In this Genshin Impact Guide I’ll be explaining how to play the five star, Cryo support, Shenhe. This is not a specific team build guide, but rather an in-depth analysis of the character, and her various roles. There are several amazing support characters in-game, and they deserve the spotlight. So I intend on releasing a series of support characters guides, going in detail on how to use them.
Shenhe In-Depth Cryo Support Guide | Genshin Impact
Shenhe is a five-star character, obtained only from her limited banner. So the decision to spend your wishes on her requires some consideration. As a very specialized unit, Shenhe is very strong, in her own set of niche teams. She’s not the best pick for new players, before they have the chance to build up and diversify their roster. For endgame though, Shenhe is a perfect fit in most Cryo teams; and she’s one of the very few characters who can upgrade an already existing, strong team, into an even stronger one.
As a Polearm user, she has a very good selection of free, and summonable weapons. When it comes to Artifact Sets, she can easily adapt several full sets, or hybrid ones. For stats, Shenhe’s one of the easiest characters to build; as she can use Attack stat, which is less contested than say Crit stats. So overall, her build is easy, and you don’t have to worry so much about farming artifacts for her.
Shenhe support roles
In Genshin Impact, there are five main roles, for support characters to fulfil: Damage mitigation, either by shielding, healing, or damage reduction buffs. Damage Buffer, through various stats boosts to team members. Energy Battery, where support characters are able to generate a lot of energy, to fulfil Burst requirements for high energy cost damage dealers. Enabler, which either applies certain elements to start a reaction, or perform certain actions required for the main DPS to function. (this includes on-field Drivers, who use normal attacks to proc attacks from off-field DPS). And finally, the most basic form of support is the Sub-DPS, where support characters just provide some extra damage.
Typically, a good support can fulfil two or more roles, while a great support can fulfil either most of them, or one of them to a great extent. So let’s go through all roles, and explore how Shenhe performs in each.
Damage Buffer (10/10)
From the get-go, the most prominent aspect of Shenhe, is the various buffs she provides for her team which are the following:
- On Elemental Burst, Shred enemy Cryo and physical resistance by (6-15% depending on talent level).
- Give 15% Cryo Damage bonus to her teammates within Elemental Burst radius.
- She also gives 15% of either, Elemental Skill and Burst damage, or Normal and Charged attacks damage multiplier. This depends on whether you press or hold her Elemental Skill.
- On top of that, Shenhe adds a massive flat Cryo damage called “Icy quill” to 5 or 7 hits of each Cryo character in her team. Damage scales with Shenhe’s Attack stat.
Compared to any other generalist support, she gives Cryo characters a much higher DPS increase. Not to mention that her buffs are multiplied by each other’s, resulting in much higher effectiveness than it first appears. While Shenhe buffs, it mostly affects Cryo characters and requires a Cryo main DPS to fully utilize; she can also buff the sub-DPS characters from other elements. For example, in Rosaria reverse melt team, Shenhe will buff Rosaria with all four buffs, while at the same time buffing Xiangling‘s Burst with her third buff.
The uptime of her buffs is long enough to snapshot its effects with Elemental Burst of Ayaka, Kaeya Chongyun, and Rosaria. Also sufficient for Ganyu and Eula to finish their rotation. So overall, Shenhe is the peak damage buffer for Cryo teams. Most of these buffs are not dependent on Shenhe’s build or stats, because they have fixed values, meaning even with a random build, Shenhe can still do her duty.
Energy Battery (6/10)
You always use Shenhe in a team with at least one Cryo DPS, if not more. As a second Cryo character, Shenhe does generate some Cryo particles with her Skill, on either 10 or 15 seconds cooldown. It’s not much energy, but it’s not the only source of energy in such a team. The best four-star weapon for Shenhe is the Favonius Lance as it has good potential to generate additional energy particles.
So between her Skill cast, and the weapon passive; Shenhe can work as an energy battery for characters with medium energy cost. The only caveat is that her Skill only hits once, and the weapon requires a crit hit to trigger. So Shenhe has low potential to score enough crit hits to proc weapon passive every rotation. You can reduce this inconsistency by using Crit Rate as the main stat on the Circlet and adding some Crit Rate on sub stats. However, this investment requires some time and resources, so Shenhe is not the top pick for an Energy battery.
By comparison, both Diona and Kaeya generate more energy. However, in most Cryo teams, you don’t need so much energy to start with. All Ganyu, Kaeya, Chongyun, and Rosaria have medium or low energy cost. While Ayaka and Eula have 80 energy cost, they also have other means to reduce their energy issue. Ayaka can use the craftable weapon, Amenoma Kageuchi. Eula pairs with Raiden Shogun in her best team, so you can still use Shenhe as Cryo support in these teams without a problem.
In teams with three Cryo characters though, you shouldn’t worry about any energy issues at all. So Shenhe’s value skyrockets in these teams.
Shenhe is not a damage dealer by herself, so the numbers of her own skill and burst is not impressive. Her damage though, comes from “Icy quill” stacks, where she adds her damage to main DPS damage for 5 or 7 hits. This damage is unique, and scales with Shenhe “Attack” stat, and Crit and damage multipliers of main DPS.
First, you can’t distinguish it from main hit damage unless you go through some deep math. But even with the math done, Shenhe’s own damage is not better than most four star supports. The reason is, “Icy quill” stacks are spent on each hit on every single enemy. So in an AOE situation, it does great damage for one or two hits, then goes away, leaving the main DPS to deal damage on their own.
So in terms of personal damage, Shenhe is not bad, but also not great. Her value still relies on her buffs, more than her damage. As a sub DPS, Rosaria and Kaeya provide more personal damage. But we can replace them with Shenhe in most cases, because her buffs outshine their DPS anyway. Against a single target though, all “Icy quill” stacks hit the main target, so Shenhe’s value as a sub DPS increases a lot.
Before Shenhe’s release, there were only two types of Cryo teams. A freeze team, which requires a hydro enabler, and a Reverse Melt team, which required a Pyro enabler. However, against targets that don’t freeze, such as all bosses in the game, freeze teams had an issue. The Hydro enabler was useless, and there were buffs unachievable without freezing enemies. Some solutions for the issue involved using Raiden Shogun as a general buffer and energy battery in a Ayaka team. It was a working solution, but not the ideal replacement for these teams.
Shenhe’s release created a solution to this issue and has enabled the new archetype for mono Cryo teams. This team doesn’t rely on freeze, but focus on using three Cryo characters, buffing each other’s. Then uses an Anemo character in the fourth slot, to buff Cryo even further. This archetype could be done without Shenhe, but it’s way less effective. Shenhe adds so much value to any team with more than two Cryo units, that she’s is an real enabler for this comp.
Bosses are single targets, so “Icy quill” stacks are more effective. Teams have three Cryo units, with each getting their own “Icy quill” stacks, so you get overall a higher number of stacks. Cryo characters feed each other’s buffs, for example Ganyu buffs Cryo damage, which stacks with Shenhe’s Cryo damage bonus. Then Shenhe’s resistance shred stacks with Viridescent Venerer .. etc.
Damage mitigation (none)
Shenhe doesn’t have any healing, shielding, damage reduction, or damage mitigation. This is fine, since freeze and quick swap teams usually require a lot less damage mitigation.
Best Team Archetypes for Shenhe
Every support character you get from limited banners should fit in more than one team comp. That way, you get more value out of your resin and build a flexible roster. Even though Shenhe is highly specialized in Cryo teams only, she still fits several builds and archetypes. In this section, I’ll go through the basic concept of every team Shenhe can build.
Freeze teams are powerful archetypes to play, that are effective against almost all of none-boss enemies. The core strength of a freeze team, is preventing enemies from moving, or attacking; so you can build a very offensive team that has more damage, and less damage mitigation. On top of that, you keep enemies standing still, to set up high damage combos that require a lot of preparation time uninterrupted.
The final two components in the team strength come from two specific artefact sets; Blizzard Strayer set on Cryo DPS, which gives 15% Cryo damage bonus, and very high Crit Rate at 40%; and Viridescent Venerer set on Anemo support, to shred enemies Cryo resistance by 40%. Since all damage in the team comes from Cryo, and Frozen enemies are considered to have Cryo element (or Cryo aura), these bonuses work all the time.
Such a team ideally consists of two Cryo characters, one Hydro character, and one Anemo character. A glaring example is our Ayaka freeze team build, with Ayaka, Rosaria, Jean, and Mona. Ayaka on her own is a powerhouse, and now Shenhe brings a lot of additional buffs to her team freeze team. As you can simply place Shenhe in place of Rosaria and enjoy higher damage.
Other freeze teams where Shenhe fits is with Ganyu, Venti, and Mona, for the best shotgun effect. As well as Rosaria a main DPS team with Chongyun, and Xingqiu; where Shenhe replaces the Anemo unit instead, leaving the team with three Cryo and one Hydro. Note that Shenhe can also work with other Cryo characters such as Aloy or Kaeya, but it will form less effective freeze teams; I don’t recommend running them unless you have no other options.
Reverse Melt is the reaction that happens when you inflict enemies with Pyro, then apply Cryo on them. It’s an amplifying reaction, that amplifies the damage of the hit causing the reaction by a 50% multiplier. It relies on strong hitting talents, that have high multipliers, to begin with, then intends to amplify these hits even further with Melt. There a number of different uses for a Reverse Melt team, and Shenhe fits in some of them.
The main team where Shenhe is the absolute best upgrade is our Kaeya and Rosaria Reverse Melt Build. The team originally consisted of Kaeya, Rosaria, Bennett, and Xiangling, playing as a quick swap. With the consistent Pyro application of Bennett, and Xiangling; Rosaria is able to Melt all her hits, while Kaeya able to Melt a portion of his damage. It results in a fun, and rapid way to perform a rotation, with a high damage ceiling that’s easy to achieve. Now comes Shenhe to take the team to a whole new level, her buffs to Rosaria, in addition to her own “Icy Quill” damage outperforming anything Kaeya can offer. So she fits naturally on this team, and also doesn’t make it super expensive since all other units are four stars.
Other Reverse Melt comps that use Shenhe is Chongyun‘s quadruple Melt, with Bennett, and an Anemo unit. This team doesn’t have a consistent Pyro application to play sustained Reverse Melt. Instead, it switches between Reverse Melt with Chongyun‘s Burst, and Forward Melt with Bennett skill as well as Burst. Shenhe can buff Chongyun‘s Burst tremendously, as well as buffing Bennett‘s Skill. Overall, it’s a complicated build and it’s not easy to execute, but it’s a viable one if you know what you are doing.
As explained above, Mono Cryo teams are designed for bosses that can’t be frozen. Instead of a Hydro support, we place Shenhe as a third Cryo unit and keep Anemo in the fourth slot. Among all teams that Shenhe can fit in, Mono Cryo has the potential to output the highest damage against bosses. With a high investment, you can build three full DPS Cryo units and Anemo units that can infuse Cryo as well as be a potential 4th DPS. On top of that, you get to keep all the buffs from Shenhe, other Cryo characters, and Anemo.
It’s also the most expensive version of her possible teams, because it’s best suited for a full team of five star characters. Ideally, you need Ganyu, Ayaka, Kazuha, and Shenhe in the same team. It’s also a team with no damage mitigation at all, and relies on perfect dodges, or invulnerability frames from characters Burst to survive. But considering how deadly this team can be, you can kill most bosses faster than any other team.
If you can’t go without a healer, or you don’t have both Ayaka and Ganyu; you can resort to Diona. Even though her damage is naturally low, being a healer; the buffs from Shenhe and Kazuha in this team allow her to score decent numbers., you also get the extra protection of a shield. In all cases, Shenhe is a solid addition to this team.
Eula Physical team with Superconduct
The niche role of Shenhe outside Cryo teams might sound strange at first, due to most of Shenhe’s buffs focusing on the Cryo element. However, Eula has a very unique team structure, that demands a certain combination of characters. First, Eula needs a Cryo battery, that’s granted, even with Raiden Shogun as a main battery. Then she needs an off field, Electro character to proc Superconduct, which reduces the physical resistance of the enemy.
Meanwhile, Eula can’t really utilize attack buffers such as Bennett and Sara, nor Anemo support such as Sucrose or Kazuha. That leaves the last slot in Eula’s team open for just another Electro or Cryo unit, adding whatever buffs or healing they can manage. Shenhe could fit in such a team just fine. Between her Physical and Cryo resistance shred, and Elemental Burst damage buff, she just add more buffs than most other viable units.
However, with the presence of Raiden Shogun, Eula, and Shenhe in same team, the rotation become more complicated, and not easy to play. It requires a lot of micromanagement. On the other hand, it demand a full team of limited five star characters, which need a lot of time building. So even with good damage, this team still not very popular.
Shenhe Talent Skills
Performs rapid 5 attacks, with frontal attacks, and wide swings. Shenhe has very elegant Normal attack Combos, but unfortunately it does low damage. Even if you infuse her Normal attacks with Cryo, by using Chongyun, she still doesn’t do a lot. Shenhe is not a good driver as well, or charged attack focused meaning we don’t build her as on-field dps.
Spring Spirit Summoning
Elemental Skill is a major part of Shenhe’s kit, and is used as the trigger for a lot of buffs. You can perform one of two versions of her Elemental Skill, depending on the team you use her in.
Press Skill is similar to Rosaria Elemental Skill; it allow Shenhe to dash forward with her spear, going through enemies if present. The press version enters a 10-second cooldown, and buffs the damage of the Elemental Skill and Elemental Burst for the entire team including Shenhe, for 10 seconds. It also grants 5 Icy quill stacks to each team member, including Shenhe.
Hold Skill is an AOE hit surrounding Shenhe, she performs this while standing, not dashing around. The hold version enters a 15-second cooldown, and buffs the damage of the Normal, Charged, and Plunging Attack for the entire team including Shenhe, for 15 seconds. It also grants 7 Icy quill stacks to each team member, including Shenhe.
So typically, as a support for a Burst team like Reverse Melt Rosaria, or Freeze Ayaka, you would always use the press skill version. But in supporting a Charged Attack team like Ganyu, you would use the hold version instead.
Icy Quill stacks
The Icy Quill stacks are not a buff, but rather a flat Cryo damage added to hits that consume them. This mechanic could be a bit more confusing if you try to track it during combat. So to better understand it, consider it a joint attack, similar to any off field DPS that triggers on dealing damage. Similarly to joint attack from Raiden Shogun or Albedo but performs differently, as it doesn’t do a separate instance of damage, and instead adds to the original hit damage, making it look like a much bigger number.
These stacks are consumed only when an ally deals Cryo damage, to add its flat damage to these hits. Stacks are consumed per number of targets hit, so if Ganyu‘s charged attacked, or Rosaria’s Burst for an instant all in one, three target hit, with three stacks being consumed. However, in a single target situation, only one stack will be consumed per hit, allowing Icy Quill to last longer.
Icy Quill Damage
The damage calculation of behind Icy Quill damage is complicated, but to put it simply; it scales with the Attack stat of Shenhe, and then every other damage modifier (including Crit) from the main or sub-DPS that consumes them, but not Shenhe herself. This allows Shenhe to build a full Attack build, with no worry about Crit or damage modifiers. While you build other Cryo characters as a proper DPS character, with damage multipliers and all.
Since damage from Icy Quill is considered a joint attack, and not a buff, it has a unique interaction with other skills. For example, for any buff to take effect, you have to cast it before switching to main DPS and cast their burst. As most bursts do a snapshot of the character’s stats in the moment of the cast. In Icy Quill’s case, however, it’s a joint attack so it can still take effect on an active Burst, even if it’s cast after the Burst.
In other words, if you cast Rosaria‘s Burst first, then cast Shenhe’s skill, the ticks from Rosaria’s Burst still gets an additional Icy Quill damage. Though you still want to cast Shenhe’s skill first, to give Rosaria the other buff “Elemental Burst damage”; you can adjust rotation in a way that you cast Shenhe Skill first, go through all team Skill and Burst, and cast Shenhe’s Skill again before Rosaria’s Burst runs out, to renew the effect. That way, you have maximum efficacy and damage increase.
Divine Maiden’s Deliverance
AOE Elemental Burst of Shenhe, which costs 80 energy, leaves a circular field on the floor for 12 seconds, on a 20 seconds cooldown. The field has the following proprieties:
- Deal AOE Cryo damage every 1 second, for total of 12 times.
- Apply Cryo once every three hits, so in Reverse Melt team, Shenhe can melt a third of her hits.
- Buff is active with a character inside the radius. with a 15% Cryo DMG Bonus.
- Decreases the Cryo RES and Physical RES of opponents within it by (6-15% depending on talent level)
These buffs are a solid part of Shenhe’s kit, and they are the reason why she needs high ER stat. If Shenhe is able to Burst on cooldown, the team’s Cryo damage will increase by a lot, so keep that in mind. In terms of Cryo application, Shenhe has a slower application than Kaeya, so she’s a safe pick in Reverse Melt teams; as she will not steal Melt from Cryo main DPS.
The good thing about buffs from Shenhe’s burst is how they are fixed numbers, not related to her stats. As long as she has enough energy to burst, the team will get these buffs. So a cheap, quickly put together Shenhe will still do her job.
Burst Cooldown and Rotation Duration
Typically, you want to use Elemental burst before other characters Burst, so they can snapshot the Cryo damage bonus. The 20-second cooldown of Shenhe’s burst aligns with Xiangling’s Burst cooldown in a Reverse Melt team, making her the ideal pick. However, in mono Cryo and freeze teams, she’s not able to keep up with a 15-second rotation. As all of Kaeya, Ganyu, and Rosaria have a 15 seconds cooldown, and will have their burst ready before Shenhe.
That’s not too bad though, since Ganyu can do either a 15 seconds rotation, or 20 seconds rotation. Ganyu can lean more on her Charged Attacks to make a longer rotation. In the case of a Rosaria freeze team, she will usually be played with Xingqiu who has a 20 seconds cooldown. So in both cases, they can adjust and align their rotation to hers. On the other hand, with a Kaeya freeze team, Shenhe is not really the ideal pick, and has some problems.
The best way to build Shenhe is to fulfil her Energy Recharge requirement first, then go all-in on Attack stats. She’s always played in teams with two or more Cryo characters, so this helps her cut ER requirements. Usually, the best place to get the Energy Recharge stat is the weapon slot. This frees her up to choose the main Attack and Attack stats of artifacts. A quickly built Shenhe can get over 2.2k Attack damage with four-star weapons, and can go over 3k in Attack if well built.
I recommend running more than 160% ER in dual Cryo teams, and over 140% ER in teams with triple Cryo members. Unless you run Shenhe alongside Venti, as he cuts the energy requirement for the entire team quite generously; allowing Shenhe to play with much lower ER.
Shenhe doesn’t care about Crit stats for damage, since most of her damage are joint attacks that scale with the Crit stat of the team member proccing these hits. Her own Burst hits are average, and only a third of these hits can be melted. However, in the case of using the Favonius Lance, Shenhe wants a high Crit Rate to be able to trigger the weapon’s passive. So Crit rate help her provide higher utility to the team.
There are two types of weapons Shenhe can utilize, Energy Recharge weapons, and Attack weapons. All other Crit, and EM polearms are useless for her.
Free and craftable Four Star Weapons
Prototype Starglitter is an easy pick for Shenhe, because it have decent energy recharge sub stat. Its passive is useless for Shenhe, but as a craftable weapon, this doesn’t matter. You can use it as a starting weapon, until you get a better choice further down the line. It’s also not a contested weapon, so not many characters wants to use it.
The Catch is another Energy Recharge polearm, you can get as a reward from fishing. You can also get to refine it to level 5 for free, if you willing to do all the fishing required. The Catch have identical stats as Prototype Starglitter, but have more dps-oriented passive that buff Elemental Burst damage and Crit. This passive is way less impactful on Shenhe, while it can be very powerful for other full dps characters. So I suggest to use the The Catch on someone else, unless you have no other polearm user who can utilize it.
Gacha 4 Star Weapons
Now we are getting serious about powerful weapons, as the Favonius Lance is hands down the best four-star weapon for Shenhe. Not only does it have Energy Recharge, but it also has one of the highest base attack stat among four-star polearms. The passive of this weapon allows Shenhe to generate more energy for the entire team when she scores critical hits.
If you have been playing Genshin Impact for few months, there’s a high chance you already have one or more copies of Favonius Lance. Which you should use to refine the weapon, to get higher chance of generating energy, and shorter cooldown for the passive. And even in case of not having enough Crit Rate to trigger the passive, Favonius Lance is still a very good choice of weapon to use on all teams that utilize Shenhe.
Limited 4 Star Weapons
Wavebreaker’s Fin is a limited weapon, that you can’t get from random wishes on a standard banner, or characters banners. Instead, you have to to wish on certain weapon banners featuring the Wavebreaker’s Fin. However, the raw strength of this weapon encourages people to use their saved Primogems on the weapon banner if the banner has good five-star weapons as well.
The weapon has a unique set of stats for a four star weapon. It has the absolute highest base attack stat among all four-star weapons and compensates for this by having very low % Attack sub-stat. However, in Shenhe’s case, where she stacks a lot of % Attack stat through artifacts, it could be a decent pick. Even though, it’s not advised to use it in early game, before you build high enough Energy Recharge through sub stats. The reason is, this weapon has no Energy Recharge stat. And if you don’t have enough ER from sub-stats, you will be forced to switch to an ER Sands. ER Sands is a huge decrease in Attack stat for Shenhe, so it’s an option for beginners, but more suited for very endgame content for those who want to min/max.
Gacha 5 Star Weapons
Skyward Spine is a gacha five star weapon, you might get randomly from the standard banner or by losing a 50:50 pity on character banners. This weapon has a naturally high base attack due to it being a five-star weapon and has an energy recharge sub-stat. The passive is not good for Shenhe, but also not good for most polearm users, so it’s not a contested weapon, making it free to use for Shenhe.
Limited 5 Star Weapons
The only limited five star weapon worth pulling for Shenhe is her signature weapon, Calamity Queller. As a weapon designed for her, it gives her so much; from base attack that’s the highest in the game, to an attack increase passive, that can be doubled when Shenhe is off field.
However, since Shenhe is typically a support who provides a lot of static buffs, the power increases from the signature weapon is marginal. I don’t recommend using your Primogems of such a niche weapon that not many other Polearm characters can use.
The way we build Shenhe depends on the type of team she’s on. Shenhe has several team archetypes, and she can either follow the team archetypes, or to just buff her own stats, regardless of the team. Note that sub-stat on artifact is much less significant for Shenhe, so she will not compete for the highly contested pieces. Making her build free-to-play friendly, and easy to achieve.
The easiest way to start building Shenhe is to buff her Attack stat, and care about nothing else. These two sets grant the same bonus from equipping two pieces, which is an 18% Attack. Using them at the same time grants straight 36% Attack stat, which is good to buff damage of Shenhe’s Icy quill.
These two sets are easy to get, considering how Gladiator’s Finale drops from open world, world bosses, and weekly bosses. Over time, you will have plenty of these pieces. While Shimenawa’s Reminiscence drops from one of best domains to farm, so it’s pretty much worth your Resin. You don’t need highly optimized sub-stats for Shenhe to do her job well, so she doesn’t require much farming. Any, quickly put together pieces would work with her, as long as they have the correct main stats.
Another hybrid, general set that’s very effective for Shenhe is a combination of Shimenawa’s Reminiscence and Emblem of Severed Fate. It adds an 18% Attack and 20% ER to Shenhe, to compensate for the low ER stat Shenhe can get from using an Attack weapon (such as Wavebreaker’s Fin).
Again, it’s a simple stat increase for Shenhe, that doesn’t have any unique mechanics or conditions to meet. Just equip and play, it also works regardless of team comp.
If you want to go the path of a four piece set, Noblesse Oblige is the best way to go. The bonus from 4 pieces grants the entire party, including Shenhe, a 20% Attack stat for 12 seconds, upon using Elemental Burst. It allows Shenhe to add more buffs to the team, and to herself. That’s especially beneficial in teams with more than one DPS character, because it increases the value of this buff.
Note that the Noblesse Oblige bonus doesn’t stack from using Noblesse Oblige on more than one character. So make sure Shenhe is the only character in a team using it. If you use Noblesse Oblige on another support character such as Rosaria, it might be worth switching it to Shenhe, and changing the build of other characters into full DPS instead.
You have reached the end of this Shenhe Support Guide. We hope you found this build useful, and it gives you a good idea of how run Shenhe as a Cryo Support Build with varying options.
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