Garen Build Guide by Dminion

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Dminion

Garen Bruiser Guide v1.0

Dminion Last updated on August 19, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

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Greetings, first off I'd like you to say thank you for taking the time to read this guide. This guide is not an attempt at saying how OP he is but an attempt at a guide by a regular player who normally uses Garen as a champion. I had been lurking on the sight for some time and while there are some Garen guides, I felt it that it wouldn't hurt to place another guide, more focused on how to use Garen as a tank/bruiser, as most players I have seen tend to build Garen with a lot of attack damage item. I am open to constructive criticism and I will ignore flames. This is just a regular players attempt to try and build on the knowledge of a champion for others to use and benefit from. So without further delay, let us continue.

Also, I will be updating this guide from time to time, so this is far from being complete

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Pros / Cons

Ok, so let's get started. Below is a list of pros and cons i have observed about this character.

1. His third skill, Judgment, makes a hefty damage dealer early to late game if properly supported with the right items. It also removes existing slows and reduces the duration of new slows by about 50%.
*Note:* I am still looking into this, but I have yet to debunk if Garen still does damage if stunned or knocked up while still doing this skill.

2. Garen's Decisive Strike allows him to gain a movement speed bonus for that little boost needed to chase or escape. Second, it deals a fair amount burst damage to both creature and buildings. It can also silence champions for a good 2.5 seconds if you can land it.

3. When timed right Courage is extremely useful in negating a fair portion of damage.

4. Demacian Justice hurts almost anyone with about half a health bar or less, more so if they are squishy champions.

5. Garen is a cooldown champion, so the only thing to worry about is timing. You can always use your abilities whenever they aren't on cooldown.


1. Absolutely no crowd control skill; lowering his ability to initiate and disable.

2. After using his skills, has very little contributions left for the fight.

3. Ultimate only useful when target has a chunk of health missing, meaning only useful in the middle to near end of team clashes.

4. Judgment only useful for slows; taunts, fears, and stuns still work as usual.

5. If not built correctly, either he will die first or be ignored.

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For runes I went with Armor Penetration Marks, as it seems to stack with Garen's Judgment, making it painful if you can land it early game, even at level 1. Current observations is that anyone who plays squishy characters, like an Ashe or Ryze can get severely hurt. It also works well with his Decisive Strike for more early game burst damage.

For Glyphs and Seals, I get Magic Resist and Armor respectively. This allows you to stay in lane more and take less damage than you would otherwise, even without Courage.

For Quintessences, I get flat Health. Making Garen's level 1 455 health a respectable 533. Once again I get this for more staying power in lane, and it a little more health will help Garen's Perseverance.

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Summoner Spells

For summoner spells I recommend bringing Exhaust and Ghost Walk.

I take Exhaust as to bring a crowd control skill that Garen really lacks. While I take Ghost Walk for chasing and escaping powers.

Other spells that might work (but I really don't recommend as their synergy with Garen is not as high during their use with this champion) may be Flash to replace Ghost Walk for that instant reach or quick escape mechanism. Or Ignite for more killing power and to stop health regenerating powers of champions like Mundo or Fiddlesticks.

This is just an observation. From the games I have played, Garen really lacks crowd control other tanks have, like Amumu or Galio, so taking Exhaust will add a little bit of crowd control to his arsenal. So taking Exhaust over Ignite may be a better a choice (at least for me) as he doesn't have the necessary skills to disable enemies with aside from his silence.

For Ghost Walk over Flash, my reasoning is that while Flash can allow you to go over walls and make a quick distance jump, in overall chasing and escaping mechanism, you may lose out if you get hit by a crowd control skill, giving enemies a chance to catch up to you or escape from you.

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For masteries I place it at 9/0/21.

For the offensive tree I get Deadliness, Cripple, Sorcery, and Archaic Knowledge, more critical chance for damage in Judgment, Cripple as I normally bring Exhaust as a summoner spell as well as the additional effects this mastery can bring with the spell, Sorcery for more cooldown reduction, and Archaic Knowledge to allow his ultimate to a little bit more damage.

For the utility tree, I bring Haste to augment Ghost Walk. Perseverance to augment his passive and overall staying power in the laning phase. Good Hands is a bit self-explanatory for those little mishaps if you die early on. Awareness to let you level yourself up faster for your skills and status gains. Greed for that little extra trickle of gold from the start of the match. Utility Mastery for extended duration of buffs. Quickness for more movement speed for chasing, and escaping. Intelligence for the cooldown reduction as his skill are mostly the bread and butter of his damage output. Lastly, Presence of the Master so you can drop your summoner spells more often.

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Skill Sequence

For skill sequence I level Judgment first as it's Garen's highest sustained damage skill. Next is Decisive Strike for that quick burst damage and silence. I take a point in Courage at level 4 for the extra armor and magic resist, but is the last one to master as the bonus armor and magic resist is now flat for all levels and a good 20% in damage reduction should be enough to pull you through most of the game. As always, take Demacian Justice whenever available.

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I start with a Doran's Blade. My reason is that with the extra 100 hit points plus the flat health Quintessences will jump Garen 455 HP to 633. A rather respectable amount. My second reason for taking this item is the plus 10 damage. With this item at Level 1, Garen's Judgment will do 72 damage per second, and if land all three seconds, will deal a full 216 damage (not counting armor reduction of course). This also works nicely with his Decisive Strike for more burst damage for the early phase of the game. Also the lifesteal helps for more staying power.
*Note:* Have yet to properly debunk if lifesteal actually stacks with Q skill, but current observations seem to point to that it does.

My second item would be regular boots. Garen is a bit slow, even with masteries, don't rely to much on his first skill to pull through all the time, sustained speed with this would be a better option.

If you have been doing well in lane. You may also want to get another Doran's Blade for more damage, health and life steal. If not one or two health potions will suffice in keeping you in lane longer for more farming. If you want neither then it is fine to save for the next item.

My next item would be a Giant's Belt for more health followed by a chain vest for armor. I quickly build this into a Sunfire Cape. This way, just standing around helps in giving damage. You can easily get assist this way as well. Also, it also helps in farming and can bring Garen's health to around the 1500 health mark by level 6.

My next item would be Atma's Impaler. This allows you to take advantage of your health to allow you to deal more damage with Judgment and Decisive Strike, as well as giving you more armor. I take the Cloak of Agility first followed by the Chain Vest. If you can get this by level 10 then Garen will be doing nearly 300 damage per second on his Judgment while his Decisive Strike will gain a nice bonus damage as well.

The next item would be Warmog's, again this will allow you to take advantage of the Atma's Impaler, as well giving yourself more health and health regeneration power to run around with.

The Doran's Blade(s) {which you will sell later to make room for your last item}, Boots of Speed, Sunfire Cape, and Atma's Impaler are the core items of the build that I normally use. As the game progresses I build accordingly.

For the boots I normally take Mercury Treads or Ninja Tabi, it depends on whether the enemy team kills are being made by an AD or AP champion. If however, there are many CCs in the enemy team lineup, I normally take Mercury Treads. Rarely do I ever get the others.

Ionian Boots of Lucidity may be useful but it does not work all the time, I only get this if the enemy team has only 1 - 2 CCs and that includes summoner spells, and even with that little CCs I still am iffy on getting this pair of footwear. Boots of Quickness may be useful for speed, but there are other items (as well) as your spells and your Decisive Strike that can grant you that quick speed boost. Boots of Mobility is not that useful as you are not a jungler and won't be roaming enough or have an invisibility to make full use of it. Berserker's Greaves, well, as a Garen, you will normally putting out damage through skills and less through physical attacks.


For the last three items it is a toss up for two of the following:
Warmog's Armor, Randuin's Omen, Force of Nature, Banshee's Veil, or Youmuu's Ghostblade.

Warmog's Armor:
My usual choice right after Atma's Impaler. It gives a lot of health and with Atma's can give some bonus damage that can be used with his skills. The bonus health regeneration also is a boon for those travel and lull times between big fights.

Randuin's Omen:
If the enemy team is AD dependent (or reliant) then I would take Randuin's Omen, again for more health to give to Atma's Impaler, as well as the armor, health regeneration, and the ability to slow multiple champions nearby.

Force of Nature:
If the enemy team is AP reliant, I would take a Force of Nature, giving the much needed Magic Resist, as well as the bonus health regeneration and movement speed buff.

Banshee's Veil:
It is useful as it gives more health (again for Atma's Impaler), magic resist, as well as the spell shield every 45 seconds can stop at least one negative effect spell.

Youmuu's Ghostblade:
It gives more damage and critical strike chance for more damage output with Judgment. It also gives a 15% cooldown reduction, and together with the masteries give a 24% cooldown reduction to allow Garen to drop his skills faster. Also, it allows for more chasing and/or escaping due to its active skill and the armor penetration with ruins can be brought to a near 35 number value. Making his Judgment and Decisive Strike hurt even more.

*Note:* If you use Youmuu's in conjuction with Ionian boots of lucidity, you will be able to toss in your skills more often, but at the cost of a bit of survivability.

Normally, my last two item picks are Youmuu's Ghostblade and Force of Nature.


There are two items I have used before that I did not include in this guide as it does not seem to reap enough benefits.

The first is Infinity Edge. Now, while this can stack with Judgment extremely well, it still does not allow enough utility. It gives you more damage but that is all, unlike Atma's Impaler which can give armor as well as bonus damage based on health (meaning that getting more health giving items will help your damage output) or even Youmuu's, as it give armor pen, CDR as well as a speed boost. I am thinking whether or not to incorporate it in the guide.

Another is Leviathan. First is that it gives less health than Warmog's Armor, period, even at twenty stacks. Warmog's gives more even without stacks. Now, while the 15% damage reduction is tempting, as when used with a fully leveled Courage can reduce damage by roughly 51% this can only be done for three seconds. Still, it is also up for debate in my guide. For now, I still figure Leviathan not as useful as compared to Warmog's Armor.

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Laning (Farming)

For farming, this guide will only include the side lanes, as of yet I still need to practice trying to mid with this champion in a viable manner.

Okay, for farming, you have to understand an important detail for the side lane. Don't forget to use the brush. Now, you probably heard the Garen-Brush jokes all over the internet and other sources, but to be quite honest it is quite useful. Just go in, pop out to last hit, and pop back in to hide.

The reason(s):
1. Using brush will allow to lower the chance or completely erase the drawing of minion aggro every time you enter bush.

2. Lessens potential harassment from the enemy.

3. Enemies won't know what you are doing in the brush. This can allow you to zone your enemies if you know how.

4. Can give you time for Perseverance to kick in for you to regenerate lost health.

5. Can give you the chance to harass yourself if you can get close enough.

For Farming:
1. Use brush (see above paragraph)

2. Decisive Strike and Judgment can be used for farming. Don't be too stingy, Garen is a cooldown hero, he can use his skill as often as he likes (well, almost anyway).

3. Sunfire Cape + Judgment can allow you to farm creeps faster.

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Garen in Game

When playing Garen you have to understand that your role as bruiser is two-fold. First, you want to be able to soak almost everything the enemy throws at you. Second, you have to present yourself as a threat that can't be allowed to be ignored. The purpose is that if they ignore you, they'll pay for it, and if they do try to kill you, it will take some effort to do so, allowing your team to attack unmolested.

As a character with potential AD burst damage, you normally target AP carries or supports. Though you have understand your silence is very useful in certain situation. Any skill that uses a channel can be cancelled, and in some cases, the 2.5 second duration may be necessary to tip the skill in your favor. Use it to disrupt (as well as damage), but seldom initiate with it. Sometimes delaying a Rammus from taunting, or Cho'gath from using his own AOE silence at the fight can tip the balance a little further. Seeing as you truly have no CC, baring your silence, you will have to rely on the exhaust spell, and or Randuin's Omen for any type of CC if you do get it. Knowing when to use these will be critical.

Due to this item build's potential soaking powers, along with Courage, you are able to charge into the clash headfirst, but remember, you are NOT INVINCIBLE, NOT A ONE-MAN ARMY, you WILL need your allies to back you up for successful kills.

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Team Work

Using Garen with a true tank like Amumu, Alistair, or Rammus has a lot of potential. As they will have the necessary CC and initiation powers you lack. Support champions also work well with Garen, like Janna and her Howling Gale for more potential damage and hardiness. Karma can also work with her (exploding) shield and her spirit. Also, champions with stuns or snares, or other types of CC can allow you the chance to catch up and potentially kill them if possible.

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End of Guide....

For now that is my guide. I hope you found it useful. I will update again whenever possible.

Thank You for your time in reading this guide.