Ultimate Swain guide: Best League of Legends builds, runes, tips & tricks

Lawrence Scotti
league of legends ultimate swain guide red black

Swain is one of League of Legends‘ oldest and most beloved mages. If you’re a Swain veteran, or just picking him up for the first time, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to mastering the Noxian Grand General.

Having been released all the way back in 2010, Swain is one of the original Battlemage’s introduced to Summoner’s Rift.

His identity as a champion has been changed a handful of times throughout the lifespan of the MOBA — once in a full rework in Season 8, then a mini-rework in Season 12 which brought him to the forefront of the meta.

Regardless if you’re a Level 7 Mastery Swain player, or brand new to the mage, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know including best builds and runes.


Swain is getting a big raft of buffs this League patch.
Swain is the leader of Noxus.

Who is Swain?

Jericho Swain is the ruler of Noxus, a ruthless expansionist nation. Despite his left arm being severed during the Ionian wars, he still managed to take control of Noxus through both determinations and gaining possession of a powerful demonic hand.

Swain made a pact with a demon known as Raum who feeds off the secrets of others, granting Swain the ability to sustain himself through long periods of combat. The secrets that Swain obtains are absorbed in the form of Soul Fragments.

On Summoner’s Rift, Swain is a drain tank mage that relies on crowd control and prolonged fights to take down opponents in battle.

Swain abilities & gameplay

Swain’s kit is full of crowd control and sustain.

His kit is heavily reliant on landing Nevermore in order to root enemies and pull them towards you.

In lane, you can use Death’s Hand to follow up landing Nevermore to combo the damage together. Death’s Hand is the first ability you want to max out so that you can clear out minion waves as fast as possible.

Using Vision of Empire, you can slow far away opponents, or crown-controlled ones, from incredibly far distances. This ability can also sniff out hiding opponents and grant vision through Fog of War before you face-check a bush.

His ultimate, Demonic Ascension, transforms him into a demon and drains health from nearby opponents, and can recast to send out a Demonflare to damage and slow enemy champions. The changes in Patch 12.8 allows you to now stay in Ascension form indefinitely as long as you continue to drain enemy champions in your range.

Swain shines when surviving team fights for long periods of time, landing Nevermore to pull enemies within his Ascension range.

  • Passive: Ravenous Flock ⁠— Swain’s ravens collect Soul Fragments that heal him and permanently increase his maximum health.
  • Q: Death’s Hand — Swain unleashes several bolts of eldritch power that pierce through enemies. Enemies hit take more damage for each bolt they are struck by.
  • W: Vision of Empire — Swain opens a demon eye that deals damage and slows enemies. Champions hit are revealed and also grant Swain a Soul Fragment.
  • E: Nevermore — Swain launches a wave of demonic power forward. It then returns to Swain and roots enemies it hits. Swain can then choose to pull all rooted champions closer. This ability has a shorter cooldown during Demonic Ascension.
  • R: Demonic Ascension — Swain transforms into a demon and drains health from nearby enemy champions, minions, and neutral monsters. Swain can cast Demonflare to decimate and slow nearby enemies with a nova of soulfire. This form is indefinite as long as Swain drains enemy champions.

Best build for Swain

As a drain tank mage, Swain’s best builds are with high amounts of AP as well as high health in order to be able to soak up some damage.

His best Mythic item is Liandry’s Anguish, as the burn damage pairs quite nicely with his spells. Everfrost also works well on Swain, as the active helps root enemies longer and chain-CC spells together very nicely.

After that, look for more damage and HP items like Rylai’s Crysta Scepter and Demonic Embrace.

Grabbing a Zhonya’s Hourglass will also help as a defensive option to survive even longer during team fights and to avoid assassins trying to one-shot you.

Top meta Swain builds in Season 12

  • Mythic: Liandry’s Anguish / Everfrost
  • Boots: Sorcerer’s Shoes / Plated Steelcaps (into heavy AD)
  • Starting Item: Doran’s Ring
  • Support Item: Spellthief’s Edge
  • Rylai’s Crystal Scepter
  • Demon Embrace
  • Zhonya’s Hourglass
  • Morellonomicon
  • Spirit Visage (into heavy AP)
Swain and Zyra are getting new "Crystal Rose" skins in patch 11.3.
Swain’s best builds help maximize his AP damage.

Best runes for Swain

The runes that work best for Swain are the ones that help increase damage output, sustain, and mobility. Since Swain got his mini-update, there are a handful of runes that will work well.

Conqueror is still Swain’s best primary rune as it helps ramp damage during fights and even heals the longer you stay alive. Phase Rush is another solid option, as it triggers a burst of movement speed upon landing your Nevermore combo which helps you either speed into enemy teams or escape quickly.

It’s important to note which role you are playing Swain before locking in a rune page. For Support Swain, Glacial Augment is going to be the best option for more utility-focused builds.

swain runes league of legends

For mid, top, and ADC Swain, go Conqueror or Phase Rush. Secondary runes will also vary, but Manaflow Band and Gathering Storm are great options.

swain runes league of legends

Swain skins in League of Legends

Swain isn’t an easy champion to master by any means, but once you put in the time to learn him, he’s one of the most rewarding champions in all of League of Legends.

There might be nothing scarier than facing a master Swain player on Summoner’s Rift, and now, you have all the tools to go out and dominate with the Noxian Grand General.

Looking to master all of Runeterra’s finest? Be sure to check out our other League of Legends guides:

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About The Author

Lawrence is a former Dexerto writer, based in New York City, who covered entertainment and games for Dexerto focusing on Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, NBA 2K, and any indie game he can review.