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Garen Build Guide by FSat

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League of Legends Build Guide Author FSat

Garen CAN Carry [Pre-S7 (6.24)] [Matchups Chapter Included]

FSat Last updated on Yesterday
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VS AD/AP - EXPERTS Build

[VS]

Alternative Builds

Ability Sequence

1
5
8
9
12
Ability Key Q
3
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
2
4
7
10
13
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R

Masteries

Fury
 
 
5/
Sorcery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vampirism
 
 
5/
Natural Talent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Battering Blows
 
 
Piercing Thoughts
 
 
 
 

Offense: 12

Wanderer
 
 
Savagery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Merciless
 
 
Meditation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Precision
 
 
Intelligence
 
 
 
 

Defense: 0

Recovery
 
 
5/
Unyielding
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5/
Runic Armor
 
 
Veteran's Scars
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5/
Swiftness
 
 
Legendary Guardian
 
 
 
 

Utility: 18


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Introduction: who is Garen? Patch 6.22? Season 7?



Hello, readers!
Garen is a tanky, high damage AD Caster who fits toplane's requirements perfectly, he has high base statistics, good scalings and amazing sustainability, and his main reason of existance is his capability to make his way through crowds of enemies in order to kill the most dangerous ones the enemy team has; his kit is well suited for this role, but it does need the help of some specific items, that we'll cover in this guide for sure!
Apart from his ADC/APC Reaper role, Garen suits well the role of a regular tank aswell, thanks to his Courage and his amazing passive ability: Perseverance, although he lacks an engage, which can make him less useful than other tanks: be aware of this when picking champions, a team without engages is often a team that gets poked down too easily before teamfights start!
Garen is often Built full AD with only one or two defensive items, although this build does work, it's much less gold-efficient, and can turn into a waste of time if you don't get fed enough to realize it, plus remember a tanky champion is always more useful than a full AD one to the team in most cases!
With all this being said, let's get into the core details of this guy!

I have removed all the season 6 related stuff from this section and will commit to update it for Pre-S7 and S7

Questions and Answers


  • When will you update Masteries?
    The masteries section is finally updated!
  • Garen will be buffed in patch 6.24/7.1!
    It's done! Garen shreds armor! More on this in the Abilities section!
  • Does Armorpen Garen still exist? Will it work?
    Lethality retains only 40% of the old Base Armorpen so it is indeed less effective. The level at which Lethality gets on par is Level 18.
    So I'd expect the Lethality Garen build to survive, especially considering the addition of items like Edge of Night who actually provides similar stats to the old Maw although it's much more offensive than the Maw itself. The effectiveness it provides will probably be more of a limited factor. Let's face it: Lethality is worse on Garen than Armorpen in the early game and that means less easy kills, but I think a skilled player can still stack up the fair 60-70 Lethality and kill squishies just fine. I think it'll just be harder because we won't transition as tanky as before.
    At least, with the new armorshred we get built in, the armorpen garen build actually shines a bit better in mid-late! :D
  • Tank Garen in Season 7? What's its destiny?
    Tank Garen will probably be back to a high standard in this season. If the assassins become meta over 100% that means tanks will also get buffs to balance the classes out, which means an old-school Black Cleaver Full Tank Garen can probably still do his job, maybe a bit better. Assassins in the current meta won't be able to penetrate bonus armor easily, and many less will get the Maw of Malmortius, which means your ult will be a nuke few targets can sustain.
    I think the normal recommended build will probably stay the same, Maw now gives CDR, so a Black Cleaver + Spirit Visage + Maw will provide fair damage throughout the game and amazing sustainability, and also get us to 40% cdr in all games at ease.
  • Can Garen beat assassins?
    Garen will most definetly beat most AD assassins in lane, the ranged ones will still be an issue, and I'm afraid if you face a good Katarina you'll get dunked in mid-game. The only condition we need to make sure stays up is armor. Assassins need Lethality to work, and if they get Black Cleaver they won't manage squishies well. If you find yourself against one, stack up some early armor BEFORE getting damage items and you'll be fine most of the time.
  • Will Garen be in the meta?
    I think Garen and the Juggernouts are always in the meta. Kitability is a problem an experienced Garen player should be able to counter and this guide gives alot of means to do so. With assassins becoming more powerful Riot will most likely buff tanks too and Garen falls into the category and all its benefits, so I really think it'll be a good season for us.


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Pros / Cons

Pros

+ Great sustain paired with increasing tankiness!
+ Good base damage even after the update!
+ One of the best lategame carry-deleter thanks to his kit and the new "Villain" mechanic!
+ Overall good mobility and cc resistance
+ Good anti-tank thanks to the true damage he received from the update!
+ Only limited by his cooldowns!
+ Good team utility
Garen's base statistics are very very good and will give you a great edge in Early-Mid Game against most toplaners and junglers, that in conjunction with your passive ability's unique sustain will make you a real bully in your lane, a strong individual who beats people, while being hard to takedown and almost impossible to force out of lane! But that's not it! Garen's damage and tankiness allow him to turn into a very big pain for enemy carries, only limited by cooldowns thanks to him being manaless!





Cons

- Easy to kite
- His kit lacks crowd control (Silence is good but not enough!)
- Kill potential is not the same on all targets due to the new "Villain" mechanic
- Overall low mobility: speed boost is nice but the lack of a blink or jump forces us to use flash
- Manaless means many items are not gold efficient on him, which is sad
Unfortunately, Garen isn't as OP as people who can't deal with him claim, he definetly is good, but he has his flaws, no gap closing (easy to kite), no hard cc (people will always have a chance to run from him), he is unfortunately forced to choose between a limited amount of items due to gold efficiency. Many of these flaws can be fixed during the game, but it requires you to play well and use him to his full potential: follow this guide, and you'll do it for sure, I promise! ;).


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YouTube Guide + Montage with best kills and plays!

This is the video that contains all the basic information needed to play Garen well, if you don't have time to read the full guide, this is the video for you! Even if you already did read the guide, make sure you watch the video, as it shows visually many of the things explained here!


And this one is a montage I worked on for a while, full of nice kills and plays such as me winning 1v2s and engaging 1v5s, stuff like that, check it out: it's amazing :)


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Runes

Runes

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
9

Greater Seal of Armor
9

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
1

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
2

Greater Mark of Scaling Attack Damage
9

Standard rune page



  • 1x Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage : Works well with Garen: you already have a good base attack damage and boosting it will allow you to farm easier and, thanks to your abilities' good scalings, it will make your early game trades much more devastating!
  • 2x Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed : They nerfed Garen's base movement speed and his Decisive Strike's bonus movement speed, plus they removed boots' enchantments, the percentage movespeed from these quints is now golden, and I find myself loving the extra mobility, as it makes it extremely hard to just run away from Justice, if you know what I mean... ;)
  • 9x Greater Mark of Scaling Attack Damage: Another boost to your attack damage, it will stack up with your quints and Garen's base stats, but scaling. This means harder lasthits in the early game, but more damage in mid-late which is very valuable for us since we mostly build tankiness. Nothing really special here, though if you feel like you have too much trouble lasthitting, it may be worth taking flat AD marks instead.
  • 9x Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist : AP champions usually don't have that much AP early game, so you don't need to have a huge amount of magic resist so early in the game, while much more will be necessary as the game progresses, since we're trying to be as tanky as we can while still dealing a lot of damage, we'll need this boost as it will help us, along with defensive masteries, in tanking pokes easier, and more consistently.
  • 9x Greater Seal of Armor : Same thing as the glyphs, except this time we take seals of armor and not scaling armor, why? Simple: toplane is mostly populated by AD champions, and even if you're against an AP, their early game autoattacks (especially if ranged) can be a problem to you, having more armor early to stack up with your boost granted by Courage as the game progresses is going to silently help you. Sure, scaling armor may have been nice to be tankier in lategame, but I think that APCs have a much more pronounced tendency to burst people, so I leave the scaling to the glyphs only.

Other possibilites worth considering



As a good summoner, you may have different ways to adapt your playstile to specific champions, and I feel the need to respect that as the guide writer, so here are other alternatives that you can consider with Garen!

  • 9x Greater Mark of Attack Damage: The flat alternative to the marks I'm currently using. I think it's pretty obvious that these won't make a huge difference in late, but make a huge difference in the early laning phase, slightly better trades and much better lasthits may suit you better and farming better always pays off. Definetly go for these marks if you find you need them to lasthit properly early on.
  • 9X Greater Seal of Scaling Armor: You scale with passive stats, with your Courage passive bonus, if you get these seals you'll turn incredibly tanky by lategame even if you focus on damage first. There is a MAJOR downside to these runes and that is that in the early game you'll definetly take a lot more damage than you normally would if you are used to the non-scaling seals. Keep this in mind and these runes will be your favourite above the flat ones :)
  • 9X Greater Mark of Lethality: This one is actually a very good alternative, since armor penetration can change the way your damage is dealt and make you much more dangerous during the early laning phase, plus its benefits should remain evident enough (if you pick 9 of these) even during the transition between early game and midgame, there is only one problem: last-hitting becomes harder, especially if you didn't bring 3 quints of AD. If you can get a feel for last-hitting even with these, then it's fine to take all 9 of them.
  • 2x Greater Quintessence of Armor : They can take the place of the seals if you needed them to give you a different stat, scaling health for example. You could stack up seals and quintessences but I'd honestly recommend against using two colors for the same stat unless it's the 15 AD page that I have stopped using a long time ago and has been removed from the guide accordingly :) Pair these with 9x greaters seal of scaling health to keep the early tankiness. Only grab 2 though. A good Garen runes page MUST have at least 1x quintessence of movement speed.
  • 9X Greater Seal of Scaling Health: Nice against champions with flat true damage like Irelia or Darius. You can pair these with 2 quintessences of armor/magic resist (based on lane) and scale into lategame at ease against high flat true damage compositions without compromising early tankiness.

So in general, you can pick scaling runes over flat runes, or viceversa depending on how much you care about early game or late game. I generally prefer using runes to give Garen a boost to his early game, and give more power to his scalings, remember his abilities scale from his AD, and due to Courage not boosting bonus armor and magic resist anymore, he needs more help early in order to be as much of a bully as possible!


Guide Top

Masteries

Masteries
5/5
1/1
5/5
1/1
5/5
1/1
5/5
1/1
5/5
1/1
12 FEROCITY 18 RESOLVE

PATCH 6.22 AND NEW MASTERIES: Yep, masteries have changed alot. I'm working constantly on keeping the guide as uptaded as possible and I'm trying really hard to find the best setups for you guys. Alternative setups may show up here in the future, but when you come here to read the guide, keep in mind the best one I can recommend at the time you're reading is the one at the beginning of the guide. Check back every now and then to see if I changed something! :)




Garen is tanky. Insanely tanky. And what you must do when playing with him is have tanky masteries, no matter how you'll build him, the added tankiness these masteries will give you is going to help you greatly.
For Offensive Masteries we take damage increases on our spells and some extra AD scaling that will help us get more dangerous over time. Rest of offensive masteries is just a regular boost to your damage over the course of the game, nothing special there.
The defensive masteries consist of a boost to our general defenses (armor + magic resist) both in defensive stances (under turret) and in fights. Grasp stays the best keystone for laning phase and helps us survive longer in extended skirmishes in lategame aswell.
Q: Sure that 12/0/18 is the right way to go? Would 18/0/12 work aswell?
// It probably would, but the keystones offered as of right now are simply not worth considering on Garen. A good offensive Mastery setup is the one shown in the EXPERTS BUILD which I recommend you only check out after you have mastered Tank Garen.

Old Stuff I won't remove for nostalgic purposes.


In case you ever wondered how AD Garen VS Tanky Garen (PRE-REWORK) (21/9/0 VS /7/23/0) would look like, the video below shows it :)


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Summoner Spells

Flash
// Teleport in the direction of your cursor
Flash is the best summoner spell on Garen (in my opinion) because it gives him the instant teleport ability (a.k.a. engage) that he lacks, and can also be used to escape quickly and over walls if necessary.


Ignite
// Lights up an enemy on fire, dealing a certain amount of true damage for 5 seconds
Ignite is an amazing spell for Garen: it's an useful way to finish off enemies that are escaping from you pre-level 6, and it will couple very well with your Demacian Justice after you hit level 6. Nothing prvents you from using Ignite on an enemy and then Demacian Justice on another enemy, to get a double kill, just make sure you are a good calculator and you'll do this often! ;) Don't forget that you can also use it on high lifesteal/healing targets, to half their regeneration.

Other viable summoner spells



Teleport
Teleport will allow you to teleport to a tower/ward/friendly minion
Teleport is a very common summoner spell for toplaners and Garen isn't an exception, the ability to back, shop and then pop out of your turret/minion is really nice. Not to mention the fact that it's amazing to just come out of a ward in a teamfight, turning the odds to your favor: a tank that appears all of a sudden can change things, especially if he's Garen! Why don't I pick it then? Simple, Ignite will allow you to snowball if used properly: it's just too good on Garen. In general, I'd say you should pick Teleport instead of Ignite against ranged enemies that will force you to recall often, or in case you are the only tank in your team and all of your teammates are squishy and need your presence often mid-lategame
Also, teleport beats ignite if you are in a 5 man Ranked with people you can communicate with. That makes every teleport count unless you guys are terrible at cooperating, into which case I'd recommend you get better premade friends to play with if you want to win and climb elo ^_^

Ghost
Ghost will boost your movement speed for a limited amount of time and will make you ignore unit collisions
Ghost can be seen by a Garen player in 2 ways...
[1] A boost that will stack up with your Decisive Strike and an unit collision ignoring spell that will stack up with your Judgment, an all in all good chasing spell that has a lower CD than Flash and can be used to escape aswell;
[2] Something that will add up with your champion abilities but won't fix one of the cons Garen has: your engage. You already have a movement speed boost thanks to Decisive Strike after all, so another "walking" spell won't change your game much.
It's as usual a preference matter, though to me the instant teleport Flash can give you will make a bigger difference most of the time.

Exhaust
// Will reduce enemy movement speed, attack speed and damage output for a limited amount of time
Troll lanes exist, hard lanes exist and this spell can help you when trying to stick someone that always runs away to the ground ( Vayne, Teemo, etc...), so you can deal more damage and increase your kill potential. It works in very specific cases though, and sacrificing Flash for this may leave you with less possibilities in different situations, while sacrificing Ignite/Teleport for this also isn't lovely. You can use this spell if you want, but I generally don't recommend you do.


Guide Top

Skill Sequence, tips and combos

After the gameplay update of patch 5.16, Garen's kit has undergone quite a few changes. Most of the base mechanics stay the same, though there are some new mechanics that increase his lategame strength against carries alot and unfortunately nerf his early game by quite a bit.
THAT is the reason why we don't max Judgment first anymore. The base damage increase is negligible to begin with, and the AD scaling is insane only when you get extra spins (at levels 4/7/10/13/16, plus, Garen's early game full trading potential is much lower, making an autoattack+Q harrass more valuable than a full combo in a lot of cases. This means that we now use the Q/E split MarineRevenge himself recommended me some weeks ago. We spend a point into Judgment at level 2, then we ONLY spend points into it when we get an extra spin, (again, levels 4, 7, 10, 13), maxing it on level 13. This means prior to level 13 we get a huge boost in mobility, better harrass and more ganking and escaping power, and at level 13 we are exactly the same as we were with the old skill order.
FYI MarineRevenge is the best Garen on the NA server, so this isn't information I just picked up in the trash, besides, I tried this split myself and it's extremely effective, one more reason to abuse its power.






Perseverance: Garen's new most (IN)famous ability: his sustain passive. Why did I say new? It's been buffed. ALOT.
Let's get deep into this shall we?

-From level 1 to level 11:

Takes 9 seconds of no damage from monsters and champions to activate, and will heal Garen of 0.4% of his health every second until a champion or ANY jungle monster attacks Garen

=From level 11 to level 16:

Will now take 6 seconds of no damage from champions and epic monsters to activate, and will heal Garen of 0.8% of his health every second until a champion or ONLY an epic monster (Dragon, Baron Nashor) attacks Garen

+From level 16 to the end of the game:

Will now only take 4 seconds of no damage from champions and epic monsters to activate, and will heal Garen of 2% of his health every second until a champion or ONLY an epic monster (Dragon, Baron Nashor) attacks Garen

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view



Decisive Strike: This is going to ALWAYS be your first unlocked ability because it's simply too good of a level 1: it will give you a 30% speed boost for a specified amount of time, has slightly increase basic attack range, will deal lots of bonus damage and silence your target on hit, and will get you clear of ALL SLOWS (and slows ONLY) at activation (and at activation ONLY). If you hit the enemy team's Villain, Decisive Strike will also deal 1% of his/her max health as bonus TRUE DAMAGE.

Keep in mind that damage and speed boost duration will grow with levels of the ability, however the speed boost's intensity WON'T.

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view



Courage: Courage is the reason why Garen is so tanky thanks both to its passive, and its active.
Passive: Garen gains 0.25 armor and magic resist permanently when killing any unit.
Active: Incoming damage is reduced by 30% while active (this includes physical damage, magic damage and tower damage).
You're going to want to max out Courage last, because upgrading the ability will only reduce it's cooldown and increase the duration of the active buffs it grants while activated.
Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view




Judgment: Judgment is your main damage source: activating it will make Garen spin for 3 seconds dealing AOE physical damage over those 3 seconds. The speed of the spin increases automatically and permanently at levels 1/4/7/10/13/16, meaning Garen will hit more times in those 3 seconds: he will hit 5/6/7/8/9/10 times. If Judgment hits the enemy team's Villain, it will deal 1% of their maximum health as bonus TRUE DAMAGE per hit, for a potential total of 10% of their max health at level 16.
Judgment deals 25% less damage if it hits more than one person.
Garen ignores collisions while spinning.
Judgment can critically strike, dealing 150% damage.
Canceling Judgment earlier refunds part of its cooldown.
[6.24]: Enemies hit by 4 ticks of Judgment lose 25% of their armor for 6 seconds, refreshing every time they are hit again by it.

Great ability, much worse after the juggernouts rework during the early phases of the game, but still our main damage spell for the mid-lategame. With the addition of built-in armorshred it brings a lot of danger to tanks too and allows for up to 60% amorshred in a very quick succession due to the speed at which it'll stack up Black Cleaver stacks in lategame :D

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view




Demacian Justice: Your Ultimate Ability is (in my opinion, but many will agree) the best finisher in the game, as it's impossible to dodge once channelled, deals damage based on something that can't be countered and is extremely cool to watch! ;D
It has both a Passive and an Active effect.
Passive: the enemy with the most recent kills will be marked as the "Villain". Garen's abilities and basic attacks used on him/her will deal a percentage of his/her maximum health as bonus TRUE DAMAGE (read specific abilities for more info).
Active: The ability will deal a specified amount of Magic Damage (DOES NOT scale from AD/AP), plus more damage scaling from the enemies' missing health. If used on the enemy's Villain it will deal TRUE DAMAGE instead of Magic Damage.I really recommend you check the ability's official page here to see raw stats and realize how powerful this ability really is!

You're going to max Demacian Justice every time you can, as it's one of the best abilities in your kit and one of the most powerful ones in the game.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view



Skill/Spell Combos



There are many possible combos that you can use, here are the most efficient ones that WILL include also summoner spells.

Spoiler: Click to view


Why is the silence nerf not so relevant?(OUTDATED, DIDN'T REMOVE IT BECAUSE IT WAS COOL AS A MATH EXAMPLE)


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Starting Items and Mid Game items

Possible starts (Universal)



Doran's Shield
Because Garen won't receive bonus armor and magic resist from Courage anymore, this item just turned a little more useful. Because of gold efficiency and Garen's still pretty goos natural tankiness I would continue to recommend other starts. Besides, this item stays one of the best for beginners, as it does provide good early lane stats.

Cloth Armor
Because Garen won't receive bonus aror from his Courage, starting with this item isn't as effective as it was beore, but the truth is that it is still a ver reliable start against AD casters and basic attackers. Not only will it give you more armor to stack up with the flat amount you now earn from farming with Courage it also allows for amazing sustain in lane thanks to the 4 health Potions.

Long Sword
This start is mostly useful when your lane opponent tends to be tankier than you early game and makes you risk death due to him outtrading you (people like Shen or Malphite are in this category). It also helps you in last hitting which has a huge value. I normally prefer defensive starts but this start should not let you down regardless.

Boots of Speed
This is the main start you will want when you are fighting against a ranged enemy or a mage. You are melee and you need the speed boost to make sure your Decisive Strike lands, allowing a full burst to happen. They also to towards Mercury's Treads which are often the first item you will finish against a ranged/heavy cc enemy! Plus 4 pots are a great tool in lane, and this start allows you to get them!

Ruby Crystal
Healthy start which just turned more effective after the gameplay update. Due to Courage not boosting flat resistances anymore, getting early health to boost your resistance and passive is a great plan. Mostly effective against melee ap enemies ( Ekko or Akali and similars), the item goes towards The Black Cleaver, meaning you can start with it when you know you will have a big advantage in lane too.



Items for the rest of Laning Phase and the Mid Game



Chain Vest
This will be your go-to item for AD lanes, it only gives you armor, and it builds into most of the defensive items you may need for the midgame and the lategame. Not much to write here, the item is good and you can pretty much build it every time you are facing an AD based toplaner.

Warden's Mail
This item is similar to the Chain Vest but transitions into Randuin's Omen only and provides a basic attack slowing passive, meaning you should build it against enemies that are:
1) Basic attack/attack speed based, because we want the passive to be a factor, the 5 extra armor point aren't worth the extra coin if the enemy is an AD caster
2) Crit focused, because when we get Randuin's Omen that's what we'll try to counter
So in general you can focus on this item if you're facing enemies like Yasuo or Tryndamere to reduce their damage output by quite a bit.

Spectre's Cowl
Essential item against AP focused toplaners which provides great tanky stats and counters the poke/harrass tendency that APCs have with their abilities. You should build this item in every balanced game as it will turn into Spirit Visage, giving it priority if you're against an AP based enemy like Teemo or Vladimir.


Phage
This item is a good early game mixed one. Gives you a good amount of AD and a good amount of health to go with, plus a passive that further boosts your engage by activating after you land a Decisive Strike or a basic attack. Sometimes you can even basic attack, then proceeding with Decisive Strike for extra movement speed! This is the main damage source you will want because it turns into the Black Cleaver.

Executioner's Calling
Damage and Grevious Wounds to counter your enemy laner's sustain. Not too gold efficient and can be useless if you know how to manage your Ignite properly. Should you have Teleport and be against a heavy sustain enemy like Vladimir or Volibear, then this item is a blessing that you'll only be able to afford if you manage to get the coin to buy this AND a defensive item. As you may expect it's not that easy, but if you farm properly it won't be an issue for sure. I just don't think this item is a good "every game" item for Garen.

Serrated Dirk
AD + armorpen, that's the brutalizer (weaker) for you. This item goes towards Edge of Night or Youmuu's Ghostblade. It's a very good item if you get ahead a Low difficulty matchup, or when you get extremely far ahead of your enemies.

Hexdrinker
An item that basically merges damage with resistance and is very helpful against AP enemies top. Picking this item against low CC APs top is basically buying a ticked to win the lane (an example is Vladimir). It's a big amount of AD, a great amount of MR and a great passive (a shield) that will allow you to trade when you would normally have to back off (this often catches enemies off guard, and allows you to get free kills you'd normally not get). It's not ALWAYS the best damage item to pick against APCs but it's helpful in most lanes. MORE ON THIS IN MATCHUPS SECTION. THANKS TO USER "SREEN" FOR RECOMMENDING THIS ITEM!

Kindlegem
Health + CDR. 2 stats Garen benefits from greatly, and because this item turns into Spirit Visage, this item is a true jewel. You can purchase it once you have some flat resistances (Armor and Magic Resistange) and an offensive item like those listed above in your inventory. Picking the item you want to turn your Kindlegem into can be situational because it now goes also towards Warmog's Armor which is a pretty neat item, and also towards the Ohmwrecker which I love if I get ahead. More on this below and in the Matchups section.

Giant's Belt
An item that provides lots of health, and turns into many defensive items over the course of the game, like Dead Man's Plate or Randuin's Omen. We normally prioritize flat resistances like Armor and Magic Resistance for the early game, but once those are set up, and you got a Phage or an Hexdrinker (depends on the enemy you're facing) in your inventory, you can build some extra health, taking this in case of an AD lane.

Bami's Cinder
Health and an AoE magic damage passive. This item turns into Sunfire Cape and deals a fair amount of magic damage per second to all the enemies close to you. This means that if you buy it too early, you may end up pushing your lane alot, denying yourself farm and exposing to ganks. However, there are lanes in which this item is pure gold. For example, say you're fighting a Darius or a Renekton who's built a Chain Vest and clearly wants to go towards Dead Man's Plate or sunfire, this build will protect him from alot of your physical damage, by building Bami's Cinder you complement your kit with some extra magic damage which can help you greatly in trades. Or you're facing a very good Riven who always tanks your damage using her shield, by building this item you'll damage her whenever she tries to trade with you and counter her shield, because it only lasts a few seconds.
So in general, you want to build this item against an AD focused enemy who's building tanky to counter you.

Jaurim's fist
Good laning phase item that makes you go through the mid-game relatively well too. It provides health that scales up with every unit kill (exactly the same thing as your W's passive component) at a rate of 5 health points per unit killed. Is this an "every game" item? No. It gives 150 health off the bat (not that much) and only gets gold efficient provided you're managing to farm alot, and this just doesn't always apply, especially if you're not having an easy time in lane. The 25 AD is indeed 10 more than the Phage gives you but you must keep in mind the Phage also provides mobility and goes toward an item you need to rush as fast as possible once you got your defenses setup, buying Jaurim's Fist can delay The Black Cleaver and that isn't something you can always do lightly.
With that being said, you should build this item against low true damage based enemies (like Irelia or Olaf (enemies that deal true damage but in a very small amount).


Executioner's Calling
Damage and Grevious Wounds to counter your enemy laner's sustain. Not too gold efficient and can be useless if you know how to manage your Ignite properly. Should you have Teleport and be against a heavy sustain enemy like Vladimir or Volibear, then this item is a blessing that you'll only be able to afford if you manage to get the coin to buy this AND a defensive item. As you may expect it's not that easy, but if you farm properly it won't be an issue for sure. I just don't think this item is a good "every game" item for Garen.


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Core Items

CORE ITEMS FOR ALMOST EVERY SINGLE GAME



The Black Cleaver
CORE
Best and only really mandatory damage item you will ever want on Garen. It gives AD, health, cooldown reduction which are all gold perks for the G-man. Besides, the two passives are amazing aswell, the armor shred is a huge deal for enemies as they will be weaker to you and to all your physical damage based teammates. The "rage" passive is also perfect in your kit, as it will allow you to stick to enemies you engage much more easily, providing extra mobility! This item is pure gold on Garen and it's always safe. You can build it in any game in any condition.
Also, with the addition of innate armor reduction on Garen's [[judgment], you can shred the enemies's armor up to 60% with this item, meaning they will take much more damage from every ad focused champion on your team.

Youmuu's Ghostblade
Damage, cdr, armorpen, mobility. Pretty awesome right?
Sure we don't get any tankiness and that's why I don't think youmuu's is as important as a Black Cleaver, but it's definetly up there with it. If the enemy team doesn't stack up armor, or you are going for the flat armorpen build, get this item as your first main damage item. It's obviously not that great of a choice if the enemy team is too far ahead, due to no tankiness, in that case it's best to get the Black Cleaver, but if you're ahead, go on and get this item no problem.


Boots



Ninja tabi
More amor and auto-attack damage reduction is nice, and they cost less than Mercury's Treads, so in case you are fighting an AD enemy and you don't wanna wait for your next back to have boots, you can buy these. Maybe swap them for Mercury's Treads mid-lategame, because you need Tenacity for teamfights much more than you'll need auto-attack damage reduction. However this isn't true if the enemy team has 2 or more autoattack based champions like Tryndamere or Yasuo or Olaf

Mercury's Treads
Yes, they cost more than Ninja Tabi and won't block auto-attack damage, but their passive will boost your resistance to hard CCs even higher than it is by default, making you almost unstoppable: when you decide someoene dies, SOMEONE WILL DIE. In addition, you also get some more MR, which is always nice ^_^. This is why I tend to prefer these over Ninja Tabi often, especially because Tenacity is just broken on Garen

Boots of Swiftness
These boots are golden on Garen when you're facing a ranged opponent, no matter if he's AD based or AP based ( Vayne, Jayce, Teemo, etc...). They'll make you faster than your enemy, allowing you to close the gap faster and hit them more often, leaving them with less chances of escaping, sometimes this makes up for the lack of defenses these boots suffer from. Regardless, after patch 5.17, with the base speed reduction and the Q's speed buff nerf, these boots turn more viable for lanes that favour you. ATTENTION, though! If your enemies have lots of CCs, Mercury's Treads beat these boots, Tenacity is better than raw speed in this case!



Core ARMOR Items



Dead Man's Plate
Brilliant item for Garen. Armor (a good amount too), Health, passive movement speed, a potential slow (huge addition on Garen's kit) and extra damage on a basic attack. If you have 100 stacks and activate Decisive Strike you will move as fast as a car and hit like a truck for a huge amount of damage, which is brilliant both in laning phase and in mid-late game. The item is also relatively cheap, this is also a great reason to build it first often, a cheap item with good stats and brilliant passives that make Garen get stronger in all his aspects fits the definition of first item in my opinion. Just read this full section as sometimes you may prefer other first items.

Sunfire Cape
This item is very good on Garen, it will add armor, health and a magic damage passive, which is very useful on a champion entirely based on AD like Garen, as it will surprise opponents who'll build armor to avoid damage from you. As many say, and they're right, it's a core item for you and you should be building this in most of your games, but there are also games in which you may prefer other solutions, depending on the role you want to fill in your team.

Randuin's Omen
An item similar to Sunfire Cape in its base stats but different in its target, to help you choose between this and Sunfire there is a small paragraph below. This item has recently been nerfed and changed in some ways. The nerf on armor is not too big of a hit, as 60 is still a good amount to go with, but the nerf on health is a bigger deal, with it, Randuin's now gives less health than a full Sunfire Cape. The new passive that reduces critical strike damage stacks up whell with the masteries I choose, plus the AoE slow is now stuck flat at 4 seconds which is very good for Garen. You should build this item agains heavy basic-attack/critical strike enemies like Tryndamere, Vayne, Jax etc...

Sunfire Cape vs Randuin's Omen vs Dead Man's Plate.


Every matchup has its own solution and these 3 items are all brilliant choices regardless.
The new item called Dead Man's Plate, is a huge deal. It is one of the best first items Garen can ask for: armor, health, extra movement speed with the passive and also a free damage boost every now and then. That is why you can build this item in every AD matchup and feel safe with it.
You can prefer Sunfire Cape against AD casters and enemies who don't rely on attack speed like Riven or Renekton, as the armor is enough and the damage boost the passive provides is considerable, especially because it's magic damage. Also you can prefer Sunfire against enemies who build armor against you, to boost your trading potential.
You can prefer Randuin's Omen against high basic attack and critical strike based enemies like Tryndamere or Yasuo, but it can work against all other AD based enemies too.
Keep in mind the three items are similar and swappable: building one instead of the other will have a bigger difference based on the enemy team's composition!

Thornmail (Highly situational)
Thornmail is a very very good item when built against the right enemies, this is why although you won't build it every game, I consider it to be a core item in the build. It gives you 100 more armor and a passive ability that will give back 15% of the damage you receive from BASIC ATTACKS + 25% of your bonus Armor (including the armor you get from Courage stacks) to the attacker as magic damage. This item is the best anti-ADC item that exists, and it works well against auto-attack based melee champions too. The reason why I didn't include it into the main build is that it only boosts your armor and doesn't give you other base stats as other items do, plus its passive is highly situational, so in a normal game I almost never build it. You can swap this item with Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen or Dead Man's Plate when the enemy team has 1 or more extra auto-attacker apart from the ADC, or when the enemy ADC is really fed and you want to stop him.


Core MAGIC RESISTANCE Items



Spirit Visage
A recently buffed great item for Garen in all of its stats: more health is good, more health regen is good, CDR is PERFECT, MR is PERFECT, and its passive ability will boost your Perseverance by 20%. It's probably the best Magic Resist item for Garen because all of its stats work amazingly well with Garen's kit.

Maw of Malmortius
This item isn't as CORE as it may seem, but if you have an Hexdrinker in your inventory, you will want to turn it into this item without question. AD, extra magic resistange for lategame and a shield that scales based on your already high MR? What else do you want? Armor Penetration? Oh wait... You get that too! You should build this item when you have built an Hexdrinker in midgame, however, the time in which you should actually complete the purchase depends on the matchup and also on the enemy team's composition. Say you're against Akali top and you're winning: building this item makes her completely useless, and this obviously can apply to a Vladimir you just may have conveniently rekt earlier in the laning phase. In general, 10 armorpen is a good asset for going through laning phase and the early mid-game, but will fall off in the lategame, meaning you can't replace The Black Cleaver with this item, and most importantly that if the enemy team is particularly tanky, you will keep the Hexdrinker until the very lategame before getting the full Maw.



Core HEALTH/MIXED items


Mixed items are items that provide both health and damage to a degree.

Sterak's Gage
Another great item for Garen. Increases your base AD (which has been buffed, as it will increase a little more every level), gives you health, and the passive which turns you big, increase your AD even further and also gives you a shield that scales off your max health is a huge deal. This item should take Warmog's place in the full build. You can build this item instead of Youmuu's (while getting Warmog's too) when enemies are relatively squishy and have 2 or less bruisers, as you will not need more armor penetration nor mobility from Youmuu's Ghostblade while taking great benefit from extra AD and Health.

Titanic Hydra
A beastly item for all fighters and melee attackers, I did build it a few times on Garen and it does increase his damage output by quite a lot. The problem is that it's yet another Health based item that doesn't really give too much defense, especially if you already have over 3500 health, the difference isn't too big. So I'd say you can build this item when you are ahead by alot, just after The Black Cleaver for extra damage and offensive power, or as your 6th item if you feel like the enemy team doesn't have alot of damage and you can be tanky enough without having to fill your 6th slot with a fully defensive item. You can use its active right before a Decisive Strike for a huge amount of damage, as it will stack up with Dead Man's Plate's momentum stacks and your ability's already good base damage!

Warmog's Armor
Changes to Warmog's are relatively negligible on Garen, thanks to his passive. Besides the new Sterak's Gage is a very good replacement for this item in lategame. This does not mean that this item is uneffective. You should build this item if you had to purchase a Thornmail, if the enemy team has Darius/ Cho'Gath/ Shyvana, or when you are up against a squishy team with high mixed damage output.
Also, if you purchase a Youmuu's Ghostblade and end up with low max health, do consider this item.

Titanic Hydra VS Sterak's Gage VS Warmog's Armor



These 3 items are damn good on Garen, all 3 of them. Sadly, in most games you'll only build one, in some, 2 at max, but unless you are trying out the NEW Healthy Garen Troll Build, you won't build all 3 of them.
So how to choose? Of all these 3 items, the most flexible one and the one that suits Garen's role better is Sterak's Gage. Why? Simple. Health, Extra Base AD and the amazing passive that doubles the good base AD boost (around 30 at level 16, turning into around 60 with the passive proc), providing an offense-defense mix that is very useful.
When should you grab Titanic Hydra?
The new Hydra's damn good on Garen and on any fighter. The AD boost is neat and the passive and active are a huge deal when you're carrying, because they allow you to 100% - 40% a carry with just your Decisive Strike, especially if you also have completed your Dead Man's Plate, so its spot is obviously in a situation in which you are ahead by a lot. You already got 30 extra Armor and Magic Resistance from Courage and you completed The Black Cleaver along with some Armor and MR from unfinished items? Buy Hydra and you will become a real Juggernout, high tankiness with flat stats, high health and huge damage output for your team to be carried with!
When should I get Warmog's Armor?
Warmog's comes in handy when the enemy team's damage output is ridicolously high AND mixed especially if you are behind, because they will get armor/magic penetration, making your flat resistances less of an aid in fights. Also, you can prefer this item in games filled with NOT max health based true damage, as it will give you much more time to live with. You can opt for a Warmog's when the enemy team is filled with pokers like Jayce, Xerath, Nidalee, etc..., so you can basically sponge all their pokes and then sustain them all back to full health in no time! Finally, you can build Warmog's when the enemies are full AD instead of Spirit Visage, so you don't loose the boost to your passive that item gives you.

The Trinity Force



Controversial item on Garen. Most people don't build it and I don't build it either normally. But guys, it's tons of damage for the reasons stated below:
  • AD;
  • Movement Speed (and this is huge);
  • 20% CDR that brings us to 40% just like with the normal build;
  • Passive ability makes Decisive Strike deal approximately 600 physical damage in the lategame.
However, I feel the need to specify why the item isn't CORE in my opinion:
  • Mana goes to waste (less gold efficiency);
  • Attack speed feels useless;
  • Rage passive completely outscaled and outshined by The Black Cleaver's passive which is much better, rendering TriForce's version useless if you already got cleaver (which you will do, because BC is CORE);
  • No more Critical Strike Chance means it becomes less efficient in lategame.
Honestly, I haven't built Trinity Force on Garen after they removed its Crit chance at all, I feel like as an offensive possibility it does less than what other things can do. It's still effective, I did try it a couple of times, but I'd not dare to say it's really strong. If you get ahead it's a great midgame item that will give you a good amount of overall stats that I don't despise, but you need to complement it with another AD item to make it worth it in lategame.



Elixirs



The new Elixirs will be a core part of the new build, as the three you can see on top of this text are all useful on Garen for various reasons. You should build these in lategame after you are full build OR in mid-game if you see you are struggling at snowballing your teammates' lanes. To know if buying one in the mid-game was worth it, you should do some maths: gold spent = 400, gold earned = ?. If you don't manage to earn at least 2x the gold you spend BEFORE recalling, you didn't make a good call on purchasing a temporary buff. Let's talk about all of the elixirs you can choose from, now.

Elixir of Iron
The Elixir of Iron is probably the best elixir out of the 2 Garen can use. Why? 300 health for 500 gold 25% more tenacity to stack up with Mercury's Treads and the Tenacious mastery for a total of around 65% total tenacity, allowing you to stick to targets like you never could before!
The passive is also nice, your teammates will be able to follow up an engage you could create much easier, allowing for extra teamwork. You should build this Elixir in pretty much every game when you're full build.

Elixir of Wrath
The Elixir of Wrath provides 30 AD which is nice on Garen, especially in lategame when you may have dropped off in terms of damage by quite a bit. The passive provides in-fights sustain, which is definetly nice, especially because it applies to all the physical damage you deal, meaning your Judgment counts, so it's definetly helpful if you find yourself unable to 1v1 the enemy carry and need a boost in damage.
It's a great elixir, but generally speaking it's more situational than the one we've previously covered, meaning you have to pick the games when you use it more carefully, mostly depending on your role in teamfights (if you have one) and most importantly depending on how high the damage output of the enemy team is.

Elixir of Ruin
R.I.P. Elixir of Ruin. You will be remembered (item has been removed)



Other viable items



The brutalizer
The Brutalizer... An item I loved with my soul... It's now gone. Shame on Riot for doing this... It will always be in my heart. <3


Ohmwrecker
The new Ohmwrecker is a great option on every champion that you can dive with or splitpush with, and guess what, Garen can do both things very well. His Decisive Strike is amazing for splitpushing, and his Courage is great to mitigate damage you take from towers when you tower-dive. This item's passive ability will make your dives faster, while its active will make them safer (it makes turrets unable to attack for a short amount of time). This item will now give you armor, health, health regen and also CDR which is (as usual) amazing on Garen. You can take this item instead of Randuin's Omen or Sunfire Cape in a normal situation.

Mercurial Scimitar
Another good item on Garen that will give you magic resistance and attack damage, plus an active ability that will remove all debuffs and give you extra movement speed for a short amount of time. Its active ability is worth considering on Garen because most of the time you'll focus important targets in the enemy team such as the ADC or APC: when the enemies will realize that's what you're doing they'll throw every existing debuff to stop you, activating the item will remove all of them and boost you.

Banshee's Veil
Banshee's Veil is a good MR item and its shield can be a lifesaver. You can include it in your build instead of Spirit Visage if the enemies rely on a specific ability to kill (your Demacian Justice is a perfect example :P) or to make the difference in teamfights, so that you'll be saved from that specific ability. You can see in the beginning of this guide that I included this item in the ADC/APC Reaper build, because it will make up for the absence of Maw of Malmortius in that build.


Last Whisper
Percentage armor penetration is something that can be nice on Garen, but with the amount of spins you get at this team, The Black Cleaver's stacks get applied very quickly and affect all the enemies' armor rather than just their bonus armor.
Combining this item with Executioner's Calling (in games in which you had to build it for reasons stated in its own chapter) gives you the Mortal Reminder which is a great overall item, but not one that I'd love to see on Garen in general games. If the enemy team is full of armor-packed enemies you can definetly buy this item and go through it with it, in other games I'd recommend you take a skip on this one.

Infinity Edge
A fully offensive item that can work well on Garen (if paired with an armor reduction/ignoring/penetration item) and will bring his Judgment's critical strikes back to 200% damage multiplier. Atma's Impaler is gone, so if you want critical strike chance, this item is the best one on Garen. You can swap this item with Maw of Malmortius if your enemies don't burst you down with magic damage or you simply prefer damage over tankiness (not what this guide is made for, though)


Guide Top

Playing Garen

Early Game (Laning phase)



Garen's early game is what was mostly nerfed in patch 5.16. However, he still has great power, the only real difference is that because you won't get extra help from the old Courage passive, you'll want to trade more carefully, and farm well!

Last Hitting, how important is it?



Last hitting is priority in this part of the game, gold + Courage stacks are vital and even if the items you will focus on first are relatively cheap, because of the early game nerf, you will want to get as much money as you can.
You can aid yourself at farming by using Decisive Strike, as it makes you harder to poke or harass and helps you with higher damage output on a basic attack. Farming with Judgment is not recommended, though, as it will push your lane, making you easier to gank and giving the opponent more safety while farming! You can use Judgment to waveclear if you fear the enemy may dive you or if you are being ganked by a tank.

Trading, when, how and why?



Trading is another important part of early game. Dealing some damage to force your enemy off lane or maybe even to kill him is vital for Garen's midgame to be good, especially if we grab Ignite: outfarming, zoning destroying the tower and killing repeteadly the enemy toplaner will kick him out of mid-game, allowing you to roam, so even after patch 5.16, DO NOT PLAY GAREN LIKE NASUS, STACKS ARE IMPORTANT BUT YOU NEED TO TRADE. FARMLANE GAREN DOES NOT EXIST.
Trading is simple, but I would recommend you do not trade seriously until you unlocked your Courage at level 3. Start with Decisive Strike and then follow up with Judgment for a full burst trade, the damage will be high enough for your enemies to be afraid of this, allowing you to zone them more easily, also thanks to the sustain from Perseverance, which will refill your health in case they trade back. Proper use of Courage is also a key to winning trades harder: when you are using your abilities, most enemies will try running, in this case you will obviously not use Courage, but keep it for the moment when your abilities are on CoolDown, in case your enemy turns around and trades back after you're done dealing damage. If the enemy does not run but finds the courage (lol) to trade back while you are spinning, use Courage then.

Kills and ganks: how to



Killing your enemies when they are low is relatively easy thanks to Demacian Justice post-6 and Ignite pre-6 and also post-6, trade consistently every time you know you can win the trade, and you will quickly realize when the enemy is low enough for your burst to be lethal, paired with Ignite or your ult, or both. Also use Flash to surprise engage if your enemy plays too safe when he is low, your silence is still long enough for you to secure the kill with a surprise!
When playing Garen this aggressively, you will end up pushed almost constantly, purchasing Stealth Wards often will prevent enemy ganks from being too dangerous, use them often and keep vision on the river at all times.

What to do if you get ganked?
If you get ganked you have 2 possiblities: you can kill an enemy (or both) and escape, or escape directly. It usually depends on the enemy jungler and the items you have: if your enemy is AD based, you'll have armor, if the jungler is also AD based, chances are you'll be able to get a kill or two, or at least make them both have to run away from you, the same applies for AP. If the enemy jungler deals different damage, then you're 9 times out of 10 better off running, because your main strength (tankiness) won't help you. This ganking reaction applies in most cases, but variables exist and I can't cover all of them, experience will help you more than every guide in this sense.

MidGame



When laners start roaming for longer time and skirmishes and small teamfights start happening, you are in the mid-game. This usually happens when you are around 15-20 minutes in the game and will last longer depending on how big of an advantage one team has over the other. This phase is your best phase. You will have great damage output thanks to the Villain mechanic and to your abilities' great scalings and because of our tanky build paired with Courage stacks (you should aim to have at least 20 bonus armor and magic resist at this point) you will also be able to tank alot of damage while doing your usual work: shutting down carries.

Focus the Villain at all times or not?


No. The enemy Villain is the one with the most recent kills, but not always will it be the enemy carry. It could be that an enemy Brand is on a killing spree but he's going 3/4/1 while the enemy Kalista is 7/2/3. In this case even if Brand would be an easy kill, you still want kalista dead, as it will help your team get an advantage in any successive skirmish until she spawns back. This, however, applies when you won your lane. If you lost your lane, you may not be strong enough to shut down an actual carry, or simply you may need kills to get gold, without being picky. In that case you could focus the Villain even if he's not a carry, because you get an easy kill for easy gold and XP, allowing for a comeback to be possible.

Other stuff a good Garen does



Also, helping teammates with your tankiness alone is often a good choice. A good example is to tank a turret to force it to be destroyed, giving everyone in your team gold, or helping them dealing with Dragons, as your presence alone can make the enemies afraid to try contest it due to silence.
Don't forget about your lane though, this isn't late game! Between ganks and roams, you have to put an eye top or your external tower may get destroyed. It could be protected by someone else while you work in other areas of the map, and it's just fine, all that matters is that you keep your tower up as long as possible.
In general, Garen can carry but it isn't like you will carry every single game. This means you may want to fill other roles rather than being a killing machine. That is why we build tanky. The build I suggest in this guide is mostly thought to make you next to unstoppable when you get ahead, thus carrying, but also to allow you to help your team even if you are behind. Garen can do this even after patch 5.16, so if you don't win lane, peel, tank and force objectives, this way you will be a great asset anyway.

LateGame



When the game mostly reduces itself to assassinations and teamfights, lategame is up. This will usually happen around 25-30 minutes game-time and will last until the game ends. If you play Mid-Game well, mixing kills with objectives while also helping your teammates win their lanes, this phase of the game may be skipped thanks to a surrender. But most of the time you'll have to deal with it anyway.

Is LateGame Garen a good thing or not?
In the past, LateGame Garen was nothing too special. Damage tended to drop off making killing carries a little harder and all that remained was Garen's amazing tanky frontline.
After patch 5.16, we get %max health true damage on the enemy Villain and this changes everything. In the lategame, focusing the enemy carry and helping your team with tankiness is still your main priority, although, because the danger level of every enemy champion will be high anyway, you can take some more liberties than you would in midgame.
Your priorities will have to go in this order
  • Priority 1: Kill the enemy carry. If it is also the Villain, that is easier to do, but you must always attempt to get to the enemy carry regardless of the Villain.
  • Priority 2: If the enemy carry is far or you simply cannot kill him if he isn't the Villain (if you don't have enough damage or if he has too much mobility like LeBlanc for example), then you will want to Kill a dangerous squishy . An example for you: the ADCarry is fed as hell but he isn't the Villain and you cannot kill him on your own, you spot a lonely Annie while roaming or you simply see sge is overextended (maybe she is even the Villain): KILL HER.
  • Priority 3: If the enemy carry is out of your kill-zone and the other squishies are high mobility or simply too well peeled for you to take down, then you wanna turn on Courage (in-game and out) and engage on the Villain. Tell your teammates who the Villain is and then tell them you will engage, so they will follow, then jump in the enemy team like Leeroy Jenkins would do. An example for you: enemy Xerath pokes from afar and you can't touch him, while enemy Jinx crits on every rocket and deals tons of damage to your team's frontline while 2 tanks and a bruiser stand in the front between you and the carries waiting for a chance to engage. The villain is the enemy Irelia. Tell your mates you will go in on her, drawing attention, then ask them to follow and to FOCUS THE CARRIES while you try beating down the Villain, drawing as much attention to you. Chances are the enemy team will waste some of their strong skills on you, allowing one or more of your teammates to swarm the carry, winning the teamfight!

So in general, while most of the works you'd normally do in mid-game can remain the same, in lategame you will want to choose more wisely what to do based on the situation you are in, the useful thing you will always be able to do easily is GET FOCUSED. If you find yourself unable to do anything good in lategame due to a bad early-mid, get tanky as hell and draw attention, giving your teammates a chance to make the difference when you are unable to do that.


Guide Top

Matchups (Laning Phase)

Matchups for assassins may need updating and will be looked into as soon as I have enough experience and information regarding the class.

As promised, this section will contain tips and tricks to win many matchups in toplane, As you may have noticed, many of these matchups come with a video from my YouTube channel to help you better understand how to win the matchups :)!

I have divided difficulty in three main sections, based on the enemy's threat level: Low, Medium and Hard, with some exceptions made in particularly hard/easy/funny lanes!
Keep in mind any lane can be won or lost, and it will always depend on you and your opponent's playstyle and capabilities, not to mention the importance of both teams' junglers, so don't think that everything I write here is holy, because variables exist and I can't calculate all of them! ;)
SPECIAL THANKS TO USER "SREEN" for the tip on the hexdrinker. I will add it as a recommended item in most AP matchups present here!


Aatrox

Threat level: Medium


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Akali

Threat level: Low


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Cho'Gath

Threat level: Low


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Darius

Threat level: High


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Dr. Mundo

Threat level: Low


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Elise

Threat level: High


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Fiora (UPDATED)

Threat level: Low



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Gangplank (Updated for Rework)

Threat level: Low



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Gnar

Threat level: High


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Hecarim

Threat level: Medium


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Illaoi

Threat level: High


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Irelia

Threat level: Low


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Jarvan IV

Threat level: Medium


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Jax

Threat level: Low


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Jayce

Threat level: High


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Kayle

"Vegeta, what does the Scouter say about her threat level?!"


Threat level: IT'S OVER 9000!


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Kennen

Threat level: Medium


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Lee Sin

Threat level: Low


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Malphite

Threat level: Low


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Maokai

Threat level: Low


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Nasus

Threat level: Low


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Olaf

Threat level: High


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Pantheon

Threat level: Hard


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New Poppy

Threat level: Low


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Renekton

Threat level: Medium


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Rengar

Threat level: Medium


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Riven

Threat level: Low


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Rumble

Threat level: Low


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New Ryze

Threat level: Medium


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New Shen

Threat level: Low


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Shyvana

Threat level: Medium


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Singed

Threat level: Low


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Sion

Threat level: Low


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Tahm Kench

Threat level: Medium


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Teemo

Threat level: Medium


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Trundle

Threat level: Medium


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Tryndamere

Threat level: Low


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Vladimir

Threat level: Medium


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Wukong

Threat level: Low


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Xin Zhao

Threat level: Low


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Yasuo

Threat level: Low


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Zac

Threat level: Low


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Zed

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!






The most common toplane matchupsa are now included in the guide! Hooray!
With that being said I am not done with the guide itself. I will focus on some more alternative builds and troll builds for Garen and then I will proceed with adding less common matchups and videos for every single matchup in the guide, a very expansive project that will take a long time, sure, but I will commit to it, and I surely hope you guys will hold on and company me for the time being!


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Lethality (?) Garen - FOR EXPERT GAREN MAINS ONLY

This build is under testing in the new Season, most of what you read here is still correct, but I need to test more things before we can call it complete. For now, if you still want to use it in the Pre-Season, replace the Maw of Malmortius with Edge of Night for similar stats but less tankiness. The Maw NO LONGER gives armorpen

You spent hours reading this guide. You played 500 games with Garen and you got to High Gold, Low Plat and you want to continue climbing? This is the place for you



After you have achieved enough experience with The Might of Demacia, it's finally time to move on.
While Tanky Garen is the best build for Garen, the one that gives you insane tank stats, and the damage you need to kill that ADC, this build is pure opness in the hands of an experienced Garen player who doesn't feel the need for said tankiness and wants more kill potential throughout the entire game.
This build will give you two important things you normally won't get from the normal Garen one I recommend in this guide:
    1) INSANE Flat Armor Penetration (up to 60 flat armorpen)
    2) Incredible mobility
This is achieved by changing runes/masteries (look at the build details, top right of the guide) and one single item (Youmuu's for Black Cleaver) and will not alter Garen's tankiness at the end of the game exceptionally.
Its cons are as follows:
    1) you WILL be squishy until mid-late
    2) you WILL suffer 3x times from hard CCs
    3) if you lose your lane early, it'll be heck of a lot harder to comeback
    4) Last Hitting becomes extremely hard (your initial AD will be 60, which is nothing)
In short, this is a HIGH RISK, HIGH REWARD build, that will reward you with insane damage and nearly no counterplay IF you do things properly from early to midgame, and will make you carry harder than ever, but it will also punish you if you do not. I REPEAT, IF YOU FAIL EARLY, YOU WILL FEED.

What you need to know and be able to do before you try this build out

    1) Positioning
    2) When to go in
    3) How and when to get out
    4) All the toplane matchups
    5) Where you fit in your team's comp
    6) What the enemies's team comp will put against you
In general, you will want to be a good Garen player, a good player overall, and also have the ability to understand when this build won't give you what you need.

When should I AVOID this build?


    1) Enemy team has 2+ champions with hard CCs
    2) Enemy team has 3+ tanks
    3) Your team has 0 tanks apart from you
    4) Your team is Full AD
In all these cases, the normal build will serve you much better through the entire game, and you should stick to that.

When is this build great?

    1) Your team has 2+ APcarries
    2) Enemy team has only/mostly slows as their CCs
    3) Enemy team has 0 tanks
    4) Ranged autoattackers in the toplane as your foes


Runes and Masteries



Check out the "Experts Build" for information on Runes and Masteries :)


Build Order



Start


The start stays EXACTLY the same as the normal build. You'll start just like you normally would with Tank Garen.

First 1-2 backs


If you are winning, you'll aim to get a Serrated Dirk as quick as you can. Once you got that, your damage will resemble what you had back in the days when The Brutalizer was alive. Also get Tier 1 boots and a pink ward. A Refillable Potion comes amazingly in handy, if you have 50g, you can get a standard potion instead, if anything DO NOT PRIORITIZE SUSTAIN OVER THE ITEMS I HAVE JUST RECOMMENDED. You are an expert Garen, remember? Use Perseverance!

If you are losing, Build defensively according to your lane and try to come back. If by the 2nd back you are still losing, revert back to the normal Garen build I recommend in this guide. If post the 2nd back you are winning or TIE, read the previous paragraph regarding the items you want for the early game.

Mid-Game


If your lane opponent is AD based, you have to figure out where you are in terms of gold advantage and scaling potential. What does this mean?
You are winning hard. If you have 2 or 3 kills by now, get Youmuu's Ghostblade as quick as you can.
If the advantage is there but you are still having somewhat of a problem winning trades and zoning your enemy, you will want to get a Chain Vest.
If your lane opponent is AP based, it's probably just better to finish Edge of Night, but again, if your advantage is huge, you can still opt for a quick Youmuu's and keep the snowball going. It's obvious that, in case you completed the Edge you won't need to rush Spirit Visage for a while as the edge itself will provide a fair amount of MR on its own, especially if you stacked it up with Mercs on the way.

Boots?

You will want to get tier 2 boots too by mid-game, earlier in some matchups. What boots to get is a decision you HAVE TO make based on the enemy team's comp and not your lane opponent's kit unless you are losing EXTREMELY hard to him, but then in that case it's better to just get off this chapter and back to the normal guide.
An example would be the following one. You are against Tryndamere, who autoattacks like mad, so Ninja Tabi would be a great pick to counter him. But let's say the enemy team has a Twisted Fate and a Leona, you must get Mercury's Treads in this case.

LateGame and FullBuild


Let's say you did well through the entire game and the enemies haven't surrendered yet (they often will if you snowball crazily, and most of them will call you a noob, don't worry, they are the noobs).
At this time you'll be in this situation. You have a full offensive item, either Youmuu's or Maw of Malmortius and half a defensive item.

If you are winning hard, that is to say your ENTIRE TEAM is doing amazingly, you'll get the offensive item of the 2 you didn't get yet and THEN proceed with the build order you can see at the top of the guide, by clicking to the last build that is present in the list.
If someone, ANYONE, on your team is feeding, complete the first defensive item, possibly the one that counters the most fed enemy, and then aim to finish the second offensive item shown in the build, to then complete it with the defensive order that suits your team and the enemy team the better.
Also choose an elixir, pick the one that suits the game the best.

Build Path Summary[/h3
In short, the differences are that you get offensiveness earlier than you normally would and swap out The Black Cleaver for Youmuu's Ghostblade and Maw of Malmortius for Edge of Night in the lategame build. This will give you nearly true damage to carries, extra ways to move during the heat of a teamfights and a lot more mobility overall.
It's basically like throwing away the CDR and replacing it with Lethality, in a way :P


Gameplay



Early Game


You have scaling armor and scaling MR. Your W needs to stack up aswell. You have low AD but high armorpen. YOU ARE WEAK.
Early game is nothing extreme and it's harder than it would be with Grasp. Unless you hard counter the enemy laner you'll want to farm and try to avoid too many trades. If the enemy is squishy, your Q will indeed chunk them, but it's always a risky path, the trading one.
I normally still trade alot, and you can do it too, given I take for granted you have alot of practice. But don't get too many risks too early. It'd be a huge shame to waste the potential of this build by losing too much early game!
Post Level 5 you'll start to see some improvement, and post 6 you can probably net kills in faster than before. Also, the scaling armor outscales the flat one by around levels 6-7, which means in that moment you start gaining alot of power and pressure over most enemies.

MidGame


If you are losing hard, you should probably just revert to the normal Guide. The best option here is to peel for your carries, if your team has one, and abuse the Villain mechanic to get back in the game. Farm, peel, kill Villains and you will become a threat again, believe me.
If you are winning, then it's time to bring the snowball down from the toplane and make it an avalanche! Bring your insane damage down into mid and bot, and invade the enemy jungler if he's the Villain, get gold to your team and make the enemies mad at you for snowballing with a champion that no one plays as well as you do. You main targets are the squishies. Don't bother hitting tanks: you won't deal much damage to them except with your ultimate, so don't waste time. Search for the ADC, the APC and murder them repeatedly, take some time to keep your CS up and don't give them a break. Your presence will put insane pressure on lanes, ABUSE THAT.
DO KEEP IN MIND THAT you are squishy in Midgame. By now you are likely to have only one defensive item, not even complete and two offensive ones. At best you'll have one offensive item and one defensive item. This means you can go in easily, but you may not be able to get out. Stormraider's Surge helps with this alot, but it's still wise to pick engagements to your own advantage. I wish I had more to say, but this chapter takes for granted that you already have a fair base game knowledge and even if it didn't, these things can't be explained. Only experience can help you not throw your advantage off the window :)

LateGame


LateGame is similar to the normal one you get with the ordinary guide. The difference here is that you don't deal damage to tanks, but in return, if a squishy makes a positioning mistake on your watch, they'll die. Once you hit a squishy with your Q, Stormraider's will almost surely proc instantly making you unstoppable and giving you a stickiness most peelers won't be able to counter. If the enemy team has too many hard CCs you shouldn't have followed this build path to begin with, accordingly with this chapter's beginning part.
Also, you will find out you'll be much more moble and hard to chase, which is neat. All in all LateGame is similar to the normal one, but trust me, the damage is real, much more than before.

Variables


Variables exist in every game. I tried to make this chapter as complete as I possibly could, but I can't cover all the possibilities.
For example, if you want to get an Infinity Edge in Late because you are 20/1/6, you can do it and it won't be a problem. That also applies to gameplay. In general, you can take more liberty in this whole build if you get INSANELY ahead and your team does so too. If the game is a clear win and you trust your own skills you can try out more damage, or criticals or anything that floats your boat really.
If the chapter needs more love and updates, I will obviously look into it, as you guys know very well I take this guide very seriously and it's very important to me!


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TROLL BUILD: Healthy Garen

ATTENTION: this is a troll-build, it can make you win laning phase and maybe the game too, but it's not to be taken seriously and you MUST NOT use it in ranked games!



Patch 5.16 introduced some new items for health, making this build not only more viable but actually insanely funny and weird!!! You will get around 5000 health and get a massive amount of health regen, never seen before!
This build only changes the items that you should build on Garen and leaves untouched most of the mechanics, except maybe that I would recommend you take Teleport instead of Ignite, because that way you can be the biggest annoyance ever in the history of League of Legends, especially to the enemy toplaner!

You can start with a nice Doran's Shield but it's possible for you to start with a Ruby Crystal if you prefer, for more health and to keep it for the other items of this build. Your main objective for the midgame won't be The Brutalizer anymore, instead you will focus on Warmog's Armor and The Black Cleaver as your second item, then proceed with Titanic Hydra and the rest of the items in the build :)
Gameplay is the same as with regular Garen, except you will not be able to kill practically anyone in lategame 1v1, though your ult will still be useful to your team, but the amazing tankiness and the fun provided by such a high amount of health can really make you useful to your team even if you're trolling.
Plus finally, the really key characteristic of this build is health regen, your health will regen ridicolously fast even without your passive's help, you'll love this, I assure you! :P

More troll builds coming soon


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What's coming next on this guide?

The guide is "complete" in that it covers all everything you need to have a very good experience with Garen, but it doesn't mean it's finished, because I plan to add more content to it, so here's a list of the things that I'll add over time:

  • Less common Matchups (to be located either in the same section or in a new one)
  • More Matchup Videos and montages
  • More Trollbuilds?!?!
  • CONSTANT updates to make sure the guide never becomes outdated

Make sure to check back every now and then to improve even further your Garen skills!

Changelog


  • Added matchups section
  • Added more builds for the champion
  • Updates on the items and the tactics up to the current version of the game
  • Added simple and fast guide video with all the most important information


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Changelog

29/03/15 - Changelog chapter added!
29/03/15 - Matchups for Sion and Singed added!
29/03/15 - New rune set added! (ArmorPen)
29/03/15 - Added Hexdrinker information and tips in the Items section
29/03/15 - STARTED modifying AP matchups to better suit the addition of Hexdrinker as a core item of the "VS AP" build
29/03/15 - Added new matchups
29/03/15 - Rearranged the extra videos section to better suite matchups (videos with specific enemies will also be displayed under the matchup section for easier use)
29/03/15 - Added Teemo matchup Video
30/03/15 - Added Trundle, Tryndamere matchups
27/04/15 - Added Hecarim Matchup, Reworked "Runes" sections for better Season 5 experience. Also added Tryndamere Matchup video.
01/06/15 - Added Hecarim Matchup gameplay video, added Elixirs in the Items section and in the builds, various fixes.
26/06/15 - Updated Masteries to suit patch 5.12's new defensive tree.
28/06/15 - Added Jax matchup video.
25/07/15 - Added Vladimir, Wukong, Xin Zhao, Zac matchups, COMPLETED MATCHUP SECTION WITH MOST COMMON PICKS, extra matchups to be added soon ; Also added Videos for Rengar, Vladimir and Shyvana.
22/08/15 - Guide updated for Garen's Gameplay update, complete rework.
25/08/15 - Added information about Titanic Hydra and the new Bruiser Garen Build.
02/09/15 - Updated the guide for patch 5.17, slightly improved "Playing Garen" section for easier reading
04/09/15 - Slightly improved Darius matchup, lane is now Hard and needed additional information.
10/09/15 - Added updated Fiora matchup, reorganized the Items section for easier choices based on the enemy team comps and the situation, reworked the Healthy Garen Build for patch 5.16's new items.
13/09/15 - Added Yasuo matchup + video in the spoiler of the matchup itself
15/09/15 - Updated Riven matchup with better information, and added a video for it.
20/09/15 - Split the Items Section in 2 sections (one for the early laning phase, one for the late laning phase), and completel rearranged Item orders for a much easier reading experience. Fixes on the Matchups section, keeping it fresh and up to date with the items and champion changes.
28/09/15 - Added Olaf matchup video
10/10/15 - Added Maokai and Lee Sin matchup videos!
18/10/15 - Added Fiora matchup video!
20/11/15 - Update on the Items sections with all the new items Garen can get something out of, updated crit Garen build. Also removed the Crit Garen Build chapter: I will add it back once it's complete.
14/01/16 - Added Illaoi Matchup + updated Poppy Matchup!
11/05/16 - Added a new Skill Order setup in the AP Lane build guide (will probably add some more info in the Skills section soon enough), addedd ASSASSIN GAREN alternative build to the builds (also known as Movespeed Garen), reworked Shen and Renekton matchup guides and added a gameplay video for both matchups.
15/05/16 - Updated the Core Items (Standard Full Build) in the AD lane section to better suit my actual usual buildpath, also updated the runes section. REWORKED Skill Order with the new Q/E split.
09/08/2016 - Updated Ryze matchup, added Tahm Kench Matchup with video included, updated Darius matchup video, added matchup videos for Akali, Cho'Gath, Dr. Mundo, Illaoi, Irelia, Pantheon.
08/10/2016 - COMPLETELY NEW CHAPTER - ARMORPEN GAREN!!!
23/10/2016 - Placed the EXPERTS Build on the other side of the screen for better reading. Updated Runes section for current situation. Added Malphite and Trundle Matchup videos and updated the matchup videos for Riven, Darius and Illaoi.
09/11/2016 - Updated introduction chapter with Q&A for the preseason and what's coming up in the next season. Setting up all that needs editing in S7.
21/11/2016 - They fixed the guide saving bug! YAYYY. Masteries and runes sections updated for S7. Fixed some stuff in the Items and the EXPERTS BUILD sections.
10/12/2016 - Updated various sections after the addition of Armor Reduction on Garen's kit in patch 6.24


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Thanks and Summary

6 MILLION VIEWS. WHAT?!


OKAY, SERIOUSLY: what? 6 million views. First place in the list and the graduatory for Garen?
Insane. That's insane. Even all the good stuff I wrote down here doesn't serve the purpose of thanking you guys well enough for this. Thanks. I will continue to work on the guide as hard as I can to make sure it stays up there. Will not be possible without you guys' continued support, THANK YOU FOR ALL THIS!

Also a HUGE thank you to all of the readers who chose to support me and my work via commendations:

  • StigmariaMT

Thanks for showing so much interest in my guide mates! I am really happy and thankful to all of you who spent even a split second of your time to read this guide, I find myself often insulted even by my own friends who judge me negatively for maining the G-Man, seeing how many views and votes this work of mine is getting makes me feel much better about it all! Please keep sharing the guide and maybe leave some feedback through votes and comments! I will always make sure this guide is up to date, providing as much useful information as I can!


So that's it! I hope you'll get to have an amazing experience with Garen thanks to a certain extent to this guide and the tips it offers! Make sure to give me suggestions on how to improve the guide, I'll follow them as good as I can in the future!
A vote would be very nice, and comments are also appreciated 'cause feedback is the way to know how this guide is doing and how much improvement it requires!

The guide is almost 2 years old! I remember when I was writing it and hoped it'd serve a purpose for other Garen players like me and now that it's so high up there and still holds its spot I can't possibly explain how I feel at the moment. Thank you so much for this!