Garen Build Guide by Church of Garen
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My current main setup
First back (core)
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.
Threats to Garen with this build
|Nasus||Easiest lane in the game. Your Q cleanse Wither's slow AND attack speed reduction. W his Q and try to force fights constantly, but be wary of ganks. Lategame you don't want to waste time fighting him unless he's the villain, just split push instead. Rune page: AD|
The Smite build is my main build, but I recommend that you start out with one of the three other builds until you feel comfortable with this playstyle.
This guide is written for you who already understands Garen's kit.
This is not a guide on how to play Garen, it's a guide for how I play Garen.
I will not bother cluttering this guide with numbers and equations, because I feel that will make it more confusing. I will thus solely focus on my playstyle and what recommendations I have for success when playing Garen, and give a brief overview of this here. If you're looking for a more detailed view on what I think Garen's role is then I recommend you swing by my stream. Feel free to ask me any questions you have regarding Garen and my thoughts around various Garen theorycrafting.
I will update this guide as I find more things to add.
Greetings, I am Xianji.
I'm a Diamond Garen main on EUW that has been playing this game for almost two years now. I've touched League prior to that, but only on very rare occasions and the game never clicked with me until then. I loved Garen back then, and I still love him now. I'm currently sitting at a little over 1 million champion points on him.
I played this character even before I actually started learning this game, and my friends would keep telling me that I should stop, that I should play Darius and I should stop thinking Garen's a good champion. It's kind of what kept me from actually playing this game, because I actually believed them.
This is why I decided to write this guide. That is what I'm devoting my time and effort toward. I want to make you guys who love Garen but you fall for the "Garen is a budget Darius" lies understand that he's perfectly viable, and a very solid pick in pretty much any team comp.
If you're interested in seeing Garen footage I stream almost every day at:
Feel free to swing by!
For those interested, here's a replay of my first diamond game with commentary over it. I try to explain as detailed as I can as to how and why I make decisions.
Pros / Cons
+ High base and scaling damage (140% AD on Q and 50-500% AD on spin)
+ High base defense
+ High sustain from passive
+ Pretty mobile due to Q and DMP+ZZ+Phage/Chill Smite being really good on him
+ Incredible waveclear, towerpush and counterjungling
+ Easy to learn
+ Very good duelist
+ High armor shred (assuming you built cleaver)
- Pretty easy to kite without Ghost
- Very predictable
- Lacks hard CC
- No way to cross walls without Flash
THESE ARE ALL VIABLE, AND UP TO PREFERENCE
One of my favorite mobility summoners for Garen. Even after the ramp-up nerf, it still provides with incredible sticking potential which is amazing on a character with no hard CC.
Great choice if you're looking to gap close quickly and execute a carry before they can wreak havoc. Vayne is a perfect example, as you can Flash > Q her and usually proc stormraider's to help you close the gap even if she happens to Condemn your Flash > Q.
My go-to utility summoner. It not only gives you a quick way back into lane should you fall behind, but it also is incredible for teleport-ganks and split pushing since it allows you to pressure your lane and possibly still join team fights if they occur.
*NOTE* This summoner is really only mandatory in high elo. From my experience low elo players rarely capitalize on your teleports.
If you wish to shove that sword ever so slightly further down their throat. Especially strong versus Tryndamere and Swain among others.
ALTERNATIVES, EXPERIMENTAL ONLY
I haven't found a place for this little guy yet, Garen is just far too well equipped to handle most bursty situations, but I'm sure there're some cases where Exhaust could be useful.
I like playing with Smite in the top lane, and it works well with both Warrior and Cinderhulk. This should replace Ignite, should you choose this playstyle. Counterjungling is necessary for this to work as good as possible. This works as a first-aid kit when you're in lane, as you can just walk into your jungle and smite a jungle creep for free health. This also allows for some crazy Baron/Dragon steals on occasion.
So I guess it's about time to address the elephant in the room. "Why Trinity Force instead of Black Cleaver? Why is my baby considered an alternative item?". Good questions.
Simple. Trinity Force provides far more damage to not only counterjungling and objectives, but to champions and split pushing as well. The only exception is if the enemy team has too many tanks. Things I take into consideration when making my choice are:
Does the enemy have 2 or more tanks?
Am I snowballing?
Are the enemy tanks fed?
Are they a hypertank(rammus, malphite, poppy etc)?
Black Cleaver isn't a bad item. It's just overall outperformed by the new Triforce. Triforce has amazing synergy with Garen's execute threshhold. Triforce works wonders on a manaless champion like Garen, who can spam his abilities and get free sheen procs.
Now that's out of the way, let's go through each one of the items and why they're there. I use this same build almost every single game.
This little bad boy is great. It gives you everything you could ask for(yes, even the mana, it makes you smarter, damn it). Damage, mobility, attack speed for shredding towers and taking objectives. Triforce's passive works really well with Garen who has one of the highest base AD ratios in the game.
The typically combo you wanna do as Triforce Garen looks like this:
Q>E>Wait for Sheen proc to come back>W>Auto>Ult
Remember that E can be toggled on and off for a free Sheen proc in between autos.
Sterak's Gage as a second item? What is this?! Hear me out. I've been experimenting with this little combo ever since a friend of mine recommended it to me. Trinity Force deals 200% of your base attack damage, and Sterak's Gage increases that base damage by 25%(potentially 50%). Yes, I've tested it. Yes, it works just the way it sounds. The damage with your Q with these items alone is absolutely absurd, plus you're pretty darn tanky due to Garen's W scaling really well with health! This combo is so good that I will typically delay finishing my boots until after these two are bought(I still buy tier 1 boots, though).
Heavily underestimated item. It gives you much needed damage mitigations(especially since you lack actual resistances at this point in the build), a great movement speed increase, some useful regen AND the wonderful towershredding active. This coupled with your Triforce+Sterak will absolutely eat towers alive in literally seconds if you properly rotate your kit around the Sheen procs.
Amazing item for when you decide to go Smite, the waveclear is bonkers and allows counterjungling and proxying on a whole nother level. The chill smite often allows you to get free kills without needing to even Ghost.
This replaces ZZ'Rot.
Pretty self-explanatory. It's basically to even out your resistances(you need to stay relevant in both areas), and to help you hit that 40% CDR cap. If you have no healer on your team I mostly recommend Adaptive Helm, though.
God, I love this item. The movement speed is absolutely terrific. It stacks well with all the percentage movement increases you have at this point in the game. It's amazing for stalling and wasting the enemy's time, because you become deceptively fast. You have the option of rushing this earlier on if you're looking for a more proxyfocused playstyle rather than duelist playstyle.
Early / Mid / Lategame playstyle
During this phase I will typically mostly farm, and try to get to Bami's Cinder as soon as I can. As soon as I get Bami's Cinder I will start proxying, and counterjungle when I have Smite up. It's important to have good map awareness while you're doing this. Not just to see where the enemy is, but where he was last. Map awareness coupled with the rank 1 boots and movement speed quints can make your proxy a pretty safe strategy.
This is where Garen shines the most, especially after you finish Triforce. Once Triforce has been purchased I will prioritize hitting the turret over taking jungle camps. Your tower damage at this point is bonkers, and it's time to start applying real pressure. Your dueling potential spikes at this point of the game.
I find the most effective style that works for me is to try to keep every lane pressured. Late game is hard to define though, because sometimes you will be lategame but nobody else is. This means that forcing three people to have to stop you is very possible, and if you get that strong the game is practically over already. You always want to be either smacking a tower, pushing a minion wave or taking other objectives at this point. Spend no time taking jungle camps unless there's literally nothing else to do.
Creeping / Jungling / Farming, how does it all work?
Garen's forte. This part is essential if you want to take your Garen to the next level. If you're overly ambitious, read on.
Succeeding as Garen is generally not about killing your enemy laner and then rotating mid to setup a kill and snowball other lanes. The biggest mistake I see Garens make is that they try to impose a high mobility/CC champion's playstyle on Garen's laid back and oppressive playstyle. Sometimes rotating can pay off, but generally you're gonna find yourself short on tools to successfully secure a kill when you decide to rotate.
So what should you do? Focus on what you can do, not what other top lane champions can do. What does Garen have? High sustain, high waveclear. Let's put those strength to good use by taking everything the enemy jungler owns. Take the lead you've aquired in your lane, and make sure you take everything from your enemies. Just make sure you're looking at the minimap the entire time to see if you're being rotated on. Map awareness is the single most important thing when proxying and counterjungling.
Sure, you can't rotate to mid and do a sick E>R>flash>W>R Riven combo, but you can easily proxy a minion wave, steal a jungle camp and get back to proxying without missing a minion. You can ward the enemy jungle, you can ambush the enemy jungler from a bush he definitely won't expect you to come out of. You might not necessarily force a kill mid, but you can certainly force the entire enemy team to have to deal with you.
When you reach the point where the enemy jungle calls for help from his top laner and ends up getting them both killed and losing his red/blue buff, or if he asks for help from both his top and mid and you either manage to kill them all or take two with you and make them all flame one another, you become a ruthless character to deal with. Garen's Q that has Triforce+Sterak, red buff and DMP behind it hurts, and can easily put some squishies within execute range in one hit. Add to that the fact that you have built into your kit an insane amount of damage reduction coupled with resourcelessness, and you've got yourself the reason why I main this champion.
Teamwork and Garen's role in it
This is a tricky subject. As we discussed earlier, Garen doesn't fit the common playstyle that other champions have, your version of "team work" will differ from other champions'. You can help your team without directly being there with them in a team fight. There definitely are times where you should rotate, and you should always have your eyes on the map and be ready for when these opportunities arise. That said, a lot of times you will find yourself in one of these situations:
A, No wards on the entire map.
B, The wards placed are far too safely placed and will not allow you to flank the enemy.
C, Your team is not on the same page as you and spread out, which means even if you teleport you'll be useless.
If ANY of these situations occur, abandon your team and leave them to fend for themselves. Most of the time there is absolutely nothing you can do about the fact that the circumstances are as such. It's not necessarily your team's fault either, it can be hard to predict when the enemy team will have an opportunity to dive you.
HOWEVER. That doesn't mean that you should recall and flame your teammates for overextending without vision. Instead I want you to carefully analyze what is going on. Is the entire enemy team in mid fighting your team while you're pushing top? Keep pushing, push as hard as you can and take as much as possible. Make up for the mistakes your teammates make by taking something on another side of the map.
Garen functions much like Nasus, except he doesn't require stacking and he's much more mobile but lacks Wither. Take their buffs, take their towers, take their inhibs, take their dog, take their house, take everything. I've literally had fights where the enemy team is so hellbent on tunnel visioning that by the time my team's wiped I'm already hitting on their only remaining nexus turret. Place your efforts where your champion shines, folks. Don't try to be a champion that you're not, work on your basics, minimize wasted movement and you'll always be a useful asset to your team.