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Tanky DPS Shen - Top, Mid, Support, & Jungle

Last updated on February 15, 2012
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Cheat Sheet

Shen Build

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

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hi guys, this is my first MobaFire build, which I was inspired to write by the new Shen buffs which I think finally make him viable, but not OP. It's for Classic 5v5, but I hope to add in a Dominion and 3v3 part as well, once I learn more about the aesthetic parts of making MobaFire builds.

With the new Shen buffs, his versatility has increased exponentially. He's now able to fulfill any role except for pure carry with the same masteries and summoner spells. He's fun, dynamic, and always a good addition to the team.

Traditionally Shen has been a Tank, and while he's now an even more potent one, he has the option to play more as an offtank and/or support, and that's the build I'll be covering here. If you want the pure tank build then other, older MobaFire builds shouldn't have to be altered much, if at all, to accommodate you.

I'll be constantly keeping up on this build, so any feedback is welcome and encouraged!

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Pros / Cons

-Still Tanky
-Formidable damage output
-Extremely versatile
-Energy System!

-Madred's Bloodrazor can ruin your fun
-Team will often expect you to be a pure tank
-Since the updates are still recent, you may be mocked for this unique build if you're doing poorly

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I use attack speed Quintessences and Marks, flat armor seals, and flat cooldown reduction glyphs. But wait, attack speed on a Shen!? Yup. Combined with flat armor and flat CR, he is exceptional at farming top, clearing jungle quickly, and spamming abilities and staying alive while supporting bottom lane. While you can customize your runes to your specific playstyle and role, I've found that this setup ensures that no matter which role or what point of the game, Shen is a force to be reckoned with.

Another point: Why no flat health or percentage health runes? Simply put, health is great for Shen and indeed the focus of this build, but you'll be investing in health with your items, and not as much into attack speed, armor, and cooldown reduction. With this setup, you're early game will be solid, and your mid-to-late game will appreciate the extra AS and CR, while it wouldn't notice as much a bit more health considering the yet to be seen item build.

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A fairly standard Tank build, the "Tough Skin" and "Bladed Armor" can be switched out for health regeneration, or some more armor, or some magic resistance, if you aren't jungling. However I've found that if taking middle, top, or supporting bot, its nice to feel more comfortable Shadow Dashing through minions without fear of taking too much damage (especially since Riot nerfted minion damage) to taunt and engage your enemy. Overall, while building 21/9/0 isn't bad, the benefits you get from investing more into Defense is just more worth it for Shen. (Especially considering Juggernaut!)

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Items - Jungling

First, my new favorite role - Jungling.

If jungling, I start with the standard Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potions. Since Shen is so good at regaining health with his Q, Smite isn't needed as long as you take all 5 Health Potions. If for some reason you do insist on taking Smite, then you shouldn't need more than 2-3 Health Potions.

I immediatly build into Madred's Razors, and then I judge based on ganking potential whether to go to Wriggle's Lantern or to Beserker's Greaves after that. Greaves are great for ganking the slightly more bulky champions or quicker champions, while the Lantern will be plenty for most squishy champions, and getting wards up sooner is always a good thing. In the end, the decision isn't the most important one, as whichever you choose, you should grab the other one next. But still, sometime the small choices can make all the difference...

After these items, you'll be building into your core item set, which will be explained later on.

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Items - Solo Top/Mid

If solo top or mid, then I like to start out with Doran's Blade. The health is perfect for your abilities, the damage makes farming and engaging easier, and the lifesteal is just nice synergy with your already lovely Q. Again, Shen's Q will be plenty to keep you alive if you're not being overly aggressive, so although some players will be hesitant about not having pots, I find this isn't a problem for Shen.

Upon my first return, I like getting Beserker's Greaves. The mobility and attack speed makes your life easier both farming and escaping ganks, and in finishing off enemies.

After this, I go into my core item set, which will be explained in just a bit.

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Items - Support Bot

Here is where the beginning item build will look a bit different than we've seen so far. When supporting, you don't want to be farming and taking the CS from your carry, obviously. So, Doran's Blade is still fine, but you might consider buying a Ruby Crystal, or even a Doran's Shield. The Crystal will make your passive and Q slightly more potent and it is crucial for building other items, but Doran's Shield will provide you with some early game health regeneration, which will come in handy since you can only use your Q so much without getting CS.

The important note about supporting bot is that you won't necessarily have wards right away. While this may annoy your carry, you should be beefy enough that you can survive a gank if you're playing cautiously. However, after your first return you should definitely pick up some wards, as ganking will become much more frequent. Also, build into Heart of Gold ASAP, as it'll be your lifeline for your early game. (Starting with Ruby Crystal should now look a bit more attractive...) After your heart of gold, build into your Beserker's Greaves, and continue on into your core item set (to be explained shortly) but keep in mind that you might not reach the later items in the set.

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Items - CORE SET

As mentioned earlier, this is going to be a Shen build centered on stacking health. While not the traditional tank build, it isn't supposed to be. Health makes your passive and Q that much better, and they still give you a very good amount of survivatbility, even if not quite as much as a pure tank build. With this said, let's look at the core items for this Shen build.

1) Frozen Mallet - Health, more health, some attack damage, and some useful Crowd Control on a character with minimal (even if effective) CC. The guaranteed slow is perfect for keeping a single target close while waiting for your energy to come back for a Shadow Dash, whether chasing by yourself or buying time for you team to arrive. This is THE core item to tanky DPS Shen.

After Frozen Mallet:

2) Kindle Gem - Health and Cooldown Reduction are perfect for Shen, and it can build into either the new Zeke's Herald, or a Spirit Visage, and that choice will be elaborated on during the next section, "Situational Items."

3) Warmog's Armor - Perhaps the king of straight-up health, Shen can get this up to its max stacks pretty quickly when playing solo top/mid, and especially quickly if you jungled and therefore still have your Wriggle's Lantern. It is pretty expensive, so you want to make sure to work towards getting it still somewhat early to get its full potential.

4) Atma's Impaler - Another staple of the straigh-up health items, this doesn't exactly give you health, but it makes your auto-attacks pack much more of a punch. By the time I usually get this, I have a total of around 4000 health thanks to my other items. So, along with the armor and critical chance, I'm getting a whopping 80 attack damage. That's just shy of 2 B.F. Swords, which at 1650 each, this is much more cost efficient during your late game. While a shorter game might not reach this point, and while the support-role Shen might not reach it, this item can often be a game-changer because of its late-game effectiveness.

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Items - Situational

1) From your Kindle Gem - I almost always find myself going for the Zeke's Herald. It helps both you and your team, and if you were jungling, then the added life steal is nice. On the other hand, against a heavy ability power team, even a little magic resistance goes a long way. Going with a Spirit Visage will also boost healing and regeneration effects on yourself, and thus is arguably as nice as the extra life steal from the Herald. So, essentially if you're finding yourself too squishy even will all your health, probably because of burst casters, then a Spirit Visage might be a good investment. If you find yourself getting more up-close and personal, the added attack speed from the Zeke's Herald is nice, and your team will thank you too.

2) Youmuu's Ghostblade - The Brutalizer would essentailly replace your Kindle Gem and the Avarice Blade would take the place of your Heart of Gold. While I think that it makes you a bit squishier since it doesn't give you health at all, the armor penetration may be necessary against some teams. Also, the active effect of the finished Ghostblade is nasty when combined with your Frozen Mallet and abilities combo. I find myself taking this only when I have a very solid tank on my team, or two off tanks for some reason, since then I'm arguably needed to do a bit more damage than worry about survivability.

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Skill Sequence and Combos

Level 1 - First off, always always always max your Q (Vorpal Blade) first. Solo Top/Mid, jungle, or support, this is your core ability. This is half of the reason why this build can be effective. Combined with any lifesteal, and even alone, this ability heals a noticeable ammount, and only gets better as you get more health. That's right, it scales off of YOUR max health since the latest patch, so it stays always useful to you. With the cooldown reduction from runes and items, and the energy system that Shen utilizes, you can spam this ability to farm, deal damage, and 1v1 other champions.

Level 2 - I always take a point in W (Feint). This skill's damage absorption is a nice, but secondary effect in this build. The main factor is that while your Feint shield is still active (meaning not depleted), then every basic attack reduces the time of your passive triggering by twice as much. (From -1.5 seconds per hit to -3 seconds per hit). Combined with the attack speed from you items, spamming Vorpal Blade and Feint means your constantly getting back health, doing solid damage from your passive and Vorbal Blade, and even absorbing a noticeable chunk of damage every few seconds.

Level 3 - Another point in Vorpal Blade.

Level 4 - Here you can choose to take Shadow Dash, or you can continue ranking up your Feint. I almost always go with Shadow Dash, and here's why:

Initiating ganks: ghost + shadow dash + vorpal blade and passive = lots of damage
Escaping: No matter what role, even just a single Shadow Dash could give you the gap you need or get you through that jungle wall
Team Fights: Shadow Dash now returns 40 energy PER ENEMY AFFECTED, and reduces the damage you take from those enemies by 50 percent while they're taunted. Now that Shen's a damage dealer, charging in and taunting 3-4 enemies with your team right behind you means that you're not just buying time, you're actively doing damage with all that returned energy

Level 5 - Vorpal Blade

Level 6 - Stand United still seems weak at its first level, but the mobility it provides is almost equally important now to the shield that it gives your ally. Since you do good damage now, you can Stand United on that ally being chased, and when you Shadow Dash to taunt immediately afterwards, and Vorpal Blade and trigger your Ki Strike passive, your enemy won't know what hit him. Yeah, this seems like the standard Shen-Stand United trick, but now you're opponent will more often than not die rather than just have to give up the chase.

From here on out, its pretty simple: Max Vorpal blade first, then Feint, then Shadow Dash, and take your Ultimate whenever possible. An important note is that Feint takes priority over Shadow Dash because higher ranks reduce cooldown and increase the capacity of the shield, meaning more time overall for your auto-attacks to be getting the added benefit of reducing your passive trigger. Shadow Dash only increases the damage dealt by the Dash, but not the duration of the taunt, damage % prevented, cooldown, or energy cost.

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Summoner Spells

Ghost and Exhaust almost every time.

Ghost: Flash is usually the poorer choice, and it's because your Ghost combined with your Frozen Mallet (and perhaps your Ghostblade) is a nasty combo. Also, your Shadow Dash can often be an effective Flash, and so when combined with Ghost, Shadow Dash is great for both catching up and getting away. But still, if you took Flash based on preference or familiarity it wouldn't be the worst.

Exhaust - in 1v1 the benefits are obvious, and combined with Ghost, Frozen Mallet (and maybe Ghostblade), and your Shadow Dash, your CC ability just went from mild to formidable.

Smite - Again, if jungling, Smite is not necessary. It may make your early jungling go by a bit quicker, but you'll be perfectly fine with some potions, and you'll really appreciate the Exhaust in mid-late game.