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Garen Build Guide by LordA0

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League of Legends Build Guide Author LordA0

Garen - The Off-tank Spectacular

LordA0 Last updated on November 29, 2012
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Early Tank/Early DPS/3v3

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Top Lane
Ranked #12 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
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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.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hey Everyone, I am LordA0 from the NA server. This guide doesn't have fancy splash art or cool video's (yet), but I promise that if you keep reading,


I update this guide frequently to make it as up to date and complete as possible. This is my first guide, with more coming soon!

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Garen is a champion that is often just considered a Tank and just a tank. That is simply not true. Garen is very versatile in his roles. By utilizing all the aspects in this guide as the situation demands you will not only be able to tank effectively(if played correctly) but will will be a major threat to the enemy carry.

If played correctly Garen can be both Carry and tank.

In this guide I will be going over all aspects of the game and showing you how to be great at playing GAREN: The Might of Demacia!!

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Runes Make the champion. Changing your runes can have a big effect on how your champion plays, so be sure to adjust your play-style accordingly.

With Greater Mark of Desolation and Greater Quintessence of Desolation You will tear through almost anyone early game. Also with stacks of The Black Cleaver they will make you just that much more powerful late game.
I don't reccomend ANY other marks/quints for either build type.

Greater Seal of Endurance are a new addition to my Garen build, (used to be Greater Seal of Evasion), but the extra health will help you early game, since you are smart and don't buy Dorans.
You could also use Greater Seal of Armor/ Greater Seal of Magic Resist.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction with the addition of masteries will give you almost MAX cooldown reduction at level 18.
You could also use Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction or Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist.

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Defensive Masteries with a little Offense is designed to give you a little bit of TANK throughout the game. I have also switched them around with 21/9/0 but have found the best results with 9/21/0.



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Summoner Spells

For summoner skills I always roll with Exhaust/ Flash.
If you absolultly hate one/both of those and refuse to use them good alternates are Ghost/ Ignite/ Cleanse/ Heal(I don't really recommend heal unless you are just starting and dont have another option)

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Skill Sequence

I take Judgement first because it allows for more overall damage then Decisive Strike in the first exchange. With Decisive Strike you get one quick hit and at rank 1 a 1.5 second speed buff, while Judgement coupled with your starting Boots of Speed allows you to continue to damage them even while moving. If you start Dorans Blade, or are playing a more support role, then Decisive Strike might be a better option for you.

  • (Passive)-.-Perserverance

    ---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.

    This is what makes you GAREN!!

  • Q-Decisive Strike

    I take this skill at Level 2 and max it 2nd.

    --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.
    This should be used both offensively(Chasing/Ambushing other champions) and defensively(Running away)
  • W-Courage

    I take this skill at level 4 and max it last.

    (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.
    This skill is EXTREMELY useful for TURRET DIVING And with the little bit of tank you have with my build, makes you EXTREMELY TANKY
  • E-Judgment

    I take this skill at level 1 and max it first.

    --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.
    This skill is your bread and butter! Early game its is almost UNRIVALED DPS
  • R-Demacian Justice

    I take this whenever available(6,11,16)

    --This skill is the only one of Garen's abilites that deals MAGIC DAMAGE. It deals 175-525 + an additional 1 damage for every 3.5-2.5 health the enemy champion is missing.
    With this ULTIMATE you will able to take down lesser champions from 1/4 Health!!!

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Now I don't fully support the whole "SET BUILD" mentality. I think that to be a great player you have to adjust your build to counter your opponents. A basic build is one of the two shown above, but you can easily alter it depending on what champions you are up against and more importantly WHAT THEY ARE BUILDING.

The only items I recommend getting EVERY TIME are Boots of Swiftness(The extra movement speed is a MUST with Garen) and Sunfire Cape(this item + Judgment will give you the DPS you want and deserve).

Quicksilver Sash/ Maw of Malmortius - These items are GREAT!!! They allow you to TANK and do DPS. With Quicksilver Sash, Simply wait for them to focus you with disables then pop this bad boy and away you go! This will allow you to initiate fights with very little risk and force the other team to waste their cooldowns on you, allowing you and your teammates to mop them up. With Maw of Malmortius It allows you to stay in the fight a little longer and secure the kill, or can also act as a warning to GET OUT when the shield pops. If playing an AP heavy team You could also use Force of Nature.

The Black Cleaver - Outstanding for Garen! The little bit of attack speed and damage coupled with your Greater Mark of Desolation and the on hit effect will make any squishy champs wish they had surrendered before the game started! I almost always rush this item right after my initial defensive items but if playing an AD heavy team I will switch this item for an Atma's Impailer.

Frozen Mallet - With this item it will be really hard to get away from you and your teammates. The health + slight attack damage + slow on hit makes this a choice item against mixed teams. ****NOTE if you see an opponent get a MADREDS BLOODRAZER( Madred's Bloodrazor get Guardian Angel instead of this item.

Phantom Dancer - This is a great situational item. If you find you are the carry and need more DPS then this is the Item for you! Everything about this item makes Garen more powerful. It makes you faster and gives you a significant attack speed boost (no one can run from you when you have Frozen Mallet) and the extra critical chance speaks for itself.

Infinity Edge - What is there to say other then DPS ;) The extra Damage and critical chance make Garen a force to be reckoned with!

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In this chapter I will go into detail about WHY I play Garen the way I do and WHY it works. I will go over EVERY aspect of this guide from Item build to summoner skills.

With Garen and a good team I prefer to have solo top and let someone jungle. I want to stress that EVERY GAME IS DIFFERENT and to be an effective player you have to be able to ADAPT.

Start with 3 Health Potions and Boots of Speed. Put your first point into Judgment.

Early Game


You should focus on last hitting minions and harass the enemy champion(s) with Judgment. Level 2 is a game changer for any squishy champions in your lane. Put your point into Decisive Strike and WAIT! You should time your strike until they are both close to you and next to minions. Tag them with Decisive Strike and follow with Judgment. This combo should take down a significant portion of your opponents health. Wait for your cooldowns to refresh and once again, when the time is right, Decisive Strike then Judgment and Exhaust if they are low to secure the kill.

By now you should be at least level 3(If you haven't killed anyone yet don't worry!) put your point into Judgment and focus on last hits. If you are alone in the lane and able to free farm your Judgment is a good way to work a high number of minions health down to allow for easy last hits, but try and save your Decisive Strike, if you need a quick escape this comes in handy.

Continue to farm and harass until you have pushed the minions to enemy tower and make sure you have enough to buy a Giant's Belt/ Chain Vest/ Negatron Cloak before your first back. This is the point where you have to ADAPT to who you are laning against. If most of the incoming damage taken is AP start with Negatron Cloak/ Giant's Belt, If AD, Chain Vest/ Giant's Belt(depending on how much gold you have when you back). Now if you are just completely destroying your opponent, and not taking a lot of damage, you might consider buying a B. F. Sword as your first item.
After your first back try and stay in lane as much as possible and take advantage of your passive when you have low health by staying behind minions(but close enough to still earn XP!). Keep last hitting! Use Decisive Strike/ Judgment combo when able.

Mid Game

After the enemy tower is down(or you notice your team/the other team ganking) you should switch lanes to assist your teammates and support them in their lanes. Use your Decisive Strike/ Judgment combo to innitiate team fights and work enemies down, using Courage when taking heavy damage or turret diving. Make sure to drop your Demacian Justice ONLY when they are low! Remember that it does more damage the lower health they are. Finish your Sunfire Cape/ Quicksilver Sash/ Boots of Swiftness when you can off the gold from champion/minion kills. When you are low health a good trick is running between lanes and pushing minions back allowing your health to regen while out of combat. Keep farming and buy your The Black Clever when you can(Item by Item if you have to)

Late Game

This stage you should almost always be with a teammate(no matter what champion you are!) or defending/pushing back lanes. Keep using the same Decisive Strike/ Judgment combo when you can. KEEP FARMING! Build your Frozen Mallet/ Infinity Edge when you have the gold.

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One thing to keep in mind while playing Garen is the fact that you are in fact NOT invincible. This can be hard to forget sometimes as you are extremely tanky.

To keep your death count down, here are a few tricks that will save your bacon.

1: Never commit to killing a champion in your lane without backup or lots of room between them and your tower.

2: WARD WARD WARD your lane. Some people think this is a waste of valuable gold that you could be spending on items, but it will save you from enemy ganks and keep you in lane longer so you have the opportunity to earn even more.

3: Travel with teammates when possible. There is power in numbers.

4: Communicate with your team!!! Whether it is a ping, or a typed message, be sure to let your teammates know your intentions(especially before going into a fight). Be sure to give enough warning so that you are accompanied into battle, or your teammates can give you a warning to back off.

5: FOCUS!!! I have found that sometimes people like to target the first champion that comes into view. Unless the other enemies are accounted for, this can lead to a failed teamfight. Be sure to keep your focus off the enemy tanks until the end of the battle. Try to target squishier champions first.

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Team Work

Team Work is the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!

Make sure you know when to get in and out and coordinate with your team!

When fighting with your team your tactics should change. Save your Decisive Strike for heavy AP nukes like Katarina/ Annie/ Veigar(and others) or to keep someone from flashing away. You and/or the team tank should be the one(s) to initiate. Make sure that you go in and make the enemy team focus you then GET OUT! Don't fall back completely but go back in once you are taking less damage to add your DPS to your teams. The key to a successfull initiation is to get in, get focused(make the enemy team use their cooldowns), and then get out, allowing your team to focus the enemy carries. Remember YOU ARE GAREN, so stick around even if you are low health(of couse be smart and stay back) to drop your Demacian Justice when the time is right, or to save a teammate with exhaust/silence.

Also-- ******NEVER EVER TROLL YOUR OWN TEAM!****** Even if they are doing bad be courteous and keep in mind that they might just be having a bad game!

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By following this guide and playing Garen often you WILL become a better LoL player! Both as Garen and with other champions as you explore your options.

Good luck and Have fun out there! Remember this is just a game!