sure not to overextend, you don't want to get ganked and give up a kill.


So long as you haven't been denied a whole lot of farm, Swain can do an excellent job in the late game teamfights. Unlike most mid lane mages, your job is to dive into the middle of the enemy team, letting your ult do a huge amount of damage, and focusing your other spells on killing a certain high-priority enemy target like the enemy AD carry or mid laner. You can survive this better than most carries becasue of the spell vamp built into Ravenous Flock and the tankiness that should be built into your kit. You aren't as good in siege situations as most mages either, so try to catch your enemies away from their turrets if possible.

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Tips & Tricks

  • Your full damage combo goes like this: Torment-> Deathfire Grasp(if you have it)-> Decrepify-> Nevermove. You can turn on Ravenous Flock whenever you enter range for it in this combo. If you are using this combo to harass your enemy (using your whole combo for harass is fine because of the mana sustain you get from your passive and Rod of Ages), then don't use the Deathfire Grasp active.
  • If you took Torment at level 1, then you can use it to make your autoattack harass really hurt, because the damage amplification applies to them too.
  • I've said this before, but seriously, don't leave Ravenous Flock on for too long. It costs a lot.
  • You can use Nevermove to make long range pick-offs possible if someone on your team has a long-range crowd-control of their own. Otherwise, it's hard to hit without using your own slow from Decrepify.
  • Swain can be very adaptable. He has the potential for strong burst damage, damage over time, tankiness, sustain, or any combination of those. This makes him a fairly strong early pick in solo queue because he can adapt to most enemies. The only thing that majorly counters him is enemies that outrange him, but taking a Crystalline Flask in the early game and being content only getting as much farm as you can without getting pushed out of lane works fine. Also consider using movement speed quints, since most of these champions rely on skillshots of some sort to do their long-range damage. Also, most of these champions are fairly immobile, and thusly weak to ganks, so request jungle support.
  • If you take Teleport as your second summoner spell, recommend to your allies that they put wards in their lane brushes so that you can get surprise ganks on those lanes. Keep an eye out for such opportunities.

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Thanks for reading my guide! I hope that you enjoyed it and maybe that you learned something about Swain! If you have any concerns, disagreements, things you enjoyed, additional tips you would like to share or absolutely ANYTHING that you would like to say to me, leave me a comment and I'll be sure to respond (just try to be kind). Also, if the guide did help you, I would appreciate an upvote. Anyways, thanks for reading my guide and have a nice day!

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8/9/2014 - Guide Published