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Jarvan Shen Deck Guide

This new in-depth guide by Agigas is dedicated to Jarvan Shen - the worthy successor of Fiora Shen.

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 guide is dedicated to Jarvan Shen – the worthy successor of Fiora Shen. Just like its predecessor, Jarvan Shen looks to dominate the board with the combination of Barriers, Challenger units, and combat tricks.

Jarvan Shen is a board-centric archetype, looking to generate advantages through combat. With Fleetfeather Tracker, Laurent Protege, and Screeching Dragon as your Challenger units, you can force the desirable trades and remove the opponent’s key threats.

While the Challenger units are creating value on the board, Rivershaper is the one creating value in your hand, drawing more and more spells to continue protecting your board. Greenglade Lookout allows you to play powerful units like Screeching Dragon or Jarvan IV ahead of curve, enabling further board domination and snowball.

To back up these powerful units in their quest for board and value domination, you have numerous protection tools. Sharpsight, Riposte, and Spirit’s Refuge are the Burst-speed spells, that will allow you to react to your opponent’s plays. Shen, Brightsteel Protector, and Young Witch also provide some very valuable protection when combined with a Challenger unit or a Rivershaper. Shen being a repeatable source of Barriers can create a very strong snowball effect if you start dominating the board with a Challenger unit.

Jarvan IV is a very powerful champion, allowing you to accelerate the game on the open attack. His ability to challenge the strongest unit while having Barrier up creates a lot of value and tempo. Thanks to your value trades and combat tricks, it is very easy to have units surviving combat, therefore Jarvan can level up often and quickly. When leveled, Jarvan IV is a very important threat, generating a lot of value and tempo to quickly snowball the game out of control.

As the deck dominates through combat, Golden Aegis is a very valuable spell to push your gameplan. It can be used to snowball your advantages or to close things out when the opponent’s defenses are low.

To round out that powerful shell, the deck has access to the very cost-efficient Demacia removals: Single Combat and Concerted Strike. Those combine especially well with your Barriers, buffs, Rivershaper, and Screeching Dragon, and allow you to interact with your opponent’s gameplan even outside of combat.

Finally, Scattered Pod offers both a great body and value. It gives you a safe and consistent way to find whatever spell you need while adding the relevant body to the board, and its Enlightenment ability can come in very handy to finish long games.

Techs and Options

  • The Spirit’s Refuge/Riposte ratio depends entirely on the field you play against. The more you face aggressive decks, the more Spirit’s Refuge you should play. On the opposite, Riposte is far better against slower strategies, allowing you to find better trades or even create lethal attacks.
  • Tasty Faefolk is an interesting option if you often face aggro/burn strategies. You can effectively protect him with Barriers and tricks to use is Lifesteal effect several times.
  • Deny and Nopeify! are great counter-spells, and you should consider adding them depending on the meta. Deny is especially important against key/big spells, like The Ruination or a stacked Thermogenic Beam. Nopeify is great in a meta filled with small important spells (e.g. Vile Feast on your Barriers, Ravenous Flock, Noxian Fervor to deny your Spirit’s Refuge hit, etc). While these counters have very high ceilings, they also have flaws: they won’t be of any use in certain matchups or situations, and will make Scattering Pod‘s ability less reliable.
  • Brightsteel Formation and Sacred Protector are both great late-game payoffs for your strategy. In a slow and grindy meta where you need some high-impact cards, they are the perfect fit. Brightsteel Formation is especially powerful in board-centric midrange mirrors.

General Tips

  • Keep your key units alive. Jarvan Shen has numerous tricks to keep its units alive. If you keep trading all your units, you might find yourself in a situation where you have a lot of tricks but no good unit to use them on, and you will have trouble snowballing and using units like Shen or Brightsteel Protector. Set yourself up for success by planning ahead and always have something to enable your synergies.
    • Low-value, narrow-use units like Brightsteel Protector are often not worth protecting. You want to get the most out of your protection spells, which means using them on key units.
    • Rivershaper is a very important unit to protect. You want to get as many Strike procs out of him as possible so you would never run out of value.
  • Avoid wasting a Brightsteel Protector’s Barrier effect. Most of this card’s value resides in its Barrier, allowing you to get good trades with Challenger units, to attack with Rivershaper, or to make the opponent’s attack difficult. Unless you really need the early body to fight against an aggressive opponent, you should hold onto Brightsteel Protector until you can get value out of it. Banking spell mana instead of playing it when you have no use for the Barrier will also allow you to protect your units with your tricks later.
  • Use Scattered Pod to tutor the spell you need. With Scattered Pod, you can get the kind of spell you need the most for the current situation. Picking Burst will get you a combat trick (Sharpsight, Spirit’s Refuge, Riposte), Fast will get you a removal (Single Combat, Concerted Strike), and Slow will get you a Golden Aegis.

General mulligan tips:

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


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

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Young Witch, Laurent Protege, Sharpsight. Keep Single Combat or Spirit’s Refuge if you have a good hand. Keep Brightsteel Protector if you have Fleetfeather Tracker.

Matchup tips:

  • Elusive Burn is a deck looking to push a lot of damage through the combination of Elusive units and attack buffs, and finish with burn spells. Luckily, we have a lot of tools to counter their gameplan.
  • Challenger units are perfect to force their Elusive units into combat and remove them. Sharpsight allows you to block Elusive units. Challengers and Sharpsight are particularly great answers to Fizz.
  • Single Combat is a very cost-efficient spell to prevent an Elusive unit from hitting your Nexus. Concerted Strike is more expensive, but works very well in the mid-game.
  • Spirit’s Refuge is a key spell in the midgame to make sure you stay outside of their burn’s reach.
    • Avoid holding on to your Spirit’s Refuge too long, or you might die without casting it.
    • They can use Noxian Fervor to try to deny you the Lifesteal hit. You can play around it by giving Lifesteal to an unblocked unit, or by saving a Single Combat to answer the Noxian Fervor.
  • They don’t have a good way to remove Barriers or defend their units. Their only removal is Noxian Fervor, and it is more often used as a burn spell. Their deck is only composed of aggressive units, attack buffs, and burn spells, making them very exploitable in other areas.

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Brightsteel Protector, Greenglade Lookout, Laurent Protege, Rivershaper.

Matchup tips:

  • Discard Aggro wants to quickly flood the board and benefit from strong payoffs (Arena Battlecaster, Vision, Crowd Favorite). Later, the deck can close out the game with Jinx and Augmented Experimenter.
  • Their early board flood is often the most dangerous part of the game for you. They can push a lot of damage really fast, especially if you don’t find enough early bodies to block them. Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Lookout, and Laurent Protege are the key cards for you to not fall behind early on.
  • In the midgame, use your combat tricks and Challengers to get value trades and start stabilizing the board. Use Single Combat and Concerted Strike during their attack to limit the damage. Spirit’s Refuge is a key card, and it is especially powerful when combined with Single Combat or Concerted Strike.
  • If you managed to stabilize, you should be very favored heading into the late-game. While Jinx is a powerful engine, you can usually get rid of her very quickly with Single Combat, Concerted Strike, or by Challenging her.
    • Before she levels, Jinx isn’t usually threatening. Let them empty their hand to level her up, then remove her. This way, you don’t get the bad surprise of a second Jinx in their hand.
  • They have very little interaction, so you are often free to make the plays you want. Get Excited! is their only removal (until they get Jinx’s Mega Death Rocket!), unless they have 2 Draven fo Draven’s Whirling Death. Be careful about Vision.

Gameplay Video

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Lookout, Laurent Protege, Rivershaper, Shen, Screeching Dragon, Jarvan IV.

Matchup tips:

  • The opponent looks to play a strong midgame with the sacrifice synergies and transition into a very powerful champion – Nasus and/or Viego. Our gameplan matches very well against them. Our early-to-midgame board presence is on a similar level, and we can leveverage it more effectively with combat tricks. In the midgame, they rely a lot on their champions, but you can reliably get rid of them with Jarvan IV.
  • Glimpse Beyond is an important card for them to keep refilling their hand. Look to counter it with your Single Combat.
  • They can remove your Barrier very cleanly with Vile Feast. Single Combat is a great answer to it.
  • Challenging and killing units that they use as a sacrifice fodder, typically Cursed Keeper and Fading Icon‘s Prey, can make their sacrifice cards (mainly Ravenous Butcher, The Wings and The Wave, and Spirit Leech) very awkward.

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Lookout, Laurent Protege, Shen. Keep Jarvan IV, Riposte, or Spirit’s Refuge if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Zed Sivir is an aggro/combo deck. In the early game, it looks to establish some board presence, and get the trades they want through the Vulnerable keyword. Their key threats are their champions, and they can push a lot of damage with their Quick Attack keyword. The deck can create very strong combos by combining Sivir with Ghost and/or Flurry of Fists.
  • Barriers are extremely strong agaisnt them and help you to get rid of their Quick Attack champions. They have no way of removing Barriers, and their best answer to them is Conculsive Palm. Barriers also slow down Sivir’s level up condition.
  • Challenger units are also great at removing their key champions. Be aware they have quite a few buffs of their own to try to protect their units (Shaped Stone, Twin Disciplines, Spirit’s Refuge).
  • Be very careful on turn 3 to not see your Laurent Protege get eaten by their Merciless Hunter.
  • They can try to OTK you quite early into the game with Sivir + Ghost + Flurry of Fist (+ buff). Sivir can be hard to remove because of her Spellshield and buffs, but Sharpsight is a great answer to that combo.

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Brightsteel Protector, Greenglade Lookout, Laurent Protege, Rivershaper, Spirit’s Refuge.

Matchup tips:

  • You need to be very conservative with your Nexus health. They have a lot of burn damage to finish you if you ever drop too low.
  • Use your buffs to protect your early board presence. Gaining the maximum value from your combat tricks, in this matchup, is less important than stabilizing the board quickly.
  • When possible, make it hard for them to spread their damage between different turns, so their Gangplank doesn’t level up too early.
  • In the midgame, be very careful about Gangplank. His level 2 ability and Overwhelm keyword makes him very dangerous, be ready to remove him with Concerted Strike.
  • They can sacrifice their blocker/attacker with Noxian Fervor to deny you the Lifesteal hit when you play Spirit’s Refuge.
    • Your best targets for Spirit’s Refuge is an unblocked unit, or a unit fighting Gangplank (1 Fervor isn’t enough to sacrifice him).
    • Try to read from the way they play if they have Noxian Fervor in hand. If they play Zap Sprayfin, they’re likely to draw it.
    • Spirit’s Refuge combines very nicely with Single Combat, or even Concerted Strike.

Gameplay Video

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Lookout, Young Witch, Laurent Protege, Shen. Keep Screeching Dragon if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Irelia Azir is an aggressive deck that will attack you with small units multiple times each turn, and it makes use of payoffs like Irelia, Sparring Student, and Greenglade Duo. Our high-health units (Shen, Laurent Protege, Screeching Dragon) and on-strike effects (Greenglade Lookout, Rivershaper) are great blockers for their flood of tokens, and our Challengers can remove their key units.
  • Greenglade Duo is one of their biggest threats. Prevent her from hitting your Nexus with Challenger units, Sharpsight, or removals.
  • Remove their champions as quickly as possible. Their deck is very powerful once they get their synergies going, but if you can deal with their engines, they become very weak.
  • Because they tend to attack multiple times a turn, Spirit’s Refuge has the potential to heal you a lot in one round. Find the right time to play it – preferably when they are commited to attack multiple times.
  • Greenglade Duo and Sparring Student can grow quickly. Preferably, try to remove them with your Challenger units on your open-attack, so they don’t get a chance to grow and trade into the chalenging unit.
  • They have recall spells (often a mix of Homecoming, Will of Ionia, and Defiant Dance). Do not rely on a single unit you have in play when they have 4 mana.

Mulligan for: Rivershaper, Shen, Screeching Dragon, Jarvan IV. Riposte if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • In the mirror match, 2 things are very important: value, and snowball power. Because your gameplans are the same, it can be quite hard to create a meaningfull advantage, hence the value is very important in long games. If one player creates strong enough advantages with repeatable engines (Shen, Rivershaper), snowballing can decide the winner because of all the value and tempo it creates.
  • Rivershaper is an extremely important unit in the mirror match. He generates tons of value, and will be quite hard for the opponent to deal with because of all the combat tricks.
    • Avoid hitting the opponent’s Rivershaper when they can protect him. You will lose on that trade, as they’ll draw a spell from this combat.
  • It is quite hard for both of you to get through a Barrier – they are a very valuable protection tools.
    • Concerted Strike is a very good removal in the matchup, as it goes through Barrier with the first hit.
  • Jarvan IV is a very strong card in the matchup – he brings a lot of value. Try to hold onto him until you can enable a great trade.
  • Consider teching in Brightsteel Formation for this matchup. This card can single-handedly win the game.

Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Lookout, Laurent Protege, Rivershaper. Keep Shen, Brightsteel Protector, or Young Witch if you have a good hand for them.

Matchup tips:

  • Lurk can be a hard matchup to face because of their units’ high attack – it can be difficult to find value trades. Pyke and Jaull-fish can also give them massive value and tempo gain. However, they don’t have good tools against Barrier, allowing you to get some value trades of your own.
  • Bone Skewer is quite annoying – they can use it to “save” a unit you’re trying to kill with a buffed unit of your own, while killing another one of your units. It also helps them stacking Pyke’s level up when used on him, which is a very strong win condition for them.
    • Single Combat is your best tool agaisnt Bone Skewer. Concerted Strike is more expensive but works too.
  • Try to get control of the board and get rid of their units so they don’t get a game-winning Jaull-fish.
  • Consider teching Deny for this matchup, countering Death from Below can change the matchup.

Mulligan for: Greenglade Lookout, Rivershaper. Keep a high-cost unit to discount if you have a Greenglade Lookout. Keep Concerted Strike if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Lee Akshan is a combo deck looking to OTK you with an Overwhelm level 2 Lee Sin. Given enough time, their gameplan is extremely hard to escape, as they can give Lee Sin the Spellshield through Akshan. Unfortunately, it makes the matchup quite difficult – you’re not the best at rushing down the opponent’s Nexus, and removing Lee Sin is a difficult task.
  • In the early game, their key units are Eye of the Dragon – to defend themselves, and Akshan – to progress their gameplan. While your Challenger units can help getting rid of them, they do have protection tricks of their own, making it harder to get good trades.
  • They play some recall (Homecoming or Will of Ionia) and stun spells (Concussive Palm), which can disrupt your combat-based value and snowball plays. When you can afford to, avoid putting all your eggs in the same basket if they have mana to prevent the combat.
  • Concerted Strike is a very important spell in the matchup. Without it, it can be very hard to get through Lee’s innate Barrier. If you can successfully remove Lee, it will delay them a lot, and they might not even have another Lee in hand.
  • Golden Aegis is another key spell to accelerate the pressure and kill them before they get the perfect combo off. It is especially useful to get the attack token when Eye of the Dragon’s Dragonling is down.

Mulligan for: Rivershaper, Shen, Screeching Dragon, Jarvan IV. Keep Sharpsight if you have Rivershaper.

Matchup tips:

  • Ezreal Draven will often play against you like a control deck with an aggressive burn finisher in Ezreal and Captain Farron. Because of their numerous cost-efficient removals, ways to remove Barriers, and solid value, it can be quite hard to find any advantages.
  • Rushing them down is rarely ever an option, as their removal are just too cost-effective. You need to approach this matchup with a value-oriented gameplan, and try grinding them out. Get the most out of your cards, and try to set up a snowball on board to find even more value.
    • Having and protecting a Rivershaper can be the key to upset the matchup.
  • Ezreal needs to be answered as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Single Combat is your best option to remove him at any time, whereas Sharpsight is a very effective answer for when he attacks. Special mention for Sharpsight on Rivershaper to block Ezreal, which is the cleanest answer you could think of.
    • When they have the attack token, consider keeping 2 mana until they attack even if you don’t have Sharpsight. An experienced player could decide not attack to play around Sharpsight, losing some valuable damage and value.
  • While they have tools to remove Barriers, they don’t have high-damage Fast spells to deal with an undamaged unit. Any 4+ health undamaged unit will be very hard for them to remove at Fast speed, and therefore is likely to get a value in combat.
  • Consider teching in a Deny for this matchup. If they resolve a stacked Tri-beam Improbulator, it will heavily swing the game in their favor.

Gameplay Video

Closing Words

Jarvan Shen has been a competitive deck since Fiora was pushed out of the meta by her nerf. With the recent buff to Greenglade Lookout, Young Witch, Jarvan IV, and the addition of Scattered Pod, the deck is performing better than ever. If you enjoy board-centric synergies with a snowball and value-oriented game plan, I can’t recommend this deck enough.

If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below or in this dedicated Reddit post! 😄

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Thanks for reading!


LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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