IntroductionHello everyone and welcome to my first guide here on solomid. I decided that I wanted to make a Swain guide that I feel covers everything anyone wanting to play Swain would want to know. I will always be looking to improve my guide so feel free to leave comments and tell me what you think about the guide or how I might improve it.
My thoughts on Swain: I feel Swain has finally come to a state of balance as of the moment I am writing this guide. He is an AP bruiser type character with a very strong skill set in both lanes and team fights. His real weakness is he can be shutdown by Ignite and Exhaust or can be bursted if you are strong enough and even though neither of those sound too killer they are very real issues that need to be watched for. Even though I would call him an AP bruiser near end game he turns into more of a tanky AP carry which makes him a really big threat.
UpdatesMay 28, 2012 - Updated a few things like items and skill order. Items for the most part with some of the recent changes like DFG, WotA and Athene's Unholy Grail.
March 14, 2012 - Quick little update. Fixing some mistakes here and there adding a section on why I removed DFG which also explains why I don't like it. Fixing WotA to reflect the revolver changes. I'm not very happy with this guide right now but it is still a good guide for Swain. There are a lot of intricacies about Swain I haven't mentioned in this guide and I may add in the future.
February 11, 2012 - Another change in playstyle. I feel that a tanky playstyle is ok but it's now harder to tank as hard with the nerf to WotA actually. WotA was giving a lot of extra sustain which made the tankier build better since you had a legitimate reason to put off dealing more damage in order to sustain and tank more. Now I feel rushing the damage first is more of a priority and the masteries follow suit. Skill order will also be updated a bit as well just a change in preference.
December 27, 2011 - I'll be making various changes to this in the future. Not sure what I'll be putting in perhaps I will update this message. I expect I'll probably update runes, masteries and perhaps extend my section on lanng.
November 20, 2011 - 9-21-0 is my preferred masteries. Added Doran's Ring as a situational item. Rune changes possibly to come, not likely though because it would just be more offensive runes which are situational anyways. I'm also removing the RoA vs Dorans section(see Dorans explanation)
November 18, 2011 - 9-21-0 is good for masteries as well.
November 15, 2011 - My new masteries post remake.
November 10, 2011 - This is going to be a real change from how I used to build Swain. I used to put more of a general build for him on the guide but now I think I'll just use my more private build. The items for the most part remain the same. Just read on to see whatsup.
October 27, 2011 - Hey guys this is a really small update on how I rune Swain. I use a single magic pen quint or 2 magic pen glyphs to get 10 magic pen from runes. Reasoning is that I want to have a full 30 magic pen with sorcs, MR level for all non melee champs. If you have 2 pages you can have one with and one without the extra pen if you face a melee lane. I'm starting to feel 9-0-21 may be better than 0-9-21 simply because catalyst/rod rush gives you enough sustain already and I tend to rune and build tanky a lot more lately.
October 23, 2011 - Hey guys just a quick update. Since I've been playing Swain a bit more again I re-evaluated my view on a few items. WotA, Spirit Visage and Rylai's have all been changed up a little bit and I moved DFG back to situational because I really just don't feel it's good.
All the items are good but I feel building WotA is a really strong item and just hitting your skills is better than Rylai's unless there are 3 or more melee. Spirit Visage is also a pretty good alternative to WotA for a tankier build as well. I'm debating whether Void Staff is actually better than Abyssal and that maybe your negatron should always become a QSS but not sure really.
I added some changes earlier to the laning about some of the various champions who have been nerfed and a Talon section since he is a solo as well. If Graves solo catches on maybe I'll make a thing about him. I've only faced him in Dominion but he's really hard to lane against because he is so tanky but SR is different and mid lane would leave Graves really vulnerable.
Also 9-0-21 and half tanky half damage is good for dominion.
MasteriesI go 21-0-9 now for one reason and one reason only. More damage. Your abilities will deal stronger damage and you will deal more damage throughout the game. Offense obviously makes your abilities stronger and the 9 points of utility will help you sustain your mana better. I'd choose 9 points of utility over defense simply because the earlier 9 points are just more useful then defense. You get more mana, more mana regen, longer buff duration and 15 seconds off your flash. You are passing up a combination of 6 armor and 2 MR OR 6 MR and 2 armor and 138 HP. Just not worth it.
9-21-0 is also a very strong set of masteries simply because the majority of the defense tree gives a lot of strong stats that help with early game tankiness along with Enlightenment and Juggernaut scaling really well late game since we don't really build much CDR and we build a good amount of HP usually.
RunesMagic Pen Marks - These are pretty obvious. I don't think anything else would ever be viable.
Flat Armor Seals - I personally believe the more early game resistances you can get the better. Armor is a very valuable commodity for Swain so I almost wouldn't replace these even if you were to lane against an AP hero. If you feel comfortable having less armor then HP per level are also viable.
Flat MR Glyphs - I'm changing these again back to Flat MR just because AP is just so bad for Swain, especially in little amounts. If you want to change these, going against a top laner with little to no magic damage, then you will want to instead take either Magic Pen or Flat Armor.
Magic Pen Quints - These increase your damage and will help you to heal more from your ult and spell vamp. You could replace 2 of these quints with any other preferable quint you'd like since you only need 1 Quint for the full 10 Magic Pen from runes but if you aren't building Sorc's or Abyssal it may not be the best choice.
I pretty much use the runes in this build now with the new masteries. I have no real personal runes anymore.
Summoner Spellsis very strong on any AP who are limited to the damage from their skills but Swain in particular benefits because of Torment's damage boost. is good to help for bad positioning and to escape ganks or get aggressive. Not much to really say pretty standard summoners.
Passive: Carrion Renewal
Whenever Swain kills an enemy unit, he recovers 10 mana (+1 each level).
This is a great passive for his kit. It gives you a way to sustain mana which is actually important with his ultimate. Early on it also allows you to never run out of mana in lane.
Swain sets his raven to cripple an enemy. Over the next three seconds, the target takes 25/40/55/70/85 (+30% ap) damage (per second) over time and is slowed.
Cost 60 / 70 / 80 / 90 / 100mana
The laser bird! It's a tether skill that stays in place from where you cast it so if the enemy runs out of range of it they will stop being slowed and damaged thus casting this at max range is almost completely useless.
Swain marks a target area. After a short delay, mighty talons grab hold of enemy units dealing 80/120/160/200/240 (+70% ap) damage and rooting them.
Cooldown 18 / 16 / 14 / 12 / 10seconds
Cost 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 / 120mana
Swain's AoE root. You need to land these to get kills most of the time. This along with Decrepify make Swain very effective against melee champions either allowing you to zone them hard or severely punishing them for attempting to get cs. In a team fight I would attempt to use this either to root multiple people or to root a high priority target that is out of position. You will only get 1-3 roots in one team fight so make them count.
Swain afflicts his target, dealing 75/115/155/195/235 (+80% ap) damage to them over time and causing them to take 8/11/14/17/20% increased damage from Swain's attacks for 4 seconds.
Cost 65 / 70 / 75 / 80 / 85mana
Torment is Swain's main harass ability. Its damage is over time although the skill description displays it in its total damage. Torment is a damage amplifier and WILL increase his auto attack damage. A good harass strategy is to hit Torment and an auto attack or two.
R: Ravenous Flock
Toggle: Swain transforms into the form of a raven, during this time up to 3 lesser ravens strike out at nearby enemies dealing 50/75/90 (+20% ap) damage each second. Swain is healed for 75% of damage dealt versus champions, and 25% versus minions. Prioritizes champions
Cooldown 15 seconds
Cost 25 mana
Swain's iconic ult which is what makes him the tanky AP that he is. His raven form is a walking Anivia ult which will heal Swain at the cost of a short range. It prioritizes champions now and note that IT PROCS THE FULL 35% SLOW OF RYLAIS ON EACH HIT. Basically with your ult you can have 3 people constantly slowed as long as it is active which makes him a really strong melee/tank counter in team fights aside from his other skills.
I want to put a small little thing here about maximizing damage from Swain's ult. When we look at the skill, we can see that it has a very small AP ratio(20%). Even if we had 1000 AP our ult would only be doing 200 extra damage not counting MR. In a more acceptable case when we have maybe 300-400 AP we will only be getting around 70 extra damage. Since that is lower than the base damage and there is no way to increase base damage we want the base damage to do as much as it can. Thus increasing Magic Pen in most cases will make Swain's ult deal more damage.
Skill OrderI've mostly come to the point where maxing W feels just superior to every other skill order you could possibly use on Swain. With the ability to stun more, which is basically the entire idea behind Swain, and the stronger AoE for wave clear it just seems obcious. Maxing E or Q second is situational to item build and enemies.
I prefer E to be maxed if I was to make a so the active will really hit like a truck. Even without you can still max E before Q just for a superior combo damage.
Maxing Q can be really good against melee's who can't really escape the tether easily and it actually does a lot of damage on its own so isn't a bad choice for the overall damage it gives compared to the situational damage boost of E.
Item BuildsStarting Items: OR
I prefer boots + 3 pots because the movement speed and extra pots from the boots + 3 pots is just too strong on Swain who has short ability ranges and needs to auto attack for stronger trades/harass. I can say that regrowth pendant + pot isn't as great because of the move speed but I can also see the usefulness if you were facing someone who can harass you really hard or you know the game is going to last a long time, usually this is just poor because it takes longer to build and max out your RoA.
Core Items: OR /
The choice between RoA and Grail is basically situational to what you are facing. You will basically choose RoA unless you believe you can get away with buying a Grail instead. Grail is nice overall where you don't have to rush into it like RoA and can choose to purchase Sorcs early on with the Chalice for some pretty good early game stats with the Mpen, Mana regen and MR. The problem is you will have very little health which is difficult to deal with as Swain so it's not very viable against bursty champions.
Sorcs are always good unless you feel you need the mercs. You have to get close to enemies at times so having mercs can always be good.
Items to consider:
- The staple AP item for almost every AP scaling champion in the game. More AP = More damage. Not really worth a rush but always a possible item.
- If you are building Mercs and you can still get this early on you get the full pen on the ranged hero's even with the tenacity. It also gives you strong MR and strong AP as well. Even if you are building Sorc's this can be a very good way to increase your damage as well. If you need some early MR this isn't a bad choice if you don't need a QSS. This is also really good early for double AP teams. This can also be rushed in place of a deathcap earlier on while the MR reduction will still be a significant way to increase your damage.
- Your ult will continue through the active of Zhonya's healing you while you are invincible, what more could you want? It gives a strong amount of AP and some decent armor as well. I get this almost every game and it is a huge item to get for Swain.
- The new DFG is really nice for Swain. It scales better with your AP, gives you more AP, gives you probably the only item you will ever get with CDR and has the huge active nuke. This gives Swain a good burst with his E which can be a really nice addition to his main kit which kinda lacks that power.
- This is nicer to have when you get a Grail because unless you go for a RoA and a Grail you will be lacking in the health department. Furthermore Swain has a lot of DoTs which can really make the slow tick for a long time and you will permanently slow anyone hit by your ulti. Lacking as a damage item but good stats besides that.
- If you are facing someone like Malz, Ashe, WW, Morde, Vlad or even any strong CC you need this. If you are the one on your team to get caught by CC you need this to activate your ult so you hopefully can tank longer. It also gives you a pretty good amount of MR and removes ignite and exhaust which both really hurt Swain when he ults.
- If you go for the Grail over the RoA it's not necessarily a bad choice to pick up RoA if you can get it in a decent amount of time. You should probably just go for the Rylai's instead if you don't think you can charge it before the game ends especially since the Giant's Belt is a cheap single slot health pickup and RoA is more or less for the Mana/Health combination which isn't as good when you have Grail.
- Nerfs really hurt this as a good choice in most situations. If your team can use this item it is a good buy but if only you would be benefiting from the AP or Spell Vamp just go for something with more AP. More AP can also make you heal for more and at this point it's not worth it to buy this if you need more heal.
- This is usually an inferior item to an Abyssal Scepter for Swain but should be built in some situations. If there are 2 or more people with around 100+ MR you should probably get this item.
- For Swain more than anyone else this item will be a filler in order to keep up with whoever you are laning against. Going back and buying a Catalyst is good and gives you some good sustain in lane but that's it. A Doran's gives you some good mana regen, health and AP for a cheap price to help you match the enemy where you instead would be in a weak state with only a Catalyst. If your enemy is matching you in lane, stronger or simply ahead of you this is a good buy to cover some of the weakness.
Gp5 Stack() - Swain is a decent candidate for Gp5 stacking which is pretty common lately. This can let you push for the late game items fast like getting an early Zhonya's + Abyssal along with the DFG to really take good advantage of the Gp5 for a long time along with having at least one of them going towards an upgrade. Locket isn't a bad item for any team as well.
Why I took out X item:
- Let's do some math. 10% of 75%, the amount our ult heals vs champions, gives us an extra 7.5% health healed. 10% of 25%, the amount our ult heals vs minions, gives us an extra 2.5% health healed. 10% of 20%, the spell vamp from WotA, gives us an extra 2% health healed. It's too small I wish it just cost less.
LaningSwain is and is not a strong laner. Swain has one particular weakness early on compared to pretty much every other AP champion, he can't push his lane. Lets get down to the facts.
~ Swain is a very strong combo champion. If he lands his full combo he can pretty much kill anyone.
~ Swain has good lane sustain throughout the laning phase. His passive and his ult take care of both healing and mana, to a degree.
~ Swain is capable of zoning if you press the advantage early.
~ He can take almost any lane opponent, melee or ranged.
~ Swain has a VERY low attack damage and it will take some time to get used to.
~ It is very hard for Swain to kill creeps under tower, especially pre level 6, and it is also very difficult to push creeps until his W is strong enough to almost 1 shot caster minions.
: He has superior range on you and a strong early game harass. Your best bet is try to get a kill pre level 6 or just attempt to live until you can get your ult and trade harder than he can.
: You really can't do anything to Morg and she will just constantly push your lane. If you are forced to cs under tower you will probably miss a lot as well.
: You scale into both mid and late game better so you in general just want to survive. You COULD go a Doran's Shield start if you felt you were going to eat every grenade but I think that is a poor choice because boots can help you dodge them. This is not a common matchup.
: He is surprisingly too hard to reach and out sustains you hard. Other people can usually take him much easier than you can but mana crystal start and concentrating on farming should be alright. Try for a lane switch.
: Talon is a very strong burst laner but will have to play very safely against you pre level 6. I would suggest rushing your Chain Vest for Hourglass and then you should be safe enough to not be bursted 100-0. One thing to watch for is his non ult burst try to not be too deterred by it and trade in the early levels.
: You need to be careful of his superior early game. Once you get to level 7 or so you will start to be able to trade harder than him.
: Try to just sustain your way through the lane and be careful of him hitting 6 before you. At 6 you should probably base and pickup some items so he can't 100 to 0 you.
: He has a strong early game harass if he has correct runes and will only get stronger. If you can get some good ganks on him then you should be fine. Try not to give him free damage on you always try to trade.
: Cass is really dangerous in lane. She has a strong harass and can almost always out trade anyone in any engage. In general the best thing to do is play safe until 6 and then try to get some binds on her. You should always ult in any trade because she has the ability to 100-0 you if she decides to ult + ignite you. If you get stunned and she gets a free 2 seconds of damage on you without your ult you are dead 100%.
: The best thing to do versus any Leblanc is to not die. If she doesn't get any kills she can't do much. If she gets even one kill on you she will probably snowball. I don't have any real good advice other than try not to die and hope your team can help you.
: He is tough to deal with and a very strong laner in general. He pushes hard and has a very strong combo and harass as well. However if you can just push as hard as you can and rush a QSS after your RoA he can't do anything anymore.
: Healing reduction is really hard to deal with and Fizz is one of the only characters to have it in his kit. His burst is strong as well so he can really take advantage of your early game. On top of all of that you will probably never land your W while he has his E up.
In general, Swain is a lot like Brand in a sense, they both have similar combos and lane very similarly although Brand is a lot easier to pick up. If you are new to AP carries get some practice on Brand and then try move on to Swain. Once you are able to get down farming with Swain's attack damage and landing Nevermove's you should be alright. If a champion is not on this list he is PROBABLY not difficult to lane against.
Early GameSince Swain is one of the few character with an AoE hard CC you should buy your items quickly and be ready to invade if your team chooses to do so. As said in the skill order section don't take any skill until after you know that neither the enemy or your team are going to invade, if either happens be ready to take Nevermove to catch someone off guard or defend your team. Torment is a much better starting skill in lane then Nevermove so that is why we want to wait.
Usually it isn't a very good idea to start harassing until you can get level 2 of Torment. You should try to at least shoot a Torment + auto attack or Nevermove if you end up full mana so you can benefit from your passive while you get some creep kills. When you've gotten level 2 of Torment you should start to fire them off much more often along with auto attack to soften up your opponent. Once you soften them enough or you hit lvl 6 you should try to hit a combo for a kill. If you don't feel you can make a kill but it is easy to land a combo it isn't bad to push them out of lane with some big damage or just enough to zone them afterwards or possibly follow up with another combo for a kill.
Once you hit Lvl 6 you can be more brave in general due to the healing from your ult. It doesn't heal too much now with the 25% heal vs creeps but it helps and it usually zones out whoever your laning against otherwise they will take probably free damage or the trade will be in your favor. If you get ganked you should immediately ult and either try to kill one of them if they're low enough or try to walk out of the gank. You can usually avoid using your flash for defensive purposes as your ult can keep you alive during a gank.
Mid GameIf you haven't been getting blues by now you should start asking for them. If team fights startup you should try to be there using your blue buff. Swain is really strong in team fights with his ult so you always want to be trying to take objectives if your team is in a position to do so. There isn't much to mid game besides just continuing your farm and trying to either force or defend objectives and probably a team fight.
Late Game(AKA Team Fights)Since late game is basically just up to team fighting for Swain I'll cover it in this section. Optimally you want someone else to engage the team fight so you can come in afterwards and try to just be annoying and try to deal and absorb some damage. If you end up having to be the one to engage a team fight the only thing you can really do is try to catch someone with Nevermove. Its never optimal but with zhonyas it's not usually THAT bad to do. You aren't a tank so if you initiate a fight you will still die if bursted hard enough. You want to sustain through to the end of the fight and deal as much damage and dish out as much CC as possible as you can as Swain so get your CC on the high threats in your range, melees and anyone out of position. If you manage to get in range of someone squishy throw Torment and Decrepify on them and try to auto attack them down from there.
Remember you aren't invincible. Be careful and think carefully about your actions.
Thanks for reading!Try out Swain he is a very versatile, strong and above all fun AP champion to play who will not dissapoint.
Remember to rate this guide and let me know what you think of it!