Garen Build Guide by PvtHudson
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.
Real Man Garen
Hello and welcome to my Garen guide.
Garen is the epitome of badass. He's got awesome looking armor, a huge sword, and a badass unshaven face. Garen is a real man.
Garen is an insanely fun tanky DPS/assassin hero who, similarly to Urgot and Leblanc, has an absurd amount of damage early-to-mid game but eventually tapers off late game. However, if you dominate your lane you can snowball and remain a formidable threat later on.
Garen is a hard counter to most tanky DPS heroes who go top lane in the current meta.
If you are going to be laning against one of the following:
Then you can safely pick Garen and most likely dominate your lane.
Hard counters to Garen:
Nidalee (tanky DPS AD build)
slows, true damage ( Vayne), armor
Armor pen - Mandatory. No discussion.
Dodge - Dodge scales better into late game than armor. But since it's getting removed and if you don't have dodge then you can just use flat armor seals.
Magic resist per level - Mandatory. Do not get CDR. You don't need it. With Mercs, MR per level blues, and the passive on Courage you should have enough magic resist to not need to itemize for it.
Armor Pen - For damage.
Movespeed - For chasing.
Health Regen - For sustain.
If you are using health regen quints, you can start with a Doran's Blade. Otherwise start with boots and 3 pots.
Pick up 1-2 Doran's Blades. Always buy wards. Keep your lane warded.
For boots, either Ninja Tabi or Merc Treads. Never get Boots of Swiftness. If they have no CC and you don't want Ninja Tabi, get Boots of Lucidity.
If you are dominating early game or your opponent is stacking armor, you can pick up a Brutalizer. Otherwise rush Atmogs. Atmogs takes a while to get but Garen's damage is still high mid game so if you finished your Warmogs but just begun building Atmas, don't worry you still hit hard and hit harder once you finish it.
Buy an Infinity Edge late game or another Warmogs late game.
If you need MR, get a Force of Nature.
If fed and the score is 30 to 0, buy a Void Staff for the lulz. It works with your ultimate.
Never buy Sunfire Cape
Never buy it on Garen. It's a terrible item. You're not a tank. You're a bruiser who can assassinate squishies. The amount of health and armor you get is miniscule compared to Atmogs. Sunfire will detract you from your main build.
You also barely get any damage from it. 35 magic damage a second isn't much. You also have no magic pen (aside from the 10% mastery). All heroes have a base MR of 30. Most AD carries use MR per level glyphs so they will have at the very least 54 MR at level 18. If they have Soraka, that's 70 MR. If they have an Aegis.... etc etc etc. You get the point.
This isn't 2010 where you'd stack 3 Sunfires on Garen and rape face. I know how iconic the item is on him but do the math and you'll realize it's a bad item.
21/9/0 to take advantage of your huge early game damage.
You can put the 3 points into Havoc or Crit Chance. It doesn't matter.
You can swap minion damage for Ignite. Personally I find the 5 extra AD to be useless. It takes a while to get used to last hitting as Garen so extra damage to minions helps.
I take the magic pen mastery because Garen's ultimate is magic damage.
Ignite and Flash.
Ignite synergizes so well with your Ultimate. Flash allows you to escape or flat out destroy squishies. See an Ashe that's out of position? Flash onto her and silence her. You will kill her with your full combo (Q--->E--->Ignite---->R).
Always take your Q first.
I would have died easily here if this Garen took his Q first:
Garen's Q also does a ****ton of damage level 1, and does more than his spin. Also no one is going to let you spin on them level 1, unless they're afk.
Afterwards, max out your spin while taking a point in W. Courage is a one point wonder. The passive will get you free tanky stats while the active will allow you to do some crazy things like tower dive and get away with it. Take his ult whenever you can.
Why Not Tank Garen?
Do you build Caitlyn or Malzahar as a tank? No.
Then why would you build Garen as one?
Garen is not a tank.
A tank needs to be able to initiate teamfights, protect his carry, and soak damage.
Garen has no initiation and no way to protect his carry. His purpose is to charge for the opposing team's carry. That's what his Q is for.
If you build Garen as a pure tank, then he will have no damage at the 15 minute mark aside from his ultimate. You will be completely and utterly useless. Having Garen as a tank is the equivalent of having Katarina with a Sunfire Cape initiating with her Shunpo and Ult. It's dumb. Don't do it.
Why Not Full AD Garen?
Why would you build someone who is melee, someone with no escapes, someone who is very susceptible to being kited as a glass cannon? Talon can get away with it because he turns invisible during his ultimate. Akali gets away with it because she's invisible in her shroud. Riven gets away with it because she's extremely, extremely mobile. Garen has none of those. His Q is used to charge straight for the enemy carry.
By the time you finish your Winfinity Edge, you'll be barely any tankier than your Ashe. You'll have 0 sustained damage and will explode in teamfights.
Garen is an AD Caster like Renekton, Pantheon, Riven, Talon, etc. Garen doesn't autoattack. He does his damage from his spells. Stop building Phantom Dancers on him even if his spin benefits from it. The amount isn't worth itemizing for. It's a wasted stat because you do not auto attack. You'll have enough crit simply from Atmas. If you're itemizing for attack speed, you're doing it wrong. His cooldowns are low and meant to be constantly spammed. There isn't time to be autoattacking.
He's a tanky DPS.
Garen needs to survive to do damage. If you die before you finish your combo (do note your spin is a maximum of 3 seconds) then you have failed.
Also, only 2 of his skills scale on AD. His Q and his E. Now compare that to Riven or Renekton all of who's skills scale off AD. Even though his ratios are high, you will die before you do your full damage.
Harass the **** out of your opponent. Every time they try to come in to last hit a creep, unleash your combo on them (Q-->E) and autoattack them a few times. If they keep repeating this and you're slowly whittling their health down, you should be able to kill them. You can always Flash--->Q silence onto them when they least expect it and finish the combo from there.
Always, always, always last hit your creeps. Garen needs farm. An Atmogs combo is expensive.
If you're losing your lane, buy some defensive items or a couple of more Doran's Blades and ask your jungler to gank.
Always focus the enemy AD/AP Carry, always. You're a tanky assassin with a ton of damage. You can insta-gib them immediately. Garen's Ult and Ignite allows him to always Garen-tee a kill during teamfights.
Also don't do stupid stuff like stealing kills for no reason. If 4 of your teammates are wailing on Anivia's egg, don't use your ult on it like a ******.
Max kills: 20
Max deaths: 8
Per game averages:
You are tanky enough not to die and powerful enough to still kill with this build.
You need a balance between survivability and damage to be successful as Garen.
Garen is great in solo queue because he's a pubstomper and a hard counter to many heroes. Winning your lane and dominating your opponent will allow you to snowball and carry your team to victory.
When it comes to arranged ranked/tournament games, I don't think I can recommend him. He offers no utility and you cannot substitute either of his summoners for Teleport which most top lane heroes take. This puts you at a Dragon disadvantage. Also this isn't solo queue so people don't surrender the second something goes wrong. Just because you wrecked your lane, doesn't mean the opposing carry isn't free farming for 30 minutes.