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Swain - Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Last updated on January 5, 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: 10

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Presence of the Master

Utility: 20

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Swain is a great champion to play if you are unsure your team will be diverse enough. You can't classify him as a nuke, a disabler, a utility, or a carry because he is a bit of all of these things. It is important to realize which of these roles you fall into early in the game so you can build the proper items for what your team needs. Basically, as a nuke, get a Deathfire Grasp early, then move onto various AP items and neglect health or survivability. If you are a disabler, build cooldown reduction and spam your Q and W moves to throw the opposing team off guard. If you decide to be a utility caster. Get a Spirit Visage early on, as well as some cooldown reduction, and try to set up your teammates with easy kills using your W and Q moves. And if you decide to be a carry, a Mejai's Soulstealer should be your rush, then from there on, build based on when the opponents are building to stop you. Such as magic pen if they are building magic resistance, or ability power if they are building health.
All in all, Swain is a very good champion if you're willing to play a few games with him before you give him up forever.

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Skill Sequence

The skill sequence is subject to change. Basically, if you're having trouble landing the E-W-Q combo, start giving privilege to W. Then shift your combo to W-E-Q. Use the ult at will, use it for farming minions, use it to run away, use it to get that little extra damage to take down an enemy champion. Basically, level these at will.

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Pros / Cons


  • Does a lot of damage very fast
  • Can completely detach an enemy from a group of enemies for easy ganking
  • Early game, is very potent and can dominate unsuspecting enemies
  • Incredibly squishy!!!
  • A very mana reliant champion
  • Must be good at last hitting minions
  • After all of his spells are burnt, usually he hasn't fully killed the target (a lot of assists)

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Summoner Spells

Using clarity can be tough. Most times, I use it to verify my safety when pushing towers early game, then late game I use it to find enemy escape paths for my teammates and I to go gank. Also I use it to check Baron, and blue buff whether it be on my side or the enemy side. It is very tricky to use, but can be a great summoner spell as offensive and defensive.
Use at will! If you have the point in Ignite, when it is on cooldown your Ability Power gains 10 points. That can be the extra damage you need on a dot to take down an enemy. So use it at the beginning (if possible) of any combo.

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Game Strategy

Early Game
Early game swain is simple. If you are mid, play for last hits using Torment as frequently as you want, so long as you are last hitting you'll regain mana and get a pretty nice amount of cash. Once you reach level 3 you have your full combo. The preferred combo has landing E then trying to predict where the opponent is going to be and using nevermore (W) then firing laser bird (Q) to achieve max damage. This is optimal when in a lane with someone else who can distract. Although it works as a counter when an opposing champion pushes at you mid. Just remember Swain is very squishy, so use all you're abilities and hit them with an auto shot, but GET OUT!!
By the time you're level 4-5, recall and buy your Mejai's Soulstealer. Once again, use discretion, if you've been slapping your opponent silly on your lane, start moving to other lanes for ganking. Then go back and buy a Kage's Lucky Pick, then buy Boots of Speed. Don't worry about building those boots for a bit, try to get massive AP early to make you a lethal ganker. If possible (and you're doing well) have a teammate help you get blue buff as early as possible. It is the best thing for swain and will allow you to get many more kills much faster.
Ganking with Swain is tricky. The usual gank involves letting the opponent push and then swinging in behind them, however, Swain doesn't do well if he's double targeted. It usually proves successful to allow your teammates to initiate the fight, then come in and disable. Burn all abilities and power someone down, usually their partner will run (if applicable).
Mid Game
Start grabbing blue buff solo as much as you can. An easy way to do this is to hit Golem with E then quickly W the area with the guard minions, then Q Golem. Once you loose a bit of health, pop your ultimate for a few ticks until all of the minions are dead, then just cycle through your abilities until he is dead. At this point in the game, you should be satisfied with assists. Most of the enemies will have enough health and magic pen to stop you from nuking them to death, so try to set up your allies with some nice kills. However, kills are preferable, and entering fights late will help you with that. Try to stay at the back of the pack then move in when the enemy melee targets move in. You don't want to be in range of anyone if possible, but the main thing is to not be targeted by anyone. Based on how you're doing, you can either buy a Spirit Visage now, or a Deathfire Grasp. The difference is a Spirit Visage will make it much harder for enemies to kill you while your ult is up, and a Deathfire Grasp will give you that extra spell you can cast to last hit champions and to initiate a fight. If you are building up Mejai's Soulstealer stacks pretty easily, consider building more ability power to boost your Deathfire Grasp's damage output. However if you find yourself being targeted first, finish your boots into either sorcerer's shoes, or Mercury Treads based on the other team's items and champions. At this stage, you want to be involved. If you get a hit off on every champion, you'll be building Mejai's Soulstealer stacks very quickly and will end up as the carry for your team.
Get good at micro. You want to be able to step in and out of battle repeatedly all the while trying to predict the enemy movement. This means, if they are looking like they are going to push, start kiting them back towards your base and your allies, however if they look like they are going to run, you want to run aggresively with your allies, use clarity to show your allies where they are going, and try to slow them whenever possible.
Late Game
By this point, one team is starting to push into another base. This is around when teams start deciding on when to do Baron. Your job now is to absolutely nuke enemy teams. If you aren't doing so well, continue your mid game strategy, and let whoever is carrying for your team help you build Mejai's Soulstealer stacks. There is no reason to die as Swain late game unless the other team is VERY fed. You should have no trouble stepping in for a quick kill and farming minions. At this point, enemy champions tend to ignore trying to dodge your Nevermore, so just lead them however much you need to get the hit off and you'll almost always get a hit. This is the fun time. Continue using your combos as much as possible. E-W-Q is still the best possible, but they're all amazing. Once they're rooted, pop your ult, run in, ignite, deathfire, and run out and you'll kill almost everyone. The key is to get out, because enemy champions will be breathing down your neck as you're very squishy and an easy kill. Keep blue buff up all the time, and try to do baron as much as possible with your team. I hope you try Swain, and give him a valid shot.