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Garen Build Guide by Flandre5carlet

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Flandre5carlet

Garen - Demacia's Finest Solo Top

Flandre5carlet Last updated on September 2, 2012
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Team 1


Team 2

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 22

Honor Guard

Defense: 6

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 2

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Hello, my summoner name is Flandre5carlet and this is my Garen guide.

Garen is a very strong solo top AD bruiser that has the potential to easily crush opponents in the right hands. He is my main solo top and after playing him for quite some time, I decided to share my builds and playstyle with other players. Please bear with me, this is the first time I write a guide; I hope you have a good time reading it anyways, and please keep the comments for constructive criticism.

Summer 2012 update : Garen's early game is a bit less good than it used to be, but his late game is overall much much better. He is a much more viable pick now, if you're not against someone who can constantly harass you and break your passive.

Credits to jhoijhoi for the template, which you can find here and from which I used some parts.

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02/09/12 : Modified some things according to the new Garen changes
12/05/12 : Replaced sunfire cape with frozen mallet in builds; explanations in Item section.
09/05/12 : Added Cho'Gath in the top match ups, added the fact that he falls off late game as a con.
04/05/12 : Added an alternative rune page and an items section; added Sion, Fiora, Wukong, Singed to top match ups.
03/05/12 : Guide added

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Pros / Cons

Pros / Cons


+ Amazing base damage and scaling
+ Can be built AD, tank, or both
+ Huge burst especially in laning phase
+ Can be really tanky with his Courage
+ Amazing initiation with his Decisive Strike and his Judgment
+ Finishing off enemies with his Demacian Justice
+ Great sustain in lane with Perseverance

- Only CC is a silence
- Can be kited quite easily
- Can KS allies easily with Demacian Justice
- Falls off late game.

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A standard 21/9/0 solo top with extra resistance at early game thanks to Veteran's Scars, and high offense with armor pen and damage.



This setup allows me to recall faster with the Improved recall, allowing me to go back to base at times where I could not if I didn't have this mastery; 6 points in defense for early game slightly higher resistance, and 22 in offense are self explanatory.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

Other possible rune pages :


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

Here is a demonstration of this rune page on a Vayne who started with boots 3 pots, and no defensive runes.

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Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells

IGNITE: One of the most useful summoner spells for Garen as it allows you to add up more damage to your burst before using your ultimate; also allows you to secure kills,
FLASH: For escape, initiation, closing up with an enemy, etc... Flash is always good to have.

Not really...

Lol yes you need mana, totally.

Don't really need it, in my opinion. You'd be better off with and to escape or secure kills.

Can work instead of , but you've got your . Grab it if nobody on your team has it though and/or your team has no CC.

Not in the game anymore.

I don't really play Dominion.

A worthy substitute to , combined with his ; although, I would still prefer due to going over walls and gaping the distance instantly. My personal tastes though.

If you want. Don't forget the mastery that goes with it if you use it. And if you use it, I would run / OR / if you prefer this one; not / because you'd have no escape ability then.

Eh... It's just annoying for the enemy solo top.

Not in the game anymore.

Yeah, no.

You're not jungling.


If you want to recall and get back in lane instantly; coupled with flash.

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Abilities Explanations

Passive: Perseverance

Garen regenerates 0.5% of his maximum health per second after not receiving damage for 9 seconds. The regenerative state will stop if Garen receives damage from any source other than lane minions.


A great passive that allows you to have a strong sustain during the laning phase, provided you don't get hit by minions. To use it to its fullest, standing at a safe distance behind your own minions will prevent the enemy minions from targeting you (unless you hit the enemy champion). You can also stay in the bush.
Try to keep it up when your health is not full so as to remain in lane as long as you can.

Note : minions don't trigger it, but champions spells such as an AoE slow that does no damage will stop it, even if the description only states "takes damage".

Q: Decisive Strike

Garen removes all slows on him and gains 35% movement speed for 1.5 / 2.25 / 3 / 3.75 / 4.5 seconds. His next melee attack within 4.5 seconds will deal 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+1.4 per attack damage) physical damage and silence his target for 2.5 seconds. This attack can critically strike.

Cooldown 8 seconds


The only CC that Garen has, but damn it does hit hard. Silencing right before your will prevent an enemy like or to dash away from you, forcing them to take full damage from your spin if they can't juke you.
Interesting fact: The speed boost remains even after you hit an enemy with the silence, so you will also have a speed boost during your if you silence the enemy before you start spinning.

+ will be your standard harass in lane. If you can land your on the enemy champion, immediately start your spin and try to stay near them for its entire duration, unless they are too close to the tower.
If you can't hit them with your , just use it on a minion. Better not get the bonus damage to waste.

Also do not forget to use it when you are slowed and need to escape as it removes all slows when casted. Due to that, it can get rid of an unwanted exhaust and allow you to escape to safety. Keep that in mind when being chased by someone who can slow you.

W: Courage

(Passive): Garen's armor and magic resistance are permanently increased by 20%.

(Active): Garen places a defensive shield on himself, decreasing all damage taken by 30% and reducing the duration of crowd control by 30% for 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 seconds.

Cooldown 24 / 23 / 22 / 21 / 20 seconds


Garen's tanky spell. Grabbing a point early in this allows you to farm the passive while you get last hits in lane, allowing you to get extra tanky without having to buy defensive items. The active is also great if you think you're gonna take a little too much damage at some point, or to tank a tower, etc...

The passive doesn't need to be maxed anymore since it's a permanent % bonus. Maxing this spell is less useful than maxing your Q or your E because the damage or duration of speed boost they give are more beneficial, in my opinion, than the longer protection on this spell. The passive doesn't increase with each rank.

E: Judgment

Garen rapidly spins his sword around his body for 3 seconds dealing 20 / 45 / 70 / 95 / 120 (+0.7 / 0.8 / 0.9 / 1.0/ 1.1 total Attack Damage) physical damage to nearby enemies every half second. Garen can deactivate Judgement early by activating the ability again after 0.5 seconds. Garen cannot use Decisive Strike or Demacian Justice while Judgement is in effect. Damage to minions and neutral monsters is reduced by 25%. Garen ignores unit collision while spinning, but takes a 20% movement speed penalty when passing through minions.

Cooldown 13/12/11/10/9 seconds
Range 330


The (in?)famous "Spin to win". A powerful attack if you can manage to keep the enemy in the spin for its entire duration. Each tick of the spin can also crit, hence why the 'troll' build described in the Item Builds section can actually work really well.
Also a great farming skill once it's levelled up, just stand in the middle of minions and spin, and watch as you earn gold and XP by killing the entire wave.

R: Demacian Justice

Garen calls upon the might of Demacia to attempt to execute an enemy champion, dealing 175 / 350 / 525 damage plus 1 damage for every 3.5 / 3 / 2.5 health they are missing.

Cooldown 160 / 120 / 80 seconds
Range 400


Garen's finishing move, Demacian Justice. The Flying Sword of GG that will strike an enemy down if their health bar looks at about 30%. Once you hit level 6, you can pretty much burst any not-too-tanky champion down with a (+ )→.
It is an execution ult, so do not use it at the start of a fight; rather, save it for when the enemy is weakened. It also deals magic damage and not physical, so armor penetration won't help it.
It also takes a little bit of time to get used to the right timing at which your ult will kill someone. After playing a few games with Garen you'll get the hang of it : the best moment is when the life bar of the enemy looks like it is at about 30%.

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Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence Order

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

The ult is maxed whenever possible for obvious reasons; the spin is your main source of damage so you will want to max it first. Evening out between your Q and W will allow you to get better bonuses from both skills at the same time. It's my personal preference though.

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Firstly, boots.
I personally go for Boots of Swiftness because combined with your , they give you a huge speed boost to close gaps with the enemy. Those are my personal favourite boots on Garen, but you can have several alternatives :
Mercury's Treads : Gives you MR and CC reduction if you face off an AP or CC heavy team; also helpful if you just want to be tankier instead of faster.
Ninja Tabi : Useful in a team with several AD champions, like for example Ashe and Tryndamere.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity : I don't personally like these boots on Garen, but since he's really cooldown reliant, I can see them working.

Now about my build order.

Starting x3 is my personal preference to remain in lane more; if you go with the AD rune page instead of armor pen, you can start with a Doran's Blade to have even more early game damage.

I get an early Last Whisper because of reasons explained in the dedicated section.

After that, you don't need much damage due to ignoring a high part of the enemy's armor. I use this time to get a truckload of HP by getting Warmog's Armor and Frozen Mallet.
You can go for either or Sunfire Cape depending on your needs and your personal preference; allows you to chase forever due to the slow as well as synergising better with Atma's Impaler; icon=sunfire cape gives you more armor and a nice AoE damage that will add up with your spin.

That will make you reach a little above 4K HP, which will synergise really well with the Atma's Impaler you should get after those. Force of Nature comes after to top off the rest of your resistances and be an awesome tanky damage dealer.

The order in which you get the last items depends on the enemy team. If their AP is dealing too much damage, you can get before . If their AD is fed, you can replace with Thornmail.
The build I described above is my regular build against an average team comp with a solo top bruiser, an AP mid and an AD/support bot.

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Crit chance on Garen? BUT WHY ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

Why? Because it works.

To understand, you need to first get how works. The way the description says it isn't very clear.
Basically, the description tells you the damage this skill does every second; in game, the skill has a tick every half second. Now imagine the description says 210(+100), which equals 310 in 1 second, you will do 155 damage every half second.

The crit chance doesn't really increase the damage per se; basically, every one second damage has a chance to crit. So if a tick crits, the second tick will crit too. I hope I'm clear enough by explaining this.
So pretty much, if you have 30% crit chance, when you start , you have 30% chance every second to crit for 2 0.5 seconds ticks.

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Last Whisper? So early? BUT WHY ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

Why? Because, again, it works.

Most of the time, the enemy solo top will quickly start grabbing a or even a to counter your high damage; that's where your armor pen comes in. After a few calculations, I personally think that grabbing early, combined with armor pen red runes, will totally obliterate the enemy's armor. And a direct hit to the enemy's HP is better than a bigger hit against a huge armor.

Now let's say the enemy has 75 armor.
You immediately remove 21 to that due to the runes and masteries. We're now already down to 54. Now remove the 40% provided by . Congratulations, your enemy went from 75 to 32,4 armor.

Now, imagine the enemy got an early (and/or he's , or something) and he has 170 armor.

Again, immediately remove 21 to this and you fall down to 149. Okay, you may say that's still a high amount of armor. Now remove 40% and you fall down to 89.4 armor.

After these explanations, I hope you understand why I go for early armor pen. You can WRECK your opponents' tries to defend themselves and get tanky while they try to get tanky too; you'll still do a hell of a lot of damage while getting harder and harder to kill.

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Top Match ups

Easily won :

Once she is silenced, all she can do is auto-attack you or run; unless she lands the stun on you right before you silence her, in which case she can dash away. Otherwise you can just harass her easily and deny her quite hard.

Even when she will hit level 6, she won't be able to burst you down. Harass her if she tries to last hit with autoattacks; she'll be forced to last hit with her Q which will make her lose a lot of gold.

Everytime you'll , he'll try to use his dodge to take it; avoid hitting him during that time, then if you can try to land the hit on him; if you silence him you'll be able to and he won't be able to jump to a minion.

You can out-harass her so much it's not even funny. When you rush to her with your she will usually stun you to leave safely. But she can't harass you and even if she does, you have your passive anyway. She can only last hit with her dash move (which is risky if you're here) or autoattacks (which is risky if you're here). So you can deny her easily.

You can deny him early game and prevent him from farming his Q. Will help a lot later in the game provided you don't let him free farm afterwards. If he slows you, will get rid of it.

leesin He can harass you with his Q, but if he TRIES to kick you you can just then while he can't shield away. Stand behind your minions so he can't land a Q, and your passive will sustain you.

His shield isn't worth much early game, your will get rid of it and your will chip down his HP. He won't have spell vamp unless he has runes early game, so you can harass him easily like that. He can't build up his shield while you burst him down because of your silence. Overall easy lane.

He is not much of a problem at top. The most he can do is fling you when you get too close for your , at which point you can just silence him and him. Just don't stay in his poison too much.


Average lane :

He can't burst you down, but his passive is quite annoying because even silenced he will still snare you. If he's not a bad player, you won't be able to get a combo on him. It's p
retty much a tie, and depends on jungler ganks.

He can harass or last hit with his Q, but he can't really get away from you if you silence him. He's not an easy win because if he crits on you he can still hurt you a lot early game, but he's not a loss either. It'll come down to individual skill.

His sustain can get quite annoying, and he'll use his blood pool to get away if you try to him. If you can surprise him you can burst him down. Once level 6 you can just and into an . Wait for him to use his bloodpool (he most likely will when your silence is done), then .

He has sustain and is tanky, but you have more sustain and can harass him quite a lot. Kind of a tie lane there, except if the Shen is bad. Easy win then.

Tie lane, his shield will annoy you and he can get away with his E + Q. Just farm, get last hits, harass him if you can, try to get successful ganks on him.

If you try to he'll try to cleaver you, but if he's silenced he'll be forced to take your full spin. His passive is the same as you but lower regen (and doesn't interrupt when hit). He'll be annoying when he reaches level 6 due to his ult, but before that he's not hard.

He can't true damage you if he's silenced. , then . If he didn't true damage you before being silenced, start spinning and then get back before it's over so he's not in range. If he did true damage you, get your whole spin on him.

His passive will prevent you from bursting him down unless you use your to reduce the heal. Just wait for his passive to be triggered then if you can burst him down.

Before he's level 6, his sustain is quite bad. You can use this time to deny him the farm he needs for his E. If he is going AP, watch out for his stun + shield combo that can deal a lot of damage. If he is going AD, he'll be a piece of cake.

Her Riposte skill is on a higher cooldown than your . Even if she parries it, you will be able to hit her with it before her Riposte is off cooldown. If she tries to face you, you will and she will have lost more HP than you. Harass her to deny her HP regen from her E. Care for her ult at level 6.

He will use his decoy to try and avoid your . He will try to use his dash move to harass you. The problem is he has mana and he will quickly be out of it. So if he uses his dash+decoy combo too much, you can get him easily when he is out of mana. An overally easy solo top match up.

He will most likely silence you right before your hits him so you won't be able to right after hitting him; no big deal though, you can harass him more than he can harass you. Dodge his ground spell thing, watch out for his passive spikes that can hit you when he hits minions, and that will delay your . Care for his ult at level 6 if you are low on health.

Annoying (but not necessarily lost) lane :

His sustain is quite annoying, and it's quite hard to burst him down. Play safe against him, because in an 1v1 situation he can out-sustain you and force you to run away. If you manage to burst him down, he can still kill you with his ult and it won't be worth it.

His sustain will annoy you, and his Q can hurt you a lot due to working with a % of your HP. You can burst him down at level 6, but before that it will be an annoying lane for you. Just last hit and play safe.

He can harass you a lot and get away if you try to to him. If you can't land your silence he'll just get away with his light bolt thing, so the best is to try to last hit and wait for eventual ganks. If you're level 6 you can try a and into an and an extended range .

Q Q Q FACEROLL FACEROLL FACEROLL. Ryze is annoying and he can harass so much, and build tanky he'll still do damage... Play safe, wait for ganks.

He can harass a lot with his Q (it does a lot of damage if he maxes it and/or goes AP), and his passive will almost absorb your full combo. Not much you can do to harass him and he can out harass you easily. Play safe.

His blind will piss you off because it makes your miss a lot. His poison is annoying and will delay your .

Really hard to win, most likely lost lane:

He'll shield when you try to burst him, stun you and damage you, if you try to he has his speed boost to get away, etc... He's just an overall really annoying lane.

His passive will absorb your (the silence will still work though), and then he'll stun you and use his fast attack thingy to chip down your HP. He can harass you with his spear, etc... You'll have to play really safe there.

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Early Game

Early game is where you will truly shine and have easy opportunities to get a lot of kills. Once you got your 2 and your , you can already start harassing by using and running toward your enemy; either it scares them away, or they take it like a man and it gives you the opportunity to .

Try not to recall until you have enough for at least (if you started with ) or (if you started with x3).

If you didn't manage to get a kill before level 6, you surely will once you get level 6. Grab your and get ready. If the enemy gets too close, , followed by and . You just got a kill. Don't forget to use your if you don't tihnk you'll deal enough damage for a kill.
Garen is an easy lane win because of how strong his sustain is as well as his damage. Don't forget to sight ward your bush, last hit as many minions as you can and deny your opponent.
Usually, a followed by running toward them will scare them away from the XP they get by your dying minions.

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Mid Game

By now you should have taken down your lane's turret down, and possibly the other lanes. Now you might want to go roaming and gank any enemy champion you can; a + is an easy surprise gank on an unsuspecting champion : they'll be suddenly silenced and you'll be in their face for your full combo. Grab dragon when he's up, grab buff camps (and enemy buff camps if it's not too risky). Push other lanes that need help, protect your own lane from pushes... There's a lot to do during this part of the game.

By now you should already have your , and should be able to deal quite a lot of damage against even tanky champions. Also keep in mind... You're naturally tanky yourself, so once you got your on your way to warmog'sarmor, you can already start manning up and rushing in (provided you're not 1v5 and your team is backing you up) to initiate fights. If they focus you, still win because your carries are safe. If they don't focus you, you'll and deal a lot of damage anyway.

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Late Game

By now you should have reached your ; you should have almost 200 armor and 100 magic resist, as well as almost 4000HP thanks to your 's passive, and . Manning up to initiate is not a problem as you can just then onto their AP or AD carry to unleash all your mighty combo on him; your team should be backing you up too. Going for the AP is better due to your CC being a silence; it'll prevent them from doing anything for a good 2.5 seconds.

Grab baron if you're confident the enemy team will not be able to interrupt you (for example, you got an inhibitor down). Ward the bushes and behind the Baron's "arena" so their jungler can't try to steal. If they try to prevent you from getting it initiate the fight on them.

Late game Garen presumably falls off compared to his early/mid game, but with a good build you will still be really tanky while still dealing decent damage, especially thanks to your armor pen.

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Team Fights

As Garen, you shouldn't fear to run face first into a teamfight. Being quite tanky, if they decide to focus you, it'll take them long enough to take you down that your own team will have killed 2-3 of them. Otherwise, you should be tanky enough so as to kill your main target : their AP or AD carry. Your goals are to take down the squishy champions, and optionally, deal damage to their whole team with your .

With the proper build, you can get your full combo on a squishy before being even close to dying. Don't forget to activate your , it helps a lot. Save your to secure kills or get enemies who would have escaped otherwise.

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[DOESN'T WORK ANYMORE] Extended range on Demacian Justice? **** yeah!


There's a trick to get an extended range while using .

Basically, you have to cast the ult while in the middle of your , and not do ANY action afterwards. (No movement, no , etc...) The way the game works, the skill will be queued to be used right after your spin ends; if the enemy flashes away during that time, your ult will still hit them, even if you lost sight of them due to a bush or a wall (provided they are within your sight radius).
Thus, start your spin, click in the general direction your enemy is walking, cast the ult, wait. If your spin did enough damage, enjoy the free long range kill and possibly their wasted flash.

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Final Comments

Well, this is the end of my Garen guide.

I hope it was a good read for you seeing as I put a lot of time in this. Constructive criticism is always welcome in the comments, and I'll check back to answer questions as often as I can.

If you want to contact me in game, you can find me as Flandre5carlet on both EU West and NA servers, though I'm much more active on NA currently.

PS : If you read up until there, you deserve a cookie.


Pawni for helping me film the skills videos.