This a guide about Garen, and if you've been reading around, this is also 'another' FAQ about tanking with Garen. Personally, I not a big fan of duplicated threads, and Myrn wrote an excellent FAQ that's definitely worth the read. I was actually thinking of making a huge post in his thread, but then I realised I had so much to add, I'd be hijacking his thread, which IMO, is not cool. I would like to add i'm fairly confident i've vsed someone whos name went Myrn something recently; he was playing garen, and I lost to him [I wasn't playing Garen thought]. I'm pretty confident we're talking about the same person, so yeah, just goes to say he knows what he's talking about.
I also strongly recommend reading the MFing Cho Gath if you haven't already.
This guide also focuses primarily on SR, and assumes you'll be rational and not call solo mid with Garen.
Anyway, that's it for the Mea Culpa. Onto the FAQ.
Ok. At this stage, everyone who has any business reading this FAQ knows everything about Garen's skills, I won't be describing any of them. If you are to be the Might of Demacia, then it follows you have, at the very least, intuitive understanding of what your abilities are.
Part 1 - I'm choosing my Runes at the moment, but "Fear not, I'm coming."
Quints - Personally, I always get MS quints. Always. Everything else is gradually marginalized as the game wears on, or can be purchased in game for pretty cheap, assuming it's something you deem exceedingly important. I'm not saying other runes are bad, just saying MS quints are better, Meta-Game wise. Also, this flows well into Garren's playstyle of in an out: Bottom line is, the faster/longer you can get/stay out of the enemies' attack range, the sooner/longer you'll benefit from your passive.
Offensive Runes - If you like leaving things up to luck, then Crits is what you want. On most champs, stacking crits is a bad idea, but Garen's ability to crit on Judgement makes him one of those who actually get some decent mileage out of Crit Runes. If you prefer the "sure thing" Armor Pen is the way to go. There are faqs out there that explain why, look it up.
Defensive Runes - If you like leaving things up to luck, then Dodge is what you want. However, as a tank, your armor will probably run in the 200s, such that actual damage reducing benefit you get from dodge will be marginal, at best. The big bonus is really the +MS on dodge you get from the defensive mastery. However, if you really want dodge, just get a ninja tabi/phantom dancer... but anyway, if you want the "sure thing", the two ways to go, imo, would be Armor at 18, and Life Regen at 18. "Stuff at 18" inherently sync well with any tank build, because going tank is based on the assumption that games will last long enough that 200ish Phys/Mag Rez will become important. If you aren't planning on playing a long game [I.e. at least 30-40 minutes ish], don't play tank garen. Period.
Magic Runes - If you want to get aggro as quickly as possible, get Straight CD. If you want to maximise aggressivity in the end game, get CD at 18. If you want the "sure thing" get Magic Rez at 18 [just something i'd like to add, with randuins, you are, in the long run, better off with "at 18" Magic/Phys Rez, because they both yield bigger stats for the purposes of Randuin's slow duration.]
Part 2 - Just a sec, Masteries and spells, after that "Fear not, I'm coming".
21 in Defence, because you need 21 in defence to tank. End of Discussion. The one thing routinely happens to every tank is to walk away with a trickle of HP, time and again, and the level 21 mastery gives you an Extra, unmitigated 4% worth of damage sponging to play around with. Usually, that's life or death. As for what masteries to get, well by now you should have figured out Garen has neither MP, nor AP, so stay away from any of these, and get everything else.
9 in Ute, because... well when your turret is getting pushed, your teamates are dying, or there is a place where Justice otherwise needs to be served, Naturally, Garen has to be there. However, walking there isn't very stylish, not to mention, that when you say "Fear not, I'm coming", well you want to be there, there and then, not in a distant, hypothetical future when everything is over. Also, you want your teleport to be up ALL THE TIME, so you want the relevant mastery as well... and, if you've put the first point there, you might as well pop all of then and grab that extra one gold per 10 seconds. Teleport is simply NOT negotiable. You can only tank if you are there, so If you don't have teleport, you're doing something wrong.
So yeah, Teleport as one spell, for the other... well it's up to you. You might want to get 8 points in Attack, and pair that with Exhaust, along with the CD or Attack speed. Or you could get ghost to boost your chasing. However, I recommend Cleanse. Cleanse, Imo, is more than a summoner spell. It's a way of life. Once you've used it, you won't be able to go back. You may be thoroughly unimpressed by it, but let me put it this way. Think about Ashe and her ulti. Think about just how much skill, and lane awareness it takes for her to stop her farming, estimate where you are likely to be, match that with the speed of the arrow, then co-ordinate pings with Teamates to make the arrow count. We're talking some SERIOUS skill here. Now, as long as it doesn't kill you in one hit [it probably won't, considering you're tank] a single cleanse negates all of that. No other summoner spell does that. Flash will get you out of stuff you KNOW is coming, but it will not save your life AFTER you've been stunned for 3 seconds, and set up for another chain stun/root.
Part 3 - I'm choosing my first item, but "Fear not, I'm coming."
Ok first item... Seriously? Get a Ruby. "Lolwut? Ruby?" Yes Ruby. With defensive masteries, your level 1 HP will run in the 800s, making you nigh impossible to kill. And, if you have cleanse, you can try for that first Blood with absolute confidence, knowing that, worst case, you can just recall, then TP right back in. Also remember that your passive heals a % of your HP, rather than a fixed figure. More HP = more heals: This, along with your defensive masteries, will litterally make you walk out with 200-300 HP, get stunned after some 10 seconds or so [however long it takes for their skill to cool down], only for you to get a kill/assist, and walk away with the 30-40 HP your passive healed in the 3 second window it was on.
The other reason why you get ruby, is that this puts you only 500 gold away from Heart of gold, the early game near-immortality it gives, and the huge gold bonus getting it within five-ten minutes will net you in a 40 minute game.
Part 4 - Reviewing my Item builds then, "Fear not, I'm coming."
General Assumption: You went for the sure thing, i.e. Armor Pen, Phys/Mag Rez at 20, and Got TP and Cleanse. If you went ghost or exhaust, adjust accordingly, but most of what I put forward still applies.
Item build, in that order.
Heart of Gold - ASAP. Not negotiable. Put off boots if you have to, but get it.
Avarice - ASAP. If you got killed, or got forced back [which should not happen unless you're being too aggressive], then buy the basic basic boots before finishing it, but GET IT EARLY.
Mercury Threads - Not Negotiable. Boots of swiftness sounds good, but as Garen, you WILL get CCed all the time. Also, SPONGING CC IS YOUR ROLE. So, imo, there's no point in getting something that's will operate at half efficiency everytime you need it. The difference in MS, outside of teamfights, is just not worth it. If you REALLY want MS outside of team fights, get Mobility. Also, as mentioned before, MS Quints give a big boost anyway, and will put you slightly behind a non MS/Mastery boosted Garen on Swiftness in any case.
That's your "core". In general, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR LANE until you have these items. The moment you get them, its game set match. Your Armor/Mag Rez runs in 100s, and your HP in the 1.2k ish, and usually that's at level 8ish. With that much EHP, it takes a 3-4 man gank to kill you, and even then, you can still cleanse/ghost your way out of that pretty easily thanks to Merc. That's also how you bring value to your team - at level 8, your can already hold the entire team for 3-10 seconds, depending upon what Juking/Ally support allows.
Being the Might of Demacia, it wouldn't do for you to be a one trick pony. At this stage, there are 3 options open for you.
4.1. The Path of Swift Victory
Ok, from the look of things, your team has seen better days, and your carries/CCs/Nukes need every single trickle of gold they can grab. In other words, your team needs you NOW. Or alternatively, you wanna go pub-stomp... I mean exacting Justice on the corrupt. In that case, proudly announce, "FEAR NOT, I'M COMING", and start shadowing your teamates I.e. a 24/7 Ganking/Defending/Roaming/Supporting Duty. Your passive should heal most of the damage you take while jumping lanes. Don't worry too much about Minion kills, between your gold items and your assists/kills, you should have enough to farm your items, which are...
Swift Victory is all about helping your team a hell lot, presumably getting assists/kills in the process, and generally attempting to steamroll the enemy with your big windmill of death. Or at least, that's the plan. Not getting a stacking item doesn't really make any sense, and you are tanking, so its leviathan for you. Leviathan will also put you higher on the enemy priority list; they'll try to kill you while your stacks are still manageable. While that sounds like a bad thing, 1. You can take the heat, and 2. A tank that's not getting focused, isn't really a tank.
If you are ganking aggressively, it follows you need MS, and you need CD, both for tanking [the 15% cd reduction will allow you to activate courage more often, compensating for your relative lack of tankness with a faster courage, and earlier Decisive Strikes/Spin for escaping] and DPSing purposes. Hence, you get Youmu Asap.
This is the other ganking item. Silence, and spin, and use this to slow and keep them within the AOE. Did I mention you get 15% CD from it? Also, if they decide to take potshots at you, your defensive slow passive will probably proc, which, again, compensates for your relatively average tankiness.
Note, there is no "real" order in which to get these items. If you think you need phys rez more than damage, get Randuin's first, and if you're more concerned about doing perver... I mean delivering Justice upon the corrupt, go Youmu.
Your next items really depend on you. Mostly, you'll be doing an awful lot of chasing, so Phantom/Mallet would be your next port of calls. Mallet is the "sure thing" while Phantom gets that extra dodge for extra MS/QQ dodge factor.
Alternatively go straight damage, if you're doing exceedingly well.
Ideally, however, go Guardian Angel, especially if you want them crying like little gurls when they FINALLY manage to kill you in spite of your 20 leviathan stacks, only to see Garen come back to life and spin away screaming "DEMACIA!", mostly to let them know their focusing efforts were just wasted [the 35% extra resist is just an added bonus in this instance]. Also, the overall boost in Phys/Mag Rez should net you an extra second of slow off Randuin, if not 2.
As your last item I recommend...
Path of Swift Victory Specific
If you got Mallet, and you are generally happy with how impotent their CC has been at countering you, plus you've built up some huge stacks on Levi, get Atma's. It should pretty much double your damage output, if not more.
Team Specific Item
If no one else on your team has gotten Starks, by all means, Get it as a last item. All teams need stark, plus the lifesteal/armor down will greatly pimp up your 1v1ing potential, allowing you to beat down other tanks, and send enemy DPS running in fear whenever they hear “DEMACIA!.”
Force of Nature
The Might of Demacia, built as a Tank, is a Force of Nature. As such, getting this item should make intuitive sense to everyone. For those concerned with intellectual triffles, irrespective of the path you've chosen, the enormous life regen syncs perfectly with your passive, allowing to heal half your already considerable HP within seconds of your passive kicking in. Furthermore, you should have noticed how your Armor generally outstrips your mag rez, which makes of Force of Nature a solid pick just to make ABSOLUTELY sure those CCer's don't get any money out of AP stacking.
4. 2. The Path of Infinite Wisdom.
They say the way of the warrior is balance in all things. And flexibility. As such, the wise man will reason that, while pushing for an early finish has its merit, surely we should leave "some" room for the possibility of things not quite going the way we want it to.
So the wise man sits down to think - Garen needs life, and spends a lot time in the middle of the enemy formation. Garen also needs to farm, and as the game drags on, farming an entire wave quickly becomes increasingly important. Hence, the wise man gets Sunfire after his core.
This is, of course, an expensive item, and Garen will need to spend quite a bit of time aggressively farming it, usually coming in late in teamfights as a result. Make sure your teamates understand this, and of course, assure them that, despite the delay, "Fear not, I'm Coming".
Once you have Sunfire, you want to always be right next to enemy squishies. However, that typically means getting CCed more than your Cleanse, or Merc can probably handle at this stage. Therefore the wise man reasons that two cleanses are better than one, and gets Quicksilver Sash.
A pertinent observer will probably observe, at this stage, that you are delaying the two items that IMMENSELLY Improve your killing potential, namely Youmu and Randuin. To this, the wise man answers - Upgrading to those items loses the gold per second bonus. It follows you will want to put them off for as long as your reasonably can. Naturally, the Wise Man will also add that getting them after Quicksilver is perfectly reasonable, of course. Alternatively, getting Youmu or Randuin before Quicksilver is also a sound choice, should you find that you don't need the extra cleanse quite yet [Wise Men being very flexible and all]. Hence, after quicksilver [or Youmu/Randuin whichever you didn't get], the wise man proudly announces to his team "Fear not, I'm Coming." and goes on his ganking/pushing/roaming/defending spree, getting Randuin/Youmu/Randuin as gold allows.
For his final items, the wise man will opt for the sure thing, going for Starks if no one else on his team has it, or Force of Nature. Guardian Angel is appealing, but the Wise Man reflects he has no stacks to protect. Furthermore, his death, when it inevitably happens, will come at the expense of 2-3 enemy champions; he will therefore make sure he has a teleport before willingly walking into his death. Thus, he can encourage his teammates to press the advantage with the assurance that, on Revival, "Fear not, I'm coming."
4. 3. The Path of Radiance
Some men can find it within themselves to accept being a sub-par champion for most of the game. They are also willing to accept the inevitable "you NOOB GET 'insert super dps item that they have used before here'" that they are bound to hear, and insulting statements like "and in the meantime, Garen was farming". For these men, the Path of Radiance is open, trading off Garen's considerable midgame potential to come through in the ABSOLUTE late game. These men, choose Warmog as their fourth item.
The thing about Warmog is that if you want it, then you get it as early as possible. End of Story. Anyone who tells you to build Warmog's post the 20-30 minute count is an idiot - you won't have time to farm the minion stacks, and again, there are Faqs out there that explain very clearly why an unstacked Warmog is one of the cost-inefficient things in the game. So yeah, get Warmog. And get it early. Actively seek out every open farming opportunity, kill turrets, kill minions, kill everything that's not covered by an enemy champ, sometimes you might want to kill minions in their face, just to make them rage and send people in that lane a futile attempt to gank. Of course, by the time they get there, you'll be farming somewhere else, screaming “DEMACIA!” at the minions just for the lulz.
After you have Warmog, then... "FEAR NOT, I'M COMING?". HELL YES!!! but actually... no. You're still a long way off. You have more HP to play around with, and marginally more HP regen, but that's about all there is to it. You still need those HP stacks to get your money's worth.
While you aggressively farm them, your next item is... Atma's Impaler. With Warmog on, this will give you, right off the bat +80ish damage, scaling up to +100ish as your come closer to maxing Warmog. Along with the significant crit, this essentially improves your damage output by 2.5. The moment you get Atma's is the game breaking moment. Where tanking your spin used to be a somewhat risky option, enemy CCers/DPS will have a simple choice between running and dying, your ludicrous HP/HP regen ensuring you WILL last long enough to drop AT LEAST one of them, EVEN IF THEY FOCUS YOU, which is generally a bad idea, considering this allows your CCers/DPS to run around causing mayhem unmolested.
From there, everything will snowball downhill for the enemy team, really fast, and really hard.
At this point, you either finish Youmu/Randuin and nail their coffin shut with your boosted CDs or consider putting off those a bit longer if,
1. No one on your team has Starks, case in which you rush it, otherwise go for...
2. If you really want to get dish out a world of pain on their AP stackers for all the BS you had to endure all game, and get Force of Nature. Force of Nature, when Paired with a Stacked Warmog, will essentially mean that, even if you are getting focused by an entire team, as long as you have that 35% Def boost on, your heal is so huge, it will negate most of the damage. And, in the event they are actually able to get a big enough burst between the downtime of two Courage, you can just sit back for 10 seconds and heal away most of that. Considering how big the boost is, You should definitely get this as a last item if you are getting Youmu/Randuin first.
This may sound like a LOT of farming, and, yes that's what it is. Don't forget however, that the longer you put off Youmu and Randuin, the more gold per second heart and avarice are generating for you.
As a sidenote, the maths savvy will tell you that in real terms, if you've had Avarice and Heart for 40 minutes, that's an extra 40x60 gold = 2400 gold. In other words, getting those two items early essentially nets you a free Atma's. However, it also as an often neglected meta-game value i.e. the benefit of NOT HAVING TO FARM that gold. I.e. time wise, having these two items allows to reach your full item build MUCH EARLIER rather than later, which justifies, among other things, getting these items first, rather than Warmog in Radiance.
4.4 Comparing the Paths
Ok, put simply, if you're after a quick game, or you're adapting this guide to suit TT, don't go Radiance. Consider Infinite Wisdom [always consider it after your core], especially if you are playing higher elo, but you'll probably go Swift Victory anyway. Swift Victory also relies a lot of teamwork, and calls for your teammates to also get snowballing builds. You'll also want a turret crushing line up, and be generally VSing a team without dedicated turret defenders [like say, Heimer]. It's not mandatory [I've rolled a lot of Heimers, tbh], but it helps a lot.
For High Elo full house 5v5 premades, go Infinite Wisdom. Period. Any early game finish strategy will, more often than not, backfire on you, and if you decide to opt for Radiance, you risk getting crushed before you farm your way to Atma's.
Of course, if you have have the MFing Cho as your other Tank, and he's been ricing himself fat off mid, then you've naturally got plenty of time to farm yourself those Radiance items, but in that case, your team is deliberately following an absolute late game push strategy, which is something you need to be clear on before the game starts.
Mostly, however, Radiance is for personal satisfaction - I've been playing LoL for a while now, and few things can really compare to that moment when Garen, who had been, at most, mildly annoying most game, suddenly starts pawning major face, and leading his team into double turret/inhi smashes. This is made all the more rewarding when the other team has a DPS Garen, and you clearly get to demonstrate the late game superiority of a Tank Garen.
However, I am also aware that part of the reason why my team NEEDS me to play that initiating role is PRECISELY because i've been not only farming, but taking farm off of my carries as well. As such, as the halfway point, Infinite Wisdom is probably the way to go - Well, I don't call it 'Infinite' Wisdom for nothing.
Second Installment to being Garen and fighting for "DEMACIA!"
5. BEING the Might of Demacia. Almost there, so "Fear not, I'm coming."
5.1. Level 1 - If you have a stunner/slower with you, by all means get Spin and Try for first blood. Otherwise, get Decisive strike. It will allow you to walk into the brush to check gank, hopefully getting a silence before the first nuke comes out, and cleanse your way out while the MS boost is still on.
Small tip, when investigating brush, activate Decisive, then use attack move - A, followed by left click.
5.2. Level 1-3 - Regardless of what you are going to do afterwards, you need all three abilities at level 1 AT LEAST.
5.2.1. Effective Use of Courage.
Remember, there is no mana cost on Courage, so abuse it. Use it if you are going to spin into Minions, use it when you see their ranged firing a projectile at you, use it when foresting, even if they do negligible damage in the first place... Essentially, use it all the time, unless you are expecting a gank i.e. peeps have been missing in lane, or your HP is generally low and you're waiting on your passive to whip you back to shape. Remember, even at level 1, it still lasts long enough to block most bursts, especially from the likes of Ryze.
The other important aspect of Courage is turret diving. In general, if you are turret diving, most of the damage you take is gonna come from the turret, not the champ, and usually, owing to your huge HP/Defence, it will be the later hits that do the real damage, not the first few ones[As every one should know, turret damage on Champs scales up with successive hits]. At low levels your timing for Courage has to match this framework to minimise turret damage. In a nutshell, what i'm saying is, don't hit the champ and courage right away. You'll be probably be initiating with silence anyway, and presumably, you can cleanse any CC they may have before you place that hit. As such you don't really need to worry about them nuking you in that 2 second silence/spin window.
Besides good players will often wait for the turret to get 1-2 hits – If you've got Courage/cleanse still up, that will make them think twice before nuking, and if they do, well you cleanse and courage away anyway.
Otherwise, unless you are planning on killing the turret after the dive, the moment you courage is WHEN WALKING AWAY, either because you don't think you're getting the kill, or cuz you got it, because that's when the REAL turret damage will happen.
5.2.2. Effective Use of Judgement.
This your signature move, and, as everyone should know, it has one of biggest early game damage potential in the game. The interesting thing is that, even if you don't level it, people will run from it almost instinctively. The other interesting aspect is the debuff/slow immunity feature. Use this to chase/run out of roots/CCs. The OTHER interesting aspect is that this is NOT a channeling ability. In other words, the stuff that does go through the immunity will typically NOT interrupt your spin. Example: You see ramnus rolling towards you. Activate it just before his stun for maximum effect. This ensures you'll be doing your full DPS IN SPITE of his stun/taunt, plus that will also shut his slow down, allowing you to spin after him if he decides to drag you away.
5.2.3. Effective use of Decisive Strike.
Ok by now, you should know you can use this to both run, and chase. Pretty obvious. However, something you will forget time and again, is that Garen doesn't have MP, so pop it when walking from base to teamfight/lane.
The other important thing about Decisive Strike is this ONE BIG FALLACY aka ALWAYS initiate with Decisive Strike. Actually... Initiate with decisive strike IF YOU CAN but usually, that will ONLY be if you can get the jump on them via Team help, or Juking. Also, some people, like Ramnus, will ALWAYS get their stuns in BEFORE you get your hit off. Furthermore, decisive strike is a physical attack i.e. IT CAN MISS, OR BE DODGED, CASE IN WHICH IT DOES NOTHING. Factor this in when picking your targets. The other big thing about Decisive Strike - The MS buff doesn't last very long but the silence part lasts forever. As such, when initiating in the open:
1. Activate the buff for the initial MS surge.
2. Spin to close in/deal damage/negate CC.
3. Courage if need be.
4. Right click your desired target just before Spin runs out.
5. You will silence them upon coming out of Spin, which is usually the VERY moment where they turn around to unleash all those nukes they've been saving.
I call this DJC combo [Much More stylish than QEW]
5.3.1 Level 1-5, Decisive Strike vs Judgement.
If you are planning on going for Swift Victory, and therefore, aren't farm dependent, you don't really need Judgement for farming. Also, you will be ganking and getting your damage dealing items early, so even with only one level in it, Judgement is still a threat, and threat or not, you get all of side benefits of Spin at level 1 anyway. When ganking, “In and Out” is the name of the game, and Decisive Strike is all about that, so Max it out first.
If you are going for Infinite Wisdom, you are probably better off balancing the two. You don't need to rush judgement because you'll have Sunfire eventually, and you need MS for the purposes of getting the most out of the Spin/Sunfire combo, so getting some levels in Decisive makes perfect sense.
If Radiance is how you roll, then maxing Judgement first is really the only way to go. Without it, you will simply not have the damage it clear out the near infinity of minion waves your items call for.
Irrespective of which one you want to max out first, Courage is the next thing you get - Partly for the extra duration, but also because you want every Minion kill you make to pimp up your Rez/Def. And, of course, if you are going Infinite Wisdom, you probably want to this be 1-2 levels higher than your balanced skills, because that's what Wise Men do.
5.3.2 Level 1-5, Teleporting and items.
Essentially, THE MOMENT YOU HAVE THE GOLD FOR IT, go back for Heart, then teleport back in. Or walk, if you've wasted the TP for one reason or the other. This isn't negotiable. Heart of Gold will not only bag you ENORMOUS amounts of money, it will also make physical harrass completely redundant. If you are vsing DPS, then that means lane dominance, and if you don't believe me, i'll only hear whatever complaints you still have AFTER you've tried it.
After heart, I advocate that the moment you have enough for Avarice, Recall, and get it, then come back walking. Of course, don't just go back - be a bit aggresive, get the Opposing champs HP down to give your teamate some slack while you Recall. The only compromise i'd make here is that you may want to want delay going back right away for avarice so you can get boots in one go. Usually this will also put you fairly close to teleport, so you may to hang in until then. However, by all means, if your teleport is up again, go back and get it, shoes or no shoes.
Once you have your Core, save your teleport for teamfights and the like. Let your team know whenever its up, keep a “Fear not, I'm coming” handy in your Ctrl-C, and pop in the message while porting.
5.4. Level 6-9
5.4.1. Working towards the Full Core.
Usually, when you hit level 6, you will be in this grey area: your ultimate means you can gank/go for kills, but you lack the mobility/security of Merc. I personally take it easy and farm until Merc, but a kill can and will get you that money, and much faster. It can also fail and put your farming back instead. It's really up to you, and how good your teamates are.
5.4.2. Effective Use of Justice
Ok, a lot of things to say, but in a nutshell, it's better than you think, but it's also worse than you think.
Why is it worse? Well naturally, you'd want to save this to finish off the tankier champs. However, unless you are playing a horid pub game, the enemy team will typically be made up of super tanks, like yourself, and glass cannons. Super tanks are just that, super tanks, and you'll find your Judgement routinely failing to kill that 30% HP Ramnus by a long shot. So you naturally think, well, i'll just wait until he gets lower... well if you wait until the team has dropped him to 10% [because killing super tanks is always a team effort, they wouldn't be 'super' otherwise] you're better off finishing him off with other stuff, because meh, if you've gotten him down 20%, you can do that further 10%. Besides, odds are strong very little of that damage is yours, so you'll be KSing. Tanks don't KS. No matter how desperate you are for gold, tanks just don't KS, least of all, the Might of Demacia, Garen, the living embodiment of all things noble.
So you'll think, “i'll factor in how much his godly stats offset my damage, and pop off my ulti at the precise moment where it will one hit kill him”. Sounds great on paper, put if you try for that, you generally see them walking away with 4 HP, because you forgot to factor in something stupid, like say, his HP regen. To use your ulti effectively, you should generally operate on the assumption it WON'T get the kill, and make sure you have either someone else ready to finish the job, or a decisive strike coming up soon.
However, it's also better than you think, because at higher levels, it can clean 1/2 HP of squishies easily. So, what's the word on the street? Use it on squishies, or save if for the last hit if that tank looks like it's about to get away? Yes and no.
To be more explicit, it's path dependent. Swift Victory, well, you want swift victory. Use Justice ASAP for a quick kill, then roll through what's left of the team with your superior numbers.
Infinite Wisdom and Radiance, however... well, put simply, demonstrate it's damage potential on enemy squishies early on.
DO NOT use it on tanks – they should NEVER find out exactly how little damage it does on them, otherwise, like all good tanks, they'll factor that in a cut close to the margin. Note that all the way through, i'm assuming you're good at tanking, and you're familiar with that mechanic as well.
Anyway, in an ideal world, you'll get to hit every squishy once at 1/2-3/4 ish health. It doesn't matter if you get a kill or not, just do it.
Afterwards, in all teamfights, put off using it as long as you can, or at least until you've gotten Sunfire/Atma. The basic logic here is that until you get these items, your damage is essentially sub-par, so your big redeeming factor is Justice's ability to break squishies. As long as you HAVEN'T used it, squishies will run from your spin, often abandonning teamates to your team, because they've experienced it before, and rightly fear it. The thing about Justice though, is that you can only use it one person at a time. However, if you haven't used it yet, you can still use it on everyone. This mindgame mechanic is essentially how you bring value to your team until you get your Path items - by scaring squishies out of the fight. Usually, that will often mean you end up killing half the enemy team without having used it. That seems like a waste, but it really isn't. That means that surviving tanks and squishies can't stop your team from pushing for fear of getting hammered by Justice.
5.4.3. Garren and the Forest
You will probably find yourself snagging the occasional kill from the forest every now and then. The bottom line is – Garen doesn't need runes. You have low CDs on everything except Justice and no mana, so the blue rune is almost completely wasted on you. As for the red rune... well between Decisive strike, MS-Quint boosted spin, Youmu/Randuin, and Justice, there are VERY few things that can run away from you, so the Rune is essentially overkill. Kill the small fry around the rune carrier, soften him up, then graciously invite your ranged DPS to take it.
5.5. Post-core - The rules of engagement
At this stage, what you are doing will depend partly on the path you've chosen, but the way you engage in teamfights is pretty clear cut.
5.5.1. Those back and forth moments...
As is often the case in SR, you will find, time and again, teams trading minion kills a few step away from Turrets. If it is YOUR turret, and you're holding the line until your team gets there, typically, you will find them waiting for minions to lock down turret to either initiate and/or kill turret. In that case, use DJC on the minion wave at the edge of turret range. Be sure to keep a cleanse ready, and delay Courage for when they inevitably try to initiate on you. This could potentially bait them into wasting a few ultimates, and whatever damage you take will be at least partially healed by the time the next wave of minions gets there. Usually, you want to make sure you have Courage up before DJCing the next creep wave. Also, if you've used up your cleanse, be extra careful. Naturally, Wise Men will still have Quicksilver, but well, they are wiser than most and benefit accordingly.
Note that this is also a viable strategy when pushing their turrets - Go in and out a few times and try to bait them into wasting their initiates on you. Teleport comes in handy here, because you can typically do this two or three times, Recall, then Teleport and properly initiate.
5.5.2. Garen and the New Items
In general, everyone knows the basic mechanics of the new items. With Garen, however, you will generally want to turn them on Mid DJC for maximum effect. It may seem like you're wasting Youmu, if you pop Randuin first, you'll generally get the full spin damage because of the slow, and waste, at most 1 seconds' worth of Youmu when coming out of it to silence. Using DJC instead of just Decisive Strike to initiate essentially guarantees the silence, and allows you build that Full 8 Second buff on Youmu while your victim is silenced, which, with Justice to finish the job, should still leave you enough of the buff to get a head start on your escape run.
5.5.3. Initiating with the Might of "DEMACIA!"
In a Nutshell
1. You are a super tank that cannot be slowed in any way
2. You can cleanse the stuff that does stop you
3. You are a major threat to squishies.
4. You are generally unable to do a lot of damage to super tanks.
Your role, therefore, is straightforward. You are going to get past the tanks using DJC, ideally coming out of the spin to silence a critical CCer. There's a bit of mindgaming involved here - if you've used spin for mobility, you will typically find that the squishies will wait until you come out of it to nuke. That's when you land that crucial Silence. If they stun, no big deal. Stuns are few and far between in LoL, and a stun used to stop Garen is a stun not used to stop Sticks from landing the ulti he's been charging up. Just Cleanse/Courage, and silence that CCer. What happens next really depends on your team. Ideally, you will have a dedicated supporter that will minimize the damage you take while Courage cools down. Otherwise, wait until your HP drops to half, then Justice the CCer you've been hitting to create more panic.
In general, support or no support, you're pretty much relying on your teamates to make the best of those 3-10 seconds you're buying them. I had this messed up game where my entire team wasted those 10 seconds killing Ranmus who had dived for our Annie, and still managed to kill her before they got him. By then, of course, I was very dead, and they were outnumbered 3 to 4 with no tanks, and no nukes. The moral of this story, is that if you are going tank Garen in a pub, things may not necessarily go your way...
Of course, if you've gone Swift Victory and have had a good game, odds are strong you'll kill one of them with a Youmu and Randuin boosted DJC, then smash another one with Justice by the time your team gets there, but that's just how early game pawnage works out.
6. Tank Garen, Premades and High Elo games.
In General, if you are going for tank Garen, then you want
1. Another damage/CC tank
You'll be spending most of your time in front of the enemy squishies, and you'll need one of those to block enemy divers while you spin around screaming "DEMACIA!”. You also need one to tank for the team for when you die, because you will die in high elo games... alternatively, you may also happen to be somewhere else farm... I mean selflessly pushing sidelanes, so you need a super tank to keep them occupied while you execute this complex strategy.
E.g. Cho'Gath, Shen, Mord, Alistair
2. A dedicated supporter
By dedicated, i mean one that understands you'll be initiating, and will save their bamf move to keep damage off your back/heal you between those two Courages.
E.g. Kayle, Shen, Ezreal, Alistair, Soraka, Jayna
3. A Dedicated Ccer
Essentially, this is usually one of the super nukers going Max CD, with a bit of HP to take the heat.
E.g. Sticks, Gragas, Malphite, Annie
4. Two Glass Cannons, Ideally one AP, one DPS
Ok, you pretty much know what to expect here, but ideally, you'll want as many globals here as you can have. TF popping in behind a trio of squishies just as they've finished unloading their nukes on you, with their key CCer out of the frame is a good example of awesomeness. As is Gangplank raining death the moment you initiate, or Pantheon making a house call. Karthus and Kassadin get special mentions because of their ability to almost effortlessly turn your near kills with Justice into sure kills.
This ensures that even if they KNOW how Garen works, and exactly what it is you are trying to achieve, they have no choice but to run or get stomped by your globals.
7. The Last Word
Essentially, playing Tank Garen is pretty much like playing the MFing Cho Gath, except that where the MFing Cho Gath is all about breaking enemy Morale, Garen is all about boosting the Morale of YOUR team. The moment they see you walk into what has been thus far, either a stalemate, or a seemingly losing battle, spirits will soar because THEY KNOW you are going to selflessly dive for the enemy squishies and exact the wrath of the righteous, allowing them to burn, pillage and slaughter everything else to their hearts' content. After you've demonstrated your willingness and ability to initiate a few times, they will start acting on it, point at which your victory is only a matter of time.
To be Tank Garen, is to embody to Might of Demacia - DPS Garen on the other hand, is like AP Cho Gath. What's the point of being half the size of the screen if you sulk away behind your tiny team mates waiting for one of your stuns to come through, and/or someone else to initiate for you, running in to bite someone, then running away with your tail between your legs from fear of losing your precious HP stacks [which considering your size, is pretty conspicuous]?
So be TANK Garen instead, and...
A long read, but a Worthy long at that. Though I disagree on SOME decisions (you will always have that :P) this includes everything I've tried to say and more, exploring almost EVERY other option you have as tanking Garen which I forgot or didn't mention because of brevity.
This is no doubt THE best Garen (and most in-depth) tanking guide out there, and I'm proud to be mentioned in it.
A single thing of note. Why no mention of spirit visage? it's a good alternative for getting cooldown runes and masteries, as well as a HUGE boost to your regen, which is something Tanking Garen ALWAYS seems to have a load off. IT also helps your Taric/Nid/EZ/Soraka keep you alive that much longer. The magic resist is useful too.
Probably coulda saved a few hours of your life by writing down the items, spells and then one sentence telling ppl not to go mid. Also movespeed quints on a tank are the most useless runes you can get, 100 flat health at start is better, tanks shouldn't need to run away, or theyre not doing their job properly.
At Myrn: Umm I'd imagine you'd have issues with Merc? Well, strictly speaking, with good timing on cleanse and quicksilver you can potentially get your full MS potential throughout a teamfight, however, that does imply using Cleanse to maintain Chasing MS, Personally, i like to keep my cleanses for hard disables and silences, but well, if you're looking for damage potential, Swiftness is really the way to go. However, getting the most out of it is circumstancial on a number of things, including how many Mallets/Red Runes you end facing. Also, Merc brings mag Rez to 100 very early, which is usually enough for early/mid game purposes. But mostly, It's really up to how much you are willing to trust your luck - As you probably have figured out by now, I tend to opt for the sure thing.
Anyway, regarding Visage, i've never been a big fan in general, but the decision to drop was pretty drawn out. Part of the problem is the because of the 12% aspect.
At this stage, it's pretty clear you want BOTH Youmu, and Randuin which means that you will waste 2% of the CD. All in all, not that much of a big loss in itself, but with an item optimizing mindset, it's the kind of thing that rankles.
If you are concerned about HP regeneration, presume you'll go Radiance, which focuses on that, has only one damage item outside of Randuin, and that's Atma [which, after having gone round the range of items, i found offered the biggest damage boost for the lowest cost]. Once you are there, you get more utility out of Finishing Youmu/Randuin than getting a Visage, so you'll naturally opt for these first. As a last item - well Visage is good, but Force of Nature comes out on top - More Magic rez, about as much HP heal overall [i.e. There's a lot of crazy maths involved, but on 3.5k hp, Force of Nature will net you an extra ~8-12 HP per second heal not sure exactly how much] and an invaluable 8% MS. That 7-10 HP gives you about 80-120 HP over 10 seconds, which i am calling the "average" CD of heals [soraka being the blatant exception]. For that extra 25% to give you the equivalent in healing, it needs to do 320-480 healing per 10 Seconds. Typically, we don't get those figures without big AP investment, and usually, that will result in your supporter not getting stuff that benefits your team more, like Starks, Soul Shroud, Etc [Yes, yes I know soraka, more on that later]. Of course, Visage will get you a bigger heal outside of battle, but meh, your heal outside of battle is so huge, 25% doesn't really make that much of a difference. So the point is, if you have a dedicated healer with a Rod, and maybe some other AP item, Visage and Force give equivalent extra healing. Visage gives 10% CD, but Force gives 8% MS and more Mag Rez [important for Randuin]. Overall, it seems that Visage is potentially a cheaper altenative.
There are two problems, however - Visage essentially makes you rely more on your healer, both for getting items to assist you specifically, and physically using heals on you that could otherwise have been used on someone else. Remember, you don't need an enormous amount of heal, just a quick burst while courage CDs, and you'll generally find that a non-visage boosted burst will full heal whatever damage you've taken in the first place, such that most of heal constant healing, if you are being constantly healed, will be going to waste.
The other big Issue is that having a dedicated healer keeping you alive is generally a bad idea, because that invites Executioners. Lots of them. And that hurts you. A lot. Getting Visage is essentially an invitation for more Executioners. Soraka is a great champ, but in high Elo games, Soraka will often = 3-5 Executioners, so overall, she's potentially hurting you more than she's helping. Damage blockers > Healers. The whole point is behind Force of Nature is that it gives you healer like life regen without an actual healer, and the Executioners this implies.
Infinite Wisdom, the decision becomes a bit more clear cut. If i'm going infinite wisdom, then my entire focus is contributing as much as possible to the team, and taking as little as I can. As such, I'd try to limit help from my team to a single spell between two courages, which Visage is inherently incompatible with.
Swift Victory, this is the only instance where you'd probably want to consider this, mostly because, once you've got Leviathan, Youmu and Randuin, you have two slots to play around with, and Visage has a better cost to heal ratio, as well as extra CD, making a good pick me up between Youmu and Randuin. However, you are still getting Visage over a number of other items, most of which, like, say, Guardian and Mallet, give much more utility than visage.
Visage is not bad per se, it's just you get more utility from rushing your Core items, whatever Path you've chosen, and by the time you'll get around to buying it, Executioners will either be all over the place, or there will be other items that give more utility. Note that in an executioner heavy game, you are potentially better off with Guardian Angel or More HP, instead of Force of Nature/Visage. However, I do not like Guardian because it tends to discourage people from hitting you, while, past the 3.5k mark, Resistance items typically give more EHP than Flat HP. The other big problem with garen is his lack of mana, which essentially means you lose out on a number of item, like Trinity Edge, Glacial Shroud and Banshee's Veil. I didn't include any of these items here because I do not like wasting the considerable mana, but strictly speaking, these items could potentially add more to Garen than Force or Guardian.
BTW, the reason why I don't get thornmail on Garen - With your 300ish armor, and Courage, you will take laughable damage from Physical attackers, no matter how buff they are, which essentially means you won't be returning anything.
Re: Flat HP runes = MS quints still give you an overall 4.5% MS boost in the end game. Flat HP runes, on the other hand, give a 10-15% HP boost at level 1 with ruby, but a pathetic ~3% at level 18, where your HP runs in the 3k.
Re: Saving a few hours of my life by just writing items; I've lurking in this forum for a while now, and that's something i still don't quite understand - i've seen people put item/spell/quint builds, and call it a guide. For me, it's a build for a champ, not a guide. But meh, that's just me.
Re: "That's what she said" - Can't believe i didn't think of that before. Bahahaha...
I thought I was pretty clear on that - Use your Q for the MS boost, turn your Spin and dive through their tanks and for the squishy AP/DPS at the back. The moment you get focused, turn on courage, and if you get stunned outright, use cleanse. Activate Youmu/Randuin while spinning through team if you have them. Attack a CCer the moment your Spin runs out to silence them, and start bashing whoever is closest to you. In that 3-10 second window where you do all that time frame, your team should have more than enough time to get jump in and help, especially if, as planned, you've soaked the big disables i.e. Tibbers, and silenced the big nukers and/or got them running from you and the inevitable death of Justice [fiddlestick,s for example].
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