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Shen Deck Guide & Matchups • Legends of Runeterra (LoR) • RuneterraCCG.com

Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.

This particular guide you’re reading is part of our on-going series of guides on meta decks. You can find all the other guides and a matchup table on this page.

This guide is dedicated to Fiora/Shen – a deck that has been at the top for so long now that it is hard to even remember a meta without it.

Archetype: Midrange. 

Fiora/Shen is a proactive Ionia deck that looks to build a solid board of Demacian Challenger units and back them up with Barriers and combat tricks. The ability to protect Challenger units and leverage them for removal and favorable trades makes it one of the most powerful decks in the meta.

Rivershaper also prevents this deck from ever running out of resources if he is protected well enough. Shen is another way to gain a lot of value – he is a repeatable source of Barrier that synergizes extremely well with Challenger units.

The deck can win the game through sheer aggression and value by building up an oppressive board and constantly securing good trades. It is also capable of achieving Fiora’s win condition by protecting her with Barriers and scoring kills with Challenger, Single Combat, and Concerted Strike. The archetype also has good staying power in the late game – there are very few decks that are able to stand against the power of Brightsteel Formation, especially when combined with Shen’s level 2 passive.

General Tips

  • Value your units highly. You have a lot of spells, and all of them need your units to be efficient (or simply to be playable). Additionally, many of your units get stronger in combination with others (Shen, Brightsteel Protector, Cithria the Bold…). Whenever possible, you want to trade off your spells first and keep your units alive. Of course, this is a piece of general advice about the mentality you should have – further adapt depending on the matchup and the number of units you draw.
  • Play reactively. With this deck, you often want to bank spell mana and leave room for yourself to react with spells to whatever the opponent’s plan is. Your mana advantage would force the opponent to play around your spells (and be punished if they don’t). Don’t let them go for your units without having to deal with your spell-based counterplay.
  • Make good use of a Brightsteel Protector. Try and avoid playing her out as a vanilla 3|2 without getting some value from his Barrier. You can either use it on defense – to prevent the opponent from attacking, or on offense – to give his Barrier to a Challenger or another key unit like Shen. Being such a cheap Barrier effect, it also has a nice synergy with Single Combat. You must have a very specific reason if you want to play Brightsteel Protector out on turn 2. It is generally better to bank spell mana on turn 2 instead, in most situations.
  • Shen’s champion spell Stand United can enable an unexpected lethal attack. Once you’ve leveled Shen up you can use his champion spell to mess with the opponent’s blocks and allow for a very high attack unit to go through (usually a Greenglade Caretaker).

General mulligan tips:

  • The first thing you’re looking for is units. You have a lot of protection spells, but those are worthless if you don’t have units on board. Fiora is a key unit as she benefits greatly from protection spells. Rivershaper is also an amazing unit against decks that struggle to remove it. Shen is another very strong card to keep, especially if you already have Fiora.
  • Keep Sharpsight if you already have a strong unit to use it on. It’s a great early protection spell, and will allow your unit to do a lot more work.

Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.

Matchups

Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Pirates Aggro: 60%

Pirates Aggro: 60%

Mulligan for: Fiora, Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Spirit’s Refuge.

Matchup tips:

  • They have a very explosive deck, capable of dealing a lot of damage through board pressure and convert that pressure into a win with burn damage.
    • Be very conservative with your nexus health.
  • As you scale into the game, your board control gets a lot better than theirs and you take back control of the game.
    • You want to close out decisively to not give them time to draw more burn or play Captain Farron.
  • They do have some powerful units, like Gangplank and Captain Farron. Keep your Concerted Strike to get rid of them.
  • They can level-up Gangplank rapidly. Ideally, you want to prevent them from spreading Nexus damage dealt to you. To do so, you can for example force their Noxian Fervor or kill their Legion Grenadier on a turn you already took Nexus damage.
  • Noxian Fervor is their only 3 mana spell. If they play Zap Sprayfin, you know they have at least one in hand (note: some version play a copy of Brother’s Bond).
  • Spirit’s Refuge is a great spell to get you out of their reach.
    • If their blocker is small enough they can use Noxian Fervor to kill it and deny you the lifesteal proc. Ideally, use Spirit’s Refuge with Single Combat as a backup so you have a counter to their Noxian Fervor – and, if they don’t have Noxian Fervor, you’ll get to still cast your Single Combat after the first combat for even more healing!
  • To improve this matchup, consider adding a second Spirit’s Refuge to your deck.

Zoe/Lee Sin: 55%

Zoe/Lee Sin: 55%

Mulligan for: Fiora, Rivershaper; Shen, Sharpsight, Concerted Strike – if you have Fiora or Rivershaper.

Matchup tips:

  • During the early game, they develop small key units like Zoe, Sparklefly, or Eye of the Dragon. Your Challenger units, Fiora in particular, line up against this plan very well, giving you the ability to remove those units at will.
    • They can use buffs to protect these units or get a trade with Pale Cascade.
  • Because a lot of their units are small, it can be annoying for them to go in combat with a Rivershaper. Their best early unit to face off against Rivershaper is Mountain Goat, and you would be pretty happy with that trade.
    • Avoid casting a combat buff on Rivershaper if they can use Hush as an answer.
  • They struggle to punish development – unless they have an access to Zoe’s champion spell Sleepy Trouble Bubble or have found Crescent Strike off of Zoe’s Supercool Starchart. Avoid going for open-attacks unless you have a specific reason.
  • While your strong units line up against their early plan pretty well, Lee Sin is their main win condition later. It can be harder to deal with him because of his innate Barrier and their protection spells.
    • It is very hard to race against an early Lee Sin, so you need a way to deal with him. If you can’t remove Lee Sin, you will often lose the game.
    • In the mid-game you want to remove Lee Sin immediately after they’ve played him out and are low on mana available to them. During these turns, play reactively around the possibility of Lee Sin arrival and keep mana up to answer him right away.
    • Concerted Strike is your cleanest way to remove Lee Sin. Even if they can give Lee Sin a Barrier, the second unit to strike will actually damage him. Their best answer to Concerted Strike is Deny, which is, in turn, the prime target for your own Deny.
    • You can also try to remove Lee Sin with a Challenger unit backed up by Single Combat to get rid of Barrier. This is harder to accomplish and often riskier. However, you need to aggressively approach the task of removing him – Lee Sin really shapes the game around himself.
  • Despite them having a lot of spells, most of them are Burst spells. Your Deny targets are their own Deny, Concussive Palm, and Lee Sin’s Dragon Rage once he leveled-up.

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Scouts: 55%

Scouts: 55%

Mulligan for: Fiora; Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Single Combat, Shen, Sharpsight, Riposte, Spirit’s Refuge, Concerted Strike – if you already have Fiora.

Matchup Tips:

  • They play a very board-centric game so they are vulnerable to your Challenger units and combat tricks.
  • Miss Fortune is the priority target, she enables their good trades and counters your defensive Barriers. Scouts can level her up very fast.
    • If you don’t open-attack with a Challenger to remove her, they can use Brightsteel Protector to protect her.
  • Your priority is to take control of the board; they don’t have good reach and have a hard time coming back once they are behind on board.
  • Because of their lack of interaction they are very susceptible to Fiora win condition.
  • Be careful to not use Single Combat with no backup into their Sharpsight or Riposte.
  • In the late game, Cithria can give them a lot of extra power and board presence. Concerted Strike is the perfect answer for her.
  • Deny has a limited number of good targets to hit (Relentless Pursuit, Blinding Assault, and champion spells).

Aphelios/TF: 50%

Aphelios/TF: 50%

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Fiora, Shen, Sharpsight; Concerted Strike if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Use your Challenger units, removal, and combat tricks to deal with their Aphelios and TF. If you can remove Aphelios quickly and deal with TF before he levels-up, their deck is a lot less scary.
    • Be aware they do have protection spells (Sunblessed Vigor, Pale Cascade, Bastion. Also Guiding Touch or Starshaping if their unit is wounded).
  • Hush is one of their best spells to take a good trade with one of your key units. Try to force it out on units of lesser importance or small buffs.
    • Avoid using a combat trick on Rivershaper when they can use Hush on him.
  • Be careful about how impactful would be a TF Gold card or Gravitum (if they have it) when deciding if you want to develop before attacking.
  • Thanks to your strong board presence and control, you tend to be able to pull ahead. However, they can still take the game with their powerful Celestial finishers and Burblefish, even if you have control of the board.
    • Don’t give them more turns than necessary and close out decisively. Hence, you should not open attack in most situations in the late game but rather develop to build a more powerful attack.
    • Sharpsight has a lot of value in the late game – it can allow you to block an elusive Celestial.
  • In this matchup, Nopeify tends to be a better Deny – their only non-celestial non-burst spells are Aphelios’ weapons. You can improve this matchup by taking a Deny out of this list to include a Nopeify.

Teemo Foundry: 50%

Teemo Foundry: 50%

Mulligan for: Fiora, Sharpsight, Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Caretaker; Shen, Brightsteel Protector, Riposte if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Their gameplan is to fill your deck with shrooms and force you to draw them with Hexcore Foundry. While you get lower because of shrooms, they stall the game with freezes. Once you get low enough, they finish you with Ezreal.
  • Their Freezes make it hard to take good trades. Play your Riposte reactively, after they froze your unit.
  • Sharpsight is very useful to block Teemo or Ezreal.
  • Be careful to not take too much damage by their early units, and deal with Teemo. If you get in a tough situation in the early turns, it will be tough to come back and close out before you die from burn.
  • To make their gameplan truly come online, they want to play Hexcore Foundry. Fortunately, the extra draw also makes your deck way stronger. At this point of the game, the matchup becomes a race. You need to put enough pressure to kill them through their freezes before you get too low from shrooms.
    • Shen will often stick on board for a long time thanks to his high health. Once he levels up, you can make more damage go through their freezes with Riposte and Shen’s Stand United.
    • Ezreal will kill you extremely fast once he levels-up, be careful to not let him live a turn.
    • At this stage of the game, Rivershaper’s ability is a huge drawback.

Fizz/TF: 50%

Fizz/TF: 50%

Mulligan for: Fiora, Single Combat; Sharpsight, Fleetfeather Tracker, Shen, Brightsteel Protector if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • You do have good answers for their early/mid-game threats. However, they tend to cycle very fast so you can easily miss the right answer at the right time.
  • Your challenger units are key to remove their elusive units or their Twisted Fate. In most situations you should develop before attacking so they are forced to develop into your challenger attack.
  • Single Combat is a very important answer to quickly remove TF before he levels up. Be aware that it can happen very quickly because of Pick a Card and Rummage.
  • Relentless Pursuit is a very powerful card to accelerate the pressure and find lethal once you won the board, or to challenge units they played after you already attacked.
  • If you give them too much time, they can build a full board of Burblefishes over a turn to push a lot of damage and finish you with burn spells if needed. Keep the pressure up.
  • If you want to have a better shot in this matchup, adding some Nopeify to your list can interesting to deny their Mystic Shot.

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Twisted Fate Go Hard: 50%

Twisted Fate Go Hard: 50%

Mulligan for: Fiora; if you have Fiora, keep Shen and Sharpsight.

Matchup tips:

  • Fiora is a potent win condition, they can struggle to deal with her if you protect her well.
    • Sharpsight and Shen are premium tools that help her survive damage.
    • Don’t tap under 4 mana when they have 7 mana for Vengeance. Represent Deny even if you don’t have it.
  • Without access to Fiora, beatdown is still a viable plan for you. Cithria the Bold is a threat thanks to the Fearsome keyword she gives to allies – they don’t have many anti-Fearsome blockers.
  • Ruination is a spell that can easily win them the game. Deny is key to prevent this impactful spell. Avoid tapping under 4 mana when they could use Ruination, even if you don’t have Deny.
  • Once they get to the point where Go Hard transformed into Pack your Bag, you start being in a dangerous spot. Deny can stall, but they are likely to find another Pack your Bag very quickly.
  • The particular version featured in this article after the nerf to Go Hard – 2 Fleetfeather Tracker, no Nopeify – can have a rough time against TF Go Hard. However, versions playing Nopeify instead of Fleetfeather Tracker have a favorable matchup against it.

Fiora/Shen: 50%

Fiora/Shen: 50%

Mulligan for: Shen, Fiora, Rivershaper, Sharpsight, Riposte, Brightsteel Formation, Brightsteel Protector.

Matchup tips:

This is an extremely complicated matchup with a lot to take into account, but here are some guidelines:

  • Be reactive and bank spell mana whenever possible.
  • Don’t play Brightsteel Protector out on turn 2, its value is in the Barrier.
  • Avoid getting yourself a combat trick war when you are at mana disadvantage and/or lack combat tricks. Go for the ‘war’ when you believe you’re positioned in this department better than your opponent.
  • There can be a lot of bluffing and ‘baiting’ in this matchup.
  • Try to ‘check’ for their combat tricks and spells when it wouldn’t cost you too much to see if they have it. Reads are extremely valuable to enable favorable combat phases.
  • Avoid getting into combat against a Rivershaper and trying to kill it ‘then and there’ when they have mana to protect it. Be also aware that even if the unit Rivershaper strikes has a Barrier, they still do draw a spell.
  • Avoid playing Riposte or Spirit’s Refuge if they have mana up for Concerted Strike (unless you have an answer to react with).
  • Barring some Shen’s champion spell shenanigans, this matchup is not about ‘going face fast’. It is about the value and taking over the board slowly but surely.
  • If you play a Brightsteel Formation you should win.

Discard Aggro: 50%

Discard Aggro: 50%

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Fleetfeather Tracker, Brightsteel Protector, Rivershaper, Fiora; Shen, Screeching Dragon – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Both you and your opponent value having a strong board. They want a very wide spread of units to enable Crowd Favorite, Arena Battlecaster, and Vision. You want a board to be able to cast your combat tricks and spells.
    • Limit their spread to shut-off their synergies. However, be also aware that if you trade too much of your own units you’re susceptible to ‘brick draw’ – more spells and tricks without units to cast them on.
    • Aim to trade off your spells and tricks with their units, as opposed to trading off units of your own. Of course, the best way is to remove their units at no card-cost at all – with Shen or Brightsteel Protector Barriers.
    • Screeching Dragon is really powerful in the mid-game, allowing you to pick-off their small units for free.
  • Once you’ve stabilized, their two remaining ways to get back into the game are an Augmented Experimenter and a leveled-up Jinx.
    • You can cast Deny on Augmented Experimenter’s play ability.
    • If you dominate the board, Augmented Experimenter generally won’t be enough to get them back into the game.
    • Keep Single Combat or Concerted Strike for Jinx.
  • Fiora win condition is a decent gameplan, especially when the game state is developing at a quick pace and you aren’t likely to have time enough to properly stabilize the board.
    • They can try to mess with Fiora using buffs and Get Excited, but you have answers in your deck for everything they can throw at you (Barriers, buffs of your own…)

Lissandra SI: 45%

Lissandra SI: 45%

Mulligan for: Fiora; Shen, Sharpsight, Screeching Dragon, Deny if you have Fiora; Golden Aegis if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • In this matchup, you need to apply constant and steady pressure. There is no need to rush things because by going too fast you would run into their board wipes, but you want to keep the pressure up. If you don’t, they can stall and kill you with their Watcher combo.
  • Most versions have 0 or 1 Ruination and no other huge spells. You don’t need to be too conservative with your Deny. Avalanche and Vengeance are often your best targets.
  • Rallies are your most valuable spells in the matchup. It can be hard to pressure them enough with only 1 attack per turn, but a rally is perfect to capitalize on your added pressure and finish them while their defenses are down.
  • Be aware they often play a Freeze (Flash Freeze, Harsh Winds or Three Sisters).
  • You can replace a Brightsteel Formation with a Tianna Crownguard to improve the matchup.

Ezreal/Draven: 45%

Ezreal/Draven: 45%

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Fiora, Shen, Rivershaper.

Matchup tips:

  • Be conservative with your units; they have a lot of removal and you run the risk of eventually running out of threats.
  • By open-attacking, you are playing around Arachnoid Sentry.
    • However, sometimes you can consider developing to purposefully bait out the Arachnoid Sentry. Them having no access to Sentry will make developing easier on your next attack turn.
    • Because of Arachnoid Sentry, Brightsteel Protector is often safer as a defensive play, or when you have Single Combat.
  • Avoid playing a Barrier spell if they have mana for Mystic Shot.
  • Keep your Deny for Tri-beam Improbulator.
    • In the mid/late-game countering Tri-beam is especially important, the tempo they gain with it can be outright game-winning.
  • They have a lot of burn damage, but Spirit’s Refuge can help you beat that plan.
  • Nopeify can be a great addition to Fiora/Shen in this matchup to be able to counter their small removals.

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Soraka/Kench: 45%

Soraka/Kench: 45%

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Fiora, Sharpsight, Single Combat, Riposte; Shen, Concerted Strike – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Greenglade Protector can grow very big if you protect her.
  • Soraka is the priority target. If you fail to deal with her they will outvalue you.
  • You want to kill-off their key units at opportune times without giving them the occasion to heal them back up. Keep in mind that letting a unit of theirs survive at low health makes it a prime and valuable Astral Protection target.
  • Hush is their great counter to your combat tricks.
    • Avoid giving a Barrier to a Rivershaper with no backup plan for Hush. It would deny you the combat trick AND Rivershaper’s draw.
    • Try to make them use Hush when you’re set up to answer with another combat trick.
    • Don’t play around Hush too rigorously. If you need to use a Riposte to kill a unit but can’t beat Hush – go for it anyway.
  • Deny has no other targets than their champion spells and Tahm Kench’s An Acquired Taste.
  • They can struggle against wide Cithria attack, they don’t have many anti-Fearsome blockers.
  • If they are not gaining advantages from both players passing rounds (ex. if they are yet to threaten you with Star Spring win-con), don’t be too afraid of taking things slow. Having enough mana for ‘buff war’ is crucial, and in the late-game Brightsteel Formation gives you an inevitability.
  • Captain Arrika can be a nice addition to Fiora/Shen to remove a key unit or landmark. Consider removing a Deny to add her if you want to improve your matchup against Soraka/TK.

Overwhelm Shurima: 40%

Overwhelm Shurima: 40%

Mulligan for: Fiora, Shen, Greenglade Caretaker; Brightsteel Protector, Sharpsight, Riposte, Spirit’s Refuge, Concerted Strike if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Their main advantage over you is their number of large units. If you keep trading units, you’ll eventually run out of them while they’ll continue playing big Overwhelm bodies.
    • Try to set up trades with your combat tricks to keep your most important units alive. Barriers are especially powerful in combats with big units, and they have no way of removing them.
    • Be careful about their own combat tricks – mainly Shaped Stones and Troll Chant.
  • Shen is very powerful, giving you access to a free barrier in a matchup where barriers are very strong. However, they can play units to block your Shen early into the game (Ancient Yeti, Enraged Yeti).
    • Ideally, You want to be able to back-up your Shen with a barrier or a Sharpsight.
  • Be very careful to not go too low on nexus health – with the Overwhelm keyword and Battlefury, they can easily kill you through your blockers.
  • Unfortunately, your Deny are literally dead draws – they don’t have any fast or slow speed spell.

Ashe/Noxus: 35%

Ashe/Noxus: 35%

Mulligan for: Brightsteel Formation, Fiora, Riposte; Shen, Brightsteel Protector, Sharpsight – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Just like Fiora/Shen, Ashe/Noxus wants to build a dominating board and snowball it. What makes them favorite is that their frostbites are very strong against your units and spells.
  • Avoid using Riposte proactively when they have the mana for frostbite. You want to make them use the freeze first, only then use Riposte to protect your unit and give it attack.
  • Getting a read on which freezes they have in hand (Brittle Steel, Flash Freeze, Harsh Winds) is key.
  • Your Deny targets are Culling Strike, Reckoning, and Ashe’s Crystal Arrow. The counterspells tend to accumulate and rot in your hand because of the low number of targets.
    • However, don’t underestimate the importance of counters in the matchup. They do still play a crucial role in protecting your key threats and win-conditions.
  • Ashe is a priority threat to deal with. If they level her up and freeze your units with Harsh Winds they can find lethal through your board.
  • The difficulty of this matchup is that it’s very hard to have a tempo advantage and beat them down because of their freezes and Avarosan Trapper. In the late-game, their deck has more snowball potential (Trifarian Assessor) in addition to strong finishers (leveled Ashe, Farron).
  • However, they can really struggle to beat Brightsteel Formation, especially if you have some protection for it. This card, when combined with board presence, can single-handedly carry the game.
    • Whenever you have Formation – unless you’ve found another window to win the game – take things slow, don’t run into their frostbites, remove Ashe, and try to just survive. Build up a board presence going into turn 9+ – then drop Brightsteel Formation, protect it, and enjoy the fruits of your victory.

Conclusion

Fiora/Shen is the typical example of a strong midrange deck, and it has proven itself as a working winning formula in LoR over a long period of time.

Like I said earlier, this guide is part of a series where I’ll go over all the top decks in the meta so you have all the resources needed to learn the deck you want and improve as a player. This series is my most ambitious project so far, I hope it will be helpful!

If you want to share feedback, have a question, or want to discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you on this dedicated Reddit post! 😉

If you like my content and don’t want to miss out on anything, you can follow me on Twitter, where I share every article I make, but also my tournament performances, my most successful decks, etc… 😄

Thanks for reading!

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