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Garen Build Guide by Ortaloo

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Ortaloo

How to Garen 101 - Season 4

Ortaloo Last updated on January 6, 2014
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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: 6

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 21


Utility: 3

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Whatever happens: NEVER FLAME, NEVER!

Try not to be toxic, if you feel like blaming your teammates, do it, but only in your head, or speak it out loud, but not in chat, don't let them notice it unless it's constructive critisism. Seriously, don't flame, ever!

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About me!

So, this is my first guide and I'm only doing this because I thought it would be fun.
I'm not a proplayer or anything, just Gold 1 Elo atm, but on my way up.
Garen is one of my favourite Champions because of his sustain and his ability to come back even after a hard laningphase.
I started to play ranked in Silver 5 (which was horrible, honestly) and found that the easiest way to gain Elo was to carry my team myself. My main role was Toplane, and I played Garen to do so. Garen can be a noobbasher, and if you feel like you are stuck in your lowelo, try this guide;)

If you disagree with my guide, you can try to contact me and I will gladly discuss anything. I can only say, I win most of my games with Garen (61.3% in ranked Gold I, atm). So, enjoy and learn something.

(Play Desert Trooper Garen, he has a Scimitar, which is awesome!)

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Introduction to Garen

Garen,... Garen is one of the most Badass Champions (right after Darius & Jax) that LoL has.
He is perfect for trolling the enemy, going in and out of fights whenever you like, tanking the whole enemy team + a turret and still doing tons of dmg while executing the enemy tank with your Ult.
Long story short: He is fun to play, and not as easy as most people think.

BUT: Garen is not always a good pick. He lacks teamplay ability, and that's mostly what you need, if you want to win.
So, if your team hasn't got any CC DON'T ****ING PICK GAREN.(Some people may say: "BUTBUTBUTBUTBUT, HE GOT SILENCE!"...... yes, he has got a Silence on his Q, but see how much that will help in a teamfight.)
This is the most important lesson you got to learn as a Garen player, you may win your lane, have awesome stats, but still lose the game, because you'll become useless. So, if you ever wonder what else to pick whenever Garen might be bad, I'll try to make some guides for other Champs that can help here(Jax, Jayce, Malph, Elise...will hopefully follow.)

Back to Garen:
Q: Gives you Movespeed on activation (incredible much of it), the next Autoattack deals more dmg + Silences the enemy, and ofc, if you are slowed, you can just make the slow vanish by pressing Q (=awesome)

W: Gives you extra Armor + Mageres for % of ur Armor/Mageres passively (This is what makes u one of the strongest tanks.). On activation you gain a shield that lowers incoming damage and gives you some kind of Tenacity/Some CC-reduction while the shield is active.

E: Spin to win. You spin in circles, can move around freely, deal a lot of dmg to every enemy nearby (every single of these hits can Crit!!!) and you are still able to cast your other spells.

R: Your Ult, the thing that makes everybodys screen shake. Awesome stuff. Useless against Full-HP enemies, but once you've gotten an enemy low, you can finish him. The less HP the enemy has, the higher the Dmg gets.

I recommend to play Garen with all his skills on Smartcast.

Your role as Garen in Lategame/Teamfight:
Your job is either to try to guard your DDs in a teamfight or to get the enemy DDs.
The first thing is pretty hard for you, because you haven't got any real CC, like I said before. The second thing is much easier for you.
You can easily dive into the enemy team, they can Slow you, you can Q it away and rush for the enemy ADC or AP-Caster or whatever you want. With your silence + E dmg you can cause a lot of trouble in the enemy lines, once you see a target drop low, you can ult it for a pretty safe kill. (Watch out that you dont use ur ult on the enemy Support while their ADC ist beating your team up)
Most ADCs will start to run from you, which can be good. Garen is good at splitting up the enemy team, if you do your job right, you will seperate their ADC from the rest of the team. Just send him running, he'll not be able to hurt you;)

Your Job in short terms: Guard, Zone, Split, Dive, Tank, and be ****ing annoying!

So, I just wrote a ****load of text here, for more specific information just take a look into the specific sections.

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Marks: Flat AD for better lasthiting, and punishing the enemy.

Seals: Flat Armor for tankiness + one single Critchance rune.
(if you crit a single time, it can actually change a whole teamfight, 1 armor extra will most likely not make any difference.)

Glyphs: Flat Mageres for tankiness

Quints: Movespeed Quints (for Garen the most important thing is to stay close to the enemy, even if he gets CCed. These help you do so.)
If you don't feel like using Movespeed Quints, go Armorpen, they are usefull as well.

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I usually go 6-21-3 Masteries. Your job is not to deal much dmg, but to be tanky as ****. These Masteries make sure you do your job;)

If you are facing an AD-Toplaner, you can skill Tenacious 4 times instead of Resistance and Evasive.
Against an Ap-Toplaner, you can skill Tenacious 4 times instead of Hardiness and Reinforced Armor.
I'm not done trying the new Masteries, so I am not completly sure which one is better.

In very seldom cases, you can actually go an offensive build. In that case, you can go 21-9-0. But I wouldn't recommend it.

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Basic Summoners are FLASH + IGNITE.
You can also play the following:
GHOST (no need, to be honest)
BARRIER (don't do it, just don't.)

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As Garen your job is tanking, at least in most cases. I too play AD Garen sometimes, Crit Garen especially is a hell lot of fun!
But anyway, usually you'll build into a Offtank.

Against AD-Champions you have to rush Health + Armor.

Against AP-Champions you have to rush Health + Mageres.

Against Champions that you can easily outdmg, buy some AD/Crit.
But don't forget that sooner or later you'll meet 4 other enemies, and they might deal more dmg than your laneenemy!

There can not be ONE GUIDE, TO WIN THEM ALL.
You will always have to adapt to your own playstyle, the enemy and of course your team. You are not playing a Singleplayer game here, take care of your teammates.

Some bad items (in my opinion) that many people build on Garen:
Black Cleaver: This item can be usefull if you spin inside the enemy team while being in teamfights lategame. It will lower all their Armor, which is useful of course.
If you play the way I do, if you dive through the team to kill the enemy carries, it will not be that helpful and you should build Atmas, IE or Last Whisper instead, to maximize your damage.

Boots of Swiftness: Why the hell would you build these boots?! Reduced Slow? You can't be slowed with your Q anyway-.- Get some Armor- or CC-Boots instead, you are fast enough!

Triforce: Okay , I do it myself, but I'll still list it here to make you understand, this item is only very seldom of use. It gives you a bit of health, some critchance and extra dmg after a skill, but it also gives you AP + Mana, which is wasted on Garen, both of it. So really think it through, it can be fun, though I wouldn't build it in a ranked game.

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Lasthiting and Pushing

As Garen it is pretty easy to get a good CS, in early- as well as in lategame.
After you got your E on lvl 3, you can easily destroy the casterminions with only one E.

You can either just run into the wave, make sure your E hits everything and finish the close ranged minions of with Autoattacks + Q,...
OR (even better), Zoning:
You zone your enemy by standing between his minions. if he comes to get a lasthit, you give him a normal hit, followed by a Q and E. He will most likely lose the dmg-trade and you will still be able to get the whole creepwave (if you do it right.)

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Winning lane as Garen

Here's the situation: You are winning your lane, you got more farm, outdmg the enemy, got more kills, something like that.

Here is what you do, freeze the lane and don't let the enemy get close to get any CS. Deny his Farm, and even the Experience if you can. Make sure you got your lane warded, otherwhise you'll get ganked soon and lose everything you won before.
2 places to freeze your lane:
Normal defensive Freeze:
The creeps are fighting on the height of the beginning of the river(the side that is closer to your side, ofc), keep them there, you are only gankable through tribush or from the lane itself. ward tribush and make sure the enemy stays away from ur creeps, sit in the bush and whenever he comes, scare him off with a Q+E from u. Works perfectly.
New Freeze, still testing;)
At the far ending of the river, close to his turret. Some enemys will have problems lasthiting under their turret, if so, buy a pinkward, get it into the riverbush (it now lasts forever, which is awesome!) and keep the lane pushed or frozen close to his turret. He will lose CS to his turret while you can easily get every creep out of a wave with your E + a few lasthits.

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Counters to Garen/Having problems as Garen

In my opinion there are no real counterpicks to Garen, some may say that's wrong, but let me finish...
So, Garen is a Melee Champion, without a real gapcloser, which makes every ranged Champion a Counterpick,...
BUT: His Q + his Lanesustain with his Passive + the Bushes (now three, YES!) are really helping Garen to survive any lane and any gank.
Example, the so called strongest Counterpick: Teemo = Bu ll sh it.
You can counter teemo yourself, get some resistances, push your lane out. Teemo cant push back quick enough. Towerhug early lvls, once you got lvl 3 E, finish the whole wave quick and fall back, heal with passive + Pots until the next wave arrives, do the same thing again. Wait for a gank, finish Teemo quickly because you can easily outdmg him once you are close to him.
And that is how you have to play against nearly every ranged Champion.

Garen has different ways of playing in lane, you can lasthit under turrets pretty well, so if you're getting beaten up really bad, just towerhug, you'll be fine. You can easily steal some kills with your Ult lateron, which will get you back into the game.

Most of the time the key to winning a lane as Garen is to push out the lane real quick. Nearly no other Top-Champion can push so fast. Afterwards press Q and go roaming, disturb the enemy jungler, gank/dive mid and get a kill with your Ult. Just use the fact that your skills don't cost anything and that you are really fast with your Q.

If you really don't stand a chance in your lane, let them finish your turret and make sure you are of use somewhere else, get a drake, help bot, something. If you see in Champselect, that your lanenemy might beat you up, reconsider playing with Flash + Teleport. It allows you to go back on early lvls without losing CS and gank after lvl 6 with a high killrate.
Just don't do anything that will harm your teammates, like farming your ADCs farm, he'll need it more than you;)

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General Stuff

Just because Garen hasn't got any skillshots, it doesn't mean that he is easy to play. I agree, Viktor is harder, and Anivia as well, and many other Champs too, but it's not like a Garen-pick means you are winning instantly. To master Garen, you got to learn when to engage, who to engage and when to run. Don't underestimate this knowledge.

Game started: Move towards Toplane and buy while you are walking, the shop-range is higher towards the toplane!

Arriving: GUARD SOMETHING, either your tribush, your Bluebuff or whatever, don't be useless under the turret!

Coming from Base: PRESS Q, don't waste time

Your Lane is pushed: Roam, disturb the enemy, but always time it right so you don't miss CS.

Your Jungler timed the Bluebuff badly: Your Jungler is bot while your blue is up, push your lane, do the blue for your midlaner, make yourself usefull! Don't just sit top.

Whatever you do, try to get all the lasthits, practice it! In a normal case you can even lasthit under the enemy turret. It doesn't matter if you tank one or two shots (in most cases, don't blame me if you die.) The first Turrethit deals less dmg anyway.

Bluebuff (5 min respawn) = Normally not for u, give it to someone who can actually use it!
Redbuff (5 min respawn)= Might be usefull, but I'm sure somebody else might have more use of it.
Wraiths (50 sec respawn)= Quick money for you, if you got nothing else to do.
Wolfs (50 sec respawn)= Takes you a bit longer than Wraiths, might be worth it.
Golems (50 sec respawn)= Nearly never worth it, costs too much time.
Big Ghost/Wight (50 sec respawn)= Not worth it, doesn't deal dmg to you, but it takes you ages to do it.
Drake (6 min respawn) - ALWAYS time the Dragon-respawntimer
Baron (7 min respawn) - ALWAYS time the Baron-respawntimer

Try to time your buffs too, it's easy to do and helps your whole team. Just activate timestamps and everytime you do a buff, write the respawntimer real quick. Just do it!

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Explanations for Dummies

DMG = Damage
AR = Armor (more armor lets you take less physical dmg.)
MR = Magical resistance (more MR lets you take less magical dmg.)
ADC = Attack Damage Carry (Vayne, Graves, Ezreal,...)
APC = Ability Power Caster/Carry (Brand, Xerath, LeBlanc,...)
DD = Damage Dealer (ADCs + APCs)
Tank = The one that tries to take the dmg instead of the DDs.
Offtank = Offensive Tank, a Champion that tries to play hybrid.
CS = Creepscore (Your lasthits on Creeps/Monsters)
CC = Crowdcontrol (Things you can do to enemys: Stun, Slow, Silence, Snare, Root, Knockup/Airborne, aaaaaahm....I guess some more, stuff like that)
AA = Autoattack (Normal Attack every champion can do without any cost)
Crit = Critical strike (An Autoattack that deals double dmg(or more in some cases))
Tribush = The bush with the triangular shape that can be entered from the top/botlane, the river and the jungle(there is only one Bush like that, go find it yourself!)
BT = Bloodthirster
IE = Infinity Edge
LW = Last Whisper
GA = Guardian Angel