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Shen Build Guide by Vertuk

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Vertuk

A Deep Look at Shen and the art of being a Ninja

Vertuk Last updated on June 15, 2012
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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.



Offense: 8


Defense: 22

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Greetings, welcome, and Konichiwa! Shen has quickly become one of if, not my favorite champs, since I began playing about two years ago. He has the very unique capacity to be a tank, make his teammates a "tank" of sorts with his ultimate Stand United, and he can deal out a decent amount of damage with the right build just to make sure that enemy solo top doesn't get any bright ideas about pushing you out of your lane.

Why Another Guide?

"What makes this guy think he knows anything?" you may be asking. I don't want to discredit any of the other guides you may have read, but i disagree with a lot of what I read while looking at Shen guides. In the next chapter I will outline my thoughts on:
  • Why pure health/AP/attack speed/"insert your former build here" is not taking advantage of full Shen capability
  • How to make a "good" Shen a GREAT one
Feel free to skip over these sections if you want to move on to the "meaty" portions of the guide.

One last thing, I would like to give thanks to jhoijhoi and her Making a Guide help on format, code, images, and everything else I borrowed from there. I will include an in-depth list at the end of this guide of anything else I reference so you can check your sources.

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My Thoughts on Shen

Shen is a very amazing champ, without giving away too much of the guide later on he has a superb skill set, amazing survivability in lane and team fights, can save teammates like none other, and is a friggin NINJA!

I do not claim to have read every guide on Shen, but the ones I look at have a fatal flaw and it is that they over specialize. To make Shen effective, he cannot be pure tank, pure AP, or pure anything. Now for the long explanation...

What is a tank?

First off, if you have not read up on OR do not feel comfortable with understanding the team composition in League of Legends (or you are like me and just believe that you always have something more to learn), I highly recommend taking a look at Jebus McAzn's guide on champs, team comp, and who to buy.

To summarize what you will find there:
  • Every team needs a tank, and Shen will almost always be a damage soak no matter how you build him. His skills, especially Shadow Dash, will be a huge asset to your team in taking the pressure off of your AD/AP carries
  • An effective tank will soak damage, divert focus to himself (and herself if you play Leona =D), and has a way to initiate fights smartly so that your carries can rain down pain on the enemy team. Shadow Dash, Stand United, and Feint all fit into these needs SUPERBLY.
  • Shen is featured as an ideal learner tank in the above guide, so feel free to brush up on that section as well

Essentially Shen is useless to his teammates if he cannot take damage and save his allies. If you intend to play him solely as a damage dealer, then ignore this and you likely want to find another guide. From this point on I am going to try and use spoilers so those of you that don't want the in-depth nerdtastic math or other deep looks will not be forced to read it or scroll by.

Pure Health Shen here rockin' yo face?

Spoiler: Click to view

Pure AP is gonna make that other team cry when you shield for 6475839032578289407289 health?

Spoiler: Click to view

So if you read the above sections, you are probably realizing what I did which is that Shen can not do a good job as a tank being solely AP or Health based in build. If you didn't read, then you just want my opinion so here it is.

Health is reasonably cheap so it is a prime option to build early game. Add in some mid game AP when the heavy ganks and team fights begin and you are now a Super Sneaky Teleporting Ninja of Unstoppable Force who will have the enemy team raging when you turn a losing 3v2 into a winning 3v3 when you a) give that squish-tastic Ashe a second life and b) Shadow Dash those sorry enemies gankers into little girly dolls who beat helplessly upon your iron skin while your carries rip their helpless pathetic selves to pieces.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Health

Here are my thoughts on runes and masteries. They are meant to boost your early game more than late game. The one exception to this is anything that modifies by a percentage. My explanation for this thought? Because items can be adjusted much easier and can make up for any loses you have due to not using scaling runes. A strong early game will reap the benefits you need to complete a build.

For this reason I take Greater Seal of Armor and Greater Glyph of Magic Resist; in combination with Greater Quintessence of Health gives you a lot of lane control power since you can soak up damage, especially with Feint.

The Greater Mark of Magic Penetration is not necessary as a tank, and if you see fit to replace it I would encourage you to try something else. I simply like them for the extra "oof" an enemy feels after being hit by your abilities.

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The In-Depth Look

Spoiler: Click to view

I hope these explanations help you understand my reasoning. Feel free to comment on any observations you have!

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Lets look at some Abilities

On the bombshell ending that was the section on how I view Shen, we have now determined that he is going to be the most effective asset to his team as a hybrid AP/Health built tank. So before we get some items, lets talk about what each ability does and when we want them maxed by to be the most effective.

An extremely powerful passive! Ki Strike: refunds energy, does a decent amount of damage which is based off of health (something we want to build as a tank anyways, so we get some extra damage for free), and works superbly as a strong last hitting tool when combined with Vorpal Blade.

Vorpal blade will be the bread and butter of your laning phase so we will max it first! It allows some great last hitting and an on hit heal. The heal will trigger in a lesser form if you use it to last hit, so a good Shen will always be getting some amount of heal. Late game it is not as powerful, but still some healing in a team fight is better than none.

Feint can be used to: block minion or tower damage after a poke in lane, take the first brunt of damage after a Shadow Dash, and any other number of possibilities you can imagine to counter the enemy. Remember to pop it before a shadow dash, when a tower targets you, when you hit a champ and gain minion aggro, etc. and you will notice game improvements. Maxed second most games. The last piece to Feint, keep in mind that it doubles the cool down reduction of Ki Strike; keeping it up consistently while farming while suck energy though, so balance the use wisely.

Shadow Dash is a great utility tool. It can take some practice, but it is possible to Shadow Dash after you teleport with Stand United almost immediately after you arrive which can disrupt a fight quite effectively. Be wary that the 50% damage reduction seems greater than it is, and ALWAYS POP FEINT BEFORE you dash to provide maximum safety and protection.

Stand United...what makes you a Shen. This ultimate will save you, save your teammates, save games, hell this ultimate could even save Chuck Norris. The massive AP scaling means you can give people a second health bar (put that in your pipe and smoke it Mordekeiser)! Make sure you have good map awareness, and those mini images on the left of your screen are your best friend to notice health drops and even target teammates quickly.

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Summoner Spells

Hands down my two favorite summoner spells on Shen

The utility of this spell is phenomenal. You can be back in your lane after a recall in seconds, or jump across the map because a good opportunity to push arose. Another fun trick is to use Stand United to save an ally or help win a team fight, and then teleport back to your lane before the enemy team can push in your absence

Flash will help you escape, chase into range for a Shadow Dash, and any other number of options. It is very useful all around, and as a tank it will help you position yourself to help your team.

Some other less viable options in my opinion
  • A great spell to help shut down a DPS or AP carry on the enemy team.
  • If you are solo landing, this can really help secure kills or shut down a DPS life steal
  • Good utility to get around, though not as help full as flash for escaping and instant positioning
  • I can see this being useful since you will likely be targeted ALL THE FLIPPIN' TIME but I just find that Shadow Dash is enough to shut down the teams casting ability if you use it wisely

I am not a fan of going over every summoner option, so if you want to hear my thoughts on other spells please drop me a comment and I will add it in. Otherwise I think this provides some good all around options.

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Mortal Kombat Level Combos

Ki Strike >> Vorpal Blade or Vorpal Blade >> Ki Strike

Your standard last hit combos, Vorpal Blade gives more damage for a hit after it has marked a champ than for a last hit so to heal up use the second order. It takes some practice to figure out when a minion's health is low enough, but eventually the rhythm becomes natural.

Shadow Dash >> Vorpal Blade >> Feint

This will allow you to last hit creeps when you are being pushed hard without taking as much damage. It also provides a good way to poke an enemy champ, especially if you can block enough damage to soak up a turret hit or two. Be wary that without hitting a champ Shadow Dash becomes extremely costly and you may find yourself stranded without a means to cause damage. Another good order is to Vorpal Blade first, then use Feint and Shadow Dash to get clear of the enemy/turret before they can counter you with stuns, taunts, slows, butt loads of damage, etc.

Stand United >> Shadow Dash >> Feint

This is probably the combination that makes Shen who he is. You shield yourself, and more importantly an ally, and then so long as neither of you dies first you teleport to them. By practicing the timing, it becomes possible to almost immediately Shadow Dash which will really disrupt a fight. Because you should be shielded when you arrive, unless you were taking a lot of damage before teleporting, I use Feint after Shadow Dash to make sure I get that taunt ASAP.

This skill can be used as am escape in a pinch but I prefer not to. A fun trick when you are taking a lot of damage in a team fight is to ult to another person in the fight, such as your AD carry. Now your enemies are still beating on you or even if they switch their focus your squishy has a bit of extra help.

A few notes:

  • Using Stand United into a place protected but the fog of war (bushes, Akali's Twilight Shroud, etc.) will allow for a good surprise since the enemy won't see it coming
  • I find it much more beneficial to use Stand United early rather than late. Do not hold off until your squishy has 100 health, because by this point they are likely going to die before you get there to help. Your ultimate cool down is not so large that if you used it when it was not needed it is the end of the world. For how fast a squishy champ loses heath, ulting when they are above 3/4 health is generally the only way to guarantee you have enough channel time. I almost always ult into a fight where my team is outmatched unless:
    • a) I am purposefully pushing during that fight
    • b) It is obvious that my arrival will become all of us dying, not me saving them
    • c) The teammate it question is obviously running away and is going to make it (i.e a tanky champ with a good escape who has a good lead)

Stand United >> Slay Enemy >> Teleport

Assuming you took teleport, which I have already highly recommended, a strong Shen can hop between lanes very effectively. It is very disruptive to an enemy team to have a 2 man lane become a 3 man lane. Killing at least one of the enemy, and then either pushing hard to take a turret or watch Shen return to his lane to hold it while leaving a now outnumbered lane below is extremely effective at setting the enemy behind on gold, cs, ganking advantage, etc. On that note, Stand United and Teleport provide a great way to hop into a jungle gank against your team to even the odds. You may not kill the enemy, but if you save your own team it is worth it and Teleport allows you to be back in your lane before any damage is done.

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Like many other guides out there I do not want to give you "1 Magical Mystery Build that will Strike you a WIN EVERY GAME". Instead, here is my usual core build, followed by some good paths to follow

Core Build

  • Start with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion's, unless you think you are going to be in a lane that is going to push you EXTREMELY hard. If so a Doran's Shield can help provide you some extra tankyness early.
  • I like to build an early Heart of Gold for the health and the gold-per-5. I talked about it earlier, but here it is again. Health is easier and cheaper to get early. It is more utilitarian because you ALWAYS NEED IT. If you build magic resist for that Malzahar who then goes 0/7/ just wasted a lot of gold on MR you didn't need. The build I have will give you 99 Armor and 42 MR at level 18 without any item help. That isn't great, but the point is it leaves you a lot of room to build armor/MR later game
  • Ionian Boots of Lucidity are amazing. After your 12% CDR from masteries, the extra 15 gets us with 13% of the CDR cap at 40%. With these boots you have an 87 second cool down on Stand United at 3 points. Not too shabby for an almost guaranteed save. If you need Mercury's Treads for a team with heavy CC, TAKE THEM!
  • Rylai's Crystal Scepter is my bread and butter item. The health and ap provide survivability for you AND your team. It will beef up your stats, Stand United, Shadow Dash, and Vorpal Blade especially with more damage and you now have a RANGED SLOW. Goodbye enemies escaping with minimal health!

So now we have the "core build" done, what comes next?

Good All Around Items

Spoiler: Click to view

Heavy Armor Needed

Spoiler: Click to view

Heavy Magic Resist Needed

Spoiler: Click to view

Other Items

Spoiler: Click to view

My thoughts on building items are that it is always better to find item's which do more than one thing if possible. I generally don't take an item that provides ONLY one stat if I can, but in some cases I make exceptions (i.e. Thornmail).

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Team Work

I already talked about teamwork briefly at different points during this guide. Here is a summary and a few extra pointers I have added.


When you use your Stand United, always be sure to leave the target of your ult enough health to survive for you to teleport there AND help you once you arrive. They should not die the instant you arrive, even if you secure the kill. As a tank, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give is you are there to keep your team alive. You will achieve victory by making sure that your carries are "carried" and that everyone stays a high kill-death ratio. The one exception might be a support, but they should have a high assist-death ratio because of you ;)

Lead the Way!

As the tank, your team needs you to be soaking up damage. You should be the first one into battle, and the last one out. If you are leading the retreat and your squishy gets tagged by a Dr. Mundo Infected Cleaver which you could have blocked; YOU FAILED! It is tough to be a tank because sometimes your team will leave you high and dry, that sucks but just calmly explain what you were trying to do and help them follow your lead next time. Shadow Dash is an amazing thing because you can stay a bit farther away before initiating. Like Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab, you have good zone control and can initiate from afar.

I want to reference a few things here:

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-Jungle Path
-Jungle Build
-Jungle Skills

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Well this is my guide, I will be adding more later and finishing things as I can. But I already spent way too much time in front of my computer instead of doing important things like playing league games =P

Happing hunting, and drop some votes and comments as you see fit.