Garen Build Guide by RaG nuh RocK
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.
This build is as good as any Garen build you will come across on this site. If you are a slow reader I am sorry, but I am an A+ English student and I love it. I don't care much for fancy color schemes or any of that other stuff to distract you from what really matters. This guide is for serious players with only the intent of improving their Garen strategies.
This may not be the best build for you, seeing as to how most people play differently, but you can definitely take something away from this guide and add it to your own arsenal.
There might be a slightly better way to play Garen out there, but it will be hard to find. I've spent a lot of time playing Garen since I started playing this game about 2 years ago and Garen has changed a lot since he came out. From wearing 5 Sunfire Capes and rolling games to getting Judgement's original nerf to change its 100% Base AD scaling to Bonus AD and Crit Chance only to where he now sits as a 'somewhat in the range of fairly good top solo champions'.
If you can smash hard enough early game, you will be a giant force to be reckoned with for the rest of the game and Garen's being not amazing late game won't matter.
This is a very painstakingly thought out and practiced build balancing offensive capability with defensive and tanking/initiating ability.
I play top lane Garen in ranked solo Queue pretty much every game I play whenever I get the chance and I almost always outperform the other top lane champ. Some enemy top lane champs to worry about when playing Garen are: Renekton (does more damage earlier than Garen) Yorick (stupid strong laning capabilities) Singed (if built for early game he can offset your offense well) Kennen (ranged champ with a lot of stuns).
Marks are pretty obvious here, 9 Armor Pen. You shouldn't use AD Runes, as they simply do not provide enough damage and not enough benefit.
Seals you can mix it up to your preference, I prefer the HP Per Level Seals, but Flat Armor works well too. Other than HP Seals and Armor Seals, there aren't any decent Seals for a serious, winning Garen.
Glyphs you want to be all Cooldown Glyphs, preferably the Flat Cooldown Glyphs (0.65%) because lets face it, Garen is one of those champs who is only limited by the cooldown of his moves. You can take Magic Resist Per Level Glyphs, but they are not as good or efficient as the CD Glyphs.
Quintessences you can be a little more flexible with. Armor Pen Quints are probably the best here, but Garen can benefit from Movespeed Quints. Other than that, unless you are trying to specifically counter a certain enemy champ, these are the best Quintessences to have with Garen.
Pretty straightforward here. 21 in the Offensive Mastery Tree and 9 in the Defensive Tree. Take Health Per Level in the defense tree and +30 Health for extra toughness during team fights(also helps your AD a bit once you have Atma's Impaler so it has two uses).
don't take Lifesteal because Garen is going to be using skills much more than auto-attacking, and his attack speed is slow. Take the crit chance and crit damage masteries, they are more useful to you, Judgement crits, and benefits from bonus crit chance.
Also later on past 20 minutes your crit chance is really going to shine. You will be critting fools with your auto-attacks while your abilities are on Cooldown, and they can take big chunks out of Ahri's HP bar.
Boots and 3 HP Pots are almost always the best items to take. Boots lets you engage and escape much more efficiently that Doran's Blade or Shield, plus you have enough gold left over for 3 HP Pots witch are often overlooked in their strength.
Brutalizer is a perfect item for Garen, everything he needs(except for health) for 1337 gold. You will not upgrade into yoyo blade until after all other items are finished.
I usually get +3 speed boots, Garen loves him some higher Movespeed. Mercury Treads are the only other good boots worth thinking about, especially if the other team has at least 3 hard crowd control effects.
Any bruiser worth his salt will have a big HP item and Warmog's gives you the most. More HP for staying alive in team fights and a bit more AD from Atma's Impaler. You can get a Frozen Mallet if you prefer it, but I like the raw HP and you often don't need the slow from the Mallet.
Atma's Impaler is the logical choice next. 45 Armor, a boost of crit chance (you will notice the crits even just from having the +4% from masteries). It is a perfect item for a bruiser or ad off-tank. It makes you tougher to kill and boosts your damage output by a big chunk.
This area next has a bit more leeway in item selection. I prefer Last Whisper here, but Trinity Force is pretty decent, although requires twice as much farm as well as an Infinity Edge, although I find I am doing more damage more often with Last Whisper instead of IE. Phantom Dancer just isn't good enough. You can mess around with it because all three of these items are very good items for Garen. I just prefer LW over the others because it is cheaper and still does plenty of damage.
At this point, the AP carries will have at least half of their build done and will be hitting pretty hard with AP. Force of Nature is great and is better than Banshee's Veil for Garen. Gives a bit of Movespeed and 76 Magic Resist and some Health Regen for replenishing some health after team fights defending towers or fighting another random champ or two. Remember, for every 100 armor and magic resist, it takes twice as much damage to kill you.
Now turn that Brutalizer into Youmuu's Ghostblade and use that sucker's active for when your Q and E are on cooldown, taking down towers faster, escaping and engaging faster.
You can get Q or E at level one it isn't much of a difference in damage, but you will need to play a slightly different style depending which skill you choose. If you take Q at level 1, You can go with some different tactics. 3-hit combo: walk up and auto-attack, hit Q and hit him, and then auto-attack him once more then run away. Or you can use Q to close the gap quickly hit him with it and run or you can throw an auto-attack on him after he takes a Q to the face, it comes pretty quickly and Q refreshes your auto-attack.
If you go with E there are some different things that work:
If there are minions between you and the enemy champion, you can spin right through them and hit him 4-5 times with Judgement. Garen ignores unit collision while he is performing Judgement. You can wait until level 2 and get your Q to close the gap and spin faster then land the Q hit on him at the end. Or you can Q him and spin on him while he is silenced. If he is tough and stands there hitting you while you are hitting him, back off after you Q+E him, wait for your passive and/or health pots to gain you lane control again and repeat what you did before. Don't forget about your Ignite and Exhaust. Ignite is better than Exhaust early game, it will get you more First Bloods than Exhaust.
Max your E first, Q second, and W last, getting a point into your Ultimate move whenever it comes up.
Ignite is just what I personally prefer at the moment, it lets me win those tough 1v1 fights at top and is better than Exhaust early game.
There is a bit of leeway here, but generally since you are playing a bruiser off-tank, you want either Ignite or Exhaust, never both, and either Flash or Ghost. Nothing else worth thinking about. You don't need Teleport at all since Garen has fairly good sustain with has passive and 3 HP Pots.
In general, you want to play offensive early, especially very offensive immediately after you finish Brutalizer, and Atma's Impaler. Do not be super aggressive before level 3. There are some champs out there that can do more damage at levels 1-5, such as Renekton. try not to stay very long in range of his attacks early game, he does more damage than you and has a stun. After you get level 6 and a Brutalizer he is toast.
A great tactic for ganking is have your two Summoner Moves ready, hit Q and immediately Flash (preferably on top of victim) to Silence them and Ignite them, bust E on them and then finish them off with your Ultimate Move. This will generally kill any champion other than a dedicated tank or any champ with full health sitting in his tower's range.
Garen can take a lot of punishment so do not be afraid to tank some shots from a Tower to get a kill or help your AP/AD carry blast them down.
Once you hit level 9-11 you should start roaming and helping your other lanes push down towers. I usually have my lane won by that point in the game and Garen is a scary champion with his high movespeed, huge damage output and Flash. He will annihilate any squishy in seconds with a spread of his moves, from levels 6-11 with no trouble. Avoid Brand's skillshots by moving around a lot And don't be afraid to go head to head with any one of them. A good Top Lane Champion should be able to take down any Champion in the game at this point. This is when you are the carry, and later on say after about 26 minutes your AP Mid and AD Bottom will be putting just as much damage as you at this point, and there will be much more 5v5 and 4v4 fights. What you want to do find the enemy champ you does the most damage and take him out ASAP. He will either die or run from the fight which is exactly what you are hoping for.
Good Luck! And remember that Garen is not designed to be a pure tank or pure DPS. He is a mix of both and this build attempts to take full advantage of Garen :)
This entire guide is designed solely for ranked play although it will absolutely destroy in 5v5 solo Q draft.
Pros / Cons
THE BUSH BELONGS TO GAREN AND NO ONE ELSE. Except maybe Cho with 6 Feast Stacks :)
High Damage and Tough to bring down.
One-button move speed increase.
2.5 second Silence is amazing, although it only affects one Champion.
Greadt AOE damage with E.
Quite possibly THE BEST finishing move of any champion in the game.
W passive gives a solid 25 to armor and magic resistance after 50 minion kills.
Garen can only be stopped in two ways: killing him before he kills you, and a ton of Crowd Control thrown at him.
Not a very good jungler, but one of the best solo top laners in the game.
Can't peel off Champions from your Carries beyond just simply killing them.
Creeping / Jungling
Great farming, strong (although slow) auto-attacks for early game farming, and taking out entire waves with a brutalizer.
Don't jungle, leave that to champions like Udyr and Lee Sin.
Your Silence is a great tool against skillshot heavy champions like Brand and Karthus. IT STOPS THEM FROM USING FLASH OR GHOST. You can also stop Champions from channeling with your Silence, such as Karthus trying to Ult, and Fiddlesticks charging his Ult. It also stop them from using items. The only thing they do while Silenced is Cleanse and Quicksilver Sash's Active. Or some champs like Olaf and Alistar have a move that says no to Crowd Control.
Garen's Ultimate Move is like no other in the game. There may be some like it, but it is the best of its kind. If someone is at 1/4 of their health they simply are done for. Useful for especially annoying champs like low health tanks during teamfights that your carries can't finish off because they're moves are on Cooldown.
GAREN OWNS THE BUSH. You can stay in the bush for long periods of time and let the minions battle it out with the enemy laner, and strike when he uses his abilities on them. Or if he s stupid enough to facecheck a bush with a Garen in his lane. Basically they get Silenced and take a lot of damage, its a bit like an ***-whooping from your parents when you were 10 and they caught you doing something you shouldn't have been doing, like stealing or checking bushes out with your face.
Last hit minions with your auto-attack until you hit level 5, with an occasional whack from a Q.
After your Brutalizer you can annihilate entire creep waves in one spin.