Erlang Shen Build Ideas

Erlang Shen Build Ideas

Latest posts by Johnathan Faubert (see all)

Erlang Shen, an auto-attack warrior from the Chinese pantheon, recently got a rework of his kit. He was already fun to play as and annoying to fight against in Conquest or any other game mode; don’t worry he still is. He may be even better now as I saw while testing out these Erlang Shen build ideas.

Even though warriors are usually solo lane characters, Erlang can thrive as a jungle. He can even perform well in the support role, focusing on lane pressure. Erlang is geared toward the typical attack speed warrior or assassin builds, but sometimes I have a lot of fun going full tank and mitigations with him.

Erlang Shen may seem like you just push the “W” key, hold down the left mouse, and win. However, testing out the different items he can use reveals another “tanky” side of him. I’ll start with a solid bruiser build for him, and then I’ll share some alternative damage and tank builds.

Standard Build

Standard Build

Here are the key items upfront, numbered in the order you build them. (Swap 2 and 3 if you are against a magical in lane).

  1. Death’s Toll (later upgraded into Death’s Embrace)
  2. Berserker’s Shield
  3. Shogun’s Kusari
  4. Qin’s Sai
  5. Frostbound Hammer (or Toxic Blade if there is a need for anti-heal)
  6. Spirit Robe

One of my favorite aspects of Smite is that I have a lot of freedom with items. This build is not the end all be all of the builds for Erlang Shen, but it is a solid foundation to work with. Experimenting with builds is part of the fun.  This standard bruiser build is focused on early-game sustain and damage and late-game defense and damage.

Erlang Shen likes to exploit his auto attacks with the utility in his kit and items. That means getting items with attack speed and either extra effects to his auto attacks or defense. Erlang’s 1v1 potential is high, but he can handle a crowd decently with the combined utility of abilities and items.

Most enemies will avoid 1v1 fights with Erlang since his bonus damage, self buffs, and enemy debuffs mean he will likely win. This is devastating enough on its own, but combined with mitigations from Berserker’s and Spirit Robe, Qin’s health damage, Death’s Toll sustain, and Frostbound’s slow, few players would survive against Erlang Shen alone. Let’s analyze the items in this build and see why they play to Erlang’s strengths.

Starter Item: Death’s Toll


  • Cost – 650 (1500 for Death’s Embrace at level 20)
  • +15 Physical Power
  • +75 Health

Passive – Hitting an enemy with a Basic Attack restores 2 Health (+0.4% of your Maximum Health) and 1 Mana (+1% of your Maximum Mana). Basic Attacks that deal damage in an AoE restore less health (75% for Melee Attacks, 50% for Ranged Attacks) for each enemy hit after the first.

Death’s Toll gives Erlang the sustain and damage he will need in the solo lane since it works off of basic attacks.  This item is great in the early game when going back to the fountain will cost you a lot of minion farm.

Death’s Toll can also keep your health up just enough to win a fight with an enemy player. I love that feeling when you think, “How did I not die there?!  Oh…Death’s Toll heals.” This reliable starter gives the health and mana restore Erlang needs in the early game.

The two upgrade choices for Death’s Toll both work. The decision may come down to whether your team is getting a lot of kills or not. Death’s Embrace is my preference for its survivability since it increases the healing to 2% per hit and gives +200 health along with +65 power. Death’s Temper does give +30% attack speed but less health and power.  Still, if the team is on a roll with kills, the passive will increase basic attack damage which is great for Erlang.

Alternate Starter Item: Manikin Scepter

  • Cost – 750 (1500 for Manikin Mace at level 20)
  • +10 Basic Attack Damage
  • +10 Physical Protection

Passive – Enemies hit by your Basic Attacks are burned, taking 16 Physical Damage (+5% of your Physical and Magical Power) over 2s and have their Attack Speed reduced by 4.5%. Jungle Monsters take 4x the amount of damage and restore 3% Health and 5% Mana when they die if they are burned. This effect can stack up to 3 times.

Although Death’s Toll gives the sustain Erlang needs in the solo lane, Manikin Scepter can give him an edge in clearing jungle camps, getting back to lane, and out farming his opponent. I prefer to have sustain, but that extra basic attack damage can hurt enemies in the early game. Reducing enemy attack speed is also good if you are against another auto-attack character.

The upgraded Manikin Mace does even more flat damage, gives +100 health and +30 physical protection, and burns down jungle objectives.  Manikin Scepter is the more aggressive option, but it still does offer some survivability. Still, I would only choose it if the enemy is an auto-attack character or if I wanted to dominate the solo side of the jungle.

Berserker’s Shield

Berserker's Shield

  • Cost – 2400
  • +25 Physical Power
  • +50 Physical Protection
  • +25% Attack Speed
  • +15 HP5

Passive – Can only be built by Assassins or Warriors. While below 40% Health you become Berserk for 5s. Berserk provides 7% Damage Mitigation. Can only occur once every 15 seconds.

Berserker’s Shield gives Erlang a little bit of everything he needs early on and is still relevant throughout the game. The power is not much, but the physical protections keep him alive, especially if there is a physical jungle, and the attack speed plays into what Erlang does best: basic attacks.

Having the HP5 is great in the early-game lane for sustain, but isn’t too important after that. The passive giving you 7% mitigation can mean the difference between winning and losing a fight. Overall, this is a perfect first item for Erlang Shen when up against a physical enemy in the solo lane. If the enemy is magical, then you’ll want the Shogun’s Kusari first.

Shogun’s Kusari

  • Cost – 2200
  • +50 Magical Protection
  • +150 Health
  • +20 MP5
  • +10% Cooldown Reduction
  • Aura – Allied gods within 70 units have their Attack Speed increased by 30%.

The main benefits of Shogun’s Kusari are the +50 magical protections and passive with 30% attack speed for Erlang and his allies. I love this item. The health, MP5, and cooldown reduction are a bonus, but a really good bonus.

The magical protections help when rotating on the middle lane if there is a mage there or if there is a magical jungle. The 30% attack speed has a huge impact on team fights and objective secure. Shogun’s Kusari makes me and my team happy.

Remember to get this before Berserker’s if you are up against a magical enemy in the solo lane.

Qin’s Sai

Qin's Sai

  • Cost – 2600
  • +40 Physical Power
  • +20% Attack Speed

Passive – On Basic Attack hits, deal Physical Damage equal to 3% of the target’s maximum Health. If the target has over 2250 Health, the bonus damage scales up. This effect reaches a maximum of 5% of the target’s Maximum Health at 3000 Health.

Qin’s Sai is one of the more expensive items in Smite, but it hits hard. Usually, it’s thought of as an anti-tank item; however, after the recent increase in health and protections across all gods, Qin’s is almost a must on any auto-attack god.

The power and attack speed are also going to help you cut down your enemies. Qin’s Sai works so well with Erlang’s kit; it is always a good idea to have on him.

Frostbound Hammer

  • Cost – 2300
  • +35 Physical Power
  • +250 Health

Passive – Enemies hit by your Basic Attacks have their Movement Speed reduced by 25% (15% for Ranged Basic Attacks) and have their Attack Speed reduced by 20% for 1.25 seconds.

The power and health of Frostbound Hammer are nice to have, but the real benefit is the utility in its passive.  Erlang Shen already has a speed boost from his mink; combine that with the slow from Frostbound, and it’s a bad time for your enemies.

Frostbound will also reduce their attack speed, which is great for facing off against hunters or any other auto attack god. The only reason not to get this item is if the enemy team has a lot of healing. Then, I would go with a Toxic blade for the attack speed and movement speed.

Thoughts on Anti-heal Items

  • If the enemy team has a lot of healing and feels impossible to take down, buying an anti-heal item for the fourth or fifth slot is a necessity. Your team may not notice how much it helps, but you will.
  • Toxic Blade offers the most value with all of the utility it provides for Erlang Shen. Even though it doesn’t give any power, the other stats work better than Brawler’s Beat Stick or Shadowsteel Shuriken.
  • The defense anti-heal items don’t mesh well with Erlang; they’ll end up hurting more than helping.

Spirit Robe

  • Cost – 2500
  • +40 Physical Protections
  • +40 Magical Protections
  • +10% Cooldown Reduction
  • +20% Crowd Control Reduction

Passive – You gain an additional 15% Damage Mitigation for 3s whenever you are hit with a hard Crowd Control Effect or Root. This can only occur once every 15 seconds.

At this point, I have the damage and attack speed I want. This last item is all about surviving long enough to kill my enemies and get out, which is what Spirit Robe offers. The 10% cooldown reduction is icing on the cake, and getting your abilities back sooner can turn the tide of a fight.

Protections and the passive mitigations will help keep Erlang alive; then the crowd control reduction will get you out of trouble faster. Crowd control is the best way of stopping Erlang, so this is a good way to offset that.

Items to Consider

Toxic Blade

  • Cost – 2200
  • +100 Health
  • +15 Penetration
  • +30% Attack Speed
  • +7% Movement Speed

Passive – Enemies hit by your basic attacks gain 20% reduced healing, stacking up to 3 times and lasting 6s.

Toxic Blade is cheap and has great stats for Erlang when you need anti-heal in your build as I mentioned earlier.  The only downside to Toxic Blade is that it doesn’t give any power. The penetration, attack speed, and movement speed should make up for that.

Golden Blade

  • Cost – 2000
  • +35 Physical Power
  • +20% Attack Speed
  • +10% Movement Speed

Passive – All Basic Attacks will also hit enemies within a 15 unit radius of the target for 50% of the damage to Gods, Minions, and Jungle Camps.

Clearing minions and jungle camps quickly can keep the farm and pressure going early game. Golden Blade is great for that and is best bought right after the starter item. The passive is the main benefit with basic attacks hitting multiple enemies.

It doesn’t have the protection and mitigation that Berserker’s offers, so this is a bit of a riskier choice for solo lane although it is far cheaper. The key with the Golden blade is to keep the enemy on the ropes and stay ahead on farm.

Stone Cutting Sword

  • Cost – 2200
  • +50 Physical Power
  • +7% Movement Speed

Passive – Melee Basic Attacks decrease enemy Physical protection by 7, and increase your physical protection by 5 for 3s (max. 3 Stacks). Stone Cutting Sword is another alternative second item for Erlang Shen. It has a lot more power and the passive will give you some protection while lowering your enemy’s protections.

The movement speed is nice to have, but the risk is high here. I prefer survivability, but Stone Cutting Sword is good for one on one fights early-game.

Spectral Armor

Spectral Armor

  • Cost – 2100
  • +60 Physical Protection
  • +200 Health
  • +300 Mana
  • +10 Mp5

Passive – Physical Critical Strikes bonus damage taken is decreased by 30%. I don’t think the stats are great on Spectral Armor, and it doesn’t mesh too well with Erlang. Why did I include it? If the enemy team has one or more gods building critical chance items, then this is the only item that can help.

Spectral will still give you some survivability, but only replace Spirit Robe with this if the enemy critical hits are beating you down.

Alternative Builds

Full Damage/Jungle Blade Build

Erlang is well known for being a beast in the jungle role. He can be very squishy with a full damage build, but if you catch someone with a gank, oh boy will they die. It’s fun to experiment with this build in other game modes too.

  1. Eye of the Jungle (upgraded into Protector of the Jungle at level 20)
  2. Golden Blade
  3. Stone Cutting Sword
  4. Frostbound Hammer
  5. Qin’s Sai
  6. Serrated Edge

This build relies heavily on the blade items. The movement speed will make it easier to chase down enemies or flee for your life if it comes to that. The utility from all of the item passives in this build will ruin your enemies’ good time, and it is still mostly based on landing basic attacks.

Protector of the Jungle will help give Erlang some survivability in this build, but he will still be very easy to kill if he gets caught with some CC. This build would work best in the jungle role or other game modes like Slash.

Full Mitigation/Tank Build

I have to admit that this build is not the most suited for Erlang Shen since it doesn’t do much for his attack speed.  Still, I have so much fun taking hits like a champ and still dishing out damage.

  1. Warding Sigil (upgraded into Sigil of the Old Guard)
  2. Berserker’s Shield
  3. Oni Hunter’s Garb
  4. Spirit Robe
  5. Caduceus Shield
  6. Mantle of Discord

I don’t get many kills with this build, but I get in the enemies’ heads.  That’s the real goal here. With all those percent mitigations, I survive through fights Erlang Shen normally wouldn’t have a chance of getting out of.

The Caduceus Shield will help with the healing from Erlang’s ultimate and help your allies with their healing. The stun and CC immunity on Mantle will make Erlang even harder to kill.  This build is all about having fun even if you don’t win.

Relic Options

Relics are more of a fluid choice, adapting to the enemy team. There are two things to consider that affect Erlang Shen almost every round. First, crowd control is the worst thing for him to be up against. Second, you don’t want your enemies to get away from you. With that in mind, these are my relic recommendations.

  1. Purification Beads (upgraded into Temporal Beads)
  2. Horrific Emblem (upgraded into Emblem of Increasing Peril)

Beads are the safe choice, and Emblem is the aggressive choice for which to get first. Emblem will slow enemies and reduce enemy damage, so it can be used defensively in a pinch.

Any relic can be a good choice depending on the situation, but here are some good alternatives for the solo lane.  Teleport Fragment will get you back to lane quickly in the early-game, and help you get to team fights and objects late-game. Blink Rune will give you the potential for some early kills and get you into the backline late game, which Erlang loves to do.


Question: Does Erlang Shen have a heal?

Answer: Yes, at the end of his ultimate ability, 9 Turns Blessing, Erlang is healed for a flat amount plus 15% of his maximum health.

Question: Is Erlang Shen still good after his rework?

Answer: Erlang is just as good as he was before the rework and maybe even better.  Although he doesn’t have the knock-up on 72 Transformations anymore, the speed bonus on mink is awesome and he can’t be slowed or knocked up in either form.  Erlang also has a built-in life steal on his Spot Weakness now, along with a stacking enemy damage debuff.

Question: Can Erlang Shen play as a support?

Answer: Yes, Erlang Shen can be used in the support role, but it is not where he shines.  That being said, it is really fun if you play him as support with some damage in his build giving you a lot of pressure in the lane.  If having fun is the priority, then feel free to try it out.  If it’s all about winning, there are far better choices for support.

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