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Swain Abilities - Carrion Renewal
Carrion Renewal [Passive] - Swain restores (10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/20/21/22/23/24/25/26/27) mana whenever he kills a unit.
Extremely useful in the laning phase, moderately useful later in the game. This is great for players who emphasize last-hitting, allowing talented summoners to build up mana for harassment and defense. This also comes in handy when using Ravenous Flock, as an accidental minion kill can give you a little extra boost on your ultimate. If you find yourself low on mana, focus on staying back and last hitting and you should be able to maintain lane presence a little longer.
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Swain Abilities - Decrepify
Decrepify - Swain sets his raven to cripple an enemy. Over the next 3 seconds, the target takes (25/40/55/70/85) (+(0.25 per ability power point)) magic damage per second and is slowed by (20/23/26/29/32)%.
An essential part of Swain's spell combo. Decrepify can be used offensively or defensively, and is best when combined with Torment so that the damage tics for an additional amount. If Nevermore is on cooldown, this is Swain's only CC and can save you from a charging Olaf or Singed in a desperate moment. Try to land this after you use Torment for max effect, and use the slow to land your Nevermore on fleeing targets. This spell works very well in combination with a Rylai's Scepter.
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Swain Abilities - Nevermove
Nevermove - Swain marks a target area. After a short delay, talons grab hold of enemy units, dealing (80/120/160/200/240) (+(0.5 per ability power point)) magic damage and rooting them for (2) seconds
Of the Swain abilities available to him, this is the only hard CC, and it is a skillshot. Being able to land this effectively is the difference between a good Swain and an excellent one, especially when you're being charged by an enemy jungle champion using ghost. Lead the target, or fake them out, or use this when melee champion are coming in for the kill. Using Decrepify can make this easier to hit with and you can take the opportunity to run or get up close to make Ravenous Flock more effective. This can be cast around corners, in brush and into fog of war - use it wisely.
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Swain Abilities - Torment
Torment - Swain afflicts his target for (72/110/148/186/224) (+(0.6 per ability power point)) magic damage over 4 seconds. During this affliction, the target takes (8/11/14/17/20)% increased damage from Swain's attacks.
The most damaging of Swain's abilities and the most important to his spell combo. You want to have this up on the enemy as much as possible and you want to follow it with a Decrepify - Nevermove combo whenever possible. This will allow you to devastate unexpecting squishies and deal terrible, terrible damage to your opponents. It also increases the damage of Deathfire Grasp, Ignite and Lizard Buff, making it essential to an effective Swain.
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Swain Abilities - Ultimate
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 (50/75/100) (+(0.2 per ability power point)) magic damage and heals Swain for half of the amount dealt. The cost to sustain Ravenous Flock increases by (5/6/7) mana each second.
The Swain ability that changes him from a powerful caster to a force of nature. The healing on this is surpisingly powerful and makes Swain an incredible 1v1 champion and even a 1v2 champion in a solo lane. If you're dueling with another solid solo champion like Orianna or Kayle, the best time to go for a kill is right after you hit 6 - bait them by appearing weak, then hit them with a combo and Ravenous Flock. The tides will turn faster than you think. Turn this on in team fights and during ganks, but be aware, the cost is prohibitive after a bit - the mark of a good Swain is knowing when to leave this on and when to turn it off.
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Swain Ability Order
Max E first, always. Torment is the most important ability Swain has. After that, get one level of each of his ability and then level Decrepify. One point in Nevermove is all you need for most of the game. If you need more burst, it can be helpful, but in almost every situation Torment + Decrepify is going to be more useful. Always pick up Ravenous Flock whenever it is available.
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Swain Builds - AP Caster
Swain is surprisingly resilient even if you don't build him with HP or defensive stats, but the best builds will include those anyway. Ravenous Flock requires that you get up close, which means that you want a little extra breathing room for your ultimate to heal you in.
Start with a Sapphire Crystal and potions if you have health runes, or a Doran's Ring if you don't. Save up as much as you can, using your passive to stay in lane until you can afford Boots of Speed and a Catalyst of the Protector. As soon as you can, turn the boots into Sorceror's Shoes and the Catalyst in a Rod of Ages. This is the core of your build. If you're lucky, you can end the game with just this.
There are two paths you can go from here - next you want a Rylai's Scepter or a Rabaddon's Deathcap. Get the first if you want control and health, the second for raw damage. From here, a Zhonya's Hourglass or a Void Staff will help you offensively, and a Spirit Visage will keep you alive longer. You should try to have blue buff as often as possible, but if at any point you are perpetually low on mana, build an Archangel's Staff.
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Swain Builds - Mage Off-tank
This is the less dangerous of the two Swain builds, but can be extremely frustrating to play against if your team has plenty of damage already. While not as tough as a true tank like Shen, and not as support based as utility casters like Orianna, this Swain build can still dish out damage and take quite a bit as well.
Follow the original build up through the Rod of Ages, then prioritize a Spirit Visage, it will help you stay in the fight longer. After that, get a Rylai's Scepter if the enemy team is balanced, a Banshee's Veil if they have a lot of magic damage or a Frozen Heart if they have a lot of AD champions. From here, pick up an Abyssal Scepter if your team doesn't have one, a Shurelya's Reverie or even a Guardian Angel if you're being focused.
Another option is to continue stacking Rod's of Ages - this can be simple and effective as any of the other Swain builds.
A 3-part series on how to prepare, build and dominate in game with Swain, the Master Tactician, a powerful damage over time champion from the popular MOBA, League of Legends.