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Garen Build Guide by NicknameMy

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League of Legends Build Guide Author NicknameMy

Garen, Spin to Win is possible in S3

NicknameMy Last updated on December 12, 2012
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S3 builds



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Top Lane
Ranked #12 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
Get More Stats

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: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

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Welcome, to the third part of Garen, spin to win is possible. As you know, my 2 former guides featured off-tank Garen. Well, since Garen's rework that is no longer needed because his new Courage is really overpowered. It makes you with less items way earlier an off-tank. Also, Garen has a new playstyle. His own unique role, tanky assasin.

Big Update: Guide was actualized onto S3 at PBE. Please take this into consideration before voting.

Songs for the demacian leader:

And, the special videos:

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Elementz talking about tanky assasin Garen

Here is a video from Elementz solo que tier list, where he explains how tanky assasin Garen works.


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Pros / Cons


+ Earlygame you win against nearly anyone
+ Counters the so OP Rengar very well.
+ Same counts for Kha'Zix.
+ The tankiest assasin in the game, with only need for 2 defense items.
+ Many people will underrate you, because Garen is underused.
+ His ultimate is one of the best finishers in the game.

- Why he couldn't kill Urgot forever...
- Has some probelms against Guardian Angel and Zilean, because they stop your assasination.
- Can be kited
- Deep deep lategame, your damage will fall off a bit.
- People think you are trolling cuz they want tank Garen.
- Teemo( Teemo is everytime something negative)
- Ranged tanky champs can make you cry early.

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I still keep the same type of masteries, 9/21/0, as before, because Garen with this build needs some damage and big defense.



  • Durability : I would say, HP/lvl is best here. HP regen on low levels of HP is not that great, because you should stay at high hp nearly everytime. Builds also into Veteran's Scars . why not Tough Skin seems to be obvious.
  • Hardiness : Armor helps you at toplane against minion damage and physical damage champions.
  • Resistance : A good amount of resistances for earlygame? Why not.
  • Veteran's Scars : ist the best mastery in T3 to get, flat health early is godlike.
  • Unyielding : Because earlygame you will trade very much, this will help you to mitigate damage, especially damage over time.
  • Relentless : Effectivity of slows reduced, definitly something good to have.
  • Block : Again, many auto attacks will be done top and this will reduce the damage from all of the enemy.
  • Tenacious : This is why we don't need Mercury's Treads.
  • Legendary Armor : If you calculate it for EHP-Increase, this mastery totall sucks. Earlygame you will have not enough resistances so it is ****. Lategame you wil have so much resistances that it doesn't do anything aswell.
  • Reinforced Armor : Critting ad-carries are your biggest enemy's lategame, so get this.
  • Honor Guard : No longer a **** mastery, 3% dmg reduction with 1 point is great.

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Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

Greater Mark of Attack Damage


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Summoner Spells

Flash: Flash is mandatory to play this type of Garen. There is nothing scarier than a Garen appearing near you, silences you and then you can't do anything to fight back while you instantly die. Trust me, if you have done that once, you will never want any other summoner spell.

Ghost: If you really don't like to use Flash, pick this summoner spell instead. But I am warning you, you will get kited to death.
Ignite: I think this summoner spell is a must on any assasin-type champions. It increases your damage by a good amount and allows you to get many kills you wouldn't have get without it.

Exhaust: If nobody gets Exhaust on your team, you have to get it, so you can shut down ad-carries you don't instakill. It helps you to keep the enemy in place and deal slightly more damage. But it isn't as good for focusing on kills as Ignite.

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Ability Explanation

  • Perseverance: Since the buffs that it no longer gets stopped by minions it is way better to keep high hp. Just don't let yourself get poked down by the enemy and you get free sustain.
  • Decisive Strike (Q): Earlygame one of the best spells to harass the enemy. It deals good amounts of damage and the speed buff is nice aswell. But the greatest thing about it is the silence, which shuts down most enemies. Also, don't forget, on activation this one removes all slows on you.
  • Courage (W): What an OP ability for a non-ultimate ability. This is basically a spammable mini alistar ult which gives you even more resistances aswell. This is why we don't need that much tank items. It also reduces the cc of the enemy, so we don't need Mercury's Treads aswell.
  • Judgment (E): Ah, our well known signature move. The change to it was a huge buff. Yeah, the slow while moving through enemies and that it no longer removes slows is bad, but for that, it deals way more damage, especially to minions. He can now easily clear waves. And not many people can trade with Garen while he uses this.
  • Demacian Justice (R): And this is our finisher move. This makes you really scary, because if the enemy gets low on HP, he is instantly dead. Especially with Ignite, you can kill many people with ease or at least scare them away. But note that it only deals magic damage, no true dmg (damn you riot). This way it can be countered by MR, a simple Black Shield or Poppy's passive. Generally shields and heals counter this ability hard.

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Ability Sequence Order

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

> > >

Obviously, level Demacian Justice at lvl 6,11,16. I take Decisive Strike at level 1 because it actually deals there more damage than Judgment and allows you to easier harass the enemy. At level 2, if you are harassed by the enemy very hard, you can choose to take Courage to block his harass, otherwise get now Judgment for more damage. But definitly get at least 1 level in Courage until lvl 4, because it gives you great free resistances and a shield to block enemy harass attempts. Now max Judgment first so you can push your lane if you want and hurt the enemy really hard if he nears you. Decisive Strike second because the increased duration of the speedbuff and silence are a must have midgame. Finally, max Courage last so you have the full duration at lategame teamfights, where it starts to get really OP. By then, it will also have a 12 seconds cooldown, so, 6 secnds active, 6 seconds inactive.

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Item Sequence

Ionian Boots of Lucidity

The Black Cleaver

Youmuu's Ghostblade

Infinity Edge

Guardian Angel

Mercurial Scimitar

Start items

  • : Nothing helps Garen more in the earlygame to harass the enemy than Boots of Speed. With this, you will have a great MS-advantage over your enemy if you use Decisive Strike, so you can easily hit the enemy. Also, 3 or even 4 Health Potion's are great for sustain if your Perseverance isn't enough.
    S3 Update: Boots have been made weaker, so you can start with different items if you want, but boots are still best.
  • : If you face ad-heavy champs top lane which can cause problems like Lee Sin, Renekton, Riven, Darius, Garen, etc., use this item to be resistant against their aggression. If they foolishly started with Boots of Speed, you can outtrade them, if they try to harass you.
    S3 Update: Even a better choise now because boots got nerfed.

Preferred Items

  • : Garen needs very much gold to get very effective. For this, you need a G/10. Crit is a great stat on Garen because he can proc it often even without high critchance. Decisive Strike can crit, all 6 hits of Judgment can crit and his basic attacks can crit aswell. They also increase Garen's damage effectively.
    S3 Update: A bit lower crit, but for that, last hitting gives now more gold. Definitly better than before. Also in S3 every champ gets less gold, making a g/10 much better.
  • : I think one of the most unorthodox items of my build. It is pretty simple why I have them here. As I explained through the guide, Garen's Courage offers enough cc-reduction and Mercury's Treads scale rather meh with it. This allows Garen to basically build any boots he wants. This are the optimal boots for Garen for winning the lane because CDR is very important. More Decisive Strike, more Judgment, more Courage, more Demacian Justice. Since all your spells cost nothing, you basically can spam the enemy to death.
    S3 Update: The only upgrade I would consider is Enchantment: Alacrity, because it fits Garen most.
  • : Just look at the most important stats for Garen: AD, Armorpen, CDR, Crit and MS. This item offers 3 of them without any drawback. Get it, it is just overally great. I get this after Avarice Blade and upgraded boots, because for me the G/10 and MS is more important than the increased damaga, cuz Garen needs the gold to scale into lategame and needs the MS to catch the enemy in lane. Also, 30% CDR on Garen near lvl 9 is just the most ridiculous thing ever...
    S3 Update: This item now also builds into remade The Black Cleaver. Because of that, you have to get a second one after you upgraded the first one.
  • : BEST ITEM FOR GAREN S3. Period. If you don't get this, better go back to playing tetris.
  • : I don't want to instantly finish Youmuu's Ghostblade after I got Avarice Blade and The Brutalizer. This way, I can generate way more gold and this helps me to scale into lategame. But at lvl 18 I want to have it, because the active is really nice to have for lategame teamfights. MS is great to catch up to carries and AS is great if Judgment is on cooldown. Also, having all stats you need in 1 item without waisting much gold is, I would say, broken.
  • : People say the best item for Garen, and they are right. If you don't buy this, you can also go back to super mario. This is the source of most of Garen's damage. I don't rush it because earlygame you need gp10, CDR and HP to do well. But later in the game you will feel that your damage will go down a bit and you can easily solve it with this item.
    S3 Update: After some more testings at PBE, I just how to say wow, how much damage he deals even without Infinity Edge. So it is totally possible to replace this with Frozen Mallet, still deal great damage and be way more tanky.
  • : The best defensive item in the game, no matter what. The resistances are just godlike, especially on Garen with his Courage. If started with Ninja Tabi, you can also go for this item directly after Avarice Blade to even further shut the enemy ad down. This way, nobody can deal with you in lane because you got endgame resistances at lvl 10, much like Singed while he ults. And you can even increase that with the Courage active. Normally, I don't get it early, because again, more important items and stats to get.
    S3 Update: Got some small nerfs but is still manadtory on Garen.
  • : This is a new item ooming from S3. As active, it works like Quicksilver Sash but adds a 1 second speed boost on top of it. It also gives nices MR and AD. Definitly nice to have over Maw of Malmortius

Situational Items

The most important part on how to build your champ is to counterbuild your enemies. Knowing when to buy which item comes with practice and you will play better as with a 24/7 standard build. It is also very important to build a champ earlier in the game in the order you feel is best. If you are a fan of specific items or no fan of other items, get them in a different order and test that out. It will improve your itemisation in games.


(Warning, only use if you are a pro Garen. Otherwise it will fail)

Item Sequence

Enchantment: Alacrity

The Black Cleaver

The Black Cleaver

Sword of the Divine

The Black Cleaver

The Black Cleaver

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Item build versatility

Season 3 brought a new versatility of builds with 40% CDR you can choose on Garen. Some are more offensive, some more defensive, still every build has the same goal: Kill the enemy carries and have 40% CDR.

Note: Every Mercurial Scimitar can be replaced by Maw of Malmortius like you want. Best boot upgrade is most likely Enchantment: Alacrity, in some situations others are better. You can also replace Youmuu's Ghostblade with Spirit of the Spectral Wraith if you want some spellvamp. Works best if someone on your team gets Will of the Ancients.

Aggressive AD:

Normal AD:

Defensive AD:

No Ionian, more crit:

Everyone will find here a build which he will like. The one which fits your playstyle best you should choose. I really like that new versatility.

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How to build a team around Garen

Here are some tips if you are premade with others and want to build a good team while picking Garen:

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Early Game

Enough said? What you say? No? Ok then...

Garen's earlygame power is one of the highest in the game. Everyone which doesn't have high sustain or good cc gets shut down by him. And at lvl 6, he can basically kill you in 3 seconds 100-0 in a full combo.

At lvl 1, try to poke down the enemy with Decisive Strike. If your enemy doesn't have Cloth Armor + 5 Health Potion's, he basically melts infront of you before you reach level 2. If you hit 2, use jugdment in your combo aswell. Just spin at them until they run out of your range or, well, die. If you think you can kill your target, you can always do the Decisive Strike+ Ignite+ Judgment combo to bring him down, Flash if neccesary. At lvl 6, you also got your Demacian Justice. Now, if you have Flash up, you can just Flash into range, Decisive Strike, Ignite, Judgment and finally Demacian Justice. 99,9% of time if this full combo hits the enemy is dead (I hate you Poppy...).

As for farming, try to last hit with basic attacks and Decisive Strike until you got Judgment at rank 3 and 1 point in Courage. After that, you are pretty hard to gank well and Judgment deals enough damage to push the lane. If the enemy is bad at last hitting under turret, abuse this.

Another option would be to freeze your lane and zone out the enemy from exp and last hits. This is nearly as effective as killing him.

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Mid Game

Mid Game starts around lvl 7-9, when the solo champs reach a big point of their power. As Garen, you got now 2 options:

First, to maintain control you got to push your lane now, so your opponent can't gank. Don't forget to ward the top lane so you see the enemy incoming. You can stay in the lane and try to take down the tower.

Second, if you see another lane needs help or your team wants to get Dragon, you can roam and help them. You deal absurd amounts of damage now and can basically "oneshot" squishies. But if you accomplish nothing, this can hurt you badly.

Also, try to hold up your tower as long as possible, so you can easily farm if you want and decrease the map presence of the enemy.

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Late Game

So, you finally builded your Infinity Edge. By now, the lategame should start. At this point, teamfights will occur very often and your team needs you because you are the one which should shutdown the enemy carry instantly (either ad or ap, doesn't matter). NEVER ENGAGE A TEAMFIGHT!!! You aren't tanky enough to withstand the high amounts of burst. Let your main tank, which is most of the time the jungler, go in. If you don't have a tanky initator jungler, go back to "How to build a team around Garen"! After he cc-locked the enemy team, it is time for your big show. Either run in at the enemy carry with Decisive Strike or Flash in, hit him with it, Judgment on top of him, use Courage if they try to hold you away and finish him off with Ignite+ Demacian Justice. Okay, now he is dead, what to do now? Try to go on the other carry with basic attacks first and Youmuu's Ghostblade active, which will hurt hardcore aswell. Also spam your spells all the time they are off cooldown. Congrats, you won the teamfight.

If the teamfight runs bad, you shouldn't defend the lifes of others, your life is very important aswell. Try to break slows with Decisive Strike and run for your life. Pretty hard to take you down if you also have Courage.

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Finally, we are at the end at Garen, spin to win is possible, the only true tanky assasin. If you liked it leave some comments below and upvote it. If you don't like it give me constructive critism why. This way I can improve the guide.

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Thanks to jhoijhoi for the guide format and her most informative guides at mobafire, thanks to Elementz cuz he brought up this new idea.

Thank you for reading this guide.