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A comprehensive Garen Offtank competitive Build

Last updated on May 16, 2015
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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: 5

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 21


Utility: 4

Threats to Garen with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
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Introduction: Why and when should I play Garen. Countertips

Hi folks, after five years in this game I think it's time to start to do some comprehensive and EASY TO READ guides.

What I mean with this? I'm not going to extend myself so long that you get bored, I will just try to invest my time (and YOUR time) into explaining the mechanics for making up to at least gold and further away.

After this introduction, I want to start explaing WHEN to use Garen... or maybe when NOT to use it, because let's face it, he has a few hard counters that you might overcome succesufuly... but definetly you won't have an easy lane.

Basically I'm talking about 3 main champs: Te Emo, Darius and Yorick.


Most of it because of the DoT and trades.

Te Emo is faster than you and can easily poke you with his poison and just in case you reach him pre-6 he can blind you making your Q useless.

WHAT TO DO: KIll if with fire. Nah really, just talk to your jungler and have FB or at least try to get 2 kills from him, if you are facing a te emo, maybe you prefer Ghost instead of TP. Rushing Hexdrinker should be your instabuy vs this dude, after you've done it you can play more agresivly, trying to max Q so you can catch that Yordle and end him with the whole weight of demacia!

Darius has a very anoying passive doing TRUE damage over time, making your trades with him really hard even if you are just spinning around him or using Q then leaving... I swear, try to stay safe from Darius on early game.

WHAT TO DO Fortunately for you Darius ain't that hard as te emo can be, so playing safe, trying to farm with Q and away, and making sure you use your passive wisely for staying on full health most of the time should be enough to not depend on the jungler on the very early game like when facing Te Emo. If you manage to get a kill rush Black Cleaver, face it, armor vs this dude is useless, mr is useless, he deals true damage, so the new BC provides you GOOD hp, with fair enough Atack and a godlike 20% cd with armor penetration, which you will finde it quite usefull since most Darius go Offtank. After that it shouldn't be that hard if you had taken a kill and he didn't. But be aware of his passive and his ulti.

Yorick Is an anoying tanky bruiser that can outfarm you easily by spawning mostly his W and E, slowing Garen and doing acceptable damage (that Yorick recovers himself ofc...). So

WHAT TO DO Yorick is like Darius and Te Emo in a single devil creature. He can hit you from melee range but also deal good damage on range, so a very good option is to force him to use all his skills, he is kinda mana dependant and when he is low of mana is an easy foe to beat, so once again: rely on your passive, kite him Q and away, Q and a few spins and away, maybe Q autoatack and away, then leave and wait till your health is full again. This is one of the cases you might wanna get E maxed because most Yorick will send you to tower in the 2nd or 3rd wave. But you can use that in your advantadge to get a propper gank and he will think twice about it ;). Don't be fooled, even pre-6 he is pretty strong, even if you think you got it he can use E and fool you...

After all this tips


Garen is one of the icons of League of Legends, he has been release since the beta testing and after a few tweaks, it seems that they managed to get a well balanced champion (even if most people say it's boring to spin and wait, spin and wait...). But he is more than a human wheel!!!

We are talking about a champion that has a quite good gap closer that SILENCES for over 2 seconds! And a natural tanky passive skill which makes you less dependant on tanky items so you can be happy and put some damage to be a good tank and a good damage dealer :). Furthermore his two main damage skills apply CRITIC impact effects which, damn, it's good! And finally but not for that less important, he has an ulti that we could say is like "true damage" considering that a champ that is on his 20% life or less is DEAD with that strike, so no matter if he is 2000 hp, 4000 hp or 6000 max hp. Your foe's max hp is 5000 and he is still 800 hp? BAM. Dead.

A very common mistake is that 90% people bring Garen full tank which is not bad but doesn't extract the full potential of the champion. He is a FIGHTER, a DAMAGE DEALER, his Critic impact procs are not just for trolling...

So the dilema always was... he is natural tanky, GOOD hp and very good Ar/Mr thanks to a skill's passive... and the question is: Should I boost that tankiness or should I go for more damage and rely on Garen's natural tankines???

After playing him over 300 games I can insure you that the anser is clear: Unless you are the ONLY tank in your team and the rest are squissier (which means that jungler and support can't even go a little tanky), a Tanky Garen with a few damage is by far the best option you have to maximize his potential.

I'm not gonna do the shinny pros and cons list, I will just do a brief explanation of them.

- Cons: Garen is a very Skill reliant champion which makes him kinda ****y on autaotacks so In a very late game vs champions like vayne that can easily whipe you out he is drowned in the pool... furthermore almost everybody knows Garen and knows his mechanics and counterplay, so probably this guide will not get them with the guard off. Finally as I said above, he can EASILY be kited if you are not used to Garen.

+ Pros: Okay buddy let's be clear and quick: He is a natural born tank that can escape easily most CC, with a GOOD dash that makes you fly over the enemies for almost 5 secs (specially if you have ghost on and good boots) that with a few extra Atack Damage can hurt al the team badly thanks to his critic proc skills. He can take assasins but also other tanks thanks to his ulti and finally, yes, you have a BIG silence that can make the whole team fight by silencing the AP carry and rushing into the adc.

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This will be more brief:

- The best runes among them all are the tanky ones, providing your Garen with Atack per level is ruining his early with the flat armor runes, and providing Garen flat Atack... to tell the truth I've tried a bunch of times and I found more reliable having 10 more on defense (that can upgrade better thanks to a maestry) than having 8 of flat damage...

- So basically what I want with these runes:

1- Good flat armor for most tops

2- Maximize Magic resistance on late game, most ap users won't give you a problem and normally you'll chose garen vs ad tops, so, yeah, flat Mr is of no use.

3- Maximize his natural tankiness and maestry by boosting him 222 extra HP in late game, you might think it's stupid but trust me, it's hard to beat Garen so imagine trying to take out an over 4.000 HP Garen...

4- His speed. Yes I'm not using speed bots because I find mercury threads more usefull in tf and because of the 35% CC reduction, but anyway it's a big boost to garen that definetly makes the diference

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Explanation about items and alternatives.

I tried to do the item list the easiest and most comprehensive possible, but there are a few things to take in count because you can face some atypicall teams or simply things went fully wrong and you have to change a few gears.

1: The core item is like that so you can have CC reduction, Mr, Ar, Hp, AD, and good damage with Sunfire's Passive but also 20%CDR and the good armor reduction passive. It provides EVERYTHING for beeing a FIGHTER that can manage to survive while killing

2:About Infinity Edge: Provides great damage but despite his nerf on critical chance it still provides some chance to do a critic. Ofc this is not a critic based build but definetly it's your best damage item. People going Bloodthirster have no idea...

3: Why visage?:: It provides more CD, a hughe boost on your hp and mr but the main reason is his passive. Combining his passive with Garen's one can make your garen to earn 100 hp or even more each second. If you wanna laugh try it with warmog and over 300 each second will be healed... I don't put warmog on this build cause now it doesn't offer a big deal...

4: Why Raduin???: Well I think it's one of the best tanky items nowadays, provides one of the best Armor in the game while giving one of the most HP in the game. Furthermore, his unique passive makes you to stand a chance vs AS based champions while your unique active makes you to catch someone or escape from someone :)

5: Finally there are 2 or 3 items that you might wanna try if you are having either a GREAT game or a BAD game.


- Thornmail: Yeah, imagine to face trynda, yi, vayne... a pain in the *** right? This item provides you high defense while hurting them more than their lifesteal so, yes, you won't have to face them and wait for your doom, you stand a chance to win.

- Banshe Veil: Even a leblanc can be a real pain if she's fed, and yes, beeing Garen won't save you at all, so for avoiding getting rekt by an ap assasin, Veil provides you an extra life by blocking the probably most powerfull attack since it will triger Luden's Eccho...


- Yoomu: Yeah, a classic, but when I mean things go right I mean that you can afford a tanky item like raduin or visage just to get some more damage, cd and critic for boosting your Fighter role. As said. If things go back to normal, quit this and go the other 2 items.

- Frozen Mallet: Frozen Mallet is one of my favourite items: It provides the most Hp besides Warmog and provides some AD but the real deal is that SLOWS your enemie, and preciesly a fed Garen is something that will love. Furthermore, combining Frozen Mallet and the new Black Cleaver + Raduin is like... nope, you are not running anywhere my friend.

6 - You have to consider that if you are rushing into a FULL AD team, you won't even need mercury threads but visage it's a good item thanks to his hp regen and cd (and because even ad characters have magic damage, aka, sunfire :D).

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Explanation about the skill sequence

"Why are you rushing Decisive Strike instead of Judgment???"

This is supposed to be a guide that help you out to maximize your damage while recieving the less damage, and yes, considering that this Garen is not a full tanky , maximizing a skill that scales 1.4 your AD makes it more worthy a strike from it than a full judgement. And yes, normally you are going to face 1-on-1 on top, so it's better to give a hard strike and run than spinning while recieving damage. Also and most important of it, having 3 secs to run to your opponent or to go back to your tower is kinda better than 1.5 ... isn't it?


"But hey, after level 6 you maximized your E again"

After trying hundreds of times different sequences I found that having 3 seconds to move in or out from the enemy are more than ENOUGH to get him or to get off and survive, while dealing a lot of damage in the earlier stages of the game... but when it comes after 6, waves come stronger, and you need your Judgement for cleaning those waves and to make your Judgement more reliable on teamfights, so yes. After the early game, maximizing your E will escalate very quickly since it's every level untill you get your ulti at level 2.

"But hey, why not just maximizing E from the start dork?"

As I said, Decisive Strike provides a good early damage but further than that, it gives you the chance to get in and out in a more reliable way. 3 secs are the perfect balance, even if they flash you can get them. So , yes, for a more safe play and for better chances on succeding, please, try putting 3 levels pre-6 on your Q:)

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Lane Phase

Normally you will want to farm easily using your autoatack and when the enemy comes in just Q on him and start to spin. Yes, your spin is lower, but after the huge damage dealt by your Q most probably he won't like to enter on a trade, and ofc, be aware of minions, try to autohit everytime you can, you have MORE sustain that almost anyone in this game, so you can easily farm while not risking too much.

If you are below half of your HP bar, consider waiting a few seconds even if it means half minion wave: It's better 3-4 minions than trying to farm those minions and die, or loosing always 2 minions in 3 waves because you didn't want to wait for your hp to refill...

Besides that, Garen is a champion that requieres to be played with wisdom so, don't do a Leroy Jenkins and enter spinning, wait for him to come, silence him and spin, and when you kite him with the passive of your solar cape and your spins and Q... DEMACIAAAAAA

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Broken Lanes Phase

This is where Garen is best at.

To be clear and brief:

BUSHES ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Which means that you are fast enought to travel from top to mid and from mid to bot thanks to your Q, and ofc, initiate a small tf silencing their main skill damage dealer balances the fight to your side.

EASY AS THAT. Try to rush your top with your spins, you will have more than enough damage to clear waves with a single E, then roam and if you can, try to get their red and wait his jungler to wipe him out in the bushes.

As said. Bushes are your friends...

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Reaching the Late Game

Ok from now on depends on what build you finally used and if you are winning or loosing, but basically it's almost drives you to the same path: Try to engage in tf by silencing their ap carry and forcing their support to focus you meanwhile you rush to their adc. You are going to be the focus, you are not a pure tank and you can't last forever but Garen is one of the best tanks in the game, so yes, if your team is not running like headless chicken or focusing their tank, probably the rival AP carry will fall easily so the only threat is the adc (the one you are focusing at). By having most of the focus that makes your ap and adc can help you out deleting the adc or trying to kill their top while you are striking hard their adc.

Another good option is just to focus on the APC but it's more reliable to focus the adc because an ap silenced is more like a minion, so you have 3 secs to focus a bigger thread.

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Explanation on masteries

Okay, you might say: Hey but the classic 9-21-0 works well! What about that extra 14 dammage????

Yes, you lose 14 damage, but you earn tactical strategy. I'm just going to make the best ***ests of this 5-21-4

1- With your 1.5% speed on runes, that makes 3% extra speed, not bad huh? You can do mercury threads and relax knowing that you are faster than your foe.

2- That extra second on your back can save your life, REALLY, how many times have you died cause in the last micro second they ambushed you? A sec you go away, a sec you come back earlier.

3- Expose Awareness it's simply magical, using just your E in a teamfight makes that 1% beeing something more than it really is, so yes. Put it on.

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Spells and Why

Most platinum and diamond rely more on ghost but... what if you have been exhausted? What if you have had a stun or a snare? You can run fast but having a Flash is more reliable since you already have your own "ghost" with your Q. Don't doubt, always put him.

Between flash and teleport I'd go for teleport not only because most tops will go also for it, but because you can use Teleport for ganking other lanes and get easy kills. Ignite is fine with more aggresive builds, feel free to use it but for a more strategical point of view, I'd go for teleport.

Another viable choice that sadly is outdated due to the meta is putting exhaust, that way nobody will escape you or if you are ganked you have a bigger chance to survive. Anyway I'd only go this one just for fun :)

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Final Words.

To do a summary of this:

This comprehensive guide will allow you to use the full potential of Garen by boosting his natural tanky stats plus the amazing damage he can deal if you sacrifice the typical full tank build.

In numbers: Judgement scales 1.1 Ad so having over 220 damage will allow you to spin for over 600 damage every second (300 half sec) with the posibility that one of your spins deal 750 damage!!! Comparing it with the traditional Sunfire + Full tank build it outdamages it heavily while still providing GREAT tankiness.

*Note: I've tried several builds dozens of times, and this is, by far, the one that I can say it's more balanced and more viable to take in competitive plays.

**NOte 2: If you have any suggestion please share it :) maybe we can find an even better Garen build^^

Thanks to everyone for reading untill here.