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Shen Build Guide by Hirengul

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Hirengul

Shen: The Magical Ninja Tank (Jungle/Top)

Hirengul Last updated on May 3, 2013
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Top Lane
Ranked #23 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.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

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Welcome to my guide on Shen. I created this guide because I see that most Shen guides that are up right now are outdated, and there was no fair representation of an AP-focused Shen, a personal favorite of mine.

To reduce unnecessary comments, I would like to point out that AD Shen is incredibly viable and will generally have higher max HP, allowing him to receive many benefits with Shen's kit. I am entirely aware of this. AP Shen has his own benefits, however, and is generally played with a different style to maximize benefit.

That said, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy the guide.

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Pros & Cons


  • Relatively High Health
  • Strong Poke
  • AoE Hard-CC
  • Self-heals as well as passive heals the team benefits from
  • Awesome ally shield + teleport
  • Multiple slows
  • Vulnerable to healing reduction
  • Low auto-attack damage
  • Dependent on abilities

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Champion Abilities

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Ki Strike
This passive benefits primarily from stacking attack speed as well as health. It allows Shen to deal some extra damage as well as regain energy--as the primary purpose of this build isn't to deal insane amounts of damage, this ability will not provide as great of a benefit, however, the attack speed increases in runes, masteries, and itemization will allow you to gain the benefit of energy gain.

Vorpal Blade
This ability gives Shen some decent poke damage (and a ranged slow, in my build) and offers passive healing based on Shen's maximum health for those who strike the target. This ability actually makes Shen quite powerful in hard-engagements due to the great amount of healing that you receive from this item.

This is another bread-and-butter AP Shen item. The shield allows you to tank most damage that you aren't healing from Vorpal Blade's passive, and also reduces the cooldown on Ki Strike by 2 (rather than one) per hit while the shield is active. Since your shield is stronger as AP Shen than most, you will reduce the cooldown of Ki Strike more as well, allowing you to regain more energy for maximum ability usage.

Shadow Dash
This is one of the primary reason's that Shen is such a common ban in ranked matches; a good Shadow Dash can both render the enemy team useless and regain your energy per champion taunted to allow you to get more out of your abilities. It also has a relatively short cooldown (8 seconds at max with no CDR stacked), which allows it to be used more than once in longer engagements--make sure you are aware of this so that you can have energy ready for if it comes off of it's cooldown. It also gives Shen a means of escape from nasty situations, but be wary of using it too liberally--it has a high energy cost, so should only really be used when needed.

Stand United
This ability is likely the primary reason that I love stacking AP on Shen. It can be used to gank lanes incredibly quickly (followed by a taunt) or can even be used in in the middle of team fights on a carry that is taking heavy damage--the shield often times gives them enough time to regain their health via life steal/spell vamp and put out some more damage without as great a fear of dying. To top it off, when the cast ends, you are at their exact location and can taunt whatever enemies are attacking them to peel. This ability is HUGE for turning the tides of a battle, but be aware of it's long cooldown--once again, not an ability to be used too liberally.

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A pretty standard setup for defensive masteries. An alternative to Defender and Reinforced Armor is maxing out Unyielding and Block -- a common pick on Shen, as it reduces damage taken while taunting the enemy team. Certainly a viable pick, but I find that Defender and Reinforced Armor gives Shen more benefit while enemies are NOT taunted, and when they are, I will generally activate Feint which negates most if not all of the damage.

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Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Relatively standard seals/glyph's/quints for almost any champion setup--gives you increased move speed, armor for the lane phase, and scaling magic resist to get the most MR you can in the lategame when you will be primarily dealing with AP champions.

The only potential sub-standard rune choice is the Greater Mark of Attack Speed. I like having this in my setup as Shen because it allows you to get more energy regeneration and health regeneration from Ki Strike (energy) as well as Vorpal Blade )health). This also gives you a much greater clearing speed if you choose to jungle.

The primary alternative choices would be:
  • Greater Mark of Magic Penetration:
    Obviously allows your spells to do more damage--as the primary focus of this build isn't to do insane amounts of damage, I find that the sacrificed utility to pick up this rune makes it not really worth it.
  • greater mark of hybrid penetration:
    Essentially the same as the magic penetration, but is more useful if you are building an AD-heavier build. Either way, it's a great rune to pick up, as it IS useful for a lot of champions especially since it doesn't have much lower magic penetration than the standard magic penetration glyphs.
  • Greater Mark of Attack Damage
    Pretty good for increasing clear speed in the earlier game, and makes last hitting minions if you are laning a great deal easier. Doesn't give you a great deal of benefit in the long run, but it is an 'okay' pick.

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Summoner Spells

There are obviously a great deal of summoner spells to choose from, but I generally pick from a small pool for Shen.

NOTE: As a general rule, load 1 "utility/damage" spell and 1 "escape" skill ( Ghost/ Flash)

My Favorite Picks/Recommended Picks:

Gives Shen a second teleport spell to keep enemies constantly on their toes for Shen's ganks. Also gives you a lot more freedom to gank other lanes while it is off cooldown, as you can teleport back to your lane whenever needed. Overall a pretty versatile spell, especially in the hands of Shen, so it is one of my favorite picks on him.

My preferred 'second spell' as Shen. A quick Flash + taunt can keep an enemy from escaping (it can even be used to engage during ganks, as a Flash + taunt combo can instantly taunt an enemy near the center of their lane while you initially hide in the bushes. It also gives you a second spell that allows you to jump walls, giving you are great deal of escape utility in the jungle. Overall it's just a pretty good spell to have.

Barrier gives you a second shield ability that can help save your life and even allow you to maintain a fight while on low health (a Feint + Barrier + Feint combo gives you a triple-shield which gives you plenty of time to regain health or escape)

Other Viable Picks:

Good for chasing down enemies/forcing engagements or escaping. I generally prefer Flash, as it is a lot less predictable than a Ghost cast, which basically gives the enemy team the warning "oh hey look this guy is trying to make a move".
Random benefit over Flash as an escape skill: It can be used while stunned or silenced.

If anything, Exhaust is a great spell to use on a carry post-taunt, especially if they are escaping. If you pick this up, I would take one point out of Fury to put into Summoner's Wrath for the additional MR/armor reduction. A taunt , Exhaust, Vorpal Blade (given you build a Rylai's Crystal Scepter) combo will give your team plenty of time to target down a carry who might otherwise attempt to escape. Exhaust is also a great dueling spell as decreases the enemy's attack speed and damage output and decreases their Armor/MR if you have the point in Summoner's Wrath . Also a good peel to keep enemy champions away from your carries in team fights.

Another standard pick across the board. Pretty good for taking out healing-reliant champions. I'd probably only take this spell if I were going against a champion with a lot of healing in the top lane to make the early game easier on me. In the lategame, your carries should probably have ignite to use, so you don't get much benefit from having it.

Obviously if you are jungling, take smite. If you don't good players will steal your buffs all day long--running without it is just a surefire way to make your life more difficult.

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Core Early Game Items:

Seeker's Armguard:
A lot of times I'll build this item to sell in the lategame--for AP Shen, you can actually choose to build it into a full fledged Zhonya's Hourglass for some armor + a great deal of AP and a cool active, but this item is a great starter to give you some more damage and sustain in the lane phase--for 1160 gold you get 45 armor and 45 AP....not bad at all, in my opinion, and they are both good things to have on Shen.

Stinger: This item will give you some decent attack speed early on, allowing you to get more benefit from Ki Strike as well as Vorpal Blade, and it builds into one of the core midgame items, Zephyr. Pretty good item to pick up, imo.

Boots of Swiftness: These boots are great to build on Shen, as it grants higher base move speed and a slow reduction, making you a lot more difficult to kite. Since you pick up tenacity of Zephyr later on, Mercury's Treads aren't really necessary. Ninja Tabi might be another decent selection if you are dealing with a heavy AD champion in lane, particularly ones that rely on autoattacks.

Core Mid Game Items:

Gives CDR, attack speed, tenacity, and a little AD to make clearing a bit easier while also making you more viable in dueling. On top of that, it has one of the greatest move speed buffs in the game, which combined with your Boots of Swiftness makes you pretty quick. One of my favorite season 3 items period, personally.

Spirit Visage:
One again, grants cooldown reduction, bringing you up to a total of 30% for your full build, allowing you to get a lot more ability uses in during engagements. On top of this, it gives you a bit of health and MR to add onto tankiness, and increases healing effects on yourself, which will likely primarily be observed through your Vorpal Blade's passive healing.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter: This item gives you some more HP to add onto that tankiness and benefit your Ki Strike's damage. On top of that, gives 80AP, making all of your abilities that much more effective, and it gives you a ranged slow from Vorpal Blade. A lot of people would prefer Frozen Mallet as it adds more HP and gives on-hit slows, which are very useful as Shen will generally find himself right next to an enemy, but for an AP Shen build, the AP is invaluable, and also Rylai's Crystal Scepter is cheaper, meaning you can build the rest of your items faster.

Late Game Items:

Warmog's Armor:
A tanky-champion staple in season 3. Obvious benefits are the increased max health as well as the passive regen, which are both great things to have. If you find it necessary, you can build this earlier on, but I generally find that my early items give me the tankiness I need to get by in the early game-- Warmog's Armor is just the "nail in the coffin" for the enemy team, so to speak.

Randuin's Omen:
Another great health stacking item that also gives you a huge armor buff. Around this time I will usually sell my Seeker's Armguard to help pay for this item, as it is incredibly useful for team engagements with its passive slows as well as the active on it which can be used as a AoE close-range slow to peel or during chases. Overall a great pick. You might consider building this earlier if you are dealing with a lot of AD (once again, primarily auto-attackers)

Abyssal Mask: Once again another good item to build earlier on if you are dealing with a lot of AP damage in the game. This item will help your mid laner deal more damage through the passive MR reduction aura (it will help you do more damage as well, obviously), will give you more MR, and some more AP to buff your abilities.

Alternative Items:

Zhonya's Hourglass:
The alternative should you choose not to build Randuin's Omen. This will buff your abilities a great deal (+120AP!!!) all the while giving you some more much-needed armor and a useful active--personally as Shen should'nt really be using the active a lot during teamfights as it draw's aggro away from himself (not something you want to happen) I like casting it only in dire situations or right after I taunt the team to negate autoattack damage so that I can save my shield for the 'meat' of the teamfight. A viable pick, but not one of my personal favorites.

Frozen Mallet:
Used instead of Rylai's Crystal Scepter, this grants 200 more bonus health and a higher single-target slow, as well as more AD to increase autoattack damage. Generally a bit tankier and allows for constant peels.

Runic Bulwark:
Generally a good tank item. Gives your team a little extra durability from the passive and overall grants you a decent amount of health regen (amplified by Spirit Visage), some health, MR, and armor, essentially making it the "swiss army knife" of tank items.

(I'll add more alternate items later on)

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Basic Gameplay in Lane:

Generally, Shen's gameplay is pretty straightforward in the top lane--adapt to your lane by building items in an order that gives you the greatest benefit against your opponent (if they stack AD, build armor, if they stack AP, build MR, also just build health as a general thing). Shen can generally take some abuse, so don't be afraid to trade blows with your lane opponent--testing their capabilities by poking here and there will generally help you to gauge your own limits. Keep an eye out for help needed in the other lanes, as a swift Stand United will often change the tide of battle in your team's favor. Due to the possibility of ulting in to help another lane, I like keeping my lane pushed back a decent amount so as to not risk a turret should I leave to help an ally.

Basic Teamfighting Tips:

Generally you will be the champion given the task of creating an engagement with the enemy team. A flash->taunt at an opportune time can help to accomplish this. At this point in the fight, your job should be to try to keep a Vorpal Blade passive on whatever enemy your ADC is targeting to give them more healing during the fight, and also should be to peel targets off of your carries via taunts or slows from Vorpal Blade or Randuin's Omen. In extreme cases, you can even cast Stand United on a carry to save them in near-death situations.

That explains the essentials of playing AP Shen, though I may go into further detail should this guide attract a decent amount of attention. Thanks for reading!