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Swain Build Guide by guineaman56

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League of Legends Build Guide Author guineaman56

Swain, the Monster

guineaman56 Last updated on May 13, 2015
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Middle Lane
Ranked #9 in
Middle Lane
Win 50%
Get More Stats

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: 9


Utility: 0

Threats to Swain with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Twisted Fate Twisted Fate is VERY easy to fight, if he doesn't know what he's doing. (Most at gold and lower levels don't.) He'll try to 1v1 you, see that he can't, and then explode because he's very squishy. If he does try and teleport to another lane, shove yours out, and force him back, then kill him. Crush him early game and he won't have the potential to roam, ez, pz.
Vladimir Vladimir's a champion who has almost no way of fighting Swain. Vlad's main weaknesses are in DoTs and range, something Swain has quite a bit of. Be warned that he'll poke you pre 6, but after that, he's dead. Destroy him early on, and he'll be useless later on. However, fail that task and his late game teamfight ability is INSANE. He'll just AoE your team to hell, and you'll be the first one to die.
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Introduction to Swain, and Me.

Hey there. I am BIG SLEF, a Gold 4 NA top laner. I got to Gold 4 using Swain and Vlad to no end, both in Seasons 4 and 5, with a little bit of support sprinkled in there. You want proof? Fine.

So now that that's out of the way, let's get to the real reason you came here. For the bird man, the psychopath, the big Nasty of Noxus himself, Swain.

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You want Pros and Cons?


Good all game- "You mean to tell me that Swain's good at all points?" Yes. He has a somewhat poor early game depending on the matchup, but past that, he becomes a hulking monster. Whether it's late game or mid game, he's wrecking fools left and right.

Tanky as hell- "But he's a mage, he's not supposed to be tanky!" Screw your image of a mage. This is a TOUGH

Insane damage- "But...but he isn't a burst mage! He's not allowed to deal damage!" Read the note above. Swain's damage almost always beats out anyone else's. It's just DoT, so noone thinks about it.

Snowballs- "Let's just get this guy, we've got the top laner, mid laner and jungler, he's only 3/0 how bad could i-" DOUBLE KILL! Yeah. That's what happens when Swain gets ahead. He becomes a brick wall that farms. Forever.

Versatile build and role- "Why isn't my team peeling for me OMFG SWAIN NOOB GG" - Your 0/17 Vayne, who is currently complaining while you dive the enemy team for a penta. Swain's job in a teamfight isn't a certain thing like, say He's a good peeler and a good bruiser, resulting in him being able to take on many different roles.

Good CC- "Hey, he's slow maybe we can outrun him! Why is that laser bird slowing me down OH GOD SEND HELP" - The poor sap who you slowed down just long enough to catch. Swain's CC is above average in terms of mages, and does pretty well with keeping people near him, or away.


Relatively slow- Yeah, that whole leg injury in your lore? That must be the earliest account of a nerf to you because you are SLOW AS BALLS. Have fun fighting

Short ranged- You're not , but you're not exactly . You're somewhere in between, leaning more towards the Darius side. However, your CC more than makes up for it.

Serious mana issues- Blue buff is your friend. So is last hitting! You'd better pray noone picks or else kiss your mana goodbye.

Fragile pre-6- Before level 6, you are just another squishy squishy mage. However, there comes a time in every mage's life where they start to change, and become a giant deathbird that soaks up damage like a sponge. Oh wait, that's just you.

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You want Skills?

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

Carrion Renewal
This, is your passive. Upon getting a last hit, you regain a flat amount of mana based off your level. However, this is where things get good. When you get an assist or a kill, you regenerate 9% of your maximum mana.

This allows you to sustain in both lane and teamfights for ages. Once kills start dropping, watch your mana bar shoot up like a rocket. This is even crazier when paired with and . Watch as you regain up to 44% of your maximum mana, if you're out of it.

This, is Swain's laser bird. His Q. It has a fairly good 40% slow, and it deals a pretty good amount of damage, if your opponent ignores it. And they will.

You can use this to help you land your easier. It also serves as a fairly good way to slow someone down just enough so you can catch up to them. The tether itself is made where Swain is standing, so if you're able to, try and wait until you get close to them to use it. This also has no cast time, so you can use it on the enemy jungler who just ganked you so they can't catch up. Another cool trick you can do is use this to last hit. There's an instant tick of damage on this, which deals almost as much as Swain's autos, if not a little more. This ability can reveal where invisible units are, by pointing in the direction of where they are. Use that to your advantage when against or .

Swain's W. It's a pretty decent root for 2 seconds, and deals pretty good damage. It's got a pretty good range as well.

This is Swain's main source of AoE. It can root an entire team at once, which can lead to some great fights for your team. It can also help shut down a gank if you can use it on the jungler immediately. This can also help keep people within range of your Q AND E. How, you might ask? If you put it in front of them, they'll walk back towards you. Meaning more damage.

Swain's bread and butter. This ability is so good, especially after the removal of DFG. It deals damage over time, and gives damage amplification.

This ability, oh man. Always use it to follow up your combo if you can. The damage it deals is OBSCENE. It amplifies its' own damage! So the scaling you see on your HUD? It's bologna. It isn't very mana costly, and serves as good harass. Oh, and it's not just magic damage it amplifies. It amplifies everything besides true damage, so autoattacks and this bad boy are your main source of harass early.

Ravenous Flock
Swain's ultimate. His game changer. The thing that makes him so frustratingly difficult to kill. You send birds out every second, which then return to you and heal you for a portion of the damage they dealt.

Swain can heal more than an entire team can dish out, in some circumstances. He can take so much damage it's disgusting. Oh, and this ability? It works in . Getting low? Press that Zhonya's and watch your health shoot up. Be careful though, this ability increases in mana cost the longer you have it on. However, with enough regen from and blue buff, you'll be juuuuuuuuust fine. Oh, and you wondered why we itemize for a lot of magic pen? This right here. You heal based off the damage you deal, not a flat amount like . So magic pen is your friend, big time. This is your pushing power as well, so keep that in mind. Also, don't think of this ability as an ultimate, just think of it as a normal ability, like you would your E.

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Blue Buff

So it's no secret Swain has big mana issues. With his ultimate increasing in mana cost for every second it's active, he has a hunger for mana that nearly no other champion can match. So naturally, you should ask for blue buff. However, let this be known: ask for blue only when you KNOW it will help you either A. get back into the game or B. dominate even harder than you already are. If you're 0/6, don't ask for blue. You will most likely lose it. And that is bad. If you're 14/3? Ask for that damned thing, and destroy the enemy team 1v5. Know when you deserve it, when you need it, and when you shouldn't want it.

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You want Runes?


Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration: Swain scales very nicely with magic penetration. However, if you want a better early game, then ability power quints are an option. And if you find yourself against Cassiopeia, then nothing's better than movement speed.

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: Again, magic penetration is your friend. You can, however, opt to take hybrid penetration marks if you'd like, as you can make good use of it with your and autoattack harass.

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Now we get to the boring stuff. Swain generally, will need some resistances given his close combat nature. Whether they're scaling or flat, Swain needs some sort of magic resistance to help keep him durable. Another option would be flat or scaling ability power glyphs, to aid in either a stronger lane phase or a stronger late game. Beware the fact that you will be significantly squishier with these, though.

Greater Seal of Armor: Yawn. More boring stuff. You need these to mitigate creep aggro, and damage from AD laners. An acceptable substitute would be scaling health seals, or flat health seals for a stronger lane phase.

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You want Items?

So, usually, your starting items will be 1 of 3 different things.

It could be this, which works well with your passive, along with giving you decent early game pressure. This is your all around start.
Next up, we have these.

This can help you dodge skillshots, and when combined with movement speed quints, make you very fast. This is your anti-Cassiopeia starting item.
Finally, we have this.

Not that Talon or Zed even want to fight you, but this will make them dread every moment of it even more. You can rush your out of this, making it even harder for them.
So now we get to our core items.

Mana, HP, sustain and Ability Power all in one. Everything Swain could want or need. Try to get this as early as possible to ensure tankiness vs. whoever you're fighting. This makes you very difficult to kill if acquired early, and only keeps going from there. The Catalyst the Protector also aids in your sustain in lane.
Next up, is Zhonya's.

Armor and a LOT of AP. Swain loves this item. Wait this has an active? When did that happen? Jokes aside, Swain LOVES the active of this item. He's able to use the invulnerability to heal up with his ultimate. Just like Fiddlesticks, will keep healing Swain through Zhonya's. This item can help Swain avoid a major portion of damage, CC, whatever he needs to step away from for a second.

Magic Damage? You mean that thing Leblanc doesn't do to me?
Athene's helps to ensure you'll have mana when you can't get a blue buff. It also helps when you're constantly teamfighting and will NEED the mana regen a lot. It can give some durability against magic damage dealers, but not as much as the other options.
Abyssal Scepter is the next choice. It works very well with Swain's close ranged nature. You can shred MR for your team, along with becoming more durable and damage them more? Yes PLEASE.
Spirit Visage is the last choice. If you have been getting bursted by MR over and over again, this is your "stop that" item. You'll heal a ridiculous amount with this item, and be nigh unkillable to most magic damage dealers. The CDR never hurt either, however it's not why Swain would get this.

Physical Damage? Never heard of 'im.
Zhonya's, as a core item for you, should be bought even if you're not against any AD, which is pretty damn rare.
Frozen Heart, however, is a scary item on you. While the CDR isn't necessary, the armor, mana and attack speed debuff it gives you is phenomenal. Given the fact that you'll probably be within the enemy team like you were one of them, the aura is nearly guaranteed to be applied.

*CAW* Where'd Caitlyn go, guys?
Deathcap works well on Swain, as he has very good scaling on his abilities, along with Torment artificially amplifying the scalings as well. It's a very good late game item for you, and indirectly makes you tankier through healing.
Next up, is Void Staff. I've already stated the importance of magic penetration on Swain, so that shouldn't need any explanation.
Luden's Echo is a recently added item, that I'm very happy about. Swain never really had a good movement speed option prior to this being released. However this all changed that. More AP, a fairly good amount of movement speed are definitely good for you. And even MORE AoE?! It's perfect..*sniff*...It's perfect.

Why am I so slo- OH GOD NO
These two were bound to show up eventually, eh? They give you a lot of HP, AP and just a good overall mix of defensive and offensive potential. These help in the current meta where Cinderhulk is worshipped, so be sure to try and pick them up. Rylai's helps you kite even more so than before, and Liandry's only strengthens your DoTs even more. This duo is a very powerful pickup on Swain.

Why the hell is that bird wearing Adidas?
Mercury's Treads are the first option. Giving you a nice bit of MR, and a good bit of Tenacity, they help with your life long mission of walking through the enemy team.
Next, we have Ninja Tabi. These definitely help vs. an autoattack heavy team, and can turn you into an ADC's worst nightmare.
Lastly, we have Sorcerer's Shoes. These are great for if you're ahead, or just want to hurt squishies really badly and don't mind being squishier for it.

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You want Combos?

So, while Swain doesn't have a lot of combos, he does have a few.
The first is this. For reference, * means an autoattack.
* * * *
The second one is a bit of an advanced harassment combo. + * * *
Your all in combo pre-6, against a short ranged/melee champion. + + Sprinkle in some autoattacks for maximum damage.
Your all in combo pre-6 against a long ranged champion. + + . This works against those champions who stay miles away from you to avoid damage. Looking at you,
Oh yeah, we're level 6 now. So what fancy combo do we get now?! Truth be told, you don't unlock any super cool combo like or . You just get a fourth ability. Mind you, it turns you into a damned giant bird, but still. Your combos remain the same, except for having your ultimate on to tick away the enemy's health even better than before.
So you did this combo on that pesky and he just killed you immediately! What do you do now? I'll tell you what, you don't all in you little ****. Swain doesn't win his lane through all ins. He wins them through poking the enemy down, sustaining, and then when they're low enough, all inning. Just like a hawk, he has to be patient. The feeling of knowing your opponent is dead before they do is something else, to put it lightly. Attrition is your friend.

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You want Teamfights?

Swain in a teamfight is a damned monster. If you're ahead, you can go ahead and just walk straight through the enemy team, for the most part. Depending on how tanky they are, be careful, but if they're a team of squishies with one tank? Go right on ahead through their team and wreck people. However, let's assume you're not 40/4 and let's assume you're behind. What you do then is peel for your squishies, keep them safe, be the ultimate bodyguard for them. Who the hell is gonna dive your if there's a Swain on top of him?

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Phases of the Game

Early Game (Levels 1-7): You want to just farm up as best you can during this phase. Try and poke decently, but more importantly, farm. A lot. Your autos are going to suck. It will not be easy. But just do it, alright?

Mid Game (Levels 8-14): NOW HERE is where Swain becomes Swain. You're now a big *** nuisance, a major pain in neck. If you're ahead or even, it should probably take multiple people to kill you. Be sure to try and get blue buffs from both your enemies and your allies. But be sure to ASK first. Don't be the **** that just steals blue buff from your jungler. By now, you should be able to CS with your W and ultimate fairly easily, which should also help with your gold issue. Check the scoreboard to see what's gone on in the other lanes, and see who YOU need to delete. Find out what items you should be building to itemize against that fed champion(s). Believe me when I say that if it's a very fed Swain vs. a team of semi-fed people, Swain will ALWAYS come out on top when you get good enough. So be cautious, but always be ready to go in if you have to. Take note on who might be on tilt, or who might be just overall dumpstered. Make it a point to either focus the rest of their team, or just try and send them over the edge. I've made a lot of people ragequit with that strategy, which is nearly a free win. Find any mistakes in positioning, location, and confidence you can and crush them for it. I can't tell you how many times I've had 3 or 4 people come to my lane and get stomped by just me, causing them to surrender immediately after. The biggest advantage Swain has, is fear. People will usually surrender JUST before your power decreases, believe it or not. But hey, they don't know that, do they? Fill them with fear in this phase. A lot of it. People are afraid of what they don't know. And most people don't know Swain AT ALL. In these teamfights, you are still very durable so be sure to get diving out of your system. It won't last much longer.

Late Game (Levels 15-18): Swain's still a beast in this phase, but can be bursted down a bit easier than mid game. Group with your team, try to keep a grip on dragons, blue buffs and baron. Stay near your ADC a lot to keep the enemy team from killing them. Protect them in teamfights instead of diving the enemy ADC now.

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Double Damage Amp
Birds and Bandages
Noxus Pride
Sun and Birds
Ravens and the Night
Devouring One Enemy at a Time
Neverending Hunger

Razor Sharp

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Summoner Spells

Swain has a few different spells he can take. The first one should be quite obvious.

Flash is a must on Swain. Whether it's for catching up to someone or getting away from someone, it's a great choice.

Well, his magic seems to have warn off by no- WHY AM I ON FIRE OH GOD!? -The poor fool you just burnt. This allows Swain to have fairly large lane control.

Most people consider ghost to be a replacement to Flash. I'm here to say that instead of replacing it, it should supplement it. Ghost works wonders for Swain in a teamfight, as it gives him INSANE mobility.

Lastly, we have teleport. This is good for Swain's map control and lane dominance. Being that he runs out of mana quite a bit, having a way to quickly regain mana and get back to lane via backing and TPing is great for him. Take this if you know you're not gonna get fed at all.

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Tips for Solo Queue with Swain

So a few tips that didn't really fit anywhere but needed to be said:
1. Don't steal your jungler's blue buff if they said no. Even if you need it, just stay calm, and leave it alone.
2. Try not to steal farm from anyone, especially not hypercarry champions such as and . They need it more than you, but remember to stay on top of your farming.
3. Be careful about turning on around some burst champs, as they will probably wait until it's off and then dunk you. Cough
4. If you're in mid lane, ward one of the side bushes and stay next to that bush while CSing. This way you have information on if the jungler's there or not.
5. Overall, don't be a ****.
6. If the enemy team is focusing you, you're doing your job right.
7. A plus side of playing Swain is not many people know who you are/what you do, so generally speaking, people will play aggressively against you because they don't know how your damage works.
8. You're one of the few mages that can act like a frontline, while still dealing great damage. Remember that when making a team composition.
9. Swain works best when he has a tanky initiator on his team like or . Bruisers and tanks are a perfect match for each other, and Swain's no exception.
10. Don't complain to your team about not peeling for you, because generally speaking you're the one who should be doing the peeling, and you WANT people close to you anyway.
11. Stay calm if a lane or two begins to do poorly. Yelling at them won't fix anything. Keep focused on YOU, and what YOU can do. I've had games as Swain where I've single-handedly won the game, and you will too.
12. The ignore button is there for a reason.

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Swain's an awesome mid and top laner capable of snowballing like an avalanche and carrying really hard. Even in the current meta where Morellonomicon is worshipped, he still shines very powerfully through the healing reduction. So get out there and wreck scrubs, alright?