Garen Build Guide by matthewy9
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.
Top Lane Always
Step 2 (Early-Mid Game)
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.
- About this Guide -
Hi, I'm Miffy from the NA servers. I'm a secondary student and have been playing League for two years now. I have always thought Garen was a champion that couldn't scale and wasn't very viable this was until one day when I was demolished by an enemy Garen top lane. He had infinite sustain and no matter how low his health got (I was playing AD Nidalee and constantly harassing him), 2 minutes later, he would be back full health (without leaving lane). I decided to reenact his build and I have been maining Garen ever since. I realized the reason why he was so nonviable was because everyone was playing Garen incorrectly: going full tank (no damage and little utility) or going full damage (shutdown and kited way too easily). This guide will teach you how to dominate with Garen not just early game, but mid game and late game as well. Please note that I only play normals, so it is up to you to try this in high elo gameplay. Also note that this is how I play, so you can embed your different playstyles in game and also give me suggestions on how to play Garen (remember there's always room to improve). Thanks to jhoijhoi for writing a guide on how to code and make a guide.
And by the way, I won't be going into too much detail on things like masteries or runes because I have faith that you have enough common sense to be able to understand my reasoning and decisions. Aside from that, have fun playing this game, and enjoy reading this guide.
- What is Garen's Role? -
The role of Garen is to pretty much carry and win games for your team. You make all the decisions on when to initiate, for Garen is a leader and is fearless. Garen farms and wins exchanges against the enemy in top lane early game (getting a few kills and fed most of the time if played correctly), whilst never having to leave even when having 3k gold. Garen then transforms from a strong ad bruiser early-game/mid-game into an extreme bulk of damage that can silence casters, secure kills and destroy carries.
Pros and Cons
Garen, like all other champions, has his own pros and cons. Try to recognize the points below and minimize his cons and utilize his pros well.
Masteries and Runes
- Masteries -
Sorcery instead of Fury because cooldown reduction benefits Garen more than AT speed.
Tenacious instead of Relentless because you can remove slows with your Decisive Strike.
The rest is self explanatory.
You can also go 21-9-0 if you really want to for a more offensive approach, but In my opinion, investing in the defensive tree is more worth it since your AD carry can do most of the damage late game.
- Runes -
Greater Mark of Armor Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Health
After testing with different combinations of runes and listening to suggestions made by the community (thanks laggermeister), I've come to the conclusion that flat armor seals and magic resist per level glyphs are in fact a better option rather than CDR and health regen runes for general gameplay and early game dominance. These runes are used because:
- Armor gives you toughness against standard AD tops which makes you more likely to win exchanges.
- Armor penetration negates the enemy's base armor
- Magic resist scaling gives improved lategame defence against AP champions, especially ones who get Liandry's Torment
- Health gives an great early game advantage.
- In a Nutshell -
- Standard setup: Ignite+ Ghost
- AD enemy top: Exhaust+ Ghost
- Also viable: Exhaust+ Flash or Ignite+ Flash
- Not recommended: Flash+ Ghost or Exhaust+ Ignite
- Never tried this, but I think its just as viable: Teleport
TBH, I actually can't tell because I play blind pick lol, so just go with the standard setup unless you play ranked.
- Viable Spells -
Why do I pick this over exhaust? Because Ignite is better for pre-6 kills. And you really want to have one kill before level 6 because after just 1 kill, you have basically won your lane and can snowball into an indestructible force, which is what this guide is all about. Usually enemies, once their health gets low after exchanges, will flash away and hopefully make it to their tower before they go back base. They will be able to survive if you had Exhaust. But if you had Ignite, they will die which is what you are aiming for.
Ignite in action:
Makes you inescapable. Even Nid can't run from you (aside from gay walljumping XD). This skill gives you 27% movement speed which is further increased by Summoner's Wrath to 35%. Added with Boots of Swiftness and Decisive Strike, it makes you around 80% faster than most enemy champions. So why do I choose this over flash? The answer is simple-because you don't need flash. You can escape ganks perfectly well with Ghost and Decisive Strike and you can also catch up + turret dive with ease using Courage. Flash can probably do the same, but not if it was a long chase. In addition, Flash's cooldown is a whopping 5 minutes compared to Ghost that is only 3 and a half. So in conclusion, I think ghost is just so much better for Garen and his skillset. A bit like how singed also uses Ghost instead of Flash mostly. Oh, and you also ignore unit collision.
Ok. Exhaust. Although I was a little harsh on it in the ignite section, it is a really nice summoner spell in general especially in teamfights when you use it on the enemy AD carry or winning lane exchanges and its probably just as viable. Its just that I don't use it because it can't secure kills in lane as well as ignite can.
Arguably the best summoner spell in all of league, but I think Ghost is better on Garen. It is still extremely viable in terms of securing kills, initiating, flash-ulting, etc. Its most useful when you flash over walls to escape.
Just don't fail like these plonkers:
Use this to split push, increase map mobility, jump around team fights, backdoor etc. I'm not too familiar with this spell so I don't recommend using it but it should be just as viable as the other summoner spells above.
- Considerable Summoner Spells -
I haven't tested these, they probably aren't as viable but if you are really familiar with them or have developed your own tactics, feel free to try them out.
- Don't Use These -
Self explanatory. If you still insist on using them, I can't stop you.
Skill Order and Explanation
- Skill Explanation -
| Perseverance (Passive): This, is the reason why Garen is so OP. It synchronizes with two Rejuvenation Beads extremely well. With this passive active, Garen will heal like he just used a Health Potion. Bush when this is active, or just stay away from enemy attack range.
Tip: Keep in mind that when this passive is up, lasthitting ranged minions at the back will not aggro them unless there are no friendly minions nearby, so it is completely fine to do so. If the enemy attacks you, Decisive Strike them in the face and Judgment + Courage them. Read more in the WIN EXCHANGES SECTION (SELF NOTE EDIT SO URL IS THERE)
| Decisive Strike (Q): You can silence, chase and remove slow debuffs but this is not your bread and butter skill. Why max it first instead of Judgment? There are two reasons. Firstly, being a melee champion, using judgment to harass the enemy will almost certainly push your lane too far making you susceptible to enemy ganks;also, you inevitably missing CS when the enemy ranged minions are in turret range. Secondly, maxing Decisive Strike first will give you a longer movement speed boost, making you able to catch up to the enemy opponent 90% of the time whether during ganks or just harassing. Again, this is MY playstyle that works for me so even if you strongly disagree with my skill order, I strongly advise you to try it first before downvoting or flaming my guide.
Tip: In the event of an enemy gank, save Decisive Strike for after they use their slows like Exhaust for it removes all movement speed debuffs allowing you for a safe escape.
| Courage (W): This skill's passive is the reason why why Garen doesn't need to build that much magic resist and armor to be tanky. It's cooldown isn't that long so remember to activate this generously when you necessary in lane e.g. when a turret shot is coming at you, and best thing about it is it costs nothing.
Tip: Activating Courage when Judgment is active won't cancel the spell.
| Judgment (E): This is your bread and butter skill. Use this for clearing huge minion waves. Always use this after using Decisive Strike. In teamfights, Decisive Strike the enemy that has the biggest threat and spin away at them, activate Courage while you're at it. In lane, do the same when exchanging with enemy.
Tip: You can ignore unit collision when this spell is active, but going through minions will cost you 20% movement speed. Therefore, when harassing the enemy when they are running away, try not to collide with minions.
| Demacian Justice (R): Your ultimate. Very similar to Noxian Guillotine. Use this ability to secure kills. Obviously there is priority for enemy carries, but using it on other enemy champions to secure kills is also fine.
Tip: Use this to get kills. Through time and practice, you will know how low the opponent will be to deal the killing blow. Enemy 20% health approx. Teamates may rage at you for "KS-ing" but you know, you're winning ;)
The Black Cleaver
In a Nutshell, these items give Garen a good balance of damage, tankiness and domination. All the items above goes very well Garen's kit and I build them in 90% of all my games. Below is an explanation on why I use these items and why they are so good for Garen. There will also be a section on situational items where, you don't say, you would build on Garen against specific enemy team matchups.
- In Depth Explanation -
|Boots of Swiftness: I usually get these boots because you can move around the map faster and mainly so I can definitely catch the enemies with the combination of Decisive Strike and Ghost, also so Judgment can stay in enemy rage always.|
| The Black Cleaver: Best and most essential item for Garen. Get this every. single. game. This is why: Attack damage scales with his skills well, cooldown reduction because Garen relies on casting spells to deal damage (an AD caster like Pantheon), Health for more tankiness, and the passive armour reduction applies to his Judgment as well.
| Sunfire Cape: Garen can utilise this items stats really well. I get this item instead of Randuin's Omen because although Randuin's offer better health and armour plus a pretty nice passive, sunfire cape's aoe passive is just too useful in terms of clearing waves of minions and pushing towers. Well its just my playstyle so you can adapt to your own if you want.
| Spirit Visage: Offers good MR, CDR and health, these stats are pretty self explanatory. Now, this passive is just really good for Garen as it increases health regeneration by 20%. This is actually very good since it increases the regen you get from Warmog's Armor and also Perseverance.
| Atma's Impaler: Once again, a very good item for Garen. Since Garen has around 4k health endgame, this item will give Garen over 60 attack damage. As an added bonus, you also get 15 crit chance which applies to Decisive Strike and 45 armor. Oh and did I mention this item is only 2.3k?
| Warmog's Armor: Damn riot this item just got nerfed. Still a very strong item throughout for Garen. Basically, the more health the merrier. I usually get this item after sunfire if the enemy AP isn't very strong, but usually I get this last because the other item's are I guess essential for early and mid game? That doesn't mean warmog's is not important though.
- Situational Items -
| Mercury's Treads: I would get this if the enemy team comp was heavily AP based or had many CC. I usually use Boots of Swiftness instead because I don't really need the tenacity and I'm tanky enough with Courage, but again its just my personal opinion.
| Ninja Tabi: Get this when the enemy team comp is heavily AD based. Again, I prefer Boots of Swiftness instead because I usually don't find the need for more armour since Garen is already naturally pretty tanky and you get a lot of armour from later items as the game progresses.
| Randuin's Omen: Also a really great item for Garen. I personally don't really use it because I prefer sunfire cape. Get this instead of sunfire cape if you want more tankiness for your team. Also if the enemy has an AD that is getting really fed (e.g. enemy vayne bot lane is already 2-0-1 by the time you finish black cleaver).
| Runic Bulwark: I would get this instead of spirit visage only if my team was lacking a support. The stats are nice but I usually prefer Spirit Visage instead because it is a lot cheaper and offers similar stats.
| Infinity Edge: Get this only when you are lacking an AD ranged (rare but it could happen in normals) or completely dominating the enemy team and just want a few more kills for fun. Garen doesn't really need any other offensive item other than The Black Cleaver and is much better investing in defence. Get this item instead of Warmogs.
| Last Whisper: Ok, I lied about The Black Cleaver being the only offensive item you'll ever need on Garen. Well only get this item when your team already has a pretty decent tank and if they have really heavily armoured enemies (notice I used a plural). Again, you are much better off investing in defence but this item is viable as well.
- Other Considerable Items -
These are items that look like they work well with Garen, but ones that I personally have not tested. Feel free to try them out and tell me about them in the comments section :)
I always start with 2 Rejuvenation Bead, a sight ward and a Health Potion because after the removal of regrowth pendant and change of recipe for Warmog's Armor, Rejuvenation Bead can offer just as good sustain in lane, allowing for you to play aggressive and win exchanges against the enemy. A sight ward is also really useful because it helps prevent the enemy from ganking you, making you able to farm and push safely. Ok, your actually play style is actually dictated by the enemy top: ranged or melee. Now if they were a melee, you've got a huge advantage. This is because you can lasthit safely, and when they try to lasthit your minions, go Decisive Strike then Courage and Judgment on them and follow them as they back off. You will win 90% of these exchanges. Now playing against ranged enemies is a little tougher, but there still shouldn't be that much of a problem. Just stay back and lasthit by your tower and call your jungler to gank, or ideally, stay in the bush and when they go to lasthit, quickly run to them and do your standard combo. Try avoiding going back base unless absolutely necessary as you can regenerate health back relatively quickly.
Slowly but surely, you should be able to wear the enemy down. When the enemy reaches around 300-400hp, use your combo again but this time Ghost after it ends and Ignite them. Keep chasing and auto-attacking and voilà, an enemy has been slain!
Ok, if you haven't gotten a kill yet (unluckily), then the enemy should at least be really low health and therefore has to go back base. USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Do not just push your creeps all the way to the end, instead deny the enemy experience by letting their creeps kill yours. Oh, another thing to remember when playing Garen is you don't really need a jungler to help your lane unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Tell your jungler to help other lanes instead. Following the early game playstyle, you should be able to be a little ahead of the enemy. Usually, when you play another champion, they would still be able to make a comeback, but this is Garen we are talking about. EXPLOIT THIS ADVANTAGE. Zone, zone, and zone even more. Deny, deny deny. (remember to place a sight ward by the river though. If you don't know what zoning is, heres a tutorial:
Depending on how well you do, you should go back base once you have enough to get Boots of Speed and The Brutalizer or The Black Cleaver altogether.
Ok, by now you should be aiming to: a) get their top tower and/or b) gank other lanes. If you choose to a), continue to play like you did before until you get another kill or force the enemy to go back base and get their tower. After this, proceed to b), ganking is a pretty situational thing and being good at ganking comes with experience. Just do your standard combo on the enemy as usual. Continue to get towers if possible, lasthit, help team in mini (or big) teamfights, clear waves of minions using Judgment and with the help of Sunfire Cape and also getting dragon if possible.
By now, you should nearly be full build, and normally you would be a ahead of everyone else in game. This is because you hog all of farm and get all the kills because you are Garen. Just kidding, but you should still be focusing a lot on farming top and also getting kills. Now just in teamfights remember to activate your combo in the order of Decisive Strike, Courage then Judgment on the enemy AD or AP squishy. Chase them down until their health is low and then slay then with Demacian Justice. These skills and how to use them are explained in the items section, and I'm pretty sure everything else is self explanatory or comes from experience in playing Garen. Ghost and Ignite if necessary.
In summary, despite the recent nerfs, Garen is still a borderline OP champion that is relatively easy to play. As long as the enemy makes one mistake, you can easily exploit that and dominate them in lane. Well I think this just about covers everything about how I play ! If there are any suggestions for changes or improvements, feel free to comment below. Also, if you enjoyed this guide, I'd really appreciate it if you left a rating. Thanks!