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Garen Build Guide by Hitsugaya

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Hitsugaya

Garen: Early Game Assassin, Late Game BEAST

Hitsugaya Last updated on October 31, 2011
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Team 1

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 21

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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The build I present here has scared the s*** out of enemies. It is an AWESOME feeling to run into a team fight and have the enemy retreat in fear of you!

Garen is better mid-game than early-game. Everybody knows how strong Garen is early game, but with Demacian Justice nobody escapes you levels 6-12. This build gives you the early tools to have that very strong mid-game, and after that you'll be so fed there will be no late game.

I think using my first build is more fun than my second because it gives you more control and adds complexity to the Garen play style. It is a balanced build that can be used against the vast majority of enemy teams. However, against a magic-heavy team (4 or more AP characters) the second is the superior build. Also, the first build gives an active and CC the second does not, but the 2nd puts out more late-game damage.

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Pros / Cons of THIS build

Pros -

  • Great damage early game
  • Exceptional farming ability.
  • Awesome movement speed
  • Very few purchases above 1350g
  • Awesome HP/HP Regen
  • Good damage late game, and enough survivability to make it useful.
  • Good balance of Armor/Magic Resist

Cons -
  • No health potions at beginning
  • You will be focused. As a Garen.
  • No boots at the beginning.

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Greater Mark of Desolation- Garen is all physical damage where it counts, so armor pen is a must.

Greater Seal of Armor-
All I had in mind here is early game survivability. I didn't pick up the armor/lvl runes because straight armor provides greater staying power in lane at early levels, which is essential to any champion. I mainly have problems with countering auto-attacks from champions such as Ashe or Miss Fortune, so these runes help to counter champions like them.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction-
After level 6, right when Garen hits his prime, these runes are better than the flat CDR runes. Being that the only thing holding his skills back is CD, it makes sense to have some CDR.

Greater Quintessence of Health-
This helps make the passive more effective early game, as well as providing a significant health boost to help early game.

Other good choices:

Greater Quintessence of Desolation- Armor Pen always helps.

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed-
Gives CRAZY movement speed. OP movement speed.

9x Greater Mark of Attack Speed- Suggested in the comments, these are a surprisingly viable alternative to the armor-pen marks. I'm not sure which set is better at this point.

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Take Archaic Knowledge in Offense and nothing mana except Perseverance in Utility. Using this mastery setup definitely utilize 3x Greater Quintessence of Desolation or you wont put out enough damage.

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Summoner Spells

These two are absolutely essential. DO NOT CHANGE THEM. With these two spells you are almost always able to run or chase. If you play the way I describe, these are the only two available options:


Needed to:

  • Catch enemies
  • Run away from enemies
  • Run to a tower quickly
  • Ganking
  • Combined with Decisive Strike provides a massive boost to movement speed

There are simply too many uses to exchange Ghost for another summoner spell.


Though I mostly use Flash for the offensive aspects such as early kills, this spell can get you out of nasty situations.

Use this to:
  • Surprise your enemy
  • Catch up to the enemy
  • Escape a s#!+ situation
  • Jump walls to get away from Enemies
There is a reason there were 10 Flashes in every game at the tournament. This spell is necessary.

Other Choices:

Ignite, Exhaust. Seriously, stick to Ghost+ Flash

Definately not Other Choices:

Anything besides Ghost, Flash, Ignite, or Exhaust.

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The best passive in the game IMO. Garen regens 0.5% of his max health per second after not recieving damage for 7 seconds. This means that at say, level 3 with the 647 + (100) = 747 health the Doran's blade gives, his passive regens 3.74 hp/sec just by standing there. That's 18.68 hp/5sec!

This allows Garen to have massive lane presence. If you get hurt, make yourself scarce in the bushes or behind your creep waves and bide your time. I like to sit in the bushes for a significant period of time while I heal and my partner farms to let the enemy forget about me, until its the right opportunity to bring down a world of hurt.

Decisive Strike

Decisive Strike does a significant amount of damage, while providing a movement speed burst and a silence. This is the first part of his devastating combo, and not to be underestimated.

A few tips:

  • Decisive Strike resets the attack timer, so auto-attack, hit with q, and auto-attack again.
  • Hit q, start moving towards your enemy, flash, and proceed to hit them and silence them from a much larger range then you're supposed to.
  • This will stop IN PROGRESS many of the dangerous ultimates in the game including Katarina, Nunu, Galio, Miss Fortune, Warwick (etc.).
  • Q, combined with e, make an amazing escape combo. Definitely utilize this ability while escaping from a gank or teamfight gone wrong.


Courage, is awesome. It gives an active shield while at the same time giving a stacking passive in magic resist and armor that can be maxed at level 1.

With the recent buff to Courage's passive, it becomes a one point wonder. Pick up a point at Level 4 but max it last. THIS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ACTIVE TO FILL THE PASSIVE.

  • Is possibly the most OP early game skill.
  • Removes any slows, and reduces the durations of any cast while Judgment is active.
  • Combined with Decisive Strike, gives Garen's escape combo a movement burst as well as soft-CC removal.
  • Can crit, but only the bonus attack damage will be multiplied.
  • Is not stopped by Silence, Fear, Taunt, Stun, (etc).

Demacian Justice

Garen's ultimate is a sword from the sky. Nuff' said.

Important points about Garen's Ult:
  • Demacian Justice will still activate if the enemy has run out of range as long as when you cast the spell they WERE in range. This means that if you're spinning, you can use your ult and it will still hit the target after you're done spinning, even if that target is out of range. Make sure you use this to your advantage.
  • Use this to last-hit enemy champions. Because the damage scales with the amount of HP the enemy is missing, this should really be saved for executions.
  • If you aren't going to make it through a teamfight, don't be selfish. Use your ultimate before you die.

this ability as it works brilliantly with Demacian Justice. This allows you to mouse over the target, press "r", and have the ability performed without the extra mouseclick. Set the ability to automatically smartcast by hitting "esc" in game and setting "r" to "smartcast spell 4" in the keybindings.

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Skill Sequence

Priority for leveling skills comes in this order:

  1. Demacian Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Decisive Strike
  4. Courage

Ill put a point in Courage by level 4, but otherwise I stick to that order.

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Items Build 1

Early-Mid Game/CORE BUILD

Doran's Blade

Awesome health boost and 10 damage. Lifesteal is a bonus. This first item is better than boots for one reason alone: you have the movement speed already built in. Decisive Strike has a movement speed burst that can take the place of boots in the early game, as well as the summoner spells Ghost and Flash to provide the extra utility.

Boots of Swiftness and Brutalizer

It depends on when you get sent back, but think of these two as the same item. In other words, have different builds for getting sent back at different times that look like:

With proper last hitting, You should have your first three items by about min 11 for a solo lane, and min 14 for a duo. This is enough damage and armor pen to get you all the way through most of mid-game.

Heart of Gold OR Phage

One of these items completes the core of the build. Generally the core is the set of items that you build every game because you need them to make the champion work. In this case you will always be building into one of the next two items first, so I consider them both part of the "core" build. Only build the Heart of Gold if you are eventually building the Randuin's Omen to counter heavy auto attackers such as Xin Zhao, Ashe, Caitlyn, Tryndamere, (etc).

Mid-Late Game

The next part of this build can be built a number of different ways because it depends on the specific game ones playing. You can build into any of the following items you want as you see fit, with a couple of tips: I don't suggest building directly into the Youmuu's Ghostblade, and always build the Phage first when building to the Frozen Mallet.

Warden's Mail

This item is basically a mini Randuin's without the active. It is a very nice armor item to have mid-game before you have the opportunity to complete your Randuin's.

Youmuu's Ghostblade

This item helps you to farm as well as kill. The CDR helps your abilities, and Judgment crits, so you are just adding to the damage. The active works on minions, and helps secure many kills that would otherwise get away.

Frozen Mallet

Frozen Mallet is an amazing item on Garen, as the whole point is to catch enemies and beat them into submission. After using Ghost to catch someone, you can keep them near you with this item. The CC provided is the key to taking Garen to the next level. Also, the jump in health and survivability is mandatory.

Randuin's Omen

This item gives more CDR, a ton of armor, a %chance slow to your enemies, as well as an active that turns team fights around. This item makes you a huge threat if used properly.

Seriously, don't forget about the active. You built the Warden's Mail mid-game to counter those auto-attacking champions, which is precisely what the active will do for you late game.

Atma's Impaler

Fueled by the Frozen Mallet, this item makes everything stronger including auto-attacks, Judgment, Decisive Strike, and survivability. Pick up this item over the Randuin's if you don't need to counter fast-attacking champs.

Force of Nature

The Force of Nature is a brilliant item to give Garen his magic-resist. The added movement speed only makes you more powerful, and it also gives you a second passive!

Last Whisper

If you are getting pretty fed and you have pissed off the enemy team, you may need to get this item to counter a Chain Vest or even a Thornmail. I have picked this item up at all points of the build: right after the Phage, right after the Atma's Impaler, even the Heart of Gold. Be sure not to do this in lieu of survivability.

Quicksilver Sash

Many games I have bought this item to counter heavy CC teams or teams with 2 or more Exhaust. If you find yourself unable to catch or get close to enemies or if that Miss Fortune is exhaust trigger happy, pick this up instead of the Force of Nature.

Usually when I pick up this item, I put it in item slot 4 which I have keybound to the spacebar. Generally I use this key for the Randuin's Omen so when I buy the QSS I opt for the Atma's Impaler instead. This isn't set in stone, but its how I play.

Other Items

Infinity edge

This should always be bought last if you have the room. If you picked up a Last Whisper mid-game, don't get the IE.

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Items Build 2

This build WILL make you the focus of the enemy team. LOL by the time you get Infinity Edge, its GG.

The build:

Doran's Blade + Boots of Swiftness + Brutalizer

See Build 1.

Force of Nature

This accomplishes a couple of important goals at this point in the game. It basically neutralizes any casters on the enemy team, as well as providing massive staying power out on the battlefield with the added movement speed and health-regen. With this item, Boots of Swiftness, 3 Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed(s), and Decisive Strike, you are just about the fastest thing (in battle) in the game. Happy ganking.

Warmog's Armor

Getting this earlier is not a bad idea. However, getting it at this point means that your damage will be increasing throughout the rest of the game. Garen does a whole bunch of damage with the armor pen of The Brutalizer, and the movement speed from Force of Nature is definately worth it. Especially late game when you are taking down minion waves with 1 critting Judgment farming this beast will not be much of a problem.

Atma's Impaler
  • Judgment crits
  • Added armor gives a balanced defense
  • 2% bonus physical damage based on the health from a Warmog's? No brainer.

Youmuu's Ghostblade

Build this for the added CDR and crit-strike. USE THE ACTIVE IN TEAMFIGHTS. And for chasing/running away.

Infinity Edge

With this item, you crit with almost 60% chance on your spin-to-win. Add 120 damage to a spinning Crit?

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DISCLAIMER: I don't like Dominion. And when I play Dominion, I don't choose Garen. If you want a guide for Garen in Dominion, go somewhere else.

However, when I do play Garen in Dominion (a bit contradictory, I know...) this is what I build:

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Alternate Items

These include:

Pick one of these up if you have extra gold sent back to base (along with potions and wards) after grabbing The Brutalizer. If you have the cash for other things, it isn't a necessary item.

If you're feeling it. Makes you a terror on the battlefield.

I never pick up the Banshee's Veil anymore on ANY champion. The Quicksilver Sash basically is a Banshee's Vale that allows you to decide which cc to block. The Hexdrinker takes care of the one thing the BV has over the QSS- being a brilliant counter against Requiem.

Maybe if this is eventually buffed it will be worthwhile to pick up. Right now? No.

I've built it, it works. I feel there are better options though.


Seriously, never pick up the Doran's Shield on anyone. Possibly the most worthless item in the game.

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How To Use the Bushes

Garen should almost NEVER take mid lane for the simple reason that it is too difficult to use the bushes properly. Bushes multiply Garen's lane presence because of a few factors. Garen's chasing power, q + e combo, and ultimate as well as the element of surprise are the basis of what separates excellent and mediocre Garens.

WARDS WARDS WARDS (not Garen-specific)

sight ward

There are a few guides on this site and others such as this one that explain the best places to put them. THESE THINGS WIN GAMES, and they are mostly put in bushes. I need to make clear,


Every time you go back to buy an item with a little extra gold, buy a ward. Try to never leave base with extra cash, as its just going to be wasted with you carrying it in your pocket. Don't hesitate to sell the Doran's Blade to make room for them either. The added map awareness provided for your team greatly outweighs the health and damage provided only to you.

Place wards in the River, next to Dragon, Baron, enemy Blue, enemy Red, and a few other places. Those who have been warding for awhile eventually figure out where is best for their team to place them. Make sure that if you are laning against a stealth character, you pick up vision wards early.

Also, use these to protect yourself. If you have pushed the lane early and want to continue fighting there, you need to position wards in the bushes NEXT TO the bushes by enemy red, as well as in the bushes (toward Dragon, Baron, Urf, and whatever is at the last one) by the 1st tower. This more or less ensures you will be able to see enemies at your flank.

Initial contact with the enemy

If your team isn't grouped up fighting for blue/red and you've made it to the bushes in lane with your laning partner, wait for the enemy to venture near the bush. It really helps grabbing First Blood if your laning partner has exhaust or some other form of CC. Smack whomever enters the bushes first, but if both attack at the same time, pick the squishier target.

Do not try to jump people out of the bushes at level 1 because without the movement speed and damage of q, it is ineffective and you are better off last hitting minions for the gold.

In-Lane Ganking

The best time to set this up is after you have cleared all of the enemy minions from the line of sight. Pick either the river bush or the enemy's side bush and hide and wait. Patience is KEY, as picking the wrong time to strike means you just lost a kill or you have died yourself. Wait until the enemy is in an -unknown to them- dangerous position, hit q, attack the enemy, flash to them if necessary followed by spin-to-win and the ult.

Another good idea is to have your laning partner CC one of them, and as they do that you punch them in the face.

If the enemy comes into the bush you're standing in, well, sad day for them. In that bush they just face-checked they will find a nasty surprise of a silence and damage burst, along with your spin-to-win.


If you get hurt in lane, use the bushes to hide from the enemy and use Garen's passive to regen your health. Do not stand in the bushes at the loss of minions, but don't be stupid with dangerous farming either.

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The basic strategy of this build is to use the bushes effectively, and sprint between lanes picking off vulnerable enemies. Ghost and Flash allow for non-stop ganks and after level 6, you can basically take out anyone if you can get to them. Obviously do not try to gank all over the map if your tower needs help.

You will be rewarded for aggressive (not CRAZY aggressive) play between levels 2 and 17, so by all means be aggressive. If you haven't really been exposed to this type of play style from a Garen, you will be surprised what he can do. As a suggestion, a little liquid W has helped me MASSACRE the other team on occasion. Think about it.


Buy Health Potions too. If you have the extra cash and you just grabbed 3 sight wards, these are a worthwhile investment.

Randuin's Omen Active

Bind item slot 4 to your spacebar. This becomes a button to mash when chasing an enemy, running away from an enemy, or jumping headfirst into a teamfight. This really helps out just as you are becoming the focus of the enemy team. It can be a bit hard to remember but if you practice with it and get comfortable, it becomes a 5th ability.

As does the Youmuu's Ghostblade Active

Using either build, this will end up being the #3 key. Just above E. After purchasing the Frozen Mallet an enemy cant get away, so when Q and E are on cooldownb hit #3 to deal continuous punishment. IT LASTS 8 SECONDS if used properly. Practice getting used to using this active, it is amazingly useful.

Taking a solo-lane is viable with Garen, but only as a 1v1 counter. If the solo is a 2v1 it gets a bit dicier, especially if they know how to zone. If you want to though, here are some tips for taking the solo lane:

  • Let them push you to your tower.
  • Especially against ranged, most of your CS will come from Decisive Strike and good use of Judgment at your tower.
  • If the enemy overextends in tower range, dont be afraid to Flash+ Decisive Strike+ Demacian Justice them.
  • The bushes are your friend (but don't be crazy)
  • Make sure you don't spend all game there. I usually ask for a replacement around level 9 at the latest.

Make sure to LAST HIT ONLY, unless your team is pushing. If you don't know why (and even if you do), watch the video below with the Red talking about zone control. Garen is a MASTER of zone control. Your loss if you don't.

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Garen's potential is wasted going tanky from the start. Be fast, be smart, be patient. Wait for the time to strike, and **** people up XD

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5/7- Added a new build against an physical damage team.
6/11- Been playing around with a new build recently. 3rd build in the guide.
8/4- Revamped the entire guide. Switched orders around, added a section, re-wrote a few sections, deleted the build added on 5/7.
8/7- Added proper code to the guide.
8/22- 2nd item description and various maintenance.
9/30- Lots.