Garen Build Guide

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Garen-Passive Aggression

written by ShadowNinetails

Garen Build

Starting items

Core Build

Late Game / Luxury Items

Situational Items

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Shopping List

  • #1 Buy
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    #2 Buy
  • #3 Buy
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Skill Order

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • Perseverance
  • Decisive Strike
  • Courage
  • Judgment
  • Demacian Justice

Runes for Garen

Masteries for Garen

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Hello and welcome to my 2nd Champion guide. Here we'll cover my favorite tank, Garen, The Might of Demacia. While he's not really classified as a tank (and an AD build is quite viable), I've tried quite a few others that ARE classified as tanks and never felt the sense of power that I do with a late-game Garen (aside from a late-game Amumu but he's back on the permaban list so.......).

    As in my Wukong guide, let's get some general disclaimers out of the way:

    1. These are all my personal opinions based on the matches I've had with Garen using a variety of builds. I don't claim to be a LoL master. Therefore, don't take any of this as "Follow my guide to the letter or you will die a fiery death because you\'re a scrub!"

    2. My playstyle may not fit your playstyle. Therefore, the strategy/build I put out may not fit for you. That doesn't mean it's bad advice and it doesn't mean you\'re a bad player it just means we have different ways of playing the same champion and, in the end, isn't that a good thing?

    3. Even if you completely agree with my personal opinions, have the same playstyle as me, and love my strategy/build, no two matches are going to be the same. Therefore think for your own situation. If you're facing Tryndamere, Xin, Vayne, Ashe, and Yi, Thornmail really should be the first item you build. Against Veigar, Anivia, Annie, Karthas, and Malzahar, though, Thornmail will do you absolutely zero good. Again don't think "Follow my guide to the letter or you will die a fiery death because you\'re a scrub!"

  • Abilities


    My 2nd favorite passive in the game ( Eternal Thirst still FTW!). It's pretty self-explanatory. Don't get hit, regain hp, able to run in and get hit again. If you take some damage, you can take cover in a bush and heal while the minions keep enemy champs busy. This allows you to stay in lane as long as you want, not as long as you can.

    However, remember that if you're really low, it'll take some time to regen enough hp to keep fighting let alone all of it. Don't make the mistake of thinking this gives you free reign to be an idiot because you will die a fiery death....and look like a scrub.

    Decisive Strike

    This skill has a few different uses. If you're hiding in a bush and someone comes by (especially mages), it's your "Oh hai! I'm Garen. How are you today?" button. It can be used to initiate (preferably by silencing the enemy mage). It can be used to interrupt most channels ( Death Lotus being a prime candidate). It can be used to generally get places faster. And the best part is it can do all of that at once because it has such a short CD. With the Mid-August patch, the slow-cleanse was moved from Judgment to this spell which makes it a lot easier to get away from slowing champs because you only have to rely on the CD of one spell rather than 2.


    Knowing when to use this will be key to success. It also has a nice passive made even better in the Mid-August patch because instead of a small, flat amount of armor/mres, it grants a bonus amount based on what you already have (which will be a lot). Also adding tenacity to the mix is REALLY gonna make ridiculous things more possible.


    Your bread and butter damage spell. In combination with Decisive Strike, you'll make people think twice whenever they see a bush and they don't see you. It's also a powerful farming skill (especially late game) that ensures you can take on a mass of 40 minions and come out on top.

    Demacian Justice

    Your "I'm sorry. Did you think you were safe?" Button. Use it to end chases, use it to pick off that guy that should've left the team fight 10 seconds earlier, use it on that guy that invaded your bush after you've already spanked him a bit. Just DO NOT use it to initiate. Every time it's free-week for Garen, I see some noob hitting people with this spell when they're at 100% hp and then qq'ing about how they can't do any damage with it and proclaiming that Garen sucks. Don't be that noob. This skill's main use during teamfights is to kill high-value targets that have taken considerable damage (preferably from you) but still pose a threat to your team. Due to the nature of this skill, it's fairly easy to kill-steal but it's even more easy to be accused of kill-stealing when all you were trying to do was ensure your team didn't get owned by that Fiddlesticks' ult. If something like that happens, don't sweat it. Just move on to the next situation and remember that kills=gold=items=faster finish on your build=better for the team as a whole.

  • Changelog

    1/30/12: The new item, Locket of the Iron Solari, looks to be EXTREMELY promising. I've been trying out a version of the item build lately that starts with a [item=Heart of Gold] lately with mixed results (delaying boots makes things a little more difficult and not having pots makes you more harrassable, but the extra gold helping you finish your build more quickly makes it worthwhile into late game....mostly). This new item seems to make that quite a worthwhile investment. 300 HP, 35 Armor, 15 HP/5 for you and your team AND an AOE shield similar to your Courage? Hellz yeah!

    8/15/12: So when Leaguecraft's layout changed, I thought my guides were lost to the abyss and didn't feel like taking a night to re-write them (it seems my Ahri guide and unpublished Vayne and Volibear guides were actually lost but stay tuned and I may be bored enough one night to re-write them). The latest patch makes our build a LOT better late game (especially the changes to Courage) but it does make getting there a little more difficult because we can't rely on Garen's innate boss-ness as much. I still believe this is a good route to go with, but if that changes, you'll see it here. 10/29/12: Ok I\'m calling it. Locket of the Iron Solari isn't worth it. The passive aura and the shield are nice in concept, but not strong enough to make up for it's relative lack of hard stats and the items that are on the list are much more valuable so it would be a waste of an item slot. If riot buffs this item at all (maybe with the start of season 3) it may be worth revisiting, but for now I'd say let the support build it if anyone. 12/25/12: Wow I must have really had some Oracle's Elixer in whatever I was drinking 2 months ago as Runic Bulwark is almost mandatory on most supports now after having the [item=Emblem of Valour] cut into it. If for some reason your support doesn't want it, you can make some use of it yourself, but more on that later. I promised I'd try to update this before the new year and that's what I'm doing. I'm not gonna completely rewrite everything here, just change a few names around. Garen's mostly the same champion with these new items, despite losing one of our best allies (R.I.P. FoN) and gaining a new enemy (BotRK). One quick note: There sees to be a few bugs with the guide editor, so disregard the shopping list section and in the masteries page, that point in [mastery=Safeguard] should be in Block though lowering turret damage is still useful.

  • Pros / Cons

    + Very difficult to drive completely from a lane which results in gaining a xp/gold advantage.
    + Even more difficult to kill late game
    + Almost impossible to escape in a 1v1 chase late game (yes that includes you, Singed)
    + If you get fed, you can become a bully in almost every way. I\'ve literally had a Mordekaiser (pre-nerf) with a full shield Flash over a wall and Ghost away into his base at the mere sight of me (by myself, mind you) walking down the lane.
    + While you're not an assassin, your Ult is. See a Rammus making a last ditch effort to taunt-drag an ally into a turret? Make him rage by killing him right before they get there. See a Malz getting blue buff and taking heavy damage from it? Make him rage by killing him right after he gets it, laugh, and walk away. See a Trynd living dangerously and waiting for just the right moment to use his Undying Rage? Make him rage for dying (cwutididthere?).

    - If anyone gets Blade of the Ruined King, you're not entirely screwed, but they're a real threat.
    - Damage output is meh unless you can stay close to your target.
    - If you get under-fed and underleveled, it\'ll be a loooong 20 minutes.

  • Summoner Abilities

    Recommended: Ghost+ Exhaust


    Heal: There are some cases where your innate tankyness won't be quite enough. This will mostly be in lane phase because after your core is built, you become a honey badger and just don't give a shit about what they're doing to you. Still this has saved me (and my adc in some teamfights) enough times and allowed enough bad situations to be turned around that I can firmly say this is a good take. [spell=Barrier]: Same as above. Better for you, not as great for your teammates. Don't worry though. They're big kids. They can handle themselves just fine, right?
    Ignite: I'm not this spell's biggest fan (possibly because it provides such a cheap counter to champs I like to play), but when it works, it works. I've been killed by this spell more times than I care to remember so anytime you see an enemy with it, keep a special eye on them at all times.
    Flash: This is another very versatile spell that can mean the difference between life and death (and not just for you). Again, I'm not this spell's biggest fan but if you are, by all means.

    Not Recommended:

    Teleport: I see a lot of tanks take this so if a fight breaks out on the other side of the map, they can get there more quickly. However, your movespeed (enhanced by your Decisive Strike and maybe Ghost) and basic map awareness should mean that you can get where you need quickly. On top of that, the spells above give you more options on what to do when you get there.
    Clairvoyance: If someone on your team really wants this spell on your team, let them take it.
    Cleanse: Your Decisive Strike is already a cleanse for slows and your Courage can mitigate almost any kind of CC and both of them are on a MUCH lower CD than Cleanse. You should be able to handle CC in most situations and if you can't, then you've probably done your job because by then the rest of your team should be gone.

    Just Don't Do It:

    Smite: Jungle Garen? lolwut?
    Clarity: Obvious troll is obvious.

  • Items

    Starting out, you want a Boots of Speed and 3x Health Potion. If you can harrass your opponent effectively, do so. If not, play safe and tower hump if you need to. Your goal is to be the last one to have to recall. When exactly you do doesn't entirely matter if you're farming fairly well and keeping your tower safe. When you do recall, you want to finish your Boots of Swiftness ASAP. Remember, a fast Garen is a deadly Garen.

    Next you need your Giant's Belt and Chain Vest. These will cement your position in lane and make it significantly more difficult to drive you out. Of course, if you're facing a magic dmg dealer up top, take a Negatron Cloak instead. As soon as you can, finish Warmog's Armor and pick up an Avarice Blade. Use this time to farm up as much as you can towards finishing Quicksilver Sash and then Atma's ImpalerThe synergy between the Imapler and Warmog's outshines that of any other item pair, especially on a tanky AD caster.

    By now, lanes should be breaking and a couple small skirmishes should be immanent. Next time you find yourself at base, pick up the Mercurial Scimitar. Go forth and slay your enemies some more and pick up an Infinity Edge at some point to make your Judgment pack a little more punch.

    Your last item is completely up to you. Truthfully, at this point the match should be over for better or for worse but if it comes to it here's some options I would take a look at:

    Randuin's Omen: If you take it (I rarely do), don't forget to activate it.
    Spirit Visage: This item got buffed and is supposed to fill the MR gap that FoN leaves, but I don't really buy Riot's hype on it. Still multiplying all of that regen by another 15% while giving CDR is nice.
    Guardian Angel: Another popular move that I'm not entirely a fan of. The enemy will have to work really hard to kill you once. Making them do it twice is just cruel (mostly because the 2nd time will probably be much easier as they'll be camping your corpse). While you're not using the passive, though, the armor and magic resist it gives is decent.
    Thornmail: If you have an enemy team-comp that would make this necessary, you should take this with the Chain Vest you get with the Giant's Belt and pick up another Chain Vest after you finish Warmog\'s for your Impaler.

    Last Whisper: If they've stacked huge amounts of armor and you somehow lose the ability to damage people, this is how your fix that.
    Runic Bulwark: It's likely someone else on your team will want to build this themselves (probably your support) but if not, this is a solid pickup for you for all the stats it gives. [item=Black Cleaver]: Another all around good item for any AD Caster, I seriously started salivating when I saw the armor shred passive would work on [spell=Judgement]. Alas, this would be better left to a more damage-oriented Garen.

  • Outro

    Again thanks for reading. Any votes, opinions, and comments are greatly appreciated.

    P.S. You wanna see what NOT to do with Garen?

    External Image

    I sincerely hope I don't have to go in-depth on why you should never even think about building Triforce on Garen unless you're trolling and Boots of Mobility are meh at best when you're supposed to spend most of your time in the fray. On top of that, RUSHING Triforce before building any real survivability or damage is just.....surprising that he didn't do worse.

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Submitted by ShadowNinetails

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