Garen Build Guide by
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Introduction or "Why not tank?"
this is my first guide for LoL. I have been playing Garen as main almost since I'm playing LoL (that's about 1,5 half year). But now to my guide. Surely you all have heard/read/thought about Garen as a tank. From my own experiences, he's definitely not a tank. He lacks the real CC and the only thing he's good for as tank, is to survive as four other teammates are dead and Garen so far probably only has made 1 KS due to his ulti. Sure in some cases Garen can work as tank, but not when opponents have tank like Amumu. Garen will try to initiate probably with DS to silence heavy AP, then probably spin with Courage on. I write "try" because it's where it all ends. Spinning Garen with ALL the defensive items - a big threat? Suuuuure, when Judgement is scaling so nicely with AD and not with 2k of unused HP. Nobody will focus such Garen, everyone will rip into pieces your carries and there will be nothing you can do about it. E.g. Amumu? Gap close -> stun all -> teammates have free way to finish opponents carries -> GG WP. Yes, now blahblahblah silence from DS, blahblahblah kill with ulti. Wait, I see a problem there. How do you kill someone with 60% HP only with your ulti and Judgement delaing 0 dmg in fact? Well only very hardly. Or ulti some carry at 15% HP. GREAT! You will use that gold from kill surely great in next teamfight with another bunch of metal on your body. Definitely not worth that 300g your carry needed to finish his PD. As I mentioned before, you now stay alone vs. probably 3-4 opponents. Indeed great feeling, to run into them with DEMACIAAAA!!! on your lips, but you die in 3 secs anyway and your heroic charge was for nothing, another 2 towers down and your team finally alive again can do nothing, because Rammus is banging your tower as hell and he CAN taunt your allies to attack him unvoluntarily, so enemy Vayne will headshot your little Teemo while you are dead and finishing Warmog (to prepare for Atma, so you can finally do some dmg).
So lets Spin to Win on top.
So I've said enough bullsh*t about the tanking and now to starting game. You should go definitely solo top as because you can even handle 2v1 due to your awesome sustain and unbeateble lvl 2 combo. Usually I see Garens starting with DS and J on lvl 2. And fights they start spinning and then try to silence. My way? Unleash your full power without Flash! Start with J so you can escape too early gank (attempt for FB from opponents) or make yourself spin to punish any attempt of harras on you. Lvl 2 pick DS and there begins fun. If you are used to Garen enough and you are not goin against something like Riven, you can almost surely kill. Just gapclose with DS, which deals significant dmg on first tier and spin for 3 secs. Your enemy is probably dead or going to recall. It is because he is silenced for 2.5 secs out of 3 secs of spin so you just harmlessly lowered his life to minimum at no cost. He stays on line? Gap close again, use exhaust and finish with your deadly spin. Your first kill, you can probably even handle jungler if he comes and go home fast to get your superfastest boots. Yes, you will chase 'em anytime and everytime, you will end with like 12/0/6 with happy feeling how uncontrollable dmg Garen has. As I wrote buy Boots of Swiftness, but as a second item. First should be almost always Dorans Shield. If opponents are stupid enough to send someone else than Riven/Lee Sin, pick Blade. Even against AP/AD chars go Blade, because you have to be so aggresive as you can. Shield vs similar tanky DPS who use AD (as I mentioned already - Riven). So now we have Doran and fast boots. There may still be chance, that someone will outrun you, so we make for us a Phage! Gives dmg, health, SLOW and it is so cheap to get early. Dont be afraid to buy only part of item when at home (dmg>crystal). After you have Phage, you should start saving your money to buy a B.F. Sword and Vampiric Scepter right after. You have now enormous dmg and a lot more sustain due to life steal. At top you should be now menacing beast (KEEP IN MIND - ALWAYS WARD YOUR BUSH, last thing you want is to lose your advantage over your top opponent due to some bad gank from jungle) and almost permanently threatening mid, so your jungler can either help you to literally ra*e mid, steal jungle or own bot all the time. From this point - try to finish Frozen Mallet, then do what suits you best. I put here IE, but you can go for Spirit Visage, if you feel that you could be endangered with enemy AP's or rush Atmas to own your melee opponents even more. Sometimes I go for Hexdrinker -> MoM, just in case some teamfight will go wrong and you will have to deal with more AP's then usually. As last item feel free to pick anything what fits best for that particular game. Even PD can be sometimes a nice option due to movement speed, crit (which goes on nicely with Judgement) and attack speed (not so great on him, but if you are fed, there is one word: WHATEVER =D). So to finish this chapter - FM and Shield combined with Courage gives you usually enough tankiness (or with atmas/spirit visage) to survive long in fights, kill with your deadly combos, finish weak with ulti and in case of danger run away for some jungle mobs or minions to refill a bit HP and hurry back to fight again. MOAR kills for Demacia now!
Runes, Masteries, Summoners
Runes are obvious for me. AP quints + marks. Along with your masteries, you have enough AP even for most late games (you are not focusing that 350 armor Malphite, but that little Teemo next to him, okay?) Seals for instant armor so you have a little edge on top against AD melee at early game. Glyphs for instant CDR - again, it is early game when you have to own, Garen is not that good in late game, so we have to use his potential from start. Matseries are obvious for me - so much dmg output as you can get, small lifesteal (6% with Blade at lvl 1-2 is also not bad and may help you getting FB), also CDR (Garen is cdr based only, so we want to push this number as high as possible without loosing some dmg opportuninty). Summoners are Flash - even MOAR gap closing =D and combined with exhaust? Early game 3/0/0 Garen-tee, do you get it? =D (yes, yes, it is his original joke, so what?) I write /0 because you dont need your jungler to help you. You will teach him how to gank with your super fast boots. You will be in mid in a matter of seconds and even Kassadin will think twice how far will he go, because u can gap close + silence as well as him.
Thank you for reading my guide, I hope you will enjoy playing Garen in my way. And alway remember - Tanky DPS, but not tank.