Swain Build Guide

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Swain - Noxian High General

written by Req-LoL

Swain Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    ADDED: AP DPS Build (Still with Sexy Tank-Action) in Builds Section, Scanning Technique (Tips Section) and revised overall layout of guide.

    Warning: This guide is one long bitch. It's Swain's comprehensive compendium of tactics. This is the way Swain is meant to be played. It's either you read the entire thing, or you don't read any of it at all because every part of the guide adds on to the whole of what makes when I play Swain, not only win the games but also attain the scores I get.

    First and foremost, Swain is my only AP champion - having bought him from the start and seeing him progress was a huge thing for me cause I loved the mechanics involved in playing as Swain. For me, he is probably one of the more fun Champions - considering the other Champions I play are support tanks (I know that isn't saying much) or tanks in general like Malph, Taric, & Galio - champions I also have great success in.

    I recall a time during the first week of release he was shunned and no one liked someone who played Swain going as far as to dodge the second they see someone pick him, but now almost every group I encounter has the opposite effect:


    Here are my current stats for Swain overall:

    External Image

    Now, it is only 76% at the moment, but with the number of games I win in a row with Swain regularly, eventually my Wins should overtake my losses and cap at what I hope to be 86% Win Ratio with Swain.

    Note: I play on Ranked games, cause I only play Swain under certain conditions:

    1. If I can guarantee I have mid.
    2. The enemy team has a fairly even balance of AP / AD sources. Or Magic / physical. Or are mostly/all AP (Magic) as you can build what I believe to be Swain's ideal build. This is ideal because most of the items that synergize well with Swain have Magic resists, coupled with the knowledge / fact that Swain has high armor by 18 naturally, it only gets better.
    3. If the team is in need of an AP (Magic) caster.

    But wait you ask: What happens if you're first pick, 2nd or 3rd. Well don't pick Swain. Fine you can, why? Well just think about it. The requirements to pick Swain aren't too steep. Pick Swain first and call mid. #1 covered. #3 is covered because your team should build around what you currently have to make a balanced team of AP / AD and tank. #2 is covered because most people (hopefully) won't be stupid and make a poor team composition of all AD carries, which I know I've seen happen but it's rare. Most teams will try to make an evenly distributed AD/AP team. If your team picks badly and other team looks good - then you know what? If you stay it's your fault for doing so. If the other team picks mostly AD as in 3 or more, then I go Malph if i am 4th or 5th.

    Now for juicy details:

    I build Swain as a tanky vamp caster - with items that either increase one of the three following attributes: AP, Health & Resistances (depending upon the enemy team composition). Secondary attributes are Spell Vamp & Lifesteal then Cooldown Reduction.I do this as to bolster your ability to survive in team fights - most people I face choose to target Swain either first or second. Swain is meant to be a tanky caster, it is even stated so by the developers who made him: Check Leblanc's Champion Spotlight video @ 1:40 - 1:50.

    Check this pic out with Swain and note the damage taken:


    Check the item build I made, and reference it to the item section of this guide - note I had opted to choose Randuin's Omen instead of my regular favorite with Lich Bane. This is due to the composition of their team - their AD carries started to get strong so I counter with Randuin's. Again, note the damage taken, proof that people focus Swain.

    And for the hell of it, to show I'm not knit-picking my victories with Swain I TRIED to play Swain in a row as much times as possible - unfortunately I had to dodge a match from the Champion selection due to poor team composition (no tank, everyone was ap) which is why I played one practice game with Cassiopeia - to wait out a the 14 minutes and give her a try. The last one, I was last pick even though I stated to everyone I was going Swain mid. But meh. My Malph is killer too.


    Last Note: Watch the champion Spotlight for Swain before reading the guide to understand how the synergy of his abilities and importance of the order in which they are used are crucial to playing Swain to his max.

  • Abilities

    Carrion Renewal
    As of the latest patch it now restores 9 mana + your level number instantly. For example if you are level 6, it restores 15 mana per kill.

    To me this is somewhat of a mixed bag. Versus last hitting individual minions it's bad because I found the 300% regen off my Meki Pendant and other Mana regen items gave more mana overall than just say 27 mana (which is the max mana return at 18).

    On the upside when in Ravenous Flock (RF hencforth), you can sustain it much longer as you if you kill multiple in a short timespan, it no longer merely overlaps the previous kill but rather instantly restores.

    I should say however, regardless it helps with mana quite abit. I am usually able to stay in Mid-lane until after my first kill (at 6 usually).

    A good skill with a huge number of utility. While it's ap ratio scaling of 0.3 seems low compared to Torment, keep in mind Torment is OVERALL damage for full duration. This is per second since it lasts 3 seconds technically it's AP ratio for the full extent compared to Torment should be multiplied by the duration so it is technically 0.3 x 3 = 0.9 AP ratio for full duration in compared with Torment.

    Combined with Rylai's at Rank 5 - that's 67% movement Reduction = guaranteed Nevermove landing, and most likely a kill.

    1. Slowing down running adversaries.
    2. Impeding the advancing enemy to gank you or an ally.
    3. If someone tower dives you -> Decrepify -> Nevermove - > RF -> Torment. Depending upon your HP and the enemies the combo order can change.
    4. Stacking on the damage when Torment is on an enemy. Torment Rank 5 = 20% extra damage from all source from Swain. 5 other sources possible: This, Nevermove, RF, Auto-attack, Ignite. With my ideal build, you can also add on a 6th from Hextech Gunblade's activated 300.

    Note: With Decrepify do not just aim for the enemy at max range, because that allows your target to escape fairly easily by moving out of the range of the bird. So if you have ghosted, use the speed boost and the root granted by Nevermove to move closer to the target before initiating the "Ravenous Flock -> Decrepify -> Torment -> Auto-attack and if needed Ignite." Combo. One or two champions length away from them is a good distance.

    Another good Utility spell with good AP ratio. AP scaling = 0.7.

    1. Serves as initiator for any gank.

    Usual scenario: (At Mid) We're both 1/3rd HP with equal amount of minions for each side dead center of mid. Pretend to try to last hit minion -> Nevermove (If it lands) then gank him into oblivion by: Ghost -> RF -> Decrepify -> Torment -> Auto-attack and if needed Ignite. This is a guaranteed kill. You may not even need ghost but its a failsafe - so is Ignite. Again, assess situation and use skills as necessary.

    2. Stop an advancing enemy(s).
    3. Save an ally(s).
    4. Damage output with Torment.
    5. Catching a runner(s).
    6. Scouting (refer to Tip Section).

    Check Tips Section #5 for Scanning Technique.

    This is the bread and butter of Swain. What makes Swain surprise alot of people who think they can gank you only to get themselves dead. AP scaling of 0.8 which is killer. Not to mention the +damage % output for all other sources. This plus Decrepify and Ignite alone can whittle down almost any non tank from 1/3rd hp and even higher depending on who, the levels and items involved. Keep in mind Ignite is True damage, it cannot be mitigated - and now it is increased by 20%? Amazing.

    This can be used alone however, don't think that you are obligated to always try and maximize its usefulness and thereby always pair it with something. It is fine on its own at Rank 3 or above. If you have ample mana, and your opponent is getting too close, cast this on him and move away back behind minions. Repeat this harassment until they get within gank range (1/3rd hp). Caution: Careful of heroes with skillshot nukes, like Ez's blast, or Morgana's / Lux's binding, Ashe's multiple arrow that can slow you down. A skilled player will cast these in opportune times when you try to move in to cast this. So be wary. Gauge your enemy. And harass when safe.

    Note: As you get stronger with items and gain start out leveling the other team - you can even take out enemies at 1/2 or 2/3rds. There have been many occasions I was able to take out squishy targets of the same level at full hp with one full combo.

    Ravenous Flock
    Your GTFO godmode button. This is what you'll be bolstering with items. At max rank it deals 100 per bird with a 0.2 AP ratio. It's also a toggle, like Taric's ult.

    Now, in the ideal build it does +75 extra damage for a total of 175. Now with Torment + Hextech Gunblade + Spirit Visage. 175 alone, with Torment = 210 per bird half that 105, with Spirit visage that's +21 hp per bird. Making it 126 healed per bird.

    With Hextech Gunblade thats 20% spell vamp, which to be honest I don't know how that would compute, if it is before or after heal or from damage overall. If it is from damage overall then it would add another 42 hp as 210 (per bird) x .20 = 42. For a total of 168 healed per bird. Three birds go out, as such 168 x 3 = 504 hp healed per round. It takes usually 1.5 seconds for a round to start and finish. Not to mention with gunblade all your other spells also heal in addition to your Auto-attack which now does 160.

    In almost all the games, I have had the majority of the team attacking me and yet - properly built, I managed to tank and absorb the damage and replenish the hp lost due to my tankiness and the items I have built in order to maximize my overall vampirism trait.

    This, while you have Rylai's slow, the +700 hp gained from Rylai + Spirit Visage and your resists will make you a hard target to kill.

  • Skilling Order

    Skilling Order in all games. For me, I always go this route, there is very little purpose to do otherwise. Which is a good thing and a bad. Good because it simplifies it for the user. Bad because everyone knows when you have what spell at what time, etc.

    Level 1: Torment
    Level 2: Decrepify
    Level 3: Nevermove

    Henceforth Max Out In Order:
    1. Ravenous Flock (When available)
    2. Torment (First regular skill maxed)
    3. Decrepify
    4. Nevermove

    Widely known to max out Torment first to access the 20% extra damage. Decrepify next as Nevermove already gives it's utility at Rank 1. The only thing that changes with Nevermove is increased damage, mana cost and reduced cooldown.

  • Masteries + Runes

    For me, Swain to most will be seen as a mage. Never anything more. They understand his ult is in place to sustain his presence but underestimate the potential it has. Therefore what we want to do is be able to use this ability as much has possible and use it to it's fullest:

    My Runes:
    Greater Mark of Warding x 9 + Greater Glyph of Warding x 1 = 10 Magic Resist
    Greater Seal of Resilience x 9 = 13 Armor
    Greater Glyph of Focus x 8 + Greater Quintessence of Focus x 3 = 10.12% Cooldown Reduction

    The cooldown reduction allows you to use the ultimate whenever needed and in combination with the Masteries will give you an in-game start bonus of: 19% Cooldown Reduction. While your RF may not have the longest cooldown, group fights only ever last at max 20 seconds, if not less. That 1-2 seconds deducted in combination with your Merc Treads will ensure that it will always be up when needed.

    To see the overall importance of Cooldown Reduction refer to the Overall Section under the subheading "Cooldown & Disable Importance".

    The resists are in place because nothing else IMO is worth putting in for Marks and Seals. I know Dodge seals, but we're not getting dodge items nor speccing into Defensive to fully utilize dodge to the max extent. And Mana regen, meh - with Carrion Renewal I never have too much of a problem where I can justify taking out resists. We want is to be tough, referencing the Tip #1 below - Swain will naturally have high armor and it increases up to 84 armor at 18. With the + 13 armor it is close to 100 armor which is 50% damage reduction. And this is the goal to have your resists as close to this or over depending upon enemy composition.


    My masteries are the standard: 9/0/21 caster build.

  • Strategy & Tips

    1. Swain naturally has high armor and gains all the way upto 84 Armor at 18 (Without any buffs), while only 30 magic resists. So it is more beneficial to buy magic resist items than Armor, as it gets exponentially harder to gain % more resist as you go up. Only if the opposing team has 3/5 champions that are AD focused then will I consider buying an armor item. Then again, I don't usually pick Swain with a team built as such.

    2. Always MID, do not pick Swain unless you know you will have mid. This will compliment the fact that you will be getting Magic Resist items. More likely than not, you will be facing someone who has some ability that does magic. Even if your facing an auto AD you will be naturally getting Armor as you level.

    3. a) Know your enemy. I know this is something out of a Sun Tzu book, but damn is it true. If you know your opponent is aggressive and you see them moving up and back. Know his pattern of movements and lead it with Nevermove. Many people only ever think to Nevermove behind the target. 90% of the time, yes. 10%, no. There has been many times I have caught someone moving forward because they dont expect to be rooted when advancing.

    b) Also know the champion your opponent has. If he has Ashe, care for the arrow - know if she's used it. Likewise with Malzahar. Know what abilities they have recently used, or can use against you.

    c) Know of any globals. Knowing any globals that may be in play like Panth's Jump, Ashe's Arrow, Ez's wave, Karth's Bolt, etc is essential in getting a good K/D ratio.

    4. Keep track of your Nevermove Cooldown. I use this often to allow myself to gain distance while in mid to gank. Most opponents won't even let you come close to them out of fear of your DoT's. As such the only thing to do, Nevermove -> Decrepify -> Torment -> Ravenous Flock. If you are literally within arms reach of them then RF, Torment and then Decrepify. If they are low on HP put ignite.

    If you have trouble landing Nevermove, use the Scanning Technique.

    5. Scanning Technique:

    This is something old that I have been doing for awhile now, but only realized I have been doing and to think to put into this guide recently.

    Again, while at mid you always have to be wary of enemy mias, enemy mid's abilties and remember to be behind creeps.

    This technique involves having selected Nevermove ahead of time and you "Scan" the outer-rim of the radius of Nevermove's reach in unison with the enemy player's movement. Most (smart) players and most players in general (after seeing you can output damage) will be wary of standing still and will result them in "jousting" in and out of the creep waves to last hit or harass. This allows you an extra half a second or even a full second to lay down Nevermove.

    Remember you can lead Nevermove, you don't always have to put Nevermove behind the target. As this is what they will come to expect. The second you see them approach the line of the reach of Nevermove you can put it strategically. It is much easier as you can visually see where they can link up.

    Keep in mind that while you are doing this, you are auto-attcking a creep that is far back and behind your own wave. This will give you a safety blanket, while also providing the illusion that you are preoccupied with minion farming.

    6. Do not use torment on the enemy champ in mid until you are level 3. It's not worth it. It does very little and you have no utility or anything else to scale off the meager 8% extra damage from all sources from Swain (Asides from Auto attack, but your not very strong to begin with in that area). All you would be doing is putting yourself in harms way for little return. That + wasting mana as they will probably level up and heal the damage taken. Why 3? Well, by 2 you should take Decrepify, by 3 - Nevermove. So, by 3 you will have 2 other things to damage them with along with your auto attack.

    Focus on last-hitting until at least level 3. My earliest kills come in at 4, with Torment Rank 2 - but I usually go for a kill at Level 6 with RF.

    7. I rarely ever go into a fight or group engagement without Ravenous Flock available. There is a reason this whole build relies upon Cooldown Reduction and Mercury Treads. I would occasionally do so to bait or if I knew it was absolutely safe - that or other complex situations where when you play a character enough you just know you can survive and win through experience. This is probably the reason why I get most of my kills at level 6, as it gives me another source of damage output, healing input and survivability. It is also due to the fact that most likely by this point either of you will be lacking hp in some form - making it perfect time to gank.

    8. For me, I will admit I usually get my first blood at 6. Earliest for me would probably be 4, when I got Torment at Rank 2. The reason for this, is tip #3. With Torment on a person you can put an extra 5 sources of damage that have increased damage. 1. Auto attack, 2. Decrepify, 3. Nevermove, 4. Ravenous Flock, 5. Ignite. At level 6, I can usually take out a target (at mid) at a little over or under 1/3rd their hp. I ghost to keep up with them to keep Ravenous Flock chewing away at them, while also keeping an eye if I can lay down another Decrepify + Torment. If they survive and are near their tower, gauge whether or not you can tower dive them to get the kill.

    Gauge Meter:
    Yes: You are full HP with Ghost, enemy 1 bar HP left, minions are right by tower (so you can leech off them)
    No: Any other situation. There are other situations where you can, but I am being conservative here - you will only know by experience what these other situations are and if you can survive through it.

    Also take note of any mia's or junglers like WW who can hold your ass to a tower. Remember by level 6 you won't have that 84 natural armor (yet) so it won't be very pleasant.

    9. a) Fight near enemy minions. While you do excel at taking out one target at a time - fighting near enemy minions allows you to sap their HP thereby increasing your survivability. Try to root an enemy with Nevermove by their minions.

    b) Remember, if you are low hp, in a group fight and you have some form of Damage over Time spell on you like a poison or most likely ignite - it may be more beneficial to stay NEAR targets (preferably enemy minions) to sap HP then it is to run away and die from a DoT because you aren't near anything you can sap HP from.

    10. Know your limits. Remember Ravenous Flock increases in Mana per second. Keep an eye on mana. When thats dead, so are you - if you are in a fight. Know when to back to Regen and shop and when to stay. These things you only know through experience.

    11. Gank Checklist: Assess the situation: Is he/she alone? How far is the target from closest allied turret / ally? Proximity to their own turret / ally? Is there any mia's / junglers out and about? Is all my cooldowns up? What about my summoner spells? What's my HP and his/hers? What about their cooldowns, have they recently used their ult or other abilities?

    All of these factors sway decision in one way or another to gank, or not to.

    12. a)Keep an eye on enemy summoners who have Ignite and know if they are mia or not. Ignite can ruin your day - halving your Healing from all sources.

    b) As of the latest patch, Exhaust is changed to reduce ability / item damage by 35% in addition to the slow. As such, you should now be wary of enemy summoners who have Exhaust as you can be baited into thinking you have enough damage to gank them - but actually don't.

    13. Ravenous Flock only heals when the bird comes back to you - not when it does damage. Keep that in mind when running away or trying to escape.

    14. When you acquire Tear of the Goddess and you are back at the Start Area regening and shopping. Don't forget to cast Nevermove while at the shop for free mana.

    15. When using Decrepify don't just click to an enemy when he is out of range or just exactly in-range. Why? Because you cast that spell at it's maximum distance, meaning that they can get out of the reach of the spell within a few steps - wasting much of the utility and damage. So, when you do do this, try to get closer first then Decrepify. As explained earlier, when you ghost run up to them first then Decrepify -> Torment, etc.

    16. Don't forget to auto-attack while ghosted and Ravenous Flock on and chasing down an enemy. Every bit helps. With Torment on, it does surprising damage.

    17. Use torment to harass like mad, you do not need to feel inclined to maximize its usefulness by pairing it with something. It's fine on its own to whittle someone down into gank range. Be wary however of skilled players and skillshots that can root, slow or damage you. Like the Morg's / Lux's bindings, Ashe's arrows, Ez's bolt, etc. Keep in mind tip # 5 however.

    18. When you acquire Rylai's, remember ALL your spells now slow. Decrepify now slows 67% movement, Torment 35%, Ravenous Flock 15% (but this is reapplied every second) so you can literally keep someone snared almost indefinitely for a kill. It's even better with Ghost on, theres no chance that person is getting away with an improved Ghost (15.5 second duration).

    19. Patience. One of the biggest thing with Swain, is that he builds up gradually into a monster. As I have stated dozens of times my earliest ganks come in at 4, most of them the second I attain Ravenous Flock at 6 - so be patient for the first kill and for opportune times to gank enemies.

    20. Nevermove can be used to scout. Especially if you are getting paranoid if Baron is under attack by the enemy. Stand behind the Baron area (in the jungle) and cast Nevermove on the spot Baron will be. He will attack you and give vision if he isn't already under attack.

  • Summoner Abilities

    1. Ignite Always. This is a must for getting that extra edge to land the kill. Ignite was almost like it was made for Swain, this also works with the +Damage % that Torment provides. Also remember it stops heals and that it is True Damage - damage that cannot be mitigated by any means.

    2. Ghost I take this ability over flash because it allows me to stay with my target with Ravenous Flock on (paired with Rylai's) it is deadly. That means you can stay with the target for the full duration of Ghost = Ravenous Flock chewing away at them for 15.5 seconds + auto-attacks + another round of Decrepify and Torment.

    3. Flash I use to take this, in order to "surprise" or "ambush" a low hp target. For example, in bush at top, Flash -> Nevermove -> Decrepify -> Torment -> RF -> Ignite. But I find it a one trick pony. It provides one opportunity to escape or ambush. While Ghost with it's extended 15 seconds, allows greater opportunities.

    4. Heal Now, this is the last summoner spell I would consider bringing. Why? Extra survivability. Keep in mind, with Spirit Visage (A mandatory item in this build) this will heal that much more HP. Also keep in mind, with Ignite / Heal combo, you may lack the finish catching power that Ignite / Ghost has.

    9.8 games out of 10 I go Ignite / Ghost.

    Other Summoner Spells. Meh.

  • Items

    Check Build Example area for my two builds I run. But 9.5/10 I run my ideal build.


    Quick Overview:

    1. [item=Meki Pendant] + Health Potion -> Tear of the Goddess.

    2. Boots of Speed -> Null-Magic Mantle -> Mercury's Treads.

    3. Spirit Visage or Hextech Revolver. (If building SV first, start with Kindlegem)

    4. Spirit Visage or Hextech Revolver.

    Next: Finish Tear of the Goddess into Archangel's Staff or move on to Fifth Item.

    5. Giant's Belt -> Blasting Wand -> Amplifying Tome -> Rylai's Crystal Scepter.

    Next: Finish Hextech Revolver into Hextech Gunblade.

    Next: If you haven't finished Archangel's, do so now.

    6. Lich Bane. (This is the place where you can customize to your liking - the only item that

    isn't mandatory. But I get Lich Bane usually) If they got good ad champs, get Randuin's Omen OR Zhonya's Hourglass. If you need more MR get [item=Force of Nature] or Abyssal Scepter. If it's in between stick with Lich Bane. But if you want more oomph, or if a particular tank is giving you trouble due to high MR get Void Staff. Get Deathfire Grasp if the tank has alot of HP instead.


    First Item: [item_text=Meki Pendant] with a Health Potion.

    I finish Meki into a Tear of the Goddess. This allows me to start to gain a large mana pool early on, so I can sustain RF for longer. I don't like Chalice of Harmony, firstly it is a cheap item and does not scale well as the game progresses - its only real purpose is mana regen which considering when RF increases in cost per second this eventually will elapse the mana regen that it provides. I'd rather have a larger mana pool. Not to mention the Tear can build into an Archangel's Staff.

    Second: I get Boots and finish into Mercury's Treads. The Mercury Treads main purpose (aside from increasing the much needed Magic Resistance that Swain lacks) is the 35% reduction to movement inhibiting, Stuns, Taunts, etc. The worse thing that can happen to Swain is you are stunned long enough while out of Ravenous Flock to get killed. Or to use your abilities to Spell Vamp, or a combo of the two. That allows you to get out said situations earlier and counter appropriately. Many people think to get Sorcerer's Shoes But to me it's not worth it, Merc Treads is only 100 more gold and 20 Magic Penetration isn't worth getting your ass killed from stun, taunt, snare, etc. 20 magic penetration will always be 20 magic penetration. To a tank with 160+ Magic Resists, that is not going to matter much. The fact you are able to stay alive will.

    Third Item: I either get Spirit Visage or Hextech Revolver. If you are finding yourself getting more damaged than you deal or you are going back alot to heal. Get Spirit Visage first, if you are winning in Mid. Take Hextech Revolver. The former gives Magic Resists, cooldown reduction, Health and increases HP regen and healing by 20%. Which is huge for Swain's ult and his other abilities once he gets Hextech Revolver. The latter, allows all abilities to heal Swain and gives the first bits of AP needed to get them kills rolling. If going Spirit Visage first, get Kindlegem to start.

    Fourth Item: Depending on your third item you get either: Spirit Visage or Hextech Revolver.

    Next: By this point you are considering on finishing your first item - Tear of the Goddess into Archangel's Staff or building Rylai's Crystal Scepter which will always be your fifth item.

    Firstly the way you choose one over the other is the same logic as goes with the third item choosing. If you are winning and aren't having HP issues buy a Blasting Wand next then finish off Archangel's. If they are targeting you, find you are always low hp or runners are escaping even when you land Nevermove + Decrepify then its best to get your Fifth Item and save up for a Giant's Belt followed by Blasting Wand then finish off [Item_text=Rylai's Scepter].

    Rylai's is such a nice item to have. 1. HP. 2. AP. 3. 35% slow for Torment, 67% Slow (put together) for Decrepify and 15% slow for Ravenous Flock. Awesome.

    Next: Finish off Hextech Revolver into Hextech Gunblade. Do so in any fashion you see fit. Hextech Gunblade gives you more Spell Vamp 20% instead of 12% and adds on 20% Lifesteal and +60 AD. It also gives good AP and an activate 300 damage snare. This 300 also works on Torment's 20%.

    Sixth Item: I like going for Lich Bane for various reasons. 1. Movement Buff. 2. Ability Power. 3. Magic Resist. 4. +377 damage to your attack (Which is 163) = 540.5, +20% of 540.5 = 648.6 Attack Damage. Which is a nuke on itself. And this is a damage source no one will expect Swain to have. It mixes things up especially to tank that has alot more Magic Resists and thinks he can tank your attacks. Also remember with Hextech Gunblade you also have 20% lifetap.

    However, the Sixth item actually, is the only place IMO where you can go apeshit on this build. It is the only item slot that isn't really needed, just there for added ownage. Put whatever you like (that makes sense). If they got alot of Magic casters (3+ sources of it) or more then get more Magic Resists with either Abyssal Scepter (Which makes up for your missing Sorc Shoes), Banshee's Veil or [Item_text=Force of Nature].

    If they got more AD, either get Randuin's Omen or Zhonya's Hourglass. The rationale for choosing either one is this: If the AD's of the enemy group are burst damage AD like Panth not Auto-attack AD damage players like Yi, Trynde, Trist and are focusing you it is better to get Zhonya's Hourglass because of the activate. Picture it, they focus you and you are down to 1/10th HP you have your ult on and are surrounded then TINGGG "Invulneruble" for 2 seconds. This is HUGE when the enemy is surrounding you, you will at least be half HP if not full by the end and it'd have disrupted their entire game plan. If on the other hand, they have auto-attackers, especially melee then it is best to get Randuin's Omen for the slow on-hit effects and the HP, armor and activate.

  • Build Example

    Luckily, there are only two builds I go with. The first caters to an even mix of AD (physical) / AP (Magic) damage team or mostly/all AP (Magic). And the other, with 3 AD (Physical) or more. This is rare of course, but also poor team composition.

    9.5/10 I go with my ideal build. Because again, I only play Swain when I see 1. A caster is needed, 2. I can mid, 3. I can play my ideal build. If they go mostly physical I just play Malphite.

    Ideal Build


    The last item is optional, if they have alot of strong DPS ap / magic then you can go for [Item_text=Force of Nature] as it synergizes well with Spirit Visage and gives +8% Movement which is welcome. Or you can go Banshee's Veil for more tankiness or Abyssal Scepter for the cheaper tanky / offensive item.

    AP-DPS Build (Still with Sexy Tank-Action)


    Note: The Drag-down details are wrong for some odd reason, you have to check the detailed Builder page for actual stats. For me it is displaying +1500 hp which is bogus, as well as +1000 ap. It should state the same + HP as the Ideal Build, while showing 607.1 AP as well as various other wrong stats.

    The result of people wanting a full-board AP DPS build without sacrificing too much survivability. This indeed is the answer. Why?

    Well you still retain the HP as you do in the normal "Ideal" Build the only difference in terms of survivability is that you now have more Armor than you do Magic Resistances.

    On top of that you add Zhonya's Hourglass to the mix for those times when their team focuses you to finally get you down to 1/3rd hp when "Hallelujah!" Rays of golden light emanate from your Raven form making you invulnerable WHILE STILL LEECHING hp and gaining hp while invulnerable and damaging those around you. No other champion in League of Legends can Damage AND Heal while using Zhonya's with just one ability. It is a game changer.

    Add also, the fact that now you have 607 AP over the 377 in the Ideal Build. This also adds to your survivability as it increases the damage of Ravenous Flock, which in-turn increases the healing received.

    Auto-attack heavy AD / physical team Build

    Notes: Now this build is only if they have 3 or more of auto-attacking heroes. Such as Tristana, Master Yi, Ashe, Warwick, Tryndamere, Kog'maw, etc.


    The only difference between the AD heavy build and the Ideal Build is switching Mercury's Treads with Ninja Tabi and altering the sixth item to either Sunfire Cape for AD attackers like Yi or Trynde (because of their close proximity of their damage output) or if they have ranged like Trist or Ashe go with Randuin's Omen. If they have Burst AD champions like Pantheon, go with Zhonya's Hourglass as you can turn that on the second he starts Heartseeker totally nullifying it while you leech him with your RF.

  • Laning

    Keep in mind the Strategy + Tips section. If you haven't read that over, please do as it covers alot of things I should re-mention here - but won't.

    What I will go over here is what and what not to do while in Mid. Your role in the Group will be discussed in the section below, in addition to Team Fights.

    At the start you will begin with a Meki Pendant and a Health Potion for the inevitable damage you will be taking. This is to ensure you can stay in-lane until level 6. If you find yourself going back before then, it's either you are too aggressive early on or not playing properly and haven't read my Strategy / Tips section. Remember: LAST HIT = Gold + MANA. Lastly, a major tip that must be mentioned from tip section is: Does the enemy mid have ignite? If so, remember they are waiting to use it.

    Level 1: You discover who it is you are up against. Know what skills they have and how they use it (Aggressively, or not?) Also take note if they are focusing on harassing you or are last hitting. What you should be doing, is last hitting. Always stay behind minions - even if it's not Morgana, Ashe, etc. Do not auto-attack the minions - just last-hit. It is better if the minion waves are pushed to your turret as to not allow you to advance past mid. Now I am not saying to let them take your turret or assault it, merely to let the enemy creep wave advanced further than yours - so you have the safety blanket of the turret nearby. Swain is EXTREMELY vulnerable without Decriptify (for slow), Nevermove (for AoE snare) and Ravenous Flock (for HP heals). Not to mention you do not have spell vamp so none of your spells heal you as well, in addition to the fact that you do not have ample resists and HP from the items you will be acquiring.

    Overall: Focus on last-hitting. Monitor the enemy midder. Counter accordingly.

    Level 2: You take Decrepify. Now you literally doubled your firepower. If someone is foolish enough to advance on you (when you are behind minions remember?) then Decrepify -> Torment. They'll regret it. But generally, you are doing the same thing you were doing in Level 1, focus on last hitting. You'll have plenty of time to gank later.

    Level 3: You take Nevermove. Now you can theoretically begin ganking, as this will be allow you to close-in on your prey to be close enough to Decrepify -> Torment -> Auto attack to it's fullest extent. But you won't. Only if the enemy is lower in HP than you and only if there are no mias and conditions are right will you do so. Focus on last hitting.

    Level 4: Take Torment (2), now you will start to be aggressive. Take note, START to get aggressive - I usually don't go in for a kill at this level unless I know the enemy midder:

    1. Sucks
    2. Is low hp
    3. Has no escape ability or HP potion (or has recently used their ability that can aid their escape)

    Usually, at this level I whittle down their hp in preparation to gank them at level 6.

    Now, if you are more hp then the person, assess how they react to you by throwing out a Nevermove just behind them. If they get caught and are 1/3rd hp and are dead center mid: Ghost -> run right beside them Decrepify -> Torment -> Auto-Attack -> Ignite -> Auto-Attack (by this point they are at tower, you back the fuck off if they are not dead, leave em be). Most likely they are if they were at 1/3rd hp when you started this combo. If this situation does not come up, or it fails - merely continue with last hitting.

    Level 5: Same as Level 4. You take Torment (3). Henceforth taking Torment whenever available followed by Decrepfiy. The only thing that takes precedent to Torment is Ravenous Flock, take that whenver it is up.

    Level 6: You have Ravenous Flock. Time to kill the opponent (if you haven't already). Now, if the person isn't damaged at all then you will be amazingly aggressive to bring them down to size with your 3 abilities in whatever combo necessary.

    By this point, Torment can be used on its own, or Torment + auto then run back. You can Decrepify + Torment and maybe add in an Auto-Attack. Or you can do the long version Neveremove -> Decrepify -> Torment - Auto-attack. But it ends there. Do not RF, do not Ignite.

    Rules for Ignite: (With a few exceptions)

    1. Ignite only a Tormented target.
    2. Ignite someone who is 1/3rd or below.
    3. Do not waste an Ignite.

    When you have whittled them down to 1/3rd hp (I found I can even kill people with this combo with my items at 1/2 to full hp - the full hp was a twitch), then you will utilize the full combo that will undoubtedly wipe them out:

    Land a Nevermove: Press Ghost (for me that it's D), Press Ravenous Flock (for me it's R) so DR, followed by RUNNING like a mofo as close as you can (one champion apart is good enough) and Decrepify -> Torment -> Auto-attack -> Ignite -> Auto-Attack until they die.

    Now remember before doing this:

    1. How far are they from their turret? Do they have ghost and or flash? OR have they used it?
    2. Any mias? Any junglers out and about? Anyone global champs level 6 yet?
    3. Where are the enemy minions located? Enemy minion placement is key to know whether or not you can turret dive if they happen to make it back somehow to their turret.

    Turret Diving:

    At level 6 Swain only has built up 36 armor, which is meager for a turret and you do not want to be staying around the turret range for more than 2 seconds. If the person is 1 bar left or very little you can dive IF:

    1. There are more than 3 minions nearby for Ravenous Flock to give back HP.
    2. No Mias at all.
    3. You have a Torment almost ready to throw out.
    4. You have FULL Hp before diving.

    Level 7+: By this point you should basically rinse and repeat the methods discussed, while grabbing the items mentioned. As by this point you should be owning mid and later on, grouping with your team.

  • Work in the Team / Teamfights

    In the group you should not be afraid to be at the forefront of the fight, but at the same time you want the tank to be able to do his / her job. If you are defending a tower or attacking you can initiate by getting any stragglers with Nevermove (preferably a carry - such as an EZ trying to laser your team at the tower etc), allowing your team to get in for the kill.

    Group Purpose

    For me, Swain has multiple roles to fill in the group:

    1. The annoying caster that cannot be killed. In so many of my games I have had every team member try to gank me at random intervals only to fail due to my healing ability and snares / root. This only aggravates people even more - to the point it becomes personal and you got specific group member focusing on you when it is obvious they should be targeting say, Ashe or Twitch.

    This hate will build up from your first 1 or 2 kills in mid lane as they want the bounty but eventually it will develop into a fully fledged target on your back. Its almost like having a taunt aura.

    Now, I know this sounds insane for a caster being focused on, but this is the deception that makes people so angry. Swain can take it, the way I have instructed to build him - given all the things I have said, he should be able to. Now don't go off 1-man army and try to solo their team or thinking you can do anything. Not at all. Just know that when the shit hits the fan in a 5v5 you can take punishment. A general rule of thumb for me is to monitor your HP bar and if it goes beyond 1/3rd I start running back. Depending upon how the battle is faring in my teams way or the enemy's. Again, remember of any ignites.

    Why this is so crucial is because the fact you can heal yourself is a massive disadvantage to anyone who focuses you. As it means you almost have a limitless hp capacity (given they don't kill you), so they waste their abilities, cooldowns and mana/energy on you and not your other team members.

    2. Disabler: When I say Disabler, I mean controlling the battlefield. He is a General as such, he is indeed very good at changing the outcomes of battles depending upon the abilities he uses and when. This can be done in several ways in a team fight:

    i) Stop a running foe or an attacking foe from getting a squishy with snare or root. I've had many occassions where an enemy melee fighter was trying to finish off a fellow team-mate, but he couldn't reach them due to Decrepify slowing them down. Or, a running foe with the same skill (with Rylai) is deadly.

    ii) Using Nevermove to halt a runner or stop an enemy advance.

    3. Focused Laser Beam of Death: Many people underestimate how much damage Swain can put out. Torment's 20% added damage is deceptively damaging. Check damage stats in Overall section.


    1. When a team fight initiates you want RF to be on. Use your Decrepify + Torment + Nevermove on their squishiest champion that has the least escape ability. And if necessary, Ignite for the kill.

    2. You want to stand right behind the Tank, not any further ahead or behind. This way you can initiate them if needed and if you get attacked, your tank is able to come in and take that aggro from you if needed. A taunt tank is preferable, so that he can take off the aggro off of you when needed.

    3. While you may be tanky, you do not want to be going into any bush first - let your tank do that.

    4. Go as a team, and root / snare any squishy stragglers for your team to go in and kill. (Or for you to finish off)

    5. Stick with your team. It is a team game. Just as long no one is kill-stealing on purpose don't sweat it. The goal is to win.

  • Overall

    Check my favorite build again and lets do an overview:


    Health & Resist Stats

    Actual HP: 2539
    Effective HP (HP factoring in the AVG of resists): 5337 HP.
    Magic Resist: 123
    Armor: 96

    Damage Stats

    Note: I am HORRIBLE with math and I do not know the exact computations of how the damage scales with Torment but I'm just going to put out some numbers to show how much damage Swain can put out:

    Note: I am not taking into any resists merely the numbers they put flat-out.

    Torment (Rank 5): 537 damage over 4 seconds. +20% from other attacks. 35% slow.

    Decrepify (Rank 5): 113.25 damage per second + 20% of 113.25 = 135.9 damage per second. Or 407.7 for full duration. 67% slow.

    Nevermove (Rank 5): 500 damage + 20% of 500 = 600 damage. 2 Second Root.

    Ravenous Flock (Rank 5): 175 per bird. Note: One bird per target only and depending upon how close to you they are the quicker the bird will go out to damage and come back to heal - so close = more dps. But on average I estimate about 1.5 seconds interval between one bird and the next. 15% slow.

    Therefore RF equals 175 damage + 20% of 175 = 210 damage per 1.5 seconds.

    a)Regular Auto-attack = 163 AD + 20% of 163 = 195.6 with an attack speed of 0.846.
    b)Lich-Bane Auto-attack = 163 + 377.5(Lich proc) = 540.5 + 20% of 540.5 = 648.6 AD.

    Ignite: At a level 18 target. 410 + 20% of 410 = 492 True Damage.

    Keep in mind, once Torment, Decrepify, Ravenous Flock has been cast all you need to do is auto attack. So this all will go off on its own.

    Total damage considering the following:

    I land with a Nevermove to catch up to a target and initiate (so i only use once), followed by Ravenous Flock, Torment then Decrepify, Auto-Attack and finally Ignite. For the purposes of this combo lets assume I only get 4 auto-attacks out and that this whole combo lasts 6 seconds to allow all DoT durations to run its course.

    Total Magic Damage: 2384 (Torment x1, Decrepify x1, Nevermove x1, Ravenous Flock x4)
    Total Attack Damage: 1688.4 (Auto-attack Regular x2, Auto-attack Lich-bane x2)
    Total True Damage: 492 (Ignite)

    Total Damage: 4564.

    Now keep in mind that again this is damage not factoring in resists. But this is still some serious damage from only ONE round of spells + 4 auto-attacks (2 being Lich-bane procs, considering 2 second cooldown). Consider that even if any squishy had 100 Armor or Magic Resists (which is 50% reduction), they would need an HP pool of 2282. And thats full Health. In team fights you can likely blast a squishy down in one combo, not to mention guarantee a kill.

    Also note, that all your spells and Attack damage are 20% lifesteal or spell vampirism. So that plus your Ravenous Flock with Spirit Visage will keep your hp in the clear for a long time.

    Healing Stats

    Note: Again, I am no expert on how mechanics work in this area. For example, not sure if Spirit Visage procs off of Spell vamp or lifesteal heals. Or if Ignite counts as a spell that contributes to Spell vamp.

    Total Magic Damage: 2384 x .20 = 476.8 HP regen from 20% spell vamp off of that one combo round.

    Total Attack Damage: 1688.4 x .20 = 337.68 HP heal from 20% lifesteal off 4 auto-attacks.

    Ravenous Flock: 210 damage per bird. Half of that is received as healing, therefore 105 healing per bird. With Spirit Visage it increases to 126 healing per bird. Add on the 20% spellvamp off the 210 damage (which is 42) that's 168 total. There are 3 birds in total, for a total of 504 healing per round.

    Cooldown & Disable Importance

    With my Ideal Build (click the link in the item section) my CDR is 31% which is close enough to the 40% cap. At that my cooldowns are as follows (with all at max rank): 5.46 Decrepify, 6.86 for Nevermove, Torment AND Ravenous Flock. In my ideal build you have Rylai's, which give your spells a slow: 67% for Derepify, 35% for Torment, 15% for RF. Decrepify lasts 3 seconds which slows them down substatially, which already runs the course of half the cooldown of itself. Paired with Nevermove which roots for 2 seconds and RF which constantly applies 15% slow. You can always have someone snared (not to mention your Ghost) and thereby allow yourself to constantly apply new rounds of combos to a runner who will soon realize: It is vain to run from Swain.

    So, overall, Swain has good damage output (with lichbane) from both physical and magic. Solid HP with massive healing abilities. A snare, an AoE root and close to or above 50% damage resists. Good Game.

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Build Guide?

Submitted by Req-LoL

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