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Garen Build Guide by SmoothieJ69

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League of Legends Build Guide Author SmoothieJ69

Grasp/Glacial Garen (8.2) [With Match-ups]

SmoothieJ69 Last updated on January 26, 2018
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Cheat Sheet
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Season 8 Grasp

Garen Build

LoL Path: Resolve
LoL Rune: Grasp of the Undying
Grasp of the Undying
LoL Rune: Unflinching
LoL Rune: Conditioning
LoL Rune: Second Wind
Second Wind

LoL Path: Precision
LoL Rune: Legend: Tenacity
Legend: Tenacity
LoL Rune: Coup de Grace
Coup de Grace

+15-135 Health (at levels 1-18) and +9% attack speed

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Top Lane
Ranked #26 in
Top Lane
Win 50%
Get More Stats

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Threats to Garen with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Nasus Go long sword 3. Bully this kid hard and zone him off farm as much as possible. Go Dirk first then Tabi. Your job is to shut him down and not let him farm. Dont fight in his E, and Q out of his whither. He can use his ult to survive yours, so make sure hes low or silenced. He will eventually outscale you, and will be a threat if you dont end the game early.
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Intro to Garen

Garen is a top lane fighter with great mid game potential when played properly.

With natural tanky stats and scaling, Garen is very versatile in what he can build. His kit has a great balance of potential damage, and front lining capabilities. However, Garen has mostly been played as a tank, and at best a low damage bruiser. This is mainly because of Garen's W Courage giving him damage resistance. I'm one of the few that sees Garen in a different way, as a high damage carry deleter. If you look at his kit again, it's all damage focused. What's a Garen that can't do damage? We will be looking at builds that incorporate AT LEAST 2 raw damage items, while maintaining tankiness for our team.


Health: 616.28 (+84.25 per level)
Attack Damage: 66 (+4.5 per level)
Attack Speed: 0.625 (+2.9% per level)
Movement Speed: 340
Health Regen: 7.84 (+0.5 per level)
Armor: 36 (+3 per level)
Magic Resist: 32.1 (+1.25 per level)

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- Out of combat sustain
- Manaless
- Great 1v1 duelist
- Huge powerspikes
- Every AD carries nightmare
- Tanky with tenacity
- Easy character to pick up

- No CC in kit
- Weak early game
- Gets kited hard
- Team has to create opportunities for him
- Hard to team-fight late game without Flash

Garen has been a very weak character after his juggernaut rework, and has seen a lot less use in higher elos. If there was a scaling system from D- tier to A+, Garen would be placed around C- tier. Fortunately, after patch 7.14 buffs he is now a solid B tier, and possibly a A in the right hands. Garen is in a great spot right now, and is very viable for climbing up to platinum. After platinum, you will find it much harder to climb, as many will exploit his weaknesses much better. Nevertheless, there are Garens in high diamond pushing master tier. It is very feasible to hold your own in lane, but it is very hard to carry with this character. With our build we can hopefully have a greater impact in our games as we play to Garen's strengths.

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Summoner Spells

Ignite is a great summoner spell on Garen for many reasons. Our early game is very weak, and this will give us more lane pressure, which is huge since we want to scare our lane opponent farm. This goes so great with our ultimate Demacian Justice. It is an execute so Ignite will many times be the deciding factor for when we get kills early. Ignite will also shut down any heals, or life-steal by 40% which is fantastic.

No surprise that Garen also takes Flash. It provides too much to not take. A fantastic engage, an escape tool, and we can do some sick dodges. With our build, getting onto a target pretty much secures their death. Flash offers us this free opportunity every 5 minutes. In the late-game we can make huge plays flashing onto the enemy carry, creating a huge opportunity for our team. Flash Decisive Strike is VERY strong because of the silence.

Alternate Choice

Another choice instead of Ignite. I WOULD ONLY RUN THIS WITH A TEAM OF 4-5. This is because for Garen to have a good gank, it really needs to be set up perfectly. His ganks early are weak, and are simply not worth missing crucial CS over because of our Courage passive. We lose a lot of early lane pressure by taking this as well. Our level 6 becomes much weaker, and we will mostly be grouping with our team late-game anyways. Snowballing is very important for Garen so Ignite just is too valuable. However I can see this being taken against someone like Teemo as he will make you recall more often.

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Glacial Runes

Glacial Augment
With the addition of the new runes,there has been a lot to experiment with. Unfortunately all of the AD based Garen's out there will miss Stormraider's Surge , but we will make do with what we have. Glacial Augment is a new interesting way to play Garen. This is offering a lot of utility for us, being very close to Stormraiders. Auto attacking a champion slows them for 2s for 40-50%. With only a 7-4 sec cooldown per unit, this is a free frozen mallet practically. This is really nice as it is much easier to fight and escape situations. I anticipate a lot of Decisive Strike retreat engages leaving many unable to respond. I really like what this Keystone does for Garen, and look forward to potential build ideas with it.
Biscuit Delivery
Dude, free health? I like taking these biscuits over Hextech Flashtraption because Garen doesn't get much use out of it. The Flash is really good for Baron steals and taking shortcuts in jungle, but were not really doing either of those. Garen's early will always stay weak until he himself is changed, so these biscuits will get us into our strong midgame.
Future's Market
This is really the only option in this tier for us to take as Magical Footwear comes too late in the game for Garen to get his shoes. Still, this is a very cool rune, as it lets us go negative into money to get those power-spikes. This is really nice for us as we really benefit from said power-spikes. Very straight forward and easy to understand why we would take this Rune for it's use.
Approach Velocity
This goes so great with Glacial Augment since we are slowing them activating the 10% bonus movement speed toward the enemy. In team fights, this will also make it much easier to get to a cc'd or slowed target. This combination of Runes gives us a very weird type of Stormraiders that I really like.

Really great rune as we lost our scaling mr with this season. This works better on Garen than most other champs because of our passive W stacks adding to the 5% bonus after 10 minutes. This gives on average in the high 90's for mr at level 18. This all depends on how well you farm, and how much mr you buy before that 10 minutes. I still want to build damage early on, and this will allow me to do as such without having to focus much on resistances.
Second Wind
This is the hidden op for Garen. Stack this with Doran's Shield and you basically always have garen's passive up. This is really nice for so many reasons considering our terrible early game. This will let us survive till those juicy item spikes.

Resolve Alternates
Super good since my season 7 build included scaling health yellows. This rune has given me upwards of 350 health in my games. This is so great for Garen as health has always been more valuable with Garen's high natural resistances. This will help us out at all stages of the game since we will be building damage early on.

Unflinching has great potential on Garen seeing as in late-game team fights using Flash is almost a necessity. 10s after using a summoner spell you gain 15% tenacity and slow resist which can allow for an easier escape. Additionally we gain 10% tenacity and slow resist for each summoner spell on cool down. I can see this saving your life in a gank when your flash is down as you can Glacial Augment a target, then have an easier escape with the resistances. In General, tenacity is a great thing to have on Garen.

Rune Bonus
+20% potion and elixir duration
+145 health
I like this Rune bonus as its giving us a boatload of starting health along with our usual Doran's shield. This gives us the hp to win trades when our starting AD is pretty lackluster to what most others may have from there bonuses. The extra potion duration helps us survive more which is just a really nice bonus to get us through the lane phase to stack our resistances.

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Grasp Runes

Grasp Of The Undying
The resolve tree is a very strong tree that is having very strong effects on Garen. Grasp has always been the #1 go to rune for Garen for a very long time. In season 8 Grasp of the Undying is too strong to not consider. Getting a 4% maximum health damage bonus on Decisive Strike or autos is very valuable early on, even into the late game. When we proc this onto a champion we get a 2% heal based on our max health. This only really helps us in the early game when our passive takes forever to activate. Unlike the old Grasp, every time we hit a champion with the proc, our health goes up by 5 permanently. This is not very useful as Garen plays like a baby in the early laning phase. This rune is not only great in general as it goes with our decently high health build, but it can really aid you vs tanks. Garen has been struggling against tanks since 2015, and this really helps with the mid combat heals.


Secondary Tree Choices

Legend: Tenacity
A very beneficial mastery that starts us with a flat 5% tenacity gaining 1.5% more every time we get a take-down capping at 10. This adds up to a maximum of 20% tenacity if we are getting those kills, which is what we're going for as a Garen. Tenacity will always be useful to us as our only engage is running at someone or using Flash. This tenacity may end up saving your life in an escape from a gank or team-fight. Pair this with Unflinching and we can have a maximum of 40% tenacity if both our summoners are down. Really nice stuff as we will not have the slow effect of Glacial Augment to escape.
Coup De Grace
This just goes very well with what Garen is supposed to do, killing low health targets. 9% more Q damage is rather helpful allowing you to perhaps save your ult for another target. Demacian Justice does work with this mastery, however it sounds a lot better than it really is. There is an almost unnoticeable difference in ult damage until you hit level 11. Even then we get about a 80 dmg bonus. I've tested this on a enemy dummy with and without Coup de Grace. At level 16 with a 100 health dummy, the ult did 200 more damage at maximum. Keep in mind this was a 2400~ dmg ult. It may seem like I'm saying this is bad, it's not. Any amount of damage is still damage, and for an execute it can mean the difference between a kill or not. Just simply warning it's not a very noticeable mastery, but it sure as hell helps.
Nullifying Orb
We will almost never build any magic resist as we do not need to with our high health and natural MR scaling due to Courage and Conditioning. This will just seal the deal and give you a free 33%~ as effective Hexdrinker. It could very well save your life. It additionally scales with your ad, giving you a bigger shield.
This is actually really good. Getting bonus movement speed at the start of the game is very helpful for dodging abilities and retreating. The best part is 8% of our bonus movement speed is added to our AD. This will give us AD from our Boots of Speed, Youmuu's Ghostblade, Dead Man's Plate and even our Decisive Strike. That is a lot of free AD for not even straying away from our normal build. We get immediate effects from this mastery in our Decisive Strike giving us bonus damage on our Q. This mastery works perfectly with Garen and our build path.

Rune Bonus
(SORCERY) +65 health and +6 AD
(PRECISION) +65 health and +9% attack speed
With Resolve either as a first or secondary choice we're always getting 65 health. The difference comes in whether you take Sorcery or Precision second with Grasp of the Undying. Sorcery is the better choice as it gives you a worthwhile AD bonus at the start of the game. Attack speed isn't useless since Garen's autos are clunky, but it's simply not as good. Still, make your choice from these two.

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Abilities-Skill Order-Trades


Passive - Perseverance
Garen regenerates 2 / 8% of his maximum health per 5 seconds after not receiving damage for 9 / 4 seconds (at levels 1/11). The regeneration increases to 4 / 16% maximum health per 5 seconds when Garen is below 25 / 50% health (at levels 1/11). Until level 11, the regenerative state will stop if Garen receives damage from any source other than lane minions. After that, Perseverance is also no longer removed by non-epic monsters.
Our passive now hits its power-spike at level 11 now, making us VERY strong. We now can win trades with anyone after using out combo, then backing off for 4 seconds will our passive comes up. This is so nice for teamfights, letting us re-engage after we heal up. Pre 11 however it is rather weak, forcing us to back off for much longer waiting for the regeneration.

Q - Decisive Strike
Garen removes all slows on him and gains 30% movement speed for 1.5 / 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 3.5 seconds. His next melee attack within 4.5 seconds will deal 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+0.4 per attack damage) physical damage and silence his target for 1.5 seconds. This attack can critically strike.
Our only engage tool that allows us to get to our target, effectively shutting then down for 1.5 seconds. Has great scaling when you put points into it, and many forget it can remove a slow when activated. An example is breaking from Tryndamere's Mocking Shout.

E - Judgment
Garen rapidly spins his sword around his body 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 times over 3 seconds (permanently increases every 3 levels), ignoring unit collision and dealing 14 / 18 / 22 / 26 / 30 (+0.36 / 0.37 / 0.38 / 0.39 / 0.4 per attack damage) physical damage per spin to nearby enemies. This damage is increased by 33% when striking a single target.

Enemy champions hit 4 times have their armor reduced by 25% for 6 seconds (hits after the 4th refresh the duration)

Garen can deactivate Judgement early by activating the ability again after 1 second, which reduces the cooldown by the remaining duration of the spin. Garen cannot use Decisive Strike or Demacian Justice while Judgement is in effect.
Our main damage source from mid game on-wards. As you can see the base damage of this ability is very low, and does not get much from levels. It just has a very high AD ratio when levels are put into it. The important part is the 33% damage bonus on a single target. This is why Garen sits in the bush.

W - Courage
Passive: Garen permanently gains 0.25 bonus armor and bonus magic resistance every time he kills an enemy unit, up to a maximum of 30 bonus resistances.

Active: Garen reduces incoming damage by 60% and has 60% Tenacity for the first 0.75 seconds. For the rest of the 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 second duration, Garen reduces incoming damage by 30%.
With the new changes to Garen's W, it is much easier to advance and get to a target as you can shrug off 60% damage while you get 60% tenacity. This only occurs for the first 0.75 seconds of the skill, so it actually can be difficult to use and time correctly. Becomes very strong when it has 5 points, giving you a 6 second shield. Passive MR and AR is fantastic as, we get stronger and stronger every unit you skill. This includes minions, wards, enemy champions, and Illaoi hentai tentacles.

R - Demacian Justice
Passive: Garen marks the enemy champion with the highest killing spree as the Villain, causing his basic attacks and each spin of Judgment against them to deal 1% of the target's maximum health as bonus true damage. The mark cannot be assigned to another champion while Garen is in combat with the Villain. If more than one enemy has the same bounty, the enemy who received it first is marked as the Villain.

Active: Garen brings down Demacian Justice on his opponent, dealing 175 / 350 / 525 magic damage plus 28 / 33 / 40% of the target's missing health. If his target is the Villain, Garen deals true damage instead of magic damage.
Arguably the best execute in the game with a great passive that will give you free TRUE DAMAGE. The extra 1% true damage on your abilities is unnoticeable in most cases and does not do too much... but the true damage on your ult is HUGE. The sword over the villains head will also flash telling you when your ult will kill, which is very helpful. This skill gets a huge boost at level 11, which goes great with your level 11 passive spike as well.

Skill order

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

Level 1
Level 1 we always take Q Decisive Strike as our first ability. It will give us a surprisingly strong level 1, being able to silence our target and run away is very annoying. This really shuts down someone like Riven when done right. Having the MS bonus is also very nice if we have to make an escape.

Level 2-3
Level 2 we will always take our E Judgment because it will create early pressure in lane, letting the enemy know you can spin2win. If we let our laner push, E will help us farm under tower as well. Keep in mind level 1 E does less damage than an auto attack on a non isolated target. It is very weak until level 4.

Level 3 we will either put a second point into Q Decisive Strike or our first point into W Courage. In most cases you will be putting the point into Q because our pre level 4 is very weak. We only have 5 spins, and waiting for that 6th spin is more important than it sounds. So, we will want another point in Q to take short trades and back off while they are silenced. In the case you are in a very bursty match-up, ranged match-up, or in a in general hard lane, we will take Courage 3rd.

1. Q does more reliable damage than E EARLY.
Decisive Strike is up-front damage that has much higher base damage then Judgment. Unlike our spin, we do not have to stay on a target for 3 seconds for the full damage of the ability. Garen believe it or not, sucks in long trades. After his combo is gone he has nothing, so It's much better to get quick effective damage. Judgment will only do more damage than Decisive Strike when you're on your target for the full duration, and he is isolated with the 33% damage bonus. Minions will never let you get this isolation, especially if your enemy laner knows about this damage bonus, and will sit in his minions forcing you to push the wave as well. Most will not expect you to max Decisive Strike, leading them to believe they are safe when your spin is down.

2. Judgment naturally scales
Garen starts with 5 spins, and gains another every 3 levels. We are already getting natural scaling with the ability, so maxing it second is just the best option. We will making the full use of Garen's kit if we max the ability when we have AD already. The AD scaling is what makes Judgment strong, and we don't have that AD early.

(Only for Glacial Augment)

Glacial Augment will activate off of Decisive Strike allowing us to hit hard upfront and decide whether we want to keep fighting or not. We Are able to easily control every fight when we max Q because no matter what we're getting big damage off then we can run away while the enemy is slowed. We want to max the ability that will go well with our pre-game setup, and this gives us all the control we need to win lane.

All these characters have a way to block your Decisive Strike reliably.
Pantheon has a passive where he blocks a basic attack. This is reactivated again after he uses his Aegis of Zeonia. Unfortunately our Q Decisive Strike is a basic attack so it gets blocked. A good pantheon will never let you hit your Q, so we max Judgment instead.
Jax has an ability named Counter Strike that blocks all basic attack abilities for 2 whole seconds. He can easily dodge your Decisive Strike by activating this and getting a free stun after. He will destroy you if you max Q, and win all trades.
Fiora has a broken ability Riposte that blocks every ability in the game, even Ignite. Her blocking a few ticks of your Judgment is not a big deal, but if she blocks your Decisive Strike you lose the trade hard. We don't want this to happen. However if you are a mix up master, you can still max Q here. Bigger risk for a higher reward.

Trading in lane

LEVEL 1 TRADES - Very simple. AA Decisive Strike, back off to bush to get rid of minion aggro.

Garen gets much better trades at level 4, because he gets his first extra spin.
In most cases we will be doing the classic Decisive Strike into Judgment. This is the most common, and usually most effective combo because it's a silence into Garen's spin, leaving the target unable to respond as we hit them with Glacial Augment. Use your Courage when a strong ability, or form of CC will hit you.
The other option is to Decisive Strike engage, cancel with your Judgment, and your Q will still be up after your spin. This is great against tanks for the armor shred, characters that can block your Q because you will fake them out, and a matchup like Darius. A thing to note is this will silence your target at the end of your trade, which can be really good if your opponent is trying to escape Demacian Justice. This will not allow them to Flash or use a mobility spell.
Ignite with Demacian Justice is our finishing combo.

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As soon as we hit level 6 we can start making plays. In a good amount of matchups, you become a major threat to your opposing lane. This is the time to try to kill your laner, but also look for the enemy jungler. At level 6 you will out-duel most, if not all junglers. Do not roam too much however, we do not want to miss many minions since we want to stack our Courage. Simply push the lane to their tower, and use the vision plant to see if their jungle is top side. This will help your team play accordingly to where the jungle is. Taking scuttle crab is something I really like to do for the extra vision as well. Ward the enemies blue buff, take it, or wait for them to show up and murder them. Good roams can really help you and your team when done right.
or + +
I firmly believe that you should hard focus on your lane until you have full boots, Youmuu's Ghostblade ,or The Black Cleaver and max Courage stacks for the 30 mr/armor. Since we are going a more damage focused Garen we are a bit squishy early on. We will need our fully stacked Courage to be useful in ganks. With our Youmuu's Ghostblade we can look to gank mid and probably tower dive depending on who their mid laner is. With The Black Cleaver we are able to shred armor and start doing damage. We will be looking to secure objectives like towers and dragon with our team as we near our most powerful levels in the game.[/color]
As soon as we hit level 11, we are unbelievably strong. We can go in at any point, disengage, and heal up to go in again. We only have to back when we have a surplus of gold, giving us more map pressure and presence. This is the time to really start roaming hard to get fed. Garen is at his strongest from here on to level 16. We get our 10th tick of Judgment here (level 16), and we have essentially stopped scaling. It is crucial that you do something with these levels, as the game gets much harder from here on out if not ended soon.

As many know Garen used to fall off hard in the late game, as he had a crazy early. This is not the case anymore. Garen has a fine late game with our build. Yes, he does fall off, but not much. The reason why he falls off is because it's so hard to get to the carries in a teamfight when there is so much more damage. We have the advantage mid game because we get our items sooner than most other characters. We do not have this any more late in the game. In most cases, Flash is the only reliable way to get to a target. You have to position yourself very well to be useful in the late game. This is what people mean when they say Garen "falls off". His team-fighting is just inconsistent.

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Starting Items

Doran's Shield - Great starting item for lanes against tanks, assassins, and champions with poke where you will need the extra health and regen so you cant get widdled down easily. I see this as also the best start in almost all situations. Your goal with this start is to farm up till you get your first back.

Cloth Armor - Amazing against hard AD lanes with minimal poke who have to get close to damage you. This also builds into our Ninja Tabi so we can grab them faster. In season 8 we start with 36 Armor now so this may be less needed.

Early backs

Serrated Dirk - By the time you get this item you will usually be around level 5-7. Getting 25 AD and 10 more Lethality, you are really gonna hurt. In most match-ups you will be able to out duel your laner simply by landing Decisive Strike and a few spins of Judgment. This item is so strong along with our rune setup, and you will notice your first power spike with the item. Most Top laners are very squishy early, and this will force them to build armor or face JUSTICE.

Phage - A core component to The Black Cleaver that can help you out in lane in almost all match-ups. 200hp is very helpful in every situation along with the 15 AD. The rage passive will allow you to stay on the enemy easier as well as approach after hitting a minion. Can't go wrong with this as you build into The Black Cleaver.

Ninja Tabi - Rushing defensive boots on Garen is honestly so good. Having an item that gives you a movement speed advantage along with Armor is so good for Garens lackluster early game. 10% less damage from basic attacks? Yes please. These boots will let you take harass much better from a character like Jayce. The speed is great for letting you get to the enemy and start our trades.

Bramble Vest - Amazing defensive armor option if you are behind, or against a heavy auto attacker that has a lot of healing. Grievous wounds will really shut down some champions. Examples are Tryndamere Fiora and Trundle.Pair this item with Ninja Tabi and they will just be doing damage to themselves while you take almost nothing.

Caulfield's Warhammer - In our core build this is our first CDR item. 10% is all you really need on Garen. This is usually picked up towards the end of the laning phase when you are getting quite strong. Having your main combo up faster can really help especially when some other champs won't have CDR at this point. 25 AD is always nice too of course.

Giant's Belt - As stated before health is very valuable to Garen. Consider picking this up if behind a lot and need to survive. In most cases this will be built first towards Dead Man's Plate before the Chain Vest. I love picking this up after I've finished Youmuu's Ghostblade and Ninja Tabi since you will already have a lot of armor from your Courage.

Warden's Mail - Great Armor item if behind, and even if ahead or even with your laner, can still be used effectively in certain match-ups. If you're against a very heavy attack speed auto attacker like Jax Olaf or Yasuo you may want to pick this up to slow down their attack speed. This not only builds into Randuin's Omen but now Thornmail making it a monster against crit users and hard AD.

Early backs Vs AP

Hexdrinker - Straight up the best option against all AP enemy laners. Garen has some trouble dealing with AP early on, and this item gives him everything we need to fight back. 20 AD, 35 MR, and an amazing passive shield that will protect us from burst. On many occasions this item has saved my life and let me get my ult off. The only thing we miss going for this item is Lethality, which is not a huge problem. Sit on the Hexdrinker and go for our build, making Maw last in most scenarios.

Mercury's Treads - Such great boots against teams with a lot of hard CC, blinds, and silences. Great for a movement speed advantage against our laner, with free MR to boot. However after the Courage changes to Garen, I've liked Ninja Tabi a bit more as Armor is generally more valuable to us.

Kindlegem - This is when you get behind or are still not confident in the match-up. Gives you our 10% CDR, and a precious 200 health which is great vs AP. This item also build into many other great items like The Black Cleaver Warmog's Armor and Spirit Visage. Sit on the item and decide what you want to build, and when.

100% CORE

Youmuu's Ghostblade - This is going to be our go to item against non tanks and ranged champs.
This item will let you snowball your lane so hard if you play smart and to Garen's strengths. 55 AD, 18 Lethality, +40 move speed out of combat, and +20% move speed active. By the time we are getting this item, Garen is nearing his most powerful levels.(11-16). We will have 20 Lethality when we grab this item. That means we are negating a good chunk of there armor. If your laner hasn't built armor against you he will most likely only take 1 full combo to kill. +40 MS along with a 20% active speed bonus gives Garen a better engage, and escape. This item offers so much utility, It's honestly OP in the right hands. Even if we fall behind, this is a decent amount of Lethality to destroy the squishies late game if we can't get any more damage.

Black Cleaver - This item has always been considered 100% core on Garen since forever. However it has situations when it is best built. Against tanks like Maokai and Malphite this is essential. Being able to shred there armor is useful at all points of the game. Even against bruisers or fighters this will help you because of the 400hp it gives. Since pre-game lethality is not a thing anymore, this became a better choice over Youmuu's Ghostblade in some cases. The +20 ms rage passive became more valuable as we will now need more help sticking to our target without Stormraider's Surge . This is especially true with Grasp of the Undying. One thing to note is the armor shred passive is not as good as it could be on Garen early. Seeing as we will only have about 7-8 out of 10 spins by the time we get this item, only 2 of these spins will do the full damage after the first 4-5 shred armor. This is better later when we have most of our spins at level 13-16 so we can get half of our spin doing full armor shredded damage. GET THIS FOR SURE IF THERE ARE 2+ TANKS.

Dead man's Plate - Our main 3rd item for many reasons. Armor and health is great in making our mid game very tanky, but the passives Dead Man's Plate offers are so good on Garen in general. As we move around we gain stacks of momentum up to 100, giving us a +60 MS bonus at that 100. Our next basic attack at this 100 stacks gives on 100 extra bonus damage, and a 50% slow for 1 second. Our Decisive Strike counts as a basic attack, so now we get free damage and a slow in our combo. If you thought your Q did a lot before, with Dead Man's Plate it hits like an absolute truck.

^Important to note that Youmuu's Ghostblade is a mandatory item on Garen, but The Black Cleaver can be skipped if they have no tanks. These will always usually be your first 2 items, but the order in which they are built is based off your opponent^.


Infinity Edge - CAN BE OUR SECOND ITEM IF WE REALLY ARE WRECKING OUR LANER. Straight up just the best raw damage item on Garen. 70 AD and 20% crit chance is so nasty. The passive also increases our crit damage by 50%. 20% crit is all you need on Garen seeing as there is a high chance at least a few of your spins will crit. If we end up getting this item second, we will pick up Dead Man's Plate 3rd-4th. CRIT GAREN IS NOT JUST A MEME, ITS ACTUALLY BROKEN WHEN YOU ARE SNOWBALLING. Another thing to note is this item is most effective when its the 2nd or 3rd item in your build. Many summoners will not have a lot of armor at this point, letting you shred them while also at your strongest levels.

Edge of Night - A staple item now because of the season 8 changes to pre game lethality. Much like Youmuu's Ghostblade this gives Garen a lot of utility and dirty damage. Riot changed this item making it give 250 health instead of MR. Which is honestly just a straight buff for us. The shield that it gives you on its active has so much potential. Being able to completely negate not only damage, but a huge CC effect is so nice for our engage. If you do get on top of a squishy with Youmuu's Ghostblade and Edge of Night they WILL die.

Sterak's Gage - An item that has potential to really protect you from burst. The 450 health is of course very nice, but the main selling point for this item is the passive shield you get that scales off 75% of your bonus health when taking massive damage in a short period. With this shield comes a 30% tenacity bonus that goes very well with our runes. This will let us escape or keep going in team-fights. Another big part of this is a 50% AD bonus flat after 7.20, which goes well with our high base ad. This is all great stuff for a 4th-6th item. Garen.

Trinity Force - As a 2nd or 3rd item, this can be really strong. Giving great split-pushing power, along with a wide variety of stats, this can really help us out. The 2 best things about this item is it's spell-blade proc that goes very well with our Decisive Strike, and the bonus 5% move-speed. Gives Garen a lot of potential against squishy teams, and the option of being a potent split pusher.


Thornmail - Honestly loving this new Thornmail so much. Considering it now gives health, the cold steel passive, and grievous wounds its too good against high AD teams and hard to deal with split-pushers like Tryndamere. It's so nice to get free damage on the enemy team by just taking damage yourself. It scales with your bonus armor, so your Dead Man's Plate is also giving you more damage now! This is a much more efficient way to get grievous wounds now without having to build Mortal Reminder. Really like taking this later in the build.

Randuin's Omen - I find myself building this a lot more seeing as many ADC's are going crit builds. Just like with Thornmail this can really shut down someone like Tryndamere or Yasuo. If there is no crit on the enemy team do not build this item, build Thornmail instead. On the other hand if there is 2 big boy critters, then 100% pick this up. You are most likely the one to stop split pushers, and will need this for that. The 20% crit damage reduction will go a long way. Let's not forget about that nasty active Randuin's Omen has. When activated a circle pops up around you, and if anybody is in this circle their movement speed is slowed by 55% for 2 seconds. This is great for your team, and you. Combine this with Dead Man's Plate slow and they are not getting away.

Maw of Malmortius - If you have built Hexdrinker from fighting a AP laner, you may want to turn this into a Maw of Malmortius. This is definitely a last item buy, seeing as keeping Hexdrinker is more item efficient. There are more core items to be had before finishing this. What you gain from finishing this item is a little more AD, MR, a better AP shield passive, 10% bonus AD and life-steal when the shield is active. The AD is nice, but the life-steal doesn't do much for us. The shield could save your life, and if you're going to build more MR, I would recommend this because its a hybrid damage and defense item which goes well with our high MR as is.

Warmog's Armor - Fantastic straight health item that really goes well with our passive Perseverance. Honestly this may be superior to Spirit Visage in a lot of situations as it will give you MUCH more health, which is amazing against AP burst, and will increase your armors effectiveness. The passive heals you faster than Spirit Visage and if you have Thornmail already, you really might want to get this. This is best as a last item where we will be over the 2750 health mark for Warmog's Armor passive.

Righteous Glory - If going up against a very heavy kiting and CC heavy team, this item will be your saving grace. Sometimes Youmuu's Ghostblade won't be enough in the very late game, and this will guarantee you and your team will engage on a target. The 75% MS bonus is fantastic, but there's also a slow emitted after 3 seconds that's just as good. Even though it gives mana, it's cheap for all that it gives, and is gold efficient. Great if you are behind, or as a last item.

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One of the most common questions about Garen has to be... "Is Death's Dance a good item on the G-man?" NO, It's a huge waste of gold. Decisive Strike is the only reliable way to benefit from it. We are not an auto-attacking champion that does huge damage per hit. Death's Dance is best on characters with hard hitting single target spells. Judgment is an AOE, so we are already getting 33% of the healing we would receive, and Judgment is a damage over time skill doing little damage per spin. Judgment also has the +33% dmg isolation mechanic, so we don't want to offset the healing penalty that DD gives you while hitting multiple targets. Demacian Justice does magic damage so it will not benefit either. Life-steal is just not particularly worth it for us, as we have out of combat sustain, which goes well with our in and out damage type kit. For 3500 gold, it is a huge waste for us. Get Maw of Malmortius if you want something with survivabilty in a fight. TLDR~ It keeps our passive from coming up.

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10% CDR is all you really need on Garen.

It's rather simple really. Getting max CDR is not going to speed up our main Decisive Strike into Judgment combo. Garen is not meant to stay in fights for a long time, especially not with our build. At maximum Garen's combo will take 3 to 3.5 seconds, at all CDR amounts. Someone like Darius needs this CDR to effectively set up his combo, and then keep it going for a long time how he likes. CDR on Garen will only let you have your combo up again a little bit faster. I have never had a problem being stuck at 10% CDR. Our build incorporates 30%, but do not worry about missing 10%, it means nothing.

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Conclusion & Shoutouts

Thank you for reading my guide! I've been working on this in my free time and I'm proud of the outcome. Huge shoutouts to my favorite Garen's linked below, especially MarineRevenge. His builds have inspired me to try out the high damage Garen, and it is what I always run now. Any criticism is welcome, and check out the podcast link below. Marine explains things about Garen better than I could.

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Links - A podcast with MarineRevenge about Garen. - Fantastic Garen channel showcasing match-ups and a similar play-style to this guide. - High ranking midlane Garen with a unique play-style, check him out - Tankier Garen who has unique build ideas

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9/6/17- Added "GAREN PENTA 2", Changed Poppy match-up text, changed some match-up threat levels.
9/12/17- Changed Singed match-up difficulty and text.
9/16/17- Added new fun build for that sick magic pen Garen.
10/7/17- Added Trinity Force to "2nd or 3rd item choices"
10/14/17- Updated Sterak's Gage
11/9/17- Added Glacial Augment build, Removed all season 7 masteries and runes, fixed many errors, and changed some match-up placements.
12/2/17- Added Grasp of the Undying build and explanations. Added to some mu's.
12/8/17- Massive overhaul to Guide with new item orders and suggestions.