Swain has seen an increase in play rate after Patch 3.16 gave the Noxian Grand General +1|0 stat and the Overwhelm keyword on level up.
The champion has a powerful package in Noxus, which gives him the flexibility to exist in different regions. Regions like Bilgewater, PnZ, Freljord, Bandle City, Ionia, and Shadow Isles have all managed to create different versions of a Swain deck.
Today, I’ll feature five of the best Swain decks that are played on the ranked ladder. Let’s get started!
Twisted Fate Swain
The most popular version of a Swain deck is the Bilgewater version! Twisted Fate Swain takes advantage of Bilgewater’s early units like Watchful Idol, Crusty Codger, and Fortune Croaker to put early board pressure and work on Swain’s level-up.
The Bilgewater version also offers card draws from Zap Sprayfin, Eye of Nagakabouros, Fortune Croaker, and Twisted Fate’s Blue Card. When it comes to Twisted Fate, the champion has so much to offer in the deck! The versatility of the Destiny cards can be useful depending on the scenario and at the same time advances Swain’s level-up or triggers his ability. Twisted Fate also threatens to level up if not answered. The card draw tools the deck has can accelerate Twisted Fate’s level-up condition.
Late game, you’re aiming to put your opponent in the Swain + The Leviathan stun lock. However, the Bilgewater version offers another late-game play, Riptide Rex. The mana-cost reduction on Leviathan allows you to set up a Riptide Rex on the following turn much easier.
Players are still divided on which champion to pair with Swain when it comes to the Bandle City version. Gnar, Annie, Teemo, and Norra are all strong candidates to assist Swain with raising his Noxian empire.
Teemo Swain is the most popular and well-known version. However, I chose Norra Swain to feature in this article as it holds the highest win rate on the competitive ladder. I believe it’ll end up overtaking the Teemo version in terms of play rate.
The Bandle City version runs units like Choncologist, Norra, Junk Construct, and Aloof Travelers that offer unique value. The value those cards offer helps contest the board and add more card options to be played in future turns.
Norra acts as a supporting champion. You’re not necessarily looking to level her up, instead, you want to take advantage of her Mysterious Portals to keep pressure or at least keep up with the opponent’s board until you reach the late game.
The Bandle City region offers Minimorph, a solid tool to deal with powerful units on your opponent’s side of the board that set up a win condition for them.
The Bandle City version has an edge over the Bilgewater version, which was the reason for the increase in play rate recently on the competitive ladder. Minimorph and Aloof Travelers can deal with units like Leviathan and Swain, helping you win the late game.
Caitlyn Swain Tri-beam
The Tri-beam deck! Swain PnZ is not new at all. It used to be popular in the Brazilian scene but paired Ezreal with Swain instead of Caitlyn. The archetype has made a comeback after Swain’s buff, and it has new tools added to its arsenal!
Caitlyn replaces Ezreal in the deck due to her ability to put pressure on the opponent early in the game with her Quick Attack keyword and ability to plant Flashbomb Traps in the opponent’s deck. Ezreal is simply too slow early on in the game, and you’d rather run cards with early pressure to help you set up your late game Swain + Leviathan.
Tri-beam Improbulator acts as a removal tool and a tempo swing. If you manage to stack it up a lot, you could potentially summon a unit on the board capable of putting board pressure and acting as a win condition.
Swain Shadow Isles makes a comeback. The deck focuses more on dealing with the board and waiting for the late game to slam The Leviathan.
The deck adds Gwen to its arsenal, a champion capable of putting pressure mid-game with her Quick Attack keyword and Drain ability. Your opponent will be forced to eventually kill Gwen before she becomes problematic on level up.
This version employs a couple of hallowed units, which can be useful late game when swinging with either Swain or Leviathan, both of which have the Overwhelm keyword.
The strongest play in the deck is The Harrowing. The spell allows you to make a comeback in the game if you’ve lost your whole board. This lets you go for a final strong swing, which most likely will be enough to end the game.
The Ionia version didn’t really gain much popularity compared to the other listed decks. Yasuo Swain is an old archetype that uses the stun mechanic to its full potential.
As you stun units, you’ll be working on leveling up your Yasuo. If Yasuo is on the board when those stuns occur, he’ll damage the units and will assist in leveling up your Swain. The damaged units can also be perfect targets for a Ravenous Flock.
Vastayan Disciple is a great early game unit to chip on the opponent’s Nexus, advance Yasuo’s level-up condition with the recall mechanic, and offer a card draw.
Once Yasuo levels up, he’ll be a nuisance on the board. His ability will start killing stunned units, making it difficult for your opponent to keep up with the board pressure you’re imposing.
Additionally, Yasuo benefits from the Swain + Leviathan stun lock. Managing to set up the combo means you’ll most likely close out the game on the upcoming attack turn.
The Ionia region offers protection tools like Deny, Nopeify!, and Ionia Tellstones to keep your champions and The Leviathan alive. Cards like Twin Disciplines or Momentous of Choice can be a consideration to add to the list.
The buff Swain received has brought the champion back into the meta. Many players have shared their concerns and displeasure regarding Swain’s Overwhelm keyword. The champion can now skip the part of “setting up” the win condition and activates his damage ability quite easily.
The Bilgewater, Bandle City, and PnZ versions are currently the best performers, and we might see a lot of those decks in the upcoming seasonal tournament.
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