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Build Guide by Prowler

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Prowler

Shen - Ninja's Never Say Die!

Prowler Last updated on August 8, 2010
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Top Lane
Ranked #43 in
Top Lane
Win 49%
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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: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 22

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

Utility: 8

Tanks exist for this basic purpose: Getting people to attack you at times when it would be more beneficial for them to be attacking your allies; while being geared in such a way that you are able to take immense amounts of damage while your team accomplishes the primary goals of DPS.

In LoL (and many other games), a lot rides on whether or not you have a tank, and whether or not that tank does his thing well. Good tanking is an absolute necessity if you want to achieve victory with your group. However, you need to be willing to end up as an unsung hero, and play for your team with a servant-like attitude.

Shen fills this role very well.


I'll admit I'm probably not the best with Runes. Frankly, with few exceptions, I don't think they provide an immense benefit in the end. The ones that I believe shine the most are the armor penetration, magic penetration, and cooldown reduction. Aside from those, I like the Glyphs and Quints of Vitality, as they do provide a pretty respectable amount of HP at level 18. It's also been mentioned that Dodge seals are another great choice. I agree with that as well. Anyway, I really won't spend a lot of time discussing Runes.

Why armor penetration marks? Because all other marks suck for Shen, IMO, and this way I can at least borrow marks from my other builds for other champs without buying new ones. The armor and HP marks are pretty pathetic at best, and armor penetration is at least always useful.

Why cooldown reduction? Because I am a Shadow Dash addict, as you will read below, and I believe Shadow Dash needs to be on as low a cooldown as possible.

Summoner Spells and Masteries

Pretty much a classic 21/22 point Defense build, with 8 points in Utility. Shen doesn't benefit from mana regen, so we obviously don't touch those masteries in Utility.

For Summoner Spells, I always run Flash and Ghost with Shen. They are great for either achieving killing blows or running away. I'm not a fan of Ignite for Shen. Cleanse would also be a classically good choice. Flash's ability to get you onto the other side of walls makes it too good to pass up, IMO.

High HP versus High Armor or Magic Resist

First off, you'll notice this is a relatively high HP build. The reason for this is that mathematically, HP ends up being your most important tanking stat due to the fact that it contributes to your defense against both magic and physical damage.

For example, imagine running 4600 hp and 250 armor, versus 3600 hp and 340 armor, each with equal magic resist of say 106, against a person dealing exclusively physical damage. If you run the numbers, you'll actually find that the 4600 hp build is slightly more survivable (about equal for practical purposes). However, since both builds have relatively low magic resist, which one stands up better to a magic attacker? The HP build is clearly going to survive longer.

Moreover, due to the use of Force of Nature, higher HP actually equates to higher hp/5 regen. This equates to that much more survivability. Armor and magic resist are still important, obviously. But the fact is that HP should still be higher priority in your mind. Don't think of armor and magic resist as the be-all-end-all.

Ki Strike

Remember, we're playing Shen. Shen's Ki Strike passive grows in strength based on your max HP. At level 18, Ki Strike hits for 100 + (3.5% of your max hp). So figure that this adds 35 damage per 1000 hp. 4800 HP equates to a level 18 Ki Strike with 268 base damage. It's not much on paper compared to real DPS champs, but when enemies are attacking you, remember that Ki Strike's cooldown is refreshed by 2 seconds each time you're hit. So theoretically, if you're being hit 4 times between your own attacks, then every attack will proc Ki Strike. What this means is that your highest DPS will only be achieved if you are actively being attacked. You must embrace this fact!

Also keep this HP build in mind if you ever wish to run with Atma's Impaler, but I won't discuss that here, as I personally elect not to use that item with Shen, but I could easily see working it in if you wish.

Shadow Dash

I won't bother talking about the other abilities right now, but Shadow Dash must be discussed. Shadow Dash is, in my opinion, the most fun and versatile ability in the game. You want this ability to be available as often as possible due to the fact that it has so many uses that may need to be called upon at an instant's notice. This ability is what makes Shen shine the most. The cooldown runes listed in this build equate to 15% reduction at level 18, or 1.5 seconds off of Shadow Dash. You will receive another 15% reduction from Randuin's Omen, for a total of 3.0 seconds off Shadow Dash.

1) Initiator. Shadow Dash not only closes the distance to your target, but it also taunts them, thus preventing them from using abilities for the duration. This can be particularly game-breaking against squishy casters.
2) Peeling. For those unfamiliar with the term, this refers to "peeling" an enemy off of attacking an ally by either disabling/stunning them, or taunting them. Shadow Dash serves this purpose extremely well, and your teammates will love you for it. A split second taunt that pulls the enemy's melee DPS off of your team's squishy DPS can turn a lost fight into a won fight (and often does). The greatest thing about Shadow Dash for peeling and initiating is the fact that it taunts EVERYTHING that you collide with! This makes Shen very unique in that he is one of the (if not the) only tanks who can AOE taunt.
3) Escape tool. Just between you and me, Shadow Dash can be used to escape (or chase) through walls. I can't count the number of time's I've either been saved or gained a killing blow by Shadow Dashing through a wall. It's flipping amazing. Like a ninja.


Before reading about the item selection, remember this. A good tank should always choose items based on what they are fighting, and how well or poorly his team is doing. There is no one-size-fits-all tank build! Don't mistake this for one! You should always be mindful of who the enemy is, how they are playing, and how they are gearing themselves!

First item to grab out of the gate is Boots of Speed along with a single HP pot. Some people grab Doran's Shield, but I don't like it. I'd rather save my money on items I am going to be using long term. Besides, if you're laning correctly, you should be enjoying a reasonable amount of HP regen by using Vorpal Blade.

After laning for awhile, when you finally end up back at your portal (you better not have died). Go ahead and pick up Ninja Tabi or Merc's Treads. You need to base this decision completely off of what the enemy team is comprised of. If the other team is physical damage heavy -- grab Ninja Tabi. If they are magic-heavy and/or CC heavy, grab Merc's Treads.

After your boots are done, again, you'll want to look at what the other team is comprised of (and how well they are doing) to decide the next item you'll pursue. If they are physical heavy (or even if they are magic-heavy and they just suck), go for Sunfire Cape next. The reason is that by this point in the game, you'll still be laning a fair amount of the time, and Sunfire Cape is great at last-hitting minions for you. Sunfire Cape also gives a decent amount of HP and armor that you certainly won't regret later on in the game. Alternatively, if the enemy is very magic-heavy and doing relatively well, I would advocate swapping Sunfire Cape for a Spirit Visage. The Spirit Visage provides a lot of extra health regen which will play very significantly into your final HP regen total, and also gives an additional 33 magic resist and 12% CDR (if you're keeping track of your total CDR, this will actually bring you up tot he 40% hard cap). I think this makes Spirit Visage an excellent swap out for Sunfire Cape depending on situation.

After that, again, determine how the enemy is doing and what they're comprised of. Take a moment to look at how they are gearing. Decide if it would be more beneficial to go for Warmog's Armor or Force of Nature next. At this point, it's also important to note that you may consider forgetting Force of Nature altogether if the enemy is doing poorly or if they have literally no magic users at all. You could replace it with another Sunfire Cape to increase your last-hit capability, and gain additional HP and armor. (I would encourage you to also check out Terrorxfury's "Shen the Flaming Ninja?" build, found HERE. Running multiple Sunfire Capes is hilariously fun, if you can swing it). However, bear in mind that Force of Nature still provides a VERY large HP regen boost (both the passive 40 per 5 regen, as well as the unique 0.35% per second), so it goes very well with Warmog's.

One thing that this planner does not demonstrate on paper is the amount of HP regen you will derive from the 0.35% per second regen on Force of Nature. If you have capped your Warmog's bonuses and arrived at the published 4802 hp, then your Force of Nature will be giving you 16.8 hp per second, which translates to an additional 84 hp per 5 seconds. That's really very significant. So the planner should actually reflect a total of 283 hp regen per 5 seconds; or about 57 hp per second

After that, again, assess how the game is going. Decide whether or not to go for Frozen Mallet or Randuin's Omen. If the game is about over and you're rolling the enemy, grab the Mallet for sure. You can't go wrong with it at that point. However, if the game still has some time left, I'd grab Randuin's. I don't think it matter much which item components you go after first. You might get the Heart of Gold first in order to make the other items acquirable sooner. Up to you. I usually grab Warden's Mail first. By this point in the game, you shouldn't be stopping back at the portal too often, so you may have enough to simply buy Randuin's outright when you return.

Generally, Frozen Mallet is the last item I go for. Frankly, you should have teammates who are taking care of the slowing action by now, so it just becomes icing on the cake to make it that much easier for your team to head toward victory. The main benefit of the Mallet, in my mind, is still the 700 HP. Some people go for it earlier in game, but I think it sits well as the last item you go for.

Well there ya have it. I'm no expert on the game by any means, but this sort of setup has been working very well for me.