Shen Build Guide by Timotiherb
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.
Heyo, this is my first guide on Mobafire, and I hope it helps out beginner and veteran Shen players alike. I've been playing Shen for a long time now, and while I used to play him solely as a Support AP Tank, since the latest update he has become an incredibly viable Bruiser, or Tanky DPS. While I've heard of Shen being played as a jungler, I've never seen or tried it, so I'm leaving that one alone. Hope you enjoy my guide.
Please note that this guide was created for Season 2 play, and is no longer valid in the meta.
Many players won't think too much about a Champion's base stats, but it can be useful to know exactly how your Champion will advance throughout the game.
Health Regen - 7.45 (+0.55/lvl)
Energy - 200
Energy Regen - 50
Range - 125
Attack Damage - 54.5 (+3.375/lvl)
Attack Speed - 0.651 (+3.40%/lvl)
Armor - 15 (+4/lvl)
Magic Resist - 30 (+0/lvl)
Move Speed - 310
Pros / Cons
-Incredibly tanky, with abilities that scale well off his max and bonus HP
-Great capability to support with taunts, healing, and of course his ultimate
-Highly mobile and capable of utility through his dash, shield and teleport
-Capable of dishing out a tonne of damage through his passive
-He's a Flippin' Ninja
-Does not work well without allies to support, and is therefore not a good choice for solo top
-Not a particularly good farmer
-Needs to put his life on the line to really achieve anything
-Everybody will blame you if the team loses. This is the reality of playing a support
No matter how you play him, Shen is a tank. As such, both builds take 21 points in defensive masteries. The builds differ in their secondary trees, where support goes into utility and bruiser goes into offense.
Tough Skin - Helps you sustain a bit better in the early lane.
Resistance and Hardiness - Small boosts to your defenses, useful in the early game.
Durability - An absolutely essential mastery to max, gives a sick as heck bonus to max HP.
Vigor - I take it because I have a spare point, but the extra regen isn't vital. Swap it out if you like something else more.
Veteran's Scars - A really useful mastery for early game. Tanks you up significantly, especially with % HP runes.
Indomitable - Like Tough Skin , but applies to champion attacks as well. Useful throughout the game to mitigate damage.
Enlightenment - As very little Cooldown Reduction is built through items, it's really handy to max this - it'll give you over 8% CDR at max level.
Initiator - Because who doesn't like speed? This will help you to move around the battlefield faster and, as the name implies, initiate into fights more effectively.
Honor Guard - Essentially the late game version of Indomitable . When combined with other damage mitigation, this 1.5% can really make a difference to the amount of damage you take.
Juggernaut - The ultimate tank mastery. Not only does it tank you up by 3% (The same as 2 Greater Quintessence of Endurance), but reduces CC effects on you by 10% - this is essentially 1/3 of a pair of mercury treads.
Summoner's Wrath - Not essential in this build, but the resistance shred on exhaust can be very useful early game.
Brute Force - Because you just can't argue with extra attack damage.
Alacrity - Shen's passive works very well with attack speed, and we also need this one to pick up our armor penetration.
Weapon Expertise - This one is the holy grail of offense masteries. We definitely want this on an AD based bruiser.
Summoner's Insight - Incredibly useful when using Flash and Teleport. The reduced cooldowns and cast times will really make a difference to clutch moments.
Expanded Mind - While this is a good choice on mana-based casters, it's a must for any energy user. That extra 10 energy will save your *** more than you realise.
Swiftness - As a tank and a support, we want to be where the fights are at. This stacks well with Initiator , and will make you quick like a ninja should be.
Runic Affinity - Useful primarily for securing blue buff. Blue buff is a real treat for Shen, as it not only gives him some amazing CDR, but also makes his energy regenerate much faster. Keeping this for as long as possible is a great boon.
My rune choices may seem a little strange, and this is because I absolutely love % health runes on any tank. To me, having a tonne of health just makes me feel like a man. A manly man.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Percent Health
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Percent Health
Greater Mark of Lethality
Greater Seal of Percent Health
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Lethality
Greater Quintessence of Endurance - The extra 4.5% max health really shines on a tank like Shen, and is worthwhile all throughout the game. Cranking these runes plus a Doran's Shield will start you off with at least 700 HP.
Greater Quintessence of Desolation - For our AD bruiser Shen, I use armor penetration quints for some extra early game damage. Shen doesn't get much damage potential early on, and these runes help him to really hurt the enemy in the laning phase.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration - I take these on the support tank Shen simply for a bit more damage on your Vorpal Blade and Shadow Dash. This is very noticeable against champions who don't naturally build magic resist (All ranged champions apart from Nidalee, and certain others). Most other marks won't benefit a support tank that much. I see alot of people suggesting flat HP marks for around 40 extra HP, but this just doesn't scale well at all into the mid and late game.
Greater Mark of Desolation - To further increase the impact of my Greater Quintessence of Desolation, I take a full set of these. This gives us, using my build, a full 25 flat armor penetration, plus an extra 10% from out Weapon Expertise . Needless to say, this is a good thing. For a bruiser build, Greater Mark of Attack Speed could also work well.
Greater Seal of Endurance - A full set of these provides you with an additional 4.5% maximum health, which is amazing when combined with Greater Quintessence of Endurance, Juggernaut , or both. Not only does this make it less necessary to build alot of HP items, but it increases the effectiveness of what you do build. Can be replaced with Greater Seal of Armor if more early game damage mitigation is needed.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist - There really aren't many champions who I don't take these on. As magic damage and AP champions scale really well into mid game, having these bad boys will really significantly reduce the damage you take from them. I've heard good things about flat Magic Resist aswell, but I find the extra +24 at max level is really useful - Essentially a free Null-Magic Mantle.
The spells differ a bit for each build, but these are at your discretion - if you prefer to use an Ignite or a Ghost, go for it. These are just what I'm comfortable with using.
Flash - I use this on almost every champion I play. An amazing get out of jail free card, can be used to escape certain death or secure a kill. Amazing in a clutch situation, and a really great spell.
Teleport - I take this on Support Shen so that I can always be where my team needs me. Combined with decent move speed and Stand United, this allows Shen to dominate the battlefield and always stay one step ahead of the enemy team. You can help allies all over the map with this combo, and it's super effective.
Exhaust - While I will often take Teleport on bruiser Shen, I find exhaust to be an equally viable option. Exhaust is almost like a Flash - it can get you out of a terrible situation, or it can help you catch an enemy who would have otherwise gotten away. It's also super useful in a teamfight, where it can be used to shut down a high damage enemy for a few seconds.
For those who are unfamiliar with Shen and his ability set, I'll do a quick overview of what his powers do, and how they can be used.
Ki Strike (Passive) - This is essentially what makes bruiser Shen viable. The damage that you can crank with this passive is massive, whether you're level 1 or level 18. Because it scales off your bonus health, AP and AD are irrelevant - therefore, even a support Shen can dish out some damage with it. What really makes it a gem on a bruiser Shen is the attack speed - with a bit of a attack speed, you can make every 3rd attack a Ki Strike, which has massive damage potential and will significantly increase your energy regeneration. Combine this with clever use of Feint, and the Ki Strikes will flow like honey. Only faster. The fact that this ability does magic damage also means that building pure armor will not shut down a Bruiser Shen's damage.
Vorpal Blade (Q) - This is your bread and butter ranged harass attack, but also so much more. What makes Vorpal Blade unique and incredible is the healing component. Before Shen's recent buff, the heal on this ability was static, and scaled off the ability level. This was fine for early game, but really dropped off mid game. Now, it scales off the ability level and his max health. You know something that tanks have a lot of? Max health. This makes Vorpal Blade not only amazing for your own sustain and regeneration, but even better for squishy team mates to stay in the fight. Imagine you have 4k health, and you throw a max rank Vorpal Blade. An ally, let's say Tristana, hits that enemy. She regains 82 HP over 3 seconds, every time she hits it. Which is going to be a lot. As a random point of interest, I've cranked my health regeneration about 100 per second using this ability, Exalted with Baron Nashor, and a Force of Nature. Also very effective when combined with Shadow Dash for killing fleeing enemies.
Feint (W) - Probably Shen's least appreciated ability, but a good one all the same. While the shield strength is a little underwhelming, it can be effective for minimising harassment and stopping slow abilities such as Requiem and Javelin Toss. The AP scale is decent, so on a support or AP based Shen build, this one can save your life. Where it really shines, however, is on a bruiser, do to its passive effect on Ki Strike. Essentially, while the shield holds, each of your attacks will reduce the cooldown on Ki Strike by 3 seconds, rather than 1.5. By building a bit of attack speed and timing Feint properly, you will really maximise your bonus Ki Strike damage.
Shadow Dash (E) - My personal favourite ability of Shen's. This ability has a large variety of uses, and is part of what makes Shen such a versatile champion. First of all, the obvious utility - it's a dash. Use it to close gaps, escape enemies, move through walls, style on your friends - anything you like. Next, it's also a taunt. A very, very effective one. Not only are you able to taunt multiple enemies at once by dashing through them, but it also reduces the damage you take from taunted enemies by 50% - this is huge! You can pop Feint, taunt through 3 enemies, and probably come out with your shield still intact. It also deals a fair amount of damage, enough to make it possible to get kills with. The big disadvantage of this ability is its huge energy cost - it's really going to take a chunk out of your energy bar. However, the more champions you hit with it, the less energy it will cost. Because of this, try to save it for bigger fights where you can hit more enemies with it, unless absolutely necessary. All in all, probably my favourite taunt in the game.
Note that before the update, it did no damage, didn't reduce the damage you took, and restored a flat amount of energy if you hit any number of champions with it. Thankyou Riot.
Stand United (R) - Shen's ultimate. And what an ultimate it is. So ultimate, in fact, that it comes with a massive 3 minute cooldown, reducing to 2 minutes by max level. This is the ability that your team will thank you for having. The amount of times you'll hear an ally breathe a sigh of relief and say "Thanks Shen" after you use this is mind boggling. Should primarily be used to help out/save low health team mates who are in trouble, but can also be used to initiate team fights (the enemy team never see you coming before it's too late), quickly move across the map, and even save yourself in a tight situation by using it on a distant ally while being attacked. Proper use will require good communication, as you really need people to call out when they need it. Also bear in mind that Stand United has no cost, so you can use it any time.
We max Vorpal Blade first, as the damage and heal both scale well with level. We want to be chucking this around as much as possible.
Shadow Dash is the next to be levelled, as this reduces the cooldown. It comes with a fairly hefty cooldown at level 1, and we always want to have this ready for when we need it.
Take an early level in Feint for some harass mitigation and the Ki Strike synergy, but it's not necessary to level it more after that. Your other abilities are more important.
As always, Stand United should be taken as often as possible.
The items I choose for my Support and Bruiser Shen are quite different, and each item serves a very specific purpose in the build. I haven't yet fully perfected these item builds, and I'm very open to comments suggesting new ideas :)
*Note that while the base stats on the Bruiser build look far more impressive than the Support build, the Support build has a bunch of unique passives which don't directly affect your stats.
Doran's Shield - No matter what kind of Shen I play, I'll always start with a trusty Doran's Shield. The health it gives you is great, especially when combined with your runes and masteries. The regeneration is great for early game, and combined with your Vorpal Blade, will make you very hard to knock out of lane. The armor is good for early damage mitigation, and will increase your sustain even further. Sell this as late as you can, as the bonuses are still useful late in the game.
Mercury's Treads - This one is a bit of a toss up. No matter what, you want to take either these or a Ninja Tabi. The Tabi is an obvious option if the enemy has a lot of AD based champions, but I find that the tenacity afforded by Merc Treads is usually too good to pass up.
Sunfire Cape - Not only does this item afford you some much needed health and armor, but it allows you to deal some decent damage when you're in amongst the enemy team during a fight. Almost as effective on Shen as it is on Amumu.
Abyssal Scepter - Another item that really synergises well with the way Support Shen plays. The extra AP will increase the effectiveness of all your abilities, while the magic resist helps to keep you alive. Its unique aura will help both you and your team shred the enemy faster. Don't leave home without one.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter - A really great item on any tanky caster, this works well for Shen too. The 500 health gives him some real beef, while +80 AP will really make his shields more effective, and his blades hit harder. The slow is only really noticeable on his Vorpal Blade, but it's a great help in fights. Tag an enemy with your Vorpal Blade, and watch your team focus them down with ease.
Randuin's Omen - Once you've got your core build, you're ready to complete your build with this incredible item. Not only does it tank you up significantly with its health, health regen and armor boost, but it gives you a modest amount of cooldown reduction and a chance to slow enemy attackers. While you might not notice this, it really makes a difference. In addition to all this, its active is a great aoe disable in a teamfight, and will really hamper enemy AD champions trying to get you and your team.
Doran's Shield - As stated above, always go with a Doran's Shield. It rocks.
Mercury's Treads - As a bruiser, there's no dispute - you need the tenacity on these boots to survive. The magic resist doesn't hurt either. I used to try running a Moonflair Spellblade, but that and all other tenacity items really aren't good enough to be viable.
Trinity Force - You want to build the Zeal first to take advantage of the move and attack speed. Trinity Force is a great item on most tanks or bruisers, but works particularly well on Shen due to its passive ability stacking with Ki Strike. After using an ability, your next attack can do +150% of your base AD, plus Ki Strike damage. This makes for an enormous burst attack. All of the stats (Apart from mana) also work well with Shen, and the move speed and chance of slow are particularly nice.
Warmog's Armor - After rushing your Trinity Force, you want to tank up. Not much point doing a lot of damage if you're dead all the time, is there? Warmog's will greatly increase the damage on your Ki Strike, in addition to the heal on your Vorpal Blade. The regeneration doesn't hurt either.
Atma's Impaler - Now that we have Warmog's, the real fun can begin. Pick up Atma's for some armor, crit chance, and, most importantly, sweet sweet damage. With your Warmog's and inbuilt tankiness, this should give you at least 60 AD.
Force of Nature - A Bruiser needs some defenses, and this item is one of the best for magic resist. The move speed is incredibly useful, and combined with your masteries and Trinity Force will easily make you one of the quickest members of your team. The regeneration is great, and with your Warmog's Armor you should be cracking into at least 40 health per second. This is a good thing.
The Black Cleaver - This is an item that you can be a bit flexible with. Essentially you want to finish off your build with something to make you hit harder, as you're already tank enough. I choose the Black Cleaver because of Shen's natural synergy with attack speed, his need for extra damage, and the amazing armor shred. Combining our 25 armor pen, 10% armor pen, and the black cleaver, we're going to be cutting out a lot of the enemies' physical resistance. This can really help Shen cut through *****es. Other good options include Phantom Dancer if you want to be as fast as Kenyans, or Madred's Bloodrazor if you're really courageous.
Wit's End - By popular demand, here it is. I've just had the chance to use this item in my bruiser Shen build, and boy is it a good one. Buy it mid-late game for some serious increases to your magic damage output. A good replacement for The Black Cleaver.
Whether you prefer to play him as an AP Supporting Tank or a quick, tanky Bruiser, Shen is a really fun and incredibly competitive champion. He's often banned in ranked games, which, while disappointing, is some pretty good evidence that a skilled Shen player is a massive thorn in the side of his enemies. Please let me know what you thought of my guide, and I'd love to hear about some game results using my Shen builds and tactics. If you're interested, I can also post some stats from my Shen games. Please comment and vote, your opinions will be really helpful for my future guides :)