Recent Garen changes have made him extremely overpowered.By: Darth Meraj posted at Aug 22, 2012 4:00 pm
Garen has always been one of those champions that are seemingly easy to pick up and excel with, but I don't feel that has been true until now. Riot has recently implemented some changes to Garen which increases his overall ability to sustain a lane and deal/soak up damage. These changes, enhancing both his offensive and defensive ability, allows the player to build Garen with a variety that excels primarily in the role of a bruiser but can be transitioned into heavy damage or tank.
One of the most significant changes made to Garen lies in his passive ability, Perseverance, which heals him for 0.5% of his maximum health per second after 9 seconds of not taking damage. This ability previously only activated if Garen hadn't taken damage from any source, but now allows you to be attacked by minions and continue to heal. Unfortunately it doesn't stay active while taking damage from neutral monsters, such as the golems, dragon, baron, wraiths, etc. Only lane minions will allow you to regenerate while being attacked. This change in Garen's passive has allowed him to increase his lane sustainability and harassment potential by a huge factor. If you combine this new passive with the mastery that allows you to take less damage per minion attack, you can easily ignore minions targeting you without the worry of dieing so quickly.
The next major change to Garen effects his ability to increase his armor/magic resist by 20 percent as a passive to his W skill, Courage. This allows Garen to either improve his base defenses while building for damage or stack defenses and reach ridiculous levels of armor/magic resist. If you think that isn't enough to soak up damage, then simply activate Garen's shield and reduce the amount of damage you take by a full 30 percent while also reducing the duration of crowd control by 30 percent. Grab yourself some Mercury Treads and you can get out of most any situation, especially with his next ability.
Garen's Q ability, Decisive Strike, allows you to break free from slows while also increasing your movement speed for longer periods of time at each higher rank. Using just these two properties, Garen can either catch up to a retreating champion to finish them off or quickly retreat himself. This ability is also very useful for the fact that it will silence any target you hit during it's duration, while also doing bonus damage. Considering this ability can now critically hit, it's one of your main single target damage dealers and it's bonus damage can also be applied to building such as towers and inhibitors. Use Decisive Strike often, because it's got a very low cooldown.
Spin to win! Garen is famous for his E ability, Judgment. This whirlwind of death can also critically strike targets and also allows you to ignore unit collision. Although you will move 20% slower while moving through a unit, this ability can be great for getting away from or catching up to a target if you first activate Decisive Strike. These units become solid walls to anybody chasing you and serve no purpose in saving enemies from you, allowing you to close the gap if they attempt to run. Unlike Garen's Decisive Strike, Judgment could always critically hit, albeit for 50% less damage on minions. This ratio has been reduced to 25% less damage, which allows you to farm and clear waves faster than ever. Judgment starts out at a 0.7 attack power ratio on rank 1, but increases all the way up to 1.1 ratio at rank 5.
Garen's final skill, Demacian Justice has only changed so that it has a longer cooldown than before. This change is not significant and it's still one of the best finishers in the game. So good infact that a friend of mine was dead set on believing it did true damage, even though it clearly states it does magic damage based on how much HP the target is missing. I had to go into a custom game with him and prove with a death recap that it does indeed do magic damage. Even though it does magic damage, this is Garen's only skill which does, so I would NOT recommend you pick up any magic penetration.
With all these changes combined, Garen is a constant threat on the battlefield, even when he's built full tank. Here is an example match I played recently where I completely dominated the enemy Garen in solo top lane just by being more tanky than him. My first item was the same as his, a Doran's Shield. I was able to harass him, take minion damage, and still always come out on top due to going full defensive mastery tree. As I mentioned earlier, reducing the damage minions do can significantly increase your lane sustainability and allow you to harass or chase while ignoring the minions. Couple that with the insane scaling of armor/magic resist, you can easily take a beating and keep farming last hits. In this match, as you can tell, I acquired a ton of minion kills. This is due to my lane dominance by forcing the enemy to stay at bay because they are too afraid to get near. They know I won't take nearly as much damage as them, at least after awhile they figure it out.
Once I completely shut down the enemy Garen on top, I headed out to start showing the other lanes how it's done. By this time, I already had finished my Mercury Treads and Sunfire Cape, while picking up a Negatron Cloak. I took out Katarina in mid lane, who was dominating and was worth a lot of money. She tried stave me off by hugging her turret but I simply popped Courage and killed her without flinching, thanks to all my armor. After finishing her off, I let my passive kick in as I spammed Decisive Strike to quickly get to bottom lane. There I assisted in pushing back more enemy champions and I eventually went back to buy my Force of Nature. From there on out, my dominance snowballed out of control and I had the enemy team running and dieing at my blade even when it was all of them versus just me. Before I knew it, I was able to purchase a Thornmail and Guardian Angel in full. By this time, it was clear we would win the match and that I couldn't be killed.
When you are choosing items for Garen, note that even though he has good scaling on attack damage, all you really need is a Sunfire Cape. It works in such harmony with Judgment that you will not only farm minions like butter, but entire teams will melt under you. Although, if you have the extra space at the end of your build, you should go for some attack damage. Remember that due to diminishing returns, it's not worth going past 250 in either armor or magic resist. I'd suggest using a spare slot to purchase an Infinity Edge, because it's all the stats that Garen needs. In the case of my previously mentioned match, I decided to pick up a Aegis of the Legion. This item not only increases my tanking ability, but also gives me a slight boost in damage, as well as helping the rest of my team. Another option you have, especially against true damage, is to build a Warmogs with an Atma's Impaler on top of the Sunfire Cape.
How should you choose your skill ranks? It's fairly straight forward to be honest, if you need more movement in lane then level Decisive Strike first, otherwise go for Judgment for easier minion clearing. If you are having to deal with a lot of harassment in lane then level your Courage first. In a normal laning phase you will only activate Courage when you are about to take damage or are anticipating getting crowd controlled. Therefore it's not useful to level it's ranks too early because it's only bonus is a longer buff time. The passive armor/magic resist stays at 20%, same with the 30% damage/crowd control reduction. When you are laning, try your hardest to only auto attack last hit minions. Don't spam your judgment and push the lane. This will help you maintain lane control and avoid overextending, which leads to getting ganked. Every minion kill counts and it will generally add up to far more gold than champion kills. By the time you get your Sunfire Cape, you will be able to push the lane hard with Judgment and Sunfire. You should also be dominating your lane by now.
In conclusion, I believe that Riot will nerf Garen in the near future. Although I cannot be certain what they will do. It's likely that the only thing requiring a nerf is his Courage, because 20% increased armor/magic resist may be far too much, especially when coupled with 30% damage reduction.
I'd also like to point out that not every game goes as well as the one I gave in the example, but most of them do. In fact, the only time I've had to lose while playing Garen is when the rest of my team is falling apart and feeding like madmen. Otherwise, if my team follows my lead into battle and the enemy focuses me because they are tired of me not dieing and my team does their job correctly, there's almost no chance we can lose. Even if the rest of my team gets wiped out, I can't count the number of times I was able to chase down stragglers and finish them off then just go right back to minion farming.
Have any of you recently played Garen and if so what kind of build did you use? Is he as overpowered as I make him out to be?
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