Swain Guide: Introduction
Swain is, at is his heart, a caster champion like Annie or Orianna, but his abilities change his playstyle somewhat. He has only one instant damage ability and no reliable escapes, and his CC is a skill shot root. This means that he has no escape and is vulnerable to ganks - however, his ultimate changes the equation radically, giving him damage and survivability based off of AP, encouraging an aggressive up close playstyle completely unlike most other caster champions who want to stay as far from the action as possible.
Swain, the Master Tactician, is listed as disabler, ranged, slow and heal, which describe him very well. With Decrepify and Nevermore he has a great deal of potential to chase, delay and lock down enemies, doubly so if you pick up a Rylai’s. He can be safely built as off-tank, raw damage or as a support caster, due to the flexibility his ultimate provides.
How you build Swain depends on what your team needs, whether it’s damage, additional CC or a tanky mage, but he is effective and powerful in all these roles.
There are a number of effective routes for choosing Swain masteries, but as with most casters, the safest option is 9/0/21, picking up cooldown and magic pen in the offensive tree and every possible regeneration ability in the utility tree. Another choice is 10/0/20, picking up the Ignite mastery, since the cooldown on the top talent in the utility tree is not terribly useful to Swain. Swain is extremely mana dependent when using his ult, and being able to squeeze out an extra second or two in raven form can make all the difference. With the effectiveness of the new Philosopher’s Stone and the overall cost-effectivenes of a Chalice, you can go for a more offensive 21/0/9 build, but only if you plan to be aggressive early and are working regen into your build - or if your jungle is willing to consistently feed you blue buff.
If you are planning to be in the the thick of things as a regen based mage-tank, you can even go 0/21/9, especially if you pick up Strength of Spirit, which increases health regen based on mana. Only do this if your team has plenty of damage as it is and is looking for a specific role, since much of Swain’s tankiness comes from having high AP.
Swain runes are going to focus on mana regen and raw AP - his ratios are pretty good and he has a very strong start once he picks up all of his abilities. It is not a bad idea to go for all flat or scaling mana/5 seals and quintessences, or AP in both marks and glyphs. Magic penetration is always useful as well - not to mention flat HP, which will help Swain stay in lane and give him a bigger pool for his ultimate to work with. Check out our rune guide for overall tips on choosing runes.
Marks - Flat Magic Penetration is your best choice. If you are planning on an extremely aggressive solo lane, you could potentially do flat AP, but that suits only a very specific playstyle.
Seals - Flat Mana/5 or scaling Mana/5. Nothing will serve Swain better than this.
Glyphs - Flat AP, possibly magic resistance if you are building tanky. Swain has very short cooldowns on his abilities already, CDR runes are not going to be terribly helpful.
Swain - Summoner Spells
The absolute most important summoner spell for Swain is ignite. In addition to adding damage and shutting down dangerous healing enemies like Warwick or Kayle, it synergizes with Swain’s Torment, giving additional damage. Hitting your opponent - even at level 3 - with Torment, Decrepify and Ignite may kill them right out or force them to back. If you’ve taken the Ignite mastery, it also gives you an additional 10 AP, making Swain an early game powerhouse. Strongly consider getting this on Swain every time.
For your second spell, you will want an escape - even with Swain’s ultimate up, he is vulnerable to being focused. He has no shield or escape like Orianna, so pick up Flash or Ghost. If you are not building for HP, consider flash - if you are surprised, Ghost may not be able to help you escape in time, especially if you are ganked by an assassin champion or more than one. If you have the HP or are not worried about being out of position, Ghost will get you to the fight faster and allow you to stay in ultimate range longer.
This post is part of the series: Swain, the Master Tactician Champion Guide
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.