Garen Build Guide

  • Views: 28,108
  • Rating: 64% ( Good )
  • Last Updated v1.0.0.132

A Guide on Garen, The Might Of Demacia - UPDATED FOR DOMINION

written by SevereAids

Garen Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Hello, SevereAids here presenting you with this Garen guide. Garen is a simple yet very unique melee DPS champion. He has an AOE skill that deals decent damage to all targets around you, plus a melee silence that makes you effective at rushing enemy squishys and spinning in their faces. While Garen's damage does trail off somewhat in the late game he can still be a good asset to your team. Making good use of your silence and of your ultimate is probably the biggest thing at getting good with Garen. So if you enjoy playing Garen, then please by all means read on and see how i like to play this champion of Demacia.

  • Reference



    Starting item:

    Core Items:

    Core DPS:

    Core items against physical damage:

    Core items against magical damage:
    [item_icon=Force of Nature]

    Other viable items:


    Here is where i will list the many updates I make to this guide. I will be adding new builds that i have been given by another member of the community. I appreciate the feedback i have been getting on this guide and want to make this the best guide it can be. Thanks again! Stay tuned for new sections, builds and more content over the next few days!

    Release Notes v1.0.0.114
    - Base movement speed increased to 320 from 315
    - Courage damage reduction increased to 20/24/28/32/36 from 10/15/20/25/30
    Nice buffs to base movement speed and Courage. Courage needed a little tuning so I am glad they did this. Speed is nice and is always welcomed. Overall a nice little buff to Garen.

    Release Notes v1.0.0.115
    - B.F. Sword
    * Attack damage reduced to 45 from 50
    * Gold Cost decreased by 200

    - Cloak Of Agility gold cost decreased by 50
    - Infinity Edge
    * Attack Damage increased to 80 from 75
    * Critical Strike increased to 25% from 20%
    Oh man, what are they thinking. This is great. Nice buff to our first and main item. Cheaper and more damage? Yes please!

    Release Notes v1.0.0.118
    - Sunfire Cape area of effect damage per second reduced to 35 from 40.
    Not exactly a horrible thing. 5 Sunfire Capes on one team can add up to a lot of damage so it was fair i guess. it sucks but whatever, will not hinder game play with Garen in anyway.

    Release Notes v1.0.0.123
    - Decisive Strike movement speed duration increased to 4 seconds from 3 seconds
    - Judgment cooldown reduced to 13/12/11/10/9 seconds from 14/13/12/11/10 seconds
    - Courage maximum armor and magic resistance now 25 at all ranks from 5/10/15/20/25
    Very nice buff to Garen. They just keep making his early game that much stronger!!

    Release Notes v1.0.0.125
    - Decisive Strike attack damage ratio decreased to 1.4 from 1.5
    - Judgment
    Damage per second reduced to 50/90/130/170/210 from 60/100/140/180/220
    Bonus attack damage ratio increased to 1.4 from 1.2
    LOL wow this is great. Decisive strike ratio decrease is nothing it still hits hard, but that's not all. 1.4 scaling on Judgment? I'll take it. Only 10 damage off the base and much better scaling is amazing. This is no nerf, it is a buff. This does not change his early game at all.


  • Abilities

    One of my favorite Passive skills in the game. It is nice when enemies harass you and you run into a bush to regen all of your health back. A lot of people don't take advantage of keeping it off Garen, so when you get all of your health back you can continue to farm or try to kill an enemy. Take full advantage of your laning abilities, as good players will be rewarded.

    Decisive Strike
    Your silence and speed boost. It also deals nice damage now and you can close gaps somewhat effectively. As soon as a big fight breaks out, pop this and head for your main target. With them silenced, your team should make quick work of them as they are unable to act for a few seconds.

    Gives you nice durability in fights and is your passive armor and magic resist increase over the course of the game. Use it for when you are being focused, to take the least amount of damage possible. Don't be afraid to pop this skill when you tower dive, or fight 1v1 as it can make a huge difference.

    Your main skill. This is what makes people fear you. It deals decent overall damage and hits everyone around you. Squishy champions will melt in your spin when you have great items and plus you can remove all CC on you upon activation as well as reduce all incoming CC by 50%. You will be using this skill a lot whether you like it or not. You will use it to kill, escape and farm with.

    Demacian Justice
    Your powerful ultimate that also strikes fear into people, especially ones with low health. I need not say anymore of when to use this ultimate but I will say this. Be careful not to Kill steal with this skill. Yeah, you are almost guaranteed a kill with this when enemy champions are low but if your carry is able to net the kill, then by all means let them take it. Only use it for people fleeing large fights or when trying to burst down tanks if you ever do.

  • Masteries + Runes

    For Masteries I go 25/5/0. These new masteries offer a lot to choose from. From what I have been playing, I like these masteries. The whole 25/5 thing might be weird, but it is really nice since Garen doesn't need a lot of the other utility talents now and the experience is way further down. One thing though, Executioner is an amazing talent. Does so many wonders for Garen.


    Greater Mark of Desolation x9
    Greater Seal of Resilience x9
    Greater Glyph of Warding x9
    Greater Quintessence of Swiftness x3

  • Summoner Abilities

    For summoner spells, i always go:
    Exhaust and Ghost
    Ignite and Flash
    Exhaust and Flash

    Ignite is also nice as it works well with your Ultimate, but i feel that it is not needed especially when the late game comes along. With Exhaust you can shut down their carry in addition to your silence and Ghost for escaping and chasing people. A lot of people are also using Flash. It is nice to Flash in and get a quick kill or escape but Ghost is Garen's best friend.

    Ignite + Flash seems to be the combo everyone is going for lately. I can understand this. A lot of Garen's are going solo top because he is getting really good at it. I personally wouldn't want to solo as Garen but would have no problem doing so. I feel his awesome power should be felt in bottom lame but that's just me.

    Exhaust and Flash is what i have been using lately. I still believe Exhaust is the best Summoner spell for Garen because it can be used offensively and defensively.

  • Items

    Everyone definitely loves to see the items in these guides. The way i build Garen depends on my enemy team makeup. Early game, Garen can be effective but in the late game, he can suck really bad if not built properly early game. I will say this once and now Garen IS NOT A TANK. He is far from it and he will be best as a straight up DPS, and an off-tank because you are a bruiser and are pretty tanky.

    Now for items.
    Start with a Doran's Blade. We don't buy a Doran's Shield because you need the damage and you already have good defensive stats from your masteries. On the first trip back, you will hopefully want to have enough for a full The Brutalizer or some boots, be it rank 1 or 2. If you feel you need the speed or CC reduction, get the full boots. If you need some damage then begin building your DPS items, as we are going to rush The Brutalizer. I like Boots of Swiftness or Mercury's Treads. CD boots are nice, but more speed and reduced CC sound like a better deal to me. Now a days a lot of champions have some sort of CC and with the recent changes to CC effects, Mercury's Treads are almost a must have. Overall, you will need the speed for ganking and the Mercury's Treads for hard CC against you. After your The Brutalizer, you can do 2 things. Build a Sunfire Cape or begin building an Atma's Impaler. You can't go wrong either way, but I say go for the Atma's Impaler.

    After many tests and games I've realized that the cape is just over all too good to pass up on Garen. Damage, health and armor is all stats he needs. Still an amazing item even after being nerfed. Now due to his increased scaling, Infinity Edge is looking more delicious now isn't it? I already built it as core so there is no reason to not build it anymore. You get so much damage from it, plus all that crit. Garen is gonna be much more deadly now if he has a build like:
    The Brutalizer
    Sunfire Cape
    Mercury's Treads
    Atma's Impaler
    I don't know about you, but i'd be pretty fucking scared of a Garen who built like this. As for information on items and alternatives read below.

    Enemy team has a lot of Physical damage? get:

    Thornmail - This is a great item all around. It gives you nice armor and damages champions that deal physical damage to you.

    Sunfire Cape - Here we go, an old favorite of our man Garen here. You get nice health, armor and the damage always helps. Get this along with your Thornmail for some nice hurtin' on them melee DPS champs. I'd say build this item after your The Brutalizer or Atma's Impaler, it will give you some insane damage.

    Guardian Angel - I just want to say right now, i love this item, i just included it in this section because it gave more armor. I almost always get it if i'm doing good and it just makes me that more of a threat. People will ignore you, and you will be putting out decent damage. If they focus you with this item that just makes it easier for your team to just kill everyone else. An Amazing item for anyone.

    Atma's Impaler - This amazing item right here will give you armor, damage and crit. This is another core item for Garen without a doubt. Don't listen to anyone who says you need a health item to make this item worth it, it's an amazing item all around. We will be building health items so you don't need to worry about that.

    Enemy team has a lot of Magic damage? get:

    [item=Force of Nature] - This is probably my first choice for magic resist any day of the week. The speed boost is nice, and you get even more health regen on top of your already amazing passive.

    Banshee's Veil - A great item if the enemy team has a lot of stuns and hard CC. With your Merc treads this will almost make CC on you no problem, allowing you to spin in faces all day.

    Hexdrinker - You may want one of these if the enemy team has a really good Karthus. It really helps out against him and still gives some damage.

    Warmog's Armor - Get this combined with your Atma's Impaler. Insane amounts of health and damage. I never used to build it but it is honestly too good to pass up.

    If you have all of your items, your items should be like the following in their own respective situations ( Some items can be switched, this is just an example):

    This is a good Overall build. Very tanky and will provide you with good dps against heavy armor. You can always switch out the Last Whisper with an Infinity Edge against a non heavy armor team so it's up to you.

  • Garen Solo Top

    In the current Meta game, Garen is most effective as a solo top. Not only is he a very strong solo top but he is strong against most effective champions at top. You have a choice for starting items. You can either go Boots of Speed with potions or Doran's Blade. I find the Doran's Blade to be most effective as you will be stacking them.

    Use your early game power to your advantage. If someone thinks they can AFK farm next to you fuck them up. I hate that shit never do it because someone might be thinking that against you. Last hit and farm carefully, if you see their jungler in another lane be aggressive. Not a lot of champions can stand up to Garen's early game damage so you will win a lot of 1v1 fights at top.

    If the situation allows, you will want to farm enough for your first trip back to at least be able to afford
    Boots of Speed + at least 2 Doran's Blade a ward or 2 and some potions. Continue to farm and be aggressive as your next trip will be either another Doran's Blade if you find you need the extra health or get The Brutalizer + Boots of Swiftness/ Mercury's Treads.

    After that your goal is
    Atma's Impaler. At that point you are dealing shit loads of damage so assuming your team didnt feed the other players plus the solo top shouldn't be able to stand up to you.

    So lets recap your solo top.

    Doran's Blade

    First trip:
    Doran's Blade Doran's Blade Boots of Speed + wards and potions if gold allows

    Second trip:
    Doran's Blade + wards and potions if gold allows
    The Brutalizer + Boots of Swiftness/ Mercury's Treads + wards and potions if gold allows

    This is your goal. Once you reach this item build you are set. Then you build accordingly and use your advantage from there. The third Doran's Blade is optional remember.

    So as a solo top you must be wondering how you fair against other solo tops? From my experiments and games I find that Garen is one of the best. Not many champions can stand up against his early game power. Champions like Nasus, Tryndamere, Renekton, Wukong and several others all struggle to lane against him from games I've played. The only champions you need to watch out for are the ones with range. Gangplank could provide some trouble with his gun. Other than that you should be OK in a lane. Garen can definitely bring the pain when played correctly in high ELO play, just no ones plays him because he is very susceptible to kiting and hard CC.

  • Dominion - How I Play

    As you may know, Dominion is the new mode in League of Legends, and I must say, it is very fun.

    For my start in Dominion, i go with the following skills:
    Decisive Strikex1
    This allows me my speed boost early on and the 2 ranks in the spin for good damage output.

    My item start and evolution is as followed:
    Boots of Speed
    Long Swordx2

    With this start, you want to go right into The Brutalizer ASAP. You get good movement speed and good damage.

    Then build as followed:
    Boots of Speed -> Boots of Mobility -> Sunfire Cape -> Atma's Impaler -> Youmuu's Ghostblade -> Either more Defense or more Offense, such as [item=Force of Nature] or Infinity Edge
    Mobility boots I feel are a must have for melee dps on Dominion. You really need that speed to get to points and cap them fast. Also, the speed boost you get from your ghost, ghostblade and Q will give you a lot of speed!

    Garen is good at both defending and at assaulting points. Spinning can stop multiple people from capping and can hurt a lot when on top of a few people at once. You won't get to farm courage right away but it will stack up over the coarse of the game.

    Don't worry guys, I'm still updating this. Still playing games and testing out different things. I will post more and alternate build and strategies when I find them out. Until then, good luck!

  • Judgment's Scaling

    So recently the scaling for judgment has been increased. Well, with that I wanted to just show the calculations as to why this is important.

    At rank 1, old Judgment was 60 + 1.2 of bonus AD. So for example you'd have your blade at level 1 and sit at 60 + 12 bonus AD (Not counting runes and masteries). That is 72 damage. Now the new Judgment is 50 + 14 bonus AD (Not counting runes and masteries again). That is 64 damage. I don't see much of a big deal here. When you actually start building AD then it will get better. You need at least 55 bonus AD for Judgment to be stronger than the old one, and that is nothing. Here is the math:

    55 * 1.2 = 66 + 60 = 126
    55 * 1.4 = 77 + 50 = 127

    Now you might be thinking wow 1 damage that's nothing. Well, that is not the point I am making. Point is that after that the scaling will just get so much better and you will get so much more damage on Judgment. so lets say for example you have a full build and have around 190 total bonus AD with Judgment at full rank. So we now have:

    190 * 1.2 = 228 + 220 = 448
    190 * 1.4 = 266 + 210 = 476

    Plus this doesn't factor in critical hits, Sunfire Cape AOE damage and runes and masteries. So we see a nice increase in the power of Judgment that looks like it will pay off quite well in the long run. The better scaling means Garen will start getting better late game and that means his damage might not trail off as much, even though he is an early game powerhouse.

  • Skilling Order

    Skilling order should be as followed:

    First off get your Judgment. You will want it for a possible first blood if laning with a good partner. At level 2 get Decisive Strike and at 3 get Courage. After that get your Ultimate when it is ready and max Judgment ASAP. When Judgment is max rank you will level Decisive Strike next, followed by Courage. Now that we can get 25 armor and magic resist from 1 rank in it we can just leave it alone until we level our more important damaging abilities.

  • Who do you want to lane with?

    Since Garen is very strong early game, why not take advantage of this! Lane with some of these guys for possible first blood and lane control (No specific order).

    I'd say he is Garen's best friend. It's pretty funny when someone is stunned and is helpless while you spin in their face. Sion is a great lane mate with Garen. If you can lane with him, do it because it is hilarious watching people run!

    Another amazing partner for Garen. He doesn't do as much damage as Sion but his heal brings that "Fuck, they both have healing abilities so even if I attack they just heal up" feeling.

    Your sister is great support with you in your lane as well! She can snare, shield you and habib people with her laser. She is kind of squishy so protect her if you can.

    Xin Zhao
    Demacia Lane right here. Garen and Xin are a very strong combo. They are both pretty tanky and deal good early damage. The knock up from Xin will ensure people to stay in your spin for its full duration. Lane with this guy!

    Jarvan IV
    The other Demacia Lane! His knock up is also amazing, and he gives you armor and attack speed with his standard, making you guys even more tanky. They are best friends why not let them lane together! Plus trapping people his ultimate with you inside is so great!

    His root ability and sapplings provide amazing lane control. It is very east to get a first blood with him because of either one of these skills.

    Everyone in Demacia seems to work well with Garen, and I bet that is why they are all from there! Galio is a great support/tank. His AOE taunt allows for a lot of spinning in faces that's for sure. His gust is also good for catching people so escape is futile!

    Another good lane mate is Olaf. Now you might be thinking, why Olaf? Well for starters he does great damage and he has a slow. I lane with Olaf a lot and I will say that he is a great lane mate.

    His combo is very strong combined with your spin. Plus if someone even thinks about running they'll get a spear to the face!

    Good ol' Nocturne. This guy is pretty nasty i must say. His fear and ultimate make him an amazing spur of the moment attacker and can easily catch people off guard. When the sky is dark and he flies in, spin spin spin.

    Of course there are plenty of other champions in this game that work well with Garen, I just listed a few plus my favorites.

  • Laning Phase

    Early game
    As Garen, you want to take advantage of your early game strength, this is where you will rack up your kills. If you are with a good partner then you will most likely dominate your lane. If you get harassed a lot, just sit back and let your passive kick in. You want to use the bushes to your advantage also. Capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes, because this is what makes Garen great and the player better. Playing Garen means that you have to study your enemy, like knowing if you will be able to kill them or not, since Garen has no range and needs to be close to deal damage. Being reckless is bad and you don’t want to feed, so learning what you can about your opponent’s play style is critical in this stage. If someone happens to go into the bush you’re in, silence him and then spin in their face. Make him regret even trying to go in the bush to attack you, hell make them not want to go near the bush at all even though you want them to. People will fear you fast and probably hate you the entire game. This will make them very angry and want to focus you in every fight.

    Mid Game
    If you’ve been having a great early game, then your mid game should be just as good. You should be tearing people apart in fights and letting them know your presence on the field of justice. Your other team mates should also be strong, and your carry should love you for getting them kills/assists. Garen is great at assisting your team, especially the carry. Did I mention the brush is Garen's best friend?

    Late Game
    You will still be a threat to the enemy team, although you will not be the highest damage output your team has to offer, your silence and survivability plus Ultimate will make you a feared champion in the eyes of your enemy. You should have a lot of your items done and built according to their team. You should be helping your carry get the kills and assisting your team in anyway possible. Continue to use brush to your advantage. If the brush was a woman, Garen would have sex with it. Dirty nasty sex.

  • Working in the team

    Your job in a team fight is to go for their squishys and silence the shit out of them and spin in all of their faces. Garen's role in every game is to be a tanky DPS who tries to deal as much AOE damage to the enemy team as possible. You must protect your mages and carries from as much harm as possible. You don't want their carry dealing a lot of damage to yours so if you have to die for the sake of your team then so be it. You are not the most important member of the team and you shouldn't be getting ALL of the kills. As soon as their carry is dead go for your next focus target. If your Decisive Strike is up then pop it and go in, as well as your Judgment. Save your ultimate for people escaping and you know the rest of your team might not be able to catch them when they run. If you find yourself being focused don't panic, pop your Courage and try to deal as much damage as you can with Judgment. If you die, but your team wins the fight then you have done your job correctly. This is what makes him a great asset to a team. If they see you building tank, then you will be completely ignored and will do shitty damage. With attack damage, you have the possibility of being focused and still being able to put out respectable damage, making you a threat.

  • What's the big fuss?

    Lately, everyone seems to think Garen is either way OP or underpowered. He has been changed a lot not for worse, but for the best. He is now doing what he is designed to do. Before, you could stack Sunfire Cape and 5v1 their team. So long are the days of roflstomping as Garen and hello to actually having to build DPS items to be effective. I still see people play Garen and build him like a tank, only to see them stealing kills. Whenever I play against other Garen's I just shit all over their face. Yeah you are hard to kill, but what's the use when you can't do anything except steal kills like an asshole. In his exact state now, I would say Garen is where he should be. He is a tanky DPS that is durable, yet deals decent damage. I am not saying to follow my guide with every detail, but the way I am playing Garen now works and many other people can vouch for me. So please, before you make any assumptions about Garen, try this guide. I wrote it so that it may help fellow Garen players experiment with other builds and to effectively play one of the most interesting and fun champions in the game.

  • Pros / Cons

    - Deals great damage early game and mid game.
    - Hard to kill when built right.
    - Excellent laning capabilities.
    - Silence is great, take advantage of it.

    - Damage tends to trail off late game.
    - Easily kited by ranged dps.
    - Has to be close to deal damage.
    - A lot of people hate Garen, because of his kill stealing ultimate. Needs a lot of practice to be team effective.

  • Credits

    This is where i will give credit where it is most certainly due. I've been getting much needed feedback for this guide and am still putting together some things. I just want to thank the following people for helping me with this guide:

    -Shifted X1

  • The End

    Overall, Garen is a very fun champion to play. If you're looking for a decent melee DPS with a fun play style, then Garen will not disappoint. I hope you have found this guide to be helpful, as my play style has put a lot of wins under my belt with Garen. So get out there and fight for DEMACIA!!!

Do you have your own
Build Guide?

Submitted by SevereAids

Newest Guides for Garen

Top Guides for Garen

New Skins for Garen

Top Skins for Garen