Build Guide by SoupOrJuice
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Not Updated For Current Season
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I know what you're thinking. "Why call it a 'gank' build when it's basically a tank?" Well, that's because of Atma's. This build is a tanky-dps, and I know that is supposedly really nooby, but for me this build has worked out countless times. Because I'm way too lazy right now to go step-by-step through all the ablities, runes, items, and masteries I'm going to just explain where I think needs explaining and expand when I have time.
This is where the build gets its power. I personally like starting off with a Ruby Crystal, but you can start with the Boots of Speed and some health pots as well, doesn't really matter because you're going to be using both those items later. After you buy your starter items, Ruby and Boots, rush a Warmog's Armor. The sooner you get one, the sooner you will start to dominate.
It's actually nicer to go down and buy the individual parts as you can, if you want (it's what I do) but a lot of people frown upon that. Try to gauge the action, if there is a lull in it recall back and buy some stuff, and if necessary teleport back. (This is your main use for the Teleport skill; recalling and getting RIGHT back into the action. That, and an alternative to your ultimate.) I usually at LEAST buy the Giant's Belt right away after the Ruby Crystal, but you can wait for the Armor to get the regen effect if you want, not necessary to buy the first regen item.
After that, you want to finish your Merc Treads. This is very useful at the stage you get them, usually around level 7-9. This item is why I forgo Cleanse for Teleport; if you get these, the stuns/slows aren't so much of a pain, as long as you are smart with your abilities, but more on being smart later.
After you get those, time to go for Atma's Impaler. I don't always get all the components before the item, but for this one I like to buy the Chain Vest because it provides a really nice Armor boost. After Atma's, this is where you want to actually think about the team you are facing. My build up-top is just a general tank item build, where you need a balance between armor/magic resist. BUT, if the team you are facing are mostly throwing around physical or magical damage, you want to focus your efforts on that.
I personally keep Randuin's Omen either way, for its slow effect and just nice health/armor bonuses, but if you are having trouble and the other team is focusing on Magic damage, then I'd swap that out for a Force of Nature.
Spirit Visage is a nice item to have either way for its passive ability to increase Vorpal's health-regeneration effect, but if they are EXTREMELY focused on physical damage, I'd say swap it out with an Aegis of the Legion. The last item, the Sash, can also be changed to something like a Sunfire Cape (or [Thornmail if you have some extra gold), again if the opponents are focused on physical DPS.
Otherwise, keep the Sash if they have some magical DPS in there, but I'd recommended upgrading it to something a bit better like Wits End or even an Aegis of the Legion (because you won't have one if you were following my earlier advice of "buying an Aegis if they are physical-oriented). If you already have an Aegis, then Sash is pretty good overall.
However, I forgot to mention one thing. If they have some heavy DPS, I'd swap that Sash out for a Last Whisper instead. This allows nice attack speed and the armor penetration is super-good to have.
Another item that I forgot to mention, that is in its own category, is that if you feel comfortable, you can forgo the last item choice for the Sight Ward, as Shen relies pretty heavily on camping in bushes and waiting for enemies to be near, so placing a Sight Ward in those bushes, especially against people like Teemo and Shaco with their invisible toys, can really help you avoid nasty damage.
That's about it for items. Use your head, gauge what is killing you/forcing you to retreat more often, and buy items accordingly.
Alright, so first off, like I have in the build diagram, you want to basically max out Vorpal and Dash ASAP with getting your Ult when you can. After that you just get Feint, because I never found it very useful early in the game, but definitely nice for absorbing accidental minion-taunt damage later on. I'd say you could swap maxing out Dash for maxing out Feint, but DEFINITELY get that first rank of dash at level 2, and if you really think it's beneficial, go for maxing out Vorpal, then Feint, then Dash. But I stick to my experience, and in my experience Dash is more useful, and I'll tell you why in a second.
This is self-explanatory. Bonus damage from max health (3%) plus sped-up cool-down each time you hit. A lot of people say to count the 8 seconds yourself, saving you to get "lucky" with Ki-Strike just popping up at the right moment. This is true, and sounds easy, but when you have to keep track of the hits as well, it gets a little overwhelming. Keep this tip in the back of your mind, but don't focus too much on it when you just start to learn Shen, or you will miss SD opportunities, or you will stop paying attention to your teammates for your Ultimate usage.
Otherwise, this is just a good farming/ganking tool. Save it up, Vorpal+Ki on a minion to last-hit them more easily/more assuredly, or just Vorpal+Ki on enemy champs as an initiating combo, provided they are close enough for a Ki strike to take place. I don't recommend using Shadow Dash to initiate unless necessary (like if the enemy is a ranged character), because then Shadow Dash will have that 10 second cooldown, and if they run away your chasing-tool to finish the gank is gone. It's better to initiate with Vorpal+Ki and then use Shadow Dash to chase and another Vorpal to finish.
This is one of the most fun and easiest farming tools to use that doesn't involve AoE. Early in the game, you want to spam it as much as possible to last-hit minions and harass enemy champs. This does decent damage to most champs early on, so if you hit them once they see the damage and tend to give you some space, allowing you to farm a bit more before they gain some confidence. Easiest way to farm is to Ki Strike + Vorpal when they are at about 1/3 health, at least early on. The damage scales, obviously, so later on you can use just Vorpal at 1/3 health and they will die, and at the very end you can 2-shot the minions with Ki+Vorpal.
Another use for Vorpal Blade is health regen. This ability makes it one of the most useful things for staying in lanes longer than your opponents. To heal, just Vorpal a full-health minion, and you should get 1-3 hits on it depending on your level/Vorpal's level. You get more hits on the tank minions, so use them as much as possible; just be careful not to bait the minions into hitting you while you heal. Kind of obvious, but a lot of the time those minion hits go unnoticed and your heals aren't very good.
And, as I stated before, Vorpal is a very good early-game harassment tool. A key strategy is to hide in a bush, come out and Vorpal+Ki Strike the champ when they get close enough, and if you think you can kill them, chase with the Shadow Dash, hitting them and taunting them, and you should be able to get 1-2 more Vorpals in and get an easy kill. If you don't think the Dash is worth the trouble (as in, you don't think you will get the kill if you go in for the chase), then don't use it; the Dash is very energy-intensive early on, making it a commodity you should save rather than spam.
Because in my build you don't get this until later in the game, you don't need to worry as much about it. The critical stage with Shen is early game when you are farming for Warmog's/Atma's items. Once you get those, your life as Shen becomes a LOT easier, and Feint becomes less useful. However, whenever you see an AoE coming or just a hard-hitting projectile (examples: Nunu's Absolute Zero, Malzahar's drain/pit combo, or Veigar's ultimate), pop Feint to absorb a lot of the damage. It is also useful to absorb large portions of DoT abilities, specifically that ***** Teemo's toxic shots.
One other use for Feint would be to pop it right after using Shadow Dash. It's somewhat deadly to dash through a crowd of minions into an enemy, so try to avoid it; if you think you can get the kill with minor injuries from the champ, then pop Feint anyway to avoid major damage from minions. This also applies to Turrets. With the all-armor build I've set out in the Items section above, you can absorb 2 or so Turret shots with Feint, because the damage mitigation is so high you take less than 100 damage from the Turrets at max level.
One of the most versatile and useful abilities that I've ever seen, Shadow Dash's taunt is ridiculously adept at saving teammates, stopping runners, and luring opponents into traps.
So, saving teammates. This is one of the most obvious uses for Shadow Dash, but also one of the most deadly. If you choose to use Shadow Dash to stop an opponent from chasing your buddy, be prepared for some heavy damage and more than a few deaths. This isn't all bad, if the save was precedented (ie you had low health anyway, then this is a good option to keep open to save higher-health teammates from getting ganked). Otherwise, I avoid this. I know Shen shouldn't be played this way, but it's the way I play and it works rather well. Just be careful when taunting multiple Champs to save your teammates; more often than not, you will die.
Stopping runners is one of the better uses of Shadow Dash. Chasing some enemy on low health? Try using Ghost+Shadow Dash to catch up, if they have a really high movement speed (like Yi's Highlander or just someone using Ghost). If they start to run from a confrontation, just Shadow Dash and land a few more hits before letting them go away; this lets them know that you mean business, and keeps them from coming back (alone) for a little while. But be careful of chasing enemies too hard; this applies always, but you never know if you're going to run into a huge team-gank.
Finally, luring enemies. One of the trickiest things to do with Shadow Dash, it requires a bit of finesse to pull off perfectly. Basically the idea is to taunt the champion in question, and at the end of the Dash end up in FRONT of the Champion where you want to go.
So, if you're between the champ and your turret/teammate for example, you want to taunt up to, but NOT past, the champion, and RIGHT after activating dash clicking towards the tower/teammate. This way Shen starts moving away RIGHT after the Shadow Dash animation is complete, and if you have max Dash ranks, they will follow you for a good 2 seconds.
This application can screw you over. For example, if you click to move away, and then try to dash backwards towards the enemy, and forget to auto-attack the champ after, Shen will start running away from the champ again, allowing the champ to start running away sooner, especially if you miss the taunt.
Missed Dashes are horrible, NEVER do this. Always try to get that champion taunted, and the bonus energy this gives. Otherwise you might dash up, miss, and have no energy for A) Another dash as soon as the CD refreshes or B) A Vorpal for the gank combo. So it's crucial that you get good at aiming these Dashes and predicting movement, especially on fast-moving opponents like Yi or Teemo.
Ultimate - Stand United:
This ability is one of my favourites. It's just so satisfying to deny people the last hit on your teammate and then **** with them with Shadow Dash+Vorpal+Ki Strike.
This ability has two uses, both of which are pretty similar. One is to save your teammates from getting ganked, and the other is to help your teammates gank. Always keep an eye on your teammates health; if it gets low, ultimate over there to give them shield ASAP (R+F2-F5), and be prepared to Shadow Dash away or to SD taunt them to give your teammate more time, depending on what the situation calls for. This takes care of the first use.
The second use is harder to see, and requires more communication between you and your teammates. I like to call out "My teleport-shield is ready!", letting my teammates know they have support in the event of a gank attempt, and also I let them know at the beginning (in a Solo Normal game) to ping me if they want to chase an enemy that's semi-low on health. This way, you can be sure to have a Shadow Dash + Ultimate ready and waiting, and when they ping you can be there to help. This is another reason to save your Shadow Dash rather than spamming it to chase/harass constantly. Save the harassment with your very-spammable Vorpal Blade.
I'm just going to do it point-form, because a lot of this has already been said above:
There are 2-3 ways to initiate. One for melee champs, one for ranged champs, and one to help your teammates gank people/save them from getting ganked. I'm just going to do the order of skills.
1 - Melee Champs:
Hide in bush, when they get close initiate combo:
3. Shadow Dash
With the Shadow Dash, you have two options, either to chase your target for another Vorpal to harass, or Dash away, unless they are already running. I don't normally chase unless I'm sure there is no gankers waiting and that I can kill them/get them low enough that they don't feel comfortable coming back at me, allowing me to farm. Key here is don't get overaggressive, or you will get ganked because the enemy will start to notice the aggressive pattern.
2 - Ranged Characters:
This is slightly harder to pull off, and less damage output is guaranteed here, because you have to use your Shadow Dash to get close:
1. Shadow Dash up to enemy.
3. GTFO of their range, unless you feel confident in using a Ghost/just movement speed to catch them. Also, if you have Randuin's Omen/similar Active-ability items, you can use this too to chase for maybe another Vorpal or 2, or if you get lucky a Shadow Dash. Otherwise, GTFO of their range and hope they can't do too much DPS/too much regen before you can initiate another gank with Shadow Dash.
3 - Long-Range ganking:
1. Stand United on teammate closest to enemy you need to gank
2. Optional Shadow Dash here depending on enemy's proximity
4. Shadow Dash and repeat if you didn't use it at step 2.
This is just a combination of the 2 previous using Stand United to gain proximity instead of hiding in bushes.
Basically all I want to say here is a 21/0/9 will not work as well for this purpose, not sure why but I found that the Defense tree is more useful because it compliments the item set. You're not set to do damage so much as you are to out-survive people in fights/in lanes.
Also, for runes you can use the /level runes as well. Obviously not as effective as the ones I've put here, but they are half the price if you don't want to spend so much for one champion's build.
And the Quint can be a health Quint as well. Other runes that work would be an Armor rune, or another type of CDR rune in another slot. Mix and match, I just picked random ones since my runes are all kind of mismatched.
I hope you enjoyed my build, I did work somewhat hard on it, and I will continue to improve it as I get feedback from the community, and as I play more as Shen. Any constructive criticism and over-all feelings about the build are welcome! Also, this IS my first attempt at making a guide, so keep that in mind. This build is supposed to evolve with Shen himself, and the enemy team, as opposed to being a set build that you should always follow.
That, and a few builds I have seen lying around are using items improperly, like stacking Sunfire Capes or using Leviathan as an alternative to Warmog's, which I did try and, if I may be blunt, absolutely failed.
Keep note that, as I said this is my first build, it is going to evolve, and this is just based on my pretty limited experience with Shen. I do have a 70% or so win ratio with Shen overall, and about an 80-85% ratio using this setup, which was my reason for it. Anyway, thanks for reading!