Mobafire League of Legends Build Guides Mobafire League of Legends Build Guides

Swain Build Guide by Gryphonscout

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.

Rating Pending
Like Build on Facebook Tweet This Build Share This Build on Reddit
League of Legends Build Guide Author Gryphonscout

Swain, The Master Tactician, an In-depth Guide

Gryphonscout Last updated on December 29, 2014
Did this guide help you? If so please give them a vote or leave a comment. You can even win prizes by doing so!

You must be logged in to comment. Please login or register.

I liked this Guide
I didn't like this Guide
Commenting is required to vote!

Thank You!

Your votes and comments encourage our guide authors to continue
creating helpful guides for the League of Legends community.

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Threats to Swain with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Katarina Pretty easy, like Ryze, has to get into range farm, except with her Q. When she gets close to farm, just do the basic E and Q and harass.
Guide Top

This Guide is A Rough Draft

This guide is still in rough draft. I will still updating constantly. Still, feel free to leave some advice for things I could do better. This is my very first guide, so please don't hate on it, but feel free criticize, just please do so nicely. It isn't pretty, I am still learning how to edit and make it fancy. But, despite all that, hopefully it will still have information that you find helpful for playing Swain.

Guide Top

Terms and Abbreviations

In this guide for the sake of time and space, I will be using many abbreviations.

AA: Auto Attack
These are the basic attacks your champion does by clicking on the the enemy
ADC: Attack damage carry
Often the marksman in the bottom lane who focuses on their AA to do damage.
Ulti: Ultimate Spell
This is the spell that is the automatically bonded to your R. It often is the most powerful spell a champion learns and often has the longest cooldown.
CDR: Cooldown Reduction
This is a stat that some items have that reduce the casting time of spells and abilities.
MR: Magic Resist
This is the stat that you get that reduces the damage you take from magic and spells.
AP: Ability Power
This is what mages and most mid laners rely on to do damage to the enemies.
APC: Ability Power Carry
Often the mid laner that relies on spells and AP to do damage to the enemies, and often in bursts.
MP: Magic Penetration
This decides how much magic resist your spells will ignore when you hit someone with a spell.

Guide Top

Pros / Cons


+ Amazing health sustain
+ Good harass with E and Q
+ Great passive for mana regen
+ Good wave clear late game
+ Great all-in potential
+ Good crowd control
+ Good DOT
Swain is a very powerful champion who is good at health sustain in a fight. Late game, he can walk into a fight and come out fine due to his Ulti. He has good harass. He can walk up close to someone and E and Q, which gives great damage. His passive gives him good mana if you are at CS, meaning if you do good lane, you will sustain and harass to no end. Once you reach 6, you gain big all in potential with all your spells and ignite. You also have good crowd control with Decrepify and Nevermove.

- Major mana problems with Ulti
- Runs out of mana in fights
- Hard to CS with
- No burst damage, all DOT
- No gap closers
- No built in escapes
- Susceptible to early ganks
- His W is hard to land
Swain is a mage through and through, but sacrifices the bursts you see on LeBlanc and Kassadin for better health sustain and good DOT. Swain also has no way to escape ganks except hopefully hitting a Nevermove, which is a very hard task to do under pressure.

Guide Top

Summoners Spells

The main two I always use are


This is a great spell. Sure it has a long cool down, but when used correctly, in could save your life or allow you to get multiple kills. Since Swain has no built in escapes in his kit, this spell is very important. If something starts to go wrong in lane, you can just Flash out, exchanging this for a death.


Often for people, there is a big debate over which summoner spell is going to the second slot. On Swain, I think Ignite is the best. Not only does it increase the damage you do, making it easier to kill, but it also gets buffed by Torment.
Since Torment increases all damage Swain does to a champion, including Summoner Spells, it also increases Ignites damage In this case, Ignite goes above and beyond, do huge damage to someone you have already Tormented.

Guide Top



Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration

Greater Mark of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power


For the Seals I chose the the Seal of Mana Regeneration. When playing Swain, the biggest problem I would run into would be the mana. I could run into a fight and be forced out at full health because I ran out of mana and have to recall. So in order to help that, I took some mana regen Seals.


For Marks, I like marks of armor. Swain can be very squishy early game, so in order to help prevent that, I took some armor marks to add a little armor to make him more tanky.


For Glyphs, I think the Magic Resists is the best. I take them for the same reason that I take the armor marks. Swain can be squishy, so these small glyphs can work wonders.


For Quints, I like pure AP. This will help you all throughout the game. Swain starts with a mere 15 AP, so this doubles his AP and just make him that much stronger.

Guide Top


For the masteries, I think a 21-0-9 will serve you the best.


a. Fury
Although the attack speed might seem weird on a mage, it helps his poor laning phase.
More attacks = More CS. More CS = More Money. More Money = More kills. More Kills = More fun (for you).

b. Sorcery
This one is obvious for any mage. The cooldown reduction is the only one you might get with your build except for blue buff, so it helps, a lot.

c. Spell Weaving
This one is also obvious for a mage. It may seem like a small boost, but it helps you more damage. and the more damage you do with Swain means the more you get healed.

d. Arcane Mastery
This one just gives you a little more ability power, which is something Swain lacks early game.

e. Executioner
This is just something to help you lane slightly better in lane. The increased damage makes more harass, and you can force your opponent out of lane quicker.

f. Archmage
This is just for the same reason of Arcane Mastery. The extra AP just helps Swain do better everywhere, from lane to team fights.

g. Dangerous Game
Dangerous game is an amazing mastery. Every time you kill a champion, you restore 5% percent of mana and health. Wow. As I said, Swain has mana problems, and this really helps.

h. Devastating Strikes
Although the armor pen is not that helpful, the magic pen is. You just do more increased damage, especially against enemies stacking magic resist. So an overall good mastery for Swain.

i. Arcane Blade
Since Swain is a mage champ, he has terrible auto attacks. So unless you want to be Q'ing minions, it helps make the laning phase just a little easier.


a. Fleet of Foot
Although the link is Sivir's Passive, the mastery states 1.5% movement speed increase at rank 3. Since Swain is a very slow champion, this helps him get around just that much faster, maybe being able to secure that Siege Minion that you otherwise would have missed.

b. Meditation
Critical, just critical that you get this. I can't repeat enough that after he gets his Ultimate, Swains problem is Mana, not health, so get this and you can stay into a fight longer and go back into another faster.

c. Strength of Spirit :
Another mana regen mastery, making it very important to have in a game.

d. Alchemist
This just helps you sustain with your potions longer in lane, letting you get more health, and more time in lane to harass and CS.

e. Runic Affinity
This is another critical one for Swain. The blue buff is amazing on Swain, and making it last 20% longer is just great, giving you better sustain and combat potential.

Guide Top


Items are very important on any champion, and a good build makes the difference between life and death in a fight. Swain is no different, relying very heavily on items to be powerful in combat.

Starting Items

These items are very important, and necessary to have a good start. For Swain, there is a couple different paths that you can build, depending on the matchup.

Basic Start: This is the start i take on almost every game. It is very consistent and gives both sustain and damage.
1x Doran's Ring
2x Health Potion

Defensive Start: This is the start I would take against melee champions like Zed and Yasuo.
1x Cloth Armor
4x Health Potion

Mobile Start: This start is good against skill shot oriented champions like Ahri and Xerath.
1x Boots of Speed
4x Health Potion

First Back

If you die in lane, or get low on health or mana, and go back to base, you should also shop to get ahead of your laning opponent. You will have a different amount of gold in different games, depending on how hard you pushed your opponent and how well you CS'd.

With 600 or less

If you are losing lane bad, I suggest going and buying a Ruby Crystal. It will give you the health that you need to stay in lane longer and CS. If you are winning trades but a well time gank pushed you back early, but your opponent had to go back also, I suggest getting a Sapphire Crystal. This will help you harass more in lane and stay longer and cast more spells. Both of these items are components of Catalyst the Protector, an important piece in Rod of Ages, which should be your first big item. If you can't afford either of those, consider buying nothing or a Faerie Charm for the early Tear of the Goddess.

With 700-800

I would get a Tear of the Goddess. This just helps your mana regen even more, making it so that if you never cast your Ulti, you won't run out of mana. This is good for throwing more E's, Q's, and W's around. Although it isn't a component of the Rod of Ages, you can always sell it later, and the help it gives you throughout the early phase is worth the cost.

With 850- 1000

I would buy a Blasting Wand. This is another one of the components in the Rod of Ages, so it is very good. Although you will run out of mana quicker, your spells will have a lot more uumph and do more damage, making it tremendously easier to go for kills. If you all in with a blasting wand, you can probably pick up a kill, but have to go back very soon after.

With 1000-1100

I would buy a Tear of the Goddess and Boots of Speed. Although neither of them are part of the Rod of Ages, they help you a lot against most mages who rely on skill shots to kill you.

With 1200-2000

Buy the Catalyst the Protector. This is a great item that gives the Valors Reward and extra mana and health. If you laned very well, you could also buy an Boots of Speed in addition. And if you can afford it, the Blasting Wand as well. If you get the Blasting Wand as well, it is so big, you could consider selling your Doran's Ring to buy it. After you have those two Items, just save up until can buy your Rod of Ages.

Core Items

This is a great item on Swain. Whether you are winning or losing lane, this is always the item I buy first. If you buy something like a Zhonya's to get more armor as well as ability power, you will quickly run out of mana. So, even if you are behind, you should get this item as soon as possible. It gives hime everything he needs. Scaling health and mana, and a good AP boost to boot. Over time, this gives more and more health and mana, up to ten times, once per minute. It also has another good bonus. Each time you level up, you get 150 health and 200 mana back. That is amazing on Swain. If you go into a fight and get a kill and level up, you can stay in the fight longer and get even more kills. Because of all these reasons, I buy this first.

You move faster and do more damage with these. Since Swain is slow, movement speed never hurts anyone, except for the opponent, and that is what you want. And as for the MP, the more MP you have, the more damage you do, and damage is always good. And for enchantments, it is completely up to you and the situation. If someone is sieging your base, Homeguards will help the best. But if it is earlier game, and you other lanes are losing, the Alacrity might be the best option, so you can roam and help them more often.

This item is great on Swain. It gives a lot of sheer AP, good armor, and an devastating active. A lot of champions can use Zhonya's, some better than others. Swain is one of the champions to do just that. He actually can still dish out tons of damage while in the invulnerable stasis, like Morgana. Just pop the Ulti, go into the middle of a fight and activate the Zhonya's and be back to full health in no time.

Offensive Items

This item is just for the AP. And it fills that role well. Being the item that gives the most AP through its stats and its Passive, it can easily snowball you with the damage you can do with it. If you are ahead, consider getting this item. It will just get you so much farther ahead that no one can deal with the damage you are doing, and because of that, healing.

If your opponents are stacking MR, this might be a better pick than Rabadon's Deathcap due to its MP. This item gives ok AP, but its MP is one of the highest in the game. With this, you can tear through anyone, whether it be ADC or the Tank, with nearly the same efficiency.

Defensive Items

This it is meant for Swain. Not only does it give CDR, MR, HR and Health, it also gives him increased healing. Since Swain has one of the best heals in the game already, this just makes his healing insane and almost impossible to deal with just one person, and sometimes even two. After my core Items, this is often the item I get next, because it gives Swain everything he needs to stay alive even longer.

This is a very good item for any caster who is falling behind on a game. Although I don't get it much, it is still very good. Not only does it provide good AP so you don't do no damage when trying to build bulky, but it has a great passive. Whenever you hit someone with Decrepify, you stack slows to a crazy and annoying amount, and ensure that the full damage gets off on the enemy.

Guide Top


This is a good passive. It is not the best passive, but it is not the worst. It makes sense with Swain's character and helps him a lot during laning. After going all in, and have half your mana gone, this passive can get you back up to full by the your opponent comes back into lane by just CS'ing, which is what you would want to be doing anyway. Late game, it is still helping, but in another way. If you have a big minion group pushing down your mid, just pop your ulti, and often you will crush the whole wave with only losing a sliver to no mana, and losing no health. This also helps in team fights. Go in, and if it goes well, you have an good possibility to come out looking better than did when you went in due to the regen of this passive and the Valor passive from the Rod of Ages and the health regen from Ravenous Flock.

Although this may not seem like a lot, and when I first started playing Swain, I thought the same thing, but with good CS, it really adds up to give you the mana you need to keep going and winning.

This is a pretty good spell. It does good damage over time, and has a good slow. And when combined with Torment, it makes a huge part of Swain's damage early game. A couple good Torments and a Decrepify can chunk away half a targets health quite efficiently. This spell also makes a tether from where you are, and if your opponent gets to far away, it will break, not doing maximum damage. Because of that, I recommend doing from closer than max range, or combined with a Nevermove. I max this spell second because it locks on, not a skill shot like Nevermove.

This is your one and only skillshot. It is a very good skill shot due to the fact it does good damage and a snare. I would be maxing this first only if it weren't so hard to hit with. This spell has many tells that announce you are going to be casting it. For one, it casts a circle on the ground where you are going to cast it and it makes a screeching sound that says you are going to cast it. It also has a short delay to add to the difficulties of hitting.

Often times when I cast it, I either use it in the middle of a fight when everyone is pre-occupied with fighting each other, and not really paying attention to a circle on the ground. Another time I cast it is after a Decrepify. Unless they are packing major move speed, or you place it badly, you will nail them with it. Although it has good harass potential, it cost to much mana and has a to long of cooldown to just spam many and hop one hits. So, if you want to be the best and maximize your mana efficiency, you need to save this spell for when they get very close to you or moving in a predictable pattern.
This move is also useful for escaping from ganks. A well placed Nevermove can stop a jungler in their tracks or force them to go around it wasting time. Combined with the slow from Decrepify, Swain is semi-good at escaping from ganks. Not the best, but definitely not the worst, either.

This is Swains best regular spell. Not only does it do good damage, it also increases all damage you do to the enemy champion for the duration of the spell. That includes activatable items and Summoner Spells. This is the main reason I go for Ignite over another spell like Exhaust. With this, Decrepify and Ignite, early game, you will leave them almost dead, forcing them to go back and miss farm or stay and be very easy to kill in the future, just for a summoners spell.

I max this spell first because of the damage and the utility it has. It also helps you heal more with your ultimate. Despite the fact it is your least damaging (though not by much), it is still your best to max because of its utility and its damage becomes the biggest when you add the damage of the 20% boost from the Decrepify damage.

Another great thing about this spell is easy to hit and do max damage, doesn't require the opponent to stay within its range, like Decrepify, or placing and hoping it hits, like Nevermove. So overall a very powerful spell, and definitely the one I would max first.

This is Swain's signature spell. It is what makes Swain so unique. I think this is one of the best spells in League of Legends. Not only does it do crazy amount of damage over a few seconds, it also heals you so much that in a typical 1v1 fight, if you activate this, some champions can't even do enough damage to even make your health go down. What makes this spell even better is it can stay active throughout the whole teamfight, making him amazing in them. One reason he is so good at them is the fact he can hit 3 champions per second and heal himself for 75% of the damage, making him heal over 202.5 (+45% of ability power per second). That is crazy.

There are a couple problems with this spell. The first is the 8 second cooldown. Now that might not seem like a lot. And for other ultimates, it isn't. But at the start of a team fight, it is the difference between life and death. In a team fight, you activate it at the wrong time, you either have to risk the chance of them engaging on you and you not being able to do any damage, or waste a bunch of mana, and I mean a lot, since the amount increases each second. And that brings me to my second, and much bigger problem. Mana, plain and simple. Swain is probably one of the most mana reliant champion in the game, and also one of the biggest guzzlers of the precious blue bar. While it only takes 25 mana to activate, it is the sustaining that is the problem. Since the amount of mana increases per second, it starts out at 5, would go to an 10, and a 10 seconds in, it would cost 50 mana per second. That is a lot. When going all in, just pop this and all your other spells, your mana will disappear, but hopefully it will disappear along with opponent.

Due to the fact it sends out three ravens, but only one raven, it is actually better to engage your enemy around his minions, and preferably yours to. Not only will your minions interrupt your opponents spells, it will also give you 50% increased healing and not wasting 2 ravens that could be healing you. But all it's problems are still massively outweighed by the goods, making this, in my opinion, one of the best spells in the game due to its damage and the regen it creates.

Guide Top

Laning and Combat

Early Laning

Swain has a rough time laning against most champions. He has a terrible AA, and no way to buff them. And at early levels, your spells cost to much, have a to long of cool down, and not do enough damage to use in farming. The most you can do is to harass the enemy with them.

In order to CS successfully, you have to wait till the minions are very low, lower than you would wait for most other champions. That makes it very difficult to judge when to go, to soon, it will survive with a sliver of health, to late and you will miss. This is a fine art that takes a bunch of practice. But don't give up on Swain just because he is hard to CS with, stick with him and you will have a mid game monster that will be hard for anyone to take on.


Swain's 1v1 combat is actually very simple. Activate your ultimate, wait for them to get semi-close, then spam buttons. This may not sound effective, but it what I do each time, and more often than not, I win the trades. When you want to engage, just walk to the middle of your Q's range, hit them with your W. If you hit them, that is your all-clear signal to engage your enemy. Just activate your Ulti, walk in and spam your spells, including Ignite. If you have blue buff, that becomes very easy. Another thing is after the W snare fades, and they start running, just walk with them all the way back to their turret, just hitting them with Ravens. Chances is, they will be dead before they manage to get under their turret.

Mid Game

After you got your Ultimate, you are looking so much better than before. If you have time to get your blue in this time, get it. The blue is just so devastating on Swain, and the CDR and the mana regen help you in combat so much, it can't be passed up. Your farming against minions is still atrocious, but know you can easily farm champions. Just fight the champion 1v1, and if you come out on top, just keep farming until they come back and spam spells, including your ulti, to push lane into their tower, and then back. Buy whatever you can, and then get back as soon as possible. Repeat until it becomes no sweat take them 1v1.

Roaming VS. Pushing

After you beat your opponent, and waiting for them to respond, you are faced with a decision. Should I roam or push. Even if you didn't beat your opponent, you should roam. Swain's pushing is dismal. Embarrassing really, so you want to roam and help your other lanes. If they don't need help, just farm. Leave the pushing and towers to the other champions who's attacks actually do damage. Just go looking for an enemy champion, and kill them instead of the tower.


Swain is a very powerful champion, whether it being in a teamfight or 1v1. With his spells, most of them take advantage of 5v5. For your Q and your E, you will want to slap them on the most high priority targets, often the ADC or the APC, and then just activate your W where there are the most enemies. Also, when going into a teamfight, make sure you activate your ultimate at the right time. Do it to soon, and you will waste mana, do it to late, and you won't do as much, and can be shut down before you have time to get the ravens out and healing you. So when do you activate. Well the best time, well, I activate it when your Nevermove is in range. This will be a good time, having only about 1 second between activation and engagement.

Also, where you choose to fight is very important for Swain. It is always best to engage in a chokepoint. There are a few on the river, and any narrow passage in the jungle. Not only can you place your Nevermove where the opponents have a choice, either run into it and be snared or wait back while your ADC is tearing into them. After that, you go near the front, forcing them to run through you to get to the back. This will damage greatly, when combined with other CC from your support, you can take people out of the fight before they can even do anything.

Guide Top


This is it for my Swain guide. This is not done by a long shot. I am still constantly updating this guide. If you would be so kind to just leave your opinion and advice, because if this does good, I am planning to make another guide.