Shen(League of Legends) received Riot’s infamous champion rework treatment recently and I must admit I haven’t been too impressed with the results. I was one of those people who found Shen to be boring pre-rework so I was actually kind of excited for his changes. I agreed he needed something to spice up his kit and a complete rework seemed like a good opportunity to breathe some new life into an old, now stale champion. Unfortunately, the new Shen feels much weaker and needlessly complicated. In other words, he’s even less fun to play than before.
The first ability that received an overhaul is Shen’s passive. Ki Strike was replaced with Ki Barrier. While Ki Strike added magic damage to his basic attacks every few seconds, Ki Barrier gives him a shield whenever he activates an ability. At first you might think this change makes him tankier, but it actually doesn’t because his Feint ability (and the shield that went with casting it) was removed. So Ki Barrier doesn’t actually give him more shielding abilities, it keeps them the same while also removing the bonus magic damage he had from Ki Strike. All things considered, I feel this passive is a downgrade from Old Shen.
Shen’s new Q is called Twilight Assault and replaces Vorpal Blade. When Twilight Assault is activated, he recalls his new “Spirit Blade” to his current location and also empowers his next three basic attacks to deal damage based on a percent of his target’s maximum health (being slightly increased based on AP). The damage these basic attacks add is pretty similar to Old Shen’s bonus damage from the Ki Strike passive, so it’s almost as if they moved that onto an activated ability and moved Feint’s activated shield onto the passive. What gets lost in the mix is Vorpal Blade. It was Old Shen’s only ranged ability and without it, New Shen seems to be missing a crucial element to success in terms of farming and harassing. The reworked Shen has no means of harassment unless he’s standing toe to toe with an enemy, which puts him in harm’s way.
It’s also worth mentioning that if the Spirit Blade hits an enemy on the way to Shen’s location, his bonus damage is increased, his attack speed is briefly increased, and the champions it collides with are temporarily slowed.
Twilight Assault is a decent ability, you’ll want to learn and level it first to be sure, but it is difficult to utilize to its full potential as the Spirit Blade can pretty much only be moved by casting this and bringing it to Shen. It would have been much more useful if the Spirit Blade’s location itself could be manipulated so that Shen could better aim Twilight Assault. As it stands now, it’s not too hard for enemies to avoid being hit by it, and Shen’s Q serves mostly as a basic attack empowering ability.
As previously mentioned, Feint is gone, and Shen’s new W is called Spirit’s Refuge. When activated, Shen primes his Spirit Blade to create a small area of protection around it that will block all incoming enemy basic attacks against Shen and his allies for a couple of seconds. This spell is obviously quite useful against basic attack-reliant champions like Yasuo and Tryndamere but it sounds a lot stronger on paper than it actually seems to be in practice. You need to time Spirit’s Refuge exactly right for it to blowout the opponent. In most cases you’ll probably end up dodging one or maybe two basic attacks, which when push comes to shove really isn’t all that much damage saved compared to “blocking” ANY damage with a Feint-shield. Learn Spirit’s Refuge second since it combos with Twilight Assault, but don’t bother leveling it up until everything else is maxed out.
Shen still has Shadow Dash as his W and it still works the same, except the energy cost has been greatly increased thus making it much harder for Shen to use this ability as an escape. The damage scaling on this ability now also scales off a percent of the target’s bonus health instead of off Shen’s ability power. This is good as it frees Shen up to focus on building tanky, or even attack damage. I think the damage reduction effect of incoming damage from taunted enemies was removed, though. Learn Shadow Dash third, and then level it up after Twilight Assault is maxed.
Shen’s ultimate was one ability Riot left largely untouched. The only difference is that his Spirit Blade now teleports with him once channeling is completed.
One item that I really like on the New Shen is Blade of the Ruined King. As you may have noticed, he has several abilities that deal damage based on health percentages. Blade of the Ruined King further adds to that and helps Shen bust enemy tanks. Otherwise, building him with mostly defensive items is generally a good idea. Sunfire Cape, Randuin’s Omen, and Warmog’s Armor are all considered core Shen items. I also personally like to build a Frozen Mallet on champions like this as well.
Overall I do not like the Shen rework. While he is undoubtedly good against enemy tanks, he actually seems weaker against squishy champions like Marksmen. Shen also feels less tanky without his Feint ability and because his base armor and health stats were both reduced. Many Shen fans have criticized Twilight Assault as being too “gimmicky” and I think I agree. Adding complexity to a champion’s spells doesn’t necessarily make him any less boring or more skillful to use. If you’re an Old Shen player, you’ll likely be disappointed with this rework and if you never liked Shen before, this rework probably won’t win you over either.