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Swain Build Guide by RE Leo

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author RE Leo

Swain - Reign over the lane, with your pimp cane

RE Leo Last updated on October 27, 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

Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

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Hello everyone! Welcome to RE Leo's Swain Guide! This is the first build I've done, so any criticism/advice is appreciated. :)

Swain, the Master Tactician.

Swain, the Master Tactician, is my favorite champion. He's got mad CC, great sustainability in lane, harass abilities, and the damage is great. He takes some skill to play, but I fell in love from the first game I played.

*CC = Crowd Control
*DoT = Damage over Time
IMPORTANT - I will say Lazer Bird instead of Decrepify when referring to Swain's Q skill. Blame Phreak.

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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.''

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Pros / Cons

-Lane Sustainability. Staying power in lane is a huge asset.
-Tanky for a mage. Tough to kill.
-Has a snare AND a slow.
-Great Harasser.
-Damage over time is strong.
-Versatile. Can mid, solo lane, and duo lane.
-Admit it... he's a badass. Especially if you read the story ^ (reminds me a bit of Dr. House? o.O)

-Slow movement speed (He's on a cane ffs)
-Mana is eaten up if you keep your ult on too long.
-Below average farmer early game.
-Burst damage is relatively low compared to some mages (i.e. Annie, Brand)
-No true escape skill. (see first con)

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Summoner Spells


Flash is pretty standard on a guy like Swain. Give him an escape skill, and can also be used to chase. Pretty good skill for any champion.

Teleport is really just my personal preference. I use it to defend towers and get back to lane quicker after a recall. Can be swapped for an alternative.


Ignite is a great skill that works well with Swains DoT spells.

Ghost is a good escape and chase skill. I prefer flash over it, but if you need some extra movement, then take out teleport for it.

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Pretty much standard 9/0/21 mage masteries, not much to explain here.

If you want to build an off-tank Swain, then you could consider 9/21/0 or 0/21/9, but I do not recommend it. This build focuses on a DPS carry Swain, which benefits most from 9/0/21.

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Make sure you have all Magic Pen Marks, and Flat Ability Power Glyphs. AP per level is also fine. As for seals, preferrably mana/sec/level runes, but if you don't feel like wasting a lot of IP, you can just stick with HP/Armor seals. No big deal.

As for your Quints, I prefer Magic Pen quints, but Ability Power quints and Movespeed quints also work.

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Skill Sequence

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

First I get at level 1. Then I get at level 2, and at level 3. From there on out, I max out as my first priority, getting my each time it is available.

The most important skill (Aside from your ultimate) is , because that is where most of your damage will come from.

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Opening Game

Get the mana crystal, as well as 2 red pots (or you could get 1 red + 1 blue, depends on preference). This is to maximize your staying power in lane. Try to sustain as long as you can in the lane early.

Doran's is always an alternative. I don't get it mainly because it slows down your RoA. It's up to you though.

Early Game

Catalyst The Protector

Get your boots ASAP, then start slowly chipping away at RoA.

Mid Game

This is when Swain gets to be awesome. Magic Pen boots for a caster, and RoA as soon as possible. The Hextech Revolver is an important item that works in synergy with his ult to give him awesome survivability.


At this point, you should own. RoA, Will of Ancients, and Rabaddon's gives you DPS, and sustain. The Rabadon's Deathcap especially makes your ability power go really high, like Dwight Howard's jumping ability. Sorry for the basketball analogy... Atleast I didn't say "It makes your ability power go up like an erected *****". Saw it on another build. >.>

Endgame + Luxury

I like to finish things off with a Zhonya's Hourglass and Deathfire Grasp. It's your choice though, your preference. Depends on what team your facing, for example, if they have a lot of AP you can get Spirit Visage or Abyssal Scepter.

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Now on to the fun part. Playing with Swain.

At the beginning of the game, take . You should use it every once in a while (be cautious early game with Swain) to harass enemies while you last-hit minions. Make sure you also auto attack the target that has been targeted with , because it amplifies the damage your target takes from all of your attacks and skills. At the early levels, this can be deadly. Last-hitting is also VERY important on Swain, because his passive helps keep up his mana levels, allowing him to stay in the lane longer.

Here is a useful video to help your laning phase:
Swain's farm is not great, until he hits level 6. At this point he can use his to kill minions that are low and regain his hp points.

-Be very careful using your ult. You have to toggle it on and off within quick intervals so it doesn't eat your mana down. You must save your mana in order to use your ult vs. enemy champs, or if you get low on hp.

VS. Enemy Champs

Once you hit level 3, you should have 1 point in each of your skills. This is when it starts to get fun. Using your , you can really start to harass and whittle down your enemies. When using , always consider the status of the enemy.

-Put it just in front of them if they are moving TOWARDS you.
-Put it just behind them if they are RUNNING AWAY or CAUTIOUS.
-If they are NOT MOVING, do not always put it right under where they are standing. Most likely they will move a certain direction, which you must ANTICIPATE (A very important skill for anyone who wants to play Swain)

Because it has nice little AoE, can also sometimes catch a kiter who is trying to juke sideways. The forward and fackward placement is the most important.

Later on in the game, landing is extremely important. It allows you to start your full combo.

--> --> -->

Try to use your as soon as possible once your opponent is snared! It should initiate your combo because it amplifies the damage your target takes from all of your other attacks and spells.

When you are facing enemy champions DO NOT BE AFRAID to use up your mana sustaining your ultimate.

In teamfights, do not initiate. Stay in the back with your ult. Remember, while Swain is a tanky mage, HE IS NOT A TANK. Some people think they can pop his ult and instantly be Jesus, but that's not the case.

This video is pretty informative and gives you some insight on how Swain plays and handles. You don't have to watch it all.

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+ Swain was the first Champion to be announced and then reworked before it went live.

+ Nevermove is a reference to the narrative poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

+ While Ravenous Flock is active, Swain has three seperate /jokes and an additional /taunt, unlike other champions with "true forms".

+ The transformed model closely resembles one of the Greater Daemons of Tzeentch, Lords of Change, from the Warhammer universe.

+ Swain's raven is named "Beatrice".

+ The color of Swain's form in ravenous flock varies, depending on what skin Swain is chosen to be in. In his original skin, he turns black, whilst in his Northern Front skin and Bilgewater skin he turns white and red respectively.

+ Swain was designed by Coronach.

+ Swain was a member of the Black Rose, a dark group that has been around since before the rise of the military goverment in Noxus. They are thought to no longer exist, but Leblanc the Deceiver is its leader and is working on getting the Black Rose back into the public's eye.

+ Swain is one of the few champions to have an Art Spotlight, along with Cassiopeia, Karma, Renekton, Trundle, Maokai, Nocturne and Lee Sin.

+ According to Babaganoosh, Swain was unable to compete in the Ionia Versus Noxus Grudge Match due to have just been recently promoted to the Noxian High Command and thus needed to take time away from the League to put all his affairs in order.

+ Swain's name may be a reference to a character named The Mastermind, made by flash producer TheSwain: both characters bear a good resemblance in tactics and intellect to one another.

+ Swain's innate ability when he went live was "Whenever Swain kills an enemy unit, his mana regeneration is increased by 300%". While true, it only affected his base mana regeneration, which wasn't clear. It was changed to its current incarnation to give nearly the same effect, but in a form that is much easier to understand.

Taken from League of Legends Wiki.

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I hope everyone liked my build, I have had great success with it, in normal and ranked.

These are the FIRST FIVE GAMES I'VE EVER PLAYED WITH SWAIN. So the scores aren't great, but honestly those are the first times I've ever used him. In each game, I have used this same exact build.

And LOL @ the Xin Zhao game. xD

Thanks for taking the time to read my Swain guide. I appreciate it :)


10/27/11 EDIT: Changed some luxury items, embedded abilities and items as bbcode icons, added a skill sequence bar, and made it overall easier to read.