LoL Patch 12.9 Swain Rework Breakdown

Bilgewater Swain
I didn’t know I needed pirate Swain so much. (c/ Riot Games | © Riot Games

Swain is now viable for the first time since Season 12. Riot finally delivers the promised Swain update. It’s even better than what we could have expected. This is your chance to be a Master Tactician fan. With the durability update to patch 12.10 soon, things look bright for our favorite bird man.

Balance has been a problem for Swain in the past. Riot has been updating out-of-date champions over the past several years. Swain’s first overhaul was four years ago. This saw him receive a major visual update and gameplay improvements. Swain has had a difficult road since then. Swain is constantly switching between a Midlane battlemage, and a Support la bully.

Riot took some time to think about the best way to balance Swain after going through many iterations. Riot seems to have made it big with the LoL Patch 12.2.8 changes. Swain delivers on his demonic-ascension raid-boss fantasy. This is a great game that’s both fun and balanced.

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LOR Swain Splash Art
Swain alone is enough to make me want LoR. (c/ Riot Games | © Riot Games

Before we start learning how to play Swain let’s look at what really changed.

LoL Patch 12.8 Swain changes

Base Stats

  • Base armor increased from 23-26
  • Base movement speed increased by 325 to 335.

Passive – Ravenous Flock

  • Healing with Soul Fragments: 4/5.5/7% maximum health was increased to 4/5.5/7%/9% maximum health (at levels 1/6/11/16).
  • Maximum health increase per soul piece increased from 5-12
  • (Removed) Pull-E Mechanisms: Swain can no longer use Passive – Ravenous Flock to pull and rip out Soul Fragments from immobilized enemies (see E – Nevermove)

Q – Death’s Hand

  • Damage rose from 55/75/95/115/135 (+40% AD) to 60/80/100/120/140 (+38% AD)
  • Bonus damage per additional bold increased from 8.25/15/23.75/34.5/47.25 (+6/8/10/12/14% AP) to 12/22/32/42/52 (+8% AP)
  • Maximum damage (5 bolts) increased by 88/135/190/253/324 (+64/72/80/88/96%AP), to 108/168/228/288/348 (+70%AP).
  • Cooldown was reduced from 9/7.5/6/4.5/3 to 6-7/5/4/3 seconds
  • Mana costs decreased from 65/70/75/80/85/85 to 45/50/55/60/65

W – Vision of Empire

  • Mana costs decreased from 70/80/90/100/110 a 60/65/70/75/80
  • (New) Vantage Advantage: Pinging W – Vision of Empire now displays a list of visible enemies within range in team chat (similar to Twisted Fate and Nocturne ults)

E – Nevermove

  • (New) Pitiful Pawns: Can now be recast to pull all champions rooted by E – Nevermove, ripping out 1 Soul Fragment from each of them 
  • (Removed) Silent Sacrifice: Swain’s pulls no longer deal damage
  • (New) A True Visionary is Now Available: Vision of all Rooted Targets
  • (New) Demon Discount: E – Nevermove’s cooldown is reduced by 20% during R – Demonic Ascension

R – Demonic Ascension

  • Cooldown reduced from 120 to 100/80/60 second
  • Drain damage per minute decreased from 35/50/65, (+4% AP), down to 20/40/60, (+0% AP).
  • Drain heal per second increased from 20/35/40 (+6% AP), to 15/40/65 (+16% AP), (+25%)
  • (Removed). Big Birb no longer grants Swain 125/200/275 bonus Health while actively
  • (Removed). Two Birds One Soul: Soul Fragments no longer doubles your health while you are active
  • (Removed). The active duration will not exceed 12 seconds. It will be calculated on Demon Power
  • (Updated) Demon Power Activating Demonic ascension grants Swain 50 Demon Power. The initial rate at which Swain’s Demon Power decreases is 10 per second. After 5 seconds of Demonic Ascension, Swain’s Demon Power decreases faster at a rate of 15 per second
  • (New) Soul Stealer: Swain receives 20 Demon Power every second, while draining enemy champions
  • Updated) Big Demon Energy: After 2 seconds of Demonic Ascension, Swain can recast his ultimate as R – Demonflare. R – Demonflare can only be cast once and does not end Demonic Ascension

R – Demonflare

  • Damage increased from 100/150/200 (+50%AP) to150/225/300 (+60%AP)
  • (New) Conflagration – Demonflare now slows down enemies by 60% and decays over 1.5 seconds
  • (Removed). Expended. Not stored. Demonflare is no longer able to deal additional damage due to health loss from enemies
Dragon Master Swain
Is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy watching a family of baby dragons fly about you?Riot Games | © Riot Games

Wow! There are so many changes to be made! However, we spent some time brainstorming the best ways to use these changes. We are confident that we know how Riot intended new Swains to be played.

Swain was known for being a noob killer in his former state. Swain used his unique E hitbox to punish players who weren’t familiar with it. Swain would snowball games with low ELO and very low impact anywhere else. Swain is now a teamfighting monster that, if unchecked, will take over the mid-late game and transform into a Raid Boss.

How to play the New Swain.

One of the most striking things about 12.8 Swain is his exclusion from support for Midlane/Toplane. His duo synergy is severely diminished because his pull is tied to landing his E, not just a teammate’s CC. Swain is unable to function well in his Support role due to lower damage and greater dependency on mana.

Swain’s new identity, essentially a Battle Mage/Drain-Tank, is that Swain becomes stronger the longer an encounter lasts. This is due to Riot’s reduction in Swain’s damage, but also because they increased his sustain and cooldowns. Swain now has less burst damage and more sustain damage. This change in Swain’s champion identity is a positive one.

To enhance this new playstyle, Swain should build AP Bruiser items rather than mage items. Items like Riftmaker (which is very popular on Swain right at the moment), Everfrost and Frostfire Gauntlet are more viable than Liandries. Moonstone is available on support Swain, but not Moonstone.

Northern Frontier Swain
Since his Rework, Swain’s skins have looked amazing. (c/ Riot Games | © Riot Games

How to build Swain

Swain has changed from being a burst-mage completely to a battle mage with drain tanks functionalities. This means that, apart from the mana issues, mana mythics like Liandries’ and Ludens’s are no longer as useful. Even if you’re taking manaflow band and presence of mind, Swain still struggles to clear waves and still teamfight. His gold income drops when teamfights begin. Riftmaker, due to the fact that Swain relies on his items for health, is the best mythic option for Swain at the moment. Riftmaker is the first to be built. Seraph will then complete the second. Together, these items will give you enough damage and sustain to win every fight in mid-game. Frostfire Gauntlet, which can be used to plane, is also available. Fimbulwinter comes in second to give you a more potent approach. Everfrost is a viable option if you don’t feel your team has enough magic damages and you still need utility. However, Moonstone is not as good as Riftmaker for most games.

Once you have your mythic items and at least a tear, you are able to work on Rylai’s, Demonic’s or Zhonya’s. Cosmic Drive can also be used, but only if your goal is to upgrade tear into Seraphs. CDR is no longer as efficient so you shouldn’t have them both.

Champions who meet 2 requirements lose to Swain. 

  1. They cause severe damage to his sustain.
  2. They can outsmart him fast enough that they can kill him before he does.

Swain should think about building items to mitigate this. Force of Nature has a very high resistance to magic damage. The flat magic damage mitigation makes it extremely effective. It also gives Swain 10% in ms. Frozen Heart and Randuins Omen are great for physical damage. Frozen Heart can be used to replace Seraph’s or Fimbulwinter’s armor in a build. It also gives mana so it tends have an advantage over other options.

Runes & Summoner Spells

Conqueror is a more battle-magic style that Swain uses to complement his battle-magic style. It has increased healing and in-combat damage. Legend Tenacity and Last Stand are also good choices. While both the Domination and Sorcery trees offer runes that can be used to create Swain, I prefer Inspiration. This is a Minion Dematerializer rune. Although Perfect Timing is important, and Approach Velocity is also very good. However, Minion Dematerializer can be really powerful for letting Swain waveclear while still earning a decent income.

Swain’s ult lasts as long as the people are within the range. Swain’s ultimate will not end after just a few seconds. Swain’s current state makes it extremely dependent on his ultimate to work. Items like Everfrost and Rylai’s help to keep enemies out of your reach so you get the most value. Swain’s best summoner spells are Ghost and Flash.


Swain has a lot to gain from his passive stacks, since the changes. Landing E is an important skill. To make it even more fun, instead of pressing W where they are, land E. This will allow you to grab two stacks at once. 

Swain likes to have his enemies close by, as it allows him hit max damage Q’s more easily and connect his E faster. Remember that triumph/passive stacks make up a large portion of your sustain while you play Swain. Landing E or W on multiple players can result in a 40% max HP heal. Kills can also result in a 10% max HP heal. So saving R2 and Q for a kill is a great way to save R2.

You can cast spells naturally once you have Seraph and Riftmaker’s online. While teamfighting, make sure you don’t leave your buttons on cooldown. If you are having trouble landing E in teamfights use R2 to slow them down beforehand. This will make landing E easier.

Swain desires to be at the center and in front of as many people possible in order to maximize his healing. Swain’s philosophy is to learn how to find the right balance between your position and healing. The other important thing is to manage your EW combo and R2 to catch key targets in fights. Once you have mastered these basics, you will be able to enjoy 1v9 Raidboss Thanos cosplay. You can also enjoy your LP, I suppose…

If you enjoyed this article make sure to check out the one for Taliyah as well!

Author: Eric Pomeroy
Passionate about Valorant, I started playing CSGO but switched to valorant looking at the characters and the play style. I own this website and have written the content myself.