Build Guide by MurdustheWild
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
I.: What the hell are you smoking? | Introduction
You probably took a look at the items I chose, and you're probably saying to yourself: "Is this guy high? Is he trolling?"
I do not blame you. I used to think so myself. But please, I'm simply asking for your attention span for the following ten, fifteen minutes it takes for you to read what I wrote on a sleepless night.
First of all, I am not trolling. I love Shen. I intend to bring out the most of what he can do.
This is what this guide is about - Bringing out the most of Shen's -skills-, not his standard defences. Let us start by outlining the pros and cons of this build.
Brings out a lot of pain with constant Vorpal Blade harrassment.
Feint becomes a damage shield absorbing roughly 1400 damage after Armor and MR (More on this later).
Stand United becomes much more of a gamechanger.
Vorpal Blade turns into a 35% slow.
You still have enough Armor and MR to be able to maintank.
Jungler - Leaves a second solo lane, and you'll be able to get some early gold without taking it from your lanemate.
Money intensive - As you have probably noticed, a lot of the items listed are quite pricey.
You will constantly find yourself screaming for more energy, as Feint becomes a bigger part of your gameplay.
Other tank builds will have a better midgame.
Forget about what you know about tanks. Forget the "Better you, than me" mentality, and switch it to "We will survive". Shen is not about going down in a blaze of glory. He is cold as steel, and you should be too.
Playing with Shen can be described with four words.
Analyze. Calculate. Engage. Survive.
In case you wish to continue reading after the rundown, I invite you to the world of Shen Zero.
II.: How do resistances work? What is effective health?
To understand the potential of this build, you, as a player, must understand how resistances and damage shields work exactly.
Armor and Magic Resist work the following way:
1 Armor increases the amount of physical damage you can take by 1%, raising your effective health by 1% against physical attacks.
1 MR increases the amount of magic damage you can take by 1%, raising your effeective health by 1% against magic attacks.
Your effective health is the average of your effective health VS magic and physical damage.
Now, let's apply that theory to further theory.
In our example, we're going to pit the effective health of three Shen builds, and detail how their survivability works. For the sake of simplicity, we're going to use rounded numbers, which may, or may not be accurate.
First off, we got your Trollshen. Four Warmogs, Merc boots, Atma's Impaler.
7400 Health, 135 Armor, 55 Magic Resist. His Feint absorbs 250 damage before resistances.
Second, we got your traditional tank Shen, built against a balanced team.
2700 Health, 340 Armor, 215 Magic Resist. His Feint absorbs 250 damage before resistances.
Third, we got my build. AP, Health, resistances.
2600 Health, 150 Armor, 200 Magic Resist. His Feint absorbs 569 damage before resistances.
In our first example, the Trollshen has a buttload of health. No question about it. He has decent armor to back it up, but lacks in Magic Resist.
His effective physical health would be 7400 + (7400 * 1,35) = 17390. This means that he can take 17390 health worth of damage against physical attacks.
His effective magical health would be 7400 + (7400 * 0,55) = 9990. This means that he can take 9990 magic damage before he collapses.
His effective health total would be the average of those two values: 13690.
That is a LOT of health, no question about it. However, there is a reason you do not see Shens with four Warmogs, and it is called percentage based damage. Kog'maw's Bio-Arcane Barrage, Warwick's Eternal Thirst, Jarvan's passive, Madred's Bloodrazor all deal heavy, percentage based damage, which would mean, that, for example our dear friend Warwick, stealing 21 percent of Shen's health, would basically heal him full, doing so on a decently short cooldown. In other words, even if your effective health is high this way, you DO NOT DO THIS. YOU WILL DIE. HORRIBLY.
Health stacking is discouraged. Having some more meat on your bones is great, but health is not your first priority.
That said, let's take a look at our next build, the "average" Tank Shen.
With 2700 Health, 340 Armor, 215 Magic Resist, his effective HP would be:
P.Health: 2700 + (2700 * 3,40) = 11880
M.Health: 2700 + (2700 * 2,15) = 8505
Effective health: 10192,5.
His effective health would be very close to the healthstacker builds' effective health, however, because of the (relatively) low health, and high resistances, Madred's, and percentage based attacks would be useless against him, as having magic resistance greatly reduces the damage done by said sources.
This is good.
Now, my build.
2600 Health, 150 Armor, 200 Magic Resist would leave Shen at:
Effective health: 6500,75
"Wow, those numbers are low", you may think. And you would be right. However, keep in mind that these are all simply passive defenses, and they do not calculate AP into the mix.
Yes, this build has a lower effective health when silenced, stunned, or otherwise crowd controlled. However, let's dive into the next calculation:
III.: How does Feint work?
Feint, when activated, puts up a damage absorbtion effect for 2.5 seconds. When maxed, it blocks 250 damage, before resistances, and AP.
"Wow. That is lackluster", you would think. Yes. 250 damage is laughable. But 250 damage before resistances, is not 250 damage.
"wtf. 250 != 250?"
Let's go back to our earlier three examples! This time, we're calculating the effective effect of Feint with each build.
The first build has zero AP. That means Feint absorbs 250 damage. Our example has 135 AR, 55 MR. Therefore:
P.H.: 250 + (250 * 1,35) = 587,5
M.H.: 250 + (250 * 0,55) = 387,5
E.H.: 487,5 Health.
Even with a low armor build, you can see that 250 health, in reality, is more like 500 damage. However, seeing as how Mr. Trollshen has over 7400 health, the 500 health shield is going to be ripped apart in one, maybe two hits from a Bloodrazor. Highly inefficient.
Now, for the Tank Shen.
Again, this build has zero AP, leaving the shield's strength at it's basic 250.
P.H.: 250 + (250 * 3,4) = 1100
M.H.: 250 + (250 * 2,15) = 787,5
This build would have an effective shield strength at around 940 damage, and it is not vulnerable to percentage based damage as our earlier example. On this build, it is a great idea to pop up the shield to absorb a nuke, for example, but apart from that, it would not get many use due to the energy-hungry nature of Shen.
Now, to the Blocker Shen's math.
This build has 530-ish ability power. Feint recieves 60% of Shen's ability power as bonus shield strength. Therefore the shield's strength is 250 + (530 * 0,6) = 568 before resistances.
P.H.: 568 + (568 * 1,5) = 1420
M.H.: 568 + (568 * 2) = 1704
With moderate resistances, and a decent amount of ability power, Feint can effectively increase your effective health by another ~22% on this build while it is active. Feint can stop a large nuke, can entirely absorb an ultimate, making your health untouched - this coupled with it's low cooldown means that it is in your best interest to have Feint very high on your priority list.
The point of these calculations was to demonstrate how much of a difference it makes to use Feint in this build. It is your bread and butter in a teamfight. You use it to block nukes, you use it to point and laugh when you're on low health, you use it to survive.
And that is what this guide is about.
IV.: Survival? I thought tanks were meant to die for the team!
In a way, yes.
However, Shen is not just a tank. Shen is the Support Tank of the game. As I view it, his goal is NOT to dash in and die a glorious death, but make sure his teammates can mop up the remains, now that everyone's channeled ultimates were interrupted. He is not meant for a blaze of glory. He is a ninja, not a warrior.
He is supposed to survive, and support the team in life.
Let's take a look at what his abilities do for the team, and only for the team.
Vorpal Blade deals a decent amount of magic damage to a single target, and allies who hit the target regenerate a bit of health over 3 seconds. This, with a couple of AP items, and Rylai's, quickly turn into a great support ability. Being able to recuperate after a teamfight without having to go home, or slowing down that one runner by 35%, dealing good damage to him in the process.
TL;DR: Heal and slow.
Feint lets you take enormous amounts of damage in this build, without touching your actual health pool.
Shadow Dash is a great AoE taunt that has a pretty long duration on max level. Two seconds of disabling the enemy team is godlike in a 5v5 teamfight - And because of Feint, you come out alive with an AD carry wailing on you.
Stand United is your ultimate support ability. It gains a hundred percent of your AP, meaning that your already decent damage shield turns into a massive shield, not only guaranteeing your friends survival, but extending your threat range to global. You may pop out from anywhere, turning a skirmish into a bloodbath.
As you can see, all of your abilities have one common theme. Staying alive. Either you, or your team, but Shen's skillset is designed for survival.
V.: Okay, I'll give you the benefit of doubt. But why your odd itemchoices?
The explanation is simple. For this build to work, you need AP. I don't mean 80, or 200. I mean 500. At least.
You need Mercury's Threads. Period. The MR, and the 35 Tenacity are too good to pass up, even if the enemy team has only one disabler. YOU'RE going to be the one taking the stuns, and you're going to take it like a man. That is, assuming you annoyed them enough to have earned their rage.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a perfect example of what you need. Ability power, effective health, and utility, and boy, does it feel good to see the opponent go ".. the hell?" when they get slowed by your Vorpal. As noted before, this will turn Vorpal Blade into a 35% slow, allowing your teammates to pick up the kill. The 500 health and 80 AP are nothing to sneeze at either. Note, that this is your ONLY Health item.
Abyssal Scepter is another great example of Shen-ish itemization. It gives you Ability power, while making you less vulnerable against casters, and increases the damage of ALL abilities due to the 20 MR reduction.
Zhonya's Hourglass is, yet again, a perfect example of what you want. Armor, a metric buttload of ability power, and utility of the form of 2 seconds of "NYAH NYAH NYAH YOU CAN'T TOUCH ME!"
Rabadon's Deathcap. You need AP. This needs no further explanation. Once you obtain it, you will see your survival, damage, and utility skyrocket.
Force of Nature seems like an odd one out in this build. Yes. It is. However, if the nukers of the opponent team have had a good farm, you WILL need the MR. The bonus movement speed is also great, and the health regen is very, very useful. If you do not feel like needing the massive MR boost of Force of Nature, you may also want to consider the following two items:
Lich Bane. Again, this seems like an odd choice. You would be right. Why would a tank need the proc? Again, you'd be right. However, we already sport a hefty amount of AP, and due to Shen's spammy nature, the proc is used frequently. It also gives AP, and MR, things you need. Did I mention movement speed?
Quicksilver Sash. If the enemy team has annoying debuffs, such as a Suppression ultimate, or Exhausts, taunts, or any sort of nastiness, you might want to consider Quicksilver sash. It is -very- cheap, gives a very good amount of magic resistance, and it also clears debuffs that Cleanse does not.
I am going to list a few modifications to the itembuild, based on scenarios. The one listed up top is the "Average" build, against a balanced team, where it is an equal match.
Against AD heavy teams:
If heavy CC, grab Mercury's Threads. If not, grab Ninja Tabi.
If they do not have an AP nuker, or any teammates who have hybrid damage, such as Teemo, Kayle, or Jax, you do not need ANY bonus magic resistance whatsoever. In this case, you do not need Abyssal Scepter, or Force of Nature. Grab Lich Bane, and Thornmail instead. Due to your frequent ability usage, Lich Bane is an excellent addition to your damage potential, while your support abilities do not take a hit from it. Ignore the mana. The proc is worth it.
Against AP heavy teams:
The build already contains a lot of MR items, and you do not need more. If you feel especially threatened, Zhonya's Hourglass can absorb an entire spell combo, and you haven't even Feinted yet. No need to modify anything. However, if you do wish to, replace Force of Nature with Quicksilver Sash. While yes, this does reduce your overall MR slightly, caster-heavy teams tend to have a lot of annoying debuffs, therefore having a double-immunity move can very well surprise the enemy.
VI.: But you would have to GET said items first...
... And that is why you spend your first six levels in the jungle. If a Warwick can grab Bloodrazors and boots by the time he climbs out of the jungle, you can grab boots and Rylai's easily.
Start with Boots of Speed, and 3 health potions.
Stop laughing. You have 39 armor at level 1. That is already enough. However, if the opponent team is AD heavy, you should start with a Cloth Armor and 5 health potions, as you will build it into Thornmail. However, with the standard build, you do not build Cloth Armor into anything. You may start with it, but you will sell it pretty quickly. Boots also happen to speed up your jungling time. Your choice, but I recommend boots. Besides, you do not need that many health potions.
Pick up Vorpal Blade, and head down to the two golems. Smite one right away, so the cooldown resets quicker, hit it with a Vorpal, and start wailing at it. When you're done with them, it puts you at level 2. Pick up Feint, and chug a health potion, while wandering over to the wolves. Kill the big one first. Walk over to the wraiths, your smite should be off cooldown now. Take out the big blue with Smite, finish off the other two, while shielding yourself with Feint. Constantly. You should be level 3. Pick up a second rank in Feint.
100 damage absorbed instead of 50 > 20 healthregen/3. No, Vorpal's damage is not that good yet.
With the help of your remaining potions, and the now-refreshed Smite, take out the two small minions, then take out the big blue guy. Remember, Feint takes priority over Vorpal Blade at this point. Now, head back to the golems, kill them again, you should be level 4 at this point. If there are any good gank opportunities nearby, by all means, go for it - Put a point in Shadow Dash. If not, then stick a point in Vorpal Blade, and take out Red. Continue your jungling routine until you are level 6. By this point, you should have two points in Vorpal, two points in Feint, one point in Shadow Dash, and one in Stand United.
Look around the map. If anyone's in a bad situation, or a gank position, Stand United, and surpirse your enemy with a gank. If not, then take a blue pill, and shop. You should have enough cash to have your boots, and at least a Giant's Belt. If you had a successful gank, you can probably buy Rylai's aswell - Or at the very least, a Blasting Wand.
From this point on, you're going to be on the constant lookout for ganks. Whenever there is an opportunity - take it. But while doing so, you need to consider who are you leaving behind to fend for themselves. This is a moot point when you're packing Teleport, but due to the unwillingness of people picking up Fortify, you're probably going to be the one using it.
By the time you reach level 9, you're going to have maxed out Vorpal Blade, and have a good guess of your opponents' and your teammates' skill level and itemization. Get your items accordingly.
From this point on, you are able to farm for your items, unless your team is in a poor, poor position. Don't forget to re-visit blue. Red is unnecessary, but your increased Energy hunger means you need blue. Yes, it gives bonus energy regeneration aswell.
Do dragon whenever it is up. But you cannot reliably solo it until midgame, so are going to need help on that. If your allies seem unwilling to help you kill the dragon, do not engage. Just ward it, and gank the opponent trying to take it.
VII.: Your role in a teamfight
Remember the four words? No? Let me save you the bother of hitting HOME, and scrolling down a bit.
Analyze: ALWAYS be aware of what's going on, on every part of the map. This means: wards, wards wards. You need every piece of information you can get to make your decisions. What resistances, health, and DPS does my team have? What does the opponent have? What skills are available to us, and them?
Calculate: With the obtained information, you enter "mentat mode". Mentat mode means, you enter a state of mind, where you calculate every possibile outcome of a scenario in a splitsecond, with the information provided to you. Based on the information you -have-, the results should be crystal-clear.
Engage: When the calculations tell you that your team has the upper hand - commit to the fight. Let someone else initiate, and drop on top of him with your ultimate. Nocturne, Malphite, Xin Zhao, anyone with a gapcloser is a great initiator in this case, and your ultimate will shield them from the consequences of jumping in between five. Taunt as much as you can, so your team may catch up. Feint. If you have energy for it, throw out Vorpal Blades on the carry. This is equivalent to: "HEY, Y'ALL! HIT THIS!". If the conditions are indeed favorable, and your team can act on the duo-initiate properly, it should be a successful teamfight.
Survive: Do not engage if there is the risk of anyone necessary not surviving the encounter. An ace means nothing, if you have no damage dealers to push with. If your carry dies, you failed. If you die, either you, or your team failed. With this much AP, and resistances, and favorable conditions, the possibilities of you dieing are slim to none.
If you, or your carry dies, then you did not calculate all possibilities, or your team initiated without knowing the outcome.
Know the battlefield. Control it. Survive.
VIII.: Summoner Spell Choices
Smite is necessary. End of story.
Fortify is a strong pick for a summoner spell, it is a spell that can work miracles from earlygame to endgame.
Teleport is great. Stop laughing. Yes, Shen already has a Teleport. But just because you have a great global threat shouldn't stop you from making your global threat even larger. Pop out of warded bushes, teleport back into lane after ganking with Stand United, teleport to wards when the opponent is trying to kill the dragon. The possibilities are endless.
Exhaust is useful. However, maybe it shouldn't be -you- who's packing Exhaust. If no one else took it, by all means, use it.
Cleanse is great, albeit overkill. A Quicksilver Sash is a greater cleanse, on a shorter cooldown. However, the combo of Quicksilver Sash, Cleanse, and Zhonya's Hourglass can be very frustrating to deal with. Situational.
Ghost can be an interesting choice. However, I never even considered using Ghost. You just don't need it.
Heal can work as a crutch if you're not used to jungling. Stand Alone + Heal can also be quite potent. However, Heal becomes useless in midgame.
Flash is unnecessary. There, I said it. Yes, it can save you often. But chances are, if you need to flash, you're just going to Shadow Dash instead.
If I didn't mention a spell, don't even think about it.
IX.: Reader questions, F.A.Q.
Q: Why get FoN so late? I'd get it much earlier!
A: Quite frankly, you need the AP/Defensive items a -lot- faster than you need pure magic resistance. Then again, it depends on the enemy team composition. It is NOT, by any means, part of the "core" build. It is just a welcome addition. As written above, the last slot should be filled by one of the following three:
Quicksilver Sash - If you need MR, and need it fast.
Lich Bane - If you don't need the MR that much, it is godly.
Force of Nature - If you need the MR, and the regen.
Either of them is optional.
X.: Parting words
This guide is what I, personally enjoy playing. It may, or may not be your playstyle. Heck, you might not even like playing Shen, just want to try it out on free week. If you're the latter, don't use this guide. Use more conventional guides, get used to how he plays, before using an AP tank build.
With that said, I'd like to thank you, Reader, for reading through my wall of text.
Please leave a comment of what you do not disagree with, and please, vote. I do enjoy input, positive, or negative.
Now if you'll excuse me, the Field of Justice awaits...