Build Guide by turqoisehex
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.
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.
Shen is one of the hardest to kill tanks, because of his evasive/protective moves ( Feint, Shadow Dash, and Stand United), and because of his high HP pool. By rushing Warmog's Armor and health regeneration effects, your health pool is boosted to the highest in the game. Because of Feint, he is extremely effective against ranged characters, and because of his ability to taunt multiple opponents, he is deadly in close quarters. For that reason, he is the most flexible tank in the game.
The general approach to tanking is to stack mitigation effects, and then build health later. By building health up early using the bonus of Warmog's, then stacking mitigation, you will be in a superior position by late game. Also, Ki Strike deals 4% of your health as bonus magic damage. Not only does focusing first on health make you harder to kill, it makes you more deadly.
Using this build, at level 18 you will be unstoppable! You will be regenerating 222.19 health per 5 seconds, and have protective mitigation items to guard against specific types of opponents. The biggest difference between this and other Shen builds:
- Rushing Warmog's Armor to maximize stacks
- Using health regen and armor runes for extreme survivability
- No Randuin's Omen (more on this below)
Rather than using HP per level runes, you rush Warmog's. The stacks add up quickly, and with Warmog's, Greater Seal of Regeneration and Greater Quintessence of Regeneration you are now very hard to kill.
I used Randuin's Omen for a long time, and while it is a good item, it has a fatal flaw: its active. Even extremely skilled Shen players admit that they remember to use the activated only half of the times where it would be useful. There's enough going on in a team fight, you shouldn't need to remember to hit '1' as well. If you put in a great deal of practice you might remember it 3/4 of the time. The point is that it adds a lot of complexity, for a less than spectacular gain.
Randuin's is used as mitigation/protection over a small health pool. By instead creating a huge health pool, and then using selective protection, you are much harder to kill than you are with Randuin's Omen.
Warmog's is often overlooked because it's a late game afterthought. When bought as quickly as possible, especially if you are still farming, the stacks create a huge life advantage by mid game.
After Warmog's and Mercury Treads, what you build next needs to be suited to what you are up against.
If you choose Force of Nature (FoN), which is excellent against a high magic team, your health regen will go from great to completely ridiculous (44.4 per second). However if the opposing team is more DPS, thornmail is a much better choice. The benefit of Thornmail over FoN is the armor and the cost. At this stage in the game, you will have massive health, but not much armor or magic resist in comparison.
If you're facing a balanced team, simply getting a Negatron Cloak and a Chain Vest will help a lot. In the late game you can upgrade the Negatron to a FoN, and the Chain Vest to Thornmail, Guardian Angel, or Sunfire Cape. It's worth mentioning that the two Regrowth Pendants that build Force of Nature take up space, and it can be a while before you have the 1k gold to fully upgrade to FoN. I only rush the FoN if I'm facing a magic heavy game, otherwise I'm more likely to take a the Negatron and Chain Vest.
Sunfire cape is only worth it against melee characters. If you are facing a team of at least 4 melee champs, and you already have Thornmail, then go for it. Otherwise it will be a waste of money.
I'm not a big fan of Spirit Visage or a second Warmog's Armor. Spirit Visage is best suited (and is OP) on Mundo, or other characters with built in regeneration effects. If you have money for a second Warmog's, you've probably already won the game anyways, and a Guardian Angel will do much more to keep you alive. Buying Warmog's after 25 minutes is usually a waste, because you won't be getting many minion kills.
How to Play
Grab your Ruby Crystal and head for a lane. Hopefully you have a jungler, in which case you should solo top and mostly hug the turret and last hit creeps.
Update: I've found Ruby crystal to be a better choice for a first item. As mentioned, Ki strike scales with health, which means that you're hitting for 8 extra damage per strike. It may not seem like a lot, but it does add up and makes a big difference when last hitting.
Because of your high health, and your regeneration from Vorpal Blade, you're able to take tonnes of harass, even from characters such as Zilean, Ashe, and Karthus. Keep an eye out for ganks, and if you see one coming use Ghost and Shadow Dash to GTFO (keep some energy up for shadow dash in case of emergency).
One of the keys of playing Shen (and most tanks) well, is to be conservative until you have Warmog's. You don't need to kill people early, just DON'T FEED. If you feed early, it's GG, because you'll be under leveled and poor. Just keep farming, use your blades to last hit creeps, and if you need health use your blades on the tank creeps and attack them to gain it back. This build is especially vulnerable because of the lack of early armor; stay aware of that. Magic is not as much of a concern because of Mercury's Treads.
Stay in the lane as long as you possibly can, and try and keep the fight between the two towers. That way it's easier to set up a gank, and you can Shadow Dash champs from out of the bushes for easier kills. Don't push to their tower unless you know you can kill them. Standing around their turret harassing is asking to be ganked.
When you need to, or have an opportunity to, head back to base and buy the next items you can afford. Hopefully you can at least buy the Boots of Speed and the Regeneration Pendant. Ideally you can get the boots, Pendant, and the Giant's Belt. If you're taking heavy magic damage or crowd control effects, rush the Mercury's Treads before the Warmog's.
You will know it's a good game if you get Warmog's at 15 minutes or sooner. If it takes you past 25 minutes to get them, you're in for a challenging game.
It's important that you farm as fast as you can after you buy Warmog's. Your HP pool will not be high enough late game if you don't farm up your HP mid game. Use Vorpal Blade to last hit creeps.
Later in the game when you have Warmog's stacks maxed out, you can be extremely cocky. Taunt into team fights (when in your favor), pop Feint, and let your team pick off the non-tank opponents. If the fight turns against you, Shadow Dash out. The taunt will give your team mates a chance to get away while you take a few more hits.
Part of the reason Warmog's is great with Shen, is because Ki Strike does 4% of your health. That means that when you have lot's of health, you do lots of damage! Remember that you are tank/support, not DPS. But it never hurts to do a bunch more damage.
The hardest part of playing Shen is having map awareness for your Ult. If you see one of your team mates in a fight, mouse over them on the mini-map to see their health. If they need help, hit R and click on them on the mini-map, and you will probably save their life.
However, the hard part is that when Shen is around, people may expect you to save them. Obviously this is unrealistic, but it does happen. This can lead to you dying more often then you should. Your job is to know when you can actually save someone, and when to let them die.
Remember that your Ult can be used defensively as well. If you see a group coming to gank you, hit R and click any other person on your team on the mini-map. Most groups will have no chance of killing you in 2.5 seconds, but keep in mind that stuns and other channel disruping effects (Ashe's arrow, Urgot's ult) will cancel your ult and leave you stuck with them. If they can stun, it's much better to Shadow Dash and ghost.
Shadow dash can go through walls! Remember that when being chased. It takes practice to master (sometimes you will bounce off the wall D: ). Here's where it's amazing:
Your team mate is getting ganked in the jungle. You ultimate to them, use Feint, take a few beats, and then Shadow Dash through the nearest wall when your team mate has escaped! The opposing team will probably swear at you, and your team mates will call you amazing.
Your best ally is Amumu; if you can get a jungling Amumu, a Karthus (or Veigar), an Ashe (or Miss Fortune, a Kog'Maw), and a Xin Zhao (or Pantheon, or Akali) you will wreck them in team fights so hard and so fast you will probably get a perfect game.
The runes are pretty straight forward. It's worth mentioning that if you find yourself dying before you finish Warmog's, consider using Greater Mark of Armor. It's a secondary rune, which means that it only gives you 60% of the primary rune, Greater Seal of Armor. This build is low on armor in the early game without Heart of Gold, so the armor runes go a long way toward fixing that.
If you play with Greater Mark of Insight and find that you have no trouble staying alive until at least level 10, then stick with it. The extra magic penetration will help you farm (Ki strike and Vorpal Blade), and help you kill running champs with the Vorpal Blade.
You can also use Greater Quintessence of Health if you find yourself dying early game, though it's not as useful for dealing with long, drawn out harass. It is better against burst damage and ganks, so it's a matter of preference.
A recent game illustrates my example well. By late game, I was so unstoppable that when the opposing team attacked our base, I chased four of them back to the top outer tower by my self! They were attacking me the entire time, while I was chasing an Annie there was literally nothing they could do to stop me from killing her. The entire late game they avoided me like a plague. Here's how the match ended:
In the end we lost (after a 75 minute game), because their Master Yi destroyed our inner turret while we were having a team fight mid game. After that we couldn't catch up. I was easily able to 1v1 against Yi, because I had almost 4500 health, Thornmail, and Sunfire Cape. In the end he figured out that to counter me he needed Last Whisper and 3 The Bloodthirster's.
Here's my best game with this build so far:
I would have done much better, but they surrendered too quickly ^___^
I appreciate all comments and feedback, please give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
If you vote this build down, please say why in the comments so I can make improvements.
I just played a game where half way through I realized that the opposing Shen had the exact same items as me. I asked him if he was mirroring me, and he said it was a build he was trying out called "The Shen That Would Not Die"!!! He agreed that you need to play it safe until you get some armor, or at least magic resist going. Here's how I finished that game:Near the end of the game, we both tried to kill each other and found it (nearly) impossible. I continue to get comments like, "Finally!" after a 3v1 group chase me half way across the map to kill me. In the above game, the assists say it all... we won ^_-