Cass Marshall of Heroes Never Die and I get along pretty well. You may have even noticed that we agree on a lot of things on Heroes Never Die and this very website. But today I am not here to agree with Cass. No, today I have come to defend the honor of Swain’s cool new rework.
Old Swain was actually pretty cool. Despite being a really bad champion that had little to no way to actually interact with is foes, Swain was a beefy tank mage that was unkillable past a certain point in the game. It felt good to just stand in the middle of a fight, wait for your health to drop, Zhonyas, and watch as your beautiful birds filled your health back up to full. It felt cheap to play and it was infuriating to play against.
New Swain is not only less crusty looking (not a difficult feat), but he manages to do something even better than old Swain: he fills a void in the caster roster without being toxic. New Swain grows more powerful the longer a fight goes on. If he is able to use his passive and absorb more souls, his ultimate will be even more powerful.
I’ve seen cries of Vlad 2.0 over the Swain rework and it just makes me sad. We can have two lifesteal mages that operate differently. Vlad is a sustain mages that smashes his foes with burst damage and heals very quickly. But he does not lose or gain power as the fight goes on. Swain, on the other hand, is more about setting up that perfect end moment, to literally spread his wings and decimate his foes.
I understand the sadness that comes from feeling like we lost our crusty old man and his weird bird in favor of this hot new old guy, but this Swain lives up to the name “Master Tactician” in a way that old Swain never did. The gameplay is about setting up fights and buffing yourself with souls until you’ve reached your full potential. It’s about surviving and scraping by until you find the opening you’ve been looking for. This idea embodies what old Swain could never be.
Champion design is of course personal preference, and I was never a Swain fanatic. I cannot calm the minds of those who already loved our bird brained general and now feel a sense of loss. What I can say is that I’m excited to play Swain for this first time. I’m excited to see how he interacts with other champions and how he fits into the meta.
It’s very hard to watch the things that we love die, even if they were admittedly pretty crusty. But Riot has managed to do something awesome with this Swain rework, something they’ve seemed focused on for Urgot and Yorick as well. This rework hold on to the original idea of Swain and powers past whatever technical or design limitations they had when the original was designed. The abilities, look and rockin’ bod of Swain have been reworked, but his soul still exists.