Garen Build Guide by Boosh
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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.
This is my Tanky/DPS Garen build. I find more often than not, I select these exact items in nearly every game (with the exception of Randuin's Omen, which would be swapped for Force of Nature or Banshee's Veil vs AP-heavy teams). It seems well-rounded enough to be efficient vs most line-ups. I've tried pure Tank and while you can soak up damage, you offer little reason, other than a silence, to be targeted. Going straight damage leaves you too squishy, in my opinion, for a melee champ like Garen.
I chose to go 14-16-0. I liked the ability cooldown, Armor Pen, improved Exhaust, additional MR, Armor and Health that this selection provided; but I believe this is a matter of preference. Any competent arrangement would be fine.
Typically, I start off with a Doran's Shield. If there is really very little physical damage, Boots of Speed and a couple Health Potions would be fine. If you wanted an early jump on Mercury's Treads, a Null-Magic Mantle's okay, too.
+ Rushing Boots of Speed+ The Brutalizer will be key and helpful to early-game dominance, where Garen's clearly overpowered.
+ Next I upgrade my Boots to Mercury's Treads and build the Hexdrinker. I prefer to get started on some Magic Res while still keeping enough damage to stay relevant. I find that Garen's robust enough for most Melee DPS Champs, and with Judgment, they'll rarely stand to swing at you anyway, unless you're ganked; and then you're just out of position, 9 times out of 10.
I realize lot of people are less interested in Mercury's Treads; as the norm tends to be Boots of Swiftness. Personally, I think the Tenacity and MR are too good to pass up, and synergize well with the build as a whole. If you can't live without the extra MS; you'll probably need a different build.
The next item is Frozen Mallet. This item will give you a ton of HP, enough damage to do your job and a great passive (if you remember to basic attack Champs before and after Judgment).
To pick up some Armor and some more damage, we move to Atma's Impaler. The damage it provides is going to be neccessary at this stage, and Armor certainly can't hurt. Keep in mind that at any point where AD Champs are a huge issue for you, you can take a Chain Vest earlier in your item build to stay in the mix.
The final defense item will usually be Randuin's Omen; but Force of Nature or Banshee's Veil may be required, depending on your situation. In that case, you'll just be choosing whether or not you want the HP.
Finally, you'll finish your The Brutalizer by building it into Youmuu's Ghostblade. The MS/ArP/Crit/Dmg/AS/CDR are all great, and with the prereq already long-since aquired, it's a no-brainer.
For the skill sequence, maxing Judgment first is absolutely necessary. I put a point in Decisive Strike at level two and a single point in Courage at level four. After that, prioritize Judgment and obviously Demacian Justice whenever it's available. I leave Courage at one point until the very end. It's Armor and MR are more useful then, and in the meantime, with your single point, you can still get on-demand 20% Damage Reduction. No complaints.
For summoner spells; I chose Exhaust and Flash. I prefer Flash over Ghost as I find when being slowed; the additional run speed tends not to help, where blinking can save you. Also; Flash+ Demacian Justice is too pro. Exhaust is great for shutting down AD carries, 1v1s, or just making sure you and your team can pick up the kill.
If you prefer Ghost and have more luck with it; more power to you. I feel it's personal preference. Mine just happens to be Flash.
Obviously, Garen's early game has some sick potential. If you have a complimentary lane-partner, like Blitzcrank, Sion, Singed, Taric, etc with CC to keep them in your Judgment, you're likely to have some fun.
With the great passive, Perseverance, it's hard to be forced out of lane, and allows you to play aggressively when you're aware of the enemy jungler and the other lanes in general.
Just always remember that you're not indestructible; so use your head.
It's hard to summarize teamwork when it's so dependent on team composition, and individual players behind certain champs on your team, but one thing that's particularly important is the use of Demacian Justice.
Garen can KS all day, like it's his job, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you should. You should evaluate the situation, rather than always going for the KS. Your carries might be better off with the additional gold than you are. You'll have to decide this for yourself, but it also doesn't mean not using your Ult. You can still secure the kill by firing it off just a bit early, leaving the enemy Champ at a sliver of health, so your carry can pick up the free gold.
You will need gold yourself to be useful, especially since with little attack speed and Judgment dealing half damage to creeps; you aren't the greatest farmer in LoL. Like I said; it's situational, and you'll need to make the call in your particular game/instance.
This is another tough subject to tackle as there are so many viable options. You'll just always need to remember, while if necessary, you can initiate, that isn't your job. This Garen isn't a Tank, so don't play it as one, or you'll be disappointed.
With Decisive Strike's silence, you'll shut down ability-reliant Champs like AP carries, and skill-dependent AD carries, like Ezreal. Make sure you get in there and get on them. Judgment will be nice for team AoE damage, but shutting down and burying that carry's the most important part and Garen happens to be pretty good at it.
If the carry can't be reached, you should try to silence Champs with heavy or AoE CCs for your team as disruption. If there's a killer Ult and you're the only, or one of few CCs on your team, it's not a bad idea to save Decisive Strike for shutting down Malzahar, Nunu, etc mid-channel. The damage you'll mitigate is worth the damage you lost not firing off the attack earlier.
Pros / Cons
Great Early Game
Good Single-Target Damage
Ult makes getting kills an easy task
Great lane-staying power
Damage tapers off in late, late game.
Melee <--(Yes, I believe that's a bit of a con.)
Often expected to Tank
Ranked play would be similar, since that's where I developed the build, but when solo-queueing, remember that if you're at a low Elo, people will not typically pick for good team-comp, and if you do choose Garen, they might expect you to Tank. Often they will.
You'll just have to explain that it won't be your job/role.
In low-Elo this is likely to result in your team doing a fair amount of crying; since when you're an 1100 player, you're awesome, but it's always your team's fault; and you'll need to even make excuses beforehand. =P Just something to keep in mind.
This Garen build won't fulfill the role of Tank on a team. He has defenses, but will get melted if used to initiate big team fights and hold aggro.
The items chosen are for the purpose of staying robust while maintaining damage throughout the game. They provide enough mitigation to let you do your job and **** on that carry.
As with any champ, with the exception of some AP nukers, you need to be very flexible with your build. I believe 9 times out of 10, these exact items will be perfect, but the order can be changed, if necessary, depending on your opposition. A common item to be pushed forward is Chain Vest or Heart of Gold.