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Garen Build Guide by FSat

Top Garen CAN STILL Carry [PRE-S11 (11.6)]

Top Garen CAN STILL Carry [PRE-S11 (11.6)]

Updated on March 17, 2021
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League of Legends Build Guide Author FSat Build Guide By FSat 6462 226 24,345,930 Views 231 Comments
6462 226 24,345,930 Views 231 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author FSat Garen Build Guide By FSat Updated on March 17, 2021
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Runes: Conqueror Page

1 2 3 4
Precision
Conqueror
Triumph
Legend: Tenacity
Last Stand

Resolve
Conditioning
Unflinching
Bonus:

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor
+8 Magic Resist

Spells:

1 2 3
Best couple in 99.99% of games
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite

Ignite

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Top Lane
Ranked #14 in
Top Lane
Win 52%
Get More Stats
Top Lane Ranked #14 in
Top Lane
Win 52%
More Garen Runes
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Champion Build Guide

Garen CAN STILL Carry [PRE-S11 (11.6)]

By FSat

Introduction: about Garen, FSat, the guide, 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 existence 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!

Garen in S11


With the addition of Mythic items and the way Garen's kit currently works, I feel like his position in S11 is secured as one of the better toplaner bruisers with high durability and oppressive potential. We'll have to wait and see how the season continues, but so far I have a very positive feeling!


Some Questions and Some Answers



  • Is Garen a tank?
    Even after the rework, Tank Garen is still viable, maybe even better than before thanks to the W shield and the True Damage Ultimate. Your damage will likely still be sufficiently high to dispose of the weaker foes and your defensive stats are still way above average. I don't like Tank Garen much, but if you want to play him that way, you're still going to have a good time for sure!

  • Will Garen be in the meta?
    Garen IS definitely one of the best melee toplaners you can play in SoloQ right now.

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 UP TO DIAMOND, I PROMISE.
This guide has been started almost 7 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 are some links for more information on me as a League player!
FSat's opgg

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! Shows how much I've improved in these years, though!)


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 :)
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! ;).
Welcome to the updated runes section!
In this section, I'll explain the choices behind the runes in the pages that concern the MAIN BUILD you can see at the top of the guide. Other builds that have dedicated chapters to them will have a little section containing all information on the runes for them directly there.

Conqueror Garen: the best page



Grasp of the Undying
Conquerornow procs once for each tick of Garen's Judgment. That makes Garen one of the strongest users of that keystone due to just how fast he can proc the 12 stacks and get access to the massive healing. There's not much depth on how to "use" this keystone. Simply Q-E and stick to your target to quickly stack it up for maximum damage output and healing during the fight!

Triumph
Triumph is a simple, yet strong rune for Garen. It heals you back for a percentage of your max HP after you get a kill or an assist, and provides you with some extra gold as a bonus. It's good for chaining kills in a teamfight and it's great to get even more of a lead if you're winning lane thanks to the bonus gold!

Legend: Tenacity
This rune will provide you with Tenacity as you kill minions, wards, monsters and champions (so basically anything lol). Garen's Courage is usually enough when it comes to Tenacity in a game, but the truth is some extra "always on" Tenacity on top of it is still extremely valuable for the times when you're caught without W up. Even the best Garen players can get caught with W on cooldown (the CD is actually quite long early and midgame) and this 30% bonus tenacity can prove vital to keep you alive in that situation.

Last Stand
Before you tell me that Coup de Grace is better: it simply isn't guys. Last Stand gives you MORE damage than Coup at almost all stages, it's always on when you're below a certain amount of HP and it boosts your damage when it matters. Now that Demacian Justice does True Damage to everybody, Coup won't enhance it at all ever because True Damage can't be enhanced nor reduced. By the time the enemy is low enough for Coup to give you damage, you can just press R and finish them off without making any use of Coup. If you're running Last Stand, any time you're below 60% your entire burst will be stronger, and that is very very valuable.

Secondary Tree



Conditioning

It may look bad, but this rune's actually amazing. Early on, it's off and doesn't do anything. This might sound risky, or scary, but trust me. Pair this rune's bonus resistances with Courage's 10% increase and you'll get a tanky Garen no matter what you build. Even if you wind up going full AD you'll still get over 150 armor and 100 MR and this, my friends, is insane. If you DO get resistances, and in my main build, you do, then Garen scales to become extremely resilient. Great rune.

Unflinchingsize=64Unflinching
The less HP you got, the harder it is to pin you down with CC. This phrase alone should spike your interest, but if it doesn't, then trust me: this rune is good. The tenacity, stacked up with Legend: Tenacity is insane at guaranteeing that you can't be pinned even when Courage is on cooldown, and it doesn't take away from W's relevance since they work together to get you over 80% tenacity at the press of a button. With that being said, let's not forget that the rune also provides Slow Resistance, which helps you cover more ground when you've already used the cleansing component of Decisive Strike whether you're going in, or out of a fight.

I hope this page makes sense to you. Before I let you go on to the Summoner Spells, let's discuss alternative pages. Note that runes from the alternative pages can fit in the page above (for example Second Wind instead of Bone Plating against poke heavy lanes).

Tank Garen (Strong early game page)



Grasp of the Undying
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!

Demolish
Demolish does some serious work when you're ahead in lane, especially since the addition of Turret Plating. With it, and the build we use, we will get to be a huge threat to objectives and the enemy team won't be able to ignore us pushing for one. Not to mention if you manage to get Turret Plating in lane you can actually earn insane amounts of gold to snowball with!

Second Wind
Second Wind - Insane rune. It heals you by a flat amount AND a % of your missing health every time you receive damage from an enemy champion. Not only is this amazing as a standalone rune, the interaction it has with Doran's Shield makes it even more powerful. This rune works so well on Garen because our objective is to deal damage quick and back out quick, which usually leaves our opponent with a small amount of time to deal damage, thus making this rune especially effective. Think about it, if you joined an extended trade, the rune would be refreshed constantly but the healing wouldn't be optimized, whereas if you take a small bit of damage, the healing you receive from the rune in combination with Doran's Shield will be massive and may outweigh the damage you took in the first place!

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! You can opt for Unflinching too in hard lanes, but I generally would recommend using Overgrowth because Health is better than Tenacity :D.

Secondary Tree



Transcendence

Ability Haste isn't ever overrated on Garen, since his abilities cost him nothing. As I've said many times: Garen doesn't NEED Ability Haste to be good, but the more he has, the better he is still, like most champions in the game. This rune gives you just that, and you're gonna take it!

Nimbus Cloak
Whenever you use a Summoner Spell, you get a speed boost. It's as simple as it sounds. Especially when you consider that we have two combat Summoner Spells in most cases ( Flash and Ignite). Amazing rune for Garen. A small tip I want to give you is you can use Ignite at range to give yourself a speed boost to initiate a fight before using Decisive Strike (allowing you to save its cleansing component for when you get slowed), or when you're trying to run OUT of a fight, but you've already burned Decisive Strike.

Other Alternative Keystones (and some other ideas)



Predator
Keystone of choice for Jungle Garen and a very strong alternative to Conqueror when against a ranged champion.
As a small description, it's a movement speed steroid that only ends when you output damage in any form ( Ignite counts too, for instance) and buffs the first form of damage you do after its activation. Good keystone for macro play that allows for insane pressure on the map and also a good engage/anti-kite tool. The only issue is this keystone itself and its tree make up for a very weak laning phase, meaning it forces you to play pretty defensively in order not to lose trades, which is why I recommend running it when you reach higher elos and feel comfortable enough with a weak lane and a stronger mid-late.

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.

Unsealed Spellbook
Good keystone. Opens up more paths for the game and allows you to do more with your summoner spells. The issue is it forces you to rely on them harder than you already do since the keystone itself and the tree it is in aren't extremely good for Garen specifically. I think it's definetly a viable option in some cases where you don't think you're going to need the pros of other keystones, but I don't recommend running it as your primary keystone!

Electrocute
Thunderlord's decree, except it's red and is way harder to proc on Garen, which is a primary reason I don't recommend it unless you're going for Lethality Garen, which is not a recommended build this season. If you're going to run this tree, it's probably better to just use Predator unless you're against an easy melee matchup.

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 :)

Glacial Augment
Less dumb a choice than you may think into some ranged matchups. I personally don't use this keystone because I prefer to run Predator into ranged matchups since it allows me to just straight up kill my opposing laner, but this keystone does allow you to put a lot more pressure on the enemies, since getting Q'ed basically means not only being silenced but also being slowed. It basically empowers your Q's CC component, which isn't half bad, it's just a little worse than what other keystones do, but it has its niche. Use it when you feel like you just need that extra second to spin on your foe before killing them!

Ravenous Hunter
If you're running the Conqueror page and you're facing an easy toplaner+jungler duo, you can opt for this rune. You'll integrate your Conqueror healing, becoming a draintank in midgame and lategame, and you can complement this rune with Death's Dance later in the game to become impossibly hard to kill later on. Some of you might think that the reduction to 33% applied to Judgment might make this rune worse, and it does, but only a bit. It still provides around 3000 healing on its own after an average game. If you're confident that you don't need the other secondaries, DO use this, it'll be even harder to take you down.

Cheap Shot
Your Decisive Strike silences your opponent, so if you spin right after that, you'll be dealing the true damage instantly. Given how Garen's a burst damage based champion, this is a massive enhancement to his kit. If you're running Domination as your primary or secondary tree, this rune is the best alternative out of the 3 possibilities in that branch.

Biscuit Delivery
A nice rune for hard lanes that helps you get through the very early stages. It's quite useless after you consumed your biscuits however, since you don't get access to the maximum mana they would provide if you had mana. Very niche.

Time Warp Tonic
Amazing rune in combination with Biscuit Delivery. What it does is it gives you 50% of the health restoring effect of ANY healing consumable IMMEDIATELY (that's 75 for a Health Potion) and the remaining 50% over the normal duration. Its only downside (that is irrelevant in my opinion) is you cannot pop multiple potions of the same type: say you had 2 Health Potions and you popped one, you'll get the 75 healing immediately, but then you're locked out of popping your 2nd potion for 15 seconds. It works on Biscuits and it works on Refillable Potion aswell!
An insane combo I do often is all-in my opponent until I'm very low, pop a biscuit and then pop a potion immediately after. Garen will heal for HUNDREDS of HP on the spot, winning the all-in in a clutch, cool and unexpected way. Given how biscuits aren't that good, I don't believe this rune is really worth taking, but I suppose it has its niche in specific lanes, if you want to be fancy.

Coup de Grace
A rune that's been nerfed and will almost always do less damage than Last Stand. It's a noob trap in my opinion. The damage boost does work on your Ultimate, but it won't be big enough to compare with the one you'll earn via Last Stand. Take that rune instead if you want a bit more damage in an all-in :)
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.



Perseverance
    Sustain passive. If Garen doesn't take damage from Champions/Turrets/Epic Monsters for 8 seconds, Garen will regenerate a % of his maximum HP every second. Hover your mouse on the ability's icon to see the exact numbers. The regeneration is extremely strong in laning phase after level 4, it gets worse later on because realistically you'll be joining one single teamfight and the instances in which you can go in, get out and heal up thanks to it will be few. Still, if Garen's built tanky, he can be extremely oppressive thanks to this passive.
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 limited time, 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).

Keep in mind that damage and speed boost duration will grow with levels of the ability, however the speed boost's intensity and silence duration 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. He can get a maximum of 30 bonus armor and magic resist.
When you reach this maximum, Garen also gets a 10% bonus on all his bonus Armor and Magic Resistance (this includes Armor and MR from runes, items and buffs).
Active: For the first 0.75 seconds, Garen gains a shield equal to a base amount, plus 20% of his bonus Health and 60% Tenacity. For the entire duration of the ability (the first 0.75 seconds are INCLUDED), Garen has 30% damage reduction.
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 based on your attack speed gained from Items and Levels ONLY, its duration, however, doesn't change.
Judgment deals 25% more damage to the closest enemy you're hitting (minions count).
Garen ignores collisions while spinning.
Each damage tick of Judgment provides a stack of Conqueror.
Judgment can critically strike, dealing 133% damage.
Canceling Judgment earlier refunds part of its cooldown equal to the remaining duration (max 2 seconds).
Enemies hit by 6 ticks of Judgment lose 25% of their armor for 6 seconds, refreshing every time they are hit again by

Judgment is Garen's strongest ability. Getting close to Garen while he's spinning is hazardous and lethal!

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
The ability will deal a specified amount of True Damage (DOES NOT scale from AD/AP), plus more damage scaling from the enemies' missing health. 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
Starting Items

Possible starts (Universal)



UPDATED Doran's Shield
Doran's shield is a very strong early game item. Provides a good amount of defensive stats and its passives help you farm and keep your hp high enough to remain in lane through poke and early trades. Very valuable item, the best first one for Garen no doubt.

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).

MYTHICS GAREN CAN BUILD



So, with S11's arrival, the entire shop has changed forever. Lots of new interesting options are here to consider, and I'm here to help you choose best. Are you ready? Let's get into it!!! Note that the items are ordered by HOW OFTEN I BUILD THEM. Each item's description will go into detail on why I consider it good/bad and when I get it/don't get it.
The way this list works is as follows: we'll talk about Mythics first including which components for each Mythic you want to get first, second and last, and then I'll jump down to the lowest tier to discuss what Basic/Epic/Legendaries you should focus on as the game progresses. The idea is that you're supposed to rush the Mythic above all else, and this is indeed true in most cases. There's a few cases in which getting components for other items is worth delaying your Mythic powerspike for, but we'll discuss them when we talk about the Basic/Epic/Legendary items.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In most cases, you'll want to rush the Mythic you've chosen. You'll generally choose your Mythic based on the enemy TEAM, not the enemy TOPLANER. In some cases, it's better to build some Epic items early on to get past lane and THEN focus on the Mythic. Example: if you are against Riven and her team requires you to build Stridebreaker, it's best to rush Phage to get the advantage in lane, and then focus on Stridebreaker's components after securing it. I can't possibly cover all the cases, so you're going to have to take my suggestions on Mythic items and in the Matchups chapter and then work on your decisions with your own heads: I'm sure you can do it, and if you can't immediately, relax! It's a matter of practice!

Stridebreaker
This is by far my favourite Mythic item for Garen this season. Its anti-kiting potential is off the charts and it gives Garen a power boost across the board without a doubt. You'll ideally want to get this item as your Mythic in most of your games.
This item provides Garen a large list of basic stats that are extremely good for him that I will quickly go over immediately:
  • Attack Damage: easily the most valuable offensive resource for Garen's kit.
  • Attack Speed: boosts your spin ratio, making your Judgment have extra ticks. When you have enough AD, AS will multiply your offensive power considerably.
  • Health: Garen's Health per level is actually quite low, so integrating HP during the game is instrumental in guaranteeing that you win it.
  • Ability Haste: reducing the cooldowns of abilities on a manaless champion like Garen is always positive, albeit I wouldn't consider it crucial since Garen's not a DPS champion, but a burst based one.
Now onto its passive and active components. The passive component is basically what the old Black Cleaver gave Garen: movement speed every time he deals physical damage. This boost is provided to you as soon as you hit Decisive Strike on your foe and is subsequently refreshed with every tick of your Judgment, making you much harder to shake off. Insanely good, nothing else to add there.
The MYTHIC passive component provides us with 3% movement speed per completed Legendary item. I don't think I have to explain why movement speed is an important stat for Garen, so let's move on by just saying "SWEET!".
The active component is by far the best active Garen can possibly hope to have. It provides you with a small dash (really small, almost irrelevant) and then damages and slows enemies around you by 60% in a quite wide AoE. The slow part is the best one yet. Garen lacks CC effects, but with Stridebreaker's slow, he gets a reliable one that will very often ensure that you can land Decisive Strike and even a full Judgment thanks to the movement speed. This is why, in my opinion, this Mythic is by a wide margin Garen's best.

When building this Mythic, prioritize as follows


  1. You'll almost always want to open up with Hearthbound Axe for the attack speed and AD. The movement speed passive will also give you a little bit of sticking power when you land Decisive Strike, guaranteeing at least 3 ticks of your Judgment for a good burst trade, and potentially securing an all-in on its own.
  2. Then, you'll focus on Kindlegem. It gives you a fair bit of HP and all the Ability Haste the item offers in advance. It's really just stats, but really good ones at that.
  3. Get Ironspike Whip last. Its active CAN be turned on during Judgment for extra burst damage, but it's a fully offensive item that only really gives AD, making your trades without the active slightly worse. Its active's CD is longer than your offensive abilities' and thus it slows you down when trying to push someone out of lane.



Divine Sunderer
If the enemy team has 2 or more HARD TANKS (like Malphite, Zac, Rammus, Sejuani, etc.) then you HAVE TO get this Mythic.
This item provides Garen a large list of basic stats that are extremely good for him that I will quickly go over immediately:
  • Attack Damage: easily the most valuable offensive resource for Garen's kit.
  • Health: Garen's Health per level is actually quite low, so integrating HP during the game is instrumental in guaranteeing that you win it.
  • Ability Haste: reducing the cooldowns of abilities on a manaless champion like Garen is always positive, albeit I wouldn't consider it crucial since Garen's not a DPS champion, but a burst based one.
Now onto its passives. The normal passive is basically a glorified Sheen proc that does slightly more damage than a Trinity Force empowered auto if the target is heavy on health. So the question will hit you naturally: why recommend this item over Trinity Force? First off, this sheen proc heals you based on the ENEMY'S max HP, meaning if you hit a tank repeatedly proccing it, you'll have a hard time getting killed by them, but that's not it. This passive applies on Turrets too, meaning you'll demolish them off the Rift faster than with any other item build.
As for the MYTHIC passive, you'll earn 5% armor penetration with every Legendary item you close off, meaning that your damage to armored targets will be enhanced.
The combination of the Mythic passive and the % MAX HP damage from the normal passive guarantee that you can 1v1 basically any tank in the game with ease.

When building this Mythic, prioritize as follows


  1. You'll almost always want to open with Phage. Phage gives AD and HP, and these statistics alone are worth your attention, but when you factor in its passive % max HP healing when you deal phyisical damage, and how well it impacts your trades, it becomes amazing. Garen excels at short trades, and a passive that REWARDS you for having one like Phage's is a godsend.
  2. If you got Phage first, then get Sheen second. 700g for basically double damage on your Decisive Strike is an amazing tool to make your short trade oppressive and unbearable for anyone who can't force an extended fight.
  3. Get Kindlegem last. Its stats are nice, but the item can't compare with the other two components at all so I never get it before them.



Sunfire Aegis
This Mythic is top tier when you're facing a hard lane in which short trades aren't an option because your foe can force you to stay in the fight for a long time. Some examples are Darius, Camille, Mordekaiser.
This item is one of the best defensive items in the game, and its passives also integrate your kit with some extra damage so that your output isn't useless. Additionally, I'd like to note that the fact that it now gives both Armor and Magic Resistance is extremely good when combined with your Courage passive.
Sunfire's passive is Immolate: to put it simple, it'll deal magic damage around you when you're in combat. The damage stacks and increases for the first 5 seconds, after which your autoattacks will proc the damage again on top of the DPS. The magic damage numbers may seem low, but if you actually manage to stick to your foe long enough to get the damage stacking, you'll notice it gets really bad for them.

When building this Mythic, prioritize as follows


  1. You'll almost always want to open with Bami's Cinder. Garen's base resistances are good enough, but his HP isn't, so getting bonus HP right off the bat is important. Additionally, the AoE magic damage will immediately help you fight the tough foes you'll be building this mythic into.
  2. Get Aegis of the Legion second, and then finish it up.



Goredrinker
Build this when you're facing a team that has only Bruisers and Tanks. It will get you on a bruiser's level of in-combat sustain and allow you to outheal any damage a tank can do to you.
Goredrinker is an amazing bruiser item that Garen can make really good use of. I find myself building it very rarely because it doesn't help with fixing Garen's massive kiting issue, but when you're facing bruisers and tanks (which are by definition immobile and excel at prolonged fights), then this item is by far the best one you can get. AD, HP, Ability haste and the passive AD increase based on how low you get are all amazing stats on their own, but when you factor in the active, that's when things get crazy. The active is basically like a Tiamat proc. The difference is it does considerably more damage, and it heals you for a portion of your missing HP based on how many champions you hit with the effect. This might sound like a clutch sort of active that you need to time perfectly, but the truth is when you're facing 2 or more champions, even activating it at half your HP is sufficient to get hundreds back. I find the active to be extremely good when you're shielded so for example, you can combine this item with Sterak's Gage: get below 30% HP ---> Sterak's Gage's shield procs ---> let it deplete, then as soon as it's almost gone ---> activate Goredrinker's active and get back all your HP for a total of basically 3 Health bars. Good luck killing Garen like this!

When building this Mythic, prioritize as follows


  1. You'll almost always want to open with Phage. Phage gives AD and HP, and these statistics alone are worth your attention, but when you factor in its passive % max HP healing when you deal phyisical damage, and how well it impacts your trades, it becomes amazing. Garen excels at short trades, and a passive that REWARDS you for having one like Phage's is a godsend.
  2. Kindlegem second. It gives good stats to further increase your survivability early on, and since bruisers tend to have more damage than you early on, you'll need the bonus HP.
  3. Ironspike Whip last. The damage is massive, don't get me wrong, but it gives absolutely no durability and thus it's a relatively bad laning phase item.



Trinity Force
I know what you're thinking. "FSat, have you gone crazy? Isn't Trinity's best Mythic for Garen?". The answer is plain and simple: no. I'll elaborate, so wait up and you'll get a fair explanation!
Trinity is in no way a "bad" mythic: it does give you AD, Attack Speed, HP, Ability Haste and the highest Sheen damage out of all the items you can build from Sheen (unless you're using Divine Sunderer on someone with more than 3000 HP), and its passive movement speed procs on your Q, with its base AD increase being a neat addition to your output. The problem is damage is really all the item gives you. You get a strong upfront burst with Decisive Strike + the Sheen proc, a small amount of movement speed that will not be refreshed or stacked by Judgment and basically nothing else. It doesn't offer you the same anti-kitability of Stridebreaker, nor the amazing anti-tank power from Divine Sunderer and, finally, ITS MYTHIC PASSIVE DOES NOT WORK ON GAREN'S Judgment TICK RATE. Yes, you read that right. The 10% bonus attack speed Trinity gives your Legendary items is not going to work on your Judgment, only the stat provided by Trinity itself is counted towards your spin count. Garen's not an auto-attack based champion, and in S11, Trinity Force is an auto-attack favored item. If you'd rather have it simple, Trinity is still a viable option, since there's no active cooldown to manage, nor need to proc Sheen multiple times for optimal output, but I'd stay away from this item at least until its mythic passive is changed so it works with our E, and even then, it might not be worth taking compared with the other options.

When building this Mythic, prioritize as follows


  1. You'll almost always want to open up with Hearthbound Axe for the attack speed and AD. The movement speed passive will also give you a little bit of sticking power when you land Decisive Strike, guaranteeing at least 3 ticks of your Judgment for a good burst trade, and potentially securing an all-in on its own.
  2. Get Sheen second for the massive boost to Decisive Strike's damage.
  3. Kindlegem last. It gives good stats but it's worse compared with the other two components.



Eclipse
When you have an easy lane top, and you're facing immobile squishies, this is the item for you. I know this sounds like a rather rare occurrence, and it is, that's why the item is down the list and not at the top!
This Mythic is basically an assassin mythic, and its buildpath is actually fairly horrible for Garen in most matchups, but if you're ahead, and the enemy team is filled with relatively immobile squishy champions, getting it will guarantee that you can oneshot each and every one of them with almost absolute impunity thanks to its passive. There's not much to say about the item. Its passive will proc immediately after you land Decisive Strike into the first Judgment tick, making its use simple and fast. The MYTHIC passive giving you % armor penetration basically helps making the 18 Lethality the item gives you more relevant later on when some champions get tankier.

When building this Mythic, prioritize as follows


  1. You'll almost always want to open up with Serrated Dirk: a massive boost to your Ad, and the first bit of lethality to ensure the enemy squishies melt even faster when you spin on their heads.
  2. Get Pickaxe second for the second big boost to your AD.
  3. Vampiric Scepter last. Low AD for its price, and you won't be using the lifesteal at all, so it's never worth getting this over any other component for Eclipse.
Epic/Legendary Items, Boots and Elixirs

Boots



Yeah, we open with boots here. Why? Simple: if you've finished your Mythic item, YOU'LL WANT BOOTS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. If you haven't finished your Mythic yet, then maybe you're looking for some Epic items to get before your Mythic to make the buildpath towards your Mythic a bit better, you can come back here later :)

Berserker's Greaves
Garen's strongest boots by far. They almost provide 2 spins on their own for the dirt cheap price of 1100 gold and will give you as much movement speed as their defensive counterparts. Rushing these boots before any other item can actually be extremely effective into high mobility champions or orbwalking ones because you get a massive movement speed buff early on and a colossal amount of damage on top of that, making you instantly a threat to your lane opponent. Outside lane, they are offensive boots so you'll wind up squishier than if you bought Plated Steelcaps for instance, but the amount of damage and the threat level you'll achieve by buying these boots is so valuable that you should consider this boots every time you're far ahead of your foe.

Plated Steelcaps
More amor and auto-attack damage reduction is nice, 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 on top of the adc (or in the fairly common case of a 2+ adc composition!)

Mercury's Treads
I really rarely get these boots: Garen's Courage usually provides enough Tenacity to get through CC, and running Legend: Tenacity and/or Unflinching gets you a lot of Tenacity too. You CAN get Mercs when you're facing some insane CC comp but I honestly doubt you'll ever encounter one.

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!

Epic Items



Before we look at the list, I'd like to stress this one important fact out:

there's technically no contractual obligation to rush a Mythic item. You'll GENERALLY want to get your Mythic of choice for the game FIRST, but there's some cases where you need a Mythic for the 5v5, but its components are bad for your toplane 1v1 until teamfights start happening. In this kind of situation, get one or two Epic items to help you get past laning phase, and then go for your Mythic of choice: THE ABILITY TO ADAPT YOUR BUILDPATH IS YOUR GREATEST SKILL.

Refillable Potion
Garen's Passive is pretty good for sustaining, but I find that some extra healing in case we take a bad trade is extremely valuable. This item is very gold efficient and I build it every game very early on to make the most out of it, only to sell it much, much later when I really need the inventory space. You should too: more sustain in lanes means more forgiveness if you make a mistake during laning phase! Also, DON'T you turn this into Corrupting Potion. It's a waste of money.

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 makes your short trade more one-sided: if you manage to get one in, you'll win it as soon as the regen from
the passive ends. This item helps against basically all fighting lanes into other AD or AP bruisers and even against some heavy damage tanks like Shen or Poppy. This item is definitely worth building first against those lanes even if you're going for a Mythic that doesn't buiild out of Phage. Once your Mythic is complete, you can turn your Phage into Sterak's Gage.

Hearthbound Axe
The best component of my favorite Mythic, Stridebreaker. It gives AD, AS and movement speed for a moderate price. The blood price is quite high, and getting this first can singlehandedly allow you to win trades against most toplane melee matchups.

Kindlegem
Health + Ability Haste. Cheap and good stats that Garen can benefit from. The item goes towards almost all the Mythics I've listed above so it's never wrong to get one early on. just make sure you don't have any other better options since the Mythic buildpaths usually include other extremely valid Epic Items like Phage or Hearthbound Axe.

Ironspike Whip
Another piece of the Stridebreaker and also a piece of Goredrinker. To be quite honest, even though its offensive power is not in doubt, this is actually the worst component of both those items. Its price is quite high compared with the other pieces and it only gives you damage. Garen really needs defensive stats, even just a tiny bit of them, during the laning phase. Get this item when you already have some defenses and you'll be fine.

Aegis of the Legion
Goes towards Sunfire Aegis if you're rushing that mythic, but it also geos towards gargoyle's stoneplate and it's basically the best Armor + MR item in the shop right now. You can rush this against hybrid damage opponents like Jax or Katarina or even Shen and you'll find yourself winning a lot more trades.

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. There is however a massive argument towards getting this item early on, and that's the fact that basically all the Grevious Wounds items that Garen can make use of have this as their component. This means that if you actually need Grevious Wounds because you're facing someone like Aatrox or Sylas, you're eventually going to have some options to finish up a good Legendary item. Make no mistake: the game's filled with healing nowadays: the moment you lose a close all-in because your enemy laner outhealed your combo and your Ignite was on CD, that's when you go back, buy this item and turn the lane on them.

Winged Moonplate
When you're still getting kited by your foes even though you got your Mythic item and your Boots, getting this little Epic Item can make a massive difference. The 5% movement speed is nice, and later on, when you're actually looking to complete a full Legendary defensive option, it will turn into either Dead Man's Plate or Force of Nature which are both really good Legendaries for countering AD/AP champions.

Legendary Items



Legendary Items are basically Full Items that aren't Mythics but are often extremely good in synergy with Mythics and with each other. We're going to take a look at the ones for the main build shown on the top of the guide first, and then we'll talk about other viable options that you should always consider.

Sterak's Gage
Complementary item. What does that mean? It means it's a great item to get AFTER you got one of the Mythics that offer HP like Stridebreaker, Goredrinker or Divine Sunderer, worse if you get it on its own. 50 AD and 400 HP are valuable on their own, but they're not even the reason this item is AMAZING for Garen: the Lifeline passive, providing you with a shield that is bigger the more enemies you're fighting is a game-changer when you're getting focused down. If you have Stridebreaker you're going to be able to open up and force a fight, and Sterak's shield will likely give you enough durability to also walk away from it after you've murdered someone. Great item, I build second it basically every single game.

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 mid-late game. Cheap, good stats and a good boost to your defenses for mid-late, this is by far the best Armor item for Garen.

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 the biggest ticket out of jail ever. You can use the shield in many versatile ways: open up with it as soon as you go in against burst comps, or save it for after your Sterak's Gage shield depletes to bait your enemies into thinking that you're done with your shields and then pop 1k more HP off Gargoyle. Killing Garen once he gets this item becomes an existential nightmare for basically all damage heavy champions and it helps you round up more damage in a teamfight, solidifying your role as a tanky bruiser that is to be feared.

Serylda's Grudge
AD, Ability Haste, % Armor Penetration and a 30% slow on your Judgment ticks. This item is amazing. It gives Garen the ability to melt tanks and bruisers alike, and its passive slow is really good against every single enemy in the game. Garen's lack of CC has been a problem for a long time: no longer. When you get to your opponent and this item is in your inventory, it'll be a hard time for them to try and escape. The item basically guarantees an AoE slow that lasts for up to 4 seconds ( Judgment refreshes it constantly for 3 seconds, after which the nominal duration of 1s goes on and then ends). I usually get this item in almost every situation as my 6th item, because it keeps my damage consistent into the late stages of the game (assuming the game lasts that long) and guarantees that I get properly rewarded for managing to catch someone out of position.

Other Legendaries worth considering



I consider these to be situational items, but you might disagree, of course. Let's discuss some other Legendaries that I've tried and consider worth building.

Spirit Visage
HP, Magic Resistance, Ability Haste: not bad right? That ain't it though: the passive this item offers is its real special trait. Getting this item when you have shielders like Lulu, Janna, Seraphine and Sona or healers like Yuumi, Soraka and Nami is a dream. You CAN get Visage even without any of these supports, especially considering it boosts your passive, Perseverance, but it'll feel worse than other defensive options like Gargoyle Stoneplate.
There is also an argument for getting this ON TOP of Sterak's Gage and Gargoyle Stoneplate as your 6th item instead of Serylda's Grudge: it's valid. If you're facing a heavy damage comp, and you find yourself dying too quickly even with the shields helping you, get Visage and boost them to oblivion. Immortality is quite fun, when it's necessary!

Force of Nature
An alternative to Spirit Visage that provides more durability against DPS AP damage (I'm looking at you, Kayle, Mordekaiser, Cassiopeia and the likes!). These few lines pretty much tell you all you really need to know. Get this item instead of Visage or some other defensive options when you're facing heavy AP DPS comps. There's only a few of them so you'll generally not get it in your average game. It's important that you don't forget that the item exists though because the one time you'll face a comp like that, it'll be a blessing to have it!

Chempunk Chainsword
Apart from this item's icon being cool as few other things in League, the item's actually Garen's best Grevious Wounds option by far. It's extremely easy to get the empowered 60% effect (literally just need to do damage to the enemy, which Garen can indeed do quite well) and its stats are very valuable aswell. Last season's GW options were only "meh", this season, when you need Healing Reduction, this item's going to cover your back for sure.

Randuin's Omen
It gives armor, HP and a flat reduction on incoming basic attack damage based on how much maxium HP you have. It doesn't scale particularily well on Garen unless you're going full tank which is mostly not the case, but the active of the item sort of makes up for this con. The active heavily (but very briefly) slows everyone around you, and subsequently reduces their AD and critical strike damage by 10% and 20% respectively for FOUR SECONDS. Critical strike was nerfed in S11 as it is. By activating the item, you'll basically deny a crit based ad-carry all their damage and set them up for a CC chain provided you get close enough to use the active. The item's really good against crit based AD champions like Tryndamere, Yasuo, Jinx, Jhin etc.

The Black Cleaver
With all the other anti-tank items in the game, I find Black Cleaver to be a bit underwhelming, but in no way unviable. You can get this item if you're facing 2+ tanks and maybe a bruiser on top, and your damage should feel much better, aswell as your durability. I usually don't get this item because there's not many instances where I'll auto attack after shredding the enemy's armor, and so its passive sort of goes to waste in many cases. This, however, doesn't take away from the fact that the item gives good stats for Garen and it's never technically wrong to get it.

Silvermere Dawn
Finally a valid item to turn a Quicksilver Sash into. It's an MR option that helps against CC. Garen's a heavy Tenacity champion so I doubt you'll need this item, but there's some instances where you need a Quicksilver Sash (like a Mordekaiser lane or when there's a Malzahar on the enemy team): in these cases, the sash will be holding your 6th slot hostage, and being able to finish it up and turn it into this item is actually quite nice, especially since the item doesn't only cleanse you off CC but also makes subsequent CCs considerably worse on you. Garen's sticking potential can really benefit from this, so albeit situational, this item's really good.

Death's Dance
A good Armor option that also provides AD and fair durability against all non-true damage sources. I find myself building this one rarely as it gives no HP and a fairly high price tag for its buildpath, but I can see its value against teams that tend to fight a lot. Takedowns are either kills or assists: this means even if you don't get a killing blow, you'll be renewed quickly to chain kills. Garen's kit isn't designed for chain killing, which is one more reason I find the item not to be amazing, but there's some situations where the healing and the movement speed that the passive provides could prove vital to your escape after a brawl, especially if you were to take a lot of damage that was on the timer.

Wit's End
An attack damage and attack speed item that also provides MR and some extra damage and mobility on your basic attacks. All in all, the item isn't terrible, but there's better MR options out there. I consider Wit's End to be really good when you're choosing a 6th item and you realize you need MR and also more damage, then this is the item for you. You won't be using all its value at its best, but you will still get some really neat stats packed in a single buy. Situational, but viable.

Guardian Angel
Great hybrid item that provides Armor and AD. I build this item later in the game when I'm carrying and it usually boosts my durability enough that I feel like the money was well spent. Sometimes it's best to get a fully tanky item or a more offensive one however, so it is indeed a bit situational and you'll have to be wise in deciding whether to get it or not!

Youmuu's Ghostblade
Damage, ability haste, lethality, mobility. Pretty awesome right?
It's a good overall offensive power item, but I find myself almost never buying it. Garen's bruiser items for S11 give similar damage outputs while providing much better defensive stats. In other words: yes, this item boosts your damage a lot, but you don't need the damage boost to be relevant, so I usually don't get this item anymore.


Warmog's Armor
Lots of HP may sound really good, but the item really offers little else to Garen specifically. Its passive we already have thanks to Perseverance, and I do know they stack, I still don't think Garen needs more out of combat sustain, thus, I'd recommend you avoid this item.

Thornmail
What can I say about Thornmail... I'm really torn about this item (pun intended) because its stats aren't half bad, and the base Grevious Wounds passive is pretty strong, especially considering that it ties in straight from Bramble Vest, which is a great counter to champions like Fiora or Jax. The problem is Garen has absolutely no way to access the 60% Grevious Wounds part of its passive, making it considerably worse on him than it is on most tanks. For now, I recommend you SKIP this item. There's better options to reduce enemies' healing and there's also better armor options for us.

Titanic Hydra
The HP to AD conversion reminds me of the good old Atma's Impaler (rip), but because its damage passive is really only aimed at auto-attack based champions, I'd really recommend you stay away from this item. There's plenty of other options to boost your AD while not compromising on durability, and this item is also extremely expensive for what it offers. I know it sucks, but without the active auto-attack timer cancel (which was removed in pre-season 11), the item is just not worth building anymore...

Elixirs



Choose one, get it when you have completed your build to further boost your stats for the very late game fights!

Elixir of Iron
Get this elixir when you're full build and you feel like you need more tankiness, more tenacity, and if you're the only tank on your team. This will help make you more threatening to the enemy frontliners, and it'll also help you keep your team together when you engage (since sometimes Garen's faster than everyone else around him, the Path of Iron helps your teammates keep up behind you when chasing down your foes!)

Elixir of Wrath
Some more AD would be nice on its own, but the healing is what makes the difference here: 15% MORE healing from the damage you deal to stack up with Conqueror/ Death's Dance and potentially Wit's End/ Spirit Visage/ Ravenous Hunter (if you have any or some of them). Garen's tanky as he is, but if he heals SO much when he's dealing damage it just becomes incredibly difficult to kill him. This might sound counter intuitive: "how is an offensive elixir making me tankier?", but it's true: the more you heal during the fight, the harder you are to kill, right? I build this elixir in most of my games after I reach full build, and I recommend you do too: more damage, more unexpected tankiness and a lot of fun will be on their way to you with this consumable!

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.
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!


NEW Aatrox

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


NEW Akali

Threat level: Low


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

Threat level: Medium



Click here to see how to win this lane!


Gangplank

Threat level: Medium



Click here to see how to win this lane!


Gnar

Threat level: High


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Hecarim

Threat level: Medium


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Illaoi

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!


NEW Irelia

Threat level: Low


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!


NEW Kayle

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


Threat level at minute 1: Low


Threat level at minute 20: IT'S OVER 9000!


Click here to find out how this lane works now


Kennen

Threat level: Medium


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Kled

Threat level: Medium


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Lee Sin

Threat level: Low


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Malphite

Threat level: Medium


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Maokai

Threat level: Medium


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Nasus

Threat level: Low


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Olaf

Threat level: High


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NEW Pantheon

Threat level: Medium


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Poppy

Threat level: Low


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Renekton

Threat level: Medium


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Rengar

Threat level: Medium


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Riven

Threat level: Medium


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Rumble

Threat level: Medium


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Ryze

Threat level: Medium


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Shen

Threat level: Medium


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Shyvana

Threat level: Medium


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Singed

Threat level: Low


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Sion

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!



Tahm Kench

Threat level: Medium


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Teemo

Threat level: Medium


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Trundle

Threat level: Medium


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Tryndamere

Threat level: Low


Click here to see how to win this lane!

Urgot (also known as Urgod)

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


Threat level: IT'S OVER 9000!


Click here to see why you won't 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!

Yorick

Threat level: Medium


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 matchups 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!

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:
  • Matchups Section Rework. I plan to go over all the matchups with time.
  • Jungle Garen (now it's possible!)
  • 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!
12/10/2019 - Holy, the Changelog has become quite big. I marked all the changes except for the last one as spoiler, so it doesn't fill unnecessary space. Click on the spoiler if you want to see the full Changelog :)

Click here to see the full Changelog!

19/11/2020 - MASSIVE ITEM SECTION REWORK FOR PRE-S11!

18 MILLION VIEWS. WHAT?!


OKAY, SERIOUSLY: This is just incredible. It's been many years since I first created this build and I've been enjoying keeping it alive and up to date a lot, there are some sections I'd like to update soon and I'll do my best to work on those as fast as possible. Until then I'll continue being grateful for having my guide be the top 1 for Garen for so long now.

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 5 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!

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide