Garen Build Guide by zionfox
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.
Garen the Might of Demacia
Throughout Valoran, the resolve of Demacia's military is alternately celebrated or despised, but always respected. Their "zero tolerance" moral code is strictly upheld by civilians and soldiers alike. In combat, this means Demacian troops may not make excuses, flee, or surrender by example. Garen, the valiant warrior who bears the title "the Might of Demacia", is the paradigm to which these leaders are compared. Thousands of great heroes have risen and fallen on the bloody battlefields between Demacia and its preeminent rival, Noxus. It was beneath their mighty banners of war that Garen first met steel with Katarina, the Sinister Blade. The infantrymen who beheld this event (and survived) commented that it seemed as though the two were locked in a mortal waltz set against a symphony of clashing blades.
Garen, the pride of the Demacian military and the leader of the Dauntless Vanguard, returned from this battle breathless for the first time in his career, though some speculate this was due to reasons other than exhaustion. The plausibility of these rumors was bolstered when, in every instance thereafter, Garen seized the opportunity to encounter the Sinister Blade again. A paragon of Demacian ethic, Garen never entertained such allegations, for he knew others couldn't understand. Even simply the pursuit of a worthy opponent on the battlefield is, to a true warrior, the reason to rise each morning. The promise of one, particularly one so beautifully and diametrically opposed, is the validation of his existence.
"The most effective way to kill an opponent is to slice through the man next to him." - Garen, on front line strategy.
Garen was the first champion I became good with and has become my favorite champion. When I play Garen I fear nothing because I have confidence in the way I play him. Let me outline my reasons for you:
Early game killer with Judgement and Ignite paired up with a Champion who has some CC
Able to withstand alot of damage with Courage and items.
Fast escape with Decisive Strike, Judgement and Ghost combo.
Farms well with Sunfire Cape and Judgement.
Slices through mages and screws up nukers with Decisive Strike followed my Judgement.
Vulnerable to AD carries with Madreds
Vulnerable to CC that can stop him in mid Judgement
Low attack speed and is somewhat dependent on abilities for damage.
Easy to harass because he's physical based.
Runes and Masteries
If you'll notice I go all offense with Garen with a small bit of utility. Reason behind this is Garen is naturally tanky and imo doesn't need points in the defensive tree and it suits an aggressive playstyle. Because of this I pick up the following rune choices:
Greater Seal of Defense for survivability throughout the game
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction for much needed Cooldown Reduction since most of your damage comes from abilities.
Because of this aggressive playstyle I tend to max out Judgement first and Courage second while taking a point in Decisive Strike at Level 2 and Courage at Level 4. Why do I max out Courage second and not Decisive strike? Imo the Decisive Strike, Judgement and Courage combo is greatly enhanced with the extra armor you gain. Your opponents will feel as if there efforts are in vain as you shred through there Carries and nothing they do seems to faze you in the slightest. Besides if you really need extra speed pop a ghost and watch judgement slice through everyone.
For Summoner Spells I almost always take Ghost and Ignite. A good Judgement sped up by Decisive Strike combined with a Demacian Justice followed by an Ignite will slay most people except the more tankier characters and even then it will still hurt them really bad. However if you aren't a fan of Ignite then Exhaust is a nice substitute and gives you the ability to spin in peoples faces all day. Flash I usually don't consider neccesary as Garen gets enough of a boost with Decisive Strike and Ghost to escape most things if you have good Map Awareness. Flash can save you in certain circumstances but I feel the synergy with Decisive Strike and Ghost is too good to pass up. Other Summoner Spells such as Cleanse and Teleport can be useful for certain circumstances but Judgement is a built in cleanse and Decisive Strike can help you get to lane faster. In any case I never replace Ghost with anything. All the other Summoner Spells are best left to other Champions.
At last the piece of the guide most people love above all others which is of course items. Now please keep in mind this item build is not going to be the solution to all your problems. You must be willing to adapt to the situation and sometimes you'll need to replace some items in favor of others which is why here I'm gonna first describe why I chose the items I did and then list some alternatives.
First off I start off with Dorans Shield. This small shield is enough to give you lane staying power until you get the money to afford your next iteam. It also provides that extra armor boost and health regen to grab an early first blood if you're careful.
Next I'll pick up Swiftness Boots when I can afford them. The consistent movespeed it gives you allows you to mow down a minion wave and stick to champions more easily with Judgement. You should be able to pick these items up early game and after netting yourself a couple kills then the fun begins.
With this comes my favorite item the Sunfire Cape. The consistent magic damage paired up with Judgement is perfect for Garen and besides the flames look awesome on him.
Next comes everyones favorite purple sword Youmuu's Ghostblade. This item adds so many wonderful things to Garen: Attack damage, Crit Strike for Judgement, Cooldown Reduction and Armor Penetration. All these things are a huge benefit to Garen and the items I've listed so far can carry you through most of the game but we aren't done yet.
Next item in our list comes Frozen Mallet. Garen himself lacks a slow and this item gives you the slow needed if for some reason you don't kill the guy with your abilities. It also provides a nice damage and health boost which is always nice. Now most games will not last long enough for you to get to the final 2 items and heck sometimes they don't last long enough to get to Frozen Mallet sometimes however these last two will boost your capabilities in team fights which if games are lasting this long are a big priority to win otherwise it could spell a loss for you team.
The first of these is Randuins Omen. Let me be clear that when building Randuins go for Wardens Mail first. The reason for this is Wardens Mail a beautiful passive that can keep that Xin from bursting you down in a single round of attacks. Once you've upgraded it then it provides an awesome active which slows the attack and movement speeds of surrounding people. This item is best used once your tank intiates you be the second person to go into the enemy team and while spinning in there faces activate Randuins. The slow will hamper them severely and can be the effect your team needs to win the battle.
Finally if the game is still going on pick up Atma's Impaler. By this time you'll have close to 4000 health and it's Passive will give a hefty damage boost combined with the Crit strike gained and extra armor will enable you to charge in there slice heads off and still escape with most of your health. Now sometimes there are adjustments that must be made to fit the situation such as a heavy amount of ap on the other team. Read on for alternative items...
Item Alternatives/Items to avoid
Sometimes there are situations when substitutions need to be made. There is no ultimate item build to fit every single situation. Here I shall list some items that can help in special situations:
Hexdrinker: If you notice at the start of the game the other team has some heavy AP nukers or people with annoying ultimates such as Karthus then this items passive can help you put these threats down early. It has saved my life a few times.
Spirit Visage: This item works well early game providing magic resist, cooldown reduction and increase in Health Regen. However towards late game it's better to sell this in favor for better items such as...
Force of Nature: Oh how I love this item when I'm faced against alot of AP champs. Great magic resist and awesome health regen makes the threat of AP casters a thing of the past. You can walk right up to them silence them and annihilate them with Judgement. A great item to replace your spirit visage in late game.
Quicksilver Sash: I don't see this item alot in games and sometimes I wonder why. It provides magic resist but the real beauty is it's active. When activated it removes all debuffs from your character. This means you can escape that Warwick or Malzahar ultimate and also prevent ignite from killing you. It's a Cleanse that actually cleanses everything and I would seriously consider this item especially against Malzahar.
Mercury Treads: If you find yourself against a CC heavy team especially people with stuns then these can really help. It provides magic resist and tenacity enabling you to survive more easily when ganked with CC. However I find Swiftness Boots paired with Decisive Strike and Ghost can get you out of most situations but these boots are still viable.
Last Whisper: A great item when your facing some nasty tanks such as Rammus. It helps to cut through there defenses more by providing extra Armor Penetration.
Infinity Edge: This item is expensive which is why I considered Atma's a better choice because of the amount of health you have in late game. However if you prefer this it's still good providing extra Attack Damage and Crit chance but I still prefer the Armor you receive from Atma's.
Items to avoid
Because Garen's damage mostly comes from his abilities items containing increases in attack speed or lifesteal are useless in my opinion. He's not a champion you auto attack to win with like Xin Zhao. Plus Judgement already shreds your opponents quickly and since it doesn't activate your lifesteal it isn't a good idea to grab any in my opinion. Plus you obviously don't want to grab any AP or mana related items as Garen does not benefit from these at all. Demacian Justice may do magic damage but it doesn't benefit from AP at all only the amount of health your opponent has lost.
This concludes my guide on Garen. Please keep in mind that everyone has a different playstyle and has different ideas on what goes good with each champion. I encourage you to find your own style of gaming and build people the way you want to. Don't always follow a guide word for word because ultimately it's your decision on how you build your champion. However don't knock a new build till you've tried it and don't leave critical comments till you've played a couple games after reading this guide. See you guys on the Fields of Justice!