LoR Deck Guide: Swain & Vlad Self-Damage

LoR Deck Guide: Swain & Vlad Self-Damage

How to Play Swain & Vlad Self-Damage (Monuments of Power)

Bilgewater got a lot of new cards with the Monuments of Power segment of the Call of the Mountain expansion. Some of these are cards that do damage to themselves, so you know what that means…it’s time to play some fun Vladimir decks!

Vladimir levels from units living after they have damage dealt to them which makes the self-damage units helpful for leveling him up.

Another champion that does well with the self-damage cards is Swain as the self-damage is counted as non-combat damage which helps him level up as well.

swain and vlad self damage silverfuse


[See Swain and Vlad Self-Damage deck list]

This makes Swain the perfect candidate to pair with Vladimir due to their unique synergy where they level up quickly from the same cards.

This deck is mainly meant for fun, but I and many others have found success with it on the ranked ladder as well.

Win Conditions

New cards such as Crusty Codger, Boxtopus, and Fortune Croaker have helped this archetype tremulously. Previously, Crimson Disciple carried Swain and Vladimir allowing both champions to level quickly. Since it was nerfed, the archetype has struggled to be viable at all.

crusty codger jpg

boxtopus jpg

The new cards allow Swain and Vladimir to be leveled up by turn 5 or 6. Vladimir is used during the mid game to stabilize as well as squeeze extra damage in through his ability Crimson Pact.

Swain along with Leviathan are often used as finishers in the deck.

swain level 1

the leviathan lor

This generally happens turn 9 through 11. Damage spells such as Make It Rain, Noxian Fervor, and Death’s Hand can be used to stun additional units with leveled up Swain.

The Mulligan Phase

For your general mulligan, you’ll want to keep Crusty Codger and Boxtopus and any other self-damage units. This is to level up Swain and Vladimir quickly.

Against Shadow Isles, it is best to get rid of Boxtopus due to ping removals such as Vile Feast and Unspeakable Horror.

swain vlad self damage starting hand

Practice your mulligan with the Starting Hand Simulator.

If you have multiple low-cost cards already, it can be useful to keep Swain or Vladimir in the mulligan to make sure that you have your mid-game power ready to go if you know you won’t have to worry about your early game.

Generally, you want a low-cost unit mulligan to make sure that you can have high tempo early game with units.

In most cases you won’t want to keep spells but sometimes Transfusion can be kept with Crimson Curator to get additional value.

Key Synergies

As mentioned earlier, the main synergies of this deck are using the self-damage units to level up Vladimir through the units living as well as leveling up Swain through non-combat damage.

Swain has multiple synergies in this deck with Leviathan which is a tutor for Swain. When Swain is on the board with Leviathan, Leviathan does 1 damage at a time 3 times which allows Swain to stun up to 3 units.

Swain also has additional synergy with Death’s Hand, Noxian Fervor, and Make It Rain which have the ability to deal damage to the Nexus while Swain is on board which allows for a stun to close out the game.

death's hand jpg

noxian fervor jpg

Vladimir has synergy with all the self-damage units as well as Transfusion which help level up Vladimir. Crimson Curator also has synergy with Vladimir where Vladimir’s ping from Crimson Pact gives Crimson Curator more value.

vladimir level 1 jpg

crimson curator jpg

Arachnoid Sentry is a useful stun that delays the opponent and great synergy with Ravenous Flock.

Other spells which do damage to units such as Death’s Hand and Make it Rain are also great activators for Ravenous Flock

Shakedown is another new card that gives additional synergy to Vladimir and Swain, but it also allows for additional control options in the deck.

shakedown jpg

Shakedown is very good against aggressive lists as it allows you to give their smaller creatures Vulnerable and then trade into them with your own creatures.

Good Matchups

This deck does okay against Discard Aggro as it has Make It Rain which often carries the match up. However, with Make It Rain being nerfed recently, this might change the outlook of this matchup.

discard aggro 10-5

This deck often does well against other midrange decks as it has a solid closer of Leviathan and Swain which other midrange decks might not have.

This deck’s ability to go to later stages of the game and continue to get value through Leviathan is incredibly useful.

It is also easier to stun and lock up midrange units which allow this deck to have close out games.

Bad Matchups

Trundle decks, such as Trundle Tryndamere, can be problematic since Swain Vlad doesn’t have a way to deal with the ramp which allows the deck to be a bit slower than Vladimir and Swain.

warmother 9-9

In Freljord Shadow Isles, they will often end the game with Atrocity and despite stunning their units, your best bet is to have a way to kill the unit they are playing Atrocity on.

This is most likely through Ravenous Flock or Noxian Guillotine which is explained further in the tech choices section.

ledros stall 10-23

The deck also has a hard time against Deep decks for similar reasons it has a hard time against ramp decks. Once the opponent achieves Deep and plays large fish, you often don’t have enough ways to interact with them as well as the Nautilus Atrocity combo that many Deep decks use to finish games.

slaughter docks deep silverfuse

Lastly, Swain Vlad also struggles against Pirate Burn decks as it does not have many ways of sustaining itself.

However, this match up isn’t as hard as the Atrocity matchups. Your best bet for winning against them is by mulliganing for low curve units and trying to favorably trade into them.

pirate burn aggro kuvira

In some cases, Vladimir can be used as a tool to gain additional health if you were able to survive to later stages of the game.

Tech Choices

Hired Gun

  • An excellent choice in aggressive metas where you can use this card to force a 2 for 1 or give an important creature vulnerable.

House Spider

  • Another anti-aggro choice as it allows for a wider board full of blockers against opponents who are trying to go wide against your deck.

Zap Sprayfin

  • This card is more useful in slower metas where you need to try and grind out your opponent through card advantage as well as having more access to spells. The Elusive also gives additional chip damage against your opponent.

Noxian Guillotine

  • This card is fantastic against slower metas as this deck has several ways of pinging damage on an enemy unit and finishing larger creatures off with Noxian Guillotine.
  • However, this card is terrible against aggressive opponents. At the time of writing this, I was facing a lot of aggro decks, so this is why it is not included in the main deck.


  • This card is a good tech choice in slower metas where you will have to try and grind out opponents or get the last bit of damage in. The draw from Salvage can be important against control lists, but it is dead against aggressive matchups.

Captain Farron

  • This would be a single copy of Captain Farron if you are playing against a bunch of control opponents and need an additional way to close out games, assuming that Leviathan and Swain are getting dealt with continuously.

Closing Thoughts

I had a blast with this deck, and I know many people have as well. I hope you find this list fun and a little something new to enjoy in Legends of Runeterra!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask Silverfuse during her streams (usually daily from 2-6PM CST).

Catch Silverfuse live at www.twitch.tv/silverfuse