Garen Build Guide by The Garenator
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.
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.
Garen is an AD melee powerhouse, ideal for TOP lane. He is as tough as you get without being a tank (please note, GAREN IS NOT A TANK).
There is only one way to build any champion, that is to find out what they do and and how to best maximize it. This is simple, for example, life steal is really useful for Master Yi as he does heaps of AD with his basic attack, however Garen does most of his damage through his abilities, none of which take advantage of any life steal from items so it is not as beneficial as getting more AD which does benefit his damaging abilities. I have attempted to apply this principle to all aspects of game play.
Simply put, it is better to improve what is already good than to make a champion ok at everything but good at nothing
This guide is about how to use Garen effectively and is in no way meant to be a hard and fast set of instructions on how to build him.
I have spent most of my LOL career playing Garen and this is what I have learnt.
PLEASE NOTE, THE ABOVE ITEM PURCHASE ORDER IS ONLY A GUIDE, IT IS MY PREFERRED BUILD BUT IS AIMED AT COUNTER AP AND IS NOT SUITABLE FOR EVERY GAME.
Firstly boots! Mercury treads are great for most but the tenacity is wasted on Garen due to decisive strike. Get boots of Swiftness and that's it... maybe ninja tibia if the enemy team is very heavy AD
I usually rush boots of swiftness and then get a long sword which is good for anything. Try not going B until you can afford these
Occult Blade. This weapon is BOSS! When you get 20 stakes your are not as fast a a Kenyan.. you are faster, you are the flash! More AD is one of the best things you can give Garen and at 20 stacks you will get a total of 110 damage and %15 movement speed from this bad boy, FOR UNDER 1400 gold! Don't bother getting it if you are feeding as you won't get the stacks and you will be wasting money. Alternatively Infinity Edge is also good
Maw of Malmortus, Frozen Mallet or Youmuu's Ghostblade. I always (nearly) use one for these three, depending on the game. Frozen mallet if your team needs more CC, Youmuu's Ghostblade if you need more armor penetration (last whisper is also great but doesn't have the active movement buff) or Maw of Malmortus (my favorite option) for when you are against heavy AP
This will mean getting Hexdrinker, Phage or The Brutilizer as your second weapon. In my opinion, The Brutilizer is easily the best but its upgrade, Youmuu's Ghostblade, is the worst of the three options.
Once you have some damage, you want to make the most of it with a Zeal, attack speed, critical chance, movement speed, enough said. Upgrade it when you can but it is not a priority.
Randuin's Omen, Thorn Mail or Force of Nature are the options for defense. I don't often get more than one of these items, Garen is a pitcher, not a receiver... if you know what I mean. Randuin's Omen is good defense and CC, Thorn mail is better if you have feed enemy ranged ADC. Force of Nature is my preferred because (1) INCREASED MOVEMENT SPEED! (2)combine the health regen with your passive and you can just go for a we stroll and BAM your health is back. (3) Garen is a good anti mage so make the most of it with high magic resistance.
Solo top is where Garen is most at home, he can often dominate early game laning, get heaps of minion kills and can stick in the lane well without having to go home offten.
Garen can do well as off tank and ADC
Since he was last buffed, it is possible (BUT HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED) for Garen to jungle. This simply makes his passive next to useless and doesn't take advantage of what he is good at
I utterly forbid any of you reading this to ever use Garen as a tank, NO you are not allowed, stop even thinking about it, go throw yourself off a clift
Pros and Cons
Fantastic lane staying ability
No mana, energy or rage, just cool downs
Easy and fun to use
Strong early game
Nearly no magic damage (so armor penetration is important)
Mediocre late game
Very gear dependent
NOT A TANK!!!!!!!
I am utterly astounded at how often people expect me to tank as Garen, I am shocked and appalled at how tank based many of the builds are and not at all surprised at how useless most people are at playing Garen, despite him being one of the easiest champions to use in the game.
This is why Garen is not a tank
(1) He only has ONE (that's the number below 2) defensive ability
(2) He has NO (that's even less than 1) crowd control
(3) His hp, armor and magic resist does not scale like a tank
(4) ARE YOU STUPID? WHAT MAKES HIM A TANK? HE LOOKS THE PART, THAT'S ALL ITS BASED ON!
You can build any character like a tank, even Teemo or fiddle if you want but why? When I was a young nooblete, sure I had some pretty sucsessfull games building Garen as a tank but that doesn't change the fact that Garen will NEVER be able to play a tank better than an actual tank, enough said.
This is a great passive!
Garens health regen is massively increased when he has not taken damage for at least 10 seconds.
- This does NOT include minions!
This ability helps you stay in lane for as long as you want early game, DON'T go back if your health is low, stay safe, get some XP and try to avoid hits from enemy champs and your health comes right back. (careful as this ability is countered by characters like Lux with long range abilities).
I usually get health pots to add to this effect, I love nothing better than losing all my health in a fight then hiding in a bush for a bit. Enemy champs think you have gone back so they get brave with low health THEN BOOM YOU RUSH THEM FROM THE BUSH!
Q: Decisive Strike
Get this at level one and max it second.
Decisive Strike is a next hit ability which deals AD and scales with you AD. Increase you movement speed for a short time, silences the stricken opponent and removes ALL slow effects!
Wow that is a versatile ability!
I nearly always get this first to nab them early minion kills, it also does an unexpectedly high amount of damage at level one.
Offence: Use this ability when initiating fights, the speed boost helps you get in close before taken too much damage and the silence lets you deal death before the enemy can retaliate. This ability is best used as a combo I will discuss later.
Defensive: This will save you life again and again. when the battle turns bad use it to run away. If you can, wait until someone has cast a slowing ability on you to use it to get the most out of it. Also if you are close, hit and enemy with it before you run as this may stop them from killing or slowing you.
Garens defensive ability, this passively gives you and extra %20 of your armor and magic resist at any level so I sagest getting it early at level four but maxing it last.
Some guides sagest getting it sooner, DON'T. Your Q & E are much more important early game and frankly you don't have that much armor or magic resist at level 2 to make it worth it.
You can also activate this ability to gain damage reduction, the percentage reduced goes up with level.
Activate as soon as you get into trouble, activate when diving enemys, activate when running away, activate when you know you will be hit by something e.g. Lux's ult. Activate all you want YOU HAVE NO MANA!
The exception to this is when initiating as fight with Decisive Strike, wait until your silence has worn off and then activate to make the most of it, shield only lats 2 seconds.
This is where your damage comes from, get is at level 2 and max it first.
Garen spins round really fast KILLING EVERYTHING.
Deals damage to all surrounding enemies, this scales with AD and is reduced by %25 to minions and monsters.
Despite the reduction, after level 6ish this ability turns Garen into a farming powerhouse, I constantly challenge myself to get 100 minion kills before 15 minute and get there often enough but usually 60-80.
Heaps of damage early game so make the most of it and dominate your lane.
This ability also allows you to move through minions, great for getting away or chasing down your prey.
When giving chase this is a great ability to use as you can keep moving while doing damage instead of stopping every time you hit the bad guy.
R: Demacian Justice
There is no such thing as kill stealing.... just kill assuring, especially when you have occult blade. Haha nah don't be a jack arse.
Demacian Justice does good damage with bonus damage based on how much health is missing, making is a fantastic finishing move and great for finishing off that tank that just won't die.
This ability has a little range which makes it useful for finishing off champions when they are kiting you around their tower.
It also has a slight delay so timing is key.
And lastly this ability is Garens ONLY source of magic damage
I have Quints of desolation, marks of strength, glyphs of focus and seals or fortitude.
Basically do what you want but here are the basics.
Garen is strong early game so I say compound that with flat attributes, none of this per level ***** ****.
Damage is good to help you make the most of your strong early game Q and E, also getting last hits.
Armor and Magic Resist are good because courage compounds there effects.
Health is good as there is no point being able to deal good damage if you cant take some hits.
Armor Penetration is important as your ult is the only magic damage you will do. Your solo top opponents will also likely build defensively.
Cool Down Reduction is always useful, especially when you don't have any mana to worry about.
Critical Strike is also ok as both Q and E can crit.
Way too much effort to go into detail, just take a look at what I piked above and ask yourself, do these masteries enhance what Garen has or not.
Once I thought, decisive strike makes your run fast... so that base is covered and thus you don't need ghost... WRONG! If I could possible convince you about anything, it would be that Garen is NOT A BLOODY TANK! But the second thing would be that ghost is the most important summoner spell a Garen can have.
Speed is everything or nothing, don't be a ***** and go half arsed. You want the right gear for speed (as discussed in the Items chapter) and you want ghost. When you ghost and you activate decisive strike, no one can kill you, you too fast man. Master Yi can't catch your arse. You can rush into a team fight or dive a week champ under a tower, drop or massive sword from the sky and get out like nothing ever happened. Then someone is like WTF man, when did I die?
Flash is my preferred second option, it has got me more kills than ignight and saved my arse more often than heal. Enough said
Ignight is useful but I'd rather flash or ghost in and finish the job
Teleport can be useful, but when you maximize movement speed anyway, why was a precious summoner spell when you are AS FAST AS A KENYAN!
Cleanse is not utilised as you have decisive strike
Exhaust is always good for ganks but ghost simply helps me get more kills and escape more often. Leave this for you tank to get.
Promote is for AP champions to help deal with turrets and to get minion kills, don't bother your good at both
Clarity.... lol no
Heal, leave that for support
Revive is only useful if your dead and your too busy making other people dead for you to be dead
Smite... please don't jungle with Garen
Surge increases ability power and attack speed, nether of which are very useful to Garen
Clairvoyance, I'm sure it could help but its not your role, if you want to cheek for enemies, you can just run in and out and you'll be fine.
Level 1: Decisive strike. This gives you great ability to last hit and to get into and out of a fight. Max it second
Level 2: Judgment. Max this first as it is most of your damage and is OP early game
Level 4: Courage. Get it now to utilize the passive part but max it last
Level 6: Damacian Justice. ALWAYS UPGRAGD YOU R WHEN YOU CAN
It is important to for any champion to use there abilities in a sequence which provides the most benefit.
For laneing, try to keep in the bush when not getting minion kills. Use Decisive Strike to rush your opponent followed by Judgement. When the silence wears off activate Courage. Retreat to the bush as Judgement finishes, rince and repeat or give chase if they are fleeing. This allows you to do maximum damage while taking minimal damage.
Decisve strike is great to help you get close enough to land Demacian Justice or Judgement for a kill even if it doesn't land itself.
Ghost, Decisive Strike and the active from Youmuu's Ghostblade are a fantastic combo for catching that one who thought he got away or for diving low health champs with Demacian Justice.
When running for your life, always use Ghost first as it lasts longer, save Decisive Strike for when you are slowed.
In team fights use your speed and durability to get to their ranged ADC or APC and silence them! Try to position Judgement to hit as many as you can and do not be afraid to use your Demacian Justice to land the first kill.
Garen is BOSS!
Take advantage of his speed buy getting more
Get lots of damage so you deal lots of damage
All armor and magic resistance you get are increased by %20 so make use of it
Garen is not a tank
Thanks for reading