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Swain Build Guide by Corvus Commander

Swain, The Corvus Commander

By Corvus Commander | Updated on December 5, 2016

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LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


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Hey everyone! I’d like to thank you for checking out my first guide which I hope you find interesting. You can call me Kage, I’ve been playing League of Legends since late season 1 and I’ve since climbed to diamond, platinum and gold amongst different queues. Throughout my years of playing League of Legends Swain has become my solid pick when I need to win ranked games, when I pick him I know things are about to get serious.

I’m glad you’re interested in wanting to learn my favorite champion but here’s the thing, to professionally play Swain you have to understand that he isn’t simply another high tier champion you use to climb divisions. He is a prideful character that embraces pain, he’s an intelligent strategist but he’ll also walk up to you and bash your face in. If you’re looking to play any champion properly you need to know them then more than just ‘free elo’.
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Pros / Cons

• Effective item/mastery synergy.
• Strong lane bully.
• Strong in team fights.
• High dps for a bruiser.

• High cooldowns.
• Requires practice to cs effectively.
• Poor mobility.
• Mana hungry if used incorrectly.

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Carrion Renewal

‘Whenever Swain kills an enemy or structure, he restores 13 - 30 (based on level) mana. On enemy champion takedowns, he regains an additional 9% maximum mana.’

• Helps sustain Swain’s mana during the early game phase.
• 9% on champion kill/assist makes this passive scale into late game phase.
• Encourages players to cs better.

• Not as powerful as passives like that of Veigar.
• Poor cs or kill/assist will result in less mana sustain.


RANGE: 700 / 325 COST: 60 / 65 / 70 / 75 / 80 Mana COOLDOWN: 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10
Magic Damage per Second: 30 / 47.5 / 65 / 82.5 / 100 (+ 30% AP)
Slow: 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40%

‘Beatrice will attack enemies within the area, prioritizing the target of Torment, other champions in range and then any target in range. Beatrice's attacks deal magic damage and slows. Beatrice deals double damage against minions and executes them below 10 health.’

• Instantly activates and damages enemies.
• Deals a large amount of damage over time (combined with Deathfire Touch and other effects).
• Reveals the targeted area, essential for checking objectives and bushes.
• Discourages enemies from moving in certain directions.
• Average wave clear and cs tool.

• Easy for enemies to avoid the full amount of damage.
• High cooldown requires players to be smart when casting.


RANGE: 900 / 125 COST: 80 / 85 / 90 / 95 / 100 Mana COOLDOWN: 18 / 16 / 14 / 12 / 10
Magic Damage: 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 (+ 70% AP)
Root Duration: 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2

‘Active: Swain marks the target area. After a 0.875-second delay, talons grab onto enemy units within, dealing magic damage and rooting them for a short duration.’

• Great synergy with Swain’s damage over time abilities.
• Can root multiple targets.
• Reasonable damage.
• Good wave clear and cs tool.

• High cooldown requires players to be smart while casting.
• Easily avoided by mobile champions like Fizz.


RANGE: 625 COST: 65 / 70 / 75 / 80 / 85 Mana COOLDOWN: 10
Enhanced Magic Damage per Second: 15 / 24 / 33 / 42 / 51 (+ 30% AP)

‘Active: Swain afflicts the target enemy with a curse that deals magic damage to them over 4 seconds, amplifying Swain's damage against them by 20% for the duration.’

• Amplification creates huge synergy with Swain’s abilities and auto attacks.
• Procs effects such as Deathfire Touch over a long duration.
• On-click projectile which can’t be dodge.

• Requires other abilities and auto attacks to be effective.
Torment's range is less then Swain’s other abilities, can be difficult to combo.

Ravenous Flock

RANGE: 700 COST: 25 Mana per Second + 5 Per Additional Second COOLDOWN: 20
Magic Damage per Raven: 50 / 70 / 90 (+ 20% AP)
Heal Per Raven vs. Non-Champions: 8 / 11 / 13 (+ 3% AP)

‘Toggle: Swain assumes the form of a demonic raven. During this time, lesser ravens strike out, one every 0.2 seconds at up to 5 nearby enemies and dealing magic damage to them, prioritizing champions. Each enemy can only be attacked by one raven at a time and only once per second. Swain heals himself for a small amount against minions and monsters, and for a bigger amount against champions.’

Active: Swain marks the target area. After a 0.875-second delay, talons grab onto enemy units within, dealing magic damage and rooting them for a short duration.

• Incredible health sustain during team fights in particular.
• Constant damage over time inflicted to multiple targets which can’t be dodged.
• Incredible item, ability and team composition synergy.
• Ease of use allows Swain to focus on kiting and using other abilities.

• Used ineffectively or extensively causes Swain to have mana problems.
• Vulnerable to grievous wound.
Swain can still be burst down.
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Ability Combos

Ideally you want to use your skills in a particular sequence to maximize your damage output:
Torment > Decrepify > Nevermove > Ravenous Flock > Auto Attacks

If you have trouble this sequence catches enemies off guard more effectively:
Decrepify > Nevermove > Torment > Ravenous Flock > Auto Attacks

Remember to apply Ignite if your opponent is low on health or if you want to interrupt their healing, additionally make sure you’re always applying auto attacks.

If you’ve built Zhonya's Hourglass try to use its active while Ravenous Flock is activated in fights:
Ravenous Flock > Zhonya's Hourglass

If you’ve built Hextech GLP-800 try to open up a combo like this with its active:
Hextech GLP-800 > Nevermove > Torment > Decrepify > Ravenous Flock >Auto Attacks

Note that you don’t have to activate Ravenous Flock all the time but it will increase the damage you deal and regenerate your health.

Use Decrepify and Nevermove as your core wave clear tools, Ravenous Flock and Hextech GLP-800 shouldn’t be used for standard wave clear due to cooldowns unless you know you won’t be fighting enemy champions soon.
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Summoner Spells


Ignite is an amazing choice if you plan to play aggressive and want to pick up kills during the early phase. Swain has abilities which have the potential to rip through enemy champions early game and often without Ignite enemies get away with tiny amounts of health. It also applies grievous wound so it's essential in certain matchups with multiple healing champions. I recommend using this in most matchups unless you're at top lane in Rift.


I run Flash 100% of the time because it can be used in combination with abilities like Nevermove to secure kills. It is often used as an escape tool which Swain sometimes really needs because he soaks up so much damage.


Teleport is effective if you have good communication with your team because you're going to want to use it to secure objectives like Drake and join team fights. It can also be used to get back to lane quicker, you'll be getting more cs and leveling up. I personally dislike this spell because it doesn't offer the direct kill potential that Ignite does, but it is necessary to creating or countering game changing moments that impact your entire team. Consider taking this top because it is the most isolated lane.


I like the idea of Ghost on Swain, it would help him stick onto targets with Ravenous Flock but Flash is more instant. I feel that Champions like Singed benefit more from Ghost because they need speed to stick onto targets but with Swain most your abilities have range with slows and snares.
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On the offensive tree I like to start with Sorcery for more ability power but Fury would be more helpful early game with cs. I then like to pick Fresh Blood because I like to play aggressive as Swain however Expose Weakness is a better late game option and helps your team. Ability power from Natural Talent increases the heal of Ravenous Flock so I find the extra damage more useful then the sustain from Vampirism . I then like to go for Bounty Hunter which can increase your damage up to 7.5%, amazing for a mastery. Battle Trance is a good early game option but it's capped at 5% so late game it's not as effective. Finally you want to go for Deathfire Touch due to its synergy with Swain's abilities and items, the other options are for auto attack based or attack damage champions.

I like to go for 12 points in utility rather then in defense but both are good options. Utility is a good secondary tree because of masteries like Runic Armor which greatly improve healing of abilities like Ravenous Flock. The new mastery Courage of the Colossus is currently overpowered, it's seeing play on attack damage carries like Draven so it might be worth investing 18 points into utility but it relies on you landing Nevermove.

If you choose to go down the defense pathway the core masteries are Merciless because of the damage increase and Dangerous Game because sometimes you'll need that extra sustain using Ravenous Flock. I wouldn't personally get Thunderlord's Decree personally because unlike Deathfire Touch it has a cooldown and sometimes you'll be constantly dealing damage in fights.
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Greater Mark of Precision

I like to use this over Greater Mark of Magic Penetration because I like to apply auto attacks frequently aswell as abilities. If you have trouble last hitting minions or want a better early game I recommend Greater Mark of Attack Damage or even Greater Mark of Attack Speed.

Greater Seal of Armor

I like to start with flat armor when I'm playing Swain because you're always receiving physical damage. Greater Seal of Health is a good option if you're up against a ability power based jungler and mid laner. I don't recommend Greater Seal of Scaling Armor because you'd be too vulnerable early game.

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

This is a great option against a ability power based mid laner but if you're up against a champion like Zed or Yasuo then I recommend Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist. If you want a useful Glyph during early game vs attack damage based champions you can get Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction which will ultimately increase your damage output.

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

I like the extra ability power because it increases the damage of all your spells and Deathfire Touch .
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Essential Items

Catalyst of Aeons

+225 health +300 mana

Unique Passive: Eternity: 15% of damage taken from champions is gained as mana. Spending mana restores 20% of mana spent as health, up to 15 per cast (toggle spells heal for up to 15 per second).

• Perfect synergy with Ravenous Flock.

• Partly the reason to why Swain was nerfed.
• More expensive then Lost Chapter and Tear of the Goddess.

Zhonya's Hourglass

+45 armor +70 ability power +10% cooldown reduction

Unique Active: Stasis: Put yourself in stasis for 2.5 seconds, rendering yourself untargetable and invulnerable for the duration, but also unable to move, attack, cast spells, or use items during this time. 120 second cooldown.

• When activated with Ravenous Flock, Swain still deals damage and heals off enemies.
• Counters items and abilities such as Ignite or Zed’s ultimate.
• Provides Swain with offensive and defensive stats he requires.

• Awkward against heavy AP enemy team compositions.
• Using its active wrong can leave you in a bad situation.
• An active item requires the player to be able to use it.
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Item Upgrades

Hextech GLP-800

+300 health +400 mana +80 ability power

Unique Passive: Eternity: 15% of damage taken from champions is gained as mana. Spending mana restores 20% of the cost as health, up to 25 per spell cast.

Unique Active: Frost Bolt: Fires a spray of icy bolts that explode, dealing 100 - 200 (based on level) (+ 35% AP) magic damage to all enemies hit (40 second cooldown, shared with other Hextech items). Enemies hit are slowed by 65% decaying over 0.5 seconds.

• Strong wave clear and cs tool.
• Reliable, large radius ability which slows and damages multiple enemies.
Hextech Revolver from the recipe of Hextech GLP-800 is a good item to build into.

• More expensive than Rod of Ages.
• Weaker stats than Rod of Ages.
• An active item requires the player to be able to use it.

Rod of Ages

+300 health +300 mana +60 ability power

Passive: This item gains 20 health, 10 mana and 4 ability power every minute, up to 10 times.

Unique Active: Eternity: 15% of damage taken from champions is gained as mana. Spending mana restores 20% of mana spent as health, up to 25 per cast (toggle spells heal for up to 25 per second).

• Provides reliable stats.
• Cheaper then Hextech GLP-800.

• Needs to be built into early, can’t rush into another item after Catalyst of Aeons.
• Doesn’t test your skill level like the use of an active item.

Sorcerer's Shoes

+15 magic penetration

Unique Passive: Enhanced Movement: +45 flat movement speed

• Effective against targets with less magic resistance.

• No defensive benefits.
• No items included in the recipe besides boots.

Mercury's Treads

+25 magic resistance

Unique Passive: Enhanced Movement: +45 flat movement speed

Unique Passive: Tenacity: Reduces the duration of all crowd control effects by 30% (except for Suppression, Stasis, and Displacements)

• Good defense against ability power damage.
• Counter to enemy teams with crowed control.

• Does not directly increase your damage output.

Ninja Tabi

+30 armor

Unique Passive: Enhanced Movement: +45 flat movement speed

Unique Passive: Reduces incoming damage from all basic attacks by 12% (excluding turret shots). Does not reduce damage of on-hit effects, it does however reduce damage of basic attack modifiers.

• Effective against enemy teams with several attack damage based champions.

• Does not increase your damage output.
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Last Items

Liandry's Torment

+300 health +80 ability power

Unique Passive: Eyes of Pain: +15 magic penetration

Unique: Dealing spell damage applies a damage-over-time effect that deals bonus magic damage equal to 2% of the target's current health per second for 3 seconds. This bonus damage is doubled to 4% of the target's current health against movement-impaired units and capped at 100 damage per second against monsters.

Swain's abilities easily maximize damage from Liandry's Torment.
• Highly effective against tanks.
• Provides Swain with offensive and defensive stats he requires.
• Scales with enemy champion health.
• Constant damage prevents certain abilities like that from Warmog's Armor.

• Weak early game, due to health scaling.
• Weak vs champions who don’t build into health items.

Void Staff

+80 ability power

Unique Passive: Magic damage ignores 35% of the target's magic resistance (applies before magic penetration)

• Counters enemies stacking magic resistance.
• Much cheaper than other offensive items like Rabadon's Deathcap.
• Scales with enemiy Magic resistance and Swain’s ability power.

• No defensive stats which are important to Swain.
• Magic penetration does not increase healing from Ravenous Flock.
• Pointless against enemies without magic resistance.

Abyssal Scepter

+60 magic resistance +60 ability power +10% cooldown reduction

Unique Aura: Nearby enemy champions take 10% more magic damage (700 range)

• Provides Swain with offensive and defensive stats he requires.
• Passive scales into late game.

Spirit Visage is a better defensive option.
• Does not amplify damage over time when enemies are outside the aura radius.

Spirit Visage

+500 health +55 magic resistance +200% base health regeneration +10% cooldown reduction

Unique Passive: Increases effectiveness of all sources of health restoration by 25% (including health regeneration, life steal and spell vamp).

• Amazing passive which synergizes with Ravenous Flock and allied healing abilities.
• A better defensive option than Abyssal Mask which offers health with magic resistance.

• No offensive stats.
• Arguably just building more ability power would increase Swain’s personal healing.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter

+400 health +100 ability power

Unique Passive: Icy: Damaging abilities slow affected units based on their type:
Unit-targeted: 40% for 1.5 seconds.
Area of effect: 40% for 1 second.
Damage over time, multi-hit, and pet attacks: 20% for 1 second.

• Great synergy with Liandry's Torment.
• Amazing with Ravenous Flock and Torment.
• Provides Swain with offensive and defensive stats he requires.
• Helps your team more than other viable items would.

Swain already has abilities like Decrepify which slow targets.

Luden's Echo

+10% movement speed +100 ability power

Unique Passive: Echo: Gains charges upon moving or casting. At 100 charges, the next instance of ability damage you deal will expend all charges to deal 100 (+ 10% AP) bonus magic damage to the first enemy hit and summon up to 3 lesser bolts that target nearby enemies, prioritizing enemies damaged by the ability and champions over minions.

• Raw burst damage makes this item good vs squishy targets.

• Offers no defensive stats.
• High cooldowns and low mobility means Swain can’t charge Luden’s Echo effectively.

Rabadon's Deathcap

+120 ability power

Unique Passive: +35% ability power

• Large ability power spike.

• Much more expensive than other raw ability power items like Void Staff.
• Other champions like Veigar benefit more from the passive.

Frozen Heart

+90 armor +400 mana +20% cooldown reduction

Unique Aura: Cripples nearby enemies' attack speed by 15% (700 range).

• Good vs multiple auto attack based enemy champions.
• Good defensive and utility stats.

• No offensive benefits.
• Better suited on melee tanks like Skarner.

Guardian Angel

+45 magic resistance +60 armor

Unique Passive: Upon taking lethal damage, restores the greater of 700 health or 30% of maximum health and 30% of maximum mana after 4 seconds of stasis (300 second cooldown).

• Makes champions difficult to deal with during team fights.
• Good general defensive stats.

• No offensive benefits.
• Active is sometimes completely useless.
• Large cooldown on active means it’s better to sell [[Guardian Angel] when it’s on cooldown.
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Gameplay Walkthrough

Early Game

If you have a lane opponent with short to medium range like Annie, Zed or Twisted Fate then you want to constantly harass them at the start from level 1. The best time to harass your opponent is when they auto attack cs. Use Decrepify preferably with them in the middle of the radius then move back to avoid their damage or do this after applying an auto attack.

When you get your other abilities use them as discussed in the ability combo section. The idea here is to constantly harass your opponent and at the same time take minimal damage by walking away after you cast your abilities.

If you're up against champions like Ziggs or Brand it will be abit more difficult because they are long range champions. You need to be able to dodge their abilities then catch them with your own. With these match ups consider boots as your first item.

Mid Game

Now it's time to consider ganking other lanes and securing objectives. You want to communicate with the rest of your team, tell them for example 'I'm coming to gank bot, then we can do drake'. Swain is one of those champions who is very bad at pushing lanes and taking objectives by himself, therefore if you are winning your lane, mid game is about ensuring your entire team is also winning so they can help you later on.

Late Game

At this stage you're core objective is to distract the enemy team but if you're ahead you literally trample over everybody. Force enemies to pay attention to you by blocking their way to your backline then use Zhonya's Hourglass when they are just about to kill you.

Remember that Nevermove is an engagement tool and can singlehandedly win you a team fight if you snare squishy champions.
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Thank you for checking out my guide on Swain I hope you found it useful.
I am planning to continue to update my guide with more images plus videos and would greatly appreciate feedback from experienced guide readers or writers.

- Kage
(Corvus Commander, EU West)
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