This build is about making you play Garen in a way that he will be both tanky and dangerous. This way, in a team fight, they will not want to focus you (they will want to focus your dps) but if they do nothing about you, they will feel the hurt!
It is a hybrid build that makes you take advantage of Garen's best assets, and focus on improving what he really needs. I will give you a resume of the build on the next chapter.
How is it different from other Garen builds? Mainly the item order. I've seen many where their warmogs was like 4-6th item. Warmogs is a HORRIBLE item if you dont use it's bonuses, you need to get it very early to farm for it's bonuses for it to be worth it.
Even worse, Garen builds with no mobility, or no damage. Sure fire cape is a nice damage boost mid game..but it's not gonna scare anyone over the 40 minutes mark. Sure Boots of swiftness are fast, but not if you are slowed or stunned half the time in team fights. My build fixes all those issues.
Basic principles of the build
First, let us look at Garen's passive :
: Garen will regenerate 0.5% of his maximum health per second after not taking damage for 7 seconds.
How do we effectively take use of this passive? By gaining a large amount of hp! Why not resist? Because Garen's skill already gives him resist! And, as you should already know, the best way to tank in LoL is to have the best HP to resist (armor and mr) ratio possible, 5000hp with 50 armor is bad, 2000hp with 200 armor is bad, it's best to have 3500hp with 125 armor because the more resist you get, the least it will effect.
Whst it means is, you should focus on HP more than resist with Garen, simply, since his courage skill will end up getting him a fair amount of resist.
Now...Garen is considered a "tank", he WANTS to be focused, but he has absolutely no CC so if you get only hp and resist, why would the other team focus you? Truth is, they simply will do their best at ignoring you, they might stun or slow you once in a while to keep you away but you will be the last they want to kill.
What I have just said up there, it is a flaw, it is a PROBLEM Garen has, earlier we took ADVANTAGE of Garen's good points (regen and passive resist), now we need to fix a problem. Actually I've named two problems, mobility in a team fight and lack of sufficient damage to be considered a threat. Let us take them individually :
Mobility : Yes, Garen IS more mobile and most heroes because of his ability, however, in a team fight you will eventually be slowed or stunned and it will prevent you to get where you want to be (in the squishies's faces). This build fixes this problem more than enough with :
Mercury Threads : Will make you more resillient to CC
: Improves your chasing and fleeing abilities
: Gives you a surprise effect (flash + ult) and a last resort.
: A lot of movement speed and attack speed (and yes, attack speed gives mobility when chasing, because you are "stunned" shorter after attacking).
With this setup, you will be where you want to be, when you want to be.
Lack of damage : Mobility is great and all, but if you make no damage, you'll be just like a fly. And late game, I promise that if you only have defense items, he really will make no damage.
Earlier we took advantage of our passive resist by getting more hp (with
Warmog's armor, we can take advantage of that! With an Atmas's Impaler Atmas, your attack increases the more hp you have and gives crit chance (fits perfectly with your phantom dancer). Also, the next item to get is a Mallet, which will add hp (thus damage), attack and slow (to chase).
You will be fast, tough and dangerous, I promise you the squishies will not ignore you.
You might feel a little about my runes, which is why I will explain them.
: Mobility with Garen is ultimately extremely absurdly important with Garen, see it as a "replacement" for his lack of CC, he can't have too much of it.
Simply to increase his damage output, phantom dancer and atmas will give quite a lot of crit chance.
Greater Seal of Vitality : You never have enough HP with Garen, as soon as you get atmas, hp = damage, more won't hurt!
: Cooldown reduction, means you can judgement more, silence more, ult more... I'm sure you get the point without more explanations needed.
Ruby Crystal : Why first item? It is simply the best first item for Garen.. He does not need regen at all if you play him well, so why waste money on it? It's also an item needed for warmogs which you want to get the fastest you can.
Mercury's Threads Mercury's Threads : They are simply, in my opinion, the best shoes for mobility in a team fight. You WILL get slowed and stunned, quite often, boots of swiftness aren't worth getting if you spend 40% more time on CC's. It will also give you early magic resist, which can not be bad.
Frozen Mallet : It is an overall great item for Garen, but even more so with this build. Considering you will have a high movement speed because of phantom dancer, you will easily reach your opponent, and once he's slowed...he simply has absolutely no chance to flee, even hugging his towers won't save him.
I think I've already discussed enough about warmogs, phantom dancer and atmas, those 3 items go along absurdly well and fit with Garen's needs.
Sadly there are not many alternatives to this build, item wise. Each item else than mallet are necessary for the build. What would be possible is to get the phage before making the atmas, so you would have a slow earlier, but attack damage later.
In a game where the enemy team is very specialised (dps only or magic only), it's okay to change the mallet for, example, a fire cape or a force of nature. Try to avoid banshee unless you think it's absolutely necessary, because it gives mana and...you don't have mana.
No 6th item?
No, because, firstly, once you get to your 5th item the game usually ends around there. And if it does last more, the 6th item will depend a lot on the game. If you need mobility you can get an additionnal phantom dancer or a force of nature, if you get focused a lot you can get another tanky item, if they are still trying to ignore you get an infinity edge etc. It's very relative up to this point
Ghost : This one is obligatory, if you intend to not get it, then you're wasted your time reading my build. You need it all the time, for everything, if I could get 2 ghosts I would.
Flash : Very useful, but not necessary. I really like it for the surprise effect. Example an ashe trying to kite you, shooting backing shooting backing, you flash and BAM she's screwed (if you have phage or mallet). You can also do the typical flash ult which is pretty annoying to the enemy.
Exhaust : I don't find it extraordinaty with this build, but it's decent. It's good for early ganking (which you can very well do with the ruby crystal start), killing carries that try to face you, and generally as a slow before you get a mallet.
So...how do I play him?
It depends a lot agaisnt who you are, in laning phase CC heroes and tanks are Garen's worst nightmares while CC allies are his best friends. It is preferable to be agaisnt squishies like tristana, ashe, TF and such, as they often have a weak early game. Garen can be on a solo lane, but only if you are used to playing him.
The basic principle on how to use Garen in lanes is, you need to go by steps. You have to outpower them. At the very start, as soon as they get close you jump on them and try to exchange as much damage as you can, if they are half hp and you are half hp, you've succeeded. Afterwards you stay behind your minions and AVOID ALL DAMAGE until you are healed up, to make use of your passive. After about a minute, once you are full health again, jump on them again, don't be scared to use your summoner spells. They will need to back (or die) eventually, and that's when you start farming a lot.
Trying to farm and getting hit each 10 seconds by an auto attack, is the worst thing to do ever with Garen. The biggest thing to consider here is, you need to play very safe, dying a few times in your lane might slow down your build, and the first items of your build need to be obtained extremely fast.
I'll assume you have completed warmogs and a zeal by then, as well as mercuries. With this setup, you do have a slight movement advantage and you're ready to gank. If you see any opportunities, don't be too scared. You will be quite scary to the opposite team already and very hard to kill.
In team fights, your role is to, firstly, receive damage and CCs (you're a tank after all) so that your team can attack freely. Secondly, you need to jump on a carry or squishy in general, and completely prevent him from attacking your team members (as he will have to either run or try to fight you). If you're good enough, you can usually distract 2 guys instead of just one, make use of judgement and alternate between 2 targets if you can, the rest of your team will feel much much safer.
Let's say "End game" is after the 40-45 minute mark. This is usually when the game will simply end, but if it dosen't, here's what you should do :
1: Always be active, don't go back to base each time you have the money to buy a component, keep farming, pushing, ganking non stop, don't leave them any rest. You are tanky enough to stroll their forest and gank those who try getting the buffs, if you played alright you will 1v1 any of them, and possibly 1v2, and have great chasing capabilities. WIth your summoner spells ready, your risks of dying are infinitely low, I've got out of a whole team on baron before once I had the mallet.
You might often hear that Garen is an early game hero, with this build he's an early and end game hero, the mid game is his weakest. Once he gets his 5th item (usually mallet), he'll have over 200 damage (+ crits), over 4500hp, over 500MS when using decisive strike etc. Basically, he's a monster, the most fed of carries will have to flee when you chase them.
- Decisive strike is very useful to last hit mobs, use it on catapults if you can.
- A good strategy is to weak each mob in the wave to about 1/3hp or more depending on your attack power. Once this is done, you cast judgement and it will kill all 5. It's better than kiling one at once or using judgement once they are full hp, but it's also riskier vs opponents.
In short, this build focuses on Garen's most needed aspects while trying to make use of his advantages. We give him a huge mobility and damage output while keeping him tanky. We also skip early regen items since they are not needed because of his passive, helping us continue building his core items.
In my honest opinion, Garen with this build is slightly overpowered, because of the simple fact that he is always worth it. In a team fight, you will ALWAYS make at least one person run, and possibly kill him, while receiving at least some damage or CC from other heroes. I just can not see how its possible for him not to be useful enough in a team fight, unless you can't play him properly.
I've never hard a negative ratio with this build, even with a losing team, and it is very possible to carry with him. I'd suggest not to let your carry get all the kills, you're not a full tank and you don't need to let them have the kills. That does not mean you should steal kills on purpose however.
But that's it for the guide folks, I hope you enjoyed.