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League of Legends - Swain Guide and Build

Updated on January 31, 2015

League of Legends - Swain Guide and Build

Are you looking for a Swain guide or a Swain build? This page covers the basics of playing Swain effectively including skills, runes, masteries, tips and includes custom skins.

Swain is a durable mage that can be played either in the top lane or mid lane. He offers a strong slow and a snare which provides his team with good crowd control. Swain also has a abilities that allow him to recover mana and health giving him great ability to hold a lane.

This Swain guide aims to be a basic and simple introduction on basic strategy that should be adopted when playing Swain, it is recommended for people just starting to use Swain.

Don't own Swain? Or want to get a Swain skin from the Riot Games store for free? Learn how to get free Riot Points for LoL.

Guide current as of: Release Notes v1.0.0.148 (October, 2012).

This Swain guide is also available in summary format (thanks to

Images on this page are sourced from the official League of Legends website and the game client. They are used for review, commentary and educational purposes.

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Swain Skills

Swain Skills
Swain Skills

Carrion Renewal (Passive): Swain's passive gives him an incredible laning presence and is also maintains its usefulness during most of the game. This skill makes last hitting even more important on Swain, it also allows him to recover some mana when using his ultimate on minions to recover health.

Decrepify (Q): This skill offers little in terms of damage (unless you can get the full duration on an enemy) but it offers incredible utility and helps Swain complete his combos or help his team secure kills. Decrepify will especially make landing Nevermove much easier.

Nevermove (W): Swain's snare has a reasonable duration and casting range while also having the ability to snare multiple enemies. The duration does not increase with levels, making more than one point a waste.

Torment (E): Gives Swain a massive increase to damage against a single opponent which includes summoner spells and items. This skill is your best harassment tool and should always be maxed first. Even combing this with auto-attacks early can put some serious hurt on the enemy.

Ravenous Flock (Ultimate): Swain's ultimate has a hefty mana cost if it is left on and requires careful timing to minimize mana consumption, At level 6 you should be able to use your ultimate to regain health from the minions in lane. And from then on you have a very powerful lane presence combined with your passive.

Swain Skill Order

Swain Skill Order
Swain Skill Order

As Swain your skill order should be:

Ult > Torment > Decrepify > Nevermove

It should be noted that if your team is planning to invade the enemy jungle (or the enemy team invades yours and you want to fight) you should grab a point in Nevermove at level 1 for the snare it offers. If not you'll want to grab it at level 2 for the protection it offers.

Torment scales the best of all Swain's skills and also allows you to deal extra damage with his other abilities, making it your priority when leveling up Swain's skill set. Next you'll want to max Decrepify for the damage and increased slowing effect, leaving Nevermove to last.

If you need more pushing power against the enemy team then consider maxing Nevermove second for the area of effect damage.

Bilge Water Swain

Bilge Water Swain
Bilge Water Swain

Swain Runes

Swain Runes
Swain Runes

Red (Marks) - Magic Penetration

Yellow (Seals) - Armor // Mana Regeneration Per Level

Blue (Glyphs) - Magic Resistance // Ability Power Per Level

Purple (Quints) - Ability Power // Health // Movement Speed

Swain has a few rune options depending on your playstyle, your lane opponent (if known) and which lane you will be in (top or middle). Magic Penetration Marks is a must have while Armor Seals should be your default choice to reduce incoming damage although mid lane Swain can get away with Mana Regeneration Per Level (only recommend for new players who still struggle to last hit effectively).

Glyphs should generally be magic resistance to reduce incoming harassment in mid lane but can be swapped to Ability Power Per Level in the top lane (against an AD champion).

Quintessences always offer a number of options and Swain is no exception. Depending on your playstyle you can run Ability Power for more damage, Health for more defenses or Movement Speed for the utility (allows you to harass with Torment easily).

To learn more about making effective rune choices, visit the Rune Page Guide.

Swain Summoner Spells
Swain Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells

Best Summoner Spells:



Flash and Ignite are two amazing summoner spells on Swain, Flash gives you the escaping ability you need and can also be used to Flash into range to nuke an enemy if needed. While Ignite compliments Swains burst damage potential and deals extra damage if the enemy is tagged with Torment.

Other Good Summoner Spells:



Teleport and Exhaust are two other possible options for summoner spells when you are playing Swain. Teleport allows you to port back to base early to gain an item advantage and can be used to aggressively push towers and secure objectives for your team. Exhaust can be taken against area of effect lane match-ups to shut down their damage.

Swain Masteries - Masteries For Swain (21/0/9)

Swain Masteries
Swain Masteries

Swain has a few mastery options available to him. I prefer to use a 21/0/9 setup for the extra damage it offers but you can run 21/9/0 or 9/21/0 if you want to play a more passive and defensive Swain (or if you are going up against an opponent you struggle against).

The offensive tree offers all the important caster masteries such as ability power, cooldown reduction, magic penetration and overall increased damage. This is combined with the utility tree to offer Swain some more maximum mana, movement speed and increased buff duration. If you have trouble managing Swain's mana consider grabbing the mana regeneration in this tree instead.

To learn more about masteries and your mastery options, visit the LoL Masteries Guide.

Swain Build
Swain Build

Swain Build

Final Item Build:

-Sorcerer Shoes

-Rod of Ages

-Rylai's Crystal Scepter

-Abyssal Scepter

-Zhonya's Hourglass

-Rabadon's Deathcap


-Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions is your standard opening on Swain (both top and mid) as it gives you some healing and good movement speed to help you harass your enemy.

-First trip back you'll want to grab 1 or 2 Doran's Ring and build towards your Rod of Ages. Also consider upgrading your boots into Sorcerer's Shoes.

-Your core item build for Swain should always be Rod of Ages and Zhonya's Hourglass (Top) or Abyssal Scepter (Mid). (Then complete all 3 items).

-From here you'll want to consider Rabadon's Deathcap for more damage or Rylai's Crystal Scepter for the utility and health it offers.

-If you need more durability then you'll need to consider the alternative items below. Generally a top Swain needs to become more tanky compared to a mid lane Swain.


-Void Staff (If the enemy team starts stacking MR).

-Frozen Heart (If you need more armor, also gives mana and cooldown).

-Banshee's Veil (When you need to build more MR or the enemy is CC heavy).

-Will of the Ancients (When your team has 2 AP champions).

-Deathfire Grasp (If you need more burst damage, works well with Torment).

-Guardian Angel (Balances your resistances and provides a strong passive).

Swain Champion Spotlight - By Riot Games

Swain Tips

General Swain Tips

  • Minimize the time you leave your ultimate active for, the mana cost quickly builds up. Using it in short bursts is often most effective.
  • Swain's primary combo is Decrepify > Torment > Nevermove > Ultimate. First you want to slow the enemy to ensure an easy Nevermove, if you can cast Torment before Nevermove it is more beneficial damage wise. Finally finish with your ultimate while in range of the enemy for the extra damage. You can also combine Ignite and Deathfire Grasp.
  • Your ultimate gives you some survivability but don't rely on it 1v1, its best used when minions are around or multiple enemies (provided they aren't all targeting you).
  • If you get in trouble don't forget to use Zhonya's Hourglass it gives you a few seconds for your cooldowns to reset and for your ultimate to heal you.

Level 1-6

  • Last hitting is vital on Swain more than any other champion, this provides you with massive mana regeneration which ensures you can keep harassing your enemy.
  • Harass with Torment, Decrepify and auto-attacks constantly. Don't forget that Torment allows your auto-attacks to deal decent damage and can mean the difference for an early game kill.
  • Decrepify can force your enemies backwards to break the chain.

Level 7-12

  • Now that you have your ultimate for health regeneration and your passive for mana regeneration you have a very strong laning presence.
  • Get blue buff when appropriate, this will help you manage the high mana costs of your ultimate early on.
  • Use your ultimate sparingly, you can use Torment on a minion wave and then activate your ultimate, replenishing your health and mana while allowing you to farm.
  • Stick to the back of any fights, use the utility of your abilities (slow and snare) to assist your team. You only want to enter the fight (with your ultimate) towards the end to cleanup low health enemies.

Level 13-18

  • You now have more survivability and your ultimate is stronger. This allows you to take a slightly more offensive role in fights (you can also use Zhonya's Hourglass).
  • Continue to grab blue buff when available and when appropriate, the cooldowns can really make or break fights during the late game.
  • Nevermove has a hefty cooldown and as such you want to be careful when you decide to use it in teamfights, snaring 2 or 3 enemies is very powerful during the late game stages.

Northern Front Swain

Northern Front Swain
Northern Front Swain

Did You Find This Swain Build Helpful? - Whats Your Thoughts on Swain? Do You Play Swain Often?

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    • biggking lm profile image

      biggking lm 

      6 years ago

      some nice pics!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love your guide. I personally think RoA is perfect with this character. I play Swain like EVERY other game. lol Honestly, Swain is a Tanky/Ap, with amazing sustain. RoA only helps his sustain, his ap, and makes him hella tanky. I don't see why people consider it an overrated item. I normally don't grab Rylais or Abyssal Scepter. I normally get Deathfire grasp and Banshees veil. I mean, on accoutn of deathfire grasp and Zhonias. Dude, they're ALWAYS good to have if you're ap. Like, you can't go wrong. It's more options for your already amazingly versatile spellcaster, + Zhonia's stats are too good to pass up. I love your build dude, I give Rylais and Scepter a shot next time. Also, normally I get snare second just for maximum damage early game in lane, I mean, if you're really good at landing it, It's easy to slap an E on then lead with snare for some really good early game damage. but yeah, nice build. I'll give ti a shot.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The nevermore and torment pictures were switched. also I don't like your choice of zhonyas hourglass. Swain doesn't get in many situations where he needs to have invulnerability for 2 seconds. Sure sometimes you'd survive a teamfight where you were targeted because of it but not enough to make me choose it over something like a rabadons.

      Rod is good when your team isn't tanky enough for team fights. Mana for ult and health along with some AP to power your ult can give you more survivability, but not a necessary item.

      Dorans ring doesn't help swain out enough early game, work towards an early chalice usually. with his passive as well as a chalice he gets some pretty good constant harras and will have enough for a nevermore and decrepify to get away from ganks, specially if they have a jungler.

      Not gonna argue spell pen boots, but sometimes merc treads is the better choice.

      Banshees veil. They try to stun you from the bush, banshees veil guards, you turn on ult, you have a much greater advantage on survival and damage output then you would have.

      Quiksilver sash, is a great alternative to banshees, sometimes you just need to get out of lock and get into ult. Or flash is down and you need to get out of slow.

      not a bad guide though.

    • SimilarSam profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Australia

      @anonymous: Thankyou for your reply, I agree that a competent Swain player should skip the Rod of Ages and build up his damage (including Deathfire Grasp) earlier. I still believe Rod of Ages to be a great caster item especially if you are new to a champion, as it makes you alittle bit tankier while also boosting your mana pool, helping your mana management.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think that the rod of ages is a lil overrated on swain, rushing spell pen boots and a deathfire is much more prevalent

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      8 years ago

      Sounds Fun! :)


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