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Shen Build Guide by SheaDog

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League of Legends Build Guide Author SheaDog

The Shank *Nautilus Patch Update*

SheaDog Last updated on February 18, 2012
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Team 1

LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #22 in
Top Lane
Win 49%
Get More Stats

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

Honor Guard

Defense: 22

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hi! And welcome to my Shen guide! This guide details how to play Shen as a Solo top Tank, a Jungle, and a Support Tank. My name is SheaDog, and I thoroughly enjoy playing Shen! This is my first guide, so please give me some feedback so I can continue to improve it.

First build is Shen as a solo top.

Second build is Shen as a jungler.
Third build is Shen as a bottom lane support.

In the Nautilus patch Shen underwent a serious rework, and was substantially buffed!
To see exactly how Shen was changed check the Nautilus patch notes here!

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Pros / Cons


+ Great survivability from Vorpal Blade and Feint.
+ Multi-target taunt that can restore all of your energy if you hit several champions.
+ Uses energy allowing for continual use of abilities.
+ Stand United allows Shen to be in every team fight.
+ Great early laning damage output with fantastic sustain due to Vorpal Blade.

- Shen is dependent on a large HP pool to increase the effectiveness of Vorpal Blade and Ki Strike. This means foregoing some armor and MR early.
- No hard CC other than his skill shot taunt.
- If you miss your taunt you have no way to pull enemies off your carries.
- Damage falls off mid-game if you don't have extremely high HP.

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Summoner Spells

Teleport: Allows Shen to return to lane quickly after ulting, join team fights if ult is down, and generally facilitates Shen being everywhere always. One of my favorite things to do early game is ult to a mid being ganked, save my teammate, then teleporting to top turret and getting a taunt off on the top under turret. Walking is overrated when your Shen.
Exhaust: Great for team fights when you need to either stop their carry from bursting your team down, or to slow a fleeing enemy. Reducing 70% of a fed Vayne's damage for 2.5 seconds is the difference between a team fight win and a team fight loss.
Heal: Good if playing a more support role. If your bottom laning your Vorpal Blade gives great sustain over time to your lane partner, but there are times when you need to instantly get some health back. Also good in team fights. I don't recommend this spell if your not taking a very support role.

Other Options:

Flash: A great summoner spell. I don't usually take it as Shen since he has both great survivability and can use Shadow Dash as an escape or chase mechanic. However it can give you that extra boost to secure a kill, or set up a better taunting position.

Ghost: Same as Flash, for the same reasons. Longer duration means better chasing and fleeing, however flash lets you go over walls and instantly closes gaps so it's a player preference call between the two.

Ignite: This spell is good to take if the other team has lots of healing. As a laning spell it can secure some kills early, and during team fights it curbs crazy AD carry life steal. I almost always take this when laning against a Tryndamere.

Clairvoyance: A good spell, you can take it if your team needs and wants a CV.

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  • Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: Allows Ki Strike and Vorpal Blade to do more damage. Since there are no primary defensive runes for marks, these are the best choice in my opinion but there are other options.

  • greater seal of vitality: I prefer the HP per lvl seals over flat armor.

    Most argue flat armor helps you with early game, but the extra HP boosts your Ki Strike damage and your Vorpal Blade will replenish your lost hp. The exception is in the jungle where that damage reduction is needed for the early levels, though the vitality seals are viable for a Shen in the jungle.

  • Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: I like to forgo Force of Nature for more AP with Abyssal Mask so these runes scale nicely increasing your magic resist, and filling the gap.

  • Greater Quintessence of Health: Flat health Quints give you that extra staying power in lane you need to maximize farming and harassing.
    I have recently been using Vitality quints. They make you less threatening early game but give you a significant HP boost into mid and late game. They surpass fort quints at lvl 10. Your call.

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Note: Keep in mind that every game of is different, the items set forth in this build are not in the order you will always buy them. Depending on enemy team comp and how well your team is doing you may take certain items earlier, later, or not at all. Being a tank your build is going to be a lot more varied than a carry's. Don't think that because I did or didn't include an item means you have to or can't take it. This build is the one I just see myself building most often.

Early Game:

Doran's Shield: Good first item, gives you health, HP regen, and armor. Everything a tank wants. If your duel laning take a Ruby Crystal to get your Heart of Gold faster.

First time back:

Heart of Gold: Gives health and GP 5, and later builds into your Randuin's Omen

Mercury's Treads: Unless your just getting wrecked you shouldn't have to go back till you can at least buy Heart of Gold and Mercury Treads. If you have to settle for Boots of Speed. Ninja Tabi are a great option if you are laning against a high AD opponent / team. If they have heavy CC the tenacity on treads is still better.

Giant's Belt: The 430 HP ups Shen damage and regen significantly while also making him tanky. If you are having no issues in lane go back and buy this as your first item, before heart of gold. It builds into Rylai's or Warmog's.

Mid Game:

Warmog's Armor: Gives the most HP of any item. Makes you the tank, and increases your Ki Strike damage and the regen on your Vorpal Blade. You can get this before or after Rylai's. If you have ended the laning phase then the slow on Rylai's is better, if you were able to just stay in lane and farm the Warmog's sets you up for a better lane presence with Ki Strike damage and huge reserve of HP.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter: Grab the second giant's belt as soon as you can. When you complete Rylai's you should have over 4k health. With the buffs to Shen in the Nautilus patch you really need to hit the 4k mark for Shen to be able to keep up in damage or healing.

Now you have some choices. Determine which enemies are doing the most damage and build to prevent that type of damage. You can also just stack health from this point if you want. Shen's damage and regen now scale so well with HP that multiple Warmog's will give a great boost to his over all damage and survive-ability.

If you are taking more attack damage go for the Randuin's Omen it gives a nice chunk of armor and hampers the enemy teams attacks speed and on activation win a team fight and secure kills.

If you are taking mostly magic damage grab the Abyssal Mask it gives nice magic resist, 70 ability power to increase your shield strength and vorpal damage, and makes enemies more susceptible to your mages.
Zeke's Herald OR OR

Late Game:

To finish off your build I take one of the following:
Atma's Impaler: If you still need more armor get the Atma's, you should have a large amount of HP so you get a significant boost to your auto attacks.

Zeke's Herald I like the new Zeke's Herald, it increases your HP gives your allies a good aura, and the attack speed works well with Feint and Ki Strike. Also it's really cheap. Buy this if you are having no problems surviving and want to give everyone an extra boost.

Force of Nature: If you are somehow getting nuked down, this will curb any AP carries burst. Also regens an absurd amount of HP.

Other options:

Ninja Tabi: Great fast option for boots if the other team has a lot of AD. Also great for jungle.

Aegis of the Legion: Nice tank stats and gives a great aura to the team for cheap. If you are the support or your team doesn't have a main support take this.

Thornmail: Has great armor and returns damage from basic attacks. Great if your jungling or if the enemy team is heavy AD based. Otherwise the lack of health on the item makes it less desirable than Randuin's or Warmog's.

Spirit Visage: Gives great HP restoration. If AP is a problem for you and you can't afford Force of Nature cause your playing a support, take this guy.

Soul Shroud: A great off tank support item. Take it instead of Warmog's if your playing support. Gives great HP and a nice 10% CDR aura. It also costs 750g less to complete than a warmog's.

Will of the Ancients: Great AP and Spell Vamp Aura. Boosts your abilities and your allies for a measly 2100g.

Guardian Angel: I personally am not a huge fan of guardian angel. This item just screams don't attack me, which is already an issue with Shen being so tanky. It gives decent Armor and MR though and when the passive is up gives you a chance to get back in the fray. Good tank item I just think it hurts your team more than it helps you.

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Abillity Explanations

Ki Strike: A solid passive that makes up for Shen's relative lack of damaging abilities. At level 18 it adds 112+10% of your bonus HP as magic damage. (That's 192 at 4k HP)
With an 8 second cool down that is reduced when by 1.5 each time you attack, Ki Strike is up almost every 3 seconds while your melee attacking. Great for last hitting minions and harassing enemy champions.
It also restores energy on hit, use it whenever it's up for easy energy boost.

Vorpal Blade (Q): This is your early laning ability. I max it out first for several reasons:

1. It's your only ranged ability. You use easily replenished energy, so throw this bad boy in lane whenever you can. It will harass enemies, and last hit minions when you can't get in melee range.

2. Early game it HURTS. Throw it at an enemy champ, melee with Ki Strike up, and run out. You net about 200 damage on an enemy and heal a decent amount of HP negating their attacks on you. Also great for last hitting minions.

3. If you hit an enemy with the debuff you will regen HP over 3 seconds, giving you great sustain in lane. Last hitting a minion gives 33% of the total heal as instantly. The heal scales with your max HP so the more HP you have the more your helping yourself and your allies.

Feint (W): Your personal shield. Blocks a small amount of damage to Shen for a few seconds. It's good to have up whenever it's available and your taking damage. It isn't a very big shield and can only be used on yourself, but it can still save your life if you need to live through an Ignite or a Requiem. It also increases the CD reduction on Ki Strike by 3 seconds per attack while active. Use this right after a Ki Strike and it will increase your damage and energy renewal rate substantially.

Shadow Dash (E):Shadow Dash has the most utility of any of Shen's abilities. You dash in a strait line and taunt everything you collide with for 1.5 seconds while dealing magic damage to champions (not minions). Taunted targets deal 50% less damage to you for the duration. It also can restore a significant amount of energy if you hit multiple champions. If used correctly it will make or break a team fight.
It's uses include:

1. Offensive uses:
    a) Get behind enemy and dash THROUGH the enemy TOWARDS your carry.
    This is most preferable because it causes them to run the wrong direction allowing the two of you to secure a kill.

    b) Dash out of a bush SIDEWAYS. The next best alternative if you can't get behind.

    c) Dash towards an escaping foe so that you taunt them at THE END OF YOUR RANGE. This stops a fleeing enemy in their tracks allowing your team to catch up. If you taunt through them when standing right behind the enemy, they continue to run to catch up to you.

    d) Get in range to secure a kill with Vorpal Blade. There are times when you can use Shadow Dash to close the gap between you and an enemy to get that last hit even if you don't get the taunt off.

2. Defensively
    a) Pull enemies off of fleeing squishies. Unlike Rammus taunt, yours can pull the entire enemy team off your carry. Just dash through them the opposite direction of your escaping ally. Being a tank you'll more than likely get away yourself, and split their team up as some chase you and others try to recapture your ally.

    b) Its a great escape mechanic. You can dash away from chasing enemies and even leap thin walls. If you think your going to die run out and dash out of range of enemies abilities. Be careful not to taunt enemy champs unless you think you can still survive with them being forced to focus you.

    c) Stops channeled ults. Save it if they have Galio, Nunu, Kat, ect.

    d) To make your turret aggro enemy champs. If you taunt a foe under your turret they will hit you, gaining turret aggro. Great way to pick up some early game kills from overconfident opponents.

3. As an initiator.
    a) Dash in using any of the offensive ways listed above. Forces a team fight or at least take out an overextended foe.

    b) My favorite use! But use care high risk but great reward. The Ult-Taunt. Teleport into a team fight that has already started. Let another member of your team initiate (preferably a bruiser, avoid squishies if possible) when they are between 35-65% health ult to them. While channeling line up your shadow dash with their main damage dealer/s, then IMMEDIATELY dash at them. You will have effectively split their damage in half between two very tanky characters while shielding mass damage on a target. Two major things can go wrong here, explained in drawbacks of next ability.

Stand United (R) :
Stand United is your ult. It is essentially usable once per team fight. You create a massive shield on target champion from ANYWHERE. After channeling you appear at their location. it's uses include:

1. Shielding an ally

This is the most obvious function.

You preferably want to have your taunt up to use the Ult-Taunt combo to turn around a fight. The closer you are to the enemies before the port the worse.

You channel for 3 seconds of free beats on you. Try not to be next to them or you will both die. The only exception is to prevent a double kill. If your going down anyway at least let your carry escape with 850+ HP of shield leeway. If you are in a team fight and you have your Ult have no reservation about saving your carry even though the other team can hit you. If your in a team fight and your taunt has already been used the enemy team should have stopped focusing you if they are smart, so play damage control on your high priority damage dealers.

Since it is the only ability with no range constraint in the game, you have to ALWAYS be aware of what your entire team is doing. You can't save people that you don't know are dieing. When your not engaged in anything important take quick glances around the map. If a red and green circle are overlapping take a quick look to see what the situation is.

2. Teleport to an ally.

Be EVERYWHERE! Turn 1v1 loss into 2v1 win. Deceive enemies into thinking your teammate is alone, Then BOOM Ult-Taunt. Also use-able as an escape mechanic though this is not suggested since you can die while channeling effectively killing you and wasting your ult.


These can all be mitigated if you pay attention.

a) Your target dies before you finish the channel.

THIS IS BAD! This will ruin the Ult-Taunt. This will prevent your teleport.

To prevent this from happening you should shield the squishie as soon as you initiate. At late game a half health squishie will die if focused in 2 seconds or less. A full health one lasts slightly longer, though certain burst champs can wreck them fast too. So the quicker you shield a focus target the less chance they will die.

Your preferred target is a beefy damage dealer at a little above or below half health depending on how fast they are taking damages. You have no fear that they will die before you port to them and with the Ult-Taunt you can effectively split the enemy teams DPS between two tanky targets.

b) If you shield a target while in a team fight you do nothing for 3 seconds. To mitigate do as follows:

If you initiate with your team you should taunt in. Then immediately shield your carry while taunted people have to attack you anyways, pick your highest damage dealer. After your taunt expires you'll port to your shielded carry and re-taunt ASAP.

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I have included in this guide a jungle build for Shen. While I do not claim that Shen is a top tier jungler, he is a very viable choice for the role if it needs to be filled.

Why choose Shen as jungle:

1. He has near unmatched sustain.

Between Vorpal Blade and Feint you should never fall below 75% HP in the jungle. I list 2 pots in the build but realistically you don't actually need any, except if you have a bad pull on blue. I usually finish my first clear with 80% HP using 1 pot at the initial pull on blue. You can also start with boots and 3 pots to speed up your jungle time while sacrificing a little safety.

2. Good ganks at LVL 3, Great ganks at LVL 6+.

Your taunt is a great way to keep enemies from getting back to their turret and maximizing the time the laner and you have to beat on the enemy.

3. After LVL 6 you never have to leave the jungle.

Why wait in a possibly warded bush when you can Ult-Taunt a gank. Maximizes time clearing creeps, while still having an impressive presence in lanes.

Weak points:

1. Comparatively slow clear.

Staring with wolves, and having a fairly strong pull on Blue, I finish my first clear at 4:05. Not bad, but nowhere near the best. The lack of an AOE abillity makes for slower clears than Olaf or Rammus.

2. Can't solo dragon at lower levels.

This is the worst setback as Shen. Wriggle's Lantern, a core jungler item, is not good for Shen IMO. Plus the lack of major damages means you need bottom lane to help you take it. However, you if your playing well, you should be able to secure a double kill bottom and get some help.


My normal route is pretty standard.

1:40 Aggro wolves while mid damages them (outside of 400 range of EXP)
1:50 Whomever is helping with your first 2 camps goes to pull blue while you finish up small wolves.
1:55 Let teammate pull blue, the stronger pull you can get the better. pop a pot. Use smite. LVL 2 take Feint.
2:30 Do wraiths spam Vorpal Blade and Feint.
2:55 Take red. Your smite should be at around 15-20 second CD. As soon as it is up use it and it should just about kill red.
3:30 Do golems, take Shadow Dash at LVL 3.
4:05 Shank a lane that is over extended or low if able. If not buy boots, and sell any unused pots. Buy wards.

After that it's pretty much just clear your jungle and gank when needed. After LVL 6 you don't really need to leave the jungle to gank unless your ult is on CD. In the new jungle it is imperative to keep clearing camps or else you will fall behind. As with all junglers be aware of buffs. Your blue should respawn about 7:20 and so will theirs! Counter jungle if possible if not make sure you don't get counter jungled.

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General Play

Shen being a tank doesn't have many burst combos but I will attempt to detail some tricks that I have discovered that I feel make for an effective Shen in his various roles.


1. Vorpal Blade ---> Ki Strike
Simple but very high damage. Best early laning harass/last hit strategy. It refunds energy when the ki stike goes off as well as doing significant magic damage and procing vorpal's on hit heal. If you have shadow dash you can dash back out if you need to, not usually necessary though.

2. Vorpal Blade ---> Shadow Dash ---> Ki Strike
More damaging then #1 but uses more energy. Lets you get about 3 auto attacks in while taking reduced damage. Usually makes the opponent back off because you took a large chunk out of their HP. Be careful though since you get the extra damage from taunt you wont have dash as an escape for 10 seconds.

3. Ki Srtike ---> Feint ---> Auto-Attack ---> Ki Strike
Feint is great at soaking damage but if you time the feint to right before your first auto attack AFTER ki strike it maximizes the CDR on your passive. Giving maximum damage if you are going to be in melee range for more than 3 seconds.

4. Stand United ---> Shadow Dash
The ult taunt. Detailed in ability explanations. Best surprising initiator in the game IMO.


1.Last hit with Vorpal blade and ki strike.

If you time it right you can take two lasts hits simultaneously. The range on vorpal blade allows you to last hit a minion in the back row or out of melee range so position yourself to be able to hit both minions. Be careful of pushing your lane and opening yourself up for ganks.

Last hitting with vorpal blade now also procs 33% of the max heal instantly so you can now sustain without getting in melee range.

2. Vorpal Juking.

Use that bush cover to harass. Keep low enemies out of exp range or even pick up a kill. Juke from bushes to get quick vorpal blades and possibly a ki strike on enemy champs. This is pretty much your main tactic to harass if you are playing bottom lane support since you shouldn't have to worry about last hitting and you should be protecting your bushes.

3. Use Feint often but wisely.

Ki Strike restore 10/20/30 energy. Your feint costs 40 energy. So depending on what your doing decide if you'll get enough energy refunded vs the increased damage + shield.

Ex: a. You have 110 energy your Ki Strike is up. You want to vorpal and do a few melee attacks to harass but shadow dash to get out fast. Here you don't use feint. Why? Vorpal costs 60 your ki strike refunds 10 at lower levels. If you feint and that nets you a second ki stike before you want to leave it still doesn't give you enough energy to counter the 40 cost of feint to shadow dash out. (This includes energy you naturally restore over time if you did the math and got less than 120)

b. You have 80 energy, your ki strike is up. You want to vorpal blade and harass hard and are not to worried about escaping fast. Use feint. You'll mitigate your damage taken while maximizing ki strike CDR. You can then just walk out if the enemy didn't flee.

4. Share the Vorpal Blades

If your supporting or roaming and there is another ally with you, make sure vorpal blade is on a target that will live long enough to maximize the heal procs. Siege minions are the best choice followed by the melee minions. Caster minions not only die quickly, but you may take a last hit with vorpal that will anger your lane partner.

On the flip side if you are supporting, and feel confident about EXACTLY how much life your vorpal will take on a minion, hit the minion right before your lane partner's attack to secure a last hit for them while also giving them a free proc of vorpal healing.

5. Teleport

The summoner spell teleport has great synergy with Shen's Ult. Here are just a few things it can allow you to do.

a. Back and Teleport to lane: anyone can do this but it's still useful.
b. Ult to team fight then Teleport to lane: Deny a kill bottom lane with Stand United. Solo top thinks your not there and pushes your lane. Teleport to minion under your turret or your turret and shadow dash him.
c. Teleport then Ulti: The same as before? Yes but with different application. If your dual laning or jungle you can do this otherwise you have to stick with option b. If an enemy is being greedy or behind your minions you can teleport behind them. This is strategically better than ulting to an ally first. You will taunt the enemy while the laner comes to finish them off.

This allows your Ult to remain useable if needed. You can then return to lane or jungle or back if you need.

You can throw a return to base anywhere in there as needed. Ex. Ult ---> Back ---> Tele

Below is a tanking / Shen for beginners section. If you feel confident in your role as a tank feel free to skip this section.

Your role as a tank:

1. Draw major damage away from other team members especially the squishies.

Your job is NOT to get a pentakill, and as Shen you won't, Your job is to let your 20/0 Akali live long enough to get a pentakill. You do this in a variety of ways.

a) Every REAL tank is equipped with some form of hard aggro CC usually in the form of a taunt that makes enemy teams want to hit you instead of your teammates.

How Shen does this: Shadow Dash! Whenever and wherever a carry is getting focus peel as many people off them as you can.

b) Deal enough damage that people can't ignore you when your in their face.

People do not want to hit you. If your in their face and you do nothing, they will ignore you. As a tank that is bad for you.

How Shen does this: Shen's Ki Stike + Feint deals a large amount of damage if you have high HP. Key Vorpal Blades will supplement your auto attack damage. Make sure you use feint whenever it is up. It makes your key strike come up twice as fast giving you much more sustained damage, reducing damage to you, and refunds your energy.

c) Be in the middle.

The most damage is going to be in the middle of a team fight. Is a Riven going to hit the Shen right next to her or run after the Caitlyn running around the outskirts? Your being on the front line in the thick of things makes you a more desirable target than elusive and evasive carries. Keep the team fight centered on you. Soak stuns, snares, Veigar's Primordial Burst anything they can dish out. If you see a Trynd run out taunt him and drag him back in!

How Shen does this: Stand in the middle, use vorpal blade to mark your focus target, use Feint whenever it comes off CD. Shadow Dash anyone who looks like they want to leave the fight to either get away or chase your carries. Keep the fight centered on you with well placed Ki Strikes and taunts.

HOWEVER KNOW YOUR LIMITS. You want to soak damage and LIVE. Unless you have to choose between you and a carry, take one for the team. If you are very low (like 15% or lower) you can usually get out of the fray for a few seconds to spread the enemy teams damage. After a helpful heal or the main one or two enemy damage dealers go down, go back in. Hopefully you should have an Off-tank or at least another tanky person to rotate soaking damage with you. Supports who can build tanky like Taric and beefy bruisers who have shields or damage reduction like Garen should take the heat while you recover.

2. Initiate team fights.

You should be the one who says when the team goes in. Every REAL tank has an initiation move that allows them to quickly get into the middle of the enemy team and start a team fight. Amumu has Bandage Toss, Rammus has Powerball, Shen has Shadow Dash, ect.

Without initiation by the tank, you either play the poke game, or your carry initiates usually leading to their quick death. Initiation is important because it makes you the initial target, which is good. After initiation the rest of your team quickly joins you. Make sure your team knows when your going to initiate so they can position themselves accordingly. Make sure your team prioritizes focus targets. If you initiate and the enemy tank follows with their initiation make sure your team stops focusing their tank after his taunt/stun/dash in, so that you can quickly kill their damage dealers.

How Shen does this: Shadow Dash in, preferably on their highest burst damage dealer such as Brand, Kassadin, ect. or highest disruptor such as Sona, Fiddlesticks, Kennen, ect. If your team can take down their highest burst or AOE stun before your taunt is over you win.

Remember if your team has another good initiator such as Maokai, Jarvan, or any other tank the ULT-Taunt combo is extremely good.

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Thanks to JhoiJhoi for allowing the use of her guide templates and for the wealth of knowledge she shares on making guides.

Thank you for reading my guide! If you liked it please vote it up, if you didn't please tell me why in the comments below.

Hope you can enjoy Shen as much as I do. Happy Shanking!