This is a guide for League of Legends, specifically for the champion Garen! In this guide, I'll be going over what runes and masteries you should take, what your build order should be, how to lane with him in various lanes, and a few match-ups and how you can play them to optimal efficiency. This guide will be split into multiple sections to cover exactly what Garen does and how you can maximize his role in a team.

I am a Diamond V S3, and was Plat S2. I've played a lot of games in Normals and Ranked, and I'm writing this guide to explain how to play one of the simpler and well-known champions, Garen. I hope that you'll have lots of success spinning to win after reading my guide.

What is Garen?

Garen is the brother of Lux, both of whom are from the Crownguard family that protects the royal line of the kingdom of Demacia. Garen is a high ranking military official, and his lore makes him sound like a very steadfast and determined champion - which is easy to believe, seeing his large frame and his fierce loyalty to Demacia, even in his quotes. He shares a rivalry with Katarina, from Noxus, as they are similar ranks in their respective militaries and both are talented fighters. It's non-canon, but there's plenty of suggestions that Lux may have a thing for her older brother. Garen is one of the older champions in League of Legends, and one of the cheapest, costing only 450 IP. He's received significant changes to his W skill, Courage, as well as nerfs to his damage and to his “favorite” item, Sunfire Cape. Although no longer possible, Garen used to be able to “stack” Sunfire Capes, resulting in a very tanky, very armored Garen who had a burning Aura that dealt 40 damage for each cape - a result of up to 240 damage per second with 6 capes.


  • Naturally tanky from his passives.
  • High base damage with Q, and high base AOE damage with E.
  • Execution style ultimate that can easily finish off an injured enemy champion.
  • Regenerates health on his own if not injured for a short period of time.
  • High AD Scaling on both his Q and E.
  • Screams DEMACIA when using his E!


  • No gap closer; can be easily kited.
  • Has no crowd control ability, can't peel for his team.
  • Has tank-like stats but fulfills the role of a bruiser, not a tank.

Garen should be going Top, but he can also go Mid. He should not go bot because in the current meta of ADC/Support bot, Garen will be poked out of lane too easily by the ADC who has range over Garen's melee range. When you play Garen, you should be aiming to deal as much damage as you can to their squishies as possible. He is considered a Bruiser champion, which means he has somewhat tanky stats combined with decent damage output, allowing him to dish out damage while soaking some as well. With a proper build, Garen can singlehandedly kill any squishy champion, and still escape with over half of his hitpoints left.

How do I rune for Garen?

You have a few options on how you should rune, and it is determinant on the enemy team comp.

Against Balanced Team

  • 9x Greater Mark of Armor Penetration
  • 9x Greater Seal of Armor
  • 9x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
  • 9x Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

I suggest this build when the enemy team is a normal composition involving 1 AP Carry, 1 AD Carry, 1 Support, and 2 Bruiser or 1 Bruiser 1 Tank team compositions. This runeset will enable you to pierce some of the armor their Bruiser/Tank will build, while adding extra AD and resist to help you survive damage from their AD Carry or AP Carry while dealing enough damage to take them out. Alternatively, you can swap out the Marks/Quints for all AD or all Armor Pen, if you want to maximize your early game damage or late game damage.

Against High Burst in Lane

  • 9x Greater Mark of Attack Damage
  • 9x Greater Seal of Armor
  • 9x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
  • 9x Greater Quintessence of Armor OR Magic Resist

This build is only used when the enemy team is showing 1 AD/AP Assassin instead of a tank or bruiser. These champions tend to have high amounts of damage and lower amounts of health, which means you can focus on your early game damage and put a hurting on them to keep them from farming. Use the appropriate quints if you're facing one of these champions, for example, Zed, Akali, Talon, Khazix. The extra resists will keep them from managing to burst you down, which can be necessary at times.



These are my suggested masteries for almost every scenario. I feel it's pretty vital for you to take the Executioner mastery in the Offense Tree, which is the last mastery. This allows Garen to deal just a bit more damage on his ultimate, Demacian Justice, when used correctly. Nothing feels quite as bad as when you use Demacian Justice and Ignite just to have that pesky AD Carry get away with less than 100 hitpoints. In addition, I take extra HP Regen in the Defensive Tree to synergize with his passive better. These masteries can be used against any team comp, with a focus of damage.


I would suggest these masteries if you know you're going into a tough lane, or if the enemy team has a lot of burst damage. This will help you survive fights better, and be a stronger frontline for your team, so you can soak up more damage. I feel this sacrifices a good amount of damage however, especially with the loss of Executioner and the 6 Armor Pen from the Offense Tree. If you're just starting to learn Garen, I would also suggest this tree because it will make laning a lot easier if you're unsure when to engage the enemy.



Passive: Perseverance: If Garen has not taken damage from any source except minions in the last 9 seconds or affected by an enemy champion's abilities, he will start regenerating 0.4% of his maximum health per second.

This passive is amazing during laning phase. When Garen takes damage, all you have to do is sit back a little and try not to get hit by the enemy champion and Garen will automatically heal! And at an extremely fast rate as well. With this passive, Garen synergizes well with the item Warmogs, which has a similar passive that heals you a % of your hp per second. You'll want to abuse this whenever you can, and it's one of the reasons Garen is well-known for camping in bushes, since he can't be targeted as easily in one and can heal up.


Q: Decisive Strike: Garen removes all slows affecting him and gains 35% bonus movement speed for 1.5 / 2.25 / 3 / 3.75 / 4.5 seconds, in addition his next melee attack within 4.5 seconds will deal 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+1.4 per attack damage) and silence the target for 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 / 2.25 / 2.5 seconds. Cooldown 8 seconds.

A terrific ability and the only crowd control Garen really has, in the form of a silence. Use this before you use Judgement, because the silence duration is rather long and the target will be unable to flash away from you. It also breaks channels! If you manage to hit their AP Caster with this skill, they'll be useless in fights for a few seconds so your team can wail on them. This ability also allows Garen to break any slows on him, so if you're being ganked, use it after you get slowed to easily get away. It's a really good multi-purpose skill.


W: Courage: Passive: Garen's armor and magic resistance are increased by 20%. Active: Garen places a defensive shield on himself, decreasing all damage taken and reducing crowd control by 30% for 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 seconds. Cooldown 24 / 23 / 22 / 21 / 20 seconds.

This is seriously the best skill in Garen's set. If you know that you're about to be hit extra hard, activation of W will save 30% of the damage dealt to you, which means you'll take significantly less damage. In addition to that, this skill will “counter” Last Whisper - Courage will negate part of the armor penetration of Last Whisper indirectly. It has a long cooldown, so you can't spam it. Make sure you time when you use this skill to get the biggest effect out of it. The passive is free gold - for every 100 armor you have, you get an additional 20. That's like a free cloth armor!


E: Judgement: Garen rapidly spins his sword around his body for 2.5 seconds, dealing 20 / 45 / 70 / 95 / 120 (+0.7 / 0.8 / 0.9 / 1.0 / 1.1 per attack damage) physical damage to nearby enemies every half second. Minions and neutral monsters take 75% damage from this ability. Garen can deactivate Judgment early by activating the ability again after 0.5 seconds. Judgment's damage can critically strike. Garen ignores unit collition but his movement speed is slowed by 20% if moving directly through units. Cooldown 13/12/11/10/9 seconds. Range: 330.

Before it was nerfed, this was literally the spin to win skill, but it's still very powerful. Since this skill's scaling actually increases when you level it, this is the skill you should be leveling first as well. It hits HARD and it hits often, at level 5 it deals 120 + 1.1 AD per half second, meaning an enemy caught in the full brunt of the attack would take 600 + 6.6 AD before resists. Try not to push your lane with this skill early game however, that will make you incredibly susceptible to jungler ganks. Once you're comfortable in lane, you'll be able to simply pop your E, and your W, and your opponent won't be able to hurt you much as you clear all his creeps. You can also combine this skill with your Q, where you can use the movement speed buff from Q with the AoE damage from Judgement.


R: Demacian Justice: Garen calls upon the might of Demacia to attempt to execute an enemy champion, dealing 175 / 350 / 525 damage plus 1 damage for every 3.5 / 3 / 2.5 health they are missing. Cooldown 160 / 120 / 80. Range 400.

During lane, this skill will be used to execute the opponent once they're low enough. A good Garen will be able to understand when his ultimate and ignite can finish off an enemy. For example, if the enemy laner is an Irelia, who has 500 out of her 1200 HP remaining, no potions, and no ultimate, and you have your ultimate, you will be able to kill her by simply using your Q to run up to her and hit her, then your ultimate and igniting her. Once you start teamfighting though, you can choose to either execute the AD Carry if they get low enough, or execute a tankier Bruiser, who built more HP items and thusly Demacian Justice will hit harder.

Skill Order


You should always be following this skill order - I would go EQEW for levels 1-4. I know some people prefer Courage at level 3, but with the changes to Courage from gaining armor/MR permanently into the 20% passive, it's not worth taking it as early anymore. After that, max your E to Spin2Win, followed by your Q for more damage.


You have a few choices for starting items in the beginning.


This start is most common; you would take this in most lane scenarios, especially when the enemy jungler is a slower type.

+ +

I prefer this starting set when you're up against high harass, such as Pantheon or Shen, or the enemy team has a jungler who is exceptional at ganks like Lee Sin. The early ward will help you survive the first 5 minutes of the game as long as you pay attention to it.

Then, you have a few choices based on what the enemy team is building. Generally speaking however, you want to build some damage, and then tankiness. Don't buy anything with Mana, Garen hates Mana. But buy cooldown reduction if it's readily available, because Garen LOVES CDR. You will not need any AS, nor do you really want Critical Chance, despite his Judgement scaling with it. An example core build of mine would be:

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Brutalizer offers strong early game damage with armor pen and cooldown reduction. I like to follow with Sunfire Cape to boost my own tankiness, as well as add the AoE DPS Aura around me. Then finish the Brutalizer into Cleaver for increased damage and health. Sometimes however, your game is off or you got ganked early and you're falling behind. In these scenarios, you may want to pick up a Doran's Blade or two in order to regain some of your laning power. After that, your itemization is up to you; basically you'll need some HP/MR against AP heavy teams, or some HP/Armor against AD heavy teams. I'll list out some of my favorites and their situations:

  • If the enemy team is AD heavy, Randuin's Omen is a lifesaver. When you use the active slow + your Judgement on the enemy AD Carry, attacking you would just hurt them because of your ASPD Slow from Randuin's, letting them take the full damage of Judgement into an easy kill with Demacian Justice. Combined with your W, you have so many resits coming from this item alone, I don't even know how they'd manage to kill you.
  • Warmogs is all around great, no matter if you're facing AP or AD, but it does work a little better against AP. The extra 1000 health will allow you to tank much more damage. However, if the enemy ADC built Blade of the Ruined King, you should get a Bulwark instead.
  • Runic Bulwark, if your jungler or support hasn't picked it up, is fantastic. You get all the stats you want, and the aura will help your team out as well. However, it's not completely ideal for Garen because he will be in the enemy's back line, where your AD and AP cannot receive the bonus aura.
  • Infinity Edge is the ultimate Garen damage item. Crit and AD? And making his Judgement tick for 200% on Crit instead of 150%? Yes, yes and yes! However, it's highly situational to build this item because you usually are going to be soaking a lot of their damage from diving into the enemy team, and Inf Edge does not offer any resistances.
  • Mercurial Scimitar is actually really good, especially if you find yourself being kited or are playing against a Support who has a CC to shut you down from getting on their AD Carry/AP Carry. The extra 1 second of movespeed is sometimes all you need to make the last sprint into showing the enemy team what Judgement means.
  • Atma's Impaler is a great choice in combination with Randuin's Omen and Warmogs, especially against an AD Heavy team. You'll be tanky and do tons of damage. However, I find myself favoring Sunfire Cape more often, because these two items have similar Armor stats, but Sunfire offers hit points and a damage aura instead of a critical chance and damage boosting passive.

Actually Playing

Early game, you'll want to try to farm. Garen used to be able to destroy an opponent at level 3 with just his level 2 E and level 1 Q, but thanks to the nerfs to his Judgement, that's no longer possible. You're gonna have to play it safe and farm. Of course, if the enemy is a melee champ and comes in to CS, you should immediately activate your Q, run at them, smack them with it, and start spinning to win. Try your best not to push the creeps unless you bought a ward at level 1, because once you've exposed yourself to jungler ganks, Garen is not too difficult to kill early game. Make sure when you do use Judgement, to not hit the enemy creeps too much. However, if the enemy jungler has a weak early game, you'll be able to push the lane and assert dominance - junglers such as Warwick, or Fiddlesticks, are weak enough that you can push early on. Once you hit around level 6, and the enemy is half health, go ahead and wait for them to get a little too close, and go QER them with ignite. That giant sword that crashes out of the sky probably won't be too friendly with them, hehe. Another thing you can do is run down to mid lane from top lane if you've pushed the wave hard and you know the jungler ganked bot; you can see if you can kill the enemy mid. This works best when your mid has some sort of hard CC like a stun.

After level 10-11, when laning phase is just about ending, the early teamfights break out, and a lot of split pushing occurs during this time. Keep an eye on Dragon, because you'll want to be there when it spawns. Garen's teamfight potential at 9 is already huge - with level 5 judgement, he's dealing tons of damage already, and if you get on their AD carry, it's hello to the big sword from the sky for them. If a teamfight breaks out, you want to be the one in the front. Chances are they won't hurt you very much with your Courage active - so go straight for their AD or AP, whichever one has less escape abilities. Garen can zone squishies out of a fight easily, even if he can't secure a kill on them - this causes a huge drop in DPS for the enemy team by removing their glass cannon characters from a fight. At the same time, with his E, Garen can clear creepwaves very quickly and can split push excellently since Q will reset his auto-attack timer and allow him to deal bonus damage to towers on the strike. If you split push, make sure you buy yourself 1-2 wards and keep an eye on them! The last thing you want to do is get caught unaware, die, and have to watch your team back away from a tower or be forced to fight 4v5 :(.

Garen isn't really a late game character, but you'll be doing the same thing as mid-game, but aiming exclusively for the enemy AP Carry. The reason is that the AP Carry requires spell casts in order to be effective, and Garen happens to have a great nearly 3 second silence, which is almost as useful as a 3 second stun on an AP Carry. Be careful of the enemy AD Carry though, they can shred you down fairly quickly with Last Whisper! Your Courage will help you tank a larger amount of damage, and you'll still be able to cause a good amount of terror and disruption to their back line. However, getting kills become difficult at this point, and if the enemy team has a stronger initiation than you team, you need to be wary on when you go in. You can peel enemy Assassins off your AD Carry by staying near them and using your silence on them when they go in , but in my opinion, you're best off letting the support handle that and going on the enemy AP. You're not invincible like you were mid-game, just fairly strong. Make sure your team keeps wards up! Getting caught out at this stage in the game is incredibly dangerous because you could end up giving up Baron.


In this section I'd like to run through a few match-ups that are easier for Garen to win in top lane, and a few that are difficult.

Akali is an easy match-up for Garen, bring a Vision Ward on your first back. Her damage is in bursts once she hits 6, by using Q R procing the Q, the R and Q again. You can use Courage to shield part of her damage intially, then turn on her and immediately Q her and unleash E on her. If she uses Twilight Shroud, drop the Vision Ward. Harass her a lot before she hits 6, she won't be able to trade with you efficiently at first, but once she gets Shadow Dance, you'll want to be careful of when to use your Q to prevent her from bursting you down.

Garen dumps on Jax, if you play carefully. When he uses his Counter Strike, simply activate your Q as he jumps. He'll stun you for 1 second, but you'll be able to silence him immediately and Judgement him. However, do be careful to not get ganked, because if Jax does get a kill on you, this lane can become difficult as he'll be able to buy armor and tank your Judgement and give you a faceful of his lamp post. Play safe if you don't have a ward, and E him if he comes in to CS.

This is fairly easy match-up for Garen. If Lee lands his Resonating Strike on you and follows with the kick, activate your Q and get ready to hit him the moment he lands on you. That'll silence him so he can't W away from you so easily, and you can unleash Judgement. However, don't expect to be able to kill him, because your silence isn't long enough to stop Lee from using W to get away still. His E is naturally countered by your Q though, and Garen does hold the upper hand in damage, so harass him hard early, and keep him on his toes and away from CS - Garen is able to deny Lee fairly well.

You can Q out of Wither, which is Nasus' strongest ability. He'll be at your mercy often, but make sure you don't Q before he uses Wither or else he will get an upper hand on you. Harass him a lot early on, because he'll eventually get armor, and combined with his passive lifesteal, he'll become really hard to push out of lane. Again, you'll want to judgement him whenever possible before the 2nd recall - once Nasus recalls for the second time (assuming you didn't kill him), pressuring him out of lane becomes much harder.

THIS CHAMPION IS DISGUSTING AND YOU WILL LEARN TO HATE HER. Elise can keep your passive from working indefinitely, and you'll never get to touch her because of her stun. The only way to kill her is to somehow bait out the stun, or dodge it, then you might have a chance… until she turns into a spider and Rappels away from you so your judgement is wasted on nothing… then she'll just drop on top of you and use Venomous Bite, followed with a switch back into Human Form and Neurotoxin + Spiderling… You should pick another champion if you see an Elise. Otherwise, you're likely to either get very little CS or die a lot, neither of which are beneficial to your team.

Ugh, Darius is a pain. He simply outdamages you way too much. You can kind of trade with him at first with your Q, but after level 5, if you use your Q like that, he'll respond with his W, then E or Q, and end up taking out half your health easily - then he has HIS execution style ult… which deals true damage and scales on his stacks, which also deal damage so your passive won't ever see the light of day. This is a really tough match-up, and past level 6, you won't even be able to farm without Darius forcing you to fight with his Apprehend, and of course, it's a fight that you'll end up losing.

To the Fields of Justice!

Garen is a tanky DPS caster that excels as a Top laner mostly. Play him as if he was an assassin, but remember that you're also a tank. In summary, Garen is a character who is the best of two worlds, and should be played as such! Thanks for checking out my guide and I hope it helps you! This guide was written during Patch 3.7, and may very well become outdated, but I'll try to keep it updated if there's MAJOR changes.


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