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Garen Build Guide by Romboldt

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.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Romboldt

Garen - Brawny DPS

Romboldt Last updated on November 22, 2011
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Top Lane
Ranked #2 in
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Win 54%
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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: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Nov 22, 2011:
- Corrected a minor grammatical error.
- Added Mastery Trees section.

Nov 16, 2011:
- Updated Mastery selection for new mastery trees.

Nov 12, 2011:
- Finished, uploaded, and embedded Commentary Video

Nov 8, 2011:
- Adjusted primary build.

Nov 5, 2011:
- Added "Core/Suggested Items" section.
- Commentary Video coming soon! ^_^

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Welcome to my very first Mobafire guide, featuring the one and only Garen. I've tried my hand at a variety of characters now, and it has become clear that this impressive soldier fits my play-style very nicely. Like many others, when I first played Garen I referred to the mobafire guides of others and adjusted and tinkered as suited me.

I also want to remind any readers that guides are just that, guides. They don't play the game for you, they're not copy/paste/win. It's a place for ideas, suggestions, or alternative routes. Take what you see at face value and tweak as you see fit. Adaptation is key.

With all of that said, here are my thoughts, suggestions, and etc. for Garen; I hope you enjoy. ^_^

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Rune Selection

Greater Mark of DesolationGreater Quintessence of DesolationGreater Mark/Quintessence of Desolation - No explanation needed, very standard. Shy of somethin crazy every AD you see is going to use these babies.

Greater Seal of Evasion - Seals are generally reserved for defensive purposes, and the dodge chance fills that role nicely. More noticeable at low levels before attack speeds hit the ceiling, but fairly valuable across the board. As a nice aside, armor pen doesn't reduce your dodge chance so you get to keep the bonus. It'll give you warm fuzzies every time you escape that one last arrow in the arse because you dodged it.

Greater Glyph of Focus - Despite the temptation to use magic resist runes, I find the cooldown reduction quite valuable. The only thing which limits Garens abilities are his cooldowns, so making them shorter just makes sense.

As an aside, I haven't exactly gone on any soul searching or experimental binges regarding my selection of runes. These are merely what I've been using based on logic, and they have served me well.

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Mastery Trees

I originally started laying out each individual mastery with a brief blip about why it's a good choice.. but it quickly became clear that I was wasting my time. 90% of these glyphs are common sense, so instead I'll highlight the choices I feel may take some thinking about.


I can see how this could be a useful place to dump points for some champions, but garens auto attacks hit hard enough to make last-hitting relatively easy even at lower levels.

Potentially valuable if you're planning to push down a tower early, but probably not the best choice. With your relatively low attack speed and playstyle your points are better placed elsewhere.

Tempting mastery which I might consider if I had the points to spare. The cooldown reduction is certainly helpful since the only resource limiting your abilities is cooldown.

I can understand why some might choose this to supplement the spike damage of their ultimate, but I don't feel it would be worthwhile.

Early game 3% vamp is negligible, and by mid game you'll have your bloodthirster. Your points would serve you better elsewhere.


+ Helpful if you feel the need to be a little tougher.

Although I expect this would be most valuable to a jungler, if you notice your playstyle is aggressive enough that you're pulling a lot of minion aggro this may be worth considering.

As with the first tier defense masteries, this can be a useful choice if you feel the need to be a little tougher in general.

With your passive, health potions, and natural health regen, I don't think this would really be worth the investment.


Your mobility is critical, every bit helps.

I opt to grab this mastery since in many games I find myself with red buff, and it's not unusual for me to steal enemy buffs as well.

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Ah the decision of items. This section is easily the most flexible and adaptable. Remember, this is a guide: a starting point. ADAPT. My goal when building Garen is to maintain high damage output (primarily damage/crit/mobility) without becoming horrifyingly squishy. With that said..

+ x3

Mobility is important for anyone, but doubly so for a melee character who can otherwise be prone to kiting. Your survivability low levels is pretty solid and your damage is excellent, so I opt to get boots right away. It can help you get away from a bad situation or help secure first blood. Health potions give you the option of harassing more aggressively and/or staying in lane even longer before finally going back to base.

First Trip Home

After staying in lane for as long as is reasonable, it's time to go shopping. I always try to get as much of these two items as possible, varying as necessary for the situation. An early bloodthirster makes a big difference in both damage output and staying power and lets you get stacks up asap. I always get boots of mobility (can't kill what you can't catch), but if pressured for a #2 option I'd have to put my money on Mercury's Treads

Mid Game

By this point in the game movement speeds are starting to climb, so this is a good time to start building Phantom Dancer. It offers great crit, very helpful movement speed, and appreciated attack speed. Remember, you're going to rely increasingly on overall DPS so attack speed is still valuable. By mid game damage from others players is starting to get really dangerous as well so it helps to start building a bit of defense. Atma's Impaler is a good option because it offers lots of armor, and still provides us with crit and damage. (Note: I acknowledge that you have no bonus health yet, but even still the bonus AD from the passive is notable, and we'll be adding some bonus health soon anyway.)

End Game
All hell has broken loose. Team fights are all over the place, towers are dropping around your ears while minions are tossed aside like cannon fodder. Hopefully by now you're a fed monster and can happily wade into a terrified enemy team. If not, kill 'em harder next time, but for now:

Infinity Edge is a fantastic item choice for Garen, offering everything he needs to succeed. By now he'll have a pretty solid crit chance, and with this those crits are going to hit harder. The Frozen Mallet is a popular choice for the combination of health, damage, and auto-snare all in one neatly wrapped little hammer. As an added bonus this health works well with our Atma's for a bit of extra 'wham'.

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Core/Suggested Items

The idea with the build order I've listed above, is that it's a general trend I see in many matches, but it's not rigid. It shouldn't be, can't be. There are a few items which feel like must-haves, some which are good ideas, and others which are strictly situational. Here's the core:

Boots of Swiftness
As a strictly melee character, mobility is important. Most of the match is going to be spend running at or running away from something.. if you can't keep up you're as useless as a sack of potatoes. Absolute must.

The Bloodthirster
There's a reason this item is popular. Makes you hit hard, makes you heal hard. Despite not proccing lifesteal off of your infamous spin, which is why I see many players avoid it on Garen, it's extremely valuable. Contrary to popular belief Garen CAN auto-attack. The high damage is excellent of course, but the lifesteal is excellent for staying power and will let you stay in lane til the end of days.

Phantom Dancer
Underrated item for Garen. Movement speed passive is excellent, crit is excellent, and attack speed - though not a primary stat - is definitely helpful for overall dps.

Infinity Edge
This goes without saying, really. One of the best dps items in game, with all the stats any Garen worth his salt is going to want.


Mercury's Treads
If the enemy team is heavy enough on CC to worry you this might be a good replacement pair of boots. The magic resist is always a nice touch, too. I would consider this a desperation choice, since Boots of Swiftness are incredibly important.

Atma's Impaler
Good armor, nice crit, and good ad. Even without stacking health this gives notable damage (~44 on Garen, lv 18, no health items), but of course is more valuable with health items. Very likely going to be added to main build in near future.

Guardian Angel
Well rounded defensive item with a great passive. Has the subtle bonus of deterring enemies from focusing you, since you'll just stand back up after a few seconds of chewing mud.

Force of Nature
Especially useful when faced with an ap heavy team, this tanky item is a solid choice. Good regen helps with survivability and staying power, great magic resist really cuts down on damage taken, and the movement speed passive is invaluable.

Last Whisper
Enemies with armor makes it feel like your swinging around a wet noodle. If you notice there's enough armor to be a nuisance, this handy little item choice can really make a difference.

Warmog's Armor
Obviously a very tank-oriented item, this can be a great choice to pair up with Atma's; this can be especially helpful if you notice you're taking a ton of damage.

Doran's Blade
Though I don't recommend starting with a Doran's, I do acknowledge that it is a solid item choice. Makes you a little beefier, hit a little harder, and stay a little longer. I've started adapting it into my build during games where I have a rough start. I always catch up, but using a Doran's or two helps me catch up faster.

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> > >

Perseverance (Passive)
A deceptively awesome passive. With this regeneration we get to stay in lane til the end of days to farm gold and gain exp. I have even had matches where I outleveled our solo-mid because I was able to stay in lane as long as I wanted. Worth keeping in mind that you need to avoid damage for it to become active though, so if you take some damage be careful to stay out of range until you feel healthy again.

Decisive Strike (Q)
Very solid, very helpful ability. Movement speed is useful for closing the gap on your prey or for hauling *** out of a rotten situation. Damage is nice, I like to hit things and make them fall over. Silence is speaks volumes. Max second.

Courage (W)
Very helpful for survivability. The passive is a free 25 armor/magic resist, while the active shield is a great help in a fight to mitigate spikes of damage. Conveniently castable while mid-spin. One rank at 4 for the utility and passive, then max last.

Judgment (E)
This is why people hate Garen. This does fantastic damage early game, combined with a silence and exhaust to prevent escape judgement can net you an early first blood if your opponent overextends or face-checks your bushes. Sadly, the scaling isn't as promising for end game; in this case it's still valuable for dps (especially teamfights) however it can be helpful to remember the value of it's slow removal utility. This combined with the speed bonus from decisive strike can help you get out of a bad situation. Max first.

Demacian Justice (R)
Great spike damage for finishing off targets, especially since the lower they are the more damage they take. Also helpful to ensure you get the kill credit instead of your support or tank who can get by on assists. Be warned that there is a short cast time to this ability, just a fraction of a second but enough to be bothersome. Rank at every opportunity, naturally.

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Summoner Spells


Flash is currently more popular than air, and with good reason. The utility from this summoner spell is fantastic; you can use it to flash into position for the perfect attack, over walls to escape, out of tower range to survive tower dives, and everything in between. This spell could have its very own mobafire guide to cover entirely.

Exhaust is another excellent summoner spell choice, which I strongly recommend. This can be used to snare an enemy about to escape (and soften 'em up thanks to the mastery), cripple an enemy so those bullets feel more like cotton balls, or simply to snare an enemy so you can turn tail and run.

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Needless to say this is a subject that can only offer ideas and suggestions. I can't tell you how to fight, but I can offer tips to help. ^_^ Below is a commentary video I put together talking through a match I had playing as Garen.

Commentary Video!


The bushes are your friend. There is a reason it's a stereotype with Garen, and it's effectiveness.. one of the worst things you can discover while facechecking the bushes is a prepared Garen.

Bushes offer a chance to help you get up close and personal unnoticed (or them get up close and personal to you). Once it's time for the hurt, Decisive Strike will help close the distance and silence them. (Note: Make sure it lands before you spin, this is also a good time for exhaust to both ensure you stay in range and to lower their defenses) Unable to defend themselves, you're free to hit them with a full duration Judgment; this tends to be fatal at lower levels. At higher levels you may need to finish off with your ult.

Tower Dives

Certainly not for the faint of heart and not always a good decision; tower dives are terrifying and potentially tragic. High risk high reward scenario. As with any champion, your goal if you decide to tower dive is spike damage, preferably with the element of surprise, and if at all possible with a quick escape. Don't blow it, you team will be mad.

Ideal tower dive: Decisive Strike, Judgment (if necessary to reach kill-range with..) Demacian Justice. Followed by a prompt haul-*** out of tower range, Flashing if necessary.

It's worth noting that a tower dive is much more likely to go your favor if said turret is buried in your minions. You want to aggro the tower as late as possible, if at all.

Team Fights

All hell has broken loose. Towers are dropping, all-chat is in chaos, minions are being torn to shreds in droves as teamfights start popping up everywhere. What do you do? As a brawny dps your role is to close the distance, hurt bad guys, and live to tell the tale. Here's how:

Closing the distance begins with positioning. Sometimes this can't be helped, such as when a teamfight breaks out while you're shopping or licking your wounds, but it's worth trying to get into position whenever you can before things get crazy. Line of sight is a great help for this, waiting in the fog of war behind a corner/wall or in a set of nearby bushes are two prime examples. The closer you are to your prey before they can react the more face-time you get, as well as landing your crucial silence before it's too late.

Decisive Strike is very helpful in a teamfight, offering a hard hit, silence, and a short movement speed buff. Great to initiate with, since the movement will help you close in on something dangerous and silence them before they blow someone you like to pieces. Keep in mind you don't always want to open with this though, know your opponents. (For example saving this silence for Katarina and her Death Lotus can prevent a LOT of damage, saving lives.)

Courage is an excellent ability in teamfights, and doesn't take much effort or insight to use. As soon as you start getting hit you toss up your shield to mitigate as much as possible. Note: Can be used while using..

Judgment is invaluable in a teamfight since it does solid aoe damage as well as reducing your susceptibility to snares; it's not as damaging as the early levels but still racks up quite a bit of damage. While moving your whirlwind of death, it's helpful to use move commands rather than setting to attack a unit. Micromanaging your positioning can help you stay on target or optimize hitting several targets, and can also prevent line of sight issues. It's also worth mentioning that you can spin on what you can't see, letting you deal damage to predictable stealth units.

Demacian Justice is your execution tool, finishing off low health targets. Worth keeping in mind that the damage scales on missing health, so health stackers aren't an issue. Generally speaking anybody in the 20% hp region is in severe danger of a trip to the summoners platform.

Flash is of course about mobility, and can have many uses; these uses vary largely on the nature of the teamfight. For an ambush it can be helpful to flash into perfection position and blow up a carry in a coordinated focus-fire. On the flip side it can be saved as an escape, flashing out of range or over a wall when things get too hot (my preference).

Exhaust serves as both a catching and crippling tool for your team. Can be used to secure a kill on a fleeing enemy, to soften up a focus target, or just as well on a high-dps enemy to cripple them.

Survival is not always an option, but is certainly a preference. If you're in the thick of a teamfight and you know you're not getting out alive then don't bother, stay in there and give 'em hell. If you can escape however, it's in the teams best interests. Keep in mind that falling back can range from returning to base, to beating on minions for regen, to simply stepping out of the heat long enough for the enemy to change focus.

Remember that your abilities used together properly can get you out of a lot of trouble. Courage, Exhaust, Flash, Judgment(to remove snares), Decisive Strike (for speed buff]] may sound like overkill (as well as unlikely). It can be, it's up to you to gauge your threat level, how far you need to go, and what cooldowns you need to prioritize.

Abilities have cooldowns, and it's a shame to waste them, but keep in mind you can't use your cooldowns if you're dead. Make 'em work for it.

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Match History

It seems everybody likes a good match history, despite the inherent inaccuracies and how easily they could be faked.. so without further ado here's a legit copy/paste of my recent history (honest! ^_^).

Yes there are some defeats in there, it's true. Sadly all of these were random matches, and I was forced to desperately try to carry some particularly heavy lemons.

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This concludes my guide to playing a damage-heavy style Garen. I hope I was able to offer some valuable advice or even spark some interesting ideas so others can enjoy this great Champion. Please by all means comment with ideas, suggestions, fixes, stories, or especially constructive criticisms. Even a bit of silly nonsense is acceptable. ^_^