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

Swain Build Guide by VegaArchAngel

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 VegaArchAngel

Swain, The uber-nuke of decrepit torment

VegaArchAngel Last updated on July 27, 2011
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.

LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #16 in
Top Lane
Win 48%
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.


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

Guide Top


image from -

I'd like to start off by letting you guys know this is my first guide on the site, I have long since lurked on the website, drawing benefit from the ideas of others. My inspiration for writing this guide comes from the things I've learnt from a few of the higher rated swain guides out there, and the amazing new buff's he's received in the last couple of weeks. After hundreds of games tuning what I've learnt to my own particular style, I now present to the mobafire community my own Swain guide, please let me know how it goes. =)

(I'd like to also state that while I have not read every Swain guide out there, I may come close to many of the other's as far as item build, skill order and masteries. I am not attempting to rip off anyone's work, it would just be coincidental. If you have any complaints feel free to send me a message)

What to read:
Necessary: Summoner Spells, Skill Sequence, Early/Mid/Late gameplay
Important: Runes, Items, Tip's & Tricks
Optional: Masteries, Pro's/Con's

Obviously I intend for you to read the Necessary and Important chapter's, this will be updated as the guide expands.

Guide Top

Summoner Spells

Although in most cases I feel it is mostly up to the player to choose which summoner spells suit their play style the best, I'll take a moment to emphasize the importance of Ignite on Swain. The main function that this ability will serve is for quick early game harassment, Torment will amplify the damage of this ability just like any other (The extra damage even applies to Deathfire Grasp ).

At level 1 you can apply an effective combination of Torment and Ignite to immediately start with the upper hand (assuming you're up against an equally viable mid champion with decent damage output), otherwise it can be saved and used for a Torment Decrepify combo. Which can easily wipe out 3-5 bars of enemy hit points under level 6.

Now, Teleport isn't as important, if you want you can put in your own personal spice here, but I've found when playing the XP denial game with your enemy at mid, having this move simply allows you to keep yourself in the game for as long as possible. If all goes well at mid and you keep your xp farming to a maximum, you'll easily be able to make 2 or 3 levels over your enemies.

Guide Top


Pretty stock-standard AP Caster Mastery tree, I used to have the point in Burning Embers for the early game phase but after testing I decided to go with Presence of the Master .

Utility Mastery I'd say is Swain's most important mastery, he thrives off of blue buff, I'd even go as far as saying that out of all the champion's, he definitely benefits most out of it. ( Anivia being one exception)

Guide Top

Runes, why starting with ~20% CDR helps your cause.

I'm a little nervous about writing this section up, because for the most part, I haven't done much with testing out different runes for Swain, my account is a bit too young to benefit from phat stacks of runes just yet, but I'm getting there. I welcome any feedback you guys can give me in regards to potential alternatives to my runes. =)

But anyway, the reason why I went CDR for Swain is because I feel that because of such a short cooldown on his ulti, having those few extra seconds (~2.1 or so) to use it again is important; especially when sustaining your health by quick casting Ravenous Flock as to not drain mana (I'll go into this in more depth later) Having access to Torment quicker is always good as well because you can initiate your combo's a few seconds earlier than people would expect.

Another benefit to this setup is so you can take the time to level up Nevermore last, for most of the game it'll cool down roughly every 16 seconds, which is just enough to initiate a team fight and then stun the runners of said team fight. I like the damage that Nevermove deals, but In my own personal opinion I find Decrepify to be more viable, both as an escape mechanic and as part of your DPS.

By the time you have full item build, and assuming you didn't shortcut to 40% with a Ionian Boots of Lucidity, the Deathfire Grasp should bring you to 40% (Actual: 40.18%) CDR

Cooldown Reduction:
Runes = 10.18%
Masteries = 7%
Blue = 8%
Any +15% item makes a very close to even 40%

Guide Top

Skill Sequence, combo's to keep in mind

You've heard me go on about Torment to an almost fanboyish extent now, it's starting to make even myself feel a little uneasy, but allow me to explain:

Every rank in torment, increases the potency of your damage amplifying effect (8%/11%/14%/17%/20%), this in itself is nuts, but when you can also use this with Ignite and Deathfire Grasp, you'll begin to find that no matter who the champion, or how close to the 6k HP mark they are, you will devastate their hit points so rapidly that by the time they even process the idea of running away you're hitting them for your last tick of Torment + Decrepify, and if miraculously, someone with a truckload of magic resist survives, your Nevermove will keep them around for the next Torment + Decrepify combo.

Now, I'll get this out of the way before we move on, I know that a lot of Swain players out there prefer to level up Torment and Nevermove as their main dps output. I think that this isn't the best way to go about being as deadly an AP Nuke as you can be with him, simply because of the longer cool down attached to it.

Lets look at it this way, at level 2 with this guide you have Torment on a ~7.2 second cooldown and Decrepify on a ~7 second cooldown. And with ignite ready to go, in early game you could Ignite, Torment, Decrepify someone just underneath the half health mark, and still have a damn good chance of killing them. While Nevermore does impressive damage, it's better off having those DoTs ticking over extra % damage rather than it all being resolved in one hit. And considering the cooldowns, Nevermore only becomes as readily available as all your other moves at rank 4-5.

IMPORTANT: It is hard to judge what to use first in your combo when Ignite is ready, Ignite lasts for 5 seconds, Torment lasts for 4 seconds, Decrepify lasts for 3 seconds. So in order to achieve maximum damage potential opening with Ignite could be a smart move, if the player is cautious and starts to run back just as you initiate your combo, there are two options to take, and it'll be a pretty quick decision you'll have to make. You can either Nevermove them straight away and pop Torment and Decrepify on the target afterwards, of course you wouldn't be doing as much damage as possible, but at least your ignite doesn't completely go to waste. Otherwise you can disengage and curse your luck. Knowing how player skill level varies, you should be able to work out what combo to go with after your first torment on an enemy.

In saying all this, I am completely aware that the **** I'm elaborating on would only apply to certain situations. So as a general rule of thumb, your main damage output here comes from the combo's:

Level 1-5: Ignite > Torment > Decrepify > Nevermove
Level 6+: Ravenous Flock > Torment > Decrepify > Nevermove (If you have ignite, save it for runners, and even then only use it so long as you have Torment up on your opponent)
Level 18 (Full Build): Torment > Deathfire Grasp > Decrepify > Nevermove

Guide Top

Items, This build and alternatives to consider.


First of all, I know that RoA and then Rylai's can stunt the growth of Swain's damage output, it's may seem like a bit of a risk, but by the time you've finished your RoA, all of your moves will be dealing at the very least 17% extra damage. And if you're worried about not having the epic AP from a quick built Rabadon's or the huge mana bonus from ToG/Archangel's, then I have a reasonable solution. If you're building into a quick deathcap as one of your first major items, I find that it's a slow process the early game phase. If you are doing really well before level 6, have first blood and the gold to spend, I'd suggest buying a Mejai's before you get Catalyst. Because if by that stage the game has gone south for you, you'll be glad you built into the top heavy Health + AP items first.

If you decide on Mejai's then the item build should go something like this:

Doran's Ring
Amplifying Tome
Mejai's Soulstealer
Sorcerer's Shoes
Catalyst the Protector
Rod of Ages
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Rabadon's Deathcap
Archangel's Staff

And if your Mejai's is on full stack just keep rolling with it, if not, sell it and grab yourself a Deathfire Grasp

Alternatives include:

Void Staff : For when they start stacking the MR, you start stacking the MPEN
Zhonya's Hourglass : Big AP, and in the likely case where you start to be the focus of every team fight, gives the enemies a nice little distraction while your team helps pick them apart
Moonflair Spellblade : Early item, only if you need the CC reduction
Ionian Boots of Lucidity : Early game shortcut to max CDR%, definitely sell in favor of Deathfire Grasp later on though.
Will of the Ancients : If you're the target of extreme aggression and need some extra healing. get this, I plan to trial this item next given the new improvements to Ravenous Flock

Guide Top

Early Game Strategy

So if you're still with me, you'd remember how I mentioned the combo's to work with before, so I'll go under the assumption that you already know what moves to use and when.

You want mid, you need mid, mid is Swain's house. Grab your Torment and get to tormentin' them.

The goal with early play is to first assess the potential skill level of your opponent, and then keep them as harshly under levelled as possible. What I do is just use Torment casually on my opponent as he runs in to make a last hit. Depending on whether or not he/she runs away or towards me, I have a pretty good idea of how to deal with the rest of the fight, and from there I'll start aiming for First Blood bonus if it hasn't already been taken.

Now, depending on what sort of player you're up against you'll start going for the kill at level 2. For aggressive players, you should always use Ignite Torment and then Decrepify first, after having softened them up from at least 2 stand alone Torment's prior to this. You want to get your enemy HP low enough to kill (obviously) or for them to make the decision to go back to base, and if you're timing this correctly, it'll be just as you're about to hit level 3. If you have them on the run and your HP is good, get Nevermore and place it underneath them so that the direction back to their base is mostly covered by the stun circle. So either you hit them, dive a torment on them and get back before the second turret hit.. or if they run back towards you, torment and decrepify. If all goes according to plan, you can B back now and choose to start building that Mejai's, or grab Boots/Pot/Ward. Otherwise you can wait until you can buy Mejai's or your Sorcerer's Shoes outright.

This puts you ahead of your opponent on XP, damage output and health. So as long as you land your Torment Decrepify combo's right, you'll easily farm the kills, or shepherd them out of their experience zone. Remember, only last hits on enemy creeps, and try to keep the line as close to your base as possible.

At level 6 is when you start doing your Ravenous Flock heal cycling, what you do here is hit R, count the span of roughly 1.5 seconds, and then press R again, every time it comes off of cooldown you should do this until on max health, after you're on max health, just use it as you see fit for last hitting creeps. Basically you want to have constant heals, without having to worry about mana consumption and this is by far the best way to do it, for every time Ravenous Flock comes off of it's CD, you should have 2-3 last hits, which will return pretty much all of the mana you had spent. Without using Carrion Renewal to it's full potential, then the strategy won't work, as you'd have sunk all your mana into a 6 second time span.

I'd say how important Wards are, but that just goes without saying.. read if you're unsure of how to get the best possible use out of them.

Guide Top

Mid Game Strategy

By the time you've finished your Rod of Ages, the game should be progressing to the mid game phase (omg so slow on the RoA!!! this is because Mejai's would have also come before it in the instance of a good game), the important thing to remember here is, by the time you get past level 9-10, you want to keep blue buff on you at all times, start familiarizing yourself with the 1:55 minute time window, because it's one thing to pay attention for when blue respawns, but playing swain you should go the one step further and actually know when blue buff respawns, you want to be just getting in range of it as he comes back to life, this is obviously more important on the enemy side of the map, because if you keep track of time, you're most likely the first player in the game to be aware of it respawning, which can be helpful for stealing theirs. (Less likely to be attacked by players unaware that it's back up)

When going for the ganks, it's paramount to keep yourself hidden until just the last moment, as a nuke you should only be making yourself known for at most 2 seconds before retreating back into safety, casting a well placed Nevermore from bushes or through the wall is what will generate all the kills for you, it has great range but a long CD, so make them count.

Guide Top

Late Game Strategy

Obviously by this stage you'd have gotten your feed on, in this case be a little bit more aggressive in team fights, although you'll be a target of abuse, the extra healing you get from Ravenous Flock (now that it prioritizes enemy champions over minions (FINALLY)) You will be deceptively hard to kill. Each bird will be healing you for 75% of the damage dealt, so this is where blue counts the most. You have to get into a habit of knowing when to cancel your ulti and when to keep it up, and as far as things go, by this stage is the only move you can really afford to spam at will. Otherwise you ALWAYS WAIT for your torment to cooldown, even if you have a Decrepify/Nevermore/Ignite waiting, I've watched Swain players just use their abilities willy-nilly as soon as the cooldown's ended, and needless to say, their damage output was weaksauce. Swain is a deadly AP nuke, and the only thing that allows him to do just that is Torment, you ALWAYS WAIT for it to cd, I cannot stress this enough.

Another thing you might want to exploit is how his 20% extra damage scales at the end with all of his moves. I've gone through Double Warmog Mundo's in a matter of seconds with the 'ol reliable combo of:

Ravenous Flock > Torment > Deathfire Grasp > Ignite > Decrepify > Nevermove

(Ignite over Decrepify in this instance because seeing as Nevermore is being used in the combo, Decrepify helps you to aim it easier)

Guide Top

Tips &Tricks

-Always get Blue past level 9, this is when Swain can solo it without taking too much of an unnecessary risk, but also because if you have a jungler on your team he'll want the first few blues.

-Luring low health enemies who are chasing you into the jungle can be turned around to your advantage, start healing off the nearest jungle creeps (excluding twin golems, you'd only heal off of two targets for the first 2 ticks) and then burn them with a Torment combo

-Always remember that Torment applies to all damage you deal, items and summoner spells inclusive.

- Ravenous Flock now prioritizes enemy champions over minions, making you a much more versatile team fighter.

- Decrepify and Nevermore are both better suited as defensive moves by themselves. And should only be used after Torment if being used for damage, the ONLY exception being that Torment is on CD, and there's an enemy on 100hp in range of you. =p

Guide Top

Pros / Cons

-Only character in the game who can increase the damage of Ignite and Deathfire Grasp
-Good level of crowd-control (AoE Surpression, Tethered 3 second slow)
-Insane AP nuke when combo is used right
-Deceptively difficult to kill in team fights
-One of the best mid champions in the game
-Can solo-kill as early as level 2-3

-Consumes a lot of mana, Extremely dependent on blue buff
-Quite frail before level 6
-Slow movement speed, chasing all comes down to how good you are with Nevermove
-Damage output dependent on combo's of 3 or more moves, can be interrupted quite easily
-Often focused by enemy team (ganks and team fights)

Guide Top


Well, there you have it, my first edition of this build, questions and comments are welcome so let me know what you think. =) I'll add more to it as I see fit, but for now I feel like I've got most of the important stuff out of the way.

I only have a few scores to Screenshot at the moment 'cos I've been learning Leo. This is how I do on average, sorry about the win bias, i'll remember to take more screens of my next games.