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-   -   [Guide] Swain, the Pain Train (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=345415)

Pastrytime 11-16-2010 06:50 AM

[Guide] Swain, the Pain Train

What's In A Swain?
Skills That Kills
To Be A Master
The Rune Tune
Summoner Spells
The Basics
Level Up!
Sweet Loot
The Train Lanes
As You're Chugging Along
As You Pull Into The Station
All Patched Up
So Long, And Thanks For All The PAIN


Swain is possibly one of the most misunderstood champions in League of Legends. While his spell-combo is quite intuitive (like Ryze) particular use of Swain's mechanics will divide those good and those great with The Master Tactician. Also, Swain's high Influence Point cost means that less people have gotten games in with Swain and the knowledge and experience base is a little lower than other more well-known champions. This guide is an attempt to remedy these ideas as Swain truly is a force to be reckoned with.

What's In A Swain?

Simply put, Swain is an aggressive support caster with a heavy emphasis in nuking. There are many good nuking champions and Swain is among them. He may not have the power of a rune prison or a flaming, stun-inducing drop bear but make no mistake, Swain nukes and nukes well, the main thing that differentiates Swain from his other caster friends is his AoE snare and slight shift away from single target control. Think of Swain vs. someone like Malzahar, that's the kind of difference I'm talking about.


Copied from the League of Legends website:

Damage 49 (+3 / per level)
Health 385 (+78 / per level)
Mana 240 (+50 / per level)
Move Speed 310
Armor 12 (+4 / per level)
Spell Block 30 (+0 / per level)
Health Regen 1.35 (+0.13 / per level)
Mana Regen 0.86 (+0.09 / per level)

Skills That Kills

Here are Swain's skills copied verbatim from his entry on the League of Legends website:

Decrepify - Swain sets his raven to cripple an enemy. Over the next three seconds, the target takes damage over time and is slowed.
Swain sets his raven to cripple an enemy. Over the next 3 seconds, the target takes 25/40/55/70/85 (+0.3) magic damage per second and is slowed by 20/23/26/29/32%.
60/70/80/90/100 Mana

Nevermore - Swain marks a target area. After a short delay, mighty talons grab hold of enemy units dealing damage and rooting them.
Swain marks a target area. After a short delay, talons grab hold of enemy units dealing 80/120/160/200/240 (+0.7) magic damage and rooting them for 2/2/2/2/2 seconds.
80/90/100/110/120 Mana

Torment - Swain afflicts his target, dealing damage to them over time and causing them to take increased damage from Swain's attacks.
Swain afflicts his target for 75/115/155/195/235 (+0.8) magic damage over 4 seconds. During this affliction, the target takes 8/11/14/17/20% increased damage from Swain's attacks.
65/70/75/80/85 Mana

Ravenous Flock - Swain inspires dread in his enemies by temporarily taking the form of a raven. During this time ravens strike out at up to 3 nearby enemies. Each raven deals damage and heals Swain for half of the amount.
Toggle: Swain transforms into the form of a raven, during this time up to 3 lesser ravens strike out at nearby enemies each second. Each raven deals 50/75/90 (+0.2) magic damage and heals Swain for half of that amount.

The cost to sustain Ravenous Flock increases by 5/7/9 mana each second.
25/25/25 Initial Mana Cost Per Second

Carrion Renewal (Passive) - Swain's base mana regeneration is increased by 300% for 5 seconds after killing an enemy unit.

To Be A Master

Follow the standard 9/0/21 mastery build.

The Rune Tune

Standard caster runes be everywhere. Magic Pen Marks, CDR Glyphs, Mana Regen per lvl Seals and Flat Health Quints.

Summoner Spells

You have a couple of options here. My personal preferences are Flash and Ignite. You're generally fast enough to get out of harm's way without Ghost (plus you can snare people as you run) and your ultimate keeps you up enough that I'd feel better getting out of trouble by Flashing out of the way then Ghosting and crossing my fingers. Ignite just fits well with the nuking theme of Swain's abilities. That being said other notable summoner spells are: Ghost, Teleport and even Exhaust (if you really need one) or Clairvoyance (if you don't have one and are comfortable with your second summoner spell being utility). Stay away from Clarity on Swain though, he doesn't need it.

The Basics

Now that all the technical information and pre-game stuff is out of the way we can begin to talk about actually killing people with Swain. The easiest way to unleash maximum pain upon your opponents is to familiarize yourself with his basic spell combo: Nevermore, Torment, Decrepify (a.k.a. Lazerbird), Ravenous Flock. You can choose not to open with Nevermore but I've found that landing your snare first maximizes your damage output on Lazerbird, even though Nevermore won't apply Torment's effect. Your skill order may change depending on the circumstance but this is your bread and butter combo that gives you the best frontload nuking.

Because Swain's abilities are almost all damage over time spells, you should get used to running back and forth while you wait for your cooldowns and never forget to use your ultimate to recoup your health or even farm a little. Swain survivability is heavily influenced by the power of his ultimate so don't forget to use it.

Once you've got this combo down and are beginning to get the hang of his abilities we can talk about skill orders and item builds.

Level Up!

I recommend taking Nevermore at level one, as you never know when you'll need the stun. You're hardly going to be expected to just open up with lazerbird at the start of the game so having a snare can come in handy if anything goes particularly wrong or right at the start of the game.

From there max either Decrepify or Torment depending on your preference. Because Decrepify does more total damage than torment, I tend to max that first although the total damage increase from Torment is also an argument for maxing that first. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have all three skills by level three and then max as you please grabbing your ultimate at every available level.

Personally I grab Nevermore at level one and then prioritize R > Q > E > W.

Sweet Loot

Because Swain's passive benefits his mana regeneration so much, Swain's item build focuses on mostly pure AP. His core item build should be:

Sorcerer's Shoes
Deathfire Grasp
Rylai's Crystal Scepter

From then you can grab items as you please depending on the situation and team makeup but these three items will never be bad. With this core build in mind, let's expand a little to see what Swain's starting item build will probably be look like:

Start with an Amplifying Tome and a Health Potion

Then get Kage's Lucky Pick and Boots.

From there on it's up to you whether you probably want to finish your Fiendish Codex and then your Deathfire Grasp but if you're doing well you can grab your Blasting Wand early. Generally I would try and obtain your core items in the order they are listed above and then adjust your build based on your income during the game.

After your core build you can grab any one of: Zhonya's Ring, Archangel's Scepter, Abyssal Scepter or Void Staff or even a defensive item like Banshee's Veil or, if you're feeling super saucy something like Warmog's Armor.

Now that Deathfire Grasp's active is a must-have item you can add it to your spell combo (and Ignite too if you have it). The extra slow (and health!) from Rylai's is also a godsend and remember that your Ravenous Flock birds will proc the slow from Rylai's as it hits your enemies.

The Train Lanes

One of Swain's greatest strengths lies in his laning ability. As a mid champion Swain is able to harass champions and recoup his mana through use of his passive, while staying in lane due to the power of Ravenous Flock. Swain's ultimate will keep his health topped up for quite a long time and if your opponent pushes to far in mid you can punish them with your spell combo. As long as you correctly adjust your aggression to your opponent you will hold your lane and hold it well against all but the biggest and baddest champions in mid.

In a side-lane Swain can continue to be the laning powerhouse he is but you should probably aim for more aggression as you've got a partner to help you dish out the pain. Focus on landing a successful Nevermore and punish out-positioned opponents while keeping your mana topped up at all times. Swain's laning power comes from his ability to constantly keep his mana - and from six onwards his health - replenished at all times, so you'll need to get used to Swain's auto attack to last hit consistently enough to keep your mana high. Swain is quite mana hungry even with mana regeneration seals and his passive so keep an eye on your mana in the early game. His passive does allow you to prioritize AP items before anything else though which gives him quite a lot of early game power. Don't be afraid to harass with Nevermore either, as long as you're going to last hit a minion or two in the process.

In any case try and save your aggression until around level six as once your ultimate is up you feel a lot safer as well as your spells hitting that much harder as Decrepify scales very well with level.

As You're Chugging Along

Although Swain would love the laning phase to continue for as long as possible it's inevitable that the lanes are going to start breaking up as the mid game approaches. Once the mid game does happen your job is highly dependent on how well your laning phase went. If you farmed well your job is to gank as many players as possible and support your teammates. Even if teamfights do start breaking out an AoE snare is nothing to laugh at. Your job during these teamfights is to snare either the squishiest target or the closest depending on your opponent's positioning. While snagging multiple people in Nevermore can be good, it's better to try and isolate single targets as your cooldowns aren't yet low enough to consider casting Nevermore mid skirmish. As a a general rule you want to initiate with Nevermore and finish with Decrepify and if all goes well recoup some health with your ultimate too. Remember that while pushing both minion waves and neutral monster camps can be key in keeping your health high during a lull in any fight or push. The Wolves and especially the Wraith camp on Summoner's Rift are excellent for recouping some quick HP and the longer you are alive during a push the better. Also get into the habit of last-hitting minions that are wandering by while you're backing up and waiting on cooldowns, you need to keep your mana up somehow so keep full map awareness at all times.

When ganking a lane (especially a side-lane if you were in mid) always try and lead with Nevermore and try and time the spell so that they run into it as they retreat. From there your basic spell combo should close things out. If you have Deathfire Grasp at this point don't forget to use it as it adds a massive ton of damage to your nuking ability.

As You Pull Into The Station

Once the late game approaches you are again dependent on the items in which you have. Once you approach the end of the game however you are now to be more of a consistent threat in a fight that simply just a dedicated squishy killer. While killing their carry is your first priority the other nuking champions do this much better than you do so you'll have to position intelligently and react to the fight rather than just gunning for them and hope you kill them. Good Nevermore use can and will determine the outcome of a fight for your team as the more you can disrupt their positioning in a teamfight the better and simply nuke and juke as you please.

Although this is unlikely, it's also possible that you'll need to just stand in the middle of a teamfight with your ultimate on while casting spells on the closest available targets. While this is incredibly powerful at times it drains your mana incredibly quickly and should generally only be used to close out a fight or as a desperation attempt. Don't forget your Ultimate as part of your damage output in fights either as it will make or break the difference between someone's survival or their demise.


Most of Swain's abilities are reasonably straightforward with the exception being his AoE snare, Nevermore. Seeing as clever Nevermore use is one of the key's to playing Swain successfully this entire section is dedicated to discussion of the spell.

When casting Nevermore always, ALWAYS lead your opponent. Generally you want to place the bulk of the targeting reticule (about 3/4s of it) in the space behind your opponent as they will generally run backwards when the see you, leave a slight space in the front incase they stay still or shift forward a little but generally you want to lead behind them. It's important that you be on target with the majority of your Nevermore's as the cooldown, especially at low levels, is punishingly high.

In bigger teamfights you can zone entire areas of a fight with the spell but generally you'll only be Nevermore'ing single targets so treat the spell that way the majority of the time but don't forget the fact that it's an AoE spell.

When using the spell as a lead for a gank, try and time it so that you arrive in range to Torment them the second the snare effect on the spell starts so Lazerbird has the best chance of ticking for its full duration. If you have Deathfire Grasp, always save the cast of it until after Decrepify as the slow should give you enough space to still hit with the active from your item.

When running don't forget that your best method of escaping is often casting Nevermore as you run. Again, lead with the spell but obviously lead it in front of them this time. Generally while retreating it's best to Nevermore either in the open space in front of them or with their feet just touching the outside of the reticule as you go to cast it however, you'll need to adjust depending on your opponent.

All Patched Up

At the time of writing this guide a recent patch (v1.0.0.105) has seen a few changes to Swain, don't worry they're currently all buffs! Here are the patch notes copy-pasted from the League of Legends website:

Decrepify leash range slightly increased
Torment range increased to 625 from 600
Ravenous Flock cooldown decreased to 10 seconds from 15 seconds
Updated Swain's recommended items

While I could care less about the last change, everything else about these changes are great for Swain. While they're all minor changes they all increase your ability to do what this guide describes and then change to Decrepify is especially nice and will (hopefully) allow for more complete damage Lazerbirds. As always, use your range to your advantage as well as the fact that you can afk from your enemies as they die, before coming back to kill the next one!

So Long, And Thanks For All The PAIN

Swain might not have the facerolling capabilities of the Ryze Bot, or be the highest DPS champion but he is a nuking-based caster with a ton of survivability and not enough respect. Swain is a force to be reckoned with in any game and this guide is but a mere reflection on Swain's abilities. Start riding the Pain Train for yourselves and see if you can't make your opponents want to run away screaming as your raven plucks out their eyeballs while they run.

Ahrimal 12-14-2010 09:22 AM

Nope, another guide that fails the skill order

Shagrarz 12-14-2010 09:50 AM

If you max something other than Torment First you are doing things horribly wrong. Also, if I see another person who writes a guide that doesn't bother to at least spell NEVERMOVE correctly I'm going to have to take out my frustrations on some baby seals.

Some more constructive criticisms and things that are noteworthy:
-Swain's passive now grants your mana return INSTANTLY (as of today's patch)

-Unless you have a carry/jungler that demands the Elder Golem buff, its worth mentioning that Swain is more than likely your teams best candidate for it because of how his ult works.

-If you have to lane with a partner, volunteer to baby sit your carry. Because of how well Swain harasses, in addition to the fact that he isn't a bursty champ, you are a great candidate to help your carry get fed better than most tanky champs

Pastrytime 12-17-2010 08:30 PM

Is the spell seriously called Nevermove? I just assumed that was a typo by Riot. Phreak's pronounciation of the spell sounds like Nevermore in the spotlight and Nevermove is a horrible name for a spell so I just assumed it was wrong.

Hasnt' been updated for current patch, but the change is clearly a slight buff.

Fair enough with the skill order can change the guide to reflect that. Sorry I usually don't bother to check actual numbers and for the most part prefer intuition.

Also this is a good example of constructive criticism and plain flaming.

Love you too Ahrimal, respect your opinion but not your attitude. It's people like you that haunt the mid ELO games that make me wanna cry myself to sleep.

Gardata 12-20-2010 05:58 PM

It's ''Nevermove'' because it's a hint to the hero ''Nevermore'' in the DoTA, but the reason why they changed the name a bit is so it gives what the skill makes. It's doing both things at once!

HMS BUTTPEE 12-20-2010 08:39 PM

Well, you see, there are things called puns.

Shagrarz 12-20-2010 09:04 PM

its also a reference to Poe's "The Raven"...specifically to the line "Quoth the Raven, Nevermore."

Repseki 12-21-2010 09:01 AM

Most people on these forums probably don't even know who Poe is.

Redenbacher 12-21-2010 09:16 AM

I use a less bursty, more durable build - but I'm sure this works too. It's nicely written as well, so +1.

As a note to Nevermove in that section, when being chased in relatively close proximity, my general rule of thumb is to cast it on top of myself, with the reticule between myself and my pursuers, but touching my feet. They often run right in to it. There's also nifty tricks with Nevermove and bush hopping.

Run to the otherside of a bush so they can't see you through the fog of war, and then immediately juke back to the other side when they enter the bush. Exit from the side they entered, and immediately drop Nevermove on that side of the bush. They won't see the marked area from the other side of the bush, and walk right in to it.

Pastrytime 12-23-2010 07:12 PM

I do he's awesome!

Also that juke is sweet, I should try that.

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