League Of Legends: Shen Guide

Shen, despite his looks is one of the best tanks if not the best. He is a champion that has his teammates all wanting to have his babies. Shen is a team player and by picking him means you are taking upon yourself a very crucial role, the role of the main tank.
Playing with him means that you have to have a good map awareness and excellent judgement as Shen expects from you for picking him. As the main tank you will have to initiate at good times, save your teammates and eat a lot of damage. Tanks are not only useful for that but they are pretty good offensive tools too. Shen can utilise this more than some other tank champions. Being offensive means you are able to drive back enemies especially those chasing your team mates that are unable to fight as well as simply surviving long enough to dish out lethal damage on squishy foes.This detailed. in depth guide will help you master Shen, a main tank that enemies fear and team mates love.


Ki Strike (Passive): Every 8 seconds Shen channels Ki into his blades to perform an attack that deals an additional magic damage of 3.5% of your health and also damage that scales down to your level.
This passive will give you a great edge in fights and in farming, it lets you deal very high damage early on and even later on.One hit from this and a vorpal blade (Shen’s first ability) will usually drop a squishy champion to half his/her health.Because of this ability and vorpal blade you should be dominating your lane as long as your partner is decent.

Vorpal Blade: Shen deals magic damage to target unit. That unit becomes life tapped for 5 seconds, healing any champions who attack it over 3 seconds.The attacker’s healing duration is refreshed each time the life tapped unit is struck again.
Cooldown: 3 Seconds
Range: 475
Cost: 70 / 65 / 60 / 55 / 50 Energy
Magic Damage: 50 / 95 / 140 / 185 / 230 (+0.65 per Ability Power)
Heal: 10 / 20 / 30 / 40 / 50 health (+0.2 per Ability Power and the heal lasts for 5 seconds)

This ability is your main spell; use it for harassing, farming, killing and healing. The cooldown is very low so you can spam this ability, more so with cooldown reduction runes. Remember that your ally can heal off your vorpal blade so use it a lot whether it be for yourself or your laning partner.

This ability is one of the most effective harassing abilities in the game so you should dominate your lane with this and your powerful Ki Strike. You should also learn how to use Vorpal Blade to farm. The best way is to use it on a creep with half a health. This is so you can last hit it with your normal attack. This way you’ll not only get the creep kill but also get healed in the process. However, if you are not close to the creep or you can’t get their because you have to avoid enemy harassment then use vorpal blade to last hit kill creeps.

One thing I noticed while playing with shen though is that if you attack a creep to last hit kill it and is tapped with Vorpal Blade at the same time; you will only get healed if you kill it with your physical damage. That means if your Ki Strike is active and you kill the creep you may not get healed if the creep dies from the magic damage from Ki Strike. However, if the creep has enough health to survive the magic damage but then dies from your physical damage then you will get healed (as Ki Strike is basically a double attack in which of the damage type is magic and this damage type registers first). You may not consider this important info but as a matter of fact it really does matter as being healed constantly in your lane will make you a very difficult opponent.

Feint: Shen enters a defensive stance, shielding himself from some damage. Lasts up to 2.5 seconds.
Cost: 45 Energy
Cooldown: 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 Seconds
Shield Absorption: 50 / 100 / 150 / 200 / 250 (+0.6 per Ability Power)

This ability is shen’s defensive ability, get it at level 4 as you will need shadow dash at level 2. The question that is present is whether you should max this ability second or shadow dash (Vorpal blade first). This depends on who you are up against. If you’re soloing then be sure to max Vorpal Blade as it will make you win the harrassing battles. A solo shen is very useful as getting his ultimate (the fourth ability – R) early can help other lanes immensely so your team has the advantage in the game.

Using Feint requires you to predict your opponent’s attacks because it only lasts for 2.5 seconds. So when Vladimir or Ezrael comes in to do their attacks on you just put up feint and throw a vorpal blade on them and at the end it would be they who lost more health than you.

When I’m at my side lane then I usually have to look at my opponents and my team before deciding whether to max this first or shadow dash (Shen’s 3rd ability). If the enemy has more burst damage (like Ryze or Veigar) and less disables then go for maxing Feint first. If your laning partner requires long disables, like Nunu who requires long disables in team fights; then max out shadow dash over Feint. Just remember to have at least 1 point of feint (take at level 4) because it can help you dominate your lane by preventing harassment.

Shadow Dash: Shen rapidly dashes to a target location, taunting enemies he collides with. Restores 50 Energy if you hit a champion.
Cooldown: 10 Seconds
Range: 600
Cost: 120 / 115 / 110 / 105 / 100 Energy
Taunt: 0.8 / 1.1 / 1.4 / 1.7 / 2 Seconds

This ninja style ability is what makes you a very useful team tank. Always take this at level 2 unless your soloing in which then you should take it at level 4. You should have at least one level of it before level 6. Remember if you miss the taunt then you do not recover the 50 energy and that leaves you with barely any energy; so aim your taunts carefully. It will take time to perfect your shadow dash but you will eventually get used to it. You can also taunt invisible enemies with this ability. So if you can predict where those sneaky champions like Evelyn and Twitch have gone to then use this ability to break their invisibility because if they get caught in your dash then they are taunted, which forces them to attack you for the duration of the ability.

What I like about this ability is the mobility it provides, you can use this ability to escape, to go over walls, trees, to tower-dive and to escape spells. Remember that this ability takes a lot of energy so if you use it to tower-dive then you may throw a Vorpal Blade/Ki Strike combo or just simply Vorpal Blade the enemy champion hugging the tower. Just make sure he dies. For this purpose you may add the summoner spell flash. Use it to Flash in dash out and vice versa.You must also know that if you use shadow dash to act as flash then be sure to know you will only have enough energy to do a Vorpal Blade or a Feint and that’s it.

Another thing you should know is to judge whether you should use Shadow Dash to escape an enemy attack or use Feint. If there is a gank coming at you or an incoming enemy disable which you cannot repel then use Dash to get away and not Feint because absorbing 250 damage won’t cut it. Just be sure to treasure your teammate, a good taunt can save your team mate and since your tougher you may survive as well. Besides if you collide with the enemy with shadow dash then you get energy so you can use feint every time it refreshes too. Your the hero so you should be skilled at saving your team mates.

This skill is most useful for your team in initiating fights including ganks. You can use it to taunt the enemy that needs to die because of his high danger level and if your team is there then that taunted person should die. Also, if you’re skilled enough then you may even be able to pull of Shadow Dash in a way in which you can grab the entire enemy team if they are present. Sometimes however, you would have to save your taunt for the right time. That time would be when the enemy is channeling a deadly spell for example Katrina’s Death Lotus, Miss Fortune’s Bullet Time and Nunu’s Absolute Zero. Your taunt is able to break such spells leaving the enemy in a state of WTF.

Stand United: Places a shield on a target allied champion, which will absorb damage for 7.5 seconds. After channeling for 2.5 seconds,Shen teleports to the target’s location.
Cost: 50 Energy
Range: Global
Cooldown: 180 / 150 / 120 Seconds
Shield Absorbtion: 300 / 525 / 750 (+1 per Ability Power)

This is your badass ultimate skill of epic heroism; not only does it make Shen the great hero to his team mates but it also makes him pretty mobile. Being so hard to kill and always present in a team-fight will make Shen a force to be reckoned with. As soon as you get this ability you should be very aware of your team’s situation and have your minimap in the corner of your eye. Every time you see those little cute champion icons of both your team and the enemy starting to hug each other (no homo); quickly move your camera there and check the situation.

Check also if there is an opportunity for your partner/partners in a side lane or in middle lane to kill the enemy with your presence. Your partner can initiate and you can ulti him and not only will your squishy partner not die from anything the enemy can throw, you can also dash in and finish the enemy off. Just make sure your partner is capable and knows what your thinking and planning to do. In the same way you can also tower-dive or help a partner tower-dive to finish off an enemy at low health.

Using this ability to perfection requires excellent judgement, never ulti to an ally in a predicament that there is no escape from. Such predicaments include situations in which your team mate is chilling by himself and was then jumped by all 5 of the enemy team members. Your shield will not be able to absorb enough damage for you to save him and by teleporting to him you risk yourself dying as well.

Your ultimate may be precious with its long cooldowns but it’s purpose is to prevent your team mates from dying or to get right into the fray to change the tide of a battle. Never hesitate to use it to save an ally from a hit that could result in his death. Enemies that mess with a team that has Shen in it will learn that playing aggressively will result in their own demise, for a Shen ultimate followed with a good taunt can easily result in an ace as long as your team is there to do the multi target damage you cannot provide.

Summoner Spells

Summoner spells that work well with shen are many, but each is beneficial in different ways.

Exhaust: Reduces a target’s Attack Damage by 70%, Ability/Item damage by 35% and slows its Movement Speed by 40% for 3 seconds. 550 Range (estimate).
This is an excellent summoner spell which is useful throughout the game. It can be used early to get first blood and is great with ignite especially early on. Later on  it is extremely useful in defeating the opposing team’s physical carries (especially with cripple mastery which increases duration and reduces armor/magic resistance by 10) such as Tyrndamere and Ashe.

Ghost: Your Champion ignores unit collision and moves 27% faster for 14 seconds.
This is one of my most taken summoner spells for Shen along with exhaust, it helps him in chases and helps him get to position quickly. It also helps him get away and being already hard to kill, you should not die when your ghost is not in cooldown. Just remember that you can use Shadow dash to help you escape and so coupled with Ghost, you just should not be caught by anyone.

Cleanse: Removes all control debuffs, silences and blinds from your champion and reduces the duration of subsequent stuns, slows, taunts, fears, snares, sleeps, and immobilizes by 65% for the next 3 seconds.
This spell is excellent with Shen as it is with all tanks since you will be receiving alot of disables. You will need this spell if you are to make sure you are not disabled in teamfights to do your job as a tank. Cleanse can also be used to run away, so don’t be afraid to use it at the right time.

Flash: Teleports your Champion to target nearby location under your mouse cursor. 475 Range.
This is simply a summoner spell version of your shadow dash with greater range and speed. Coupled with your shadow dash you can make awe inspiring moves to capture unsuspecting foes or escape very dire situations. Whenever I take Shen I either have this or Ghost on me but never Ghost AND Flash.


There is alot of discussion amongst the Internet about what runes best fit Shen. The 4 types of runes are marks (red), seals (yellow), glyphs (blue) and quintessences (purple). Marks specialize in physical attack (meaning the most effective of marks will be those that grant physical attack bonuses), seals specialize in defense, glyphs specialize in magic and quintessences specialize in everything but you only have space for 3 at level 30 whereas the other runes get space for 9 of them each. You can buy these runes in the LoL store for IP (influence points).

I haven’t tried all possible rune builds but I have an idea about what I want on my Shen. Alot of tank players use dodge seals, and for good reason too but just make sure that the runes you get compliment each other. What I use are energy regen seals (most of which are scaling per level), cool down reduction glyphs, flat HP marks, 2 flat HP quintessences and a single cool down reduction quintessence. The reasons why I do this instead of the typical dodge seals, magic resistance glyphs and magic penetration marks are plenty. First of all, I love to spam my Shen abilities throughout the game. Spamming feint and vorpal blade is great but they will eventually deplete your energy especially when you reduce the already pretty low cooldown with your cooldown reduction glyphs. Thats why I need those energy regen seals (they are more effective than simply increasing energy) but without cooldown reduction glyphs you really dont need them.

With CDR  (cooldown reduction) glyphs and CDR items (such as Randulin’s Omen and Spirit Visage) you can drop your feint cooldown to 3 to 3.5 seconds (especially with Spirit Visage) and that is very spammable since feint lasts 2.5 seeconds. Once that happens you’ll notice your energy regen come into play and you will be very very very tough. If you are getting ability power on Shen with this build then late game (when you can spam feint every 3 seconds and your ability power lets your feint absorb 600 damage) you will not only be able to tank with your shield but you will do massive damage especially with Lich bane. More detail about ability power Shen and items for Shen will be found later in this guide.

Hp runes also works well on Shen, which is why I got hp marks and quintessences. They not only increase his damage via his passive, but they give him a huge advantage in early game. That is why I go for flat Hp runes, their main benefit is in early game. Know that having a good early game with several kills basically sets you on the highway to a great victory where you will get your items with ease. Items are crucial for every champion especially tanks and so you definitely want to have a good early game.


Masteries are minor benefits you can obtain as you level up. Basically, each time you level up (you as a summoner) you get a point to put in your masteries which you can set before every match. There are a total of 30 points because the maximum level is 30.

There are many different paths you can take for Shen but I go for 9/21/0. Left foremost being the offense tree and right foremost being the utility tree. If your taking ghost go for 8/21/1 with one point on improved ghost. The points I put in the offense tree would be AP per level, cripple, sorcery (cooldown reduction is lovely) and the magic penetration mastery that follow sorcery. In the defense tree I only have 2 points on dodge (to be able to move down), if you have dodge seals and like the item Ninja Tabi then be sure to max the dodge and the mastery Evasion that follows it.

Item builds

Most champions have a single item build, going along a fixed path to obtain power. However a tank does no such thing, for a tank must always look at his opponents before deciding what items to build. There are 3 things most useful to Shen as a tank, and those are health, armor and magic resistance. You can never have all of those in one build so you must choose carefully. Fortunately for you, this guide will help you know what factors you must take into account before deciding what items to build.

There will be 3 situations you will face when you start the game and look at the enemy heroes. Lets say the enemy team consists of Ryze, Fiddlesticks, Pantheon, Ashe and Dr. Mundo. Now as you can see this enemy team has a balance of attack damage and ability power. Focusing on armor or magic resistance will leave you weak to the other form of damage (for example you take alot of magic resistance, but if you do pantheon will mop the floor with you and nothing can stop Ashe from wiping you out late game.) If you try to balance both armor and magic resistance you will be left in the middle of nowhere until late game when you finally actually do get both armor and magic resistance, however that would be difficult when you have such a terrible early game. That is why in this situation you must stack health in the beginning. The item build is still dependent on the changes that happen on the battlefield but I will take into account most usual possible outcomes of what could happen.

Item build (Health):
This build will only requires you to go for Warmog’s first. It is then you should look at the team once again, if the enemy team is still balanced with both ability power (AP) and attack damage (AD) then go along with this build. If the enemy AP heroes are sucking whereas their AD heroes are getting good, then start stacking armor. Stack magic resistance (MR) if the situation is the opposite. This build is also very effective against enemy champions who rely on burst damage like Pantheon.

Anyway the build is as follows:

1) Doran’s Shield + Health potion:

I always start with these items first, its absolutely crucial for shen’s early game because you must dominate your lane or rather you should. These items should help ensure that and allow you to make your first return to base with atleast 1100 gold. You should always stay as long as possible so if you can stay until you make something like 2500 gold then thats excellent.

2/3) Mercury Treads (boots of speed first)

Always get the boots of speed first, even if you have enough for a full warmog. You can go warmog right after you get boots  of speed or you can first get Mercury treads then warmogs. It depends on your cash; just remember that mercury treads is useful because of the 35% reduction in the duration of any disables you receive. Since this build assumes that the enemy team has a mixed damage type, it will mean that they will most likely have disablers like Ryze.

2/3) Warmog’s Armor (should get giant belt first)

Getting Warmog’s Armor before 20 minutes is a good start, getting it after 25 minutes however is a bad one. Stay cool and try getting back into the game by playing it smart, but always play your role as a tank and do not abandon your teammates. This item grants the highest health boost, thus you will want it.

4) Frozen Mallet (giant belt first)

For your hp build you will need this item for its great health boost and a very useful slow that is excellent on most tanks including Shen.

5) Atma’s Impaler

This item grants armor, critical strike and adds 2% of your maximum health into your damage. These bonuses will make your tank a very strong opponent who will wreak havoc because of great survivability and good damage output. You should be able to do 220 damage at this point and your passive, Ki strike, would utilize this to great affect.

6) This item slot will depend on the enemy, note which one in the enemy team is doing the most damage. At this point most of the enemy would have built their items, so note who their carry is and counter him with items like Thornmail, Force of Nature or Gaurdian Angel.

Thornmail grants 100 armor and reflects 30% off enemy damage from standard attacks. Force of Nature grants alot of magic resistance and regens 0.35% of your health every second, and the movement speed bonus is crucial especially at late game. Guardian Angel gives both armor and magic resistance and also a passive that lets you revive every 5 minutes on the spot with 750 health.

If there is a devastating ultimate which you should worry about, you may go Zhonya’s Hourglass which grants armor and a great active. If disables are holding you down, you can go for quicksilver sash which grants MR and an active that lets you escape from all debuffs including disables and even mordekaiser’s ultimate, children of the grave.

I usually get Guardian Angel, especially if there is still a mixture of damage types in the game.

Item Build (Armor):
This build is THE build to use against an AD heavy enemy team. Remember to check the enemy’s items to make sure the opposing damage dealers are indeed going AD, if you make armor for an AP heavy team then you are doomed.

1) Doran’s Shield + Health pot

2/3) Randulin’s Omen (first get Heart of Gold)

This is the best item for Shen to use as an anti carry and if coupled with thornmail, it can devestate heroes like Ashe, Xin Zhao, Tyrndamere, Miss Fortune and Warwick. This item coupled with Sunfire cape is excellent against melee heroes. The main problem of this item is that to use it to its fullest potential, you will need to use the active. Just keep it in your first slot (so you can simply press the 1 key to activate) and try your best to remember to use it. Eventually you will gain the habit of using Randulin’s Omen whenever possible. This item also grants health along with its armor (400 health) and you never want a deficiency in your health.

2/3) Ninja Tabi/Mercury treads (get it after Heart of Gold or Randulin’s Omen depending on how your doing with money)

Ninja Tabi will help you greatly against champions that focus on standard attacks (which will be most likely in a team with alot of AD) but if your opposing team has disablers go Mercury Treads instead.

4/5) Thornmail

Grants the highest armor in the game and is just essential against carries.

4/5) Sunfire Cape

A very good item especially early on as its passive deals quite alot of damage to enemies around you so do get it first if you do not have to worry about much damage. This item also grants good health which is always useful especially against burst damage dealers.

6) At this point you should decide what you need most out of the three factors, health, MR and armor. Which one do you need most, because at this point the enemy may start trying to deal some magic damage aswell to bring you down. For example they may all go madred’s razor so you will need resistance to magic damage so you may go Force of Nature. You may also go Quicksilver sash and do not forget Zhonya’s Hourglass.

I usually go for Guardian Angel at this point as well as long as I’m not facing any magic and disable trouble.

Item Build (Magic Resistance):
This is THE build to use against an AP heavy team, once again I must stress on the importance of making sure you are going to face trouble from ability power before following this build in its order.

1) Doran’s Shield + Health pot

You can’t live without it.

2) Mercury Treads

This item is most effective against a team of casters and so even though you will usually have it in every game, it will be most useful against a team that are heavy on disables and AP (both are seldom seen separate from each other).

3) Force of nature (Negatron Cloak first)

If you manage to get this early on then you will have no trouble early game against casters, however you will have a lack of health and you need to correct that soon. Sometimes I make Warmog’s before Force of Nature to correct the issue, and doing this is especially useful when there is still a little AD out there. Remember, Force of nature restores 0.35% of your health every second so a warmog + FoN combo is excellent.

*) Warmog’s Armor

If your going against a team with ONLY ability power (Unlikely) as their weapon, dont go warmogs. Otherwise, I usually do and as stated before it is great with FoN. The reason why I don’t get warmogs against an AD heavy team is because the items that grant armor shown above do grant sufficient health and so warmogs is unnecessary, but MR items don’t fill the health deficiency. If you are going to get warmogs do get it before FoN.

4) Kindlegem

This item grants some health and reduces cooldowns by 10%. That is excellent on Shen and to top it all off, this item is very cheap so you can get it quickly.

5) Frozen Mallet or Rylai’s crystal scepter (If you got Warmog you may skip)

Both give good health and both give the very useful slow. However, frozen mallet gives 200 more health and slows with your physical attack whereas the scepter grants the slow with your single target spells (vorpal blade) and also gives 80 ability power which will add into your feint, stand united and vorpal blade. I don’t know which is better but I usually go Frozen Mallet.

6) Spirit Visage (Upgrades from Kindlegem)

This item boosts any healing on you including your regen and the passive you receive from Force of Nature. It also grants magic resistance and health while reducing cooldowns by 12%  and so it will compliment your build greatly.

7) Once again you will have to decide what to make at this point but you should once again consider Guardian Angel. It is very useful no matter what, just remember that if you have trouble with physical damage at this point then you can go Thornmail. Quicksilver sash also compliments this build very well so do not forget about it. A second warmogs may be viable but not recommended because filling those bonuses would be difficult.

Closing Advice

Now you are ready to practice Shen, and hopefully this guide will let you have a successful journey with him. But before you go start mopping the floor with your foes, just keep in mind these words of wisdom.

Firstly, whenever you push or are ready to gank, be sure to be ahead of your team. You are the leader and your team should know that and so would follow you. That gives further burden on you and so you must be try your best to read your enemys’ minds. Try and imagine being them, what would they be thinking? If you get used to predicting where the enemy are and what their moves are, you can most likely take advantage of where they have set their ambush or where they are heading. You can also pull of blind taunts and while people will call it luck, you will know it was because you have mastered the art of predicting.

Engaging is another thing you must be wary of, your team is nothing without you. If you think your team is unfit to continue on then simply tell your team to back off, you must be able to judge when to engage and when not to. Even though you are a tank you should not throw your life away and so be careful when using your ultimate and only help teammates that can be saved. Even if its a 1v3 with the odds against your teammate, then you may be able to save him and so that chance must not be thrown away. Try your best to safekeep the lives of your team but do not do anything reckless and hopeless.

As a tank you must also be a good initiator, and it can be done in many ways. It doesn’t have to be done with your taunt, in fact you shouldn’t use your taunt if the enemy has a hero that channels an ultimate like Miss fortune or Nunu. If that is the case then save your taunt for them. But don’t hesitate to use the taunt to save your teammate from being focused by the enemy; if that happens just hope your team will manage to stun the enemy champion from channeling his ultimate. Whatever happens, do not let your team be focused so try and make the enemies target you and that is best done by going in first.

Lastly, one thing your teammates will love is a bunch of grouped up enemies in position to have their faces blasted off. Thus, being the great team worker you are, you must quench this thirst by granting your teammate’s wish. Try and lure enemies into a grouped up position and with Shen’s shadow dash it is not so difficult. You should try and get as many enemies in your taunt as possible.

Now you are ready, go now and make me proud.

  • IoTA

    Finally, the guide I was looking for. 10/10

  • Ashe

    pretty nice…lemme try it and see how it goes
    (playing first time shen)

  • Ashe

    wudve been better if u told us when to get which ability,

  • http://gamemunition.com Saad Khan

    Sorry I couldn’t present it in a user friendly manner but I did say when to level up what abilities in their descriptions. The thing is it is situational but always maximize vorpal blade (1st ability) first.

    The first paragraph after the description of the ability includes info on what to take and when.

  • Brokwiet

    Very nice guide. Only I wish the item list was with an mouse-over type thingy to quickly see what the the item is again instead of looking it up.