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Build Guide by Jah

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Jah

Garen - Tanky killer and victory is...garentee

Jah Last updated on March 10, 2011
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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: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

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

Utility: 0

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Hi to everyone. This is my first build and i choose to make it on one of my favorite champs. Having played more than 100 games with Garen and testing several builds i end up with this one as the best one for him. Garen is not a solid tank neither a dps champ so i decided to make him like a hybrid of both. In the next chapters i'll try to explain as much as i can my build and share my exp with garen. Nerfed or not Garen is still a deadly opponent and a funny champ to play with. So, let's begin...

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Pros / Cons


amazing first blood ability
good early game output damage
awesome ulti
no mana dependent
great passive skill
good escape mechanism
pretty good tanky champ
easy to learn
good silence
good farming abilities


no range skills
can be often be targeted
low atk speed
low atk damage late game
not very good at 1vs1, such Jax or Xin
easy to harrass
skill dependant
vurneable to CC

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I go for 9 greater mark of desolation at mark selection coz that increases his early game dmg. Always good to have armor penetration to mellee champ.


I choose 9 Greater Seal of Armor for an early armor boost which can be further increased farming your Courage skill. Gives good resistance against psychical champs in your lane.


Don't forget that garen is a tanky-killer champ so some magic resist is always welcome at the very start of a game. So i go for 9 greater glyphs of warding. Very usefull against AP champs.


Ofc dont forget the killing part of your role so why not to have more armor penetration? You'll se your Judgment making lot of dmg and making enemies flee away. 3 greater quintessence of desolation and your dmg is too much boosted.

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Other rune options


No change needed. 9 greater mark of desolation is the perfect set of marks for Garen.


The only serious candidate to replace armor runes i think can be greater seal of vitality but i'll still stick with my first choice.


Another good option for glyphs is 9 Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction or Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction so you can spam your Judgment more often.


If you like your part as tank more you can simply skip armor penetration and go for Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist, Greater Quintessence of Armor or Greater Quintessence of Health

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Summoner Spells

Starting spells

I usually go for Ghost as first spell. I know you have desicive strike speed boost plus your Boots of Swiftness but adding ghost makes Garen an awesome chaser for enemies fleeing from team fights. You'll get very high moving speed allowing you to chase enemies and execute them with you ulti. Even their Flash wont save them. Additionally moving speed is always good when you need to escape and makes your escape mechanism even more better.

The 2nd spell i choose is Exhaust. Very usefull for first blood and team fights. Exhaust the enemy carry in a team fight, silence him and your team gets the upper hand. Also great spell for catching enemies and prevent chasing you. I always like spells with more than one use.

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Other spells

Spells that are OK for Garen

Flash: A nice spell both for entering a battle or fleeing away. You can replace your Ghost with it.

Cleanse: Great spell for removing CC effects.

Teleport: Wanna go at the other end of map fast? wanna gang a low health enemy? wanna save a possible turrent threat? this is the right spell for it.

Fortify: Prevents turrent dives and you may save some turrents from falling down.

Dont even try these with Garen

Heal: You have good health pool, health regen passive and 3 healing potions as starting items. If you need too much healing something goes wrong.

Revive: If played right you wont die too much. Besides death times are greatly reduced.

Smite: You? jungling? must be kiddin...

Clarity: No mana, no comments

Ignite: You have already pretty good dmg. dont need a kill steal spell. Besides you can turrent dive after 8-9 lvl to finish a low health champ.

Rally: Never liked that spell. especially when you have 2-3 AP guys in your team ;)

Clairvoyance: Scout? what for?

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Masteries...Why these?

I go for a 9-21-0 build at masteries trees. Let's talk more specific...

Offence tree

deadiness: not much boost, but apart that you need points to unlock other masteries it's a small boost that can be nicely combined with your Atma's Impaler and your Infinity Edge

criplle: nice exhaust boost

sorcery: you probably ask why sorcery and why not alarcity. For obvious are NOT a DPS and pretty much skill dependent.

archaic knowledge: Now this one was pretty confusing. i had 1 point left since the defence tree is quite solid i think and i usually spent that point to improve my ghost spell. But why? i'm already fast. since then my ulti makes miracles and slaying champs with more health than before. check the magic damage Demacian Justice deals. a 15% magic penetration is quite a strong boost to your ulti.

Defence tree

resistance: nice m.resist boost for early game

hardiness: nice armor boost

evasion: can prevent harrassment from minions and certain champ attacks

harden skin: more resist againt physical damage

defensive mastery,niblness: not very usefull but you need to unlock tenacity, so i think that these are the most usefull than the other.

veteran's scars: yes, i like more hp boost. a must have.

tenacity: -4% dmg taken combined with armor and m.resist you already have, pretty much tanky for an early game.

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Skill Sequence and Justification

Skill explanation

Perseverance: An awesome passive. Can keep you in lane for long time. Just stay behind a minion wave or near turrent and you save lots of trips to base for heal. moreover your presence there can keep out enemies from pushing your lane.

desicive strike: Great skill to chase, escape, silence an enemy and put some extra damage.
using it right silence can make awesome job in team fights. Target the enemy carry and quickly silence him, make him useless and kill him easily with the rest of your team. Excellent skill also to chase and run away from an enemy coz of boost speed. And ofc dont forget to use it against enemy turrents and inhibitors.

Courage: Another awesome spell. Permanent bonus armor and m.resist and great absorbing shield. Afraid of turrent dives? not anymore with this skill. dont forget to farm it for the bonuses.

Judgment: we go. Your bread and butter skill. always take it first. high damage output which gets higher with Atma's Impaler and Infinity Edge coz of it's citical ability. you will get impressed how this skill lowers enemies health. nice duration and very leathal per 0.5 sec blows. dont have to mention the slow remove to better improve your escape.
Feel free to spam it for harrass, farm and gang. Enemies usually get away when you start to dance but your speed is good and they wont get away that easy. Excellent against multiple targets.

Demacian Justice: In my opinion oneof the best ultis in game. I think the description needs no further explanation. Low health enemy near you? +1 kill. Although you might not calculate well the remain health of an enemy, he will remain with such a low health and can be taken out with Decisive Strike, Judgment or some melle attacks. never use it on emenies with more than 25-30% health.

Skill order

Always choose first Judgment. awesome skill for first blood. if the first gang is failed take at lvl 2 Decisive Strike you can gang again with 2 combo hit. at lvl 3 take Courage and start farming it for the bonus armor and m.resist. lvl 4 upgrade Judgment and at 5 go again for Courage. Always take ulti at lvl 6,11,16. after 1st ulti i start maxing Judgment and Courage. you may give a little priority to Judgment if you like, but dont forget to farm Courage. At lvl 9 i put 1 point to Decisive Strike because during these lvls team fights usually begin. Nice extra speed and bonus dmg. Dont forget to use it at enemy turrents. i max that skill last giving a priority to Judgment and Courage.

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Starting items

Lets talk about first items. i always grab Boots of Speed plus 3 heal pots. i usually see other garens with Doran's Shield as first item. i totally disaggre with that. you have runes and masteries for health and armor, you have health regen passive. i know doubling these is good but i think speed is the key in the beggining. an experienced player should know when to charge and when to get out of gangs. Ganging early game int he mid of your lane...
1st option: you are gang is succefull and enemies flee. flee to where? you are fast. ghost, boots, decisive strike = gg.
2nd option: you are going to die. once again speed saves your ***. head to turrent, drink a potion and your passive will restore you in no time.
so and potions and save some money.

Creating a solid build

i try to stay in lane for a while. potions and passive help you to do it. with ulti taken you might have some few kills there which means some extra cash. i go straight for a Giant's Belt, upgrading boots to Boots of Swiftness and 1-2 potions. now you are fast, with health boost and still deadly. you dont have to woory at this point for your attack damage coz is still high. health is the right way to go. know your lane parthner, know your enemies and gang them to death. you are a strong tanky killer by that point. after that go asap for a warmong's armor. after boots this your no1 priority. farm both warmong's armor and Courage an you can easily hold a solo lane against 2 guys while farming and your teamates gang around the map with an advantage. if you are 1vs1 in lane go for the kill. you will get amazed with garen survivability at this point. now that you have a nice health pool and have your warmong's armor and Courage farmed let's focus on damage.

Atma's Impaler is the best choice. more dmg coz of your health, nice armor effect and most important...your Judgment gets better coz of critical chance. you will probably have a decent game so far and grab some kills. so keep it on the same route. Banshee's Veil dude.
more m.resist (in a balanced game you will have at least 2 AP enemies, and dont forget that almost all champs have at least 1 magic damage skill), more health which means more survivability for you and guess...more dmg coz of Atma's Impaler and ofc one negative spell block is always good.

Game still goin on

Infinity's time to build up your dmg and improve your best skill Judgment. you are already hard to die, so invest on your attack. the reason i dont go for atk speed although garen lacks of it is coz garen is very skill dependent, so i try to make his skills as leathal as possible. dont waste money on atk speed items. now with one slot left and if game still goes on it's up to you to be more tanky if you have some 'staying alive' issues or keep investing in atk. for defence i choose a Sunfire Cape. good health, good armor, nice AoE passive and more boost to your Atma's Impaler. you probably be undying at this point.
if you feel safe with current items go for a Last Whisper.more dmg, more armor penetration...simply deadly.

I've tried lots of different builds with Garen and i'm now convinced that this is the best one.

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Situational items

Against a balanced team i think that the above items should do the work pretty good, but sometimes teams arent balanced so you have to reconsider your build.

Your team is lacking a tank

At this case the job to tank is yours. You should skip the Infinity Edge and Last Whisper and do the tanky work. there are pretty much items to help you but still depends on opponents. if team is still balanced keep Banshee's Veil and Sunfire Cape and replace Infinity Edge with a second warmong's armor. always keep the Atma's Impaler.

Lots of AP on the other side

Spirit Visage excellent for Garen. health and m.resist boost plus extremelly usefull passive for your skills. spam more and more your skills and quickly regenerate.
Force of Nature extremelly good item against AP champs. insane m.resist, speed boost and health regen.
replace your Infinity Edge, Sunfire Cape or both with these.
still depends on game and opponents.

Lots of physical champs

Sunfire Cape should replace Banshee's Veil on priority and if having problems against champs like Master Yi, Ashe, Caitlyn, Xin Zhao then Thornmail is the answer. losing health without even hitting them will make them reconsider to attack you.
and ofc Randuin's Omen is always nice to have against physical attacks and gives Garen slow ability (Garen apart exhaust lacks in slow skills).

i mostly focus in healthing up Garen and keeping his defence high enough. the core build should be Boots of Swiftness, warmong's armor and Atma's Impaler. After that fell free to add items depending on your current game.

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Absolutely no mid lane for Garen. Only top or bot. Garen is a very good laner and his passive can keep him for a long time there. before talk about lane partners etc i want to mention that Garen is a good solo laner too.

if someone of your team goes jungling you can solo lane till he finishes. you just need to play defence. always stay near turrent and be aware of possible gangs. the trick is to let the opponents think that they are having an easy pushing. once they reach near your turrent it's time to harrass them. Decisive Strike and Judgment will pretty much do the jod. then head back to turrent and passive heal. if you have taken much damage use a potion too. dont forget that at solo laneyou get lvl 6 while they are still at 4 even with huging the turrent. at 6 lvl and after some harrass pick the weakest enemy and send him to hell with silence, dance and ulti. courage you way back to turrent and heal. something like a black mamba play :P
this is not a certain success but it worked many times for me. sololaning from the start of the game against 2 is always hard so dont be shame to ask for an early gang.

Now about the laning partners i generally think that there isnt a good lane partner champ or a bad one. it's all up to how you and your partner know your players and can use them effectively. i think all duos have pros and cons, you just need to hide yours and exploit your opponent's. Generally speaking whan laning with Garen is nice to have a ranged champ at your side or someone with at least one range skill. Garen is easy getting harrassed against ranged guys and you like to keep 'em away from you. i've been laning with andagainst the same champs sometimes with success and some others with failure.

Usually i play a defence style with harrass when possible and leathal strikes when i'm sure for the kill. staying alive is the most important think for success. the black mamba style :)

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Playing with Garen

Early game

I usually go to top lane, but bot is almost the same and i go to the first bushes first. waiting there with partner for a possible first blood. Always stay in the first bushes or you may get ambushed. if an enemy goes to check your bushes the combo is simple. 1 mellee hit -> exhaust -> Judgment. always pick the weakest enemy. if things dont go too good use your ghost spell and head back to your turrent. usually low health champs is a garentee first blood for your team.
Stay in your lane farming your Courage and seek for possible gangs with your partner but as your opponents you may be too a target as well. early game kills or deaths can have a major impact at the rest of your game. Always be carefull.

Mid game

Mid game starts around lvl 8-9 when many leave their lanes for a possible gang or when some turrents are down. have good awareness of the map, check bushes and communicate with teamates for a possible threat or gang. By this time you will be healthy enough and hard to die but always take care. Seek out some team gangs and kills to boost fast your build. Care for ambushes and always try to silence the major threat in team fights. spin around enemies to lower them while your teamates giving them more dmg. exhaust and execute any fleeing opponents and you'll have some successful team fights and some turrents pushed. using Courage in team fights will endure more and dont initiate a team fight. you are good at that. enter a sec later deal and absorb dmg.

Late game

This is when most of turrents are down and your team is pushing for an inhibitor. you should be very powerfull by that point and very hard to die. but dont forget that your opponents will be powerfull too. try to stay close with your teamates as anyone can be anywhere on the map. you will be able to escape from gangs by 1-2 ppl but many will want to kill you. in 50% health or more you can tank a turrent without minions but you cant bring it down by yourself. stay with your team. you are more now an excellent team fighter and can absorb tons of damage.

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I've played many many games with Garen having most of the times a positive Kill/Death ratio.
If played right can be a pain in enemy team's ***.
This guide is to share my opinion and experience with him.
Criticism and opinions are always accepted to help me improve even more this guide.

And dont forget...