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Swain Build Guide by Totallynotn00b

Underplayed, Under appreciated... but not Underpowered.

Underplayed, Under appreciated... but not Underpowered.

Updated on May 16, 2014
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Totallynotn00b Build Guide By Totallynotn00b 142 7 1,132,710 Views 85 Comments
142 7 1,132,710 Views 85 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Totallynotn00b Swain Build Guide By Totallynotn00b Updated on May 16, 2014
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Guide is currently released for preliminary feedback.

Good day chaps.
I'm Totally Not N00b (TNN also works), aka Sovietpride.
You may remember me (if not, I hate you), from the other guide I wrote: "Leblanc - destroying n00bs 101 patience summoner."

This is another foray of mine into advanced analysis of another underplayed, underappreciated, and very rarely mastered champion:


Whilst my sardonic (Or totally flat, depending on your tastes) humour will be injected where it can be in an attempt to make the guide a better read, (If you want fancy literature go read a book. Seriously. When was the last time you saw a good book that was illustrated, had fancy multicoloured and multi fonted text, had.. ah i'm deviating again.) It will more or less be like the last one.

Perhaps not as detailed, as there aren't as many mechanical nuances to as , but there will be some (hopefully) indepth analysis of his abilities and combos.

So without further ado, let's move swiftly on.
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About the Author.

IGN: Totally not n00b, amongst many other aliases.
Plays: Top/mid/sup.

Mains: LB, Swain, Vlad. Support: Leona, Nunu, Blitz, Janna.

Likes: Squishing things.
  • Being squished.
  • trolls.
  • .

Wants: W0R1D D0M1N4SHUN.

Should get: A bloody move on with the guide.
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About Swain.

Swain... is an enigma. Your role, abilities, and playstyle is radically different from other main-stream casters. It's neither 'esque "BURST AND GTFO", nor is it SMASH BUTTONS AND DO DAMAGE.

It's... power. The regal sort of power that goes along the lines of "I'll bully you around, and laugh as you try to hurt me."
Like , he kills people by wearing people down whilst maintaining his health pool.
Unlike vladiqueer, Swain can take a punch, and instead of running away like a girl, eats your face for your impudence.
Or dies, if you do it wrong, die. In which case, point and laugh.


Your role in a team is not set in stone.
What does your team need? Tanky? Disruption? Protect ad carry? Assassinate theirs?
Swain's kit is devastatingly powerful and versatile in the right hands.
In the wrong ones, you might as well pick up some fan's and go the way of .

is known... no wait. He isn't. Everyone knows leblanc - 100-0. OMG OP NERF QUICK. is... most people won't even know.
It's rare to face a swain.
It's rarer still to face a competent one, just like
And I'm here to show you how to use this to your advantage. People have a habit of misjudging a good . People have a habit of simply not knowing what even does. They overcommit, and are dead before they realise it.

It's a different kind of satisfaction. Disengaging from a fight, knowing they're dead before they know it themselves.
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How I play Swain.

We can group this into phases:
1) Aggressive passivity.
2) Lane bullying.
3) Tarpit.

Let's get some important facts out of the way:
  • Swain is like Leblanc. If you get behind, you're likely to stay that way.
  • You're prone to getting ganked, if you're not careful.
  • You tend to have issues with long range champions if you're not careful.
  • You're fairly squishy if you don't know what you're doing.
  • Spam /j and /t in raven form, or you're missing out

Now that that's out of the way:

Phase 2) Aggressive passivity.

Swain's kit allows immense aggression. The damage amp from means enemies are really not going to stick around trading AA's with you.
That said, if you're too aggressive, you lack the likes of to get away with it.

Too aggressive = lane pushes.
Lane pushes = you get ganked.
You get ganked = not fun.
You don't get ganked = Unlikely, but proceed to make your lane opponnent rage and AFK. IT'S ALWAYS THE JUNGLERS FAULTTTTTT

So do the usual thing.
They go in for a last hit, . Back off. If you're feeling confident, AA them as well.
You can happily throw 's about forever, since your passive gives you so much more mana to play with than they do.

Once the lane's more in your direction, (or you've spotted their jungler in another lane), proceed to be more aggressive - with AA's thrown in will easily take off 1/3-1/2 their health in the early game.

But your main task is simply to get to level 6 without dying, and with good farm. From there, the fun begins.

NB: Be careful around the tie second blue comes up. It is IMPERATIVE that you get one. Your ability to dominate the lane falls sharply without it. Either buy before it happens, or make sure your lane opponent is in no position to contest it. (read: dead )

Phase 2: Lane bullying.

Has an advantage amongst the AP roster in that he can easily reverse the damage of any poke/ trades that occur. You may not have the ability to 100-0 someone, but then again very few of them will have either.

Here's how it works:
You trade, all the while gaining health back and healing up their damage, whilst at the same time any damage you do to them will stick.

Rinse, repeat, and the lane becomes a nightmare for them. One on-target when they're around 70% health? They're dead.

Normally by this time you've got wards (and if not, stop reading this guide as it can't help you). You've warded both sides of river so your lovely food opponent can't summon help without you noticing, (Unless it's the likes of ...) and you're all set to be one of the biggest lane-bullies in LoL.

Zone, farm (by God I hope you remembered to last hit whilst you're doing this all), kill, win.

Phase 3: Tarpit.

By this stage of the game your goal is to be the target they don't want to focus, as with your resistances and regenerating health pool it runs the high risk of being wasted, yet have to focus or else their squishies will melt.

It's a fine balance between being a threat, and not dying (easily).
Oh, and let's set the record straight:

Being French (term given to me by those who know me signifiying my unwillingness to fight die.) is both a good skill to have, and not. Walking out with after a fight with low HP with the squishies zoned and dead is one of the joys of playing . Nobody knows how much damage to allocate to you to kill you. It's either overkill, a la dogpile, or get killed. And even then, items like would like to have a word.

And beyond that, you can be so adaptable to where you need to be and what your team needs.
is about blowing someone up and running away. , is about being a man. No wait, a bird. Errr.. demon? Oh nevermind.
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Runes, Masteries, Summoners.


Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush


Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush


So... Choices choices.

or not.


Greater mark of insight
Mpen Reds

Magic pen reds are pretty much standard on any caster, being the most effective.
Ok, in one video HSGG used ArPen, but that was by mistake. Ok, he won the lane and beat jax over the head. THATS NOT THE POINT.


Greater Seal of Force
Ap/lvl yellows

Now, this is where some thinking is needed, and some opinions of myself.
Basically put, I don't need mana regen seals of any kind with my build on .
Early game: Passive makes up for it.
Mid game: RoA is enough
LAte game: RoA and chalice fuels you for long enough in a small fight. Blue buff will suffice for late-late game.

That said, if you're lacking runes, then by all means go ahead with the mana regen seals - more sustain in lane is never a bad thing... It's just preference of mine to be able to abuse 's passive and give bonus stats over other casters by dedicating yellows to something else.

Oh, and importantly: BLue buff makes or breaks in a fight . Seriously. Without it, you're "ok", just about. But with it, you're freaking god mode.

So what else is there?
Greater Seal of Potency vs Greater Seal of Force
Flat AP yellows vs Scaling AP yellows

My preferred choice out of these two are scaling AP yellows.

Scaling outclass flat by level 6 .

After which is when the majority of your killing/plays will happen. Whilst I'm not denying has pretty absurd killing potential before level 6, it's just preference of mine that I have something which will benefit me in the long run.

In addition, I'm in no real hurry to kill them quickly - read: , so building up into a mid-game and later menace is perfectly reasonable.

TLDR: You want to kill stuff before 6, take flat. If not, you're better served with scaling.
Even then, the power boost is what, 3 AP difference?

But why don't i take these either?

Greater Seal of Health vs Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Because at level 18, scaling seals of health give you 216 health, more than a . Meanwhile, scaling AP gives you 16.2 ap. That's... not even an . At a base level, you're getting more bang for your buck with scaling healths than scaling APs.

Furthermore, it adds to the need to be bulky, helping to address that requirement too. I Completely ignore flats because they're twice as expensive as scaling, and for +50hp level 1... I don't know anyone who uses these.

Greater Seal of armor
Armor yellows

Take if going vs AD opponent.
You know, , etc.


Greater Seal of Warding
Flat MR blues

Early game resistances is what you require - by late game, you would have enough healing and power that the extra bit of MR scaling MR provides would be moot.
In addition, you also need to cross the bothersome hurdle of actually getting there .

By taking early game resistances, you're slightly more free to trade hits - if they take flat AP, you've still won - blue glyphs give less AP than they do MR.
IF they've taken flat MR as well, then you're on even footing.

IF they've taken something stupid like + crit damage, please cull them for the good of humanity.

Greater Glyph of scaling ability power and Greater Glyph of Flat Ability power
Ap/lvl blues

The issue with is that you're not a burst mage. Your nature is that you get into a scrap, and come out of it better than your opponent.

To that end, you're bound to take damage as you lack abilities to prevent retaliation. In addition, your short range further allows your opponent to inflict damage.

I simply find that with , taking AP glyphs renders him too squishy. the 10.8ap bonus from flat ap glyphs...+25 damage maybe? For your ult, gives you +2 damage a raven, so that translates to around +1 hp in healing per bird. Wewt. Or, conversely, you could have +12MR, and cut their damage down by a good 7%.


Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

More power. 15 AP at lvl 1? Yes please. Calculations show these to be the most efficent quints there are.

Greater Quintessence of movement speed

That said, there is little use having firepower if it can't hit anything. To this end, some champions who would melt under your wrath don't because you can't bleeding get to them . To this end, Movement speed quints are almost a must, due to your lack of abilities to get into range beyond walzting up to them.

In addition, i take this when going top lane in general, since kiting is by far more useful (Read: not dying ). REmember what i said about not being to kill that which you can't hit? (Because if you can't, see a doctor. It was only last paragraph i said it) This is where it will apply to you. Move speed, Cc, keep them off you.


Offense tree:

Nothing overly spectacular or deviant I feel.
We avoid AD-giving masteries and focus on AP and CDR as it's where its relevant.

isn't CDR dependent - 2% sorcery loss isn't going to really affect you overly much. The point into is to help you last hit.

Likewise, isn't an a point to be sniffed at either. basically equally 1 extra magic damage per 20 ap you have, (1:20, 5:100, etc).

A few words on some masteries though:

1.5% extra damage dealt and received.
The latter part is vital. As is inevitably going to be in the middle of the fight, paying points into dying faster seems a terrible idea.
At most you're gaining 4.8% extra damage (20% from torment on one target), but potentially receiving up to 7.5% damage.
Or TLDR: Points into helping your enemy. Dumb idea.

Increases allied damage. Therefore useless to you really.

Potentially could work, as sustain never hurts, but once you're post-6, becomes irrelevant. Health? Bird. Mana? Blue.
That said, you know how many times someone survives on 10hp or so? If you're not confident vs an early laner, then this might be your life line.

Amazing. 5% in health AND mana. People start falling, and in conjunction with your passive you sustain all that much better.

Utility Tree

3 points in . Because mana reg is good. loves mana reg. Oh, and it synergises with too.

3 points in because having summoner spells off cooldown ASAP is advantageous.

1 point in because 20% extra buff duration is actually a must on , where you can wander around the map for protracted periods of time between fights. Believe me, running out of blue buff the few seconds before a fight starts is not fun.

the rest

Pointless - when you get item actives, you rarely have full-on fights requiring them within the space of a minute or two of each other. Ergo, CDR on the actives is wasted.
In the unusual circumstance that it isn't, simply communicate as to how long you need for them to be up. It's not that hard.

And the other masteries soviet? .

TLDR: In the offense tree, the ones i haven't taken are for AD, in general.
Utility tree? nothing matches up to 20% extra buff duration. Get to it. GEt mana reg, and summoner cdr.

No, I mean the defence tree!

Oh. Right. That.


I can technicaly see why - Being a short-range fighting machine you're going to be in the thick of the scrap. And honestly, I guess I have to give up and say it isn't bad . It's just 20% extra buff duration is too good in my book to give up, especially since is so bloody blue dependent in a team fight. If you feel too squishy in lane, and want some leeway... I can't really tell you much as you're just hamstringing yourself for team fights if you do so.

Summoner Spells

and . Because Meta says so.

Need a bit more explanation? Ok.

for the "Oh S***" moments, and "get out of fail free".

. Because nothing says "I hate you, want to kill you, now die" more than setting them on fire. Read: Do more damage, secure kills.
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Items. shiny bits n gubbinz.

This section will probably be the worst of all the sections.
Unlike champions like , which is "build power or be useless (and most be useless anyway) has many more options open to him due to his nature, role, and kit.

I'll sum them up into the following:


This is always going to be an issue even for experienced Swain players. The nature of his ult is a mana-black hole. just SCHWOOOOOOOOOP. and it's all gone.
No mana, = no abilities
Caster with no abilities = Food. Ever played , enter a team fight, run out of mana and run float around AAing people? It looks funny, true, but it's also damn embarrassing.
requires augmentation to both his pool of mana, and its regeneration in order to function correctly in team fights. Ironically enough, blue buff isn't sufficient by itself, nor is capable of his full potential in a teamfight without it.
You'll pretty much never have a game where it's on you 24/7, so addressing this vital deficit is of paramount importance, since going back to the fountain after every minor skirmish and running out of juice half way through a major fight... isn't good for victory.


Unlike the precious flower that is , in a team fight you go in, AND STAY IN.
Being a shortish-range caster and with an ult that requires you to be within 700 range opens you to taking damage - and building glass cannon on , whilst funny if you catch someone, really isn't long for the world under focus fire.

You've got to deal damage, true, and let's not forget that a great deal of your tankiness will come through healing, which in turn is increased through power - but you will deal no damage if you're dead .
And believe me, when you get good with to the point that you can carry, you will get focused.
So, you've got to have enough defences to absorb burst, and cc. One of your great strengths is how you can absorb punishment and heal it all back up, but if you're a smouldering crater on the floor, believe me - crows don't fly.

My kingdom for a cleanse...

To this end, items like give you the needed hp to take some hits, whilst is such a useful item, ranging from "OHCR4PINCOMING" to "BRBNEEDHEALING." Items that serve dual purpose like and are therefore incredibly useful to us, providing tankiness whilst giving other needed stats.

Lastly, 's kit, to be used at full effectiveness (Read: CAWCAWCAW), is up close and personal, in the middle of everything. And try surviving in the middle of everything for any meaningful period of time when you're not tanky.


You can be as indestructible as you want, but it's kinda moot if you do no damage. You'll just be ignored, and then taken apart once your allies are dead <.<.
So, we got mana to fuel your spells, and tankiness to stay alive. Lastly, and perhaps most fun of all, we need TONNES OF DAMAGE to be a threat.

You need to be in that awkward spot for your enemies where if they don't focus you, you'll melt their squishies, and if they do, you'll tank and regen it and force them to waste their time on you.

Your primary role in a team will generally always be the AP carry. Lock someone down from time to time yes, but it's still your job to melt people. And let's not beat about the bush: 20% extra damage to your chosen target through the joys of is freaking absurd. A standard rotation of abilities lasting 5 seconds, gives a
4.08 (1.08+0.84+0.96+1.2) AP ratio. on a single target. Add to that that two of your moves are AoE, and you're in territory others can only dream of. Seriously. Someone pass the Assassins a tissue please.

So without further ado, Let's go onto the good stuff: SHINY THINGS.

First off, wut do from the pad?

I generally go for one of two options.

For where dodging skill shots is paramount - the likes of where one wrong step = BS a world of pain.

sight wardx2 x5 and x3.

"But Soviet, why mana potions? Won't your passive cover you?"

Technically, yes. But let's assume, not unreasonably, that you've been trading a fair amount in lane, and its post-6.
A) You're not going to be last hitting "everything" due to fighting, and
B) You haven't gone back, so you're at bare-bones basics. AKA, nothing to shore up that hoover that is your ult when you go in to fight. Those mana potions will keep you going for just long enough in a lot of cases where its a terminal fight, and allow you to get a kill, if not walk hobble away.

Wards are to prevent ganks, and provide vision.
A risky but good place to put them is at your enemy wraiths - (assuming he isn't starting red).
This way, you can place the one down and hold onto the other one - when he's at his wraiths, everyone knows, and can play more aggressively.
If you don't see him, either he's ganking somewhere, but in either case, you know to stay away from the unwarded side .

Health potions are as standard - sustain, be irritating, farm up.

x4 x1.

Vs an AD laner who you dont want to die vs, this can work quite nicely.
The likes of and will inevitably push the lane, rendering your lack of initial sight wards a moot point.


Boots vs champs where you have to dodge skill shots.
Ward/pots for a passive/aggressive farm lane.
Cloth/pots for a dangerous AD lane.

Next stuff:

catalyst the protector
chalice vs catalyst vs tear

The thing these all have in common is that they're bought to stabilise mana problems. I've tried all of them, and you know my choice. But since I practice what i preach, here's why:

Chalice of harmony

Chalice never appealed to me as much as a catalyst. It's cheaper, sports MR, and with a passive that makes sense on our dear swan and enhances blue buff.

The problem I have with it is that I never find the regeneration enough by itself to cover 's mana issues, especially in a protracted fight. And here's an example to this degree:

Secondly, it doesn't help vs true damage (ala which your lane opponent is bound to have) or physical damage. You're in danger of building against your lane as opposed to building against the game.

That said, I get it later on to stabilise late game mana issues.

catalyst the protector
Catalyst the protector

Health and mana, with a passive that pretty much seals it in its favour.

Obviously, the earlier you get it the better, in order to get the most out of its passive. In the long run, the sustain provided by catalyst for me over a period where the lane starts getting vicious is just too good to pass up.

In addition, it generally allows you to fight for longer than a would, as It plays to 's style of being near full whilst his opponents dip lower and lower. The increase to the maximum of your stores that catalyst the protector accents this disparity far more than a or would.

And I guess the obvious fact that it builds into , which is... I'll go into it later.

Tear of the goddess

Bleigh. I don't like this item for the same reason I don't like it on . The time taken to charge it is at a time where you should be exerting dominance, and crushing your lane opponent.
I feel this item is for those who want to bide their time, farm the lane, etc, the likes of .

But I'll stress this: I don't like this item, since I feel I need to crush my opponent then and there, as opposed to afk farming and team fighting.

Lastly, I don't like what they build into- the fact that their abilities drain your mana, and in a fight you need every drop you can get.
That's on top of it taking up an item slot - inevitably instead of chalice/ unholy cup, which isn't overly bad, but since I generally leave this item slot til last to upgrade, I find it less effective, especially in conjunction with blue buff, than chalice.


doesn't provide as much as you may think it does. Doesn't help vs true or physical damage
Takes time to charge. Provides nothing but mana, doesnt build into anything overly good for birdman.
Catalyst the protector Passive makes and breaks it in its favour. Builds into .

The big items

The following section will be divided into two parts:
The path I choose,
Alternative paths,
And "the rest"

Rod of ages

Your core item. Gives you all three wanted stats: health, mana, power.
Nothing more i can say about this really. Incredibly gold efficient when charged? Nah. It's gold efficient even before it's charged. at3393 g 10 minutes later, it sits at a whopping 4755g worth of stats. A whopping 1.7-1 g efficiency rating.
Spoiler: Click to view

I happily delay getting boots til after my rod if it comes down to it, due to how potent it is to have in lane, and the earlier you get it the better. For this reason, I generally "rush" this item. I.e, GET IT ASAP. Or go Xpeke style and buy x3. I dunno.

Zhonya's hourglass

Ah, ZH. Such a fantastic item. Power and Tankiness.
The active, however, is where its at. 2 seconds of invulnerability.
And that's where you can make all sorts of janky things happen. Let's look at this from your opponents perspective:
Say you're fighting someone with a ZH, they're nearly dead, but pop stasis. What can you do? You either stay there and wait, essentially being useless for two seconds, or switch your target.

In some cases, you can draw so much aggro that it saves your team from having to take any:

And the brilliant thing about and is that all the while, you're regenerating health. So on top of the above conundrum you've given your opponents, what was previously a low-health Bird is suddenly much much stronger.

Other functions include dodging spell's - Say the second activation of , or . Sometimes you can even dodge multiple spells, but be warned . As soon as you get CC'd, you're not dodging anything.

Lastly, a key weakness of DOT's is that they take time . I.e, inbetween the damage ticking away, that ADC is free to wail on your face and get health back. The other function of , that people seem to forget yet is essentially the same - is denying people the chance to damage you . People who use are generally OK with using it to dodge spells/lethal attacks, yet completely fail to extend this that little bit more down logical-smooth-sailing avenue.

Spoiler: Click to view


But let's be clear: you get 2 seconds of invulnerability. It's good, but don't let it get to your head.


Spoiler: Click to view

Be aware of over-estimating how much you can take. It's one thing to take note how much DPS is heading your way, when suddenly smashes into your face. You have got to be aware of more than just your healthbar!

CC. , for instance, is a pet hate of mine. Sure, you're healing, but CC's like silence and stuns ruin your timing if you like leaving things to the last second.
Also, you'll learn to hate not being able to turn off raven form off, as it screws over your mana management completely in some cases.

In addition, the healing aspect of is only effective if you're in the midst of 3 champions. Positioning correctly where you can regenerate, yet upon coming out of statsis don't get dog-piled is harder than you think.

Lastly, the healing only really becomes significant if you have a fair amount of AP/levels. The more power you have, the more effective the regeneration during 's stasis will be.

Oh, and watch out for . Feathery fluffy things hate fire.

Note how isn't any of that?. That's right.


Chalice of Harmony

It's normally at this time (I.e, two big items down) that team fights start taking off in earnest. And you need to stick around in a fight more. That's where Chalice comes in - Enough to keep you in the fight for a few seconds longer, and fire off a last volley of spells.

In conjunction with blue buff, it'll shore up your mana issues in a team fight, enabling you to run around in raven form for soooo much longer.

Even if you run out of mana, the regeneration you get is ridiculous... easily enough to last the rest of the fight. Of course, the time between running out of mana and your abilities coming back off CD is another matter...

I find that it isn't worth it to upgrade to at this point. You need blue buff far more than 's mana-on-Kill/assist function can really give you. In addition, you actually have to kill said opponents to get the passive return.

At this point you have tankiness and mana sorted - you can afford to invest into pure power .

Rabadon's deathcap

You're not a burst and-gtfo Mage, And will melt under concentrated firepower if you rushed a pure damage item like . No amount of clever playing/positioning can overcome the fact that in a team fight, your short range hurts . By going down the dark and dangerous route of TONNES OF DAMAGE glass cannon, you'll ride high on the curve, but when team-fights start, you'll get bursted down before you've had a chance to throw out all your spells.

In addition, whilst it is true that you more power = more healing, At the stage of the game you would be at where you have your first major item and a few bits and bobs, you're much better served by the mix of stats that gets you, than just pure power.

Whilst it is true that the deathcap makes future AP purchases more efficient, is ridiculously efficient as it is, and deathcap by itself, passive or not, doesn't match up what a gives you, bang for buck wise, let alone the other factors I've mentioned.

Compared to , it does give more power, but I find that the active to be of far more use than that little bit more power that a hat will give you. (Read: Healing through invulnerability)

For this reason, I delay getting a pure-damage item until I'm bulky enough to survive the initial fusillade, and have sufficient reserves that my healing from is actually being utilised.

vs vs
Void staff vs Liandry's torment vs deathfire grasp

Easy enough. Since the healing from is directly tied to the damage you actually

inflict, by neutralising their resistances you deal more damage, and heal more.
Problem is though, is that in order for this item to be efficient, they need to have resistances in the first place.

And recently, what with the league of warmog's armour being centre stage, (read: Sod resistances, Health FTW!), it sometimes isn't worth it to buy a void staff either.

Therefore, incomes . Burning through health seems to be hte way to go now in league of warmogs.
With , you'll be continuously dealing out extra %hp damage (Read: ravneous flock). It does add up. In addition, you some AP, and it makes you bulkier.

DOwnside being, it doesn't directly help your healing.

on paper looks good with . will amplify the active, resulting in 18% of the target's health (remember, it's maximum, so no matter how damaged, it's a potent nuke).
What's more though, is the fact that there is now another 20% amplification of your damage, resulting in 40% damage amp for 4 seconds.
IT's basically the item you get when it's your job to destroy that priority target.
Because you do extra damage to them, you heal more off them as well.
THe issue is, once they're dead, you're left with only the AP it gives you - Which isn't shabby, but when it comes to continuous AoE damage (Again, ), would serve you better.

Plus, there's the whole issue about whether you need the extra *POW* from . Your basic kit and build is normally enough to melt the squishies.

AS always, make the call.

So it comes down to this:

STacking health?
Get or
NEed to murder that single target? get .
Need to just do more damage in league of warmogs in general? get

Other build path: 1

Liandry's torment + Rylai's crystal scepter

, This build path gives less healing, and less single target damage, but is replaced by being a bruiser's nightmare and carry-protector extraordinaire.

I go down this path if there are many health-stackers, and or have a hyper-carry like on my team that's doing well (Would you really protect a feeding scrub? Didn't think so.) that will win the teamfight if she's kept alive.

I can't overly comment on a damage comparison - all i can say is that there's less control over what you're damaging, and less ability to neutralise a single target. Your role with this set up has changed from being the pain-in-the-*** badass daemon-bird which runs through the enemy team without giving a damn to gobble up their squishies, to a pain-in-the-*** badass daemon-bird that sits there being an insufferable tarpit.

Honestly. I have seen teams which will focus me down to pieces when they realise what my game is, and they can't get through to the ADC. You know the kiting game you play against bruisers top lane? This build transfers that in AoE form to the team fight. AoE slow from + Kiting, and an AoE root from will make their life a misery.

Oh, and if they stack lots of MR from amnesia, (read: not doing current meta stack-health-quick), you're kinda stuck.

Be warned

You're not as tanky as you might think you are. Due to the nature of your damage, it doesn't directly help your ultimate, and your regeneration is therefore not as good as it could be.


Utility, protect-the-carry build.
Even more deceptive in its power due to EVENMOARDOTS.
Not as tanky as the other builds due to lack of direct power boost to = less regeneration.

Wut boots?

Only really the usual choice.
I don't like, since CDR isn't a stat overly needs/cares for.

Not exactly the best roamer in the world. Nor is really your task to.

Run around in circles faster! No, really. Not even that blinking pony gets this normally.


So what we do get:

First choice of boots. Moar damage. ALthough since roaming isn't really that high a thing on your priority list, upgrading to tier-2 boots takes a long time in my games.

When against a team without ap casters (really not that uncommon nowadays) these boots pay massive dividends. Be careful though - they don't overly help vs AD casters like pants-on-head-eon . Quite useful in prolonging your tanking powers in a full-fledged brawl though.

I don't get these that often, Since keeps going through CC, I know I'm generally able to ride out whats thrown at me. That said, when the enemy CC actually prevents me from what I want to do, it becomes an issue. Read: 's silence and slow is annoying, and these will make sure he continues to suffer as you shrug off his cc.

Also tends to help vs AP-heavy teams (a rarity nowadays) as they tend to pack a fair amount of CC, and the magic res always comes in handy.
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I never imagined that I would have to write this section, but by god the amount of QQ I get for leaving my boots at lvl 1 in so many games is just hair-rippingly annoying.

TLDR: I build them when i need them, And i don't follow a set-build order.
If I'm against someone like , then obviously I prioritise lvl 2 boots. Not much point trying to save up for that when you're a freaking crater on the floor.

In other news, I simply feel that 750g can be better spent. Completing zhonyas, getting a chalice, these are all more important than a little extra damage and mobility grant . In my opinion . This is how "I" play, and how I do things. This is a guide , explaining my play style and reasoning. It isn't a set of rules of which breaking results in a slow, painful death...


Unless I See you do it and decide to cast it in my "WTF ARE YOU DOING?" series. (check my youtube channel for more details)


Moving swiftly on.
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S4 build


On heading into Season 4, masteries and items changed.
Our favourite bird, also got some nice buffs: his passive now grants health and mana regen return on a kill. This more than makes up for the nerf to blue buff. Swain wasn't one to care for 10% CDR, and more to the point, your opponent has the same thing to deal with.

The core tenants of Swain were unchanged.
  • You'll need a blue buff to be at full effectiveness in a teamfight.
  • You'll need a Zhonya's hourglass for full effectiveness with my play style.
  • Swain is a slow character. I hate buying T2 boots due to how much more effective complete items like ZH is compared to them, but this is an undeniable shortcoming.

With this in mind, my question was season 4 was could I do any tweaking?

And as such, I came up with the following:
Is now an item I wish to look at again. the mana regen added to this item, whilst giving an almighty middle finger to the likes of my other champ vladiqueer, might suddenly be an attractive option for Swain.

Swain has no "need" for spell vamp as his Ult directly translates Damage into health.
That said, Anyone who plays swain and had the aura of the old WOTA (It used to be an aura of 20% spell vamp and AP) would never say it was unwelcome.
The problem was, there were other things that Swain needed more.

With the changes, I was wondering whether it could replace . The answer was yes but it required help. Blue buff wasn't a factor - chalice or not, you needed it to be 100% god mode. But to help soften the blow, I swapped out the health-scaling yellows for mana-scaling yellows.

The is there as a reminder to buy these entering mid-game if you have the spare money. Often, there is a teamfight or two which decides the tempo of the rest of the match - it is crucial to win that whatever the cost.

ROA or WOTA depends upon your situation - WOTA is immediate benefit to the lane - More sustain, more power. ROA is a longer-term investment. Choose depending on your situation

The result is a "slightly" squishier Swain (Read: More vulnerable to burst) but a "much" improved mid-late game. (Damage, sustain, regeneration.)
Just play a little smart, and adjust your playstyle to accommodate your increased vulnerability to up-front damage.
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The other items.

The other items

These items are generally inferior to other options: Either the stats they provide aren't needed (Read: CDR), or of a nature that doesn't suit (Read: Burst)

Doran's Ring

Let's start with a common item that Mid's get.
Although very efficient, it also delays your key build - i.e, .
Time to time I'll buy one to stabilise my position in the lane.
But in general you're better off rushing those big items. It is imperative you remain ahead of the curve, and sometimes can do more harm than good in this respect. See what happens when your gets delayed in a mid-game teamfight. It doesn't end well.

You *Can* start with a Doran's in S4 with x2 hp pots.
It is very strong vs weak early laners, the likes of or whom you can grind into the floor if you play smart.
The drawback is that Swain's early game, whilst formidable, is not his strongest point. The tradeoff is when you fall behind as Swain, you *really* fall behind. Its your call - Can you abuse your lane and get so far ahead to carry? Or do you want to play it safe?

Doran's Shield

With the advent of , I find myself using this less.
IF I'm against a rough lane top, I sometimes get these. Regeneration, Health, and armour. But then you run the risk of building against the lane, as opposed to against the game.

Hextech revolver / Will of the Ancients.

[NB: Please refer to S4 build on my updated opinion on this]
TLR: Good item, where to put it? Requires mastery/rune tweaking, more specialised play style.

I'll admit one thing: I absolutely love . The additional healing and regeneration it gives you is nothing short of insaannneeeee.
Spoiler: Click to view

From 40->100% within 3 seconds NP.

The problem is, however, that there's only so many item slots. And I really can't think of one that can be replaced in order to crowbar in.
In essence, it gives a team-wide aura, of which most people won't benefit from it. Bot lane in general has no benefits from it, and in this league of bruisers, you tend to be the only one who actually gets anything remotely decent from the item, rendering its good-on-paper efficiency really a moot point.
Second, the only thing it gives you is regeneration and power. And since you have in-built regeneration in your ult, I do think that this is basically in the same catagory as a - pure power, not much else. can directly translate power into healing. He doesn't overly need more to make up for a deficit of some sort (read: Health for abilities).

As such, I really love the item if it's on my team, but I can't see it as being integral to 's kit.

TL;DR: Swain already has sustain, extra-spell vamp won't do much.
As such, there are better options for pure-power items.

Deathfire Grasp

Ooooo I did experiment with this. 20% amp from and 20% amp from = 40% extra damage. (Not sure if they stack with each other)
Will blow off a neat chunk of health... on a single target.

I haven't yet found the need to get this. Your kit as it is has the raw power needed to 100-0 a squishy. It just takes a bit of time. Cutting down on that time then specialises you into killing that key target, but your overall potential damage suffers. In my opinion, generally not worth the trade off. In essence, this item is a tad overkill, and the price to be paid again being a lack of power for your abilities.

Not a bad item, but definitely not a core item.

Lich bane

You're not a burst caster. I don't see what this would bring to the table that another item couldn't. Since our mana issues are resolved with a and , the mana it gives is moot. 5% extra movement speed isn't overly important either.

That leaves the passive, which is essentially extra damage. Problem is, your abilities don't directly benefit from it: Read, . At a cost of 3k, I would much rather get a . I don't burst people down anyway, so i'm better off with more sustained power.


Not CDR based. Ability power given isn't overly high, and grievous wounds on those with less than 40% health? eh... never really struck me as game breaking. Pass.

Twin shadows

You're not a support. Nor is it your job to chase people down/teleport somewhere randomly and murder stuff. Takes up a valuable item slot for, although admittedly a really strong active, an item that doesn't offer enough power or resistances to be worth it on you, the AP carry.

Abyssal scepter

Where would this item go, exactly? That's my main problem with this.
On paper it looks really good - MR-reduction aura which is bound to be applied due to 's short range. Tankiness and power, which he also needs.
It's just... where do you fit this in? Everything in the core build I have listed tends to be of a higher value/importance.

That said, I would probably still rush this against high-damage bursters like .
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Swain's abilities.

Carrion renewal

's passive is a laning passive. It helps massively in lane, allowing him to generally throw about spell's with abandon as his passive will let him regenerate his mana-bar.
Of course, the catch is that you actually last hit the creeps... But we're assuming you know the basics of the game.

Of course, the weakness of this passive is that it requires you to be able to last-hit in the first place. Finding yourself OOM, yet zones out because of it, is a very dumb unfortunate situation to be in, and one that I recommend you avoid.


LaZzzzZzoooor bird.
Gives you a slow, which whilst it doesn't seem like much at first, is really sexy. Plus, with a ratio of 0.9 (1.08 with max rank ) it burns .

Use it for kiting, securing kills, controlling that pesky bruiser, or as is normally the case, part of your (AKA EQ) harass.

Also, due to its slow its handy for a few things:

it's handy for leading into , as by being slowed they're far less able to get out of the way, and more able to get omnomnomed.

It forces your opponent to take more AA's, as they're slower than you, and can't escape you wailing on them.

In addition, it has no cast time - feel free to use it on that ganking when you walk away, as it won't slow you one bit. Oh, and remember to laugh. Because after all, such disappointing opponents need to be reminded as to their place!

If you're in top lane, save it or to kite your opponent around, and deny him the ability to retaliate.

But as always, there are drawbacks to be aware of:

it's a leash

Which means although it has a high ratio, in a lot of cases the tagged person will move out of its leash range, thereby negating its full damage potential.

It's not overly strong

Since we're not maxing it, randomly shoving this on the opponent by itself isn't overly efficient on your mana stores. Use it in conjunction with .

it's a DoT

Refer to the section on the downsides to dots.


High ratio, but can be negated if opponent walks out of leash range.
Instant cast- use to slow someone as you make your escape
Not overly useful or efficient by itself for damage purposes.
Same issues with DoTs in general.


's Signature ability, if he had one. Trickiest part of Swain's kit.


Ah, the screech before the clang. Such a satisfying skill to land, as in so many cases it results in your opponent going "OH ****" and panicking. AoE snare that takes a fair amount of skill to land. Not much to it right?


It helps if you stop thinking about this as a cc move, and more as a forcing move. It forces your opponent to do something you want- which whilst in most cases is the bog standard -stay-still-whilst-I-Nom-you , with a little creative thinking can be used for so much more.
And one of the best things about playing vs chicken humans is that one can exploit psychological warfare to their advantage. To this end, I will divide nevermove into roughly two sections: Landing nevermove, and not landing nevermove.

Landing Nevermove

So that's the theory of it, more or less. Putting it into practice is another thing entirely.
Whilst I have waxed lyrical about why landing nevermove isn't 100% neccessary to get results, let's not pretend you'll go far without landing them either. (Pro tip: You won't)

So, without further ado, moving onto actually landing the bloody thing.

There are the easy enough ways of increasing your chances: to slow them down. Using it as part of chain CC, etc.

But others involve a bit of thinking.
Let's assume we have a fight in midlane, duel to the death.
Assuming equal farm/levels/etc, shoving behind them forces the point, but you're going to feel awfully stupid if they get away with 50hp or so over your broken corpse.
So once you've engaged, put it on them, but with most of the circle behind them, like so:

Spoiler: Click to view

(okokok, not everything was equal here, but it's the best example i have right now. YOU WANT TO LEARN OR NOT?)
This forces them to sit there and take it, thereby suffering damage and pressing the issue, or to move. And if you're moving, that means no AA's, and no spell-casts. In many situations, that loss of damage output is enough to tilt the trade in your favour.

Lastly, due to how you placed , they have no choice but to move in a fashion that enables you to keep dealing damage. Or . Or die. Blah.

Walling them in .

A lot of people are daunted by the prospect of landing this spell in the open. They then fail to realise that summoner's rift really isn't as open as it seems. By using impassable terrain such as towers and walls, you can increase your chances of success by placing nevermove in a position where your opponent has no other option to go .

Here's a rather unique example:

Spoiler: Click to view

I use the wall, and the minions to funnel her in.
So ok, she derped, but the principle stands - Use what's around you to box your opponent in, and realise that predicting where your opponent is going to move is tonnes easier when you take stock of movement-limiting factors.

But here's another favorite of mine:

Abusing vision

Spoiler: Click to view

Easy enough. By not being seen, you radically increase your chances of landing nevermove - because they don't expect it . It's basic stuff: Expect something, respond faster. Don't expect something, take longer to respond to it. Abuse it. Abuse bushes. (Sucks to be you if there's a around though.)

And not Landing Nevermove

As is a lot of cases, learning the less-obvious arts of a character takes time, and many people simply have the understanding that missing a skill shot = bad. You're going to have to put up with it, but stay strong.

The thing is, I find there are as many uses, if not more, for not landing nevermove than landing it. And this is generally the part where psychology comes into play.

Gap closing

Yes, there's the obvious "lock them down" so you can catch up. No, strictly speaking we're talking about treating like / - forcing your opponent towards you.

Think about it.

Your enemy is out of your range.
You want to force a fight, but due to their frenzied (and unsporting) manoeuvring its hard to land a perfect snare. The thing that so many players don't understand is that you don't have to .

We exploit the fact that people don't want to get caught.
Placing slightly behind them immediately creates an area they cannot walk towards. They have no choice but to walk forwards - and into your range.

Spoiler: Click to view

Area denial

Lets look at this anotherway, expanding on this theme. That of = zone of exclusion. Easiest example- mentally lacking person team mate is / you are being chased - you throw , which deters pursuit.

Spoiler: Click to view

They don't back off, they're snared. They can't pursue.
They do back off, they can't pursue.
Either way, you win.

And another example, is blocking off avenues of escape:

Spoiler: Click to view

was blocked from going down one avenue, and was forced to take a longer route. It didn't matter that didn't hit – it's about ensuring that she dies soon as opposed to immediately , but also making sure that she dies.

Lets look at this further:

A common trick with skill-shots is to throw one when your opponent is on a path with few options to move- take the small gap between the tower and the wall, for instance.
essentially, one can use to further increase the restrictions of mobility placed upon your victim.

Putting it together

For instance:
Spoiler: Click to view

In this instance, I'm out of range for and CAWCAWCAWCAWCAW.
By using where I did, it created a no-win situation for him. If he gap-closed into it, he would die. If he stays, he also dies.
This move bought me enough time to get in range and murder him.

Contrast this against the standard -throw-on-opponent that so many players do. If was placed on him, he could gap close out of it, and I would be lacking a kill.

Nevermove and Flash

Whilst nevermove is great at forcing flashes, it also means that your opponent got out of a tight spot. (This author assumes you're not playing against total morons.)
The thing is, isn't the 100-0ing type of champ. He can, by all means, but water can carve through a mountain too, doesn't mean you would use that as opposed to LB dynamite.

The point is, gets a great deal of his lane presence by having his opponent within killing range, but being out of his opponents. This means forcing fights which he would win.

The final argument, and perhaps most powerful, for why landing-nevermove isn't everything is the fact that using in the following manner is generally proof.

Spoiler: Click to view

In part 2 especially, one can see that by putting in such a manner as to limit their manoeuvrability, she got caught in it despite flashing. If one places on your opponent, they have the option of disengaging via . By using in the above fashion, that option is taken away from them.



Pain, with more pain.
No, seriously, this ability amplifies ALL your damage, including itself.

In a lot of cases you will want to open your combos with this to maximise your damage output. +20% damage when maxed is NOT to be messed with.

As far as goes, this is the ability you will religiously use. Even by itself it's mana-efficient harass, especially if his passive is factored in. But you should think about it that way: it makes everything else more efficient. By making all your other abilities do more damage, your damage: mana ratio increases, further extending your admittedly precious and fragile mana stores.

What you do with this ability is to win trades. It amplifies your damage, and if it isn't obvious that includes AA's. followed by an AA or two at early levels is almost always going to win you the trade. Your opponent knows he can't stick around as the amplification from torment will tilt the trade in your favour. CC not withstanding, but I can't really walk you through every situation now can I? (No, Don't answer that)

However, it does carry some downsides you need to be aware of:

Travel time.

The missile speed isn't exactly fast- I've seen some people and before torment lands - thereby missing out on the amplification.
On the other hand, it allows you to cast and in most cases torment will land before nevermove. A small thing, but still good to know.

It's a DoT

Aka it takes time to work. In between firing off your dots and letting them finish their damage, that ADC is free to wail on whoever they want and life steal off them, as opposed to bring a smear on the floor. Although fixes this nicely.

It's... a DoT

When harassing someone under their tower, be careful not to wander back in before the spells finished. Too many times I've seen people (and been guilty of) wonder back into tower range and draw aggro because they're still taking damage from you.

Range is not spectacular

At 625 units you're at a disadvantage against a LOT of casters. Adjusting to the range will take some time, but this deficit can be address through other means- locking down with for instance. Other methods are hanging around in front of a minion your opponent wants to last hit, thereby forcing him to let you harass him or take the cs.

Do not get tempted by the damage amp

Seriously. By all means use it to force trades into your favour, but don't go overboard- you can draw minion aggro, over extend, get baited, all of which is bad. Knowing how much punishment you can give and take is a big part of playing .

More seriously however is how it entices novice players to blow everything at once to get the additional damage, and thereby completely give up on the other strength of - Cc. For example:

You're vs top lane.
You blow everything on her- doing heavy damage.
But then she's free to retaliate - and since you've used up all your cc in the name of damage, you can't kite her. You can't get her off you, and she's freestyle butchering you.
Imagine if you had saved . Soon as the cc of the stun wore off, you would cast it beneath her, and get out of melee. She now can't do damage to you and can't heal off you - that is far more beneficial than simply blowing your cc in the name of additional damage.

Like the following example:
Spoiler: Click to view

I lock out her ability to damage me, whilst retaining my ability to hit her.
You're not a burst mage. Stop thinking like one, and start thinking about how to hamstring your opponent, and you'll start going places.


Use to force trades in your favour with the damage amp.
Beware it's DoT nature, and how it allows retaliation.
Avoid drawing turret aggro by mistake from the DoT.
Play smart to overcome the range difficulties
Decide whether trading your cc abilities for more damage is the wisest move.

Ravenous flock

Ravenous Flock, and you

It actually might help if instead of thinking of having 3 abilities and an ult, you have 4 abilities.
Because as soon as you think in that mind set, you start to understand his play style - Trading often, and in little(ish. I.e, not 100-0 NUCLEAR ASPLOSIONS ALL AROUND type trading) amounts. In essence you have 4 damaging abilities that you can use whenever (mana permitting), whilst your opponents have at most 3 damaging abilities and 1 omgwtfbbq ability.

Ravenous Flock, and healing

This is an integral part of 's kit. His passive sorts out mana sustain, and his ult sorts out health. It's a fine balance between keeping healthy, and having mana. Because having all the mana in the world is pointless if you're dead, and having 100% health but no mana on a mana-based caster is... not very useful.

's mechanics promote aggression, as its more efficient- 75% of damage dealt instead of 25%. You shouldn't be afraid to try to pick a fight- remember, your damage on them will generally stick, whilst theirs is reduced/ reversed.

This single ability is what makes such an immense *** in lane. Take the following:

Spoiler: Click to view

Dealing damage is one thing: taking next to none is another.
And if the trade was a little more brutal than it should have been, just back off slightly and heal up. Then repeat the cycle until they're boned.

The most efficient way of using this is in single-bursts.
But because of your passive, you can generally regenerate 100-200hp a cycle without a problem. Sit back, Last hit, get all that mana back.

After all, healing for 40 health (150x0.25=37.5. Add some ap here and there and you're around 40 a tick to begin with) isn't using your ability to it's full - you gotta undo that damage. But at the same time, don't over do it. You need to be in a sweet spot where you're threatening them, but not vice versa. And remember: You need mana to cast those other damaging spells in your kit <.<


As always, there are drawbacks.
And let's start with the biggest one:
This ability really will eat through your mana stores like some fat kid and cake if you don't restrain it...

You can generally go head to head once you have a catalyst in a protracted fight, but after that, you're done until you can get some mana back. And believe me, your all-too-kind opponent won't really let you.

Knowing when to turn it on is almost as, if not as, important as knowing when to turn it off. Think about it. Yes, 's range is higher than , but just try turning on and running at your opponent. They know not to fight you in that form if they can help it, and will run/slither /float away.

but Soviet, isn't this a good thing? You've zoned them out

You've also pushed the wave, and... sod it. ill put this under a new title:

don't throw yourself into a no-win situation

You've got to turn off bird form eventually. Theres then a window where they know they can trade evenly/better, or worse, to straight for the kill. Yes, it probably requires they have intimate knowledge of your CDs, but at higher level (read: not braindead) level play it really isn't hard to do a quick wiki search and see his CDs.

Worse, if you're against really dangerous high-capacity bursters like , you run the risk of getting in a position where you are in the no win situation. or for those of you who like it in simpler terms: BONED

An example to this effect from one of my games.

Spoiler: Click to view

If he turns off raven form, I'll jump on him and kill him. So he has to keep it on. If he keeps it on, he runs out of mana, and is then no threat whatsoever. And as you see, dies anyway.

There is a very murky line between keeping this on enough, and too long. Sometimes you could have left it on for a second or two longer to get that extra damage out. Sometimes you could have turned it off sooner, so you coulda re-enter the teamfight. Learning the interaction between Ravenform and your mana reserves is a key and integral part of playing Bird-man that cannot be taught - it comes with experience. I can give you tips, advice, but the final fine-tuning in a teamfight, is entirely your call .
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Ability Order

What ability to start with?

Don't take an ability until you're sure of the situation .
You know it's happened. You've put a point into your usual damaging ability, and suddenly you get invaded. They spot you, dogpile you, have a party over your corpse, and leave. Whoops .

Is something I often take when I go top lane, as many opponents up there will try to wreck your face early.

For when there's an invade going on, or a level-1 team fight that requires AoE. Or when you're premade with your jungler/simply aware that you're going to receive a lvl-2 gank.

If nothing special is going on, and you're just going to be enacting a normal(ish) laning phase.

If you're a L33T H4><><0R. I dunno.

What abilities to max?

All of them, Duh.
As for order:
We max first, as it's our ult. Pride and joy. MOAR HEALING.
Then we max , as it's our main source of damage.

The rest... needs some thinking.

Decrepify vs nevermove

A lot of people will blindly max , as it deals more damage. This is true, but they overlook the key fact of getting into range to do that damage. The likes of who always stay a million miles away from you would die if you could get to them . To this end, sometimes it's worth putting more points into , because it reduces the CD as well - i.e, you get more chances to catch them, and kill them.

Furthermore, when it comes to team fights around the mid-game, by having on a lower CD, you have more chances to catch someone out of position like their ADC. And by doing so, create an opportunity for your team that is worth so much more than a few dozen extra points of damage from an ability of yours.

Lastly, is an AoE ability, and isn't. By putting more points into , you increase your ability to farm quickly. (I.e, you can farm wraiths/wolves faster). Farm = Gold. Gold = Power.

So it's a toss up.

My general rules are:

If team has good initiation/CC - max .
If, conversely, I'm the main source of initiation (i.e, catching someone out) or they're a slippery team and need all the chances we can get to dogpile them, max .

If I'm against a big pusher, put more points into to even out the lane.
If I'm against someone who tries to hang at long range and poke me, put more points into as well.
If I'm against soemone who is likely to be in my face a lot of their own accord, so i don't need to catch them: (I.e, ,then max

If I need to have a better ability to kite, then I max . (higher slow%)
If I desperately need to murder a priority target, then I max .
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Ability combinations:

(unfortunately, lolreplay is currently Kaput, so cant record all the ones I want to show. Will update when replays work again. SOWWY)

Not as many as , but that doesn't mean there aren't a few things you should know about how 's kit synergises with itself.

By itself, use early on to stop people from simply rushing at you. Like, .

Do not use it to harass. It's main function is it's CC element. As soon as you blow it in the name of damage, they'll retaliate. And you'll feel very, very stupid. Or dead. Or both.

Later on, use to slow people down. Either to get them off you, or to feed someone else (like your ADC) the kill.

Basic kiting combos. Leading The target (i.e, slowing them down so it's easier to land your snare).

Spoiler: Click to view

Or as part of a kiting combination. to slow them down, and if they still manage to get on top of you, to root them in place, and then wail on them with AA/rest of your combination.

ravneous flock

Not much to it. Slow them down into pinning them in place, and then opening up on their faces.

Spoiler: Click to view

"Making da playz".
Because sometimes, you gotta make the move to catch someone, or some people, out of position.

And vice versa - When you're in a bad spot, the priority targets (In the scenario of escaping, that's those who can threaten you) and flash out.

Your general pre-6 combination. Snare them in place, and then open up on them with the rest of your damage. Since people are loath to come into your range, you'll have to pin them down in place more often than not.

Spoiler: Click to view

Pin them down, and start trading. Not much more to it really.

Most damaging combination, in reality. Because has a range of 700, whilst has a range of 625, it doesn't matter that your ult damage isn't being amplified - you're getting off 1-2 ticks worth of extra damage before could ever have been fired off to amplify damage in the first place.

Here's an example of when I fail to do this, and end up missing out on a kill:

Spoiler: Click to view

In other cases, you can use it in general just to maximise your damage output when closing the gap.

Spoiler: Click to view

mid-late game Team fight combination. Requires blue buff.

Easy enough to understand - Catch someone, melt them. Use to ride out the storm, and then turn on the next unfortunate sod who thinks they can take you on.

Spoiler: Click to view

You really do get to god mode later on.
get used to it, and make the plays happen.
Swain is so underplayed to the point that this is a more common occurrence than you think.


Early trading combination. + 1 or two autos will remove a fair amount of their health. Easiest way to pull this off is to see when they;re going for a last hit, and engage on them then.

's iconic form of harassment. It burns . amplifies your damage, (which, incase you haven't been paying attention, includes Auto attacks), whilst slows them down so you can continue raining down Autos.

Or just roll EQ, and walk away. They can't retaliate very easily as they've been slowed, and moving towards you is the opposite of breaking the tether.

NB : SInce has a cast and travel time, the maximum damage from this is actually (wait) .
However, the additional damage would be in the region of single digits early on, and you're much better off getting an extra AA off than attempting to amplify your that little bit more.

When you know someone's going to engage on you, you have time to pull this one off.
Raven form for the healing and damage (since it out ranges the rest of your kit really) to pin them in place and to amplify the damage. and deal the hurt.

Spoiler: Click to view

Do it right, and you'll lose very little HP whilst you wear them down in a war of attrition.

Do it wrong, and you'll probably die.

No half measures.
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Why no, I can't teach you how to play the game.
I can, however, give a brief (AHAHAHAHA. I wish.) Overview of how to play to the best effect. Or, for the moment anyway. Maybe I'll play him more and realise I've been writing utter rubbish. In which case, Oh well.

Early game

Nothing special. You've spawned, bleary eyed, wondering where you are. You sit atop a stone fountain of sorts. You notice there are others around you, also seemingly dazed.
Do you:
1) Step down the steps, and explore the jungle?
2) Talk to the others?
3) Dance?
4) Explore the shop?

Ok, nevermind. Detour time is over kids.
You buy your stuff, and go to lane right?
If you answered yes, please close this guide and uninstall LoL. you are beyond my help.

No, you should go cover blue/red or take part in the invade if that's the thing.
This is a team game . Look after your jungler, and he will look after you. Unless it's soloQ. In which case, Look after your jungler, so you can flame him when stuff goes wrong.

You help out your jungler, and exit the trees. You enter your lane, and your minions are already fighting. Your opponent comes into view. What do you do:
1) Greet him, and hope for an honourable match.
2) Hurl obscenities at him.
3) Smash him over the head with your cane.
4) Check out his bling.

No, Really. Honest point here. Do 4). What's his rune set up? heavy MR? High AP? this dictates how you will play the lane, whether you're avoiding him because he's sporting something crazy like 40AP, or piling on the pressure because he's taken his support page because Riot's client bugged again. Analyse your lane opponent. Analyse the situation. Master yourself. And make sure to snare that leesin under the tower when he tries to pull a fast one. Annoying flying git.

Your main job is to farm. Between Last-hitting a minion and getting harass off, it's generally better off to get the minion. Doubly so for a cannon creep. But if you can see they're out to harass you, sometimes its better to ignore the minion and make sure they take the damage as well. After all, you can then deny them from their creeps too later on.

+ auto attacks, and later with auto attacks to do damage.

read your opponent. Sudden shifts in aggression are a warning sign to run away - you're probably being ganked. Likewise, maintain map awareness - that second extra in reacting to a jungler gank is all too often the difference between a kill, and your lane opponent getting away.

At level 3, you have your full early-game arsenal open to you. If they're around 60% ish health, you can go all in with , and more often than not get the kill - your damage is not to be trifled with. But it depends on actually knowing how much damage you can output.

Play passively aggressive. Your main job is to get to level 6. And then the midgame begins.

Mid game

You should try to be strong enough to maintain a presence when blue buff comes up. Sometimes this means going back early, sometimes it means just staying healthy in lane. It is imperative that you get your blue buff. (NB: Your blue buff can always be "their" bluf buff).

AT this stage of the game, you've got your catalyst the protector. It's around now that you try to trade as often as possible and wear down your opponent.

Spoiler: Click to view

Remember: Csing is still important. As much fun as it is to farm peeps, farming creeps will more often than not be vital in getting those big items with which to wreck face with later on.

sight wardx2 should be purchased, one on each side of you. To both secure your flanks, and those of your top and bot lanes. Means you can be aggressive, and be more aware of when your enemy is flaming his jungler asking for help.

Your killing potential is actually quite high - 80% isn't uncommon if you play your cards right.
land that nevermove . Land it, and you'll get lane dominance. Miss it, and expect to play more games before you do well.

manage your mana .

It's also around this time that fights for objectives like come into play. And there is nothing more pointless than you participating in a fight with no mana. Of course, there are exceptions - sometimes all that's needed is for you to lend your auto attack damage, and throw down a to allow your team's swift withdrawal. But more often than not, things will get bloody. And you will need your arsenal to win the fight.

Late game

A great deal of posturing, and all-in teamfights. By now you should have your and online. You can take damage, deal it, and regenerate damage dealt to you.

It's more often than not up to you to catch someone vulnerable out with , for your team to dog-pile and then romp to victory off gloriously assassinating the enemy ADC. Or Teemo. Because Sod Teemo.

More often than not it becomes a choice: PRotect your ADC, or melt theirs. Many factors affect this: Relative positioning, champions involved, relative power levels and strength, player skill, whether you're trolling or not. Tou have got to make the call . Choose wisely.
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Swain and blue buff

The magical blue buff is *not* the be all and end all that I make it to be.

Some people have come to me, correctly i add, and said that Swain isn't blue-buff dependent since his passive got buffed, and plenty of people feel its unneeded in higher level play.

The problem I wish to point out is that in Lower-level play, clean fights where people know what they're doing rarely happen if ever.

The scenario of both teams running around, skirmishing, throwing a few abilities here and there and being indecisive is far, FAR too common up to and including diamond that I still feel that Blue buff is a near-must have on Swain. It isn't uncommon for targets to run around on 20% hp. And that means no deaths. NO deaths = no assists/kills, = no mana for you. QQ.
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Teamfights. Wut do, when, why. I think?


Analysing teamfights is always a good way to go about improving your play.
Positioning, target priorities, when you went in, when you went out.
Whether you should have went in or out.
Should you have even fought...

Loads of questions, and unless you go through your actions, you most likely not know.

Here's an example of where I wanted to find out whether I could have done anything different:

Spoiler: Click to view

TLDR: We lost the fight. I tried to figure out whether I could have done anything to change the outcome.
Spent quite a while working on it.
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Swain, and Ignite.

Fire. Hm...

A common jump to conclusion.
It does damage, and gimps your healing in half.

That's it.

IT does nothing to your damage output - you may be on fire, but you're a freaking daemon bird that's on fire . (Or old man, if for some odd reason you're not in bird form. In which case, claim abuse.)

That ignite you ate to the face in the middle of a team fight means its not on your carry.

And further more, people have a habit of shoving it on you as soon as the team fight begins . And since in most cases you'll be sticking around for longer than just 5 seconds, as long as you position correctly, you can back off from the thick of the fight until it wears off, then wade back in to regenerate.

But that's irrelevant.
Just remember:
Your damage is unaffected . Kill that squishy. Please.
IT's just awkward when you set a on fire and they panic, run around in circles, and die.

OR hilarious, I dunno. It's all perspective.
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Countering swain


Sovietpride's patented Swain equation of ultimate pwnage.

= On. + Targets in range


mana ===into===> Health. + Damage.

Expanding on this equation.


= On. + targets in range


More mana = more Health.

Therefore, Options which limit 's mana avaliability directly = less health regeneration.

Later on in the game with the likes of , Blue buff contributes massively to 's fighting potential - By increasing his mana reserves, he regenerates more, and deals more damage.

Which means the enemy team has to spend even more time fighting him, and take even more damage.

It's the difference between keeping on during an entire 20s teamfight, constantly throwing out spells and just being in God mode, and having to switch it off prematurely and thereby not fufilling your full potential.

Every punch/kick/bullet/arrow/spell/bolt/sword/axe/etc etc etc etc that you take is one someone else doesn't have to. Unless its an AoE spell and your teams rather special and bunched up. In which case, Oh well. CARRY HARDER.

The difference between and other casters with Blue Buff
is that in a teamfight, you're very likely to drain your entire mana bar . You are literally using it to breaking point. CDR, mana regen. Other casters normally benefit from the first stat only in a teamfight.

So yeah. You want to counter ? Deny him blue buff, over and over.
Fight when he hasn't got it.
Avoid him when he does have it.

OR learn when he's vulnerable (I.e, CC'd) and then burst him to pieces.



our precious birdman hates shields. Due to the nature of Dot's, there's always the possibility that your victim has time to run to an ally who will shield him. (Which, in the current meta, is much more common than heals. And besides, Shields eat the full damage of . Heals are only half as effective.)

Lux, in general, is quite anaethma to swain. Long range is one thing - we can work around that with ganks and good usage of . will refresh any damage it takes... and since you're a huge DoT user...


It's not good.
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Champion Analysis: A-J

Fizzy wizzy

Spoiler: Click to view
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Champion Analysis: K-R


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Champion Analysis: S-Z


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So. People who have helped with the guide one way or another, in no particular order.

Plusled - Duo Q partner, present in alot of my videos. Also gave advice on how to actually make the things. WATCH HIS SHOUTCASTS! -

Spuddyt- Everybody must have a posh person to rely upon to give unrivalled upperclass criticism (Read:it's all rubbish) on projects such as this.

JhoiJhoi - Indirectly, but helped nonetheless. Looked her guide up for the basics on how to create a guide and what was wanted in one.

IceCreamy - For helping this n00b with coding ;>
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Change log; stuff to do:

09/02/2013: Guide released for preliminary feedback. Ability combo section is incomplete, but due to LoL replay screwing up, It's either release guide as is, or wait for god-knows how long.
14/02/2013: Added more images, added section on ignite. NExt job: TEamfights.
12/03/2013: Added champion analysis: Kassadin.
30/05/2013: Added ryze and numerous other champs. Gave reasoning for boots, etc.
06/06/2013: Added fizz, updated some other champions.
29/06/2013: Added KAyle, Added KAt, Finish Nyandalee.
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Teamfight Tactics Guide