As one of the oldest champions in League of Legends, Garen has little to no advantages in the modern game. And even though he’s a powerful top lane tank, enemies can easily kite him and deny him any impact.

But for a very long time, there has been a full lethality/crit build that Garen mains have dominated on. It’s been performing surprisingly well even after all the changes and it’s now one of the deadliest playstyles in the entire LoL.

No kidding – lethality/crit Garen allows you to one-shot enemies and carry games consistently. It does this by giving you more mobility and damage, two key stats that this champion otherwise lacks.

So, let’s talk in more detail about how lethality Garen actually works and how you can take advantage of its strengths this season.

Introduction to Playing Lethality/Crit Garen

Why Lethality and Critical Strike on Garen?

Garen's E Damage

As already mentioned, it’s really difficult to carry games on Garen nowadays. His tank/bruiser playstyle is very predictable and he depends way too much on his team’s performance. And in solo queue, this is a recipe for defeat.

But Since Garen’s two main damaging abilities (Q and E) deal physical damage, they also benefit from lethality. They have decent AD ratios as well, so lethality items will always increase Garen’s damage.

On the other hand, Garen’s Q, Decisive Strike, empowers his next basic attack to deal extra damage. This simply means that after you press Q, Garen’s auto-attack will apply all on-hit effects you might have as well as critically strike if you have crit items in your build.

But that’s not all! Garen’s E, Judgement, is his spinning move that deals damage to all enemies around him. This ability can also critically strike with each move, giving you a chance of completely obliterating your target if the crit Gods decide to smile at you.

So, the number one reason for playing lethality/crit Garen is one-shotting enemy players.

Besides the high damage, another reason why you don’t need to build anything but lethality and crit items on Garen is that he’s naturally a tanky enough champion. His passive allows you to regenerate health out of combat and his W can be used to block and reduce the effects of powerful attacks.

Finally, lethality and crit items don’t affect Garen’s R, Demacian Justice, since the ability deals true damage based on the target’s missing health. However, you’ll mostly use this as a way to execute your enemies, so you don’t need it to scale with lethality and crit too.

How to One-shot Enemies?

Garen's Combo Damage

Garen is normally one of the easiest picks you can lock in. But with this lethality build, his playstyle becomes even simpler, often focusing on perfecting one thing – assassinating enemy champions.

Here’s how it should usually go.

  • Step 1: (Optional) Use Prowler’s Claw to get near your target and increase your damage done to them.
  • Step 2: Cast Q to silence your target and prevent them from using Flash.
  • Step 3: Activate E and follow your target wherever they go.
  • Step 4: Use R to execute your target and collect your gold reward.

As you can see, the main goal here is to get near an enemy champion, silence them so they can’t run away, and drain them with the spin-to-win move. With enough lethality, this Q+E+R combo can assassinate any champion in the game, and I really mean ANY

There are many different strategies you can do to actually one-shot enemy players. But with a bit of experience, you can perfect the playstyle.

For example, most enemies will run away from you as soon as they see you, especially if you’ve already demonstrated what lethality/crit Garen can do. So, you can pick up a Control Ward and hide in a brush. And when they come near you, end their existence!

With this build, Garen is a really difficult champion to counter since you can’t dodge his damage in any way. And your only win condition is to avoid him at all costs. But that’s precisely why you should play aggressively and always be in their faces.

What Are the Weaknesses of This Build?

Garen's Ult

Going hard on lethality and crit items on Garen doesn’t result in no disadvantages whatsoever. And the most obvious problem with avoiding tank items is the fact that you’re going to be squishy.

As much as your offense gets improved with this build, that much your defense struggles. This is a really important concept to be aware of, especially if you’re used to playing Garen as a full tank – you’ll deal a lot of damage but you’ll also be easier to stop.

On the other hand, let’s say that you go up against Tryndamere, Kindred, Quinn, Fiora, or Pantheon. These are natural counters for Garen because all of them can block his damage and avoid the effects of his R. 

And when you play a build that’s specifically designed around dealing damage with Garen’s basic abilities and executing them with R, this is a bigger problem than usual. In these situations, I recommend you play tank Garen.

Additionally, you’ll also notice the difficulty in killing enemy champions when your Flash and Prowler’s Claw are on cooldown. This is because most opponents will stay away from you and won’t let you get near. 

So, be aware of these things before you jump into a game.

Read Also: Lethality Aatrox Build Guide

The Lethality & Crit Garen Build


Lethality Garen Runes
  • Conqueror
  • Triumph
  • Legend: Alacrity
  • Coup de Grace
  • Eyeball Collection
  • Ultimate Hunter

As you can see, the rune page for this build is essentially the same as for any other Garen build.

Starting with Conqueror, the main reason we take this keystone is that it gives us more damage and self-healing in combat. And thanks to his E, Garen stack it up faster than most champions in the game. So, it works perfectly with his ability kit.

Triumph is here to prevent you from dying in close duels. It heals you whenever you score a kill or an assist, so it helps you stay alive. 

Legend: Alacrity is a must-have rune because Garen’s E scales with attack speed. The rune passively increases your attack speed and the more you have of that stat the faster Garen spins with Justice.

We take Coup de Grace to increase our damage against low-HP enemies. It synergizes with Garen’s R and guarantees that the target won’t survive it.

For secondary runes, I mostly opt for Eyeball Collection and Ultimate Hunter. The first one increases my total AD while the second one shortens the cooldown of my ultimate so I can use it more often.

You can also try Sorcery as your secondary runes, with Celerity being one of the best runes for Garen overall.


Lethality Garen items
  • Plated Steelcaps
  • Prowler’s Claw
  • The Collector
  • Youmuu’s Ghostblade
  • Lord Dominik’s Regard
  • Infinity Edge

As mentioned above, the item build features both lethality and critical strike items, with lethality being the priority in the early game and crit later on.

Prowler’s Claw is the best lethality item in the game, and certainly the best one for Garen. It grants AD, lethality, and ability haste, but it also allows you to dash to your target. When you do so, you deal increased damage to them for several seconds which perfectly synergizes with the aim of this build.

Not to mention that a dash on Garen is highly unexpected but highly impactful as well.

Your two core items in the mid game are The Collector and Youmuu’s Ghostblade. The Collector gives you both lethality and critical strike while also allowing you to execute enemies below 5% HP. And the movement speed from Youmuu’s Ghostblade is helpful for gap closing.

In the late game, the two items that will give you the most amount of damage are Lord Dominik’s Regard and Infinity Edge. The first one is an armor penetration item that’s really useful against tanks and it gives you a bit of crit chance too.

And Infinity Edge rounds your crit to 60%, just enough for your critical strikes to deal even more damage. With this amount of crit, you won’t believe the damage your Qs and Es can do.

There are also a ton of situational items that are useful. For example, instead of dashing in with Prowler Claw at the start of the fight, you can dash in with Galecorce at the end of it to execute another target.

Essence Reaver and Black Cleaver are two items you should often prioritize as well.

Summoner’s Spells

There’s only one combination of Summoner’s Spells I run on lethality/crit Garen.

  • Flash + Ignite

These two spells will give you the best chance at one-shotting any champion in League of Legends and they offer the biggest pressure in 1v1 duels. So, always play with them!

Read Also: Lethality Sion Build Guide


You can add a fair bit of variability to this build and the playstyle as a whole. For example, you can also go for a max lethality build on Garen which is definitely effective against squishy enemies. But including one or two tank/bruiser items isn’t a bad idea as well.

All in all, lethality Garen is one of the most fun off-meta mid and top lane playstyles you can ever try in League of Legends. And I recommend it wholeheartedly!

Read Also: The Best Lethality Champions in League of Legends

Last Update: March 2, 2024