Shen Build Guide by Shiroi98

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 Shiroi98

Tanky DPS Shen

Shiroi98 Last updated on August 27, 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: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

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

Utility: 0

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Revision History

Started Aug 25, 2011 [Work in Progress!]

To Do:

  • Better formatting
  • Masteries / Runes

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Dear Summoners,
I have been playing Shen for quite a bit now and this is my first attempt to write a guide. I am at Summoner's Level 30 on my main account and level 26 on my smurf. My main account consists of AP nuke mages / assassins (Lux, Akali, Katarina, LeBlanc, etc), while my smurf account consists of AD carries and tanks (Leona, Shen, Ezreal, Xin Zhao, Nasus, etc).

Anyways, I wrote this guide to help people better understand Shen and how he can be an effective tank. Keep in mind that the name says 'Tanky DPS', which means he is built Tanky FIRST, the DPS part comes in later :). In a nutshell, don't be afraid to die to save your carry. Team composition is extremely important! I play Shen usually in a premade team with a support and 3 carries (mix of AP and AD).

Finally, the item builds are very dependent on the opposing team. It is NOT set in stone and feel free to modify it to your discretion

Who should play Shen?

Play Shen if you would like to / possess the following qualities:

  • Save your allies from a gank
  • Have map awareness. VERY important, you need to constantly keep an eye out on your teammates and try to ult in to save them.
  • Turn the tide of a teamfight with just a taunt
  • Play an underplayed tank. As far as I know, he is rarely banned in ranked games these days...
  • Be willing to sacrifice yourself to save others (typically your carry)
  • Communicate with your allies, ping them before ulting in / let your allies know when your ult is off cooldown.
  • If you are dying for more assist gold, you can always ult in a sure-win situation and get an assist out of it. You might not be liked by your allies though..
  • For some reason, he is almost always free every other week. Save your IP and don't buy him if you like =p

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I used to start off with Doran's shield for the HP regen + armor, but I find that it is better to start off with an item that can be built into your main item.

Now, I like to start with a Regrowth Pendant + red potion. Regrowth pendant regens your HP and coupled with red potion + vorpal blade, you should be able to stay in a lane longer. Back off to the turret if you feel like you need to regen some HP.

When you have enough gold, purchase a boots and a Ruby Crystal, then complete Mercury's threads FIRST, then Warmog's Armor. This will help your survivability, as well as any early CC (stun, silence, etc).

After that, depending on the enemy team, you want to build Thornmail or Force of Nature first. (when building Force of Nature, always start with Negatron Cloak for Magic Resist). One thing I noticed is that Thornmail is only effective if you have the HP to support it. Thornmail on a squishy is pretty useless as you cannot survive the damage anyways.

Keep in mind that since you are building HP items, the opposing team's AD will likely build Bloodrazor. BUT, magic resist helps to reduce that damage, plus if you can survive the gank, HP regen from Force of Nature and Warmog's Armor helps :). Not to mention the extra movement speed boost from Force of Nature helps you escape.

Usually by this time the game has ended, but if it does last longer, proceed below.

After that, you want to build either Banshee's Veil or Sunfire Cape. Banshee's for AP heavy, Sunfire cape for the extra damage / hp / armor. With Thornmail + Sunfire Cape + taunt, you can deal quite a bit of damage against AD auto-attackers. Sunfire is a great item for farming wave of minions. Shen is the only tank with no AoE damaging spell, so this helps. Plus, sunfire cape makes you glowy. Nothing beats a glowy ninja ;)

For utility purposes, you can also build Frozen mallet for the extra slow. You can almost permanently slow someone down with it, plus it gives a good amount of HP.

Finally, you can build Atma's impaler if you have the gold. This will help you deal the extra damage, finish off runners, etc. Remember, a good defense is a strong offense!

Alternative Items
If you decide to go with a little AP build, which helps your Q, W and ult, you can replace Frozen Mallet with Rylai's Crystal Scepter.

If you have an AP heavy team, you can also get Abyssal Scepter for the Magic Resist and debuff aura.

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Skill Sequence

Passive: Ki Strike
This passive does damage every 8 seconds or so, is reduced when hit by champions by 2 seconds, scales with base level and Max HP. Pretty good, but would be better if it was reduced by minion hits as well (perhaps by 0.5 seconds)

Q: Vorpal Blade
This would be your bread and butter damaging skill. It does fairly decent single target magic damage, and when marked, any auto-attack against that target gives you a Heal over time for 3 seconds or so. Scales with AP. Use this in combination with Ki Strike to effectively last hit minions for gold

W: Feint
Your shield spell. IMO, this is the worst shield in the game. At least Jarvan and Leona's shield slows people down xD. Scales with AP which is quite useless as well. Should scale with a percentage of Max HP IMO. Uses a chunk of Energy, and useless in a teamfight. In fact, I would say do NOT activate it in a teamfight. You will need to save it for Shadow Dash instead. Use this when laning only to protect yourself, or give yourself more extra HP when surviving a tower dive/karthus or Caitlynn's ult/ignite.

E: Shadow Dash
Ah, the AoE taunt skill. This is one of the reason Shen gets banned (or used to in ranked games). One good taunt can turn the tide of a teamfight in your favor. Tips on how to use this effectively explained below. This is the only AoE skill a tank has that does NO damage whatsoever Q_Q

R: Stand United
Another reason Shen gets banned is because of his ult. After a short channeling time, you teleport to your ally, giving them a temporary shield. You also gain the shield while channeling. After you ult in to save an ally, usually you want to position yourself to taunt the enemy.

Skill Sequence

For skill sequence, always start with Vorpal Blade, unless you know for sure you can get first blood, then get Shadow Dash.

My leveling order for skills are usually R > Q > E > w. Ultimate first, then vorpal blade, then taunt, then W. You are strongly advised to last hit minions with vorpal blade + ki strike. Also, don't forget Vorpal blade's passive, auto-attacking an enemy hit by Vorpal blade heals you over 3 seconds.

If you are up against an annoying laning champion, level W first instead of E to help reduce some damage.

Remember to use W only when necessary, this uses a big chunk of energy! Do NOT use it in teamfights, you will need to save it for your second taunt.

By the way, the taunt skill can be used to escape over thin walls in the jungle! Use this and combine it with Flash for a quick escape from ganks. Remember, Shen is a ninja :)

When to use your ultimate?

  • When you know you can save your ally from death, either by engaging in a 2v1 or let your ally escape as you slow them down
  • A good gauge as to when to ult in is when your ally is about 1/4 of his HP left. You don't want to ult in too early to scare your opponent away if you want to engage in a 2v1.
  • Always ult in for the carry, or your support if they are not in danger. Remember that the ult is on a fairly high cooldown.
  • If you have allies that have invulnerability, time your ult to ult in right before the invulnerability cools down (ie: Kayle or Tryndamere).
  • Communication is important. You can let your teammates know you want to ult in to save them if they can guarantee a tower-dive kill
  • TIP: Do NOT ult when near an opponent with CC, such as stun/silence/knock up as it WILL cancel your ult due to it being a channel
  • For an invisible gank, your ult works on champions that are stealthed such as Teemo, Eve and Twitch. Ult in, and you will appear out of nowhere. Your opponents will not expect this :)
  • To save yourself! When you are sure you will not be CCed, activate your ult on an ally for a quick escape! Plus it gives you a shield for a few seconds, hopefully enough for the escape.

How useful is Taunt?
  • Use it to cancel any channeling spells. Katarina, Nunu, Karthus, Fiddlesticks, etc. You can also cancel opponents from using Teleport
  • Use it to protect your turrets, as it will force the enemy champion attacking the turret to attack you instead
  • Keep a fleeing champion engaged in battle with you
  • Score assists out of it :P
  • Turn the tide of a teamfight with it, keeping the opponents engaged on you while your team attacks them with no retaliation for a few seconds.

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Summoner Spells

For Summoners spell, I always take Flash and Fortify.

Flash can be used offensively or defensively, depending on your playstyle. Offensively is when you Flash in to a stray champion or when ganking, and proceed to taunt them. Defensively is when you use Flash to escape. If you are at the dragon or baron, you can flash over the walls to escape. It is also useful to escape Jarvan's ult :P

Fortify is a ton of fun to use. When off cooldown, which is usually in the early game, it gives 9 bonus damage to minions, which can be used to last hit more effectively.

With 21 points in the Defense Mastery, I go for Reinforce, which causes allied turrets to do 50% splash damage when Fortify is used. Melee characters taking your turrets? No problem, Taunt them, activate Fortify and laugh as they die to your Super turret.

TIP: Fortify also works when you are DEAD, activate it when your towers are being damaged. Note any kills WILL give you credit (or assists if your allies kill them instead).

Other Spells

Teleport is always useful to teleport into a turret that's being attacked, for a gank (remember you can teleport into a ward in the bush!). With Shen having his ultimate, he can teleport from one end of the map to another.

Ghost to catch fleeing opponents. It is a matter of preference but I tend to use Flash instead.

Cleanse only if you are playing ranked, and you see that the opponents are CC heavy.

Exhaust if no one else has it. Can be useful to reduce the damage of a DPS and weaken them

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Damage calculations

Damage from this build:

Assuming all items + level 18 + maxed out skills

Ki Strike = 10 + (5*18) + (3.5% of 4552) = 260 (magic damage)

Vorpal Blade = 230 at level 5 (magic damage)

Attack damage = 128 at level 18 + (2% of 4552 from Atma's) = 219 physical damage

So your *first* strike with Vorpal Blade & Ki Strike active = 709 damage!

Factor in damage from Sunfire cape = 35 damage per second


Damage from Thornmail = 30% of damage returned as magic damage

Of course, to have them attack you, you would use Taunt.

Disclaimer: Calculations are, of course, assuming no armor/magic resistances.

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In short, Shen is a very good tank but is underplayed. Be prepared to sacrifice yourself if you know you can save your allies. Taunt stray champions in a teamfight. Engage in combat, you need to be in front of your allies!

Most importantly, have fun! And thanks for reading my first ever guide on Mobafire ^_^

P/S: A little known fact, according to the LoL Wiki page, for every ninja on your team, you get -1 Max hp! Unconfirmed though. The other ninjas are Akali and Kennen.