Shen Build Guide by UncleJimbo13
Not Updated For Current Season
Good ol' Top Shen
Not Updated For Current Season
Hello, I'm UncleJimbo13, I've only currently got one other guide visible here on Mobafire, but when I get the time, I like to write guides about champions I like and have a lot of experience with. Feel free to check out my Dr. Mundo guide.
Shen is one of my top five favorite champions, and I figure I've experimented and played with him long enough to write a fairly educated guide on him.
Please leave comments with constructive criticism if I made a mistake or you disagree with information I put into the guide. Thanks for reading!
Every ten seconds, Shen's basic attack deals extra magic damage based on his max health and restores energy. This cooldown is reduced by one second when Shen autoattacks.
Shen's main burst/trading/last-hitting tool early game, and main sustained damage and pushing tool mid-late game. As you build more health, this ability will hit harder. The fact that this ability deals magic damage, but doesn't scale on AP, is the main reason magic penetration is very useful on Shen. It's also the reason for building attack speed on Shen; more constant Ki Strikes means much more damage overall.
Throws a targeted blade that deals magic damage based on AP. Also applies a debuff to the target which heals units that damage the target based on Shen's max health. Heals Shen for 1/3 immediately if the unit is killed with the ability.
Shen's Q is his main source of harass, damage and sustain, both in the lane and in the jungle. AP helps the ability's damage, but building AP isn't really much of a choice on Shen top. Masteries help with this ability's damage early game greatly. This ability is also what makes Shen counter Garen hard, denying him the use of Perseverance.
When using this ability while farming, it's prudent to try to hit the enemy with the blade, but leave them at low enough health to kill with a basic attack, giving the full heal. When you level the ability a few times, this becomes much harder to do.
Vorpal Blade is almost always leveled first for any Shen.
Shields Shen from damage for an amount based on AP, lasts 3 seconds. When Feint is on, auto-attacks reduce the cooldown of Ki Strike by two seconds instead of one.
Feint is a great tool for soaking harass and trading in the lane, as well as a very powerful jungling tool. Not only does it give an instant on-demand shield to block an incoming ability or tower hit, but it also causes your auto-attacks to give double the cooldown reduction of Ki Strike, making for better pushing or jungle clearing.
Feint is ideally leveled last, but in a situation where you need to trade with the enemy better, it may be necessary to level it second, after Vorpal Blade. I've won difficult lanes such as Renekton by leveling Feint a few times to mitigate some of the harass.
Shen dashes in a straight line, taunting and dealing damage to champions along it. Shen takes reduced auto-attack damage from affected targets, and gains energy for each target hit.
Shen's signature move (other than his ult, of course), his taunt. Can be used to force a weaker enemy to trade with you and take damage, can be used to initiate a gank or catch an enemy out of position in a teamfight, can be used for escape, the whole shebang. A very versatile ability. However, use it wisely, because it costs an exorbitant amount of energy, unless you hit a bunch of enemy champions with it. It has greater range than Flash, if memory serves, and can dash through nearly any wall. Also, you can initiate the dash, then Flash onto an enemy champion to do a very fast an unexpected taunt that is nearly impossible to dodge when used correctly. Unfortunately, it is a much shorter range taunt and leaves you without escape. Use with caution.
Shen shields an ally for an amount based on AP, channels for three seconds, and teleports to the ally.
The infamous SHEN BABY ult. This is a surprisingly hard ability to get familiar with.
Mainly, the goal is to prevent an ally from dying by shielding them, teleporting, then turning around and hopefully getting a kill out of it. The problem is, many things can go wrong, especially without coordination.
1. If you get hard CC'd during the ult, your ally will still get shielded, which might save them if you're lucky, but you won't end up teleporting to your friendly, so your friendly might go in thinking you're about to, only to get ganged up on by three people.
2. If you're ulting a carry at low health, and your ult is still only level 1, chances are, the carry could die before you finish channeling, and you've just wasted your ult entirely and have a very long cooldown.
Generally, it's good to make sure that you won't get CC'd during the channel, and also, make sure to ult your target before it's too late, or don't ult them at all.
Shen's Strengths and Weaknesses
Shen can have pretty varied choices for runes, depending on what role he's planning on filling.
- Increases your overall DPS, in lane or jungle, and increases the frequency of Ki Strike and Wit's End procs. Makes dueling early a lot more feasible.
- Greatly improves your harass damage with Vorpal Blade and Ki Strike, as well as the damage of Shadow Dash. Excellent choice for top Shen, but attack speed helps out a lot more in duels.
- Riot finally changed armor seals, so it is finally somewhat viable not to take them. However, Shen's propensity for being hit by a lot of autoattacks means having armor is pretty important.
- I take these every game as top Shen because Shen is one of few tanks that does NOT have scaling magic resist. Helps your mid- to late-game against AP champions drastically.
- Also a decent choice, prevents you from getting shut down by magic damage early into the game. I would take these vs. an AP top like Singed or Rumble, or if I was jungling so I could gank mid without feeding.
- My number one pick for quints on Shen. They allow roaming potential, escape, and positioning, as well as faster jungling. Helps Shen in general throughout every stage of the game.
- A viable choice if you want a hard sustain lane where you just farm the game away and hardly ever leave top. These combined with Vorpal Blade make it impossible to outsustain Shen.
- Absolutely vital on Shen for positioning, escape, gap-closing, etc. There's not really anything that can replace Flash for Shen. As an initiator, it's completely necessary on him.
- One of the better choices of summoner spell for Shen; allows him to win fights he otherwise wouldn't. Ignite someone when they're about to escape with 100 health, or when an enemy would win a fight due to healing. Be cautious, however, because the enemy will in all likelihood do the same to you.
- Shen is a pretty fun and strong jungler, and if you're jungling as him, it's obvious that Smite is necessary.
Also Potentially Useful
- Would be exceedingly useful against a heavy auto-attack enemy such as Tryndamere or Olaf in the top-lane, or as a support as a little bit of extra CC.
- The biggest problem with Shen's ult is that it can't target towers. This allows you to have two global teleports, for extreme global presence. If you've just killed a tower top, but your enemy is pushing your botlane, you can zip on down there and stop them in a matter of seconds. Alternatively, you can teleport to a minion that's at the enemy tower in botlane and push it down too. In short, you double Shen's global presence.
Laning Top as Shen
Shen is usually played in the top lane, due to his unmatched lane sustain, powerful harass, split-pushing capabilities, and tankiness. Back in season 1 and 2, this is what was looked for in a top champion, and in season 3, it still counters quite a few of today's more popular bruiser tops.
Top-laning as Shen consists of harassing with Vorpal Blade on cooldown, soaking harass with Feint, forcing trades with Shadow Dash, and farming well to scale into the lategame.
Vorpal Blade can be spammed fairly often, due to Shen's energy-based ability costs. It's quite easy to deny the enemy farm by throwing a Vorpal Blade at them any time they come up to try and get a last-hit. In many cases, there's not much the enemy can do to combat this. However, Shen can still run out of energy from spamming abilities, leaving him unable to Shadow Dash if he needs to escape. If an enemy has a spammable targeted ability as well, like Pantheon or Malphite, Shen can still just shield off most of the damage with Feint. This essentially means that the only way to counter Shen is to out-damage him in an all-out duel early on. Champions like Riven, Jax, or Renekton jump to mind, because they have considerably powerful early game damage, as well as stuns.
Shen should avoid going all-in on an enemy champion early game unless he has a sharp advantage, such as the enemy having 1/3 of his health and Shen having Ignite up, and the enemy being near Shen's tower.
Later on in the game, Shen has the choice of either remaining in a side lane and split-pushing while his team puts pressure on an objective, then using his ultimate on a friendly when a big fight starts, or if his ultimate is down, staying in the fight from the beginning and distributing CC and damage to the enemy.
Items - Top
This is a general top build for Shen, for when you want to play a hard-to-kill tank/pusher that can still hold his own for damage.
- Doran's Shield has finally regained some usefulness; the extra health regen always helps Shen, and the damage block and health are both very powerful on him. DShield is looking a lot more attractive on Shen now.
- Ruby Crystal gives more flat health than DShield and builds into stuff Shen wants later, so it's up to you if you'd rather have it.
- Vital against awful matchups like Riven and Renekton, just so you don't get spread across the pavement. Gives decent sustain until you can go back and get a Chain Vest or Giant's Belt.
- Gives a good chunk of health and a damage aura, and builds into your Sunfire. Instead of Giant's Belt, it's looking like this is the thing to rush.
- Anybody's gotta have boots, but they're especially important early on for champions like Shen who need to utilize positioning, or gank other lanes sometimes.
- If you're fed enough to rush a Sunfire on your second back or so, you're doing very well, and finishing it off will seal the deal and make sure you win the lane.
- Due to the fact Shen does not have scaling magic resist, any convenient MR you can get on him is good. The tenacity on these boots also helps him stay in the fight instead of being unable to do anything for a few seconds and getting pounded on. These are a buy in almost every game.
- Also a decent choice on Shen, but only really viable early game against multiple problematic AD champions. Most problems that a pair of Ninja Tabi can fix, a Sunfire Cape can fix better. If you have big problems with top Tryndamere and jungle Master Yi, though, definitely buy these AND the Sunfire. It could mean the game.
- Core armor and health, gives you excellent survivability as well as lane-pushing capability. Must-have.
OR - Spirit Visage gives Shen a lot of stats he can use, for sure; health, CDR, health regen, increased healing, and high MR. If the enemy has considerable sources of magic damage, this is a must.
Wit's End is a very powerful item on Shen because it gives him attack speed and on-hit damage that he can use very well as well as giving him some MR to work with, so I'd take it if the enemy didn't have a serious magic damage threat that warranted stacking MR. It can help you snowball because it's cheap and raises Shen's kill power considerably.
- Very powerful tank item, buy if the enemy ADC is scaling well and dealing tons of damage. Also leaves you with a bit more teamfight utility in its active.
OR - If the enemy has a massive amount of magical damage threat, then having both a Spirit Visage and a Wit's End may be necessary.
- With Riot insisting on making Warmog's more useless every season, the days of Frozen Mallet Shen appear to be nigh. Mallet gives nearly as much health as Warmog's Armor now, but also gives AD, which is especially useful if you've already got attack speed from Wit's End, and an on-hit slow, preventing people from just walking away from you, which is certainly a big problem for Shen.
- If the enemy has 3 AD champions that are doing well, or even 2 really fed crit carries, this might be a wise choice. Doesn't give any health, but could mean the difference between a win and a lose when that one guy on your team fed Master Yi 17 kills.
Jungling as Shen
Shen can also be a surprisingly powerful jungler. If you're playing draft, especially in Bronze, it's better to have a jungle Shen than no Shen at all. If you're playing normals, it's just a fun thing to do that won't throw you the game.
Shen doesn't have very fast jungle clears compared to some other popular junglers, but he takes almost no damage from the clears, due to his Feint shield and Vorpal Blade heal.
The fact that he takes almost no damage from jungling allows him to gank often. His taunt is excellent as both a gap-closer and as crowd control. Taunting the enemy AD carry can often result in a kill for your bottom lane if they are positioned well. Simultaneously, Feint can help you tower-dive a little bit more safely in situations where many other junglers would find it too risky.
Items - Jungle
These items focus on giving Shen early game mobility and durability to execute effective ganks for his team, while scaling him well into being useful mid- to late-game as well.
- Hunter's Machete simply gives the best clears for any jungler but Karthus. Health Potions are only really necessary until about level 4 or 5 on Shen, because he has such great sustain. The only other reason to buy potions after your first step out of spawn is to recover after taking damage in a gank.
- You could take this or Stalker's Blade, but I find that the vision and true damage on-hit is much more useful than a momentary slow. Also, taking reduced damage when you WILL be hit repeatedly by the enemy is a godsend.
- Buying boots on your first trip back to base is vital on most any jungler, for moving between camps faster and for ganking more efficiently. Shen is no exception to this rule.
- Cinderhulk is like an Ancient Golem and a Sunfire put together. It's amazing on Shen, no doubt about it. This is really your main item that everything else builds off of.
- Since there's no tenacity on Cinderhulk, and Shen has no scaling MR, Mercury's Treads are a must-have.
- Attack speed is even more vital on Jungle Shen than it is on Top Shen, so in this case, I'd have to say it's core. Vastly improves clears and ganks through heavily increased sustained damage and bonus resistance to boot.
- Randuin's has always been a major tank item, and it remains one of the highest effective health items in the game. Greatly improves Shen's teamfight potential and survivability.
- Mallet gives great stats and a great passive for Shen, helping him stick onto people and kill them faster. This should be one of your items, just for pure tanking capability; there's not much else to get here, honestly, with Sunfire not making sense with cinderhulk, and Warmog's being trash.
- If the enemy has high enough magical damage that a Wit's End and Mercury's Treads aren't enough, then you're in a sore state, but Spirit Visage should help drastically.
- If your support isn't buying this and the enemy has considerable magic damage, it's your duty as a supportive jungler to help your team by building a Locket.
- This harness will guide you through fed enemy carries, and it humbles the foe with its grace. The Thornmail will help you prevail and survive against heavy AD teams. Whenever you taunt, you're GOING to be hit a lot, so why not return that damage back to the enemy?
Thank you for reading my guide!
If you have any questions or criticism, feel free to leave a (polite) comment, I'll get back to you and look into your suggestions!