Swain: Bringing the Swagger
Why Play Swain?
1. Your team is lacking a disabler.
2. Your team is lacking an offensive caster.
3. You like zone control / assistance - based champions.
4. You want to be the walking embodiment of "Nope.avi".
Decrepify - 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%.
Notes: Swain's bread and butter. Early game, it's pretty cheap and you can do about 100 damage with it and an autoattack as well. Cooldown's fairly low as well. Remember, you don't want to cast it at the extremes of its range, otherwise it won't do any real damage to the enemy.
Nevermove - 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.
Notes: Probably one of the strongest snares in the game, this will save you and your teammates innumerable times. Leveling it is extremely important, as it shaves off ~3 seconds off the cooldown per level. More snares = more lane and fight dominance. The mana costs can get pretty steep, though.
Torment - 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.
Notes: A very situational skill. The DoT can be used to harass enemies hiding in the brush, but you won't noticed a huge change in damage until later in the game. My personal experience is that you typically see more damage by ranking up your other spells instead of using this to buff them - some math, for clarity:
Lvl 3 Decrepify Damage + Lvl 2 Torment: 165 + (18.15 boost from torment) + 115 = 298.15
Lvl 2 Decrepify Damage + Lvl 3 Torment: 80 + (11.2 boost from torment) + 155 = 246.2
Now, this is assuming that Torment doesn't boost its own damage, but even then, the higher base spell boosts overall damage moreso than the higher level torment.
Ravenous Flock - 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
Notes: This makes you a laning monster. If you can hit 6 and have more than half health, your enemies will have a hell of a time dislodging you from your tower. Just watch your mana carefully, because your ultimate is mana thirsty beyond belief.
Carrion Renewal - Swain's base mana regeneration is increased by 300% for 5 seconds after killing an enemy unit.
Recommended Runes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells:
I usually roll with both a general-purpose Mastery AND Rune Page setup.
For Masteries, I use 9 / 0 / 21, taking:
Offense Tree: 3 Points in AP per level, 1 Point into Improved Exhaust, 4 Points into Cooldown Reduction and 1 Point into the freshly opened 15% Spell Penetration.
Utility Tree: Take Improved Ghost and 3 Points into Perseverence, 4 Points in Improved XP Gain, 3/3 Meditation, 2/2 Neutral Buff Mastery, 1 Point in Greed, 3 Points into
Quickness, 3 Points into CD Reduction, and 1 Point in Summoner Spell CD Reduction.
Magic Pen Marks
HP/Level and Magic Pen Glyphs
Flat HP Quints.
Strange, I know, but it's for tanking and casters until I finish building a new runepage. It gets the job done, though.
I like using Exhaust and Ghost. Exhaust can help you seal a kill or get a melee dps off of you. Ghost gives you some much-needed mobility, allowing you to get to a teamfight, flee from a losing battle, or push for a kill.
Swain Build Templates:
Durable Thorn Swain
- Swain's role in this scenario is to lend heavy AoE disruption and emphasize team targeting. As a result, you must build Swain to counter the enemy team composition. Near the end of the game, you'll have around 3000 HP, 150 AP, and about 100 MR.
Sapphire Crystal + 2 HP Pots
Build Sapphire Crystal into Catalyst.
Now, analyze the enemy team:
-Build Catalyst toward Banshee's Veil.
-Build Mercury's Treads
-Build Catalyst toward Rod of Ages.
-Build Ninja Tabi if heavy physical, Sorcerer's Shoes if dominating the game. Otherwise, Merc Treads.
Next investment is Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
At this point, the game should be pretty much over. Other items that can round out the build are Zhonya's Ring, Archangel's Staff, or a variety of consumables.
Reinforced Glass Cannon Swain
- Utilizing Swain's natural tendency to not die, his early game is effectively augmented by Doran's Ring stacking. This CAN lead to quicker acquisition of high-end AP items, keeping the rolling going. Last hitting is imperative with this route, due to Swain's passive tripling the effect of the Doran's Ring regen component. As your maximum mana will be lower than the Durable Thorn build, you must be adept at sizing up your ability to fight the opponent. You'll have closer to 2000 HP but at least 200 AP, depending on how quickly you buy things / end the opposing team.
1. Doran's Ring + HP Pot
2. Boots 1 + ~2 HP Pots, depending entirely on personal judgement.
3. Doran's Ring x2
4. Mercury's Treads or Ninja Tabi - You are a bit squishier, so every second longer you can keep your ult up, the better.
5. Zhonya's Ring or Rylai's Crystal Scepter, dependent entirely on how you're faring in team fights and personal taste.
6. Build whichever item you didn't previously.
Skill Build and Strategy:
Swain's skill build is something I've still been tinkering with myself, personally. It seems like every game I play with him, it changes slightly, but my early game remains about the same every time. Swain, being the Master Tactician, really has to size up his lane and determine the most effective means of dealing damage. As with almost all champions, take ranks in his ultimate whenever possible. It is important to note that Swain's skill build and strategy are intertwined - you must be ready to change how you fight depending on how you level. It is also important to note that Swain's AP ratios are deceptively high - a full hit of Q has a .9 AP ratio behind it, and 5 seconds of his ultimate has a 1:1 AP ratio!
Level 1 - 3: Take Q for general purposes at level 1. More reliable than W, should be enough to prevent yourself from being firstblooded and should be enough to surprise the enemy for a firstblood attempt. Next, take 1 rank in W. More snares and slows = more zone control for Swain. At level 3, place 1 rank in E. The DoT can be handy as a deterrent and if you're
fighting a heavy skirmisher (Vladimir, Stealthers, Zilean, etc.), it guarantees a more even damage trade.
Now, after this long, you should have developed a feeling for your lane. Where does it fall?
- Heavily Aggressive (Stunner + Burst DPS)
- Take potshots when you can. You're probably dealing with a Garen at this point, so beware the brush. You can take advantage of their limited ranges by laying snares with they go for last hits and following up with Q. However, Swain is still incredibly squishy early game, so don't get caught off guard by a double stun or stun + ignite combo.
Emphasize leveling Q (for the overall damage increase and increased slow) and W (for cooldown reduction and increased burst damage). E is less useful due to melee's tendencies to either use lifesteal or heals to counteract the DoT.
- Supercarry / Farmville (Tryndamere, Yi, etc.)
- Become their nightmare. Last hit creep when you can to keep your mana regen up, but focus on denying them XP and Gold. Again, Q and W remain your best bets for punishing them when they try to get some loot.
- Tanky DPS (Mordekaiser, Udyr)
- Weep slightly at your inability to kill them, and do your best to defend your tower. You want your opponents to be knocking at your doorstep BUT preventing damage to your tower. Just set up the ganks and communicate with your team - you need to stop the tanky dps gold advantage, or your game is going downhill quickly. Your skills depend
ENTIRELY on how you want to approach the enemy in this case: DoTs are not particularly effective against champions such as Mordekaiser, as you have to punch through his shield to hurt him. However, versus someone like Xin Zhao, DoTs may be your best bet to avoid a thrashing. Use your best judgement, and most importantly, ADAPT.
- Take note of their items and coordinate with your teammates to focus the squishier / less escapable of the two. Chasing for a kill will be difficult as most ranged characters can either put enough pressure on you to turn back or will slow you to a crawl, spelling your early-game doom. Focus on (Q OR W) AND E in this scenario, as you need to maximize each conflict you have with your opponent. The DoTs Q and E apply will balance the fights a little bit, but you must be cautious. Focus primarily on farming in this scenario.
Mixed Lane (Taric + Sivir, etc)
- These lanes are trouble. Extend too far and you'll get thrashed, let them free farm and you'll be down a tower. Focus on last hitting as much as possible and defending your tower - usually the only way you'll get a kill is during a towerdive by the enemy or when a successful team gank occurs. Q and W are your skills to take, as they maximize your
ability to run away OR set up the killing gank.
- Playing against other casters is a zone control game. They'll be trying to get you to overextend just as you will be doing to them. Alternate between last hitting creep and setting an occasional Q + W combo to harass, and communicate with others before attempting the kill. Swain's sturdy enough to soak up a disable or two, but you NEED your buddy to be applying massive damage to the opponent before you eat it.
1. Mana Issues
I figure I'll just pre-empt this question, because people will notice the general lack of mana regen items in my builds. You don't really want to spam your spells in the lane due to the fact that a Swain without mana is useless, but the existing mana regen items just don't seem to be enough to handle a protracted team fight. I've found that by pumping the
max mana pool and occasionally grabbing golem, you can utilize your passive well enough to fight a protracted teamfight. However, you WILL be running on empty afterward, so exercise caution.
<reserved for further questions>
Swain may or may not be the best choice for you as a summoner. All I know is that I'm usually enjoying myself when using him, and I think others would too. Thanks for reading the guide, and feel free to ask any questions!
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