Shen Build Guide by Natook
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.
Before we get started, let me first say this... I KNOW SHEN IS AN EXCELLENT TANK, THIS IS JUST A DIFFERENT WAY OF PLAYING HIM. DO NOT DOWNVOTE BECAUSE "lawl shen is tank -1"
So, you're tired of tanking with a ninja eh? Ninjas are known for assassinations, so why not play him like the true ninja Shen really is? Not only is this a far more fun way to play Shen, it's also really unexpected. Shen is extremely agile, and as a DPS/Tank hybrid (mostly DPS), he can pound out kills like crazy. So let's get started!
-DPS Shen is way more fun than Tank Shen
-Excellent Crowd Control, even when squishy
-Pressure from Stand United is increased because now Shen can save AND destroy.
-Nice passive for free magic damage.
- Shadow Dash is great for chasing and fleeing.
-Build is somewhat expensive
-Not the best farmer
Masteries for DPS Shen are really up to your preference. 21/9/0 is for even greater damage output, critical strike chance, and cooldown reduction which are all nice for DPS Shen, but this is a fairly flexible area. If you aren't surviving very well and putting out enough damage, then 0/21/9 is a viable option. I prefer to have at least 9 in the Defense category for better evasion and the 10% speed increase if I dodge.
Greater Quintessence of Desolation
As many DPS champs have, I choose three of these for the armor penetration. Most of your damage will be physical during the mid to late game. Straight forward.
Greater Mark of Desolation
Same as above, greater damage output.
This is for greater survivability and goes with the evasion masteries. After a dodge, you'll get a 10% speed boost, which helps Shen move even faster. Since Shadow Dash is a very important tool of Shen's, you don't want to be hit as often since this is not a full Tank build for Shen.
Shen is fairly cooldown/energy dependent. Stand United has a very long cooldown and this also helps you use your Shadow Dash more frequently, which both of these abilities are what makes Shen so deadly AND supportive at the same time.
Shen's Passive is Ki Strike. This is a really nice passive for a DPS Shen, even without health stacking items. The bonus added from the 3.5% max health isn't that great of an addition. But! This passive is ready every 8 seconds. On top of that, every time Shen auto attacks, the cooldown is reduced by 2 seconds. So when you have high attack speed, you'll be flinging this passive out like crazy for free magic damage! Ki Strike also activates on towers/inhibitors so it helps push those down a little bit quicker.
Vorpal Blade should be prioritized out of the three basic abilities. The harassment is very nice and the energy cost is fairly low. So spam this ability! This ability does lose it's usefulness during late game, but it's still a free extra hit with a very small heal bonus. Plus it's ranged.
Feint is kind of a useless ability until way late game, and even then you won't be using it too often. You can get 1 point in this fairly early, but I do not recommend this because energy is important to have in the beginning. You will be using Shadow Dash and Vorpal Blade way more often and at the lower levels they cost more energy as well. Plus, it's very unlikely that you will find yourself in a dire situation that early. However, this IS a nice ability towards end game when Lux, Kog'Maw, or Karthus are using their ultimates and you need a quick shield that could save your life. But, you won't find yourself using it that much aside from that.
Shadow Dash is one of the two abilities that makes Shen so sexy. Making your enemy chase someone he doesn't want to chase, is such a great ability. However, sadly because Shen is not fully tanking in this build, the AoE effect gets shunned a bit. If you have 5 champs attacking you at once, you will more than likely wind up either dead, or useless. This is not as big of a deal in 3v3, but in 5v5 do not taunt the entire team unless you are fully aware that you will die and your that you team will reap some benefit from this; mainly escaping. You might not be tanking, but you can still sacrifice to save the team. Although if you're the DPS, you may already have a tank doing this so the neglect of the AoE effect isn't as bad. Now, the BENEFIT to this as a DPS Shen is when combined with Thornmail your Shadow Dash essentially deals damage. Plus, champs will be busy trying to focus your teammate (trust me, people with any experience at all will know not to focus the tank. Even if you're not tanking, it will take a long time for them to finally realize that it's SHEN dealing the damage), so when they chase you for a bit, they will be running back towards their previous target to finish the job. This is when you can SLAUGHTER. This is also good for chasing down those pesky champs like Singed, Master Yi, or if someone uses Ghost to get away. Plus, the movement speed from Phantom Dancer goes great with Shadow Dash.
Stand United is probably one of the most useful ultimates in the entire game. Yes, this is usually an ability to save your teammate, and it accomplishes that quite well. BUT! As DPS Shen, you can save your teammate AND do crazy damage. Sure you 2v1 with Shen as a Tank, but you don't really help in the killing process. After the big save, your usefulness drops tremendously. It's irritating to have a Shen save the day, but it's even WORSE when he's dishing out massive damage to boot! Like I said earlier, if you use Shadow Dash after saving your teammate with Stand United, they will want to finish off your teammate only to realize that they just got demolished by Shen. This is also an amazing escape skill if the situation presents itself. For example, if you are playing a 3v3, and you have teammates defending the main base, you can use Stand United to go BACK to base after pushing down a tower! Or just warping to a different champ on the map that happened to be alone at the time if you were getting ganked.
By the end of the game, my build tends to look like this:
I like to start off with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion for greater movement. This allows you to harass with Vorpal Blade much easier. Get in, hit, get out. Simple. If you want to get a Null-Magic Mantle first if you prefer to stay defensive, and wait until level 2 to use Shadow Dash to escape, that is also a viable option. Once you get enough gold, finish up your Mercury's Treads for a little magic resistance and most importantly, tenacity. Dropping off those stuns, taunts, fears, etc. quicker is very important.
The next item is very situational. Since you are Shen and one of your main abilities is Shadow Dash, you will be soaking up some damage no matter what. It's kind of silly to have an ability that makes Tryndamere three-shot you instead of another guy. You want to be able to take some damage and deal some back. Also, since this is a DPS build, your items will want to be about dealing damage and using Shadow Dash with Thornmail accomplishes this. Since Mercury's Treads give you a little magic resistance and Thornmail being such an excellent (and cheap) item, I usually go with that. However, it's really up to you and depends on what kind of damage the enemy is dealing. Force of Nature, Sunfire Cape or, having a Frozen Heart are good alternatives for this spot. The movement speed from Force of Nature plus the excellent health regeneration along with the high magic resist is very good, but I wouldn't suggest it unless the other team is very AP heavy. The movement speed isn't necessary since we will be building a Phantom Dancer later and since Shen won't have nearly as much health as a tank, the 0.35% health regeneration isn't as noticeable. Sunfire Cape is all around good for Shen. The 35 magic damage helps Shen farm, which can be important if you are having trouble last hitting, and the 450 Health makes Shen's Ki Strike hit a little bit harder. Frozen Heart is excellent because of the 20% cooldown reduction, so you can use Stand United more often. Plus, slowing the enemies attack speed is nice if you feel like you are not dodging enough. Thornmail is what I tend to get though, because it synergizes with Shadow Dash so well. I cannot mention this enough! Think of it as your Shadow Dash now dealing percentile damage!
Now here is when you will start worrying your teammates if they were unaware that you were going to build a Shen that will actually be dealing damage! (which personally, I get enjoyment out of surprising everyone with this build, but communicating effectively with your team is always important.) Phantom Dancer is next because of the movement speed and attack speed. Attack speed is important for Shen so that you pop off that Ki Strike as soon as it's ready. Plus, the attack speed is helpful because it causes your Ki Strike to be ready, sooner. Some people will want to build a damage dealing item first, but that is not necessary! With Vorpal Blade, Ki Strike, and a well-timed auto attack, you will be getting in 2, sometimes 3 hits in less than a second! Plus, the extra movement speed helps Shen chase down enemies to use Shadow Dash on them. If you want to build Zeal then get Vampiric Scepter for some slightly better survivability then that works too. However, I recommend finishing Phantom Dancer first because the healing done from the Vampiric Scepter isn't very much at this point because most of Shen's damage is magic for now. Plus you get a very small heal from Vorpal Blade so you should be okay.
The next item is up to you. Either build Madred's Bloodrazor or The Bloodthirster. If you went ahead and bought the Vampiric Scepter then finish The Bloodthirster to make your life steal and damage output sky rocket. At this point in the game, Madred's Bloodrazor isn't as important because chances are, Dr. Mundo doesn't have his 4000 health yet. However, ANY DPS CHAMPION EVER SHOULD HAVE Madred's Bloodrazor DO NOT FINISH YOUR BUILD WITHOUT IT! If you were able to build up this far quick enough, then Madred's Bloodrazor can be put off until after the The Bloodthirster. If you build Madred's Bloodrazor before The Bloodthirster, make sure you get The Bloodthirster after, and vice versa. These two items are very important! Madred's Bloodrazor is such a beautiful item for DPS champs because it gives awesome attack speed, some armor, decent damage, then the best part.. PERCENTILE MAGIC DAMAGE! No matter how health heavy the enemey is, you will tear them apart. Plus the magic damage output is so great, that it makes your damage into a hybrid. It's hard to build enough armor to null this kind of damage. I strongly suggest finishing Phantom Dancer and then getting Madred's Bloodrazor, but the other way I suggested is an option if you want.
Next is the Infinity Edge. The Critical strike chance, CS damage increase, and flat damage output is ridiculous with this item. You will already be dealing extreme amounts of damage before hand, but with this it's GG. Straight forward item, and works very well with Phantom Dancer.