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Swain/Strategy

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< Swain


Champion Background Strategy Skins & Trivia


Skill usage

  • Due to Carrion Renewal.png Carrion Renewal offering mana, and Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock offering health, SwainSquare.png Swain can potentially stay in a lane for a very long time. Note that Carrion Renewal cannot hope to offset the massive mana cost of Ravenous Flock, and his ultimate must be used sparingly. Combined with aggressive lane control, it is recommended SwainSquare.png Swain takes a solo lane to amass gold and experience.
  • Around level 4, you will have gained SwainSquare.png Swain's full combo. Torment.png Torment and Decrepify.png Decrepify followed by Nevermove.png Nevermove and some basic attacks will devastate unarmored enemies. If you are too far for his other two abilities, using Nevermove.png Nevermove first can allow you to close the distance.
  • SwainSquare.png Swain's basic abilities each have different benefits when leveled and maxed over the others.
    • Decrepify.png Decrepify grants moderate damage and a good slowing effect, on a short cooldown and good range. Ensuring foes stay trapped in the tether with Nevermove.png Nevermove or allied disables is key. Ranking it will also make it easier to land Nevermove. The downside is that you are either forced to choose between safely using it at max range, thus making it easier to break the tether, or going in closer to more reliably get the full effect. It is also not as useful when your jungler initiates a gank, because the enemy has a better chance of breaking the leash.
    • As your main AoE and crowd control ability in one, leveling Nevermove.png Nevermove makes it more usable by reducing its cooldown significantly. Alongside the damage increase, Swain's farming/pushing becomes much faster and easier, and the snare is absolutely amazing for countering ganks and assisting during one of your own. However, it is unreliable against enemy champions if one is not able to land it consistently, and if they predict you leveling this first, they can grab early Boots of Speed item.png Boots of Speed to counter the ability directly. It is recommended to begin ranking this skill if your laning is going absolutely horribly, and you do not believe you will be able to kill your enemy during laning phase. If you do not rank it and you are behind, the enemy will be able to out-push you and you will lose minions to your turret.
    • By itself, Torment.png Torment offers nice harassment at a low mana cost. Even at low levels, you can take off 2-3 bars of health at a time using Torment.png Torment followed by autoattacks against a squishier champion. In combination with Ignite.png Ignite, Swain can provide fatal damage output early on. However the damage dealt by Torment.png Torment alone is slightly low, while your unleveled abilities will not benefit very much from the damage-amp effect. The best scenario in which you would level this ability first is against a squishy target that is more susceptible to the damage from it and Ignite.png Ignite. The worst case is against targets with high sustain or health.
  • While laning, try to gauge the strength of your opponents to determine the right balance of aggression with Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock. If they're stronger, it might be more beneficial to stay back and farm and counter-harass.
  • While Swain has extreme killing potential, his main counters lie in targets who build large amounts of defense as well as having built-in sustain, such as Cho'Gath or Nunu. Swain's exorbitant mana costs mean that if he cannot kill his target, he will be wasting his time even trying. 
  • For utility purposes, Decrepify.png Decrepify followed by Nevermove.png Nevermove makes for a nearly guaranteed root. The time taken to cast Torment.png Torment can cost you your disables, so choose based on the situation.
  • Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock is not channeled, and cannot be stopped by stuns, silences, or any form of crowd control. In fact, it persists during the Zhonya’s Hourglass active effect (It still continues to drain mana, and can automatically turn off during the active). You can use it during teamfights to drain the enemies' health, as well as restore health on minions after the fight. With extra spell vamp and a Spirit Visage item.png Spirit Visage, one can nearly be an unstoppable force.
    • You should still be wary of disables preventing you from stopping the spell, especially if left on for longer durations; those few seconds more can quickly deplete your mana pool.
  • Be cautious when using Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock to farm, as it opens you up to ganks, as you will have no survivability beyond trying to keep one enemy away with Q->W. 
  • While escaping, you can activate Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock, as it will heal you as your enemies pursue you. This can be very effective because the projectiles prioritizes champions and heals yourself 75-88% of the damage dealt to them. Healing with your ultimate while throwing down your slow and snare gives Swain an easy escape.
  • The best combo for SwainSquare.png Swain is Torment.png Torment, Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock,Decrepify.png Decrepify,Nevermove.png Nevermove. This combo is especially effective against melee champions near creeps, because you gain health from the creeps while you engage the enemy champion. This drains your mana more quickly than almost any champion, however, so make sure to buy some mana items to fuel your combo.
  • If SwainSquare.png Swain is doing well, giving him Crest of the Ancient Golem.png Crest of the Ancient Golem can greatly increase his effectiveness, and even if he is doing poorly, the buff could allow him to make a comeback or at least get back on level ground with his team and the opposition.
  • With all the control and healing you have as SwainSquare.png Swain, MR is inherently more important and useful. This is because almost all physical damage is done over time, which your healing counters, and most of the significant physical damage is put off by squishy carries, who are almost free food to your combo.
  • If you activated Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock when engaging an enemy remember to stop the spell if the enemy champion escapes out of your range, if not you could not have enough mana left to use your spells when you reach him resulting in a counterattack, being ganked, or allowing the enemy to escape.
  • A good harass method is launching Torment.png Torment immediately after casting Nevermove.png Nevermove, then approach and launch Decrepify.png Decrepify and some autoattacks before retreating, this combo should deal around 40%-60% of a squishy enemy champ's health leaving him vulnerable to a final combo of your abilities.

Build usage

  • SwainSquare.png Swain is very mana dependent due to the upkeep costs of Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock, making an early purchase of mana sustain such as Catalyst the Protector item.png Catalyst the Protector or Chalice of Harmony item.png Chalice of Harmony very useful for keeping up his midgame presence alongside Carrion Renewal.png Carrion Renewal.
    • Rod of Ages item.png Rod of Ages is practically a must have on Swain, granting him a generous helping of his two most important stats- Ability Power and Mana. Its passive can enable him to stay in lane for as long as he requires, and when leveling-up during close fights the extra mana may be enough to squeeze out a few more seconds in Ravenous Flock. In addition, its Health stat works with any armor and magic resistance Swain might buy, improving his resistance to burst damage.
  • Ignite.png Ignite and Deathfire Grasp item.png Deathfire Grasp can provide extra burst damage due to the 20% damage increase from Torment.png Torment.
    • For this reason, do not overlook getting a Deathfire Grasp item.png Deathfire Grasp in mid/late-game. SwainSquare.png Swain has tankiness, damage-over-time, crowd control, and self-healing. While Swain is very strong, the majority of his damage occurs over three or four seconds, which is usually plenty of time for the enemy to take action.Deathfire Grasp item.png Deathfire Grasp grants him the ability to crush single targets in combination with Torment.png Torment.
    • Throwing Torment.png Torment and Ignite.png Ignite on a dying-yet-retreating enemy will almost always ensure their death, even if they are healed by a moderate amount.
    • It is also extremely effective to throw this combo on a squishy carry like CaitlynSquare.png Caitlyn at the start of a team fight. The damage from this and SwainSquare.png Swain's other abilities is usually enough to put them into a retreat, cutting away their dps, and may even kill them.
    • If you aren't satisfied with the one-hit-wonder characteristic of the DFG, a great alternative is Morellonomicon item.png Morellonomicon, as it provides greater amounts of the same stats without the restrictive active effect.
  • A SwainSquare.png Swain build that is centered more around team-fighting and staying alive is Will of the Ancients item.png Will of the Ancients, Rod of Ages item.png Rod of Ages, and Spirit Visage item.png Spirit Visage. With a build initialized by these items, building AP directly translates into more healing, which in turn allows for more damage. After these items, it would be wise to build Rabadon's Deathcap item.png Rabadon's Deathcap, and Zhonya's Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass to provide massive AP and the invulnerability of Zhonya's Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass. This build is perfect for protecting your carry and being an anti-carry yourself.
  • As almost all of SwainSquare.png Swain's skills rely on positioning, Rylai's Crystal Scepter item.png Rylai's Crystal Scepter can be invaluable to keep foes in range of Decrepify.png Decrepify and Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock, and ensure landing Nevermove.png Nevermove. As all of his spells are either DoT or AoE, however, it will only apply the 15% slow, making the item less efficient. But it gives a slow to Torment.png Torment in the front of the spell combo when bursting enemy carries.
  • Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock works through the active component of Zhonya's Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass, allowing SwainSquare.png Swain to use it for up to 6 ticks' worth of damage and healing.
  • With the recent buff to its aura, Abyssal Scepter item.png Abyssal Scepter becomes an extremely viable item on SwainSquare.png Swain's once again, as all of his abilities save his W fall within the aura range. Take if you need some MR, or if the enemy's building some, though if they start building too much you may have to switch out for a Void Staff item.png Void Staff instead.
  • Tear of the Goddess item.png Tear of the Goddess is a viable item for mana sustain because Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock will increase the max mana. When recalling, activating the ability will grant from 20 to 50 bonus mana. Upgrading it in Archangel's Staff item.png Archangel's Staff will greatly increase the mana sustain and, due to Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock, also the life sustain.
  • Zhonya's Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass is one of Swain's most core items: the 120AP is very much appreciated, the armor allows him to fulfill his role of wading into fights and draining health with Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock, and most importantly of all, he has perhaps the best synergy with the active of any champion in the game, as his Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock's life-drain continues to work through the stasis (assuming you have the mana for the upkeep cost), allowing him to pop it and just steal health for 2 seconds while invulnerable.
  • Liandry's Torment can be effective on Swain as it gives magic penetration, moderate AP, minor health increases and his moderate CC/AOE from his kit (especially when paired with Rylai's Crystal Scepter) have decent synergy with its passive.
  • Frozen Heart item.png Frozen Heart is an effective option. Besides offering a lot of armor, this item has mana (allowing Swain to mantain his ultimate active for a longer time) and cooldown reduction. Because Swain usually stays on the middle of a teamfight, this item is used to its full potential, and the passive benefits your entire team too. This item will allow Swain to be effective against ADCs; the only drawback of this item is not offering any damage at all, unless when combined with Archangel's Staff item.png Archangel's Staff.
    • Of course, Frozen Heart is not an substitute, but an addition alongside Zhonya's Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass if Swain is in need of more armor.

Recommended builds

Summoner's Rift
Starting Doran's Ring item Health Potion item2
Essential Sorcerer's Shoes item Rod of Ages item Zhonya's Hourglass item
Offensive Rabadon's Deathcap item Liandry's Torment item Void Staff item
Defensive Spirit Visage item Abyssal Scepter item Rylai's Crystal Scepter item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item Sight Ward item
The Howling Abyss
Starting Boots of Speed item Ruby Crystal item Sapphire Crystal item Health Potion item3
Essential Sorcerer's Shoes item Rod of Ages item Athene's Unholy Grail item
Offensive Rabadon's Deathcap item Liandry's Torment item Rylai's Crystal Scepter item
Defensive Zhonya's Hourglass item Spirit Visage item Abyssal Scepter item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item
The Crystal Scar
Starting Boots of Speed item Prospector's Ring item
Essential Sorcerer's Shoes item Rod of Ages item
Offensive Archangel's Staff item Wooglet's Witchcap item Blackfire Torch item
Defensive Spirit Visage item Abyssal Scepter item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item
The Twisted Treeline
Starting Doran's Ring item Boots of Speed item
Essential Sorcerer's Shoes item Tear of the Goddess item Rod of Ages item
Offensive Archangel's Staff item Wooglet's Witchcap item Blackfire Torch item
Defensive Spirit Visage item Abyssal Scepter item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item

Countering

  • SwainSquare.png Swain mostly deals magic damage, investing in magic resistance will mitigate his damage.
  • Avoid going on a 1x1 battle against Swain as a melee or short-ranged champion, since Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock lets him heal for most of the damage done. This allows Swain to win trades against almost any champion, unless they have a lot of sustain themselves.
    • Using a champion with higher range than Swain is a good idea. For example, an ADC with very high range such as TristanaSquare.png Tristana or CaitlynSquare.png Caitlyn can kite Swain and avoid being hit by his spells, thus allowing them to kill him easliy.
    • There are other 2 alternative methods of dealing with Swain. One is quickly bursting him down with an assassin such as FizzSquare.png Fizz and LeBlancSquare.png LeBlanc. Another is calling your teammates to focus and kill Swain. This is viable because while Swain is tankier than other mages, he is still not very tanky, and being bursted will prevent him from dealing enough damage and healing himself. Keep in mind that Swain can buy items such as Zhonya's Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass and Banshee's Veil item.png Banshee's Veil, which will prevent him from being quickly assassinated. If you somehow fail to kill him, don't bother trying and just run away.
  • Do not underestimate SwainSquare.png Swain's damage; although he only has one burst skill in Nevermove.png Nevermove, he can dish out massive damage over time if you allow him to. If you believe that you will be able to survive Swain's initial 4 seconds of damage, such as due to your own high lifesteal stat, (as well as out-damage his ultimate's healing) you may be able to tank his damage and turn the fight when he is waiting for cooldowns.
  • Swain is very weak early game against champions that can push the lane, due to his poor farming capabilities without Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock. Being pushed to his tower will likely make Swain miss some lasthits, so pushing is a viable strategy, but be very cautious of enemy ganks, as Swain is one of the best gank followers.
  • On Summoner's Rift, stealing the second and/or third blue buff will cripple Swain. Without the Crest of the Ancient Golem, it is likely that Swain will run out of mana due to Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock's massive mana costs.
  • High movement speed and good mobility counters most of SwainSquare.png Swain's spells.
    • When Decrepify.png Decrepify is cast, quickly break the tether by moving away from the bird.
    • Avoid getting hit by SwainSquare.png Swain's Nevermove.png Nevermove to remove a large part of his damage combo.
  • Move away from SwainSquare.png Swain if he uses his Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock. This will waste his mana and force him to put it on cooldown.
  • Get out of his spell range when you are in effect of his Torment.png Torment as you will take more damage while affected by Torment.png Torment. When his birds target you, his ultimate will also heal him more.
  • Use healing reduction effects such as Ignite.png Ignite or the passive from Executioner's Calling item.png Executioner's Calling or Morellonomicon item.png Morellonomicon to prevent him from healing a lot of damage from his Ravenous Flock.png Ravenous Flock. This strips SwainSquare.png Swain of his primary survivability mechanism and makes him much easier to focus and kill.
  • Quicksilver Sash item.png Quicksilver Sash can save you from a well-placed Nevermove.png Nevermove.

Champion spotlight

Swain Champion Spotlight05:45

Swain Champion Spotlight

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