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Garen Build Guide by Kaethis

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Kaethis

Bruiser Garen guide - diamond league

Kaethis Last updated on January 21, 2015
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Team 1

LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #12 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
Get More Stats

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

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

Threats to Garen with this build

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Threat Champion Notes
Dr. Mundo Easy matchup, but becomes too tanky for you to handle 1 on 1. Start longsword -> hexdrinker. Take his turret with a dive when he drops low (maybe with jungler help) and roam. Mundo's bad when behind in midgame. You can run this lane 21/9 if you want to.
Jax Note that while you murder jax during the midgame, his level 1-3 are stronger then yours as his counterstrike saves is very powerfull. Play like a little bitch untill level 4, where you start gaining the advantage.
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Greetings (prospective) Garen players! In this guide I will be detailing how I think Garen should be played and built, as well as discussing his role and when to pick him.

While I am most definitely not the end-all authority on the subject, I feel I have a decent grasp on the subject, having been a Garen main for the latter half of season 4 and peaking at d3 with him.

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Who and what is Garen?

''The most effective way to kill an opponent is to slice through the man next to him.''
- Garen - Garen's champion page

Garen is one of the classic bruiser champions in League of Legends. On his release, Garen was one of the premier lane bullies in the game with his powerfull base damages and lack of a resource mechanic. He, however, fell off incredibly hard as the game progressed and was generally regarded as both easy to play and weak at higher levels due to his lack of mobility and reliance on an easily interrupted passive for sustain. He got a few minor retoolings over the course of his existence that in my opinion have radically changed how he should be perceived and I feel the general League community hasn't really caught up (probably because he's such a rare sight).

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Garen's skills and role

Garen in his current iteration is probably best classified as a tank-assassin. 'But that's contrary and ******ed' I can hear you think, and that would be undoubtedly true. This weird spot he occupies is both the source of his strength and his weaknessses.

Why do I classify him as such? I think this is best explained by looking at Garen's skills and passive.


level 1: If Garen has not been struck by damage or enemy abilities for the last 9 seconds, Garen regenerates 0.4% of his maximum Health each second.
Level 11: Cooldown period reduces to 6 seconds, heal increases to 0.8%.
Level 16: Cooldown period to 3 seconds, heal to 2.0%
Minion damage does not stop Perseverance. Non-epic monster damage (e.g anything that's not baron or dragon) does not stop Perseverance above level 11.

Garen's passive is pretty bad in lane. While it helps when you're sitting under your turret, not taking damage from an enemy champion for 9 seconds is pretty much impossible of they don't want you to for a melee champ. As such, consider it more of a small boon then something you need to keep up.

This however changes at level 11, where it becomes an almost-legitimage form of sustain. 6 seconds is much shorter and the heal doubles.

At level 16 Perseverance becomes truly absurd. 3 seconds is very short, and 2% per second is a LOT of health regen.

Garen's passive enables him to stay on the field longer then other champions once it levels up. During the midgame this, combined with your lack of other resources, means that you can play the tempo game that Garen needs to maintain to get ahead and win. Lategame it turns you into a respectable splitpusher and a very good sieging frontliner.

Decisive Strike

COOLDOWN: 8 seconds

ACTIVE: Garen breaks free from all slows affecting him and gains 35% movement speed for a few seconds. Additionally, his next basic attack within 4.5 seconds will deal additional physical damage and will silence his target.

BONUS PHYSICAL DAMAGE: 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+ 40% AD)
MOVEMENT SPEED DURATION: 1.5 / 2.25 / 3 / 3.75 / 4.5
SILENCE DURATION: 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 / 2.25 / 2.5

Decisive Strike can critically strike.

While Garen is best remembered by his iconic spin-to-win E, this is probably his most powerfull skill. This is what allows you to go fast and blow up squishies.

Note that, as with all auto-attack resets, a lof of this skill's damage comes from your AD. As such, levelling it early generally doesn't accomplish much on the damage front. Its utility increases with levels too however, making putting some points into this first decent in a few matchups.

A few things about this skill:

The movementspeed applies immediatly, and the animation includes a jump which makes it seem as if this skill extend your auto range by a bit. You can use this to trick lane opponents for free hits when they think you're just out of range while farming.

The movementspeed and the damage are seperate effects, and as such hitting someone with the silence and then retreating into your minionwave or a brush (or just anywhere that's not beside them) is an effective tactic. Also remember to use this to go fast around the map when roaming.

You can activate this skill during Judgment. While you lose out on some damage this way because you're not resetting your auto, this can be usefull.


COOLDOWN: 24 / 23 / 22 / 21 / 20

PASSIVE: Garen's bonus armor and magic resistance are increased by 20%.
ACTIVE: Garen gains a defensive shield for a few seconds, reducing incoming damage by 30% and granting 30% crowd control reduction for the duration.

DURATION: 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

This is the skill that should inform your build defensively. An extra 20% bonus resistances is no joke, and the 'mini-alistar-ult' that the active provides is powerfull against burst from level 1 onwards.

Remember that this skill reduces the duration of crowd control. Activating it right before CC is about to hit you (such as Renekton's W) is crucial to playing a bunch of lane matchups, and can provide a nasty suprise to lane opponents who aren't expecting you to get out of it as fast.


RANGE: 165 COOLDOWN: 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 / 9

ACTIVE: Garen rapidly spins his sword around his body for 3 seconds, dealing physical damage each second to enemies within range. Minions take 75% damage from Judgment. Garen ignores unit collision while spinning, but moves 20% slower when traveling through minions.

Judgment can critically strike, multiplying the total AD component by (Garen's critical strike damage modifier − 50%).

PHYSICAL DAMAGE PER SECOND: 20 / 45 / 70 / 95 / 120 (+ 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110% AD)
TOTAL PHYSICAL DAMAGE: 60 / 135 / 210 / 285 / 360 (+ 210 / 240 / 270 / 300 / 330% AD)

DAMAGE PER SECOND WITH BASE CRIT MODIFIER: 20 / 45 / 70 / 95 / 120 (+ 105 / 120 / 135 / 150 / 165% AD)

this is the skill that should inform your build offensively. His iconic spin-to-win ability, this is the ability you'll generally by levelling first. It makes offensive stats outside of flat AD and armour pen less efficient on Garen (and because the crit modifier is cut in half, it doesn't scale that well with crit either).

A few things about Judgment:

Judgment is more like a buff then a channel. As such, you'll continue spinning even while cc'd. Priming your E (and W) before CC hits you can completely negate cc thrown your way (again, renekton's W for instance) as you'll keep dealing damage while standing around dazed.

The 'mini-ghost' effect on this is generally not very usefull. You can however use this to harass melee lane opponents just outside of auto range while standing in a minion wave. It can also be used to kite people around minionwaves while you run through then (which can be good while getting ganked).

Demacian Justice

RANGE: 400 COOLDOWN: 160 / 120 / 80

ACTIVE: Garen calls upon the might of Demacia to attempt to execute an enemy champion, dealing magic damage plus additional damage based on his target's missing health.

MAGIC DAMAGE: 175 / 350 / 525 (+ 28.57 / 33.33 / 40% of target's missing health)

Also known as the Demacian kill-sat, this skill is probably the most satisfying way of killing Teemo in the game and has a cool 'you just got exploded' screenflare when it kills you.


As this is magic damage, hexdrinker activates and immediatly absorbs a lof of the damage. Be wary of this when eyeballing when you can kill that Zed.

Demacian Justice's windup is a lot faster then the entire animation (essentially, as soon as Garen's physical sword hits the ground the ability is cast). This means that you'll often see people flashing away from you (after your Q silence ends for instance) and then die half a screen over because the damage only applies when the beam of light hits them. Be sure to do a handstand when they subsequently complain about this in all-chat.

When looking at Garen's kit overall, he has an active gapcloser, a silence, an execute, a 'damage' skill, and an activated defense skill. If you'd make his Q a jump rather then a movement speed increase his kit would be very similar to Talon's (Talon players have permission to cry over losing their silence here). This is however a big difference and makes it so that you cannot just build damage and get away withn it.

As with other champions who stradle the line between multiple roles (E.G. Diana, Irelia, Gnar etc.) balancing Garen is probably a difficult task. Giving these champions the tools to succeed in one of their roles generally means they'll be too good at that role due to the versatility of their kits. Because of this, I don't expect Garen to ever become very popular because Riot's not going to let him. If a champion like Garen is good, he'll generally be TOO good. This however also makes him pretty safe from nerfs, as they'll not overbuff him either. Learning Garen is pretty safe because of this.

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Pros, Cons and when to pick Garen


-Snowballs games fast if played well
-Rare pick, meaning a lot of people will have no idea what you´re capable of
-Satisfying to go fast and dunk people
-Powerful midgame even when behind, decent lategame


-Easy to counterpick hard, meaning you cannot firstpick him safely
-Easy to kite, meaning he doesn´t work vs teams with a lot of slows and mobility
-High skillfloor, but relatively low skillcap
-Often gets you flamed and reported by your team when you lose. And sometimes when you don´t.

When to pick:

Garen gives a team immense pressure during the midgame. He´s also great at sieging later with his absurd regen (so you can just tank turrets while your AD shoots then, run off and regen it all back in seconds). When ahead, a Garen running rampant throughout the top half of the map demands attention. If you think your team needs some power during this phase of the game, such as when you have an Azir and Trist already, Garen´s a strong choice.

What Garen doesn´t do is initiate or peel particularly well, with the exception of against people like Lee Sin and Riven who depend on spells for their mobility and damage. If your team has no proper initiate, Garen cannot fill that role. He also struggles against teams with a lot of slows and mobility, so if the enemy team consists of Thresh/Ezreal/Ahri/Jarvan, you better have a really good matchup top or pick something else.

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Compared to the olden days, Garen's laning is pretty weak right now. He has no range, no (real) innate sustain, his base AD is pretty garbage and he generally gets pushed around by real lane bullies levels 1-4. This is partially caused due to reworks and updates to minion and turret AI (which havn't favoured melee champs at all), and partially because there are just a lot more ranged bullies in top then there used to be.

As such, you'll generally be forced to play lane defensively early on. Try and focus on last-hitting and getting your levels - Garen's real strength lies in the midgame. Also note that by fighting people in lane, you'll naturally push (because your E whipes out minionwaves pretty fast), opening you up to ganks.

Due note however that Garen's pretty good at killing weak opponents due to his silence and high base damage. Specifically, junglers will often run up to your face to try and kill you - consider whether you have to damage to take them out. Your Q prevents flashing.

I will go into more detail about lane playstyle in the various matchups.

Once midgame hits and you get your ult, Garen comes into his own. This is where you'll probably have a completed item and boots. Try and push down your turret (asking your jungler or mid if you can) and set up some wards on the top half of the map. Garen is very hard to duel when he's in your face during this stage of the game due to his combination of active defense, silence and an execute, and rolling like it's season one and ambushing their jungler from a brush is an effective way of snowballing games. Also remember that your Q makes you go fast around the map - use this to harass their mid (or kill him with the old flash - Q - spin combo), run to dragon etc while clearing your own wave with E. Overall, try and take control of the game by turning their top half of the map into your own personal little hell. Think like an ***sassin at this point - a fat and heavily armoured one. Teamfights are not your forte, but randomly blowing up people is.

Come lategame, your damage starts falling off and you'll have to become more of a tank. This is where your W and passive start to shine, as you can easily become ludicrously hard to kill while running in and out of teamfights and through turrets. Generally you'll want to be diving for their backline in teamfights (unless there's someone spell-dependant who has to dive for yours, like Riven) to kill them.

You are also a respectable splitpusher at this point. While duelling lategame mages can be difficult, you destroy minionwaves and towers pretty fast (your Q works on towers) while being able to escape from sticky situations and be right back doing your thing seconds later due to your Q and passive.

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Work in progress

This is my first guide and a work in progress. Leave comments on what you want added or on things you feel need improved.