Build Guide by Shenanigans
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Not Updated For Current Season
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So I've been playing Garen as a melee DPS character for the longest time and consistently refused to play him as a tank character or any hybrid of the sort, but recently I have found the error of my ways and converted to a tank/DPS build. This build is just a rough outline to what you can try out but so far it's worked pretty well consistently keeping me alive and lowering my deaths while increasing my kills.
This build I go with a 9/21/0 mastery setup to increase my survivability but allows me to obtain the extra crit % and atk speed that the 9 points in offense provides. Yes I know that the one point in Cripple is kinda a waste, but it allows you to chose Exhaust if you wanna be able to chase someone down.
This is kinda up to you. I prefer Exhaust/Flash along with Ghost. You can also use Heal if you'd like but honestly you're so big it won't matter after a while. Exhaust is useful to chase down guys for early and late kills, Ghost is useful if you need to get somewhere fast or get away fast. When combo'd with your Decisive Strike and Judgement, Ghost can easily be the difference between you dying and you getting outta there if things go bad, this is where Flash is very helpful as well.
Judgment: Your primary ability. Use this as often as you can but ensure you know that you can turn off your spin when you want to just by hitting E again. You can use your Courage while using Judgment, so a Judgment/Courage combo can save your life many times over. Judgment in the middle of a team fight can quickly eat away at enemy champ HP and canceling it early can allow you to throw in a Demacian Justice in for the killing blow.
Decisive Strike: Your secondary ability. This makes you move faster for 2 seconds which honestly isn't all that long, but this thing can help you get outta the place fast if you need to, when combo'd w/ Judgment you can chase down guys while dealing massive dmg and pop out to silence and deal additional dmg from Decisive. When activated you'll recieve a movement buff then an additional one that allows you to hit w/ the strike for up to 10 seconds after activating.
Courage: Gives you a nice permanent armor & magic resist buff. Kill many minions to get this maxed out quickly as tank/DPS Garen.
Demacian Justice: Massive damage to target champion based on how much hp they are missing. Essentially anyone 1/3 hp or less is dead if you hit them with this thing (lower lvl Demacian Justice will obviously be less effective). Perfect kill finisher and in many ppl's opinions the ultimate kill stealer (I'd have to agree but I'm not complaining).
You want to max out your Judgment as soon as you can because this is your primary damage dealing ability. Judgment is enhanced by your crit so that is why you want crit runes and quints for that extra dmg. You then want to just alternate between your others, putting a point in your ulti whenever you can. The item order I have presented above is just something I've thrown together.
Warmog's: You want that thing early b/c you wanna stack up that HP as soon as possible.
Mercury Treads: You want this for the Magic resist and the 35% less on CC effects is nice as well.
Atma's: This one is debatable and ppl tell me all the time not to get it, but the crit percentage justifies itself as well as the armor and the additional dmg once your HP reaches 4k which is pretty quickly.
Frozen Hammer: You want this for the HP, the extra dmg, as well as the slow effect.
The rest are kinda up to you and which you like and according to your situation...
If you are up against a lot of spell casters then I'd go with.....
Force of Nature: The additional Magic resist is very nice along with the increased HP regen to go along w/ your innate and the movement speed is also nice to pair w/ Judgment
If you need more DPS....
Infinity Edge: You could get the additional damage, crit % and the unique to make your Judgment absolutely deadly
If you are getting in a ton of team fights and could use more HP....
Sunfire Cape: Team fights could use a little more AOE magic dmg from that Sunfire and the extra HP and armor provides a little more survivability
If you don't wanna die too much and could use a little more armor & magic resist...
Guardian Angel: If you are tearing it up and you don't wanna give someone a +1000g bonus for taking your godlike behind down then get this thing, it'll keep you alive a tad longer and it's always annoying when that pesky GIANT Garen gets up again after spinning around and taking away half your HP....
That's the gist of it. Just spin have fun and steal some kills with this guy. He's meaty yet spins you to death....