Garen Build Guide by BlazedFlash

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author BlazedFlash

The General Known as Garen.

BlazedFlash Last updated on January 4, 2013
Like Build on Facebook Tweet This Build Share This Build on Reddit

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

Guide Top

The general garen intro

Without even buffing Garen, this patch makes him 10 times more viable then he was before. Just the change to The Black Cleaver was a massive buff to Garen, as he makes supreme use of the item. The only champion that can surpass him in that respect is a Wukong with ult. The massive utility that Garen now brings will make him a more sought after champion without a doubt. He might not see tournament play, but he will be played more.

I hope you guys love the changes I've made as much as I do. Enjoy the guide and have fun summoners. A new dawn for LoL is here and the rise of Garen has begun. CE

- Good farming ability
- High movement speed
- Naturally tanky
- Good finishing ability
-ez to use
-Strong early game

- Easy to kite
- No strong CC
- Poor initiation
- Not the best late game scaling
- He's OP

Guide Top


No changes here. Basic melee DPS setup.


Greater Mark of Armor Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Greater mark of Desolation: The benefit of armor pen is obvious. You need these to help you kill and contend with armor.

Greater Seal of Armor: Armor is none negotiable. You need these runes to deal with the AD champions that populate top lane. They will also help you survive ganks and negate damage from creeps when fighting in lane.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: In most cases you'll be going up against AD top lanes which is why we're getting magic res per level. They scale better into late game and that's when you'll need it.

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage: I started using these to improve my ability to last hit. They're also beneficial to Garen because his abilities have improved AD scaling now.

Guide Top



The most drastic change to the mastery trees for Season 3 goes to Utility. Offense and Defense will still function much the same way as they have in the past. Offense barely changed at all, so its still not the way to go for most melee champions. I am however very happy with the Defense changes, as the tree is now very flexible. Many of the new additions make it much harder to kite a melee champion like Garen and should improve the viability of champions that share that weakness.

Lets get to it then.


Summoner's Wrath : For improved Exhaust.

Sorcery : Because 3% CDR is more beneficial then 3% ATS.

Deadliness : 12 Ad at lvl 18 isn't even noticeable. This is needed to get to the next tier.

Weapon Expertise : This is a must. This is now good at every stage of the game since they changed how armor pen calculation works.

Guide Top



Durability : More health is always welcome. Its the best of the starter masteries.

Hardiness / Resistance : Extra bulk for laning phase. Makes it easier to duel champions and freeze lane with armor. Many AD champs have abilities that that deal magic damage so the one point into that isn't wasted early on in most cases. If you're up against AP top then you can switch these resistances but you wont know that unless you're in draft of course.

Unyielding : For early game duels.

Relentless / Tenacious : Makes it harder for you to be kited and easier for you to escape.

Veteran's Scars : More free health. This is a considerable boost to have at the start of a game.

Defender : Will help you survive ganks and bulk you up for teamfights.

Legendary Armor : Considerable resistance boost.

Honor Guard : God this mastery is awesome. All that damage reduction will add up over the course of a game.


Guide Top

Skill Sequence

Decisive Strike

: The main change to this ability is that it now removes slows upon activation, which is what Judgment used to do. Now, is this an improvement? I don't believe so. This is Garen's only initiation tool. It needs to be used at the start of a fight and it needs to be used as soon as its off CD, to make use of the silence.

There is however, one very nice change that happened to Decisive Strike: It now crits. Nothing bad to say about that. This also reaffirms the fact that crit is important to garen.

Guide Top

The secrets that king Arthur left behind.

Tips and Tricks

Tip: Save this spell to use defensively if you are pushed to the enemy tower. In that situation you need to save the ability for its speed and slow removal in the event of a gank.


: This is the ability that received the biggest buff imo. At max rank Courage turns you into a monster. And now the ability actually improves when you put points into it. The increased duration and CC reduction are 2 changes that he desperately needed.

The armor and magic resistance scaling is now based on the amount you have. This has forced some changes in builds. In the end, the ability has improved on every front.
Tips and Tricks

Tip: The first few minutes of a match will tell you a lot about your opponent if you pay attention. Learn to read your oppenents playstyle. This will help you save this ability for when you KNOW you're going to take damage.


: Easily the most iconic ability in the game. Judgement is now a force to be reckoned with at every stage of the game with the changes to The Black Cleaver.
Tips and Tricks
Tip: Try and save this ability in teamfights for when you can hit multiple targets. Late game when you have ATS built its better to auto attack a single target and save your spin for multiple targets.

Demacian Justice

: This was actually nerfed by way of a longer cooldown. Otherwise, the ability remains the same. I dont understand why they didn't change his ult to true damage to match Cho'Gath and Darius. Darius' ult doesnt scale as well, but it can potentially be cast multiple times and Cho'Gath's ult scales massively on AP and still deals true damage... Dont understand it.
Tips and Tricks
Tip: Use this ability to get kills :P

Guide Top


Preferred Spells

Flash: This isnt negotiable. Garen is a very predictable champion and Flash gives you an element of surprise. You also need a better form of initiation and escape over Decisive Strike.

Exhaust: Will reduce armor with the mastery bonus and make it harder for you to be kited, which is very easy to do against Garen. Like Flash this has offensive and defensive capability. Its a very versatile spell that makes absolute sense for Garen's kit. You dont need Ignite to get kills when you have an execution ability like Demacian Justice.

Optional Spells

Ghost: There will be times when this spell would be more useful then any other. But the same can be said for any spell. When looking at Garen's kit, Ghost isn't the most beneficial choice, because you already have a speed boost from Decisive Strike. If you're going to use Ghost, I would use it in combination with Flash for full mobility because that spell is a must. It would make you impossible to gank and make it impossible for the enemy to kite you. Whats the downside? You wont be nearly as strong in a strait up fight without Exhaust.

Ignite: I wouldnt pack this spell unless I was up against someone like Warwick for the healing debuff. Ignite's main use is the ability to finish off an enemy. You have Demacian Justice for that.

Not Recommended

Teleport: Awesome spell. Teleport can win games under the right circumstances. But that's the problem. You never know how many chances you'll get to use this spell effectively per game. It could be a game changer, or it could be a waste of a slot.

Cleanse: It can be helpful, but it's not the best choice for a champion with so much built in CC reduction.

Heal: Better spell then people give it credit for. Heal is totally viable after the buff, but its not the best choice for Garen.

Dont Ever Use

Clairvoyance: This should be on your support champ.

Clarity: Garen doesn't use mana.

Revive: Only useful if you're dead... Not a goal you should be shooting for.

Guide Top

Summary build

Early Game (Winning Lane)

Boots of Speed/ Health Potionx3: When I first made this guide it was common for everyone to start with a Doran's item, excluding junglers and supports. This is obviously not the case anymore. Start with boots for increased mobility. Will help you fight and escape ganks.

Doran's Blade: Now that your first big item contains health, you don't need to worry about getting 2 of these anymore. I still get one because its generally all you can afford on your first trip back and all the stats are beneficial. Its the best way to gain a lead or keep your lead and the health will help you survive ganks.

Avarice Blade: If you told me that this would be in my build last season I'd probably laugh in your face. But it seems anything is possible. The removal of Heart of Gold has made this item instantly viable. It now builds into more items as well and has 2 gold generation passives. Now that Infinity Edge has been pushed back, this is your only option for early game crit. Its a must. 10% doesn't seem like much but you have to keep in mind that Judgment is an AOE. This gives you more chances to crit. It might be safe to say that Garen gets more mileage out of this item then anyone else.

The Black Cleaver: I cant say enough about the new Black Cleaver. It alone makes Garen 10x more viable then he previously was and it turns Judgment into a swirling mass of damage and utility. If the AD, CDR and armor reduction wasn't enough, the inclusion of health makes this the perfect starter item.

VS Difficult AD Lane

Go with these items if you're up against a heavy DPS champion that's a hard counter to you. Fiora is a perfect example. Building Avarice Blade is hard to do when you're up against a champion you cant beat without specialized items. Make sure to build Hexdrinker after The Black Cleaver to make up for the magic resistance you lost by not being able to get Mercury's Treads.

VS Difficult AP Lane

Same concept as the AD lane. Skip Avarice Blade if you need to and focus on some early game magic resist.

Tier 2 Boots

Ninja Tabi: These were my boot of choice in season 2. Because of the changes I've made to the build I no longer buy these because I really need the magic res from Mercury's Treads. If you feel that you need early game armor you can always pick up a Cloth Armor that will later turn into Randuin's Omen. Don't get these unless the enemy is AD heavy.

Mercury's Treads: Garen is kind of unique when it comes to magic resistance. Most champions in his role tend to get at least 2 magic resist items. Mercury's Treads and Guardian Angel is a very common combo on many champions. But to get that same amount of protection Garen only needs one item. He gets bonus magic res from Courage as well as damage reduction with the active. That's why I shifted to these boots after the changes I made to the build. Its my only form of magic resist in the default build and its all you need in most cases. And the tenacity is more important now that Frozen Mallet is out of the build.

Mid Game

Randuin's Omen: Removing Frozen Mallet from the build as I'm editing this almost brought a tear to my eye. I've been a strong supporter of that item since I started playing this game. Even back when Atma's Impaler/ Warmog's Armor was all the rage. Its one of my closest friends in the item shop and it continues to be a fantastic item. Believe me, I wouldn't remove it unless I was sure that there was now a better option for Garen. And there is.

Randuin's Omen was already a popular item and that's about to increase tenfold. But why is it now in my build? Because its now a reliable means to slow an opponent, as the slow effect is no longer random. If an enemy hits you with an auto attack, they get slowed. Period. This makes it much harder for someone like an ADC to kite you while attacking and that's utility that Frozen Mallet doesn't offer. And when an enemy is running away you have an AOE slow from the active.

Another big change to this item is the fact that Heart of Gold is gone and Giant's Belt has taken its place. So between this and The Black Cleaver you get the health boost that you would have gotten from Frozen Mallet, as well as armor and utility.

Infinity Edge: Moving this from the front of my build was a hard thing to do. This item is what made my guide as popular as it is. It single handedly showed what Garen was capable of and its no less important then it was. Once you get your hands on the build you'll see that why I made this change. The Black Cleaver is simply the better starting option now, but Infinity Edge is still the pinnacle of your offense.

At this point in the game you essentially have everything that you need. AD, armor pen, armor reduction, CDR, CC, health and resistances. Now its time to reach carry status and show people what Garen is all about.

Phantom Dancer: As we say goodbye to an old friend ( Frozen Mallet) its only fitting that we welcome an old friend back. If you've been following my guide for a long time you know that Phantom Dancer was originally a part of my build. Why I removed it is no longer important. But the reason for its return is simple. It now has a passive that makes you ignore unit collision. Good luck kiting me bro!

All the stats are beneficial and you need ATS at this point to fill the damage gap when Judgment is on CD.

I suppose I should also talk about attack speed now and why I build it on Garen. I cant tell you how many times I've heard "But Garen doesn't have any abilities that scale on attack speed, so you shouldn't build that way noob." That is false. Its true that he doesn't scale on attack speed, but hes not Riven and you cant apply the same logic to him. He doesn't have a constant string of abilities to unleash. Even with max CDR there's a gigantic lull in your damage output if you don't build attack speed. Attack speed allows you to be more strategic about when you do unleash Judgment. Its a stat that Garen needs late game to be viable offensively.

Final Item Choices

Youmuu's Ghostblade: If you can afford to go pure offense on your last item, this is a good choice. AD, armor pen, CDR and crit are all beneficial stats. You also get more ATS and movement speed from the active.

Atma's Impaler: If you want more armor to top off your build it doesn't get any better then this, as you will also get more AD and crit. And now that Avarice Blade is a part of this item its an even better choice then it was before.

Maw of Malmortius: If you find yourself needing more magic res you can pick this up. Build Hexdrinker whenever you feel that you need it and build Maw of Malmortius as your final item.

Support Items (Final Item)

I believe its the melee DPS champion's job to get one support item if its needed. Support champions cant afford everything and tanks aren't usually smart enough to build any support items. The following section will explain when and why you should get one of these items.
Zeke's Herald: So when do you get this? If you feel that you're sufficiently bulky enough and you're doing enough damage, but your team isn't. Every stat this item provides will be useful to you. Above all, the lifesteal will be very beneficial.

Aegis of the Legion: Get this if your team is melting. The value of this item is incredible.

Note that this item is still worth getting if someone else on the team has one. Just because your support or tank has this item, doesn't mean that they will always be in range to buff the whole team. Having 2 of these on a team is a safer bet to ensure that your whole team is buffed. This item also stacks for the owner. Meaning that if you own Aegis, you'll get the buff from your item, as well as the buff from your support champion's Aegis. If you don't own an Aegis, like a ranged carry, then you will only receive one buff even if you're in range of both champion's auras.

Super Tanky AD

Dont have a dedicated tank? Then go for this build. You'll be able to absorb more damage while still dealing a ton of your own. You lose ATS and mobility, but you can make that trade off if your team really needs a stronger front line and your teammates have the CC to lock enemies in place.

Build Summary

So, what we have at the end of the day is a build that balances offense and defense through proper scaling of Courage, a build that counters his ability to be easily kited with Flash, Exhaust, Randuin's Omen, Phantom Dancer, and Youmuu's Ghostblade and a build that brings utility to champion that lacks it. All in all, I prefer this Garen over the old.

Guide Top

Team Work

Dont Lane With Me

Even though you can win lanes with the above champs, they are among the worst choices. You don't want to lane with champs that have little to no CC. And you definitely don't want to lane with someone that needs minion farm and kills as much as you do. Basically, you don't want to lane with another carry. You need to be shooting for supports and tanks.

If you're in a premade or even solo queue and you have the choice of your lane partner, these are the champs you should be looking for.

Top Tier

Taric: Look at your lane partner, now look at mine. Back at yours, now back at mine. Can your lane partner heal? No? Look up, look down. You just got stunned. Can your lane partner stun? No he cant, because your laning 2 carries. You cant lane like us, but you can at least smell like us. Old Taric Spice available now.

Alistar: He's a CC monster, with a heal, that does good damage. Garen and Alistar is an unbeatable lane.

Cho'Gath: Powerful knock up, powerful silence, great damage.

Leona: Leona has great CC and she does decent damage early game. The best thing about Leona is her fantastic ability to initiate. Thats exactly what Garen needs from his lane partner, because he cant very well without Flash.

Lux: I dont know if Riot did this on purpose, but these two make a great team. She has good damage, a spell shield, a slow, and a trap that can hit 2 targets. Siblings unite!

Singed: Throwback, powerful slow, good damage.

Swain: Normally a solo lane, BUT he has too much CC to not be on this list. Garen and Swain are a good combo.

Zilean: Good damage, fantastic harass, powerful slow/speed boost, and a great ult.

Mid Tier

Amumu: Its on like Donkey Kong after he gets his ult. Until then all he has is his stun which is a skill shot that hits minions. Not very consistent. And his ult is on a dreadful cooldown.

Blitzcrank: His pull is great, but its a skill shot that hits minions. Same problem as Amumu. He also has his knock up and he does good damage.

Janna: Slow, knock up, OP shield and a nice CC heal with her ult. Doesn't contribute much damage, but she makes up for it with utility.

Karma: Good damage, shield, heal, slow/speed boost. I wanna buy this champ just because no one ever plays her.

Morgana: She has the same problem with her trap as Amumu and Blitz. But she has an OP shield and a great ult.

Orianna: Good damage, slow, shield, and a nice CC ult.

Ryze: Good damage and a spammable trap.

Low Tier

*Note* When I say "Low Tier" I don't mean that as an insult to the champions. I just mean that they aren't the BEST fits for Garen.

Galio: Good damage, slow/speed boost. He lacks strong CC until he gets his ult. Its a great ult though.

Kayle: Slow, heal, shield ult. Not much in the way of CC but Kayle has great damage.

Malphite: Slow, debuffs and a great knock up with his ult.

Maokai: His main contribution to Garen is his root. Decent CC and good utility from his ult.

Nunu: Powerful slow and a shared buff. The problem is that his ult is easy to counter. If you can shut down his ult consistently, Nunu isnt worth much. Hes very powerful if you cant.

Rammus: Knock up, taunt, decent damage. He is way better in team fights then lane. Decent choice but not optimal.

Shen: Taunt, global shield ult. Shen really needs a slow or some other form of utility. Hes getting passed up by other tanks.

Sona: Heal, various buffs, ult stun. Good support champ, but not the best for Garen. He needs strong CC not buffs. Hes strong enough.

Soraka: Silence, OP heals. Soraka is going to give the you best lane sustain out of any champ in the game, but shes not going to help you kill.

Lulu: Makes you really hard to kill.
Tip: First of all, dont be afraid to harass early on. With the health regen from your passive you can take some damage and not have to worry about it. You're extremely powerful early game so you need to take advantage of that. Playing safe wont get you anywhere fast with Garen.

Tip: At this point you're completely and totally reliant on your skills. You want to start a fight with Q and follow up with E. If your taking damage activate W. If your opponent was already missing health you should be able to seal the deal with your ult. If the champ is at full health you want to start the fight with Exhaust to maximize your damage. If they try to get away you have Flash to close the distance really fast and get your Ult off.

Counter Jungling

In most cases Garen is going to dominate solo top. If you're doing good, you want to make sure that your wrath is felt in more then just your lane. On your first trip back you'll want to pick up 2 wards. Place one in the river so you don't get ganked. Place the other near the enemy blue or red buff depending on which side of the map you're on. When the enemy jungler goes for that buff, wreck havok. You can wait until the buff is low and try to steal it, or you can Exhaust the jungler and go in for the kill. If your jungler is in position to help, its going to be an easy kill.

You have to be careful though. If the enemy has ward coverage as well, they'll know what your up to and react accordingly. You could end up in a 3v1 situation if your not careful.


Initial Spawn Time: 2:30
Respawn Time: 6 minutes
Reward: 150 global gold + 25 bonus gold to whoever deals the killing blow

Controlling dragon goes a long way to winning a game and the first can be the most important. Early game gold advantages set the tone for the rest of the game. If you can get dragon without the other team knowing, you'll have a major advantage. Why? Because they wont know the respawn time. Lets say you get dragon at 10:47, type "dragon 16:47" into team chat. This way your whole team knows when to get into position for the dragon respawn. Repeat this process and get in the habit of doing it. Do the same thing for Baron.

When to Dragon

Getting dragon is huge for your team, but going for it at the wrong time can be devastating. You can end up getting dragon stolen and giving kills to the enemy team at the same time.

The first dragon can be the hardest to get. You want to wait until you have Wriggle's Lantern or at least Madred's Razors. You never want to go for it when the entire enemy team is alive. If they have ward control over dragon it can go very badly for you. The only safe way to go for it in that case, is to have your support sneak off with an Oracle's Elixir and scout for wards. It's way too expensive to do early game. Another option would be to place a Vision Ward near dragon. Vision Wards will reveal other wards in the area. If you dont find any, its safe to assume that you can take dragon. But there could be other wards nearby that can still alert the enemy to your position.

The best time to go for Dragon is after at least 2 enemies die. If your bot lane scores a double kill this is the perfect opportunity, if they're in good health. Ping dragon immediately if it can be done. If you have a support to heal, getting dragon will be no problem if you're equipped for it. The enemy jungler wont be able to stop you, because he would be walking into a 3v1. You just need to keep him out of Smite range. It would be a good idea to have your mid lane come as well for the extra support if possible.

Focus is the most important aspect of team fighting and it should be discussed with your team every game. One mistake people make is calling out one enemy champ as the focus. You cant always focus the same champ due to different circumstances, so you need to prioritize.

Here are some factors that should be considered when choosing a focus:
Ability to escape

Obviously you dont want to focus the tank. At all. If the enemy tank gets hit by anything other then aoe attacks, your not playing correctly. Dont put any effort into killing a tank until all other champs are dead.

Someone you dont want to put too much effort into killing first would be someone like Shaco. Garen is a good match for him because you can just silence him and take away his ability to escape. But otherwise your going to end up doing massive damage to him just to spend valuable time chasing. If you can do enough damage to take him out of the fight, thats enough. Focus someone else afterward.

A perfect focus would be someone like Annie. She has massive damage, aoe stuns, short cooldowns, and shes squishy. She cannot be allowed to live long or you will lose fights every time. Annie is a game changer in the right hands.

But like I said, you cant always focus the same person every time so here is an example of prioritizing an enemy team, by taking the above factors into consideration:

#1 Annie
#2 Ashe
#3 Shaco
#4 Blitzcrank
#5 Rammus

Simply prioritizing your targets goes a long way to winning a game.

Your Role as DPS Garen

First of all, don't ever initiate a full team fight. Your building to carry, not to tank. Its not your job. I hope Ive made this clear throughout the guide. If you get caught in a bad situation use Flash and Decisive Strike to reposition yourself.

Normally you want to lead with Decisive Strike. Silencing someone like Annie is beyond helpful to your team. But champs with silences are few and far between. This means that sometimes you have to be careful when you use it. Someone like Nunu can change the flow of a fight with his ult. If you going up against one, you need to save it for him. If your teammates are in danger, you need to silence him. If you cant reach him in time, you have Flash to close the distance.

If I had to choose between silencing Annie or saving it for Nunu, I would choose Annie. You still have Exhaust to weaken Nunu's ult.

A bad target for your silence would be someone like Tryndamere. Hes an auto attacker so the silence isnt going to sway his effectiveness.

You need to use good judgement when using Decisive Strike. When used properly, its a major advantage for your team.

Your ult can also be used in ways to help your team, besides simply ensuring a kill for yourself. Its good for finishing off someone trying to run away. Its also really good for finishing off a tank. A tank with 20% health is still difficult to kill in a timely manner. But not if you have your ult. You shouldn't focus a tank right away, but if one enters a fight at low heath you can finish them off with the press of a button, and take away a valuable member of the enemy team.