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Garen Build Guide by FSat


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League of Legends Build Guide Author FSat

Garen CAN Carry [S8 (8.3)] [Matchups Chapter Included]

FSat Last updated on February 9, 2018
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VS AD/AP - Advanced

[VS]

Alternative Builds

Cheat Sheet
Previous Champion Build Next Champion Build

Facing AD lane

Garen Build

Resolve
LoL Path: Resolve
LoL Rune: Grasp of the Undying
Grasp of the Undying
LoL Rune: Unflinching
Unflinching
LoL Rune: Iron Skin
Iron Skin
LoL Rune: Overgrowth
Overgrowth

Precision
LoL Path: Precision
LoL Rune: Legend: Tenacity
Legend: Tenacity
LoL Rune: Coup de Grace
Coup de Grace
Bonus:

+65 health and +9% attack speed

LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #11 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
Get More Stats

Ability Sequence

1
8
10
12
13
Ability Key Q
3
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
2
4
5
7
9
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R

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Introduction: about Garen, FSat, patch 7.22, FAQ



Hello, readers!
Garen is a tanky, high damage AD Caster who fits toplane's requirements perfectly, he has high base statistics, good scalings and amazing sustainability, and his main reason of existance is his capability to make his way through crowds of enemies in order to kill the most dangerous ones the enemy team has; his kit is well suited for this role, but it does need the help of some specific items, that we'll cover in this guide for sure!
Apart from his ADC/APC Reaper role, Garen suits well the role of a regular tank aswell, thanks to his Courage and his amazing passive ability: Perseverance, although he lacks an engage, which can make him less useful than other tanks: be aware of this when picking champions, a team without engages is often a team that gets poked down too easily before teamfights start!
Garen is often Built full AD with only one or two defensive items, although this build does work, it's much less gold-efficient, and can turn into a waste of time if you don't get fed enough to realize it, plus remember a tanky champion is always more useful than a full AD one to the team in most cases!
With all this being said, let's get into the core details of this guy!

About the Garen changes following patch 7.22


Patch 7.22 marked the end of Season 7 and the start of Pre-Season 8. With this patch, the Masteries system has been removed and the Runes system has been reworked. Following this rework Garen's position in the meta found itself lowered considerably, although there are some possible combinations. What you currently see in the builds up top is undergoing testing and is subject to change. I will do everything in my power to provide the best pages you can hope for in the least amount of time possible. Until then, the pages here provided should work just fine in most of your games :)


Some Questions and Some Answers



  • Does Armorpen Garen still exist? Will it work?
    Following patch 7.22, former Armorpen Garen (now Lethality Garen) has become considerably less powerful and viable. The lack of Stormraider's Surge has nullified the disengage potential it had and the removal of lethality runes from the early game makes this stage of the game far worse. The build will probably still be usable in normal games and SOME ranked games, but I wouldn't recommend it as your go-to build unless I figure out a page that allows it to perform the way it did before. Thus, it'll now be displayed in the alternative builds tab and discontinued for the time being in favor of a better build that is likely going to allow you to do better.
  • Tank Garen in Season 8?
    Tank Garen in Season 8 is exactly what you can expect him to be. Viable, decent, good damage overall and great durability, with its best place being low to mid-tier elo. It is most definetly still possible to do well with this build in higher elos but it requires that you rely on your team and I wouldn't recommend Tank Garen for platinum 3 and above :)

  • Will Garen be in the meta?
    Well, so far, Garen is definetly not in the meta. He has a decent winrate across all elos but ultimately toplane wants different things than the ones Garen has to offer. Luckily it is still possible to do well with him, which is ultimately all that matters.

About FSat (the writer/me, lol)


Not too much to say, and I'm not huge on talking about myself. I've been playing League for some years now, since Season 4, started off Silver, quickly managed high Gold in season 5, high plat in season 6 and now I'm Diamond, climbed all tiers with Garen, HE IS VIABLE, I PROMISE.
This guide has been started almost 3 years ago and I've dedicated myself incredibly deeply to its up-to-dateness and its content. I'll keep working on this as best I can for as long as I can!
Here is a picture for easier reference on my position, don't get mad if I don't keep this one up to date every day but I'll provide links for my opgg and lolskill profiles for a more in depth look at my situation for those interested :)

Here are some links for more information on me as a League player!
FSat's LolSkill
FSat's opgg


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YouTube - Twitch - Discord - Social Links

The YouTube guide has been removed due to it being outdated. I'll make a new one soon!

As a League player, I chose to invest my time into making guides and streaming games, showing what goes on in my head when playing Garen. The links and previews showed here are only a minor part of my work as a youtuber and content creator. I don't mean to spam, but following me through these channels can provide even more information than you can find in this huge guide :)

YouTube



YouTube is where I started making content and it's where only the most important and useful games are shown. If you look for an occasional way to support me, or simply a channel for Garen mains, this is the place for you.
Visit FSat's YouTube channel (AMSatellite)

Here are a couple of previews of what you can expect to see on my channel:

Full Game Commentary example


Montage Example


(Nostalgic) My first Garen Montage (old!)


Twitch


I've recently started streaming on Twitch and became an affiliate right after, thanks to the already present fanbase from YouTube and Mobafire. No way I'll ever be able to repay you guys for your amazing support!
Twitch is where I stream at. Check out my page linked below for a schedule, basic information and the possibility to support me through Subscriptions and Donations directly. When I stream you can expect all my normality in games. I lock Garen/Darius and do my best to win the game and provide as much information to the viewers as I can, with chat as a powerful tool to keep requests coming and focusing on giving out the right advice at the right time. Keep in mind LIVE means LIVE: if I'm having a bad game, you'll see it all, hear it all. Unlike my YouTube, Twitch is a pure experience, where you can see how good I can be, but you can also see how many mistakes I can make: high elo didn't make me a machine: I still fail sometimes and it's hilarious! ;)

Visit FSat's Twitch page (AMSatellite)

Discord



If you don't know what Discord is, here is the short version. It's a Client that allows you to text, chat and voice call people in a public environment. Each person can create one or more Servers and invite friends or strangers inside said servers. I have a server of my own for my fans and my friends, called "Mights of Demacia". There, I post information (personal and Garen/League related), stream announcements, video announcements and generally speaking all that can matter to someone who follows me.
My server is also where you can talk to me privately to ask questions in a live chat or voice chat, or you can arrange a game with me when I am not grinding for elo in ranked. I really recommend joining in to keep in touch with me and my friends!

To join the server, simply click on the following link, you will then be able to choose if you want to install Discord as an app on your PC or simply open the server via Web Browser with some limitations on features.
Join FSat's Discord Server

Facebook


I do have a Facebook page, but I haven't worked on it for months since Discord is so useful. One day I may pick it back up and keep it up to date, when the day comes, it will be linked here, too :)


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Pros / Cons

Pros

+ Great sustain paired with increasing tankiness!
+ Good base damage even after the update!
+ One of the best lategame carry-deleter thanks to his kit and the new "Villain" mechanic!
+ Overall good mobility and cc resistance
+ Good anti-tank thanks to the true damage he received from the update!
+ Only limited by his cooldowns!
+ Good team utility
Garen's base statistics are very very good and will give you a great edge in Early-Mid Game against most toplaners and junglers, that in conjunction with your passive ability's unique sustain will make you a real bully in your lane, a strong individual who beats people, while being hard to takedown and almost impossible to force out of lane! But that's not it! Garen's damage and tankiness allow him to turn into a very big pain for enemy carries, only limited by cooldowns thanks to him being manaless!





Cons

- Easy to kite
- His kit lacks crowd control (Silence is good but not enough!)
- Kill potential is not the same on all targets due to the new "Villain" mechanic
- Overall low mobility: speed boost is nice but the lack of a blink or jump forces us to use flash
- Manaless means many items are not gold efficient on him, which is sad
Unfortunately, Garen isn't as OP as people who can't deal with him claim, he definetly is good, but he has his flaws, no gap closing (easy to kite), no hard cc (people will always have a chance to run from him), he is unfortunately forced to choose between a limited amount of items due to gold efficiency. Many of these flaws can be fixed during the game, but it requires you to play well and use him to his full potential: follow this guide, and you'll do it for sure, I promise! ;).


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Runes

Welcome to the updated runes section!
In this section, I'll explain the choices behind the runes in the pages that concern the two MAIN BUILDS, (first two on the list on the top of this guide). For more indications on the other pages, you'll have to wait until I test them and figure out the best combinations. For now, enjoy Tank Garen in all his potential!

Video that covers the main 3 pages of this guide


In case you don't feel like reading it all ;)

Tank Garen (Standard all-around Page)



Grasp of the Undying
The VS AD page includes all the sustain potential you can require through Grasp of the Undying and quite a few useful additions. Grasp is the keystone of choice here because the other two simply can't proc with Garen's kit, leaving Grasp as the sole contender (and to be honest, it would've been the best regardless). What it does is simple, Grasp provides a means of in-fight sustain via autoattack whenever you're in combat for over 4 seconds and repeats itself every 4 seconds. Additionally, it increases your health PERMANENTLY whenever you proc it. This means you should use it whenever it's possible AND advantageous, DO NOT use it if it opens you to risk as you may gain 5 HP and heal for 20, then die, which is obviously not a worthy trade off. So in short, use it often, not always, or you'll make mistakes!

Unflinching
We take Unflinching as our second rune because it rewards the use of summoner spells with Tenacity, not only making a failed Flash or a failed Ignite less punishing, but providing Garen with the biggest resource he can ask for. Tenacity is vital on Garen: he needs it to stick to targets and having it as backup for when we get caught is also a beautiful addition. Finally, keep in mind you also gain a burst of Tenacity right after you use a summoner spell, meaning that a Flash+ Decisive Strike based combo will be way harder to escape from, if the silence connects! An alternative could be Demolish, and you can use it when you know you'll spend most of the game splitpushing, that way you get an extra playing option for your game, but I'd still recommend Unflinching, as it provides stats you'll ALWAYS be able to make use of.

Iron Skin
Iron Skin/ Mirror Shell - this rune is a good addition to the page as it provides additional defense against the type of laner we are facing. Sadly the rune is not adaptive, this means we have to either have a page for each type of opponent, or simply swap Iron Skin for Mirror Shell any time we know we'll be facing a magic damage based opponent. Keep in mind the additional armor/magic resistance is further increased for a short amount of time whenever you use a consumable, making the use of potions while trading even better.
You can replace either rune with Conditioning to better scale in Garen's amazing midgame, but right because his midgame's already super good, and his early isn't, I'd recommend taking one of the two runes I proposed earlier instead, as they'll help you win lane and get in the midgame stronger regardless.

Overgrowth
This rune stacks very well with Grasp's health increase and allows you to scale tankier even if you're not farming very well or simply can't stick Grasp's proc on your opponent. It won't help you in laning phase, but it will help you in the long run as the game progresses!

Second Wind
This rune is in the "VS AP" page!Stacks very well with the Doran's Shield recommended start against ap focused laners. Coincidentially, ap focused laners are the ones that get to harass you for free without retaliation the most, so having some extra regen against them can provide an additional mean of surviving the lane. You could still opt for Overgrowth since you don't have to be the one who kills the minions to use it, but I find that stacking up HP will mostly help against people you can fight, whilst in many cases, you won't ever get a chance to attack a mage toplane, meaning it's just more important that you survive to get what little cs you can under tower until midgame hits.

Secondary Tree


Here's when things get interesting: the AD and AP pages are completely different in this category, so we'll take a look at them separately. Keep in mind that with this keystone, you'll get +130 HP regardless of which secondary tree you choose afterwards.

VS AD



Legend: Tenacity
This runes provides increasing Tenacity every time you kill a minion, monster, ward or Champion. It's extremely good to have if you can stack it, so that's why we take it against AD centered foes: they're the ones that we can farm with and bully at in most cases. There's not much more to add: Tenacity is great, it will stack up with Unflinching and Courage to make you incredibly sticky and dangerous to the enemy team.

Coup de Grace
Good rune for a Tank Garen. Since we don't really build alot of damage, it's good practice to boost our own damage when we get someone low enough to the point when we can kill them, it's also a little bit less risky than Last Stand, which you can still take if you want, especially if you're fighting an AD caster that beats your damage like Darius or Renekton, they are good in their own regards, though Coup de Grace can work in every case, whilst Last Stand will only work if your opponent is good enough to lower your health, which isn't always true!

VS AP



Nullifying Orb
Mini Hexdrinker shield at a 60s cooldown? Yes, please. What this rune will do for you is as follows: it will save you if you make a mistake and the enemy laner banks on it, and it will also make you way more dangerous should you get to the enemy laner, allowing for a kill to be more likely a possibility! I don't think there is much to add there, other than The Ultimate Hat is a decent alternative when the ap laner you're facing is one that you can easily fight and win against, what this alternative does is reduce your ultimate's cooldown by up to 10% (stacks with CDR) every time you cast it, it's good, sure, but Garen's ult's CD is low as it is and we get 40% CDR in most games, so I don't think it's as safe as Nullifying Orb.

Celerity
This rune will allow you to catch up more easily to your enemy, escape their grasp with a better chance of outrunning them and will also provide extra damage based on how much bonus movement speed you have (similar to what Hecarim's passive does). It's not incredible, but it replaces the movement speed quintessences Garen used to rely on in the past, and it also provides some free damage, nice, clean, simple. You could opt for quite a few alternatives from this tree, but to be completely honest, the three I've mentioned so far simply outshine the others for Garen and I'd recommend you stick to them!

I hope these pages make sense to you. Before I let you go, let's talk some alternative keystones. I'm discussing the alternative keystones separately here because I believe it would've been way too confusing to discuss it all directly over in the main explaination!


Alternative Keystones (and some other ideas)



Unsealed Spellbook
Nice keystone. Gives you summoner spells CDR which is huge for Garen, since we absolutely need Flash and provides a means to solve the Ignite issue, swapping it as soon as we feel confident that we won't need it (maybe after your first or second kill), allowing us to be everpresent. The Tokens you get to swap summoners can also be re-used, meaning you'll also be able to swap again if you need. This obviously makes Garen alot more flexible and is a good addition. The tree is not even that bad to be honest, with Biscuit Delivery removing the need to buy potions after the start forever (you have your passive too!) and providing amazing sustain, Future's Market is cool for lanes where you just need that little boost before you explode (there's many instances of that, you simply don't realize until now because you never had this option) and finally Cosmic Insight provides basically universal CDR which works wonders on Garen. Add in Unflinching and Overgrowth/ Second Wind and you have a nice alternative page that works very well when you feel like mixing it up!. If I were to not go for my main page for whatever reason, I'd use this one.

Predator
Super cool Keystone that provides you with an EXTREME mobility boost that lasts an enormous amount of time, granting extra damage on your next damaging spell. Sounds amazing on paper, but there are quite a few catches. First catch is that it requires you to have boots. This means you may have to rush boots when you could rush something else and delay your powerspikes. Second catch is its cooldown, it's super high until you reach a high enough level. This means you're fighting without a keystone until you get it back up while your enemies won't!
What's the problem, you may be thinking, I've got all the other runes in the page to help me. Well no. The other runes in the red tree are either utility based, not usable on Garen (because of his kit not allowing them to proc) or scaling based, which means when your keystone's on cooldown from early to mid, you'll have no backup from them. While Predator is ready, it's obviously super strong to engage, but when it isn't you're left incredibly weak, making the keystone and its tree inconsistent on Garen.
This is however the best rune for Jungle Garen, so keep that in mind!

Electrocute
Thunderlord's clone. Does more damage. Procs harder than Thunderlord's on Garen (that's the feeling I had). Definetly the best and most consistent keystone for Bruiser Garen, which is the offensive build that replaces Lethality Garen on this guide. The red tree stays kind of inconsistent, but overall works extremely well with that specific build and playstyle. More on this later!

Fleet Footwork
The heal is ok, the movespeed is nice to Q-back off but it ends up being nearly useless in mid-late game unless you have to stick to someone for a single second and not more. I think if you really want to have mobility in your kit, it's best to take Phase Rush over this keystone, also considering the Sorcery tree provides better lower tier runes than the Precision tree :)

Phase Rush
Stormraider's clone that requires you to land 3 different types of attack to proc. Sounds good on paper, but it is a bit harder to use than you'd expect especially in high elo. You can do the Auto-Q-E combo in laning phase only against melees and not everyone will allow you to do it either, after that, it's almost impossible to get over 1 autoattack in a single combo when you're teamfighting or trying to kill some lonely adc, meaning you'll only proc this keystone in laningphase or when you ult or use ignite. Of note, building Bami's Cinder will make the proc happen with Q-E only, which is actually pretty nice. Overall it's a great keystone but it only adds fun and some outmanouver potential to the mix, without necessairly boosting Garen's kill pressure, which is really all Garen gives to his team unless he's full Tank Garen.

I'll soon post a video with the main page so you guys can see how it works! :D


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Summoner Spells

Flash

// Teleport in the direction of your cursor
Flash is the best summoner spell on Garen (in my opinion) because it gives him the instant teleport ability (a.k.a. engage) that he lacks, and can also be used to escape quickly and over walls if necessary.


Ignite
// Lights up an enemy on fire, dealing a certain amount of true damage for 5 seconds
Ignite is an amazing spell for Garen: it's an useful way to finish off enemies that are escaping from you pre-level 6, and it will couple very well with your Demacian Justice after you hit level 6. Nothing prvents you from using Ignite on an enemy and then Demacian Justice on another enemy, to get a double kill, just make sure you are a good calculator and you'll do this often! ;) Don't forget that you can also use it on high lifesteal/healing targets, to half their regeneration.


Other viable summoner spells



Teleport
// Teleport will allow you to teleport to a tower/ward/friendly minion
Teleport is a very common summoner spell for toplaners and Garen isn't an exception, the ability to back, shop and then pop out of your turret/minion is really nice. Not to mention the fact that it's amazing to just come out of a ward in a teamfight, turning the odds to your favor: a tank that appears all of a sudden can change things, especially if he's Garen! Why don't I pick it then? Simple, Ignite will allow you to snowball if used properly: it's just too good on Garen. In general, I'd say you should pick Teleport instead of Ignite against ranged enemies that will force you to recall often, or in case you are the only tank in your team and all of your teammates are squishy and need your presence often mid-lategame
Also, teleport beats ignite if you are in a 5 man Ranked with people you can communicate with. That makes every teleport count unless you guys are terrible at cooperating, into which case I'd recommend you get better premade friends to play with if you want to win and climb elo ^_^


Ghost
// Ghost will boost your movement speed for a limited amount of time and will make you ignore unit collisions
Ghost can be seen by a Garen player in 2 ways...
  1. A boost that will stack up with your Decisive Strike and an unit collision ignoring spell that will stack up with your Judgment, an all in all good chasing spell that has a lower CD than Flash and can be used to escape aswell;
  2. Something that will add up with your champion abilities but won't fix one of the cons Garen has: your engage. You already have a movement speed boost thanks to Decisive Strike after all, so another "walking" spell won't change your game much.
It's as usual a preference matter, though to me the instant teleport Flash can give you will make a bigger difference most of the time.

Exhaust
// Will reduce enemy movement speed, attack speed and damage output for a limited amount of time
Troll lanes exist, hard lanes exist and this spell can help you when trying to stick someone that always runs away to the ground ( Vayne, Teemo, etc...), so you can deal more damage and increase your kill potential. It works in very specific cases though, and sacrificing Flash for this may leave you with less possibilities in different situations, while sacrificing Ignite/Teleport for this also isn't lovely. You can use this spell if you want, but I generally don't recommend you do.


Guide Top

Skill Sequence, tips and combos




Perseverance: Garen's new most (IN)famous ability: his sustain passive. Why did I say new? It's been buffed. ALOT.
Let's get deep into this shall we?

-From level 1 to level 11:

Takes 9 seconds of no damage from monsters and champions to activate, and will heal Garen of 0.4% of his health every second until a champion or ANY jungle monster attacks Garen. If Garen is below 25% Health, the healing is doubled (0.8% of his max hp per second)

=From level 11 onwards :

Will now take 4 seconds of no damage from champions and epic monsters to activate, and will heal Garen for 1.6% of his health every second until a champion or ONLY an epic monster (Dragon, Baron Nashor) attacks Garen.
If Garen is below 50% Health, the healing is doubled (3.2% of his max hp per second)

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view



Decisive Strike: This is going to ALWAYS be your first unlocked ability because it's simply too good of a level 1: it will give you a 30% speed boost for a specified amount of time, has slightly increase basic attack range, will deal lots of bonus damage and silence your target on hit, and will get you clear of ALL SLOWS (and slows ONLY) at activation (and at activation ONLY). If you hit the enemy team's Villain, Decisive Strike will also deal 1% of his/her max health as bonus TRUE DAMAGE.

Keep in mind that damage and speed boost duration will grow with levels of the ability, however the speed boost's intensity WON'T.

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view



Courage: Courage is the reason why Garen is so tanky thanks both to its passive, and its active.
Passive: Garen gains 0.25 armor and magic resist permanently when killing any unit.
Active: Incoming damage and crowd control effects are reduced by 60% for 0.75 seconds. After that 0.75 seconds, the 60% Tenacity effect ends while the damage reduction lowers to 30% (this includes physical damage, magic damage and tower damage).
You're going to want to max out Courage last, because upgrading the ability will only reduce its cooldown and increase the duration of the active buffs it grants while activated.
Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view





Judgment: Judgment is your main damage source: activating it will make Garen spin for 3 seconds dealing AOE physical damage over those 3 seconds. The speed of the spin increases automatically and permanently at levels 1/4/7/10/13/16, meaning Garen will hit more times in those 3 seconds: he will hit 5/6/7/8/9/10 times. If Judgment hits the enemy team's Villain, it will deal 1% of their maximum health as bonus TRUE DAMAGE per hit, for a potential total of 10% of their max health at level 16.
Judgment deals 25% less damage if it hits more than one person.
Garen ignores collisions while spinning.
Judgment can critically strike, dealing 150% damage.
Canceling Judgment earlier refunds part of its cooldown.
[6.24]: Enemies hit by 4 ticks of Judgment lose 25% of their armor for 6 seconds, refreshing every time they are hit again by it.

Great ability, much worse after the juggernouts rework during the early phases of the game, but still our main damage spell for the mid-lategame. With the addition of built-in armorshred it brings a lot of danger to tanks too and allows for up to around 45% amorshred in a very quick succession due to the speed at which it'll stack up Black Cleaver stacks in lategame :D

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view




Demacian Justice: Your Ultimate Ability is (in my opinion, but many will agree) the best finisher in the game, as it's impossible to dodge once channelled, deals damage based on something that can't be countered and is extremely cool to watch! ;D
It has both a Passive and an Active effect.
Passive: the enemy with the most recent kills will be marked as the "Villain". Garen's abilities and basic attacks used on him/her will deal a percentage of his/her maximum health as bonus TRUE DAMAGE (read specific abilities for more info).
Active: The ability will deal a specified amount of Magic Damage (DOES NOT scale from AD/AP), plus more damage scaling from the enemies' missing health. If used on the enemy's Villain it will deal TRUE DAMAGE instead of Magic Damage.I really recommend you check the ability's official page here to see raw stats and realize how powerful this ability really is!

You're going to max Demacian Justice every time you can, as it's one of the best abilities in your kit and one of the most powerful ones in the game.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view



Skill/Spell Combos



There are many possible combos that you can use, here are the most efficient ones that WILL include also summoner spells.

Spoiler: Click to view


Why is the silence nerf not so relevant?(OUTDATED, DIDN'T REMOVE IT BECAUSE IT WAS COOL AS A MATH EXAMPLE)


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Starting Items and Mid Game items

Possible starts (Universal)



UPDATED Doran's Shield
After patch 7.9, I find Doran's Shield to be viable in harrass based matchups,
champions like Teemo and Darius, and everyone that needs damage over time will be demolished by Doran's Shield now. Start Doran's shield to survive hard lanes and sell it in lategame for your 6th item!

Cloth Armor
Because Garen won't receive bonus aror from his Courage, starting with this item isn't as effective as it was beore, but the truth is that it is still a ver reliable start against AD casters and basic attackers. Not only will it give you more armor to stack up with the flat amount you now earn from farming with Courage it also allows for amazing sustain in lane thanks to the 4 health Potions.

Long Sword
This start is mostly useful when your lane opponent tends to be tankier than you early game and makes you risk death due to him outtrading you (people like Shen or Malphite are in this category). It also helps you in last hitting which has a huge value. I normally prefer defensive starts but this start should not let you down regardless.

Boots of Speed
This is the main start you will want when you are fighting against a ranged enemy or a mage. You are melee and you need the speed boost to make sure your Decisive Strike lands, allowing a full burst to happen. They also to towards Mercury's Treads which are often the first item you will finish against a ranged/heavy cc enemy! Plus 4 pots are a great tool in lane, and this start allows you to get them!

Ruby Crystal
Healthy start which just turned more effective after the gameplay update. Due to Courage not boosting flat resistances anymore, getting early health to boost your resistance and passive is a great plan. Mostly effective against melee ap enemies ( Ekko or Akali and similars), the item goes towards The Black Cleaver, meaning you can start with it when you know you will have a big advantage in lane too.



Items for the rest of Laning Phase and the Mid Game



Chain Vest
This will be your go-to item for AD lanes, it only gives you armor, and it builds into most of the defensive items you may need for the midgame and the lategame. Not much to write here, the item is good and you can pretty much build it every time you are facing an AD based toplaner.

Bramble Vest
Similar to a Chain Vest, costs more, builds towards a Thornmail ONLY.
I'll tell you what, this item is AWESOME when built against the right enemy. Anyone who mostly autoattacks will hate you if you have this item. Rush this when you're facing an autoattacker toplane like Aatrox, Irelia, Jax and similars, or if you are against an AD enemy and you know the enemy ADC will be a problem, remember, fixing something before it happens is great!

Warden's Mail
This item is similar to the Chain Vest but transitions into Randuin's Omen only and provides a basic attack slowing passive, meaning you should build it against enemies that are:
1) Basic attack/attack speed based, because we want the passive to be a factor, the 5 extra armor point aren't worth the extra coin if the enemy is an AD caster
2) Crit focused, because when we get Randuin's Omen that's what we'll try to counter
So in general you can focus on this item if you're facing enemies like Yasuo or Tryndamere to reduce their damage output by quite a bit.

Chain Vest vs Bramble Vest vs Warden's Mail.

  • Get a Chain Vest if you are facing an AD Caster like Riven, Renekton or Illaoi. They will basic attack, sure, but less than a Tryndamere or a Jax, don't you think? So get that cheap armor and focus on either a sunfire or a Dead Man's Plate :).
  • Getting a Bramble Vest implies you'll get a Warden's Mail too after, the vice-versa isn't always true, though! Before you read on keep in mind the following: THERE IS NO BETTER ITEM BETWEEN THE TWO. They both ruin autoattackers, I will just indicate when it's overall a better idea to prefer one over the other, but it really depends on you and what your enemy is building and playing like.
  • Get a Bramble Vest if an enemy autoattacker against which you are playing has autoattack based sustain, this is basically lifesteal, Darius's Q won't be hit by the grievous wounds because it takes about 1 second to happen, so don't even think about buying this item too early if they're going for attack speed/critical strike/AD only. An example is as follows: someone like Irelia or Trundle won't build lifesteal right off the bat, but they sustain via autoattacks anyway, so you get the Bramble Vest and ruin their lives easily!
  • Get a Warden's Mail if you are facing an autoattacker who's stacking up critical strike chance/AD/attack speed and has no lifesteal, or autoattack based sustain. Someone like Yasuo will hate this item, as it ruins his Q's cooldown and reduces his ability to damage you during trades.

Bami's Cinder
Health and an AoE magic damage passive. This item turns into Sunfire Cape and deals a fair amount of magic damage per second to all the enemies close to you. This means that if you buy it too early, you may end up pushing your lane alot, denying yourself farm and exposing to ganks. However, there are lanes in which this item is pure gold. For example, say you're fighting a Darius or a Renekton who's built a Chain Vest and clearly wants to go towards Dead Man's Plate or sunfire, this build will protect him from alot of your physical damage, by building Bami's Cinder you complement your kit with some extra magic damage which can help you greatly in trades. Or you're facing a very good Riven who always tanks your damage using her shield, by building this item you'll damage her whenever she tries to trade with you and counter her shield, because it only lasts a few seconds.
So in general, you want to build this item against an AD focused enemy who's building tanky to counter you.


Spectre's Cowl
Essential item against AP focused toplaners which provides great tanky stats and counters the poke/harrass tendency that APCs have with their abilities. You should build this item in every balanced game as it will turn into Spirit Visage, giving it priority if you're against an AP based enemy like Teemo or Vladimir.


Phage
This item is a good early game mixed one. Gives you a good amount of AD and a good amount of health to go with, plus a passive that further boosts your engage by activating after you land a Decisive Strike or a basic attack. Sometimes you can even basic attack, then proceeding with Decisive Strike for extra movement speed! This is the main damage source you will want because it turns into the Black Cleaver or the Trinity Force.

Jaurim's fist
Good laning phase item that makes you go through the mid-game relatively well too. It provides health that scales up with every unit kill (exactly the same thing as your W's passive component) at a rate of 5 health points per unit killed. Is this an "every game" item? No. It gives 150 health off the bat (not that much) and only gets gold efficient provided you're managing to farm alot, and this just doesn't always apply, especially if you're not having an easy time in lane. However, as of patch 7.9, The Black Cleaver has been nerfed considerably, making it not worth buying in every game, due to the armor reduction mechanic Judgment provides.
So when should you prefer to rush this item over the Phage?
If the enemy team has less than 2 tanks, you'll rush this instead of the Phage. This is because you'll rush a Sterak's Gage as your first damage item and not a The Black Cleaver.


Executioner's Calling
Damage and Grevious Wounds to counter your enemy laner's sustain. Not too gold efficient and can be useless if you know how to manage your Ignite properly. Should you have Teleport and be against a heavy sustain enemy like Vladimir or Volibear, then this item is a blessing that you'll only be able to afford if you manage to get the coin to buy this AND a defensive item. As you may expect it's not that easy, but if you farm properly it won't be an issue for sure. I just don't think this item is a good "every game" item for Garen.

Serrated Dirk
AD + armorpen, that's the brutalizer (weaker) for you. This item goes towards Edge of Night or Youmuu's Ghostblade. It's a very good item if you get ahead a Low difficulty matchup, or when you get extremely far ahead of your enemies.

Hexdrinker
An item that basically merges damage with resistance and is very helpful against AP enemies top. Picking this item against low CC APs top is basically buying a ticked to win the lane (an example is Vladimir). It's a big amount of AD, a great amount of MR and a great passive (a shield) that will allow you to trade when you would normally have to back off (this often catches enemies off guard, and allows you to get free kills you'd normally not get). It's not ALWAYS the best damage item to pick against APCs but it's helpful in most lanes. MORE ON THIS IN MATCHUPS SECTION. THANKS TO USER "SREEN" FOR RECOMMENDING THIS ITEM!

Kindlegem
Health + CDR. 2 stats Garen benefits from greatly, and because this item turns into Spirit Visage, this item is a true jewel. You can purchase it once you have some flat resistances (Armor and Magic Resistange) and an offensive item like those listed above in your inventory. Picking the item you want to turn your Kindlegem into can be situational because it now goes also towards Warmog's Armor which is a pretty neat item, and also towards the Ohmwrecker which I love if I get ahead. More on this below and in the Matchups section.

Giant's Belt
An item that provides lots of health, and turns into many defensive items over the course of the game, like Dead Man's Plate or Randuin's Omen. We normally prioritize flat resistances like Armor and Magic Resistance for the early game, but once those are set up, and you got a Phage or an Hexdrinker (depends on the enemy you're facing) in your inventory, you can build some extra health, taking this in case of an AD lane.

Executioner's Calling
Damage and Grevious Wounds to counter your enemy laner's sustain. Not too gold efficient and can be useless if you know how to manage your Ignite properly. Should you have Teleport and be against a heavy sustain enemy like Vladimir or Volibear, then this item is a blessing that you'll only be able to afford if you manage to get the coin to buy this AND a defensive item. As you may expect it's not that easy, but if you farm properly it won't be an issue for sure. I just don't think this item is a good "every game" item for Garen.


Guide Top

Core Items

CORE ITEMS TO CONSIDER IN EVERY GAME



The Black Cleaver
CORE
Best and only really mandatory damage item you will ever want on Garen. It gives AD, health, cooldown reduction which are all gold perks for the G-man. Besides, the two passives are amazing aswell, the armor shred is a huge deal for enemies as they will be weaker to you and to all your physical damage based teammates. The "rage" passive is also perfect in your kit, as it will allow you to stick to enemies you engage much more easily, providing extra mobility! This item is pure gold on Garen and it's always safe. You can build it in any game in any condition.

Sterak's Gage
Sterak's Gage is "the item you want when Black Cleaver is not a good choice".
When is that? I'll make it clear for you: Build this when the enemy team has LESS than 2 tanks. If the enemy team has 2 or more Tanks, then Black Cleaver is the better choice.
Now to cover the differences between the two items, I'll talk about some downsides and upsides of a Sterak's rush VS a Black Cleaver rush.
Sterak's Gage is great because of its Passive that essentially makes you considerably more durable in any type of engagement and provides additional base AD to boost your damage at all stages of the game, anytime you fight. It'll be basically like having a support when you're fighting even though your Nami's actually feeding :).
The major downside is the lack of CDR. Not building this decreases the average CDR cap you'll reach in a game down by 20% and that's a huge deal. To make up for this, you may want to consider building Trinity Force instead of Maw of Malmortius, since Sterak's already provides a good shield that counters burst magic damage aswell as giving you about the same offensive power overall as the Maw.

Youmuu's Ghostblade
Damage, cdr, armorpen, mobility. Pretty awesome right?
Sure we don't get any tankiness and that's why I don't think youmuu's is as important as a Black Cleaver, but it's definetly up there with it. If the enemy team doesn't stack up armor, or you are going for the flat armorpen build, get this item as your first main damage item. It's obviously not that great of a choice if the enemy team is too far ahead, due to no tankiness, in that case it's best to get the Black Cleaver, but if you're ahead, go on and get this item no problem.


Duskblade of Draktharr
Damage, cdr, armorpen and most importantly: vision control. Yes, this item isn't awesome for its base stats, but it's BRILLIANT for the amount of control it provides you.
I won't go into detail about the simple fact that if you show up after not being seen by the enemies, your first basic attack will deal an amazing amount of extra damage, rather I'd stick to why the item is such a great control item. At a moderate cooldown you'll get the chance to be warned about enemy wards being placed in the area around you, granted with magic vision to be able to dispose of them and also, and this is the real twist not many people know about, you'll get a buff indicator every time the damaging passive is up.
Let me explain this mechanic further, so that you can abuse it. When your empowered baisc attack is ready (and thus, it means you have been out of enemy vision for a couple of seconds), you'll be able to see it in your status bar. This means that the enemies don't know you're there, regardless of anything else. So if you don't have a pink, or a red trinket, and Duskblade's passive is not up, you'll still know when you're hidden. Finally,
if you see the indicator "depleting", indicating your empowered basic attack will soon be unavailable, this means that wether by wards or enemies themselves, you have been spotted and should either make a play or retreat out of vision. The item is basically a proximity indicator for wards and allows you to move around the enemy jungle with knowledge no other item in the game can give you. I'm building this item almost every game ever since I realized its incredible potential and you should too. It really gives you an edge on macro play since you can walk around with wards available but still be able to manage vision as if you had a red trinket! :D


Boots



Ninja tabi
More amor and auto-attack damage reduction is nice, and they cost less than Mercury's Treads, so in case you are fighting an AD enemy and you don't wanna wait for your next back to have boots, you can buy these. Maybe swap them for Mercury's Treads mid-lategame, because you need Tenacity for teamfights much more than you'll need auto-attack damage reduction. However this isn't true if the enemy team has 2 or more autoattack based champions like Tryndamere or Yasuo or Olaf

Mercury's Treads
Yes, they won't block auto-attack damage, but their passive will boost your resistance to hard CCs even higher than it is by default, making you almost unstoppable: when you decide someoene dies, SOMEONE WILL DIE. In addition, you also get some more MR, which is always nice ^_^. This is why I tend to prefer these over Ninja Tabi often, especially because Tenacity is just broken on Garen

Boots of Swiftness
These boots are golden on Garen when you're facing a ranged opponent, no matter if he's AD based or AP based ( Vayne, Jayce, Teemo, etc...). They'll make you faster than your enemy, allowing you to close the gap faster and hit them more often, leaving them with less chances of escaping, sometimes this makes up for the lack of defenses these boots suffer from. Regardless, after patch 5.17, with the base speed reduction and the Q's speed buff nerf, these boots turn more viable for lanes that favour you. ATTENTION, though! If your enemies have lots of CCs, Mercury's Treads beat these boots, Tenacity is better than raw speed in this case!



Core ARMOR Items



Dead Man's Plate
Brilliant item for Garen. Armor (a good amount too), Health, passive movement speed, a potential slow (huge addition on Garen's kit) and extra damage on a basic attack. If you have 100 stacks and activate Decisive Strike you will move as fast as a car and hit like a truck for a huge amount of damage, which is brilliant both in laning phase and in mid-late game. The item is also relatively cheap, this is also a great reason to build it first often, a cheap item with good stats and brilliant passives that make Garen get stronger in all his aspects fits the definition of first item in my opinion. Just read this full section as sometimes you may prefer other first items.

Sunfire Cape
This item is still very good on Garen, it will add armor, health and a magic damage passive, which is helpful on a champion entirely based on AD like Garen, as it will surprise opponents who'll build armor to avoid damage from you. As many say, and they're right, it's a core item for you and you should be building this in most of your games, but there are also games in which you may prefer other solutions, depending on the role you want to fill in your team. After patch 7.9, Sunfire pushes the lane extremely hard and doesn't damage champions as much as it used to. I believe it to still be very important for Garen, but keep in mind your gankability will rise if you push too hard, making it not the safest item in lanes you don't wanna push too much in!

Randuin's Omen
An item similar to Sunfire Cape in its base stats but different in its target, to help you choose between this and Sunfire there is a small paragraph below. This item has recently been nerfed and changed in some ways. The nerf on armor is not too big of a hit, as 60 is still a good amount to go with, but the nerf on health is a bigger deal, with it, Randuin's now gives less health than a full Sunfire Cape. The new passive that reduces critical strike damage stacks up whell with the masteries I choose, plus the AoE slow is now stuck flat at 4 seconds which is very good for Garen. You should build this item agains heavy basic-attack/critical strike enemies like Tryndamere, Vayne, Jax etc...

Sunfire Cape vs Randuin's Omen vs Dead Man's Plate.

  • Every matchup has its own solution and these 3 items are all brilliant choices regardless.
  • You can prefer Sunfire Cape against AD casters and enemies who don't rely on attack speed like Riven or Renekton, as the armor is enough and the damage boost the passive provides is considerable, especially because it's magic damage. Also you can prefer Sunfire against enemies who build armor against you, to boost your trading potential.
  • You can prefer Randuin's Omen against high basic attack and critical strike based enemies like Tryndamere or Yasuo, but it can work against all other AD based enemies too.
  • Keep in mind the three items are similar and swappable: building one instead of the other will have a bigger difference based on the enemy team's composition!

Thornmail
Thornmail is a very very good item when built against the right enemies, this is why although you won't build it every game, I consider it to be a core item in the build. It gives you 75 more armor, 250 HP and a passive ability that will give back 25 damage + 10% of your bonus Armor (including the armor you get from Courage stacks) to the attacker as magic damage, inflicting grievous wounds, negating healing abilities to your opponents. This item is the best anti-autoattacker item that exists. The reason why I didn't include it into the main build is that its passive is situational, because while it's always good, it's only GREAT when the enemy team has 2+ autoattackers (like Tryndamere and Ashe, for example) You can swap this item with Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen or Dead Man's Plate when the enemy team has 1 or more extra auto-attacker apart from the ADC, or when the enemy ADC is really fed and you want to stop him.


Core MAGIC RESISTANCE Items




Spirit Visage
A great item for Garen in all of its stats: more health is good, more health regen is good, CDR is PERFECT, MR is PERFECT, and its passive ability will boost your Perseverance by 20%. After patch 7.13 and the non-viability of Abyssal Mask on Garen, Sprit Visage turns back into the CORE MR item for Garen, with Adaptive Helm being the secondary choice we go for when against a hard AP based matchup. Keep in mind the Spectre's Cowl can often be enough to go through lane especially if you opened up with Doran's Shield, but sometimes closing up the Visage can aid with your passive to a point where your enemy's harrass becomes a non-factor, and since Visage's a cheap item too, it's often worth grabbing early anyway, think it through and decide for yourself based on the game's look :)

Maw of Malmortius
This item isn't as CORE as it may seem, but if you have an Hexdrinker in your inventory, you will want to turn it into this item without question. AD, extra magic resistange for lategame and a shield that scales based on your already high MR? What else do you want? CDR? Oh wait... You get that too! You should build this item when you have built an Hexdrinker in midgame, however, the time in which you should actually complete the purchase depends on the matchup and also on the enemy team's composition. Say you're against Akali top and you're winning: building this item makes her completely useless, and this obviously can apply to a Vladimir you just may have conveniently rekt earlier in the laning phase. Of note, the Maw isn't a good standalone damage item, so you'll always want to company it with a Black Cleaver or a Sterak's Gage for maximum damage and tankiness potential.



Core HEALTH/MIXED items


Mixed items are items that provide both defense and damage to a degree, or both Magic Resist and Armor, generally items that don't give you a single stat but more.

Gargoyle Stoneplate
A very good item that allows Garen to be tanky against both types of base damages,
with an active component that gives you a ticket out of jail. The way this item should work for you, is an instant use after your combo is done. So if you flash and then Q-E-R someone,
you activate this, stay in the fight for its entire duration (4 seconds) before finally getting away. What it'll do is allow you to escape without dying in most scenarios,
tank alot of damage for your teammates, allowing them to output damage AFTER you gave out yours, and also continue to shred the enemies's armor while you tank abnormous amounts of damage. Overall a must buy on Tank Garen, even with no HP in its base statistics.


Titanic Hydra
A beastly item for all fighters and melee attackers, I did build it a few times on Garen and it does increase his damage output by quite a lot. The problem is that it's yet another Health based item that doesn't really give too much defense, especially if you already have over 3500 health, the difference isn't too big. So I'd say you can build this item when you are ahead by alot, just after The Black Cleaver for extra damage and offensive power, or as your 6th item if you feel like the enemy team doesn't have alot of damage and you can be tanky enough without having to fill your 6th slot with a fully defensive item. You can use its active right before a Decisive Strike for a huge amount of damage, as it will stack up with Dead Man's Plate's momentum stacks and your ability's already good base damage!
NOTE: this item is a CORE item in the Titan Garen Build

Warmog's Armor
Changes to Warmog's are relatively negligible on Garen, thanks to his passive. Besides the new Sterak's Gage is a very good replacement for this item in lategame. This does not mean that this item is uneffective. You should build this item if you had to purchase a Thornmail, if the enemy team has Darius/ Cho'Gath/ Shyvana, or when you are up against a squishy team with high mixed damage output.
Also, if you purchase a Youmuu's Ghostblade and end up with low max health, do consider this item.

Titanic Hydra VS Warmog's Armor



These 2 items are damn good on Garen, all 3 of them. Sadly, in most games you'll only build one.
So how to choose?
When should you grab Titanic Hydra?
The new Hydra's damn good on Garen and on any fighter. The AD boost is neat and the passive and active are a huge deal when you're carrying, because they allow you to 100% - 40% a carry with just your Decisive Strike, especially if you also have completed your Dead Man's Plate, so its spot is obviously in a situation in which you are ahead by a lot. You already got 30 extra Armor and Magic Resistance from Courage and you completed The Black Cleaver along with some Armor and MR from unfinished items? Buy Hydra and you will become a real Juggernout, high tankiness with flat stats, high health and huge damage output for your team to be carried with!
When should I get Warmog's Armor?
Warmog's comes in handy when the enemy team's damage output is ridicolously high AND mixed especially if you are behind, because they will get armor/magic penetration, making your flat resistances less of an aid in fights. Also, you can prefer this item in games filled with NOT max health based true damage, as it will give you much more time to live with. You can opt for a Warmog's when the enemy team is filled with pokers like Jayce, Xerath, Nidalee, etc..., so you can basically sponge all their pokes and then sustain them all back to full health in no time! Finally, you can build Warmog's when the enemies are full AD instead of Spirit Visage, so you don't loose the boost to your passive that item gives you.

Trinity Force
Controversial item on Garen. Most people don't build it and I don't build it ALL the time. But guys, it's tons of damage for the reasons stated below:
  • AD;
  • Movement Speed (and this is huge);
  • 20% CDR that brings us to 40% just like with the normal build;
  • Passive ability makes Decisive Strike deal approximately 500 physical damage in the lategame;
  • Provides the bonus movement speed from basic attacks and unit kills in case you didn't build a Black Cleaver;
However, I feel the need to specify why the item isn't always CORE in my opinion:
  • Mana goes to waste (less gold efficiency) and the item is expensive to begin with;
  • Attack speed feels useless;
  • Rage passive completely outscaled and outshined by The Black Cleaver's passive which is much better, rendering TriForce's version useless if you already got cleaver;
  • No more Critical Strike Chance means it becomes less efficient in lategame.
You can build this item instead of Maw of Malmortius if you had to rush Sterak's Gage. This basically translates as follows: if the enemy team has less than 2 tanks, you won't need The Black Cleaver and will get a Sterak's Gage, but this rids you of 20% CDR that you benefit from, so if the enemy team has also less than 2 Magic Damage based champions, you'll get Trinity Force instead of Maw of Malmortius.
It's highly situational, but if you find yourself in the situation explained above and you build it, you'll make the most out of your gold 100%.



Elixirs



The new Elixirs will be an important part of the new build, as the three you can see on top of this text are all useful on Garen for various reasons. You should build these in lategame after you are full build OR in mid-game if you see you are struggling at snowballing your teammates' lanes. To know if buying one in the mid-game was worth it, you should do some maths: gold spent = 400, gold earned = ?. If you don't manage to earn at least 2x the gold you spend BEFORE recalling, you didn't make a good call on purchasing a temporary buff. Let's talk about all of the elixirs you can choose from, now.

Elixir of Iron
The Elixir of Iron is probably the best elixir out of the 2 Garen can use. Why? 300 health for 500 gold 25% more tenacity to stack up with Mercury's Treads and the Tenacious mastery for a total of around 65% total tenacity, allowing you to stick to targets like you never could before!
The passive is also nice, your teammates will be able to follow up an engage you could create much easier, allowing for extra teamwork. You should build this Elixir in pretty much every game when you're full build.

Elixir of Wrath
The Elixir of Wrath provides 30 AD which is nice on Garen, especially in lategame when you may have dropped off in terms of damage by quite a bit. The passive provides in-fights sustain, which is definetly nice, especially because it applies to all the physical damage you deal, meaning your Judgment counts, so it's definetly helpful if you find yourself unable to 1v1 the enemy carry and need a boost in damage.
It's a great elixir, but generally speaking it's more situational than the one we've previously covered, meaning you have to pick the games when you use it more carefully, mostly depending on your role in teamfights (if you have one) and most importantly depending on how high the damage output of the enemy team is.

Elixir of Ruin
R.I.P. Elixir of Ruin. You will be remembered (item has been removed)



Other viable items



The brutalizer
The Brutalizer... An item I loved with my soul... It's now gone. Shame on Riot for doing this... It will always be in my heart. <3

NEW Adaptive Helm
New item that arrived in the game in patch 7.9. I think this item is highly situational.
Its passive components require a damage over time or a generally "long" spell, like Malzahar's ultimate, or Kennen's. Apart from that its stats are pretty nice as an overall MR item, just not good enough to justify buying it over an Abyssal Mask or a Spirit Visage in most cases.
I know what you're wondering: should I build it or not?!
Building it in suboptimal cases WILL NOT break your game, so it's not a "bad" overall item,
however, optimizing builds is a huge factor in higher elos, so you need to train on that from the start of your climb!

UPDATED Guardian Angel
It's a good Armor item and it provides some AD. Usually, you'll try to get your hands on it for its passive rather than its stats, especially after they changed it in patch 7.9. I believe your best bet right now is to only get this item if you're HARD carrying.
It usually drives the focus AWAY from you unless you're poorly positioned, that is not what you want as Tanky Garen, so only build it if you're really the only damage dealer and hope for your team to be carried, to give yourself more damage and boost your survivability and pressure in fights.


Ohmwrecker
The new Ohmwrecker is a great option on every champion that you can dive with or splitpush with, and guess what, Garen can do both things very well. His Decisive Strike is amazing for splitpushing, and his Courage is great to mitigate damage you take from towers when you tower-dive. This item's passive ability will make your dives faster, while its active will make them safer (it makes turrets unable to attack for a short amount of time). This item will now give you armor, health, health regen and also CDR which is (as usual) amazing on Garen. You can take this item instead of Randuin's Omen or Sunfire Cape in a normal situation.

Mercurial Scimitar
Another good item on Garen that will give you magic resistance and attack damage, plus an active ability that will remove all debuffs and give you extra movement speed for a short amount of time. Its active ability is worth considering on Garen because most of the time you'll focus important targets in the enemy team such as the ADC or APC: when the enemies will realize that's what you're doing they'll throw every existing debuff to stop you, activating the item will remove all of them and boost you.

Banshee's Veil
R.I.P. Banshee's Veil. It's now a mage item, and it's not worth purchasing on Garen anymore. For spellshields, look on Edge of Night instead


Mortal Reminder
Percentage armor penetration is something that can be nice on Garen and the healing reduction is actually pretty nice too, so I would definetly consider this item if you are extremely far ahead and want to push an advantage.
Opening with an Executioner's Calling usually ends up with you getting this item,
so it had to be here ;)

Infinity Edge
A fully offensive item that can work well on Garen (if paired with an armor reduction/ignoring/penetration item) and will bring his Judgment's critical strikes back to 200% damage multiplier. Atma's Impaler is gone, so if you want critical strike chance, this item is the best one on Garen. You can swap this item with Maw of Malmortius if your enemies don't burst you down with magic damage or you simply prefer damage over tankiness (not what this guide is made for, though)


Guide Top

Playing Garen

Early Game (Laning phase)



Garen's early game is what was mostly nerfed in patch 5.16. However, he still has great power, the only real difference is that because you won't get extra help from the old Courage passive, you'll want to trade more carefully, and farm well!

Last Hitting, how important is it?



Last hitting is priority in this part of the game, gold + Courage stacks are vital and even if the items you will focus on first are relatively cheap, because of the early game nerf, you will want to get as much money as you can.
You can aid yourself at farming by using Decisive Strike, as it makes you harder to poke or harass and helps you with higher damage output on a basic attack. Farming with Judgment is not recommended, though, as it will push your lane, making you easier to gank and giving the opponent more safety while farming! You can use Judgment to waveclear if you fear the enemy may dive you or if you are being ganked by a tank.

Trading, when, how and why?



Trading is another important part of early game. Dealing some damage to force your enemy off lane or maybe even to kill him is vital for Garen's midgame to be good, especially if we grab Ignite: outfarming, zoning destroying the tower and killing repeteadly the enemy toplaner will kick him out of mid-game, allowing you to roam, so even after patch 5.16, DO NOT PLAY GAREN LIKE NASUS, STACKS ARE IMPORTANT BUT YOU NEED TO TRADE. FARMLANE GAREN DOES NOT EXIST.
Trading is simple, but I would recommend you do not trade seriously until you unlocked your Courage at level 3. Start with Decisive Strike and then follow up with Judgment for a full burst trade, the damage will be high enough for your enemies to be afraid of this, allowing you to zone them more easily, also thanks to the sustain from Perseverance, which will refill your health in case they trade back. Proper use of Courage is also a key to winning trades harder: when you are using your abilities, most enemies will try running, in this case you will obviously not use Courage, but keep it for the moment when your abilities are on CoolDown, in case your enemy turns around and trades back after you're done dealing damage. If the enemy does not run but finds the courage (lol) to trade back while you are spinning, use Courage then.

Kills and ganks: how to



Killing your enemies when they are low is relatively easy thanks to Demacian Justice post-6 and Ignite pre-6 and also post-6, trade consistently every time you know you can win the trade, and you will quickly realize when the enemy is low enough for your burst to be lethal, paired with Ignite or your ult, or both. Also use Flash to surprise engage if your enemy plays too safe when he is low, your silence is still long enough for you to secure the kill with a surprise!
When playing Garen this aggressively, you will end up pushed almost constantly, purchasing Stealth Wards often will prevent enemy ganks from being too dangerous, use them often and keep vision on the river at all times.

What to do if you get ganked?
If you get ganked you have 2 possiblities: you can kill an enemy (or both) and escape, or escape directly. It usually depends on the enemy jungler and the items you have: if your enemy is AD based, you'll have armor, if the jungler is also AD based, chances are you'll be able to get a kill or two, or at least make them both have to run away from you, the same applies for AP. If the enemy jungler deals different damage, then you're 9 times out of 10 better off running, because your main strength (tankiness) won't help you. This ganking reaction applies in most cases, but variables exist and I can't cover all of them, experience will help you more than every guide in this sense.

MidGame



When laners start roaming for longer time and skirmishes and small teamfights start happening, you are in the mid-game. This usually happens when you are around 15-20 minutes in the game and will last longer depending on how big of an advantage one team has over the other. This phase is your best phase. You will have great damage output thanks to the Villain mechanic and to your abilities' great scalings and because of our tanky build paired with Courage stacks (you should aim to have at least 20 bonus armor and magic resist at this point) you will also be able to tank alot of damage while doing your usual work: shutting down carries.

Focus the Villain at all times or not?


No. The enemy Villain is the one with the most recent kills, but not always will it be the enemy carry. It could be that an enemy Brand is on a killing spree but he's going 3/4/1 while the enemy Kalista is 7/2/3. In this case even if Brand would be an easy kill, you still want kalista dead, as it will help your team get an advantage in any successive skirmish until she spawns back. This, however, applies when you won your lane. If you lost your lane, you may not be strong enough to shut down an actual carry, or simply you may need kills to get gold, without being picky. In that case you could focus the Villain even if he's not a carry, because you get an easy kill for easy gold and XP, allowing for a comeback to be possible.

Other stuff a good Garen does



Also, helping teammates with your tankiness alone is often a good choice. A good example is to tank a turret to force it to be destroyed, giving everyone in your team gold, or helping them dealing with Dragons, as your presence alone can make the enemies afraid to try contest it due to silence.
Don't forget about your lane though, this isn't late game! Between ganks and roams, you have to put an eye top or your external tower may get destroyed. It could be protected by someone else while you work in other areas of the map, and it's just fine, all that matters is that you keep your tower up as long as possible.
In general, Garen can carry but it isn't like you will carry every single game. This means you may want to fill other roles rather than being a killing machine. That is why we build tanky. The build I suggest in this guide is mostly thought to make you next to unstoppable when you get ahead, thus carrying, but also to allow you to help your team even if you are behind. Garen can do this even after patch 5.16, so if you don't win lane, peel, tank and force objectives, this way you will be a great asset anyway.

LateGame



When the game mostly reduces itself to assassinations and teamfights, lategame is up. This will usually happen around 25-30 minutes game-time and will last until the game ends. If you play Mid-Game well, mixing kills with objectives while also helping your teammates win their lanes, this phase of the game may be skipped thanks to a surrender. But most of the time you'll have to deal with it anyway.

Is LateGame Garen a good thing or not?
In the past, LateGame Garen was nothing too special. Damage tended to drop off making killing carries a little harder and all that remained was Garen's amazing tanky frontline.
After patch 5.16, we get %max health true damage on the enemy Villain and this changes everything. In the lategame, focusing the enemy carry and helping your team with tankiness is still your main priority, although, because the danger level of every enemy champion will be high anyway, you can take some more liberties than you would in midgame.
Your priorities will have to go in this order
  • Priority 1: Kill the enemy carry. If it is also the Villain, that is easier to do, but you must always attempt to get to the enemy carry regardless of the Villain.
  • Priority 2: If the enemy carry is far or you simply cannot kill him if he isn't the Villain (if you don't have enough damage or if he has too much mobility like LeBlanc for example), then you will want to Kill a dangerous squishy . An example for you: the ADCarry is fed as hell but he isn't the Villain and you cannot kill him on your own, you spot a lonely Annie while roaming or you simply see sge is overextended (maybe she is even the Villain): KILL HER.
  • Priority 3: If the enemy carry is out of your kill-zone and the other squishies are high mobility or simply too well peeled for you to take down, then you wanna turn on Courage (in-game and out) and engage on the Villain. Tell your teammates who the Villain is and then tell them you will engage, so they will follow, then jump in the enemy team like Leeroy Jenkins would do. An example for you: enemy Xerath pokes from afar and you can't touch him, while enemy Jinx crits on every rocket and deals tons of damage to your team's frontline while 2 tanks and a bruiser stand in the front between you and the carries waiting for a chance to engage. The villain is the enemy Irelia. Tell your mates you will go in on her, drawing attention, then ask them to follow and to FOCUS THE CARRIES while you try beating down the Villain, drawing as much attention to you. Chances are the enemy team will waste some of their strong skills on you, allowing one or more of your teammates to swarm the carry, winning the teamfight!

So in general, while most of the works you'd normally do in mid-game can remain the same, in lategame you will want to choose more wisely what to do based on the situation you are in, the useful thing you will always be able to do easily is GET FOCUSED. If you find yourself unable to do anything good in lategame due to a bad early-mid, get tanky as hell and draw attention, giving your teammates a chance to make the difference when you are unable to do that.


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Matchups (Laning Phase)

As promised, this section will contain tips and tricks to win many matchups in toplane, As you may have noticed, many of these matchups come with a video from my YouTube channel to help you better understand how to win the matchups :)!

I have divided difficulty in three main sections, based on the enemy's threat level: Low, Medium and Hard, with some exceptions made in particularly hard/easy/funny lanes!
Keep in mind any lane can be won or lost, and it will always depend on you and your opponent's playstyle and capabilities, not to mention the importance of both teams' junglers, so don't think that everything I write here is holy, because variables exist and I can't calculate all of them! ;)
SPECIAL THANKS TO USER "SREEN" for the tip on the hexdrinker. I will add it as a recommended item in most AP matchups present here!


Aatrox

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Akali

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Camille

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Cho'Gath

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Darius

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Dr. Mundo

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Fiora (UPDATED)

Threat level: Medium



Click here to see how to win this lane!


Gangplank (Updated for Rework)

Threat level: Medium



Click here to see how to win this lane!


Gnar

Threat level: High


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Hecarim

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Illaoi

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Irelia

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Jarvan IV

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Jax

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Jayce

Threat level: High


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Kayle

"Vegeta, what does the Scouter say about her threat level?!"


Threat level: IT'S OVER 9000!


Click here to find out why you'll almost never win against her!


Kennen

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Kled

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Lee Sin

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Malphite

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Maokai

[

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Nasus

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Olaf

Threat level: High


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Pantheon

Threat level: High


Click here to see how to win this lane!




Poppy

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Renekton

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Rengar

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Riven

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Rumble

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!



New Ryze

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!



New Shen

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Shyvana

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Singed

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!




Sion

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Tahm Kench

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!




Teemo

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Trundle

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Tryndamere

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Vladimir

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Wukong

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Xin Zhao

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Yasuo

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!


Zac

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Zed

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!






The most common toplane matchupsa are now included in the guide! Hooray!
With that being said I am not done with the guide itself. I will focus on some more alternative builds and troll builds for Garen and then I will proceed with adding less common matchups and videos for every single matchup in the guide, a very expansive project that will take a long time, sure, but I will commit to it, and I surely hope you guys will hold on and company me for the time being!


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Lethality Garen - DISCONTINUED

Read This!



Yep. It's as sad as it sounds. Lethality Garen simply doesn't work anymore. Since this build was aimed at experts to begin with, I'm sure those of you who used it alot are probably super sad but also super aware of why it is being left behind. I'm not removing it because it could come back in the future, but in League's current meta, there is no place for such a glass cannon build for Garen. The new Bruiser Build that I will talk about in the next chapter is the best possible replacement for this build that you can ask for.

Click here if you want to read about Lethality Garen anyway


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Bruiser Garen - OFFENSIVE BUILD FOR EXPERTS

This build was largely inspired and created by my friend AdamReformed and is the best build for high elo!



If you don't know who AdamReformed is, here's the simple and fast version: he's the only Garen main alive who managed to get Masters and stay Masters until the end of Season 7.
He's the best Garen player in the world and a friend of mine on the game. I took cues from his main build and simplified it a bit for you guys to enjoy and use easier. Hopefully it will serve you as good as it's serving me right now.

Runes


  • As shown in the 3rd build on top of the guide, we take Electrocute as our keystone. This rune is what allows Garen to be deadly even with all this HP that we get through the build. You can proc it by using an autoattack before your Q, or by using Ignite or your ultimate within 3 seconds after your silence hits. Alternatively it is possible to Q, autoattack and THEN E for a safe proc that will though make it hard for you to deal a bigger amount of your Judgment damage (which isn't necessairly an issue, since your main damage ability is Q with this build).
  • Cheap Shot is straightforward, it makes your E do a bit of true damage as long as it happens while the enemy is silenced (which is quite easy to do if you think about it). This is a very effective rune since thanks to its low CD you can proc it every time you want in lane and allows for maximum offensive potential when trying to zone enemies off creeps.
  • Eyeball Collection is simply the best rune in its tier for Garen as it allows us to get a bit more AD through the game and scale better offensively. You could take Zombie Ward if you're a vision maniac, but after its nerf it really isn't so great anymore in my opinon, damage usually beats vision as long as you ward regularly anyway.
  • Relentless Hunter is the most important secondary rune in this page. It will allow you to roam, rotate and generally be faster during the game. I can't stress enough how important this is considering you don't use Teleport. It also allows us to bypass building Youmuu's Ghostblade in favor of the tankier Edge of Night during the game!
  • Celerity is just perfect for Garen. It makes us start with 350 movement speed, allows us to get more damage on our Judgment while the Decisive Strike bonus damage holds (which is a fair amount since we max Q) and generally gives Garen a bit of utility and a bit of damage just like that!
  • Scorch is basically a magic damage version of Cheap Shot with a longer cooldown, it works well with cheap shot itself and makes for incredible early game damage through a single Q-E combo to anyone and boosts your ability to kill targets in mid-late aswell

It is possible to replace some of these runes. A secondary page could consist in a swap between Domination and Sorcery as primary-secondary, with Phase Rush as our main keystone, The Ultimate Hat added into the mix and keeping only Cheap Shot and Relentless Hunter in the now-secondary tree. It's a fun page that allows for a similar offensive potential with the addition of more outmanouver potential thanks to Phase. I feel the lack of Electrocute is a problem though, because with Phase Rush we do get to hit a couple more autoattacks if we need to lower our target's hp for an ult execute, but that happens while the silence is over and allows the target to retaliate or get peeled, whilst electrocute's damage happens instantly and within the span of our silence.
So it really is all about how much peel our target can get.
OF COURSE, Phase allows for defensive plays like an auto-q-e into safety from a jungle gank and that's something Electrocute simply won't give you, but I still believe Electrocute to be the best keystone for this build at the moment. I may change this soon, so stay tuned!

Playing Bruiser Garen (Items and Playstyle)



Before I go in depth on items, I want to stress the fact that this build follows the same path that Tank Garen follows and then switches towards a more hybrid/offensive playstyle, that moment is when things change. The build is aimed at getting the best of both worlds, by joining the great tankiness Garen can provide with a consistent and high damage output. As a result, the Might of Demacia will end up with nearly 400 AD and about 180 armor, plus a nice 3700 HP with the Elixir included. Overall a very good build all around that will provide enough stats to do well with.

Early laning phase



Starting with a Doran's Shield is simply the best way to ensure a safe and consistent laning phase. If you take Electrocute, which you should, you'll have a hard time escaping ganks, so you may want to play the early game safely without trying too many offensive plays. Your focus early is to punish mistakes, you don't even have to spam electrocute procs since Cheap Shot + Scorch do enough on their own and proc on every Q-E occurence. I normally punish mistakes like trying to lasthit a minion too close to me and stuff like that by using Q-E, proccing the two runes above and back off. This, in combination with the Q max is great harass damage and usually lowers the enemy's hp relatively quickly while leaving yours close to full.

First back



On your first back, it's all about the opponent. Some lanes you may want to get Bami's Cinder to maximize Electrocute/ Phase Rush procs without having to over-expose with an auto-Q-E trade and get more durability, in other lanes, you can rush your Phage right on. Generally speaking, with this in mind, I usually work towards The Black Cleaver as my first rush which means Phage into Boots of Speed and Kindlegem is the usual buildpath you'll see me using. I do get full boots before completing Cleaver quite often, but if I'm against a tank like Shen or Maokai, I usually get tier 1 boots and then rush the Cleaver because without it you just have no hope to win any trades against these tanks (and honestly, even with it, you'll be in trouble if you make a single mistake in lane!).

MidGame Goals



By midgame, your dream should be to have The Black Cleaver, full boots and a Sterak's Gage full and ready in your inventory. Ideally, your Courage will be nearly fully stacked up, you'll be level 11 and your best stage of the game will have started. With BC + Sterak's and these requirements met you're hitting an enormous powerspike you'll have to abuse to max if you want to win the game. MidGame is the stage in which your presence in a specific point of the map can unbalance things in an advantageous way for your team or not. This is sadly the part where my words will never help you enough and more than your experience. Generally speaking, by now you'll have two main options. I'm not going to go in depth on WHEN you should pick one of the two, but I will describe them both accurately for your understanding:
  1. Stay Top: Staying top now means that you'll want to do the following things. You want to get Tier 2 tower and ensure your team gets Herald. Both objectives must be completed for this strategy to work. Most of the time, you'll be taking Herald to make sure you can destroy Tier 2. Doing this opens up the map to your team and allows you to put inhibitor pressure in toplane, forcing the enemy team to rotate quickly to save the objective and giving your team room for breathing. I do NOT recommend doing this if the enemy team has a single champion who can stop you from performing this strategy. For example, an Ornn can clear your waves with 2 abilities while still being able to join the fray of a teamfight by using Teleport, so generally, tanks with waveclear will nullify your pressure with their presence, meaning there's something better you can do elsewhere on the map.
  2. Don't stay Top: Taking Herald should still be your main focus since it provides the main toplane advantage and generally allows for plays in conjunction with your team that are almost always going to result in gold earning (towers are a major gold source!). After you got it, you should then join your team. At this point you can focus on either getting objectives or stalling the game to get someone else fed, whether you yourself are fed or not is not important, because the objective is to get someone else to be able to carry you while you buy time. Garen is good at this, because he can kill or lower Villain's Health Bars with relative ease while still being somewhat of a raidboss thanks to his passive's healing. So going mid for example and taking some damage in exchange for dealing some damage to the midlaner, then healing back up and either repeating or going botlane to do the same can provide quite a big advantage for your midlaner/adc and this in turn will create more pressure on the map. Objective play should be your main focus regardless, so pushing for towers whenever possible is always a good strategy, just remember you need everyone on your team to work properly around this strategy so make sure you guys have some communication going for you or it'll just all be useless :)

So, while it is clear that staying top is mostly good when you're far ahead and joining the team to proxy carry is mostly good when you're behind, it isn't always that easy to decide what to do. The decision you make in midgame will impact lategame enormously because midgame is when Garen really shines and therefore you should always make sure you make your impact at this point or you may end up being unable to do it any other time. I'm sorry for being only able to provide general tips but the importance and variables of such a stage in a game like League can't simply be written. I'd recommend you checked out my YouTube channel to better get an idead on what I usually do in midgame without having to flip a coin by using a text based guide to figure it out. Or you can just go with trial and error, building up your own experience "on the field", as long as you are capable of self-criticizing your own mistakes if you make any :)

As for the item build in this stage, I'll always get a Guardian Angel now. Sterak's Gage's shield is enough to counter most magic damage burst but HP doesn't counter physical damage as well, so you'll definetly need the armor boost GA can provide. While you build it, you may even get a Stopwatch. I recommend using this interaction with it: Garen's spin CONTINUES WHILE YOU ARE IN STOPWATCH MODE, which means you can flash into a 5 man and spin on them, shredding their armor with no retaliation to be taken. I don't always get to do this (sometimes I don't even get to use the stopwatch because I buy GA right off the shop), but it is definetly one of the most interesting interactions with the item that Garen can have.

LateGame



LateGame with this build is kind of funny, all things considered. You're tankier than most bruisers, but you actually deal less damage than them all overall because you don't have tools to get to your targets as often as you'd like.
Your focus at this point should be to close off the game by continuing along a similar path to the one you followed during midgame. If splitting paid off, you can continue to do it and it usually will continue to pay off, but sometimes it is important to also switch your focus on other things. Often times your team will win 4v5s by picking someone off, giving you the impression that you can split forever and they'll never be in trouble, but if the person being picked off is on your team, you'll end up with a 3v5 in midlane for example, and you're far away and can't tp to them. This can happen ONCE in a game and you'll probably lose all the advantage you had. So lategame is basically a midgame in which a single mistake by either team escalates insanely fast, and even faster if you split without Teleport.
Am I saying you should never split to force rotations? NO! But I say do it in a smart way, only when your team virtually cannot lose the 4v5 or 4v4 you are forcing.

As for the items you want in lategame, you can opt to continue with hybrid items by grabbing an Edge of Night and Trinity Force (or alternatively Mortal Reminder if their team is very tanky). You can then instead go for a tanky 6th item like Thornmail or Randuin's Omen. It is also senseful to close off Sunfire Cape if you bought a Bami's Cinder in laning phase, just to get the armor and HP boost, considering the damage boost isn't really that big anyway.


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Titan Garen (Healthy Garen remade)

Gameplay and effectiveness


You may be wondering the **** this build is.
It's a new build I'm working on in close coop with MarineRevenge (best Garen on the NA server and a main since season 2). His original idea focused on Frozen Mallet as its core. I've decided to change things and get Titanic Hydra as its core and I'm positive that it's as effective but much easier to use for all levels, though it is still harder than the average build, hence why it's not the main focus of the guide. The build aims at making Garen tanky and damaging at the same time in exchange for a bit of simplicity. It essentially gives as much damage as the Lethality build with similar tankiness to the ordinary tanky build recommended here for beginners. The build's core is the autoattack cancel chain you achieve with a simple aa-Q-Hydra active combo. That combo is 50% of a squishy's hp in less than a second and the Q-Hydra combo that's better suited to a teamfight's rythms is still amazing burst damage.

FOR A FAST LOOK AT THE BUILD CLICK ON THE 4TH GAREN ICON ON THE TOP OF THE GUIDE!





Runes


You can see what runes you should take right on top of this page by selection the 4th Garen icon

Items


The start with Long Sword is recommended for lasthitting, though a Doran's Shield can come in handy in rough matchups.
Let's use graphics to make this clear allright... Titanic Hydra must be the first thing you complete!
You can buy a pair of boots in the meantime, you can buy a CDR item in the meantime but the first full item you want is the hydra. Without the hydra you miss on exactly 50% of the power of this build and that's bad. Really bad.
Once Hydra is complete, that's where you must show your skills with Garen. It's decision-making time RPG style!

You have the following options:
  • The Black Cleaver: Buy this if the enemy team has 2+ tanks, or generally if you are not sure how to proceed. This item is a jack of all trades on Garen after all and its HP stacks damn well with Hydra's passive.
  • Trinity Force: If the enemy team doesn't have many tanks this item is actually damn good, especially to compensate the lack of CDR the other ones suffer from (Except black cleaver mind you). I'd overall say you can get this in any case without being left useless. It's a jack of all trades but the master of none, so if you want to be safe you can get either BC or TriForce.
  • Frozen Mallet: Buy this item if the enemy team lacks tankiness but has mobility that you want to rid yourself of via slows and a bit more damage.
  • Sterak's Gage: Buy this item if the enemy team has insane burst damage.
  • Youmuu's Ghostblade: It doesn't synergize that amazingly with the Hydra but it's fine to take this if you are far ahead to get the best of both worlds (worlds being assassin Garen and the new Garen we're attempting to create)

Once you got the 2 "offensive" items, you can start getting tankiness. Your damage will not drop off because hydra continually scales with your HP, making each tanky item you get an empower for your burst until the very late, if someone's stacking up armor. But it isn't suppoused to be a problem if you chose the right second item.
Let's put this in perspective with some examples. Hydra is the core of the build, but your second item defines the real future of the game. If you get the right one you'll carry, but if you buy the wrong one you can throw the game out of the window. You must be able and mature enough to foresee how the game may go when choosing the second item or you could be the reason for a throw.
Rest of the build is generally tankiness. But with some extra care for the CDR. The build is either average on that regard or worse. If you have a BC or a TriForce as your second item you don't necessairly have to get Abyssal Mask but say you have Titanic Hydra and Frozen Mallet: that's a NO CDR midgame. Now, we want our burst to be the real core of the build, and obviously the hydra makes our autoattack fights much better overall so that we don't depend on our abilities too much, but having 0 CDR is flat out bad. In that case, Abyssal Mask is a mandatory implementation in the build. An Ohmwrecker can also be an extremely good pick as a second armor item, extra CDR, more HP and HP regen, along with its amazing active component that makes you unstoppable when sieging with you teammates or splitpushing as a one-man-army.

Early Game


Early game is standard, if you have enough lethality in your runes you should be able to bully your opponent if you started Long Sword and 3 health potions (which you should do). The Q max allows for nice burst damage and mobility, opening up a lot of trading options to go for.

Here comes a bit more complexity.
  • Winning/Easy Lane: Tiamat rush. Stats are nice and its passive allows for easy bullying, harrass and waveclear. You can activate Tiamat while spinning for extra damage and waveclear. Do it all the time when trading..
  • Losing/Hard Lane: Jaurim's Fist rush. HP that scales, some AD to fight back and good gold efficiency make this item a very good first rush for a lane you are unsure of.

As you can see, the same first full item ( Titanic Hydra) has a buildpath that allows us to choose if we want to be offensive or defensive while still being the best first item. This makes the build extremely reliable: you'll never do wrong with a hydra rush unless you're flat out bad and feed.

Finish Titanic Hydra as soon as you can but DO make sure you get a pair of boots based on their team composition in the middle!

To trade, the best combo you have is the autoattack-Q-Titanic Hydra active combo.
That's 3 autoattacks in 1 second, and each does a ****load of damage. Even when Hydra isn't fully completed, you can autoattack, Q and then spin, activating Tiamat's active component for extra damage. All this happens after you get quite some more AD from Fervor of Battle and makes trades very favourable on your part. It's huge, believe me.

A generally good killing combo is the following. Autoattack -> Decisive Strike -> Titanic Hydra active -> Judgment -> stop spinning after 4 hits are applied (Armorshred applied) -> autoattack -> Demacian Justice + Ignite.
Things die quickly with this, and it's really really easy to do, don't let the amount of arrows shown up here scare you. This all happens within 4 seconds and it's simple to do when compared to many other combos. Besides, we're giving Garen more depth, that is good huh?

Mid Game


Mid Game is the usual stuff you'd normally want to do. The only difference is that you need to be able to choose wether you want to use 3 autoattacks/Q-hydra or simply using the normal Q-E burst Garen has to fight. This decision needs to be made with reason. Example: Jinx is the villain. Do you need to use auto canceling? I don't think you would. Your Q-E-R combo is enough to kill her, no need to waste time on other stuff. If she isn't on her passive, you can Q-Hydra and then ignite-ult but in general you won't want to get 3 autos on her unless she's bad.
It's all about understanding time and positioning in order to not overcommit to a fight or waste time on an assassination attempt that could simply happen via the normal combos.

Late Game


Same as MidGame, the only difference here is that you'll be tanky enough (over 4k hp in most cases) to be frontline in case your team needs you to do it, and this is something you couldn't do with Lethality Garen :)

Video Example (more examples on my channel/stream)


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Jungle Garen

Hang in there, I will soon fill this chapter with important information regarding Garen Jungle (probably in the week following the day of the latest update, which is 09/02/2018)


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What's coming next on this guide?

The guide is "complete" in that it covers all everything you need to have a very good experience with Garen, but it doesn't mean it's finished, because I plan to add more content to it, so here's a list of the things that I'll add over time:

  • Less common Matchups (to be located either in the same section or in a new one)
  • More Matchup Videos and montages
  • More Trollbuilds?!?!
  • CONSTANT updates to make sure the guide never becomes outdated

Make sure to check back every now and then to improve even further your Garen skills!

Changelog


  • Added matchups section
  • Added more builds for the champion
  • Updates on the items and the tactics up to the current version of the game
  • Added simple and fast guide video with all the most important information


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Changelog

29/03/15 - Changelog chapter added!
29/03/15 - Matchups for Sion and Singed added!
29/03/15 - New rune set added! (ArmorPen)
29/03/15 - Added Hexdrinker information and tips in the Items section
29/03/15 - STARTED modifying AP matchups to better suit the addition of Hexdrinker as a core item of the "VS AP" build
29/03/15 - Added new matchups
29/03/15 - Rearranged the extra videos section to better suite matchups (videos with specific enemies will also be displayed under the matchup section for easier use)
29/03/15 - Added Teemo matchup Video
30/03/15 - Added Trundle, Tryndamere matchups
27/04/15 - Added Hecarim Matchup, Reworked "Runes" sections for better Season 5 experience. Also added Tryndamere Matchup video.
01/06/15 - Added Hecarim Matchup gameplay video, added Elixirs in the Items section and in the builds, various fixes.
26/06/15 - Updated Masteries to suit patch 5.12's new defensive tree.
28/06/15 - Added Jax matchup video.
25/07/15 - Added Vladimir, Wukong, Xin Zhao, Zac matchups, COMPLETED MATCHUP SECTION WITH MOST COMMON PICKS, extra matchups to be added soon ; Also added Videos for Rengar, Vladimir and Shyvana.
22/08/15 - Guide updated for Garen's Gameplay update, complete rework.
25/08/15 - Added information about Titanic Hydra and the new Bruiser Garen Build.
02/09/15 - Updated the guide for patch 5.17, slightly improved "Playing Garen" section for easier reading
04/09/15 - Slightly improved Darius matchup, lane is now Hard and needed additional information.
10/09/15 - Added updated Fiora matchup, reorganized the Items section for easier choices based on the enemy team comps and the situation, reworked the Healthy Garen Build for patch 5.16's new items.
13/09/15 - Added Yasuo matchup + video in the spoiler of the matchup itself
15/09/15 - Updated Riven matchup with better information, and added a video for it.
20/09/15 - Split the Items Section in 2 sections (one for the early laning phase, one for the late laning phase), and completel rearranged Item orders for a much easier reading experience. Fixes on the Matchups section, keeping it fresh and up to date with the items and champion changes.
28/09/15 - Added Olaf matchup video
10/10/15 - Added Maokai and Lee Sin matchup videos!
18/10/15 - Added Fiora matchup video!
20/11/15 - Update on the Items sections with all the new items Garen can get something out of, updated crit Garen build. Also removed the Crit Garen Build chapter: I will add it back once it's complete.
14/01/16 - Added Illaoi Matchup + updated Poppy Matchup!
11/05/16 - Added a new Skill Order setup in the AP Lane build guide (will probably add some more info in the Skills section soon enough), addedd ASSASSIN GAREN alternative build to the builds (also known as Movespeed Garen), reworked Shen and Renekton matchup guides and added a gameplay video for both matchups.
15/05/16 - Updated the Core Items (Standard Full Build) in the AD lane section to better suit my actual usual buildpath, also updated the runes section. REWORKED Skill Order with the new Q/E split.
09/08/2016 - Updated Ryze matchup, added Tahm Kench Matchup with video included, updated Darius matchup video, added matchup videos for Akali, Cho'Gath, Dr. Mundo, Illaoi, Irelia, Pantheon.
08/10/2016 - COMPLETELY NEW CHAPTER - ARMORPEN GAREN!!!
23/10/2016 - Placed the EXPERTS Build on the other side of the screen for better reading. Updated Runes section for current situation. Added Malphite and Trundle Matchup videos and updated the matchup videos for Riven, Darius and Illaoi.
09/11/2016 - Updated introduction chapter with Q&A for the preseason and what's coming up in the next season. Setting up all that needs editing in S7.
21/11/2016 - They fixed the guide saving bug! YAYYY. Masteries and runes sections updated for S7. Fixed some stuff in the Items and the EXPERTS BUILD sections.
10/12/2016 - Updated various sections after the addition of Armor Reduction on Garen's kit in patch 6.24
09/01/2017 - Added Kled and Camille matchups (Camille already has a video, check it out!)
27/01/2017 - Updated Darius matchup guide with extra information for expert players who want to use the armorpen build against him without feeding ;P
29/01/2017 - Added link to Discord server to join me in League :)
06/02/2017 - Updated the EXPERTS BUILD with some tweaks on runes, masteries, abilities and more tips. All this along with some minor updates in masteries for both AD lanes and AP lanes in the normal build
28/02/2017 - Old Healthy Garen build removed (R.I.P.). New Healthy Garen build added in as a complete rework and new chapter. Wukong matchup video featuring this build added.
03/03/2017 - New build name changed to "Titan Garen". What do you mean why? Because it's cool as hell, of course!
04/05/2017 - MAJOR MIDSEASON UPDATE: Added Guardian Angel, Adaptive Helm, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Abyssal Scepter Items and Description. Minor updates to Lethality and Titan builds to mirror the new items in the game. Updated Item buildpaths.
06/05/2017 - Further updates for patch 7.9. Specifically, the Item section has been updated. An alternative Main build has been added to both AD and AP matchup guides (it's the Sterak's Gage focused one, for the record).
28/06/2017 - Removed Abyssal Mask from all sections. The item is not viable on Garen anymore
02/07/2017 - Minor updates to various sections
12/07/2017 - Major rework of the guide's introduction section and Social section. Updated Skill Sequence section to mirror buffs in 7.14.
13/07/2017 - Added Bramble Vest and updated information regarding Thornmail and edge of night, along with the item sets. Edge of Night dedicated item description TBA tomorrow ;), finally, edited the Ability sets, E MAX IS BACK BABY!
15/07/2017 - Updated the introduction to mirror the fact that I reached Diamond!
17/07/2017 - Updated video matchups for Yasuo and Gnar (they're higher elo videos, so they are more useful and informative)
27/08/2017 - Fixed a typo on the description of Courage in the Skill sequence section, added useful information for Duskblade of Draktharr
09/11/2017 - Updated the Runes section for patch 7.22
10/11/2017 - Updated the Lethality Garen Section!
11/11/2017 - Updated the Runes section for more readability! Added an announcement in the Titan Garen section to inform that the page is ready and the description is going to be added soon!
12/11/2017 - Added Video in the Runes section!
09/02/2018 - MAJOR GUIDE UPDATE. Updated matchups section. Updated runes section. NEW BUILDS: Bruiser Garen and Jungle Garen are added. DISCONTINUED: Lethality Garen will no longer be updated unless it becomes viable again. UPDATED rune page for Titan Garen (chapter is still pending for update, but at least now you can build correctly)


Guide Top

Thanks and Summary

8 MILLION VIEWS. WHAT?!


OKAY, SERIOUSLY: what? 9 million views. First place in the list and the graduatory for Garen?
Insane. That's insane. Even all the good stuff I wrote down here doesn't serve the purpose of thanking you guys well enough for this. Thanks. I will continue to work on the guide as hard as I can to make sure it stays up there. Will not be possible without you guys' continued support, THANK YOU FOR ALL THIS!

Also a HUGE thank you to all of the readers who chose to support me and my work via commendations:

  • StigmariaMT
  • Zephyrchaos

Thanks for showing so much interest in my guide mates! I am really happy and thankful to all of you who spent even a split second of your time to read this guide, I find myself often insulted even by my own friends who judge me negatively for maining the G-Man, seeing how many views and votes this work of mine is getting makes me feel much better about it all! Please keep sharing the guide and maybe leave some feedback through votes and comments! I will always make sure this guide is up to date, providing as much useful information as I can!


So that's it! I hope you'll get to have an amazing experience with Garen thanks to a certain extent to this guide and the tips it offers! Make sure to give me suggestions on how to improve the guide, I'll follow them as good as I can in the future!
A vote would be very nice, and comments are also appreciated 'cause feedback is the way to know how this guide is doing and how much improvement it requires!

The guide is almost 2 years old! I remember when I was writing it and hoped it'd serve a purpose for other Garen players like me and now that it's so high up there and still holds its spot I can't possibly explain how I feel at the moment. Thank you so much for this!