Shen Build Guide by gleebglarbu
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.
Common Late Game Build
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.
About the Author: Hello, I'm Gleebglarbu, a challenger player on the NA server who has peaked at rank 4 on the ladder, and am currently around rank 30 in challenger as of 12/15/13. Shen is one of my most played heroes on my main account in season 3 and I have a 53.1% win rate with him in solo queue over 64 games.
Shen has been an amazing top laner since his rework and has since been a consistent pick and ban in the competitive scene. His ultimate, Stand United, puts a lot of pressure on the map by allowing him to force someone to deal with his split pushing while being able to join up with his team at a moment's notice. His energy based kit gives him high sustain in the laning phase and the ability to deal with most common top laners. Another reason to learn Shen is that his Shadow Dash is one of the best CC abilitys in the game and can be used with Flash to set up devastating initiations that give the enemy little time to react. He's also a flippin' Ninja.
9/25/13 - Added "Tips and Tricks"
12/15/13 - Added Season 4 Masteries and trinkets to item section
Pros / Cons
- Energy based (infinite harass in lane)
- Can easily escape ganks
- Does not entirely rely on one type of damage, your auto attacks add up in a top lane fight
- Sets up ganks easily
- High sustain
- Energy based (running out of energy in team fights)
- No wave clear before Sunfire Cape
- Stand United will sometimes bug and not teleport you if you are spamming Shadow Dash near the end of the channel.
- Stand United can be hard to coordinate in solo queue
|...|| Greater Mark of Attack Speed
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration
9 x Greater Mark of Attack Speed
Attack speed is strong on Shen because of his passive, Ki Strike. While your Feint is up, the cool down on Ki Strike will be reduced by 2 seconds per auto attack and by 1 second per auto attack if Feint is not up. More attack speed means more Ki Strikes which gives you better damage and energy regeneration. These runes are preferable to Greater Mark of Attack Damage and Greater Mark of Magic Penetration because Shen does not have any AD ratios and because magic pen will only up your damage, while AS will up your damage, energy regeneration, and sustain through proccing your Vorpal Blade heal more quickly.
9 x Greater Seal of Armor
These runes are very effective at mitigating physical damage. Even if you are vs an AP laner like Kennen, he will still do damage with autoattacks so armor will help. These runes also make freezing the lane easier because creep damage is physical, along with enabling you to tank more turret shots because they are also physical.
9 x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Even if you are against a 0% magic damage laner such as Riven, grabbing magic resist from your glyphs is beneficial for the later stages of the game and you still have the seals to give you armor. Most junglers do at least some form of magical damage and in team fights you will often be soaking large amounts of both physical and magical damage which makes it ideal to run Greater Glyph of Magic Resist.
3 x Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration
These quintessences are very uncommon on top laners, but their incredibly synergy with Shen's kit makes them quite worthwhile. The proc on your Vorpal Blade gives you massively increased health regeneration for three seconds based on a flat value + 1.5% of your maximum health. By taking health regeneration quintessences, you are able to constantly stay at high health in lane and force the other laner out with Vorpal Blade harass.
Shen's primary role on a team is a tank, but he can be built for some damage if he gets excessively ahead. Running heavy defense masteries will make you as beefy as possible and give you insane health regen for the laning phase. perseverance combined with Recovery , Ki Strike, and Vorpal Blade will make it very hard for you to get pushed out of lane. Grabbing 5% CDR in offense is nice as well and will ensure that you have your Stand United up more often to make clutch plays.
The changes to Doran's Shield have made it the strongest early purchases you can get and a great start in top lane for every match up as Shen. The health regeneration on the shield synergizes with the health regeneration you will get from runes and from the proc on Vorpal Blade, the health makes you harder to gank, and the damage reduction on auto attacks allows you to trade very effectively with other top laners. Get Warding Totem against all junglers except for Evelynn, in that case switch to Sweeping Lens and just try to clear out the enemy top's wards.
Spirit Visage and Sunfire Cape are the two big purchases you will usually work towards first in top lane. As a general rule, Spirit Visage is good to rush vs AP champions and Sunfire Cape is good to rush vs AD champions, but there are exceptions to how you will want to build. Sunfire Cape gives no magic resist but in some match ups, such as against Singed, the wave clear is more important so that you can push back the waves he shoves easily and then pressure the map.
*While item builds are situational and you should not stick to a predetermined set of items each game, these 6 items on Shen work very well with his kit and make you a strong force in the late game. That's not to say you should get these exact items every game, they just provide Shen with the stats he needs in most circumstances against a team that has both significant physical and magical damage.
This build will give you tenacity, a high amount of all three defensive stats (HP, MR, and armor), and enough damage to make it so that you can not be ignored by the enemy carries in a teamfight. This build focuses on being a tanky split push champion that is durable enough to survive when the enemy comes to deal with you and is also able to soak damage in fights while dishing out a fair amount as well because of the health scaling on Ki Strike. Going with one build every game is not ideal, though, and based on the enemy composition or lane match up you might want to alter your build. If they have 3 auto attackers an no hard CC, for instance, it would be beneficial to swap out Mercury's Treads for Ninja Tabi.
|...||If neither your jungler nor your support is building towards this item and your team has enough damage for you to focus on solely tanking and providing auras, you can opt to get Locket of the Iron Solari after either your Sunfire Cape or Spirit Visage. This item is extremely important vs double AP compositions so check to see if your team is building one and adjust your build accordingly.|
|...||Blade of the Ruined King is a luxury item on Shen that will give you better 1v1 dueling power when split pushing along with better sticking power in team fights after your taunt ends. I would not recommend this item unless you are snowballing very hard because it gives you little to no defense where as a Trinity Force will amp your damage along with your durability.|
|...||This is a great item vs a primarily AD team because it makes you much more resilient to physical damage as well as harm those that you taunt when they strike you, increasing your damage as well. You should replace Spirit Visage with this from the core items if the enemy team comp is primarily AD based.|
|...||This item can be a strong last choice if it does not make sense to go Warmog's Armor. It would not make sense to Warmog's Armor if the enemy team has a large amount of % HP spells such as Neurotoxin, Bio-Arcane Barrage, and Thundering Blow. Item's like Blade of the Ruined King and Deathfire Grasp also diminish the effectiveness of Warmog's Armor and make Guardian Angel a more appealing choice.|
Stand United's shield value increases by 300 per rank and the cool down deceases by 20 per rank which makes it desirable to skill at 6, 11, and 16.
Vorpal Blade should be maxed first because it is your primary tool to harass the enemy in lane and the heal increases slightly with rank, giving you a bit more sustain.
Shadow Dash should be maxed second if you are ahead in lane because the cool down decreases drastically from rank to rank, going from 16 and rank 1 to 8 and rank 5. If you are not ahead, though, and need the durability, it is okay to max Feint second.
Flash is a vital summoner for Shen and should be taken every game along with Ignite. The ability to do a Shadow Dash + Flash combo gives you unpredictable initiations that can start off fights in your favor by locking down priority targets. There isn't really a good second summoner to take besides Ignite. It gives you better kill potential when your jungler comes to gank for you or in a 1v1 fight. Teleport is not needed because you have your ultimate, Stand United, and Barrier is not a worth while summoner to grab on a tank, without the threat of ignite the targets you attack will be more inclined to ignore you and focus other higher priority targets.
Laning as Shen is surprisingly simple. The wave will be pushing towards you in almost every match up because of Shen's lack of wave clear. This is really good for you, it allows you to farm safely and deny the enemy CS by freezing the lane. Use your Vorpal Blade to harass the enemy whenever possible, if you take too much damage either auto attack the debuffed enemy champion or use a Vorpal Blade on a minion and hit it to proc the health regeneration. Whenever you have Ki Strike up, try to trade auto attacks, especially if you are against a melee laner because they can not sit back and avoid an auto attack trade if they want to get CS and your Ki Strike should do more than their auto attack. Even if the trade is not initially in your favor, you can continue to heal up and force trades until the end of time will the enemy will usually run low on health or mana. On your first back you should grab a ward, make sure to get a Vision Ward if you are against a jungler like Shaco, Twitch, or Evelynn, and place it in river brush closest to top lane.
In a team fight as Shen you will always be doing one of two things:
1. Helping your team dive the enemy back line
2. Protecting your back line with your
Which to do is up to you to decide and you can usually make the decision by looking at your team composition and comparing it to the enemy's team composition. It's more important to dive or peel for hyper carries such as Vayne, Kog'Maw, and Tristana, while it's less important to dive or peel for champions like Graves, Corki, and Ezreal, all of which are in general more slippery than hyper carries and do less sustained damage in a team fight. Gold values also matter a lot. I'd much rather peel for a 10/0 Graves than try to dive the 1/15 Vayne with a Bilgewater Cutlass and Boots of Speed at 20 minutes in. It will also be easier to dive if you have champions with strong gap closers on your team that you can Stand United onto such as Ahri, Evelynn, Vi, Nocturne, and Malphite.
Top Lane Matchups
These will be rated from 1 - 10 with 1 being very easy and 10 being very hard. A difficulty of 5 would mean the match up is even. I won't discuss every match up in this section, though.
9 : This match up is incredibly hard to play as Shen and there is little you can do against a competent Vladimir as the game draws on. Normally you can force trades and sustain yourself while the enemy either runs low on health or mana. Vladimir has broken health sustain with a Spirit of the Spectral Wraith and doesn't use mana as a resource, which makes it very hard to push him out of lane. He also has great wave clear in the later levels and can shove you in easily, pooling your taunts with good reflexes. The best thing to do here is try your best to farm under tower and catch him with a Shadow Dash under the turret when he is going for a CS. It's pretty easy to kill him with jungle pressure because he will have to overextend to press his advantage on you and prevent you from using Stand United to hop around the map without losing tower of your own.
4 : Irelia isn't too common of a pick anymore but Shencan deal with her quite well. She is not very innately tanky, so your Vorpal Blade harass will add up over time. Without a Crystalline Flask she'll also go oom if she keeps trying to trade with you. Just harass her when you can and slowly push her out of lane, be careful of jungle ganks because if she starts to snowball she can zone you away from creeps and potentially kill you in a 1v1.
7 : Kennen' has very strong poke and can give Shen difficulties, especially in the early game. His auto attack harass is hard to deal with and he does a mix of physical and magical damage early which makes it harder to itemize against. Just do your best to farm in this match up, as you get more items and higher levels you can force him out of lane with Vorpal Blade.
2 : Zed is usually played in the mid lane, but if a Zed ever goes top don't worry, there's not much he can do to you. Just build tanky and throw your Vorpal Blade at him on cooldown, forcing trades with Shadow Dash when you know the enemy jungler is not around. He can never really 1v1 you until he has multiple armor penetration items and his Blade of the Ruined King which won't be until well after the laning phase.
2 : This is a really easy lane for Shen. His harass is predictable and easy to block with Feint. I'd recommend taking two points in Feint and then maxing Vorpal Blade in this match up to ensure that you can block most of his harass with your shield. He has high mana costs and little to no kill potential on you so just force trades with him as often as possible and push him out of lane.
Tips and Tricks
1. Shadow Dash + Flash: Using Flash during your Shadow Dash will allow you to taunt enemies at the spot you flash to. This is effective because you can start a taunt and then Flash on the enemy when you get close enough, giving them little time to react. You can also taunt someone in one spot, then Flash while the dash is still going to catch a second person or clumped group of people in the taunt.
2. Cancelling Stand United with Flash: Spamming Flash near the end of Stand United will cancel it, giving the shield but not taking you to your target. This can be worthwhile if the situation you are jumping to has gone awry and teleporting into their would mean your demise.
3. DON'T USE Stand United IF THE TARGET WILL NOT LIVE FOR THE LENGTH OF THE CHANNEL: Way too many Shens use their ultimate on a target who is low health and has no chance of surviving for the duration of the channel. This is a bad idea because your ult will go on cooldown, you won't save anybody, and you won't get to the fight, which will almost assuredly make it a lost cause and you'll be stuck alone in top lane to feel sad about ulting the wrong target. Pick someone that can benefit from the shield, put you in a good position, and live long enough for the channel of Stand United to finish.
I hope you enjoyed my guide for Shen! This is one of my favorite heroes because of his safe laning phase, ability to make plays, and ability to help his team around the map. This guide should help you become a better Shen player and give you the information you need to do well in both lane and teamfights. However, if you would rather learn first hand by watching someone play Shen, you can follow my stream at www.twitch.tv/gleebglarb1