Build Guide by shenmage

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author shenmage

Shen, the Path of Shadows

shenmage Last updated on February 20, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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Champion Background

There exists an ancient order originating in the Ionian Isles dedicated to the preservation of balance. Order, chaos, light, darkness -- all things must exist in perfect harmony for such is the way of the universe. This order is known as the Kinkou and it employs a triumvirate of shadow warriors to uphold its causes in the world. Shen is one of these shadow warriors, entrusted with the sacred duty of Watching the Stars - exercising judgment untainted by prejudice.

Born to a clan whose members have decorated the ranks of the Kinkou for generations, Shen was trained his entire life to become the Eye of Twilight, and thereupon to dispassionately determine what must be done in the interests of equilibrium. As his final trial to ascend to this position, he was made to attend the Takanu, a ceremony in which his father was tortured before his eyes to test his resolve. Any reaction whatsoever would have resulted in his immediate disqualification, but he never averted his gaze and never blinked, not once. As the Eye of Twilight, Shen must make decisions which would buckle the wills of ordinary men, removing all emotion from the equation. He now works with his fellows Akali and Kennen to enforce the balance of Valoran. This hallowed pursuit has unsurprisingly led the triumvirate to the Fields of Justice.

The Eye of Twilight sees not the despair of its victims, only the elegance of equilibrium.

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Shen is an extremely potent champion and in my opinion one of the best tanks in the game. Unfortunately, I've seen plenty of bad Shens during my time playing. I've also had enough compliments from people on my playing that I figured writing a guide for Shen would be useful for others.


  • Very strong mid-late game tank
  • Can save allies from across the map
  • Can taunt multiple opponents
  • Can escape quickly
  • Uses Energy

  • Weak early game against ranged character
  • Can be hard to farm with
  • Requires good map awareness to be effective

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Skill Summary

Ki Strike (passive)
Every 8 seconds, Shen's next attack does 15+5*level+3.5% of maximum health bonus (magic) damage (capping out at 100 base damage). The important thing is that every time that Shen is hit by an opposing champion, 2 seconds are taken off of that time.

Vorpal Blade (Q)
Cooldown Time: 3 seconds
This is your main damaging attack as Shen. It doubles as a last-hit attack as well as a way to heal yourself up and stay in lane during laning phase. Be careful not to spam it to the point where you cannot Shadow Dash in or out of battle though. I tend to max out Vorpal Blade first due to my rather aggressive tanking style, which sometimes results in me competing for most kills in a game. Combining it with Ki Strike will help you last-hit minions. Just learn to judge how much health a minion has before you use it.

Feint (W)
Cooldown Time: 9/8/7/6/5 seconds
Range: N/A
Feint, while useful due to its cheap energy cost (20) and its ability to mitigate a decent amount of damage (absorbing about 3 shots from a tower when maxed) isn't as high on my priority list due to it resulting in a more passive playing style most of the time. The initial point in it at level 3 will reduce a lot of early game harassment however and is worth the early point in it.

Shadow Dash (E)
Cooldown Time: 10 seconds
Range: 700
Shadow Dash, as the one linear taunting ability, is your bread and butter. As with any taunting ability, it is useful for negating some enemy ults, so keep that in mind while you fight the characters listed below. Essentially, if it is an actively channeled ability (meaning they cannot do anything for the duration of it) you can interrupt it. I do not advise diving into a taunting ultimate, however. I suggest playing a few practice matches against the computer to learn where you can dive through the jungle with this, as it will come in handy when you either are chasing down opponents or running away. As a skillshot ability, with practice you will become better at it. Make sure to factor in opponent movement while using it so you don't look like a fool and end up where they were instead of where they are. Another trick (if you didn't grab Teleport) is to Shadow Dash your way back to lane as your Energy regenerates back quickly enough that by the time Shadow Dash is back up you will have almost as much as you had before using it. Remember: if you taunt an opponent, they cannot do anything other than auto-attack you for the duration of the taunt.
Ultimates that are tauntable: (and I have personally been able to do. Haven't tried some others.)
Karthus' Requiem
Fiddlesticks' Crowstorm (before it activates)
Nunu's Absolute Zero
Pantheon's Grand Skyfall
Shen's Stand United (note: does not interrupt the shield, only prevents him from teleporting)

Stand United (R)
Cooldown Time: 180/150/120
Range: Global
Stand United is a tricky ability to master. Yes, you could shield whenever an ally gets hurt, but a good Shen will learn when they can tip the balance of a fight in their team's favor. I generally wait until an ally is at about 15% health before shielding them. You can also use it as another escape mechanism, although it is risky. Getting Shadow Dash ready while you teleport to your ally is advisable, unless you are fond of watching your allies die and your enemies get away.

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Summoner Spells

These are the spells I consider to be good for Shen, in my order of preference. I have also included tricks I know with these spells for when you do choose them.

Teleport makes Shen an extremely mobile champion. Instead of leaving your lane undermanned while you save someone with Stand United, you can quickly return. It also is generally good when you either need to return to the front lines quickly or to prevent someone backdooring your base.

  • Teleport to the minion that is being targeted by a tower to let the other minions get in their hits for the duration of teleport as the minion will be immune to damage until you arrive.
  • Teleport is hard to interrupt and so a well-timed Teleport can get you out of almost certain death. Don't blame me if you choose the wrong time to do it though.

As Shen is a melee-range champion, he is normally up-close and personal with your opponents. I highly recommend this if no one else in your group does so that you can shut down health-regen champions in team fights. If you play aggressively or your ally gets attacked during laning phase, you can turn things around quickly and get nice early kills with Ignite.
  • Use Ignite to mark enemies that spawn doppelgangers, such as ((Leblanc)) and ((Shaco)) before they clone themselves, making it easier to kill them.

Exhaust is a useful skill to not only chase down enemy champions, but also to escape with. A well-timed exhaust can not only save you from a pursuing enemy champion, but also allow you to quickly dash back into your opponent and kill them. If you do grab Exhaust, I recommend you throw a point into Improved Exhaust for the additional decrease in Magic Resist and Damage Resistance.

Fortify is useful if you are either with a weak lanemate or solo laning. Shadow Dashing into an opponent within turret range followed up by a Fortify can result in killing opponents who are too aggressive for their own good.
  • Fortifying and then Teleporting to a tower can save a tower while locking down opponents at the same time.

Ghost works well for getting yourself in and out of battle quickly, as you can ignore the minions in the way and just beeline in or out. I would recommend putting a point in Haste if you do grab Ghost, as the extra bit of movement speed can make the difference.

Flash combined with Shadow Dash makes Shen very difficult to catch, and also helps him engage your opponents much easier or chase down fleeing opponents.

Cleanse is a good skill if you think you'll be needing help escaping from crowd control often.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
I add these to increase the potency of Vorpal Blade and Ki Strike even into late-game.

Greater Seal of Vitality
As so much of your ability to not only tank but also do damage is tied to your health, the increased health from the seals is important. Another possibility to make you stronger early-game is to use Greater Seal of Health. The Fortitude Seals give you a flat 48.15 boost to health. The Vitality Seals give you an initial 9.72 health increasing up to 174.96 health at level 18. At level 5, the Vitality Seals overtake the Fortitude Seals by hitting 48.6 health. Thus, as the Vitality Seals are greater during the majority of the game, they tend to be more viable.

Other possibilities I have not tried:
Greater Seal of Magic Resist
Only if you believe you desperately need more magic resist.

Greater Seal of Evasion
Although dodging attacks reduces the damage you take, it also reduces the damage you deal, due to your passive.

Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power
This is more of an AP Shen build rune, so I have not tried it out due to preferring to survive.

Greater Seal of Lucidity
At level 18, this increases your energy regeneration by about 20%, which means you can do more in a shorter amount of time.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
I rather like reducing the cooldown on my ult

Other options:
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
For increased magic resist, and thus an easier time dealing with Casters.

Greater Quintessence of Health
The massive amount of health you get from this Quint puts it above Greater Quint of Vitality, as the Vitality Quint only surpasses the Fortitude Quint at level 10 (2.7*10 = 27 vs flat 26). Plus, the increased survivability early game is massive between the two (difference of 23.3 per rune, for a total difference of 69.9 at level one).

Other Possibilities:
Greater Quintessence of Meditation (link isn't working. 1.575 Energy/5 seconds)
This is in case you want to regenerate your energy faster overall, but it will take away from the health you get from the health Quintessences.

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
The increased movement speed from this can help you chase down those pesky enemy champions, or alternatively, help you hightail it out of there.

For a summary of how to use runes, go to this guide.

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The Masteries (0/21/9) that I suggest are the typical tanking Masteries that I use. The point I have in Utility Mastery can be put in any of the following if you prefer, it's just that I often find myself with the buffs from the enemy team and increased duration on them isn't bad:

If you grab Exhaust, tossing the point into here really helps as it increases the damage the opponent will take as well as increasing the duration of Exhaust by half of a second.

If you're a fan of an extra 2 Magic Resistance, then grab this.

If you grab Ghost, the point into here increases the duration of Ghost up to 15.5 seconds and increases the movement speed increase to 33%.

Over the course of an average game (~36 minutes), this will bring in about 216 gold, which is a bit more than one Dragon kill to put things into perspective. If you think you want to buy additional pots or slightly speed up your item build, I would recommend grabbing Greed.

If you grab Fortify, the splash damage from Reinforce will come in handy when defending your turrets.

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Typical build order:
Regrowth Pendant + Health Potion
Mercury's Treads
Leviathan (if you get early kills)
Force of Nature
Frozen Mallet
Randuin's Omen (if facing AD champions or didn't get Leviathan's)
Warmog's Armor (if you either didn't get Leviathan's or Randuin's)
Atma's Impaler

Regrowth Pendant
Regrowth Pendant makes it even harder for you to get pushed out of lane by opponents. Some champions can drive you back and make it hard for you to regenerate health by hitting with Vorpal Blade. Although Doran's Shield is a nice item, it doesn't build into anything and also doesn't allow for the health potion.

Mercury's Treads
With its anti-cc (35% reduction to most forms) and 25 Magic Resistance, I prefer Mercury's Treads over the other potential boots.

If you do well, Leviathan will keep on giving you stacking health and the 15% reduced damage at 20 stacks isn't something to sneeze at. At twenty stacks, you'll receive an additional 640 health (32 per stack).

Force of Nature
The reason for rushing Force of Nature is for multiple reasons. The Magic Resistance is the greatest of any item in the game. Getting it early can negate most enemy casters for a long time as far as them actually being able to do any noticeable damage to you. The movement speed increase also allows you to chase and escape much easier and is handy in general. Lastly and most importantly is the health regeneration from the item. The base 40 health per 5 seconds is the largest of any item in the game. As if this wasn't enough, you also get .35% of your health back per second. Adding the two together gives you 40 + 1.75% of your total health per 5 seconds. Looking at the minimum health you'll have at level 18 (if you have no stacks on Leviathan and you didn't grab Warmog's), you get back 59 health per 5 seconds from the percentage, for a total of 99 health per 5 seconds. For the latter two alone, I get Force of Nature even in games without much Magic Damage on the other side.

Frozen Mallet
Frozen Mallet is good for multiple reasons. the nice chunk of health it gives you increases your survivability as well as your damage, and the additional attack damage doesn't hurt. The important thing is the movement speed reduction on it. Being able to prevent an opponent from escaping can change the entire course of a battle. If the enemy team tries to escape, you can essentially lock one of them down with a Shadow Dash followed up by just whittling their health down. It works wonderfully with my aggressive style and has also saved allies from almost certain death by slowing down pursuing opponents.

Randuin's Omen (if facing AD champions or didn't get Leviathan's)
Randuin's has very nice anti melee uses as it slows them down. I mostly get it for the armor and this. However, the active is very nice (when I remember to use it) and can both save your skin and help you stop opponents from running away effectively.

Warmog's Armor (if you either didn't get Leviathan's or Randuin's)
The huge amount of health and health regeneration from Warmog's is a very nice asset for Shen. As many others will concur however, it is difficult to farm the necessary number of minions/kills to fill out Warmog's to its full potential, making it an optional choice.

Atma's Impaler
At this point in the build, you should have completed everything you need to make yourself a respectable tank. Now is when you add a bit of damage to your hits. The percentage of health added as damage (minimum of 68) makes it better than any other damage item (except Infinity Edge at 70 Attack Damage). The fact that this scales with how much harder you are to kill (read: how much health you have) makes it a solid end item for a tanking build.

Other Potential Items (and why they weren't included):
Boots of Swiftness
Movement Speed 3 consistently is very nice, but it hasn't been as useful to me as reduced crowd control.

Boots of Mobility
With the Movement Speed 5 while out of battle, you can engage your enemies faster for when your Teleport and Stand United are down, but it has the same problem as Boots of Swiftness, namely: it isn't Mercury's Treads.

Thornmail is very situational in its use. It is extremely effective at getting that pesky Warwick off of your face (or at least regretting the experience), but isn't as general use as other items. I tend to use it if I'm facing any of the following champions and I'm having trouble with them:
Xin Zhao
Master Yi

Banshee's Veil
Yes, the blue shield and increased health is fantastic. However, the smaller amount of Magic Resistance as compared to Force of Nature reduces the call of the blue bubble. Also, you pay for mana that you do not need. Coming in at 600 more than Force of Nature makes me simply skip over this item when choosing.

Aegis of the Legion
The aura of Aegis is indeed very useful for a team in general, but my preference to grab Force of Nature wins out due to Force's end-game viability versus Aegis' early-game advantages.

Guardian Angel
The main selling point of Guardian Angel is the second chance at life every 5 minutes. If you're nervous about losing your stacks from Leviathan, feel free to get it. However, I feel it takes up a slot that could simply help prevent said death from happening. I more often see enemy tanks die and then die again simply because it gives time for them to be surrounded. If you have a Zilean on your team (who likes you) and you want to make it nigh-impossible to kill you, feel free to pick this up.

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Skill Sequence

Importance of skills in this build are as follows:
Stand United > Vorpal Blade > Shadow Dash > Feint
Detailed notes on the skills are in the above section titled Skills Summary

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If you learn to play Shen well, you can end up turning around a game. Good timing with Stand United can save your allies and give them time enough to either run away or turn around and kill a pursuing opponent. Get used to hearing "thank you Shen" from your teammates and "damn you Shen" from your opponents. As proof that I'm not just lying about how to play Shen, here's a recent (02/19/2011) screenshot of my recent games.Thank you for reading my guide. If you have any suggestions or requests on what to add or adjust, simply leave a comment and I'll try to get around to fixing it up.