(Note: This post is obsolete after the Juggernaut update reworked Garen in V5.16. While there are perhaps aspects of the rework I disagree with, such as the scaling of his personal utility, W passive or Judgment scaling with crit, he looks in a really good spot now and most likely wouldn't need this rework.)
This is a tentative rework for Garen, the Might of Demacia. Like a lot of older fighters, Garen suffers from a fair bit of short-sighted gameplay: he's a good lane bully, but otherwise contributes very little to his team that is unique, and struggles to make an impact after the laning phase. His playstyle also doesn't really allow for a high level of mastery, and as such locks him out of higher elo levels where he gets constantly outplayed by other champions. However, it may not actually be the best idea to make him any more complex: Garen is a great learner champion, and his mechanics, while overly simplistic, also allow newer players to succeed in top lane even against more complex or skilled opponents. He can't really succeed at high-level play in his current state, but he also can't really become much more complicated without losing his ease of use.
Despite this, though, I think it's possible to find a sweet spot: a core tenet of champion design is that a champion should be easy to learn and take forever to master, and the recent changes to Garen's passive sustain have opened a possible niche he might be able to fill. Garen is, by design, a meat shield, but I think he can put that to the service of his team and work as a protector against poke. Additionally, I think his kit can be adjusted a little so that he can a) hold up better against tanky top laners, which he currently struggles to make an impact on, b) jungle, which seems like a given yet is currently extremely sub-par, and c) truly influence teamfights, instead of just spinning around for minimum damage and soaking up AoE until he finds a target to execute. There are a lot of unique strengths to Garen, and I think they can be brought up to a level where he can have a lot more potential for interesting play while also keeping his low skill floor.
Garen will regenerate 0.4 / 0.8 / 2.0% of his maximum health every second if he has not been hit with an enemy ability or taken damage from any source (excluding minions) in the last 9 / 6 / 4 seconds.
At Level 11 or above, damage from non-epic monsters will no longer stop Perseverance.
Perseverance has grown to become one of the best-designed parts of Garen's kit, allowing him to scale into the late game in a way that opens up new gameplay avenues: with this kind of sustain, Garen can eat up poke for his team and quickly heal it off, and that's a facet of him I think deserves to be brought to the forefront. There are a few anti-poke champions in the game, and some, like Braum, can soak up poke for their team, but I think Garen can make a unique contribution in this respect by being the only champion capable of going in and out of combat effortlessly as he tanks for his team.
To play up his meat shield-iness, I buffed his base health, armor and health and armor per level, giving him the largest amount of health and armor out of any champion in the game, and slashed his base health regeneration: when it comes to massively powerful effects, especially sustain, I think it makes sense to establish a distinction between "success" and "fail" states: with the increased tankiness, Garen should have stronger healing at all stages of the game with his passive when he puts it to good use, but if his opponent constantly harasses him then he should have a hard time making up for it. It would put greater importance on his gameplay in lane without making the effect more difficult to achieve, which I think is crucial to Garen.
Other than some changes to his bases, I think one of the biggest improvements that could be made to Garen would be improving his autoattack animation: while it's meant to be ponderous, it's also notoriously terrible for last hitting, to a degree where even high-level players can't use it reliably. Making it work better would do a world of good for Garen across all levels of play, especially when as a learner champion he's meant to teach newer players how to last hit.
Active:Garen breaks free from all slows and gains bonus movement speed, decaying over the next 3 seconds.
Bonus Movement Speed: 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 / 90%
While the bonus movement speed persists, Garen's next basic attack deals bonus physical damage, capped at 300 against monsters.
Bonus Physical Damage: 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12% (+ 2% per 100 AD)of target's maximum health
Garen's ability set in general suffers from old-style design in that his bonuses increase in duration and not in strength. While that does give him some overall consistency, it also means Garen ends up in the late game with bonuses mostly tuned towards the early game. It also means his power gets stretched out instead of being more pronounced, which I think is a big overall problem with him (he lacks the tools to make quick plays later in the game). A tighter movement speed boost would allow Garen to quickly enter and exit fights, as well as reposition in combat, without giving him overbearing mobility. Additionally, while not explicitly mentioned above, I think it's worth having his Q cooldown start immediately upon activating it, hence the cooldown increase: building cooldown reduction currently isn't very good on Garen, and I think a buff like this would allow him to make even better use of tank itemization.
What makes this possible is the removal of the silence on his enhanced autoattack: while I intend to keep that on Garen (see his E), I don't think a long-duration silence is the best way to go, as it mostly just prevents his opponents from reacting to him in melee range. Instead, percent health damage would not only allow him to chunk tanky enemies in lane, but would also allow him to jungle better by giving him a strong, reliable nuke against large monsters.
COOLDOWN: 22 / 20 / 18 / 16 / 14
Active:Garen activates his blessed armor for 4 seconds, protecting himself and all nearby allies against a portion of incoming damage.
As with Decisive Strike, I think it's best to compress Garen's bonuses into a shorter, but stronger effect. There's a lot more going on here, though: I removed the passive component, as I feel it just makes Garen a ball of stats instead of making him tougher in more interesting ways, and instead shifted that power onto a more frequent and more powerful active bonus. Additionally, I removed the CC reduction bonus, and opted to have the ability apply AoE damage reduction: I mentioned this in another blog post, but I dislike Tenacity as a mechanic, as it devalues crowd control, which now in almost every case is designed to be actively countered in many different ways. Instead, shifting that power onto something more beneficial to his team would let Garen shine even in the late-game as an anti-poke protector for his teammates, which I think would also be thematically appropriate. I'm debating whether or not to make the damage reduction exclusive to allied champions: on one hand, an effect like this could lead to subtle laning interaction, where using it at the right time could mess up an enemy's last hitting in the same way as a Wind Wall or Blinding Dart, and on the other the effect may not be visible enough to foster proper gameplay.
COOLDOWN: 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11
Active:Garen rapidly spins his sword around his body for 2.5 seconds, dealing physical damage every 0.5 seconds to enemies within range and silencing them as long as they remain within the area of effect.
「 Physical Damage:35 / 45 / 55 / 65 / 75% AD 」「 Total Damage:210 / 270 / 330 / 390 / 450% AD 」
Garen cannot attack during Judgment, but can reactivate the ability to cancel it.
Judgment is Garen's most iconic ability, and I think it's also the one that most needs an update: when he was reworked, this was mostly a straight copy of its previous version with a usability buff in the form of its unit collision removal. I dislike unit collision removal as a mechanic, and I think unit collision on both minions and jungle monsters needs to disappear completely, as it causes a ton of interaction problems and adds little visible or fun gameplay, among other issues. Removing minion collision would make unit collision removal moot on this ability, I think, so it's worth doing away with that component. Another small change is the slight compression of the ability to 2.5 seconds and the spreading out of the damage across 6 hits, instead of the current 3: it's weird for a DoT ability like this to deal damage in such large blocks, and I think this change would improve the ability's feel.
The biggest change, though, is to Judgment's damage, along with the addition of an AoE silence: unlike Garen's current Q silence, which doesn't really have that much outplay potential, an effect like this would a) give Garen's opponents more leeway to move out of range or stop him from silencing allies, and b) allow Garen to make a huge impact in large fights by continually disrupting groups of enemies at a time. As a tradeoff, though, I reduced the ability's base damage and removed its ability to crit: with a full tanky build, Garen will end up dealing less damage, but the increased AD scaling would nonetheless allow a damage-oriented Garen to deal huge amounts of damage (the increased amount of hits would also synergize a lot better with The Black Cleaver), especially since the removal of the reduced damage against minions would allow him to push a lot better (full tank Garen still does about the same damage to minion waves, and his Q bonus damage no longer procs on towers). Finally, I think Garen deserves to synergize better with CDR, and I think the ability's cooldown should start immediately upon using it (it has a 2-second increased cooldown to compensate, though, so this is only a buff to cooldown reduction builds).
COOLDOWN: 120 / 100 / 80
Active:Garen calls upon the might of Demacia to attempt to execute an enemy champion, dealing magic damage plus additional damage based on his target's missing health.
Demacian Justice is a good and simple ability that's been saddled with an excessively long cooldown, due to the risk of Garen shutting down his opponent completely in lane. Thankfully, this is getting changed on the PBE, and I doubt Garen will snowball that much more even with such a huge buff to its early cooldown. Another minor issue I take with the ability, however, is its complete lack of a scaling: executing enemies is something Garen's meant to be extremely good at, and I think itemizing for damage should also improve his execution potential. While not enough on its own to set a niche, Garen's execution capabilities make him a great pick in reset comps and against enemies that absolutely need to die, and so putting emphasis on that aspect, among others, would help him do things for his team that no other champion can do better.
What are your thoughts? What do you think of Garen: how good a spot do you think he is in-game, and what do you think his unique contributions are (or should be)? Do the above changes appeal to the role you think Garen fits into?