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Garen Build Guide by Der Bestimmer

Top [Season 12] Garen Guide - by Der Bestimmer

Top [Season 12] Garen Guide - by Der Bestimmer

Updated on October 30, 2022
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13,091 Views 2 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Der Bestimmer Garen Build Guide By Der Bestimmer Updated on October 30, 2022
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Runes: CQ + Resolve 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Legend: Tenacity
Last Stand


+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor


1 2 3 4 5
Flash + Ignite
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Champion Build Guide

[Season 12] Garen Guide - by Der Bestimmer

By Der Bestimmer

Hello everyone!

This is my Season 12 Guide on Garen Top, as well as his Off-Meta Jungle Role.
I focus mainly on Builds and Runes to show Synergies between them.
Let me know if you need clarification on certain things!

Garen is a strong Carry Juggernaut, that works in many Situations.
He is a Freight Train Juggernaut like Volibear or Udyr. That means he has means of increased Speed with high Impact Damage. He has good Anti-CC measures in his Kit, as well as an execute Ultimate.

My Builds are following 3 Philosophies in this Guide - Dueling=D, Takedown=TD and Mobility=M:

  • D = Dueling Path - uses Conqueror and as Nieche Rune Grasp of the Undying.
    It will make you a Duelist with good DPS and Sustain as well as measures like Armor Shred / Anti Heal against Melee Enemies
  • TD = Takedown Path - uses Predator in Mid and Jungle.
    This path turns you into a Hunter with Damage Enhancement and good Mobility / Tankiness to go for low Health / Vulnerable Targets and take them down, even behind Enemy Lines. You want to be be as tanky and resistant to CC as much as possible and inflict high Impact Damage on Contact with the Target - before they can escape or retaliate.
  • M = Mobility Path - uses Phase Rush
    This path is against ranged and high Mobility Targets - it gives you the highest Amount of Sticking Power and Anti-Kiting Capabilities to apply your Damage over the longest time possible.

For an Overview of the Champion have a look at these Guides by Mobalytics:

For a more in-depth Guide on Garen watch this Video by The Glacierr:

You can follow me on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube for regular Content Updates!

General Abbreviations
General Abbrevations:
- CQ = Conqueror
- FF = Fleet Footwork
- PTA = Press the Attack
- LT = Lethal Tempo
- PR = Phase Rush
- D = Dueling Build
- TD = Takedown Build
- M = Mobility Build
- MS = Movement Speed
- LS = Lifesteal
- AD = Attack Damage
- AS = Attack Speed
- AP = Ability Power
- HP = Health Points
- AR = Armor
- MR = Magical Restistance
- Res = Resistances
- AdD = Adaptive Damage
- AA = Auto Attack
- AoE = Area of Effect
- DoT = Damage over Time
General Resources


Abilities & Combos


Have a look at this Overview of Garen's Kit by TiltShades:

Have a look at Garen's Abilities:

  • P: Perseverance
    Garen's Passive gives him great Sustain in Lane - he needs only HP since he is manaless - so it is better to fall back sometimes, than get your passive canceled all the time until you have to recall.
  • Q: Decisive Strike
    His Q Ability gives him Move Speed and an enhanced Damage Attack. It is an Auto Attack Reset. More Important - Activating the Ability removes Slows from Garen - use it wisely!
  • W: Courage
    Another Anti-CC and Anti-Burst Measure is his W. It gives him high Tenacity for 0.75 sec, practically removing CC on Impact. You also get a Shield and Damage Reduction. Learning when to use Q and W is the difference between shredding an Enemy and being kited to death.
  • E: Judgment
    Since E shreds Armor, E into Q deals potentially more damage. E scales with Attack Speed, Attack Damage and can crit.
  • R: Demacian Justice
    His Ult is a True Damage Execute in that way, that it deals damage relative to the target's missing HP - It works well with Coup de Grace when enemies are low HP and with Last Stand when Garen is losing HP due to Dueling or Poke Damage.

General Mechanics Concepts:

For more insights into League's Micro Mechanics have a look at my YT Micro Playlist HERE!

For Basic Movement Concepts for Melee Champions look at the Mechanics Section of my Udyr Phoenix Guide HERE.

Garen's Combos:

Garen's Moves

Sticking correctly, together with Garen's Combos and Abilities (see below) is extremely Important.
You don't want to just right click an opponent and let Garen walk after him.
You want to combine Attack Commands and Movement Commands as well as your Combos for maximum Efficiency.
  • The Foundation of all Combos: The Animation Cancel

    An Auto Attack consists of 3 Parts:
    Wind Up
    Attack Hit
    Wind down

    - NOW, if you just right click or Attack Move onto an Opponent, even if you reach him and start hitting, your Champion will go through all Phases of the Auto Attack.

    - BUT - as you can see - the Wind Down does nothing for us. It has no Damage!
    It is wasting Time.
    How can we use this time better? ... YES - by moving in between Attacks or using an Auto Attack Resert / an Ability.

    - So - to correctly Kite as a Ranged Champion or Stick as a Melee Champion you input a Movement Command right after your Attack hits the opponent (that means your Hand, Hammer, Sword smacks the Enemy etc. or, in case of Ranged Champs - your Projectile leaves your Weapone - )
    - and therefore deny the Wind down its time!

    - Have a look at this AA Analysis by LoL Analyst for insights into the Concept:

    - I would advise you to turn on Damage Numbers in League, so you get a Visual Feedback when your Attack has dealt its Damage.
    Click here for a Screenshot of the needed Option.

  • The Next Step: Garen's Combos

    Garen Combo Overview on Mobalytics.

    1. Your standard Melee Combo:

      • AA + Q Reset
      • E ínto instant AA
      • R
    2. Your E-Q Combo:

      • E onto Enemy
      • Cancel E for instant AA + Q Reset
      • R
      • Alt.: Activate Q during E for Move Speed and instant Q after E

      More Combo Resources:

      • For the above Combos look at this Video Guide by
        LoL Dobby:

      • Another one by Bav Bros:

      • And one by Hoompty:


Item Philosophy

These are the main Items for the three Paths.


Stridebreaker is your Utility Item for Dueling / Takedown / Mobility Builds. It will help you stick to targets and not let them slip our of your E to apply the full shred and get Conqueror Stacks. Also works nicely with stacking up Black Cleaver.

Don't use your Slows at the same time though, but rather in Sequence, because Slow Amounts do not stack.
As long as you can hit an Enemy Stridebreaker will give you extra MS, so the extra MS from your Q synergizes well with it.
You can stack the Passive up on Minions, Monsters and Plants, then engage an enemy Champion with more MS on your Approach.

Mortal Reminder

Mortal Reminder is your goto DPS Item. It Scales up your AS, AD and Movement Speed, giving you Crits on your AA, Q and E, as well as applying Grievous Wounds, making you a threatening Force against Squishier Targets and Sustain Champs alike.
With the Tank Build Black Cleaver and Chempunk Chainsword are more suitable though.

Trinity Force

Trinity Force is your high DPS Mythic. It Scales up your AS, AD and Movement Speed, making you a threatening Force against Squishier Targets.
In Lane you can get Triforce for Split Push and 1v1 Dueling together with Hullbreaker, BorK, Sterak's and Demolish. Since the Triforce Passive also stacks on Towers, you will melt Towers in Mid to Late Game.
Trinity Force has great Synergy with Sterak's Gage since Triforce gives you Base-AD, from which Sterak's pulls its Bonus-AD Increse!

Sunfire Aegis

Sunfire Aegis is your Tank Item for Dueling / Teamfighting. It sclaes with Grasp / Overgrowth.
It gives you Tank Stats, HP Scaled AoE Damage and Tenacity.
Garen can use the AoE well with his E.

Dead Man's Plate

Armor Item for Mobility. Improves your Freight Train Qualities a lot and gives you more Impact Damage, especially with Sheen / Q.
It will not give you Dueling Stats like Randuin's or Thornmail once you reach your target.

The Impact Damage Scales with Base AD, so you can't enhance it directly other than with levels and Triforce.
Try to dodge CC with its MS to not lose Momentum Stacks.

Force of Nature

Your goto MR Itema and a great Item for Mobility, Gives you MS when getting hit by Magic Damage or CC, something that will happen to Garen a lot. Each instance stacks up the Passive. At 6 Stacks Magic Damage also gets reduced by 25% on you. If you get kited a lot, this item will beat Spirit.
Wit's End is kind of the Alternative here. It gives you better Dueling and good Sticking Power, but your Approach to the Target will be slower.
Also Maw of Malmortius is ok on Triforce Builds in general.
It is also a Consideration when stacking HP is bad - against Vayne / Gnar etc.


Item for Dueling against strong Sustain Champions. Nothing in your Kit will trigger he 40% Grievous Wounds though. So Mortal Reminder is often the better Choice, unless you are going a very tanky Build. Another Armor Item will benefit the Return Damage a lot.
If you need Heal Reduction against Casters like Aatrox, that can chose not to AA you, aggressive Items like Mortal Reminder or Chempunk Chainsword are in general better options.

Randuin's Omen

Another Item for Dueling against Hypercarries / Crit Users with the Tank Build. You reduce their Damage on you through the Passive as well as the Active and it gives you a Slow on Top for more Sticking Power.
Try not to stack your Slows though since they will not Stack! Use them in Sequence as much as possible!

Spirit Visage

Another Tank Build Item Choice - it will Synergize with your Passive. It will boost any Shields and Healing Sources you get and interacts with Revitalize. It will also boost Regeneration and Vamp Effects as well as Lifesteal.
It will not make you more mobile though!


  • Berserker's Greaves

    They are Garen's current Meta - Shoes. Great for Scaling up your E early on and for Dueling and stacking Conqueror in general. They will not make you thougher though. So if you are dealing with a lot of Poke / CC in Lane, consider another Choice early on.
  • Mercury Treads

    These are your Anti CC Option. You will not need them when taking Sunfire Aegis + 1 of the Tenacity Runes Legend: Tenacity or Unflinching.

  • Boots of Swiftness

    They are great if the Enemy Team has mostly Slows to kite you or are very mobile with MS Buffs or Dashes. Swifties will give you the most Speed in a very reliable Manner.
    Remember, that they will reduce the Amount of Slow you receive (meaning you are not slowed down as much), while Treads above will reduce the Duration of the Slow.

  • Plated Steelcaps

    They are great against all Sorts of Autoattackers, Ranged and Melee. They will also reduce the Damage Monsters deal to you.
    Because the Reduction is fixed at 12% they will stay valuable throughout the game. Together with Randuins / Frozen Heart you can cut off a huge portion of a Hypercarries damage potential on you.
    Remember, that they don't work on Tower Shots though!

You can download my premade Rune-Book File for LoL Rune Changer HERE.
To import the Item Sets after you downloaded them:
- Go to the extracted LoL Rune Changer Folder - be Sure the App is closed!
- Backup your old "RuneChangerRuneBook.dat"
- Paste my Rune Book File you downloaded above into the Rune Changer Folder
- Start the App again - my Runes are now available.
- Click on the Plus Signs right to the rune Pages to import them into your LoL Client
- for more information about LoL Rune Changer look at their Wiki

Rune Philosophy:

As mentioned in the Intro Section these Builds follow 3 Philosophies:

Main Runes:

General Runes Advise:

- Conqueror for sustained Trades, Heal Synergy with Revitalize / Damage Buffs
- Phase Rush / Nimbus Cloak + Celerity for Mobility
- Predator is for Mobility between Lanes / Jungle Ganks. The whole Domination Setup is for Games where you are going for Roaming Power and Takedowns for Damage Scaling.
- Grasp of the Undying for HP Scaling, Q-Poke Damage and Sustain. Best for short Trades in Lane.

- Triumph / Treasure Hunter - increased Income on Takedown Focus
- Coup de Grace against Squishy Teams.
- Last Stand for Damage increase when getting low - good for Dueling with Conqueror and Mobility Pages to deal increased Damage after taking Damage while approaching a Target.
- Legend: Alacrity against Dueling Matchups
- Legend: Tenacity / Unflinching for Anti CC / Anti Kite
- Second Wind against Poke
- Bone Plating against Burst Combos
- Conditioning for Resistance Scaling when building a lot of Tank Items
- Overgrowth for HP Scaling for Sunfire / Demolish / Passive
- Demolish + Overgrowth for Split pushing [L] - good with Triforce
- Taste of Blood - for Dueling Setups with Scaling some AD / AP, Synergizes with Revitalize / Spirit Visage
- Zombie Ward / Eyeball Collection - for fast AD / AP Scaling when ahead, feeds into FF, CQ, Blade of the ruined King LS. Indirectly Supports PTA, Last Stand, Coup de Grace.
- Transcendence for Ability Uptime
- Gathering Storm for Late Game raw Damage Scaling for Dueling / Takedown / Moblity Builds
- Nimbus Cloak / Celerity / Waterwalking / Relentless Hunter for Mobility Builds
You can download my premade Build Files for the LoL Client HERE.
To import the Item Sets after you downloaded them:
- Go to your Collection
- Click on Items
- Click on the Downward Arrow Button called "Import Item Sets" left of the Search
- Select my Build File on your Hard-Drive Location and click OK.
- The Build is now available in your Client and In-Game

I collect Off-Meta Build Ideas for my Champion Roster in my Experimental Builds Guide! Have a look!

Build Philosophy:

As explained in the Intro Chapter, I categorize the Builds into the Categories:
  • Dueling
  • Takedown
  • Mobility

Table of Contents:
  1. General Hints
  2. Triforce Builds
  3. Stridebreaker Builds
  4. Sun-/Frostfire Builds

General Hints:

Starting Items:
- Doran's Shield with Second Wind against Poke Lanes / Ranged
(- Doran's Blade for Melee Trades with Bone Plating against Combos.) - atm rather Nieche with bad WR.
- Take Red Smite against Close Range Burst and Melee Damage Dealers. Take Blue Smite against Ranged or for Nimbus Cloak Synergy.
- If you go for mobile Takedown Builds with E max over W, take Flash, especially if the Enemy can scale Walls well. If you go for more immobile Trading Builds against Melee Comps, take Ghost.

- Boots in all Builds are situational.
- Be aware, that Boots of Swiftness and Unflinching decrease the Amount of Slow you receive, while Tenacity reduces the Duration of Slows.

Anti Heal:
- get Bramble + Steelcaps against Enemies that Autoattack you a lot, get Executioner's against Enemies that avoid attacking you with Auto Attacks / you want to all in.
Be aware, that the Thornmail Return Damage will also give you a Phase Rush Stack and feeds into Omnivamp!

CC / Kite:
- get Quicksilver against Suppression Ults (Morde, WW...) or high CC amounts.
- Your Options against high Mobility / Kiting are:
  • Items: Stridebreaker, Triforce, Black Cleaver, Force of Nature, Dead Man's Plate, Randuin's Omen
  • Boots: Mercury's Treads, Boots of Swiftness
  • Runes:
    - Anti Slow / CC: Legend: Tenacity, Unflinching
    - Speed Buff: Phase Rush, Nimbus Cloak, Celerity, Waterwalking
    - Sustain: Second Wind, Revitallize (with D-Shield)
  • Spells: Blue Smite, Ghost
Build Paths:
- You can always go full Tank after your Mythic Item and Mortal Reminder. In General you want to avoid dying as much as possible when ahead, while going for some more damage for Comeback Plays when behind. Stridebreaker is safer than Triforce, because it gives you Utility for Comebacks together with your Team when behind.
- Look for Synergies for Mobility / Anti Kite in Mobility oriented Builds and Sustain / De-Buff / Damage Synergies in Dueling Builds.
- Trinity Force and Sterak's stack Base AD into Bonus AD together, also against Towers! Hullbreaker and Demolish will give you even more Pushing Power.

The Builds:

  1. Sheen Builds

    [D] Triforce Build 1 [L]+[J]

    Primary Runes:
    Legend: Tenacity Legend: Alacrity
    Last Stand Coup de Grace
    Grasp of the Undying
    Second Wind

    Secondary Runes:

    Resolve Tree:
    Conditioning + Unflinching for late Game Scaling / TF Mobility
    Second Wind + Unflinching Revitalize against Ranged
    Bone Plating + Unflinching against Combo Damage
    Conditioning + Overgrowth for Late Game Scaling
    Demolish + Overgrowth for Split Pushing [L]

    Sorcery Tree:
    Nimbus Cloak+ Celerity
    Transcendence+ Gathering Storm

    Item Builds
    Trinity Force
    Berserker's Greaves
    Mortal Reminder
    Dead Man's Plate
    Force of Nature

    Damage Options:
    Black Cleaver
    Sterak's Gage
    Chempunk Chainsword
    Silvermere Dawn
    Guardian Angel
    Maw of Malmortius
    Defense Options:
    Randuin's Omen
    Spirit Visage

  2. Whip Builds

    Stridebreaker Build 1 [L]+[J]

    Primary Runes:
    Legend: Tenacity Legend: Alacrity
    Last Stand Coup de Grace
    Phase Rush [L]
    Nimbus Cloak
    Gathering Storm Waterwalking[J]

    Predator [Mid]+[J]
    Taste of Blood
    Eyeball Collection Zombie Ward[J]
    Ultimate Hunter Relentless Hunter[J]

    Secondary Runes:

    Resolve Tree:
    Conditioning Unflinching for late Game Scaling / TF Mobility
    Second Wind Unflinching Revitalize against Ranged
    Bone Plating Unflinching against Combo Damage
    Conditioning Overgrowth for Late Game Scaling
    Demolish Overgrowth for Split Pushing [L]

    Sorcery Tree:
    Nimbus Cloak Celerity
    Transcendence Gathering Storm
    Waterwalking [J]

    Precision Tree:
    Legend: Tenacity Legend: Alacrity
    Last Stand Coup de Grace

    Domination Tree:
    Taste of Blood
    Eyeball Collection Zombie Ward [J]
    Relentless Hunter Ultimate Hunter

    Item Builds
    Berserker's Greaves
    Mortal Reminder
    Dead Man's Plate
    Force of Nature
    Black Cleaver

    Damage Options:
    Chempunk Chainsword
    Silvermere Dawn
    Guardian Angel
    Maw of Malmortius
    Defense Options:
    Gargoyle Stoneplate
    Spirit Visage

  3. Fire Builds

    Sunfire Build 1 [L]

    Primary Runes:
    Grasp of the Undying
    Conditioning Bone Plating
    Overgrowth Unflinching

    Secondary Runes:

    Precision Tree:
    Legend: Tenacity
    Last Stand

    Item Builds
    Sunfire Aegis
    Plated Steelcaps
    Black Cleaver
    Sterak's Gage
    Spirit Visage

    Damage Options:
    Defense Options:
    Gargoyle Stoneplate
    Warmog's Armor
    Dead Man's Plate
    Randuin's Omen
    Force of Nature

    Frostfire Build 1 [L]

    - GU / PR as above with Demolish

    Item Builds
    Iceborn Gauntlet
    Mercury's Treads
    Titanic Hydra
    Sterak's Gage
    Dead Man's Plate
    Spirit Visage

    Damage Options:
    Black Cleaver (Good with PR)
    Chempunk Chainsword
    Youmuu's Ghostblade [Mid]
    Defense Options:
    Gargoyle Stoneplate
    Warmog's Armor
    Randuin's Omen
    Force of Nature

General Matchup Tips:

- For specific Matchup Guides have a look at the enemy Champion's Mobalytics Page and Page for Advise.

- You can also use the LoLAlytics Matchup Stats via their Search Engine from Garen's Main Page.
Just go to his page there and then enter your enemy champion matchup into the Search bar in the upper right corner. On the right side of the list you can click on the "vs." Matchup result.
For example against Dr. Mundo:
- Another great Resource is Solokill. It offers 1v1 Clips for all Champion Matchups.

- You can find even more Matchup Statistics Sites on my ULTIMATE Link List for League of Legends.

- It is also always a good Idea to watch some High Elo Games of the Matchup you are interested in via Youtube.
Here is a Search Example for Dr. Mundo.

Matchup Lists on Reddit:

Great Video Guide for all Top Lane Matchups for Garen by The Glacierr:

He covers Matchups for Season 12 in the Video Guide in my Intro Section.
Top Lane Basics

Top Lane Guide:

  • The best Introduction to Basic League Concepts I know is made by Phroxzon from UNSWLOLSOC (the makers of the original Leaguecraft 101).
    If you want to learn League in the most efficient way, check out his great Content HERE.

  • For a quick Guide on Garen Top, have a look at his Mobalytics Guide Page!

  • My own Garen YT Playlist with lots of Content.
  • For general Top Lane Guides / Macro have a look at my own Youtube Top Lane Playlist and Youtube Macro Playlist!

Intro Guide to Garen Top by GameLeap:

Intro Coaching Session for Garen by LS - Oldie but Goldie:

Neace Guide for Garen Top:

3 Hour Masterclass for Garen Top by The Glacierr:

Jungle Basics

Jungle Guide:

Have a look at these Jungle Coachings by Neace:

The Jungle Clear:


  • Most Times you want to full Clear and reach Level 6 as fast as possible!

  • Do my Ward Swap Trick in the beginning to get Sweeper rdy for Ganks and protect your Buff from Invades.

    Video from my Youtube Channel on how to do it:

  • Always try to spot the Enemy Jungler's Starting Point from paying attention to which Enemy Lane is late to Lane after their Leash.

    For a Guide about Basic Tracking watch this Video by ProGuides:

  • While you clear, train yourself to always move the camera to your closest lane while moving from one Camp to the other (in your downtime so to say).

  • In General, look at the Minimap every 10 seconds.
    You can use a Metronome at 6 bpm for that. Look here for an Online Version: LINK.

    For a little Guide about Map awareness, have a look at this Video from my Youtube Channel:

  • Whenever you are not behind, get a Pink Ward on every Back to protect your Jungle / Lanes. You also want to get Sweeper early on for ganking / Clearing Enemy Vision in your Jungle. Only swap back to Trinket Wards if your Team gets very behind and you need the Vision Protection.

  • Practice to always do "Cross Map Actions" - Whenever you spot the Enemy Jungler doing something on the other side of the map condition yourself to do sth too.
    Invade his Camps, Gank, get Tower / Herald / Drake etc.

  • To not lose Aggro while kiting Camps, have a look at Phylaris' Jungle Monster Patience Guide:

  • For optimal Camp Kiting for time and HP efficiency study these Phylaris Guides:
    • Standard Kiting:

    • Advanced Kiting:

Now to Garen's Clear Routes.

For Jungle Full Clears level E-Q-E-W for the first 4 Levels.
  • Red Start - Jungle Full Clear Video by Zen'Kih:

  • Red Start - Jungle Full clear Video by Phylaris:


That's it for now folks!

Thank you for reading my guide and I hope you got something out of it.

If you want sth added to the guide, let me know too! I will see what I can do :).

Also, have a look at my other Content:

MOBAFire Guides:

Tutorials and Collections:

You can also follow me on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube!

Have a great Time in the rift!!!

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