Garen is one of top lane’s most fundamental, cornerstone champions. He is one of the first champions recommended to people that are either new to the game or new to the top lane. So, what makes this champion the ideal pick for these kinds of players?
Garen is a champion with simple and easy-to-execute abilities and no complicated combos. He has a lot of kill pressure due to high execute damage from his ultimate. The champion is also innately tanky. In a nutshell, this is the ideal champion for new players because of his easy and efficient gameplay.
Not only that, but as he is one of the best entry-level top laners, Garen ends up teaching new players a lot of the basic top lane mechanics as well. For example, you learn when you can all in and go for the kill. Since you have high kill threat in lane, you learn when you can use this to pressure your opponent.
Essentially, Garen is a physical damage-dealing bruiser. This means his damage increases by making more attack damage or AD items. This does not mean you go all in the AD items. Bruisers are most effective when you make a combination of damage and tank items for survivability and resistances.
A big part of choosing rune pages depends on what keystone you wish to take. Garen has a couple of options available to him. “Conqueror” and “Phase Rush” are the go-to picks on this champion. However, both of these are picked in different circumstances.
Conqueror is the ideal choice when you are dealing with melee champions. Especially if your lane matchup is against another bruiser or a tank. This keystone gives the highest value in these lanes. Especially against bruisers, Conqueror is a necessity to increase your combat prowess.
Phase Rush is a much more popular choice for dealing with ranged champions. In a range matchup, the biggest problem faced by Garen is to first reach the enemy and then stick to them long enough to deal sufficient damage. Phase Rush is excellent for chasing enemies thanks to the boost of speed.
It is obvious that both of these rune pages are more than viable on Garen. This is why it is important to take a more in-depth look at these pages individually and what runes to take in the rest of the page.
Option 1: The Conqueror Rune Page
The Conqueror rune page is played more often by Garen players. The reason is that more often than not, at the top lane you will end up playing into bruisers or tanks. Range top champions while not uncommon are nowhere near as popular as bruisers.
After taking the Conqueror keystone, you will follow it up with “Triumph” and then the “Legend” Tenacity”. Tenacity is taken on nearly every bruiser champion and its importance can hardly be understated.
The last rune of the page is “Last Stand”. “Coup de Grace” is also not uncommon for Garen as it harmonizes well with the champion’s ultimate. Both of these runes are viable but Last Stand does seem to be more favored of the two.
For the secondary page, you will take “Conditioning” and “Overgrowth” from the Resolve page. You can also take “Bone Plating” or “Second Wind” in place of Conditioning when the lane matchup is tough. Bone Plating is taken against bruiser champions that like to trade heavily and all-in. Second Wind is much more effective against poke or range champions.
Option 2: The Phase Rush Rune Page
In this rune page, you will take Nimbus Cloak, Celerity, and “Gathering Storm” after the Phase Rush keystone. This is the best combination of runes you can take when you wish to go for the Phase Rush setup. As you can see the focus is primarily on movement speed.
For the secondary rune page, you have a couple of options. You can take the Resolve Page with much the same setup as mentioned above. Conditioning with Overgrowth if it’s an easy lane. Bone Plating or Second Wind when it is a difficult lane.
The other choice is to go for the Precision page. In this page, you will take the “Triumph” rune followed up by the Coup de Grace. Last Stand is also not a bad option. However since the Phase Rush rune path is primarily only taken against low-health or squishy teams, it is safe to assume that once you can get close to them they will lose health more easily than bruisers.
Having said that, in most situations, you will take the Resolve page. This is because as we know, Phase Rush is primarily only taken against ranged champions. In these lanes, you need the survivability and endurance that you get from the Resolve page.
Starting and Early Game Items
Finally, we are prepared to move on to the in-game itemizations and builds. The starting item for Garen is “Doran’s Shield”. It is the only realistic option to start the game with this champion. It complements the health regen you already get from your passive as well as gives a boost of health to start the game.
Moving on to the early game items, you have some options to deal with issues as well as get an advantage. For example, buying early “Plated Steelcaps” against attack damage champions is highly useful. Especially if your enemy is a marksman or an auto-attacking bruiser.
You can also get “Mercury Treads” against ability power champions. This can be for the range ability power champions or melee AP bruisers. The item works against both of them as you get magic resistance to deal with their damage and movement speed is always helpful.
“Bramble Vest” is an often seen early game item for bruisers. This is because, in the top lane, there is a lot of trading and fighting, much more than in the other lanes. A good portion of top lane champions are bruisers who are AD and a lot of those have built-in healing as well. Bramble Vest is excellent at dealing with both of these problems in one 800 gold purchase.
The build for Garen starts with “Stridebreaker”. This is really the only mythic option suitable for Garen. You might see a “Tri-Force” or even a “Goredrinker here and there, but they are just not as good. Stridebreaker is head and shoulders better for Garen than any other option available.
The second item is where your first choice comes from. It depends on both the enemy team and how strong you are in the game. If you feel that you are stronger than your opponent and can push the advantage, “Mortal Reminder” is the way to go. If you are not ahead and want some resistance you go for tank items.
These tank items are a “Deadman’s Plate” for armor or “Force of Nature” for magic resistance. In nearly all games, you will buy both of these items regardless. The only change is in what order you buy them. Mortal Reminder is also an item you will buy in a lot of the games on Garen, even if the order changes.
More or less the first four item slots are already spoken for. Only the last item is now left to choose. If you want something aggressive as well as dealing with physical damage, “Deaths Dance” would be the item. Other than that you have the option of going for any defensive, tank item that helps you survive.
Garen has a lot of qualities that we have discussed above and more. His greatest quality however is how easy and effective the champion is. This is one of the most efficient champions in terms of skill required to be effective that the game League of Legends available.
Furthermore, even though he also has the potential to carry games on his own. The better you get at the champion, the more you will be able to have an impact on not just your own lane, but the entire game.
Even if you get behind from the lane phase, the best part of Garen is that you are still quite strong. You are naturally tanky and have an execute ability with true damage based on the enemy’s missing health. The “Demacian Justice” is a game-changing ability that does not need items to be devastating.
Continue reading about Garen: Is Garen AP or AD? The Ultimate Season 12 LoL Guide