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Garen Build Guide by Kirluu

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Kirluu

Garen - The Unbeatable Solo Top [Pre-Update]

Kirluu Last updated on September 18, 2012
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Main Build


Alternative Build

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Top Lane
Ranked #2 in
Top Lane
Win 54%
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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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Intro of Darkness, then Redness, then Whiteness

This guide is especially made for playing Garen as a solo top, which is to note, the only place he should be played. The reason for this, is that this is the area of the map where he dominates the most, and considering the current meta-game, you probably know: It's best to place your AP-Carry in mid and your Ranged AD-Carry and Support in bottom lane.

To start things off I want to say that this build is very much viable in both normal and ranked games. You might have struggle with getting solo top in normal games though, as there can be games when nobody on your team wants to play a jungler.

I am aware, that there are other ways to play Garen and which way to build him is best is going to differ from game to game. This is simply the way I build him, and the way which I have gotten the most wins with. Both in normal games and ranked.

About what items do, and such, you can put your cursor over any item I mention in this guide, and read the tooltip to see their effect. I might mention some of their capabilities as being advantagous, and as such you can read more about them in the tooltip.


For any abbreviations you do not understand.

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Preffered Masteries:


It's time for the reasoning of the masteries, which you can also see at the top of the page.

Offense Tree:
_____ I have chosen to get a full 21 points in the offense tree. This is mainly because, while being tanky, you want to be able to deal a lot of damage throughout the game, which is achieved by a good combination of Masteries, Runes and of course Items.
First off, I go up in Brute Force since the 3 extra AD, even though it isn't much, will make it that much easier to lasthit - Also it's obviously a better choice for Garen than AP, since Garen has no skills that scale on AP. I also take a point in Summoner's Wrath for the Armor and MR reduction on Exhaust.
Next, I go full in Cooldown Reduction( Sorcery) and 4 points in the Attack Speed bonus of Alacrity , mostly to be able to grap the 10 % Armor Penetration and 10 % Magic Penetration(For Demacian Justice) in the next level of the Offense Tree. I then take 3 points in Havoc for the increased Damage Dealt, and then 3 points in Sunder for the flat increase of Armor Penetration. Finally I take the last point in Executioner , which not only increases your physical damage through Decisive Strike and Judgment, but also increases the damage dealt by Demacian Justice which makes the Offense Tree just about perfect for Garen.

Note: If you choose to go with Infinity Edge instead of Last Whisper as your last item (As I listed Inf. Edge under "Other Viable Items"), you may want to consider taking 5 points for Deadliness and Lethality for the bonus critical strike damage that lies there, instead of the magic penetration and 4 % cooldown.

Defense Tree:
I have put all the remaining 9 points into the Defense Tree.
First, I take 2 points in both Hardiness and Resistance , simply to create a sort of base defense against both physical and magic damage. It is important to remember that although the majority of Solo Top Characters deal physical damage mainly, quite a bit of them have abilities that can deal magic damage, of course along with the chance of meeting a magic damage dealing Solo Top, such as Cho'Gath.
Next, I put all the next 4 points in Durability which will give you some pretty darn nice Health/Level, which will only help your outwards-looking bulk. The more bulky you look, the more frigtening you'll be, and the more good things you can do for your team, such as protecting your carries by scaring the enemies away.
The final point then goes to Veteran's Scars as this will just add some more to your early game bulk, and will, unless you face a ranged opponent, make your laning that much easier to withstand. Since your passive, Perseverance is based on percentages of your HP, you won't suffer from it being ineffective even though you now have more health than usual.

Altenative Masteries:


This is an alternative to the above shown Masteries. The only difference between the two sets, is in theDefense Tree and the Utility Tree.

The reason I chose to make this alternative is basically because I find that both sets can be usefull in their own ways, although I personally prefer taking the 9 points in the Defense Tree.

The only change being the Utility Tree, here it is:

Utility Tree:
_____ I put 9 points in the Utility Tree, grabbing the Summoner's Insight because of the Flash CDR, and 3 points in Good Hands for the sake of getting out of spawn earlier, should you die. Then I take the most important mastery in the Utility Tree for Garen and perhaps the only reason to actually go here, which is the Swiftness mastery, which improves your movement by a tiny little 2 %. The reason that I call this tiny, is that it doesn't make the biggest of differences in the beginning, but later, it will improve your speed by a nice amount, in addition to all the other speed buffs, particularily in form of Youmuu's Ghostblade as well as Force of Nature, and of course Decisive Strike.
Our last point goes to Runic Affinity in case you get your hands on some buffs throughout the game (For instance through killing enemies holding buffs).

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Main rune set

Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation
Gives you a total of 14,94 Armor Penetration which of course, in the game, is rounded up to 15. This is going to help a load in the early to mid game, and is also gonna make sure that you punish anyone who's still running around with low Armor around late game. These runes, including Sunder and Youmuu's Ghostblade and finally of course also Last Whisper is gonna completely penetrate the enemies' defenses.

Greater Seal of Resilience
These runes give you a total of 12,69 Armor right off the bat, which is then rounded up, by the game to a full 13 Armor. Together with Doran's Shield as well as the 4 points from Hardiness , this is gonna start you off at level 1 with a total of 48 Armor. Then, as you level up, you gain more Armor pr. level, and you gain even more after level 4 when you level Courage, because of it's lovely little passive ability. These runes overall are really useful because many of the Solo Top Characters out there deal their main damage as Physical Damage.
Greater Glyph of Warding
Gives you a nice 13,41 Magic Resistance. These runes are great in case you end up meeting someone with Magic Damage on top
lane, like Cho'Gath, or if you're against a jungler like Amumu also with Magic Damage. With your Resistance masteries and these runes you'll start off with a nice 53 Magic Resistance alltogether, which is a whole darn lot, making it extremely hard to take you down, when also counting in the complete 25 Armor and Magic Resistance from Courage's passive ability, as mentioned under the Armor Seals.

Greater Quintessence of Strength
These Quints will give Garen a nice little bonus 6,75 AD, rounding up to 7. This will help out a lot when it comes to lasthitting. Even though this shouldn't be a problem for adequate Garen players, it still provides a bit of an easier time when it comes to exactly that; gold-gaining.
Aside from the farming aspect, this extra AD will of course also provide a slight bit of extra damage on both your abilities as well as your basic attacks.

Other runes worth considering

_____ Greater Glyph of Focus
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction's are really amazing substitutes for the Greater Glyph of Magic Resist's. You can alternate between the two, judging how much magic damage the enemy packs. If you can see that you are going to face a Cho'Gath or a Mordekaiser or of the alike on top lane, you definitely want to consider sticking with the Glyphs of Warding. If you however meet something like Lee Sin in the top lane, and perhaps Udyr in the jungle, you could consider the cooldown reduction being the better option. You should get the Mercury's Treads in any case, though.

Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
These quints add a lot to your early bulk, and more than anything, it makes you look a bit more scary. You can go with these, if you can see you are facing a difficult champion in top lane, in which case you could get these quints and start with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions. You pay a little price in actual damage, but you make up for it with early speed, and sustainability in form of the potions. This is a nice option if you find yourself facing a solo top which uses Magic Damage.

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Summoner Spells

Best choices

One of the most useful spells you can get for Garen. The Armor and Magic Resistance reduction you give you enemy with it (While having the Cripple Mastery), cooperates really well, with Judgement. And then there's of course the strong 3,5 seconds slow, which can help in a load of situations.

As we all pretty much know, Flash is one of the most useful spells in the entire game of League of Legends. It has a load of uses. You can use it to escape(Preferably over a wall), you can juke enemies by getting hunted into a brush, then Flashing the other way out, to completely fool the enemy(In case you are too low on health to fight). Finally, it can be used to Flash forward and silence the enemy with Decisive Strike.

Other choices

Ignite is a fair substitution for Exhaust, and is preffered by some people because of the damage you can deal with this spell combined with Judgement's damage over time. It can also be a good choice if you see the enemy choosing a character like Dr. Mundo for solo top(Speaking of ranked play here, since that's the only place where you can see the enemy).

Teleport is kind of a situational Summoner Spell. It can be a game-changing factor, it can be good in terms of getting to the teamfight from anywhere on the map to any ward on the map. (Requires wards, obviously) However, the thing about Teleport is that it can be a perfect spell in one case, and in another case you will be missing your Exhaust like hell, because of the fact that you didn't have it, just allowed the enemy to escape. I don't directly recommend this spell, but one can't deny that it can be useful. If you go with it, remember the Spacial Accuracy mastery, even if it isn't the greatest bonus of all.

Ghost is a fair alternate to Flash, however in my book it is not anywhere near as useful. Ghost can, however, be really useful in terms of Fear Factor, and can create some serious dispositioning from the enemy just from you running into them with Decisive Strike activated. Obviously the spell can also be used to escape, though since you have the speed boost from Decisive Strike I find that having Flash at your hand in more viable.

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Skilling Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
This is by far the most correct and efficient way to level Garen's skills. The reasoning behind leading the sequence with a point in Decisive Strike lies within it's ability to escape a possible level 2 gank from the enemy jungler, making it at least possible to escape without wasting your Flash. Additionally, you can use this very effectively in level 1, to get some substantial harass off onto your opponent. Focusing Judgement comes out as obvious based on the the damage that it gains per level. While it starts with a fairly low base damage, it makes up for it when you level it to level 2-3.
The reasoning behind putting Courage as the last priority, is simply that the damage reduction per level really isn't worth prioritizing in front of Judgement nor Decisive Strike.

- "Then why not just skip it completely??"

Well, if you take a look at Courage you will notice that it has a passive. This passive is really good for Garen early on, and will help you out a lot going into mid-game. If you can manage to get some lasthits in, abusing this passive, it will provide crazy tankiness to Garen - and very early in the game. The passive of Courage is one of the many reasons that Garen is so scary. The reason that Courage is prioritized last, except for that first point at level 4, is that the passive doesn't stack when leveling it, which means that only the temporary damage increase gets better, which just doesn't compare to the damage from Judgment as well as Decisive Strike.

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Garen's Abilities explained


Perseverance is a really neat little passive, especially for someone like Garen, being a fan of camping in brushes. It really helps in a lot of ways, by making him regen that slight bit faster while out of combat.

Tips and tricks:
  • You can use this skill really effectively in the lane. If you find yourself having done a wrong move, or gotten ganked or something of the alike, you can just hang back, avoid damage, and fairly quickly regain your lost health. If you can stay out of damage for a while, I can almost guarentee you that you will regain health faster than your enemy, unless they are using a pot and Regrowth Pendant.

Decisive Strike

Really an awesome skill, which can be used in a lot of ways. Especially the silence is extremely useful, and will render your opponent incapable of escaping at least for a while. And then there's of course the speed boost, which can be used to both hunt and flee.

Tips and tricks:
  • Use this ability together with Flash when your jungler or mid is about to gank your top lane with you. This will almost always snap you a kill, if the one ganking your lane, can get in to deal enough damage. You of course will in this time be Judgmenting them away.

  • Use this skill to scare your enemies, by charging towards them, or just use it to catch up to enemies, silencing them and then Judgmenting them.

  • Also use this skill to escape a tight situation. Don't get overconfident - you don't want to wait until the last second with trying to get away - That's only going to get you killed.

  • Use this skill from spawn to speed your travel up slightly. The cooldown will be ready by the time you make it to your lane.

  • Camp the brush. Use Decisive Strike, silencing them, and then follow them around with Judgment, and finish them off with Demacian Justice if they are low enough. Potentially use Exhaust around the time where the silence ends, to keep them from getting out of reach.


The reduced damage taken serves you really well when you want to initiate a (team)fight, and will help you survive quite an amount of fights, if you use it right. The passive is also really useful, and will give you some of that extra bulk early on.

Tips and tricks:
  • As soon as you get this skill in lvl 1 after reaching level 4, you want to make sure you take advantage of it's passive. FARM. FARM like you never did before. You have loads of Armor Penetration, which makes it fairly easy to last hit, so take advantage of that and build up those defenses. It will be beneficial both in form of earning gold and earning stronger defenses.

  • Make sure you use Courage before you take damage. To be able to dive everything, use this skill before you take the damage, and not just to "try" to survive the final attacks of the enemy. It's way better to force them to focus you, pop Courage, and then get out of there before you're dead from tanking the tower, as well as the enemies' damage.


You're most fearsome move. This is your bread and butter together with Decisive Strike. Early on it is a beast damaging machine, and later on it keeps you out of trouble, as well as still dealing a nice chunck of damage per second.

Tips and tricks:
  • Use in combination with Decisive Strike to hinder the enemy from Flashing away.

  • Use Judgment on minions after either forcing the enemy to recall, or after killing them. You want to push the lane after forcing the enemy back, in order to deny them the exp from your minion wave. You do this by pushing to the turret, whereafter you can simply go back. Obviously don't attempt this if you have a miss from mid, or if you're too low to fight a potential gank from the jungler(In many cases, you can kill a squishy jungler by waiting in the brush).

  • Camp the brush. Use Decisive Strike, silencing them, and then follow them around with Judgment, and finish them off with Demacian Justice if they are low enough. Potentially use Exhaust around the time where the silence ends, to keep them from getting out of reach.

Demacian Justice

Quite the impressive ulti. Hopefully, with this, nobody will ever get away from you unscathed. Use it correctly, though. There's no use in just spamming it whenever possible. Also, don't get greedy with it. Instead of killstealing your teammates --> Use it later, when it's needed, or use it to get someone low enough for one of your teammates to get the kill --> You gain gold from assists as well.

Tips and tricks:
  • Make sure the enemy you are attempting to kill, is low enough for your ulti to finish them off. There's nothing worse than you, using ulti, leaving them with 50 HP, and them Flashing over a wall.

  • Take into accordance the fact that Demacian Justice's damage is magic. This means that you want to focus enemies with lower magic resistance than others, for finishing them off quickly(Seeing as how the ones with lower defenses are usually the ones with the greater damage or supportive role, whom are the ones you want to take down first).

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Possible Builds

Build 1:

Item Sequence

Sunfire Cape

Force of Nature

Youmuu's Ghostblade

Guardian Angel

Last Whisper

This is my main build, as well as the build that I recommend you follow. The secondary build is simply there to make sure that nobody will blame me for completely ignore the GP/5 aspect of the game, which for many champions is very viable and almost necessary. In my book, however, that is not the case for Garen.

The following chapters will describe how to get to this build, my main build, as well as explain the choices I make with my build, and the advantages of getting the items I get, at which points in time.

Build 2:

Item Sequence

Youmuu's Ghostblade

Randuin's Omen

Force of Nature

Guardian Angel

Last Whisper

A secondary building sequence as well as end-game build that gives overall stronger end-game stats, as well as a very usefull Active ability from Randuin's Omen, however also a build which lacks a lot of the things that Build 1 holds very dearly.

With this build you suffer from a lot of your early game damage as well as bulkiness, and substitute it for some extra gold income.
Both builds are viable, however Build 1 is by far the build I would recommend to you.
I will not care to explain the building sequence in this build, however check the Cheatsheet for a well detailed sequence that you can follow and still hopefully do well with, if you feel convinced that it is the better option, even though it is against my advice.

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Starting Items

Doran's Shield
This item is really useful overall. It gives you good bulk, with both Health and Armor, but just as important is the health regen, which works extremely well with Garen's passive Perseverance, which will only make it easier to stay in lane even though you had a rough time. The Armor is really useful in top lane, since many solo laners utilize physical damage ( Lee Sin, Irelia, Wukong, Gangplank and for instance Jarvan IV.

Boots of Swiftness
A fine substitute for Mercury's Treads, however it is not to be preffered in most cases. It is cheaper, and it may be usable to buy it early, and exchange it for Mercury's Treads later, however it is smarter to wait that little bit for being able to afford Mercury's Treads.

Mercury's Treads
The preffered Boots of choice. In the long run, against any decent team, Mercury's Treads will grant you far more speed overall, than the Boots of Swiftness. This is obviously because of the Tenacity that Mercury's Treads provides, which makes you faster while in chase, than the Boots of Swiftness would make you. Against a team with low CC the others are however a good choice.

The Brutalizer
An amazing item for early damage. Along with the little bonus AD, the more interesting part, is the 15 extra Armor Penetration, which will work really well with your Greater Mark of Desolation's and the Sunder mastery. It will make sure to tear anyone you meet in early game up completely, while also dealing severe damage to foes with weak Armor later in the game.

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Core Items

Sunfire Cape
An extremely useful item for Garen. While it gives you the extra Armor and Health, one must never forget the Passive. 35 damage per second, will only add to the damage of your Judgement, as well as the enemy not wanting to be around you, which creates even more Fear Factor than Garen himself carries with him at all times. Fear Factor is a crucial thing for Garen.

Force of Nature
Very, very strong item for Garen. It gives him many things he will appreciate. There's the highest amount of Magic Resistance any item will give in the entire game, a relatively small cost price when compared to Banshee's Veil, there's the extreme Health Regeneration which really co-ops well with Perseverance, but finally, a thing which is sure to help you out a lot: The increased movement speed. This is really an awesome bonus for Garen.

Youmuu's Ghostblade
Time to finish The Brutalizer into this lovely item. It increases the Armor Penetration that The Brutalizer gave you, and give you a pretty amazing Active ability. The speed bonus from this Active, is something you should always keep in the back of your head. You don't want to get to the point where you think: "Oh darn, I could have caught that guy, if I had just used my Youmuu's :/"

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Preffered End-Game Items

Guardian Angel
Gives a good amount of Armor and Magic Resistance along with the oh so lovely passive, which not only keeps your score a little cleaner, as well as saving your butt, not to say wasting some of the enemy's time, waiting around for your respawn in some cases --> It also creates one of the greatest amounts of Fear Factor in the game. While it may not seem like the ideal thing for the tank to "scare" the enemy, since the tank is supposed to take damage, well: That's just the thing. It either makes them run, OR if they're strong/fed enough, they'll try to burst you down as you come running. Either way, it's a victory for you. You either just F'ed up their formation, or you made them waste all of their strongest spells and possibly their CC on you.
Last Whisper
A really strong item. Around the end-game you'll start feeling that the damage you deal, isn't quite sufficient - Especially if the enemy is stacking Armor. Therefore, Last Whisper is an awesome item to finish off this build. The tankiness you gain from all the other items, your runes, Courage's passive, and your masteries will be around plenty of being tanky, so that you can use your last item for being able to damage a little more.

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Other Viable Items for Build 1

Basically; the "Other Viable Items for Build 1" are mostly the items in Build 2, along with others that I deem viable, naturally.

Philosopher's Stone
Philosopher's Stone
Getting Regrowth Pendant instead of Doran's Shield in the beginning can be a viable option, if you face an opponent with more magically oriented damage (For instance Cho'Gath), however, you should also rate what kind of jungler you're facing. If the enemy has a Lee Sin in the jungle, who is known for insanely early ganks with high damage output, you might want to stick with the Doran's Shield. Another reason for getting the Philosopher's Stone is the ever so lovable Gold/5, which is well combined with Heart of Gold.

Infinity Edge
This item is a fair investment for Garen for the sole reason that Judgment has a chance to crit on every tick. This is something that also makes AD Garen viable, however in this build, I chose to focus on being bulky to no end, and still damage a fair amount throughout the game.

Heart of Gold
Like mentioned, a good item when paired with Philosopher's Stone, which will give you both Health and Health Regeneration alltogether and of course the lovable Gold/5.
You should also highly consider getting Avarice Blade earlier and perhaps finishing Youmuu's Ghostblade a little earlier in this case. This will make you have, at one point at least, 3 Gold/5 items, which provides some awesome gold earnings if you also stick to lasthitting minions well.

The Bloodthirster
This item is a fair substitute for Last Whisper, however it doesn't grant you Last Whisper's immense Armor Penetration, which you should bear in mind before getting this item. It does however give you a bigger amount of AD, when stacked, as well as the nice amount of lifesteal. You should however keep in mind that Lifesteal doesn't apply to your Judgment's damage.

Randuin's Omen
Randuin's Omen is a nice item to go with, if you already decided on going the Gold/5 Path. It's a fine substitute for Sunfire Cape and even provides more Armor in the end, as well as of course the, to be much appretiated in some cases, Active as well as Passive abilities of this item.

Frozen Mallet
A pretty fair item for Garen. It works really well with Decisive Strike, as this ability also applies onhit effects like the passive of Frozen Mallet. Aside from this, of things to note, is that it doesn't bring as much damage increase as Last Whisper, The Bloodthirster nor Infinity Edge, however if you feel that you have a team with very low CC, then Frozen Mallet might just be the answer for you for a last item. Note that this item combined with Atma's Impaler can be a very lethal combination, but requires the sacrifice of another item.

Atma's Impaler
This item is very strong. Not only does it give you some Armor, to support your tankyness, but it's passive is just brilliant. As you can see in the tooltip, or as you probably already know, Atma's Impaler gives you Attack Damage based on your amount of health. This is very strong with some of the items in my build for Garen. For example the Sunfire Cape and the Randuin's Omen. They are in each their builds, but both give a fair amount of HP, Sunfire giving one hundred more, though. Exchanging Youmuu's Ghostblade is what I recommend if you really want to live the combo of Frozen Mallet and Atma's Impaler through, even though it takes away some early game damage that you would normally achieve with the The Brutalizer.

Side Note: I chose not to make Other Viable Items for Build 2, as Build 2 is basically the "Other Viable Build" already.

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AD Garen

It's rather obvious that my way of building and playing Garen is not the only way. I also make that clear in both the introduction and outtro of this guide.

What I want to take up here is the viability of playing Garen as a full AD-based character - And I have one thing to say:

It can be viable, however...

It all really comes down to whether or not your teammates understand that you are going AD, and not going to be able to tank too much for them. Therefore you should, at least in ranked games, make fair sure that you have positioned some sort of tanky character in the jungle. Examples for tanky junglers are:

Amumu, Udyr, Lee Sin, Xin Zhao(If built that way) and fx Cho'Gath

These are all, if built that way, either very tanky(Meant to be tank from the start), or very bulky while still dealing loads of damage (i.e. Lee Sin).


You should make sure that your teammates are aware that you will be taking this rather less tanky route, rather than being the Big, Tanky, Strong Garen who does whatever he likes.

Other than this - And I've tried my share of games as well - I find AD Garen to be a fairly viable build, and if you play correctly, you shouldn't even die that many times, despite being quite a bit less tanky.
I'd like to put a small thanks to Palthios, as it was his build I used while trying to consider whether or not I should mention AD Garen in this guide :)

WARNING: You may be met with rage, and loads of losses, if you do not mark out in champion selection that you are a full AD Garen. It may just cost you the game that you don't have someone reliable to defend as well as tank for your team.

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Gameplay - Laning Phase

- We made it to the interesting part!! ;)

It's time to dig into how the professinal Garen reacts upon laning opponents, minion farm, aggression, initiating ganks, and so on :D

Counters to Garen

First, I'd like to dig into how you should react upon the different laning oppponents. Basically, as it may have been predicted there are counters to Garen's might. However, as it may also be predicted, there are ways to counter Garen's counters.

Let's just dig into it, shall we?

_____ Yes. Mordekaiser really, in some cases, is Numbero Uno. At the least, he is the Numbero Uno counter to Garen. This lies in the simple fact of Morde's passive shield's extreme extention of Morde's health. Morde has the unique ability to extend his health greatly just before you land you Decisive Strike - This shield, Iron Man can, in some cases, make your life seriously miserable on that lane. You're Decisive Strike's damage gets nullified, and continuing on to spin, will just give Mordekaiser a chance to hit you with Mace of Spades while you're away from your minions. Finally, attacking him, will, as most other attacks, make you achieve most of the enemy minion aggro. Not only does this actually mean you're pushing your lane while tanking those minions, you're also losing tons of health while you're only dealing slight amounts of damage to Mordekaiser.

How to Counter the Counter:
Okay, while meeting a well-played Mordekaiser can many times be the worst possible thing for you, in terms of getting in some minion farm etc, there is a way to get him. You want to take advantage of brushes, and basically, if anywho possible, you want to make sure that he is scared of you, and not the other way around. You need to play with his mentality. You must make sure that Mordekaiser is scared of Garen and not the other way around. While you are in the brush, Morde doesn't want to waste his siphon into the brush, in case you're not there, and he will find no other possible way to go about it all, than pushing, keeping his shield up all the time, in which case there has to be a time for him to mess up, at which time you strike. Don't worry if you don't get him the first time, if he uses Flash it means you've already started to build up your Fear Factor.

Fear Factor is important, but it is not all. A well played Morde, perhaps one who's used to meeting Garen in top lane, WILL NOT waste his cooldowns on minions - He will sit back and farm with AA's. This is where you're gonna have a problem. You want to farm as well, but every time you try, he has the means to remove rather decent chuncks of your health, while you, as a melee champ, will have a hard time reaching him. Sometimes, a good option here, is to get very early Boots of Speed & 3 Health Potions, perhaps even as first items, if you fear this being a problem.

In order to rock a Mordekaiser's world, you need to make sure that he doesn't rock your world, first of all, and as soon as you get Decisive Strike is pretty much the time when you want to ask for a gank. If you have a jungler of the kind, then you can ask for an "early gank", just as you start of. That way, if you play it right, you'll be 2 lvl 2's against 1 lvl 2. You will be able to initiate, and hopefully your jungler will be able to deal consistent damage, and you might even get a kill.

To sum up that last part: You'll need some help from your jungler. Someone like Lee Sin is a brilliant co-worker with Garen.
I'll tell you more about initiation down below.

_____ Even if Heimerdinger is not the most common to meet in ranked play, that doesn't make him less of a threat to Garen. He can be a pain, but he can also be a real breeze. A Heimerdinger with no defensive runes, and no health what so ever, might be the easiest thing in the world, but we're talking a different story, when we meet the Heimer with Greater Seal of Armors and Doran's Ring stacking, and in the worst case scenario, even Teleport. This Heimerdinger is the one I'm talking about. He can be a b*tch to take down, and just like Mordekaiser He'll needs to either be feared to death(literally) extremely early on, or you're, again, gonna need to coordination with your jungler.
I will talk more about initiation later.

_____ Akali is another reasonable counter to Garen, however not the best counter. If you can find your way to silencing Akali with Decisive Strike and then spinning her down until the silence wears off, that'll make her fairly low on health early on, which then means she'll be a little more careful. After you've made her fairly low, you can start minion farming a bit. When she starts looking interested in attacking you, OR the minions, you silence her again, and spin her down. If you can avoid pushing, you should have a fairly easy lane.

However the problem with Akali arises when you do not manage to get her down early on. If she is allowed minion farm, and is zoning you with Mark of the Assassin, that's where you've already made your first mistake. You need to charge her while you're still packed with health. If an Akali gets you to around half health, and she's still full, that's when all you can really do, unless an uncounted for opportunity arises ( Akali using all of her cooldowns on minions, for whatever reason) is to sit back, and wait for a gank, and hope that Akali will be stupid enough to push the lane.
I'll tell you more about initiation later.

_____ Renekton is a fair counter to Garen for one reason. His, usually aquired, HP and Armor. He blocks a lot of Garen's damage, and even if you block a lot of Renekton's damage as well, he has more damaging skills that Garen does altogether.
With a fair matchup like this, you'll want to work together with your jungler to take this beast down, or at the least to create either a significant level advantage, so that you may have an easier time after your jungler has ganked your lane, hopefully successfully.


You may or may not have gotten a slight bit excited from my constant spamming of "I'll tell you about it later"-stuff, however the Art of Initiation is not that difficult at all.

Basically, there are 3 different ways to go about it, or more likely, there are 3 different scenarioes to take into account.

You and your opponent are going at it rarely, and you don't have the greatest of chances to get minion farm in, because of enemy ranged skills. Minions are meeting around the middle. In this case, you want to sit in the opponent brush for some while before your jungler appears to gank. Then, when you're jungler is present, you're opponent should automatically have pushed slightly through minion lasthits. You don't want to make it obvious that a gank is incoming though. The enemy won't go forward too much, knowing that you're in the brush. You just want them where the minions are slightly pushed towards your half of the lane. When the enemy goes a slight bit forward to get a lasthit, that's when you strike with Decisive Strike and then Judgment, followed up by whatever damage your jungle can make it there to deal. This is usually not a secure kill, unless you have Demacian Justice ready as well as Flash. Since in this case, your jungler won't always be able to get there to do anything at all. Therefore this is the secondworst scenario for a gank, since what happens in this scenario, is something you can do to get kills all by yourself.

Same minion scenario, however in this scenario, then enemy is feeling highly confident, and his lasthitting to no end, thus pushing the lane. You don't always have full health, and you are pretty much just sitting back, awaiting your jungler's approach. Once you're jungler is in position, what you want to do is to pop Decisive Strike, Flash towards you're target, silencing them almost instantly, your jungler will attack with whatever means they have available, while you deal as much damage as you can with Judgment. This is one of the strongest ganking scenarioes.

The worst case scenario for your jungler. You're lasthitting all you can, and the enemy is being passive, and letting you push through lasthitting only. This makes it near impossible for your jungler to gank, in which case you should try to sit in the brush after pushing that last minion wave up. You want the enemy to come closer, so that both kills for you and ganks from the jungler are realities.

Denying the enemy

This is mostly for the time when you meet melee laning opponents without any real ranged skills to lasthit with, and/or to poke to you with like Irelia, Lee Sin(Stay behind minions, to make this guy's poke unusable against you), Jarvan IV(He doesn't have any CC on his poke, and therefore it isn't too dangerous), Jax(This guy can be dangerous in terms of damage output, though), Nasus and a number of others as well, however some of the others can cause serious trouble dispite their being melee. (Kind of like Jax can cause trouble)

Garen has a special way of denying his enemies. It doesn't work the way it works with many others by putting yourself in between the enemy and the minions. That's only going to make you get harrassed. And in some cases you'll get targeted by enemy minions when they have pushed the lane till you have no more minions.
The art of denying as Garen lies in between patience and offense. You see, what you're trying to deny the enemy is minion farm, and not exp. Denying them exp can only be done if we're facing another melee champion with no ranged skills. If not, however, what you want to do is just to concentrate on your own minion farm (Patience), and then, when the enemy attempts to get a minion lasthit (You'll be running around in the middle of all the minions lasthitting at will), you will charge towards them with Decisive Strike and Judgment them down. If you can see that they're within killing range, use Flash as well, either as initiation, or to secure the kill.
With this, you're securing yourself the minion farm, while punishing the enemy if they try to get any of it at all. Basically, if they get too close to the Alpha Male( Garen)'s territory, they get banished from the land. (Metaphors ftw)

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Gameplay - Teamfights

Okay, so we made it to the almost just as exciting part of playing Garen.

The Teaaaamfiiiiiights
(Awesome intro ftw ?)

Here we will be going through things like initiating, staying in focus of the teamfight, helping out your teammates, using your skills with care, and so on.

The Art of Initiation

As you can most likely guess, you will want to, if possible at all, initiate with Decisive Strike which will make the enemy incapable of escapeing(Other than running, of course) for at least 2,5 seconds. But that isn't all. You should always make sure to time it right, and to not just silence the nearest enemy. The nearest enemy is in almost all cases going to be the enemy tank. Unless the enemy has a bum as a tank with no defenses nor HP, which should hopefully, for the other team, never happen, you don't want to focus the tank. You should always attempt to get your fingers in one of three characters on the enemy team.
Here they are in the row of whom you want to get your fingers in the most:

---1. The AP-Carry
----Getting your fingers on this bad boy is the best you can do for your team. A dead AP-Carry, or even a damaged one is a lot better for your team than one which is alive, even at half HP. If the enemy loses their means of bursting down your Ranged AD Carry, your Ranged AD Carry, together with your support will be able to do some serious DPS of course along with you and your jungler. Your AP Carry should focus on killing the enemy Ranged Carry.
---2. The Support
----An Enemy Ranged Carry without a support, or basically an Enemy Team without a support is a very much weakened team. Remove this pestilence, and you've removed loads of potential CC(fx Janna), Heals(fx Soraka) or both(fx Taric)
---3. The Ranged AD Carry
----The enemy's main source of DPS. If you can silence and kill the enemy ranged carry while they're out of position or of the alike, you've in some cases already won the fight. If you remove anyone at all from the enemy team without paying any expense, you've most likely won the upcoming fight in any case - That is unless all of your teammates end up using their Ultimate on that one person, stupid as that however would be.

Acting Reasonably During Teamfights

Yes, you actually have a purpose in teamfights --> You are not just the initiater. You are also a tank, and one to be feared of that matter. You have the ability to split up enemies. Do this correctly and you'll have done your job, hopefully resulting in the enemy getting aced, and your team not having suffered any losses, other than perhaps a Banshee's Veil getting popped every now and then :)
You want to use your skills with care(Especially Decisive Strike and Demacian Justice). You need to save a skill like your ultimate, Demacian Justice until the moment when it is really needed. If your team catches an opponent off guard, don't use your ulti at all. Either get the kill fair and square with Judgment, or have one of your teammates get the kill.
Also, take note at the beginning of the match, if the enemy has any kinds of "cancelable" skills of any kind. Examples of these Champions are Katarina's Death Lotus and Galio's Idol of Durand. (A nice tip about Galio: If you can time your Decisive Strike well enough, or just activate it and run around Galio with it, when he activates his ult, you're first AA will silence him cancelling his ultimate)
In other words; If the enemy team has a champion with an Ultimate such as Galio's or Katarina's, take care when and who you swing your Decisive Strike at.

About Courage --> Make sure you pop it before you start taking damage. You have to be the judge of when the enemy gets ticked off enough to start wasting their cooldowns on you, and it's just before that where you want to pop Courage, and not once you're at 25 % health. There is no mod to see when the enemy is about to attack you - Sorry Mr. Cheapshot.

Finally, you're job as a tank is also to guard your teammates with your life. If a teammate is running - There's a reason. Do whatever you can to save them. You can do many things. If someone from your team is getting hunted by an Ezreal for instance, you can silence him, to stop him from closing further of the distance, and if Decisive Strike is on cooldown, the least you can to is to at least block his Mystic Shot from dealing that killing blow on your teammate.
- However you should make sure that you protect the right people. Don't chase after you're own jungler to protect him - It is also his job to protect your 3 other teammates - If he is running away and an enemy or two is chasing after him, valuate which is more important - Chasing after them, possibly getting a kill, or saving 3 of your teammates from the enemy tank coming charging towards them.

Pick Your Fights!!!

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Closing Statements

Thanks a load for reading this far, and thanks if you even read some of it :)

I hope you liked my build, and of course my guidance about playing Garen the way I believe he should be played.

I am aware, that there are other ways to play Garen and which way to build him is best is going to differ from game to game. This is simply the way I build him, and the way which I have gotten the most wins with. Both in normal games and ranked.

Anyways, again, thanks for reading along! ;)

Additional Note: I plan to take a look at the graphical part of the gameplay-section - I hope it didn't bug you too much - simply rest assure that I plan to make major changes to the layout in that section of my guide :)


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The time has come, for a few people to have their share of shine in this guide :)

~ Searz for his pretty darn awesome guide template, which you can find here ;)

~ Maztef for providing a few tips, as well as helping me with testing different ways to build and play Garen.

~ Levander for also providing a few tips, as well as helping me test out AD Garen.

~ WeatherMán, because he simply "had" to be in the credits-section.