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Garen Build Guide by SRSAirbag

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author SRSAirbag

The Legend Known as Garen (Season 4)

SRSAirbag Last updated on August 7, 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: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Season 4 brought a lot of very cool and anticipated updates, however only a couple of them effect Garen. These are mostly the item changes, and the new items.

This guide will hopefully "guide" you on the right aspects of playing Garen. For those of you who played Garen before Season 4, I think that he should be played almost the same way as he was before, apart from small, but nonetheless important tweaks. If you have never played Garen before, than hopefully this guide will help you learn to play him as well.

Garen is an off-tank/AD Bruiser/tank, however can be played as pure tank. For those who don't know, an off-tank is a champion that builds items to be able to deal damage, while still being able to soak up a lot of damage. This often includes having some defensive and offensive abilities in their kit, and builds items that give offense, and defense. A lot of off tanks are anti-carries, which mean they can destroy an ADC in a straight one v one match up.

So, on with the Garen guide!

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Pros and Cons

Pros / Cons


+ // Easy to get the hang of
+ // Scales well from early to late game
+ // Can secure kills well
+ // Great farmer
+ // Good aoe damage w/ Judgment
+ // Can soak up a lot of damage w/ Courage

- // Prone to KSing if not careful
- // Countered hard by certain champions
- // Decisive Strike Only removes slows on activation (Solved with items)
- // Can be kited easily
- // Courage lasts a very short time at low levels ( 2 seconds )

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As an off-tank/AD Bruiser, defensive masteries are generally more important than the defensive masteries, because for an off-tank, you generally have slightly more defense than offense early in the game. Garen's early game was weakened with the mid August 2013 patch, so these are more important than ever, because it is here where they make the most difference. If you didn't play Garen before the patch, then you should just take defensive masteries. The new defense masteries for season 4 help Garen a lot.

In the defensive tree I pick up armor and magic resist because they synergize with Courage, as well as helping the early game. I then pick up some HP and Hp regen because I will get the benefit of more hitpoints and regeneration which synergizes extremely well with Garen's passive Perseverance. stacks very well with Courage as well, it synergizes nicely.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

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Summoner Spells

Flash: Always choose this spell. This spel is a must have for almost every champion. This combined with Decisive Strike can get you out of almost every situation. Whether its flashing over a wall escaping sheer death, or giving that extra distance between you and a pursuing enemy.

Ignite: My second spell. I can't count how many times I wouldn't have gotten the kill if I hadn't had this spell.

Exhaust: Another viable choice if you prefer it over Ignite. This well help in a 1v1 against that annoying Tryndamere or Teemo.

Teleport: This is another good option, which can replace Ignite. This is a very useful spell uunder some circumstances, and even more useful for getting back to your lane quickly after going back for items/dieing.

Barrier: I don't like this spell. Even though it is new, it is not helpful on Garen, and only on assassins because the shield lasts for only 2 seconds. There are better options.

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Ability Explanation

Ability Explanation

  • Perseverance: // This is frankly an amazing passive. Spend half a minute in the brush while your lanes pushed and boom, full hp. With the patch lane minions don't disrupt this so just make sure if you need to heal don't let the enemy champ poke you.
  • Decisive Strike (Q): // This is one of the key abilities in the so called combo, Spin to Win. This abilitie's silence and speed boost make Garen the bane of AP solo tops.
  • Courage (W): // Courage is one of the reasons why Garen is so naturally tanky. It gives a whopping 20% increase in armor and magic resist, and when activated reduces damage by a scaled amount.
  • Judgment (E): // This is the bread and butter of off-tank Garen. Garen will spin with his sword out, dealing damage every half a second based on his total AD. This is great for team fights where everyone is around you, and is also a great farming tool. Use this in combination with Decisive Strike, by silencing them and then using Judgment. They will be silenced and you will also be moving faster than them so the take full damage from Judgment.
  • Demacian Justice (R): // Not much to explain here. Demacian Justice does damage based on how much hp the enemy is missing. Use this ability as a finisher/kill-securer.

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Ability Sequence

Ability Sequence Order

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

> > >

Demacian Justice: Always prioritize your Ultimate for leveling up first, this is pretty much the same with any character, except for a special few like Udyr. This becomes available at levels 6,11,and 16, so get it at levels 6,11, and 16 :D.

Judgment: Prioritize this just after Demacian Justice because it is Garen's main damage dealer.

Decisive Strike: This will be the next skill to max after judgement. Maxing it 3rd gives it the much needed longer silence duration that gives Garen some much needed cc. This will also increase your damage and move faster :D.

Courage: I max this skill last because we are not building tank Garen. This skill is good enough to just put 1 point in it early, and still be very effective.

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Item Sequence

Doran's Blade

  • Dorans Blade: // This is a great item to start off with with Garen because it provides an early game damage boost. Boots are not needed as much due to his Decisive Strike, and also pots aren't need due to his passive, Perseverance.
  • : // I find this item invaluable for off-tank Garen. The extra magic resist and tenacity these boots give makes the better them anyone other boots for Garen. Who doesn't love tenacity?
  • : // Frozen Mallet is a solid choice for an off-tank. It gives much needed health while giving some AD and an amazing passive. With this, you and your teammates will be able to chase down enemies with ease, because you can catch up to them with Decisive Strike and then slow them with Frozen Mallet's passive.
  • : // This item is an item that players get when they have a lot of health, to get some extra damage and some other nice stuff. Because we have Frozen Mallet which gives us 700 health, this is a great item. As well as that, this gives us some needed tankiness from armor, and crit chance which helps Judgment's damage a ton.
  • : // This is a great choice for an off-tank. It gives good armor and magic resist, which always helps our passive on Courage. The main reason we get Guardian Angel is because of its passive. You die and then come back to life. This is invaluable in teamfights, and will make the enemy team less likely to focus you instead of the tank, so you can reap havoc with aoe damage on Judgment.
  • : // The early The Brutalizer gives much needed armor pen, AD, and most importantly, Cooldown reduction. Garen is ALL about CD reduction. Because the enemy will know that when your Judgment is on CD, most of your damage is gone. The Black Cleaver is my first item because it provides Garen with everythign it needs, and plus Judgement is basically made to synergize with the passive on it. This should be the core item of every Garen build.
  • : // This item helps fill the gap between your armor and magic resistance, by giving you more magic resistance. It also gives some much needed AD to finish off your build, and gives not 1, but 2 amazing passives. First, your get 1 attack damage for every 2.5% hp you are missing. Pretty self explanatory, its just some more bonus AD when your low on health. It's second one, gives a 400 magic damage shield if magic damage would leave you at less than 30% health. This is an amazing passive because it means that AP caster's cannot nuke you down.

Some may ask, WHY DID YOU NOT GET IE ON Garen IT HAS EVERYTHING HE NEEDS! I did not get IE on Garen because I think it is to expensive for the things it offers Garen. We are already doing enough damage,as well as providing insane utility for the rest of the team with The Black Cleaver and need to be more tanky. Garen is not a tanky dps. He as an AD Bruiser/off-tank. Once Judgment is on CD, he doesn't have much damage. IE is for dps builds. This is not one of them. The 50% increase on CS damage is very nice, but simply not worth it for Garen. Other items provide what he needs more. This can be switched with Maw of Malmortius late game however, if you feel like you don't need the extra magic resistance, or the opposing team is AD Heavy.

This item can be exchanged with Mercury's Treads if you are against a basic attack heavy champion, like Tryndamere

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Situational Items

Sometimes, it is best to change your original build to make it work better in your certain game. This is okay, and this is normal. Generally, the build I use above will work, but their are circumstances that might lead you to change it, in order to do better.

For example: You notice that they have 4 ap casters, and 1 ad. You should change the build to include a Force of Nature or a Banshee's Veil. Same goes for if they only have 1 AP.

This is a guide. Something to guide your playing, It is not set in stone.

Another example with changing the build to fit the game would be if you are facing a heavy auto-attacker solo top. For instance: Tryndamere. In this case, you might want to switch out Mercury's Treads for Ninja Tabi, because Ninja Tabi give a 10% damage reduction to ALL basic attacks, as well as some extra armor.

Even though I explained why I didn't pick Infinity Edge in the items section, it is still a very viable pick for any game. I would pick up an Infinity Edge late game instead of Maw of Malmortius, if I wasn't having any problems with AP carries.

If you think that a Sunfire Cape would work better than a Guardian Angel for many reasons due to the game, then by all means take it instead. Guardian Angel is included in the Core build, but that does not mean you should get it every game.


If you click on the second Garen face at the top of the screen, it displays ANOTHER cheat sheet for if you are facing an AD Heavy team. Use this if you happen to be facing 4 AD's :D.

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Basic Gameplay

Garen is a very flexible champion. He is easy to learn and good for new players. The position in the current meta for Garen is that he solo's top lane. Other people in their respective positions, is 1 jungler, 1 mid lane, and 2 people bot lane. Generally tanky bruisers go top lane, while the other types of champions are disttributed elsewhere on the map.

To start off, buy a Doran's Blade, Boots and 3 health pots also work, but are not as need due to his passive. Pick up a point in Decisive Strike, and then head top. If the jungler wants you too, protect his jungle by standing next to blue buff. We get Decisive Strike first because it is good reliable poke damage, and it means you can escape a level 2 gank with ease, without popping Flash

If nothing happens top, (Generally nothing does), last hit minions by only hitting them when they are low hitpoints, so you will kill them in 1 hit. Do this because otherwise you will push your lane to the other tower. And while this is not really bad, it means the enemy jungler can come in and gank you very easily. Especially because you haven't bought wards yet!

Pick up Decisive Strike at level 2, and now your ready to iniate your first battle at solo top. Garen is a champion that is best played semi aggressive. Run in with Decisive Strike, silence the enemy champion and then use Judgment. After Judgment ends, you will want to get out of the other champs range, because they will be trying to fight back after the silence ends. If your at lower health than the enemy champion, try to get Perseverance active and not get hit for awhile, until your hitpoints regenerate.

At level 6, you should put a point into Demacian Justice, and now you will almost certainly succeed if you duel the enemy champion.

The first time you go back should be around level 6, unless you have been forced out of lane, or you forced the other person out of lane. If you force the other person out of lane without killing them, push the minion wave and then head back with a blue pill.

Hopefully you will have enough money for Boots of Speed and the The Brutalizer + a couple Sight ward's. If not, buy Boots of Speed, a Longsword or 2, and a couple Sight ward's. If you feel like you are doing bad in lane, buy a couple Doran's Blade's. These help for sustain and tankiness, which allow for an easier time in lane ableit at less damage.


Hopefully you now have an idea of how to play Garen a little better. If not, their are plenty of video's on youtube than can help you understand better.

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and then

If neccessary follow up with plus

In general, the only combo you want to be doing as Garen, is using Decisive Strike + Judgment, and then Courage while your spinning, and finish off the enemy champion with Ignite and/or Demacian Justice. The combo is called Spin to Win, and you will often here people call it that.

Another combo that might be useful would be to run up and auto attack the enemy champ ONCE, and then use Decisive Strike. This is because there is no delay between your first auto attack and Decisive Strike. Only use this combo if you don't need the speed boost from Decisive Strike to catch them.

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Not much to say here. When your top, you want to last hit with basic attacks, and when the enemy champ tries to last hit as well, engage them with the Decisive Strike + Judgment Combo. You can use your Judgment to farm if the enemy champ is not in lane/dead, we only use this then even though its a great farming tool because if the enemy champ is smart, they will attack you when your Judgment is on CD and then back off.

If you are at low health, simply wait the brush until you regain enough to continue last hitting

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Team Fights

In a teamfight, you should wait for your tank to iniate, and then use Decisive Strike to silence their AP carry, then you should use Judgment, trying to damage as many enemy's as possible. If you are taking a lot of damage, pop Courage. I generally use it when I start spinning. If the fight looks lost, you may have to hightail out of there. If it doesn't, then use your Ultimate if it looks like an enemy might get away, or on a particually dangerous champion.

I REPEAT, DO NOT KILL STEAL WITH Demacian Justice. This will lead to your AD carry lacking on kills, and might cost you the game later on. Use it in 1v1's, or to secure a kill that otherwise might have gotten away.

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Garen is an amazing underrated solo top, and following this build you can dominate your lane, and hopefully your game.

S4 has made Garen a much more viable champion. Even though he is not played in tournements often, he can dominate solo que elo.

Garen is meant to be played as an AD bruiser who is very,very hard to kill and can dish out damage like nobodies buisness

Thanks for reading my guide, I would appreciate it if you pointed out any mistakes so I can fix them, this is my first guide ever. I would ask you that you take the time to try out the build before you downvote. :D



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Lost this one cause it was a 4v5 :P


BTW: In each of these I was solo top, and got over 250 cs.


Can you say surrender at 20?

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Thanks to Jhoijhoi and her awesome Making a guide on mobafire Without reading this guide through many times and looking through her template I would never have finished this. Thanks! :D

Thanks to Icecreamyy for reviewing my guide and giving me some good feedback. His review a guide service can be found Here

Also thanks to all the people who commented on this build in the discussion area. You have helped me make the guide better, bit by bit. Thanks!