Garen Build Guide by Narcissistic

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 Narcissistic

When You See Garen, You'll **** Brix

Narcissistic Last updated on January 4, 2012
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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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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The Introduction

Hi, my name is Narcissistic and this is my first guide on Mobafire.
Please be cautioned that this is not a professional guide and I'm just a mere player like everyone else out there with only close to 500 wins in normal games and 14x ELO in ranked.
Give this build a test, see how well it goes then try it in ranked games.

Anyway, this is a guide to Offtank Garen. People may play Garen differently and I just want to mention this is my personal preference and I do win with this build more often than not. But this is definitely not the only way to play Garen and other alternatives are definitely viable, just not as much in my opinion.

Feel free to test out which build works for you. Comment and let me know :)
Alright, let's get to the good part.

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The Controversies

People might question. "Why Offtank Garen?" "Isn't it getting old?" "I thought it wasn't viable any more after Sunfire Cape was nerf-ed?" "PURE AD GAREN ALL THE WAY!!!!"

Well... I will be answering these questions right now.
Garen played AD can be quite strong, I don't deny that fact. But how long does he stay that god-like? Well, an honest answer would be only till mid-game, where his damage output will be diminished to almost nothingness. Offtank Garen allows you to stay viable the entire game, able to dish out sufficient damage, and still able to tank for the team. On this note, I think Offtank Garen wins the cake.

After the Sunfire Cape nerf, I do see less people playing Garen and even I, myself lost some hope in him, but after several attempts with him, I feel he is still quite strong, even though not as strong as before, where people could stack Sunfire Cape and wreck their team with 800 damage/second and 4k health. He can still wreck faces, but just not as good as before. But this does not make AD Garen look any better in my opinion. lol.

If in high demand, I might make an AD Garen build/guide because I used to play him like that, but I figured Offtank Garen would work out better. But I encourage new players/ new to Garen to play Offtank Garen. If you feel more confident, feel free to try AD Garen, though I guarantee it will not work as well as Offtank Garen.


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The Magical Pre-Game



Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Armor Penetration

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Summoner Spells


Rune Choice Explanation

Greater Mark Of Desolation
For obvious reasons, your abilities scale mostly with physical damage and you'll need these runes to do more damage. Besides it's the best mark you can get on Garen as it help overall gameplay.

I pick these seals as it gives Garen that extra bulk that he needs early-mid game. Besides current meta-game usually places an off-tanky AD like Irelia, Wukong, Nasus etc, these seals will really help fending off their damage output.

I pick these glyphs because Garen does not have high base magic resist and these glyphs can help.

Greater Quintessence of Desolation
The same reason as stated under the explanation of the choice of marks. You really want to do that extra damage as Garen does not do that much damage compared to other offtanks.


Greater Seal of Vitality
These seals give Garen more lane presence and bulk. But I still find flat armor to be more useful early-mid game. Because that's when Garen really shines in the game.

Cooldown reduction is personal preference. You can pick these glyphs if you want, but if you do not have enough IP to get these glyphs, I suggest flat magic resist glyphs, those are cheaper and more useful to me. Again, personal preference.

You can pick these quints instead of armor pen quints if you wanna see 7 bars on your health bar at level 1, but I prefer armor pen quints as he needs his damage output more than bulk.

Masteries Explanation


I roll with a 21/9/0 set-up, this gives the damage output Garen needs all game and a little bulk to sustain him early-mid laning phase. I run anything that improves damage and cooldown reduction in the offensive tree, armor>magic resist and health in the defensive tree.

You can go a 21/0/9 set-up if you want that extra buff duration and movement speed but I feel the bulk is more important. You won't need the extra movement speed because with this build you run at 500s with your Decisive Strike every 8 seconds for 4 seconds. I think you don't need any more. Moreover, the buffs should be given to the AP caster carry and ranged AD carry or jungler, you shouldn't be needing the buffs.

Summoner Spells Choice Explanation

These two spells are very common on an offtanky AD champion, likewise for Garen. Flash to gtfo of sticky situations and Exhaust to catch up to someone(unlikely though, you'll probably running as fast a Ferrari)


This spell can be useful, but not as useful as Flash in my opinion. As I have already mentioned, Garen movement speed is extremely fast as it is, if you feel like running like a mad truck then go ahead, but then again, Flash can go to places Ghost can't take you as fast. But then again, personal preference, I respect that. Go ahead and pick up this spell if you wanna run at 600s(lolol).

This spell is as situational as Ghost. You might think Teleport is a good spell to take since you are going solo top. But look at it this way, Garen hardly ever goes back with his passive Perseverance. You don't even have to go back unless totally necessary(i.e. jungler ganks you to a single bar of health), you won't need Teleport as often as you need Flash or Exhaust

Abilities and Sequencing Explanations

Garen's passive. It heals 0.5% of Garen's maximum health after he's out of combat for 7 seconds. The passive will be removed when Garen receives any source of damage. Very useful passive especially when Garen is taking a solo top role and it acts as free potions when out of combat. This is what keeps Garen in lane and makes him such a tough lane opponent.

Garen's main initiation ability. Garen gains additional movement speed for 4 seconds and his next auto-attack will do more damage and silence the target for 2.5 seconds. An excellent ability. The additional movement speed is just so gay, this is what makes Garen run like a jet. The burst damage is quite considerable early-mid game and the SILENCE... I can't describe how godly it is to silence that mother-of-colorful-things for 2.5 seconds and your team can go face-rape that poor little thing. I max it right after Judgement

Garen's main tanky ability.
Passive ability - Garen gains 0.5 armor and magic resistance permanently for every enemy unit he kills for a maximum of 25 armor and magic resistance.
Active ability - Garen places a defensive shield which decreases all damage dealt to him by a certain percentage on himself for 3 seconds.
This ability is what makes Garen so bulky and tanky. It is a good ability, but the active only shines mid-late game when the damage is rolling in and you need to absorb some damage. I max this ability last because all we need is the passive early-mid game and it doesn't increase each level so we keep it at level 1 and max last.

Garen's main damage output. Garen spins rapidly for 3 seconds and deals damage around him. Slows are removed and new slows placed on Garen have 50% reduced duration. Deals 50% damage to minions/creeps.
A-ha! This is what makes Garen the beast he is. Generally known as "Spin to Win", this ability is the early-mid game domination tool. Use this ability regularly to harass or farm or rake up kills. It is easier than it seems. Literally, you "spin to win", activate Decisive Strike and then spin your way to victory. You can also use this ability to escape from constant slows that Ashe or Nunu throws at you.

Garen's tank slayer (aka. Kill Anyone Below 30% Health) ability. Garen does magic damage + 1 damage per 3.5/3/2.5 health your target is missing. Thus, killing anyone below 30% health, unless the target has extremely high armor/magic resist, that reduces the chances of killing the target. This ability is so good, you can pretty much kill someone every time the cooldown is up. Just the standard Q-E-R combo at level 6 can fold that Ashe or Annie in half and banish him to the depths of his fountain. I max this every time it is up.

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The Build

Core Build

This is my Offtank Garen core build. It provides everything an offtank would require. Armor, damage, health and magic resist.

I pick a Doran's Shield for obvious reasons, survivability in the laning phase. It gives Garen almost everything he needs to faceroll his enemy 1v1 at the top lane: Health, Health Regen and a little armor to top it off. This gives Garen a huge lane presence compared to a Regrowth Pendant and a Health Potion. Some might argue, "With Regrowth Pendant and a Health Potion, I can stay in lane almost forever!" However, when you compare it down, would you rather have actual health or "unreal" health ( Health Potion and health regen from Regrowth Pendant) ? I'd say with Doran's Shield, you get a lot more lane presence as your enemy will actually see the bulk on Garen and won't try anything stupid on you. But with Regrowth Pendant, true that you can stay in lane quite long, but enemies will have the mentality that you have less health = easier harassing. So your farming will get affected when the opponent tries to harass you a lot. But still, personal preference. You can go a Regrowth Pendant and a Health Potion if you want.

I pick Boots of Swiftness over Mercury's Treads because I feel most CCs do not affect Garen much. Besides, his Judgment can remove slows and reduce durations of new slows by 50%, this effect is almost like Tenacity to me. Moreover, Garen runs hilariously fast, so right after he gets CC-ed, he can still pick up the pace and chase down his targets and that is precisely why I picked Boots of Swiftness. He needs the speed > Tenacity in my opinion. But in the end, it still comes down to the right situation. If you notice they have atleast 5 hard CCs (stuns/fear/taunt/suppression) in the team, then feel free to pick up a Mercury's Treads.

The sweet damage and cooldown reduction item. This item helps you a lot in the early-mid laning phase, where you can get sufficient damage to "spin to win" and burst your target down. I get this item right after Boots of Swiftness to have some accompanying damage.

This is where you start facerolling like a beast. Your "spin to win" just acquired more "win". Additional 35 magic damage every second? Hell yes! This will add alot of DoT on your Judgment and can pretty much 1v2/farm like a boss. This is when your enemies piss their pants when they see you in their mini map and run away like little girls.

Grab an early Negatron Cloak to get some magic resist. You'll build this into a Force of Nature later in the game.

Your main source of damage. This item gives you damage/2% of max health. After this item, you'll be critting more on your Judgment and a huge boost to your AD. After Warmog's Armor It'll be even more OP.

Your second source of damage and utility. This item's active gives you 20% movement speed and 50% attack speed, that's a huge boost to your damage output and chasing ability. Use this item's active frequently and you'll find it more useful than it seems. The stats are also nice and complements well on Garen

After this item, you're both a healthy and sinful BEAST. You're now rampaging around the map killing anyone in sight, able to initiate against a whole team and survive like a boss. Your damage will also increase due to Atma's Impaler's passive. Everyone's really scared of you now and they'll only hurt themselves trying to poke you.

Ahh... Finally.. Now that Annie will stop hurting you so much. And you're gonna stand in the middle of 5 enemies and survive the entire team fight with 3/4 health. This is your final item. You're pretty much a beast, so unstoppable that they have to surrender quite soon. You can get this item earlier if you feel that you take too much magic damage than physical damage. This item gives you additional movement speed too, that's just neat. Sell your Dorans and get this, of course.

With this beastly build, you'll be cutting squishies up like it was nothing and still stand with 3/4 health after a teamfight. Some might question the expense of this build. Well, you are playing the Garen. You'll be killing all game long and farm easily. In a good game(meaning you can farm without much trouble and killing every now and then), you should be able to finish this build in 40 minutes, which isn't too long. But I do agree at times you just have bad games and find this build too costly(16k for a full build), if I have time, I will try to make an alternative build which is more inexpensive and affordable without much hindrance to the stability of Garen

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The Game Phases

Early Game :

Start with a Doran's Shield and head to top lane(SOLO, meaning your team having a jungler). Play slightly defensive before you hit level 6. Chances are, the opponent at solo top has better early game damage. So turn that defensive stance on and stand just behind your ranged minions, letting minions do the damage and going in for a last hit or two whenever the enemy minions get low enough. (ATTENTION, LAST HIT ONLY. DO NOT SPAM Judgment ON THE MINIONS YOU WILL ONLY STAND TO LOSE IF YOU PUSH TOO FAR) Ask for early ganks from your jungler if possible and hope to get a kill or two early.

Once you hit level 6 and have your ultimate, Demacian Justice it's time to get more aggressive. (Note: This does not mean you can push!! You just have more guns compared to your opponent now) A smart opponent will figure that they can't exchange blows with you now, and they might even lose their lives. So they'll immediately switch to the defensive side. Now you have a lot of control on your lane opponent. Stand around the enemy ranged minions and get as much last hits as possible without pushing. Whenever the opponent wants to try to dive for a last hit, punish that bad boy with a Decisive Strike followed by Judgment, that should teach him 25 gold is not worth 1/2 his health. Any time you think you are ready for a kill, for example he gets too close to you, Decisive Strike and Judgment, Exhaust if needed, followed up by some auto attacks and your ultimate, he should be dead meat or in extremely unlucky cases, 1 bar or less health forcing him to return to base.(Which means you can push your lane and go for a gank or two).

Mid Game :

This is the part of the game where people start leaving their lanes and trying to secure a few kills. Mini teamfights should also start soon. Everyone in the game should be approximately level 7-10, a tower or two might be down, and a possible score might be 7 - 4. This is the part of the game where Garen outshines every other champion. With your mobility, damage and bulkiness, ganks are simple and straight-forward, charge in with Decisive Strike and Judgment, if the target is <50% health without any team mates around nor does he/she have any hard CCs up his/her sleeves, dive for the kill. Activate Courage and tank a few tower hits for that kill, Demacian Justice to finish off and run to safety. This should always work and they should be on their toes, as a wild Garen might appear out of nowhere and slay their squishy ***es. Rinse and repeat.

Late Game :

By now, you should have around 5 - 10 kills and the game is approaching the 30 minute mark. You should already have atleast Boots of Swiftness, a The Brutalizer, a Sunfire Cape and a Negatron Cloak, if not, more. Your epic killing spree should end about soon. And you're now going to need alot of bulk and resistance to fend off the enemy carries' damage. But this does not mean you absolutely have no damage at all and is impossible to get any kills. You are still the legendary Garen, nothing can stop you. You can still match up to their carries any time with enough bulk and resistance without much trouble, but try to avoid being outnumbered, that's a sign of being too confident and will result in death(s).
Now you are officially known as an Offtank. You can soak some damage and do some damage in return. You are usually the second LAST target in your team. It usually lines up like this:
Carries > Supports > Offtanks > Tanks
But the dilemma is that, you are doing about 2/3 the damage the carry on your team is doing, but you are almost 3x tankier than the carry is. So they can't decide to aim you or not, if they actually do, then good for your team, the carries can clear them and you might/might not survive but that doesn't matter if your team won the team fight. You are the Offtank, remember, you are not going to chicken out in team fights and you serve to defend the important members on your team(Namely, the carries.), as well as doing enough damage to the enemy.

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The Summary

Ah.. Aren't you tired of the constant walls of text? I'm truly apologetic, it is my first guide so I'm a little bad with pictures and interesting things. Alright, you are going to be spared from all these texts very soon. I'll do a short tips & tricks against certain champions and sum up the main points for you guys.

Possible Match-ups :

Difficulty : EASY

A classic solo top champion. Do not be alarmed by Irelia, it is a good champion, but not as good compared to Garen. For Irelia, you do not need to be as defensive. Her harassment will be nothing compared to yours early-mid game. So take chances to hit her as hard as possible. She will not be able to exchange blows and she will figure that out soon enough. Deny her as much as possible and punish her every time she tries to farm with her Bladesurge.

Difficulty : MODERATE - HARD

A good adversary. His passive is plenty annoying to deal with. One moment you hit him with your usual combo, the next moment he lifesteals it all back. What a ****head. Play a little defensive, don't try to engage him early on, wait till your ulti is ready, then start to go offensive. Hopefully you can deny him some farm, else his Siphoning Strike will become too pain to handle.


Main Points to Remember

Here you go, lazy bums who didn't bother reading the walls of texts(Well... understandable :P) here are the points you need to remember while playing Garen

FIRSTLY, play a DEFENSIVE early game and an OFFENSIVE mid game



FOURTHLY, GANK once you have a The Brutalizer and Boots of Swiftness

FIFTH-LY....?, play like an OFFTANK, not like a CARRY


I just want to say a big THANK YOU to whoever who read this guide and even tried it in-game. I guarantee it will not be a disappointment. I'll constantly update this guide if I find any changes relevant to Garen.