Welcome to a general gameplay and tips guide for Shen. This guide is not intended for highly experienced players, or players who already have a lot of experience with Shen. Since Shen will be free soon, this guide is to help players understand the ups and downs of Shen, learn some tips and tricks, and be more knowledgeable of one of the best team tanks in the game.
I am not an amazing high ELO player myself, but I see a lot of people who play Shen either play him wrong, or are close to useless. I have a good amount of time with Shen but am not here to argue this guide, the champion, or anything for that matter. This is intended to advise players who are new to Shen and to offer tactics that others may not think of.
Disclaimer outta the way, let's get into it!
Welcome to Shen! Shen is the most mobile and versatile tank in LoL to date. For starters, please understand Shen does not possess the damage sponge capabilities of champs such as Allistar, Rammus, etc. Shen IS a tank and is supposed to take damage for your team. However Shen's abilities make him much more than a damage sponge. Due to Shen's abilities and how he should be played, Shen often has more survivability than tanks with higher armor and HP due to his ability to make escapes. We will discuss abilities and how to use them, as Shen's abilities mean more than any item build.
Update: This is hella old so I will update regarding the patch sometime.
| Ki Strike
| Every 8 seconds, Shen's next attack will deal (10+5*level) (plus 3% of his maximum Health) bonus magic damage. Each time a champion hits Shen with an attack, Ki Strike activates 2 seconds quicker.
Simple passive that is a bit under rated. At level 2 with a Doran's shield, we can assume Shen will have around 700 or more HP. 10+5(2)+21=41. This passive gives Shen 41 BONUS damage. Helps farming and if a champion gets to close in laning phase you can end up doing 250+ damage with a Vorpal Blade/Ki Strike combo.
| Vorpal Blade
| Deals 50/95/140/185/230 (+.65 per ability power) magic damage to target unit. That unit becomes life tapped for 5 seconds, healing any champions who attack it for 10/20/30/40/50 (+.2 per ability power) health over 3 seconds.
Shen THROWS a blade at an enemy that does damage as stated above. The target will have a katana spinning above their heard that way you and your ally can see what is life tapped.
This ability is what makes Shen an amazing laner, as him and his ally can abuse the life tap to stay in lanes longer.
| Shen takes reduced damage for a few seconds.
Shen enters a defensive stance, shielding the next 50/100/150/200/250 (+.6 per ability power) damage. Lasts up to 1.5 seconds.
Very under rated ability. Yes it usually gets leveled last, but we will discuss why and when Feint is good.
| Shadow Dash
| Shen rapidly dashes to a target location, Taunting enemies he collides with for .8/1.1/1.4/1.7/2 second(s).
Restores 50 Energy if you hit a champion.
Shen's ability that enables him to (A)gank, (B), chase down kills, and (C) make him amazing in team fights or even initiation.
| Stand United
| Places a shield on both a target allied champion and Shen, absorbing 300/525/750 (+1 per ability power) damage for 7.5 seconds(Shen's shield absorbs half as much damage). After channeling for 2.5 seconds, Shen teleports to the target's location.
READ THIS CAREFULLY. This is Shen's ultimate that can be game changing, make an impact on lanes, coordinate ganks, and do your taxes as well. While IF TIMED WELL this is an amazing escaping tool, READ THIS CAREFULLY. Shen shields the ally and himself but the shield on Shen himself only is good for HALF of what the ally's is.
So Shen only shields himself for 150/260/375 as he channels so BE CAREFUL.
Take these masteries. If you are level 30 and have more points to branch off, I would recommend going offense for the Exhaust and cooldowns, and get your 1 point in utility on the improved Ghost.
Ok, so let's discuss Feint and the skilling order. As you can see, Vorpal Blade(VB) is first priority. While it seems weird since Shen is not a damage dealer, having VB maxed early makes you do decent damage mid game, and lets you become an amazing laner as early as possible.
Let's discuss via abilities.
Vorpal Blade- As said above. Remember, since Shen throws the blade, learn how much damage it does as you can farm decently with this. A simple tactic to keep you in lane with VB is cannon minions. The cannon minions usually go to the front of the pack away from their champions. Since cannon minions have higher hp, you can get more hits out of them. Let's say VB is level 2 and you throw a VB onto a cannon minion. You and your ally hit it 4 times each. You both just restored 80 hp while being far enough away from enemy champs even like Ashe to not take damage. At level 5 with VB at level 3, you can restore a health potion worth of HP just by tagging a cannon minion and getting 6 or more hits on it. Let minions come to you and abuse the life tap on VB.
Feint-Why do most guides say Feint is useless or to rarely level it at all? Let me just give an example. You are laning against Ashe or Mundo. With champions that have skill shots or ranged attacks that you can see coming(Ashe's arrow) feint allows you to either trick someone or to get a VB on them every 9 seconds(Cooldown:9/8/7/6/5 seconds). What do you mean aaronlol?
You are at 600 HP after taking some damage at level 2, and Ashe is around 450 at level 2 as well. Ashe gets in too close, you throw a VB at her dealing 50 damage. She shoots an arrow that would normally deal 62 damage. You press W, the arrow does 12 damage instead. She just did 12 damage to a tank with almost 800HP and you just did 50 damage to a champ who only has 450 HP max at the moment.
Let's throw in a Ki Strike. Situation level 4. Ashe is dealing 70 damage per arrow. Via masteries+Doran's shield you have 950 hp, Ashe has around 700. Here is where combining Shen's skills come to play. You get in range to throw a VB at Ashe then hit her with a Ki Strike. So (10+5(4)+29)=59+66 base AD comes out around 120 give or take. VB does 90 damage at level 2. Now the thing is if you are in range to melee someone like Ashe they can get 2 or more hits on you right? Shadow Dash away from Ashe, you will take 1 or 2 arrows max. Let's say 70 damage if she bought a Long Sword. If she gets one arrow on you for 70 and moves to shoot another at you, your energy should restore to Feint one of them out doing only 20.
So let's review. You just did 190 damage to Ashe who has 700HP. Ashe did 90 damage to you who has 950 HP. You just took out 28% of Ashe's HP, while Ashe took 9% of your hp. You also have VB and Doran's shield. See my point? Shen CAN harass especially against squishies. Also, this is not even taking Shen's taunt into consideration and coordinating it or opening a door up for a team mate to attack.
One thing to note about Feint. While it is great for tanking skill shots, ranged attacks and etc, it ONLY REDUCES DAMAGE. Stuns, slows, and everything still apply.
Shadow Dash(SD)- We will discuss this in tactics.
Stand United(SU)- We have a lot to discuss here.....so yeah.
Please keep in mind that skilling Shen's Feint and SD are usually pretty situational. If you find you are having to tank alot or are able to to negate attacks against ranged or skill shot champs, level Feint alongside with SD. If you find you are getting alot of taunts off and your team is initiating alot, take SD faster for the faster cooldown and longer taunts.
Tank abilities. I am not kidding when I say this, but you should never play Shen without Ghost. Ghosting to catch up and taunt someone results in kills, and combing Ghost with SD to run away makes Shen ridiculously hard to catch up to and/or kill.
Cleanse is sort of obvious since I said tank summoner spells. Cleanse allows you to get knee deep in shit and still make it out combined with Ghost.
Not so much of an obvious choice but I think people sometimes forget that Exhaust can be great defensively as well. If you are getting chased by a Yi or someone auto attack based, Exhaust them as they chase you. You are either almost guaranteed to make it away now or turn them into dog meat if a team mate is with/near you. Also helps a ton in team fights or to focus someone down.
My personal favorite is Exhaust/Ghost, but keep in mind what Cleanse can do for you.
Note on Cleanse: If you are going to use Cleanse, make sure you have enough energy to SD away after you use it. If you get trapped in Ryze's prison, Cleanse out then get caught in an Anivia/Nunu ult, you just wasted your Cleanse somewhat. However, more often than not if you dash RIGHT AFTER you Cleanse if gets you outta most situations, and if Ghost is up damn near guarantees you make it out alive.
I will give a simple run down here. I have yet to find a build I stick with 100% on Shen, as he works well building per situation and I am still experimenting.
Start with Doran's shield and a health potion. This let's you stay in lane at LEAST until level 6, or usually till you have 1000/1200 gold. Shen has 3 solid boot options. If you are against Zin Zhao, Garen, and another auto attack/physical hero, are a good under rated choice. Not only are they cheap, but dodge on tanks is amazing. The masteries will make your dodge % even higher and increase your move speed every time you get a dodge as well.
are a solid choice on Shen. It allows your escapability, mobility, and your chances to chasing down kills to rise.
if they have alotta stun. Pretty simple.
Try for BoS most times, use Tabis if they have alotta physical or auto attackers, and get Merc Treads per situation.
is an AMAZING item for tank. Go read the passive right now. Then read the active. Then read the unique passive again. GREAT FOR TANKS. Having Randuins also makes you very useful in team fights with the active. The active has such a low cooldown as well, you get a free AOE slow almost every single fight. When you go to start Randuins, buy the [item_icon=Heart of Gold] first for obvious reasons. Note: GET LEVEL 2 BOOTS FIRST. There are some champs where rushing Catalyst and etc are better than getting level 2 boots, but Shen is NOT one of them. Getting level 2 boots before anything else allows you to harass a bit, but more importantly gives you the escape and chasing potential that Shen is so good for.
After Randuin's Omen, evaluate 2 things: Their team structure and how much are you dying? If they have alot of nuke it might be best do just build HP, aka . If they have a normal/nothing special team linup, Sunfire Cape. If you find they have alot of magic try a [item_icon=Force of Nature]. FoN allows you to stay in lanes very well if you play it smart. Let's say a fight erupts, kills happen and you live with 1000/3000HP. FoN + Doran's shield give you 48 hp regen per 5. Let's say in 30 seconds, you get off 10 VB hits killing some creeps. You just restored 788 HP in 30 seconds, and that is NOT including the .035 regen that FoN gives.
Other options would be and . After this 3rd item, start building . After that, Sunfires all day every day 8). ON a serious note, just get for physically heavy team, etc etc.
NOTE: If something like this ever happens, your build can and should change.
Although it is not Shen's job to get kills, if you get a substantial amount of kills, you need to abuse it. In a normal game where you do decent and go let's say 1/3/20 or something, if it's a normal 40 minute game or so you should be able to get your starting items, your Randiun's, Sunfire/Force of Nature, and Guardian Angel. Since it's pretty rare for Shen to be pulling in kills, SPEND YOUR EXTRA GOLD WISELY. I have seen Shens' with 3 Sunfire Capes, but they barely put it to use because they run out of fights too fast.
Working in the team
"Working in the team" should be re named "Playing Shen the right away".
Shen can turn the tides of lanes, get kills that people think won't happen, open up doors for ganks/kills, and make team mates want to orally pleasure you.
Good Shens': Use their ultimate offensively. If you are bottom lane, and your 2 top laners start a fight, simply pressing R and clicking on their icon does 3 majorly important things.
1-) Changes the top lane fight from a 2v2 to a 3v2 with a tank on the 3's side
2-) Give someone 2.5 second to be more aggressive since they will be shielded.
3-) Makes someone brown their pants when you show up; side effects may include rage and feeling as if they got "jewed/gayed"
Good Shens': Use their ultimate to surprise people and coordinate surprises.
You are laning with Ashe on top. You go B to buy your boots and coordinate with your level 7 Ashe. You ult on Ashe, she ults on someone. You show up, get a taunt off, and turn someone into dog meat. Example or turning a 1v2 fight(enemy thinks they have advantage) into a fair fight where you have a surprise attack and a shield to allow your ally to play extremely aggressive
Good Shens': STAND STILL AT TOWERS VERY SHORTLY. Not even kidding. Ex: You are laning bottom. You stand near your tower to check the fight in mid. Your Ezreal is about to die in a mid fight, you ult him and deny a kill at mid. Stuff like that has side effects such as:
1-) Your Ezreal wishes to orally please you now
2-) You denied an enemy 500 gold and experience, and/or they might have been to far up pressing to kill your Ezreal and you or Ezreal get a kill
3-) You allow your Ezreal to go buy items
If you have to stand still for 2 seconds to check and ensure everyone is safe, IT IS OFTEN WORTH IT. Your job as Shen is to find opportunities to save lives, turn unfair fights fair and vice versa, and scare people by showing up, taunting and tanking.
Bad Shens': Stay in fights TOO much.
Shen is a tank, yes. Shen is not Rammus. Shen is the most versatile and mobile tank in the game. While it is Shen's job to distract, reel in assists and tank, Shen is also made to escape. Due to the energy system, you can use Shen's SD as a get away device as well. A level 18 Shen can get a taunt off in a fight, tank 2000 damage, and escape even if being chased. Feint is best used once during a team fight, and while running away. If someone is chasing you and you have full energy, you can deny them of 250 damage, AND dash away from them. This is not even including Ghost or Exhaust.
Pros / Cons
Early game pros: Great in laning phase. Doran's Shield and VB allow you to stay in early laning phase until you want to leave to buy.
Decent at farming with VB, and decent harass combo with all 3 abilities.
Late game pros: Tank. Good armor, good hp, and damn good escape options and capabilities. Turns team fights in your team's favor with Randiun's active, while being able to pick off people who come in too far and tank with Feint.
Early game cons: Gets shut down if not with a good lane partner.
Hard to get kills unless your team mate has the damage output to do so and you get a taunt off.
Late game cons: You make people upset cause you escape from so much crap and are Shen.
HAI IM SHEN LOL TAKE DAMAGE TAUNT YOU BAI
Overall pros: Press R, make people mad/get kills.
Press R, save team mate, get orally pleased.
Press W, annoy Ezreal/Mundo/Skill shot person
Press E, turn people into dog meat
Overall cons: You tank. You don't kill a ton, and you die.
You know why they made the phrase sh1t happens? Because sh1t happens, that's why. You WILL die as Shen. If you go 0/4/32 in a 45 minute game, chance is you supported hard and did a very good job. There are simply times where Cleanse, Ghost, Shadow Dash, and even Stand United will not get you out of a situation. The beauty of Shen however, is even in those cluster fvcks that you do not live from, 2 Feints can buy you and your team mates a good 3 seconds of the enemy trying to kill you, and maybe even getting a taunt off on someone who is too close to you and your team.
Shen's job is to pick off people who are in poor positions and open windows for your team. While running in and soaking damage is something you do as Shen, his abilities make him super mobile and able to dip far into enemy teams, and still come out alive.
Do not forget about VB as well. At level 18, A Ki Strike/VB combo will be doing around 450-500 damage, in a quick 1 second combo. Mind you it's not Shen's job to do damage, but a Ki Strike/VB can definitely kill runners, and even do enough damage to scare off squishy heroes or just help do damage in a team fight. Since VB has a really low cool down, it is best to VB first thing in a fight.
Anyways, remember, Shen is a ninja. Who is tough as rock.
"Hi there my name is Shen. I'm gonna sponge some damage for a few seconds, but I usually get away. Anways you are a tad bit too far up and now you are forced to attack me even though I was not even next to you lololol sup dude?" That is your job as Shen.
GOOD LUCK, HAVE FUN!
This is my 1st guide and as I stated before, I am not an amazing player but not a bad Shen. Bad Shens' hurt teams, thus why I made this guide. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I really prefer not to bicker or debate builds and etc, hence why I left the build section pretty loosely made. Find what you like, ask around, etc.
Hope you enjoyed, and have fun out there!