Xinyan is a 4-Star Pyro Claymore character from Liyue. In contrast to other Pyro units, whose DPS potential lies in powerful Elemental Reactions (and Overload), Xinyan instead focuses on Physical DMG…which isn’t bizarre at all.
When Xinyan uses her Elemental Skill, “Sweeping Fervor”, she deals Pyro DMG onto any nearby opponents and conjures up a Shield. In contrast to other shielders, Xinyan’s Shield has three different levels depending on how many enemies she hits with her Skill. Hitting one enemy or nothing at all gives her a Level 1 shield. Hit two and the shield is at Level 2. Hit three or more and the shield is at Level 3 and it gains a (frankly useless) Pyro DoT. At A1, the number of enemies required for Xinyan to hit for Levels 2 and 3 are lowered by 1 so you really only need to hit at least two enemies for a Level 3 Shield. At A4, Sweeping Fervor has additional utility as it gives your active character a 15% Physical DMG bonus so long as the Shield is up.
Unfortunately, Sweeping Fervor sucks for two reasons. The first is that having varying Shield levels is, well, kind of dumb. Against single enemy encounters such as most boss fights and unless your Xinyan is at C2, you’ll never get to enjoy a Level 3 Shield. While most encounters do involve mobs, you nevertheless need to be in close proximity to hit multiple enemies which isn’t necessarily easy to pull off, especially if you lack a CC unit in your team. Needlessly exacerbating this problem is that Xinyan’s Skill is reportedly bugged, sometimes not giving you the right version of the Shield when it’s supposed to.
The second and more detrimental reason is the split scaling of the Skill. Xinyan’s DMG follows traditional ATK and CRIT scaling but her Shield scales off of DEF, leaving you at a crossroad on how to build her. Having a strong shield will make Xinyan borderline invincible but prioritizing it will severely weaken her DPS. As a DPS, you need to give her a solid ATK stat and CRIT ratio but that’ll usually come with foregoing DEF on her Artifacts, weakening her Shield. Having a weak Shield means it’ll break very easily and having a broken Shield will prevent you from comfortably enjoying the Physical DMG Bonus provided by Xinyan’s A4 passive. Because of the randomness of Artifact drops, trying to balance between Xinyan’s DPS and Shield is a nightmare and you are better off prioritizing one thing over the other.
Xinyan’s best form of DMG is her Elemental Burst, “Riff Revolution”. Upon casting, she strikes nearby enemies with Physical DMG and then generates some rock concert-themed Pyro DoT. While the DoT is the visual highlight of the Burst’s animation, it might as well not exist. It only ticks 7 times over a 2 second duration and its multiplier is very low (56% at Lv. 6). The Physical strike is actually what you want to build towards. With a much higher multiplier (477.12% at Lv. 6), it has strong potential as a nuke.
The one and only Elemental Reaction that helps with Physical DMG is Superconduct, the combination between Electro and Cryo. This applies a 40% Physical RES debuff onto an enemy. Fundamentally, Xinyan is at a severe disadvantage here as she is neither an Electro or a Cryo character. With no straightforward means to trigger Superconduct, she’s reliant on supports of the required Elements to do the job for her. You also need to use Xinyan last or second to last in a Rotation as having her apply Pyro first or in between your Electro and Cyro applications runs the risk of triggering other Reactions besides Superconduct. You can make this rotation work but there’s no denying that it’s more awkward and less clean as it would be if Xinyan was either Electro or Cyro.
An alternative solution to consider is utilizing the Pyro Elemental Resonance. It is easily the best Resonance in Genshin, increasing your whole team’s ATK by 25%. Since Xinyan is a Pyro character, you’re already halfway there. The question then is who should be the second Pyro unit in the team. Bennett is the most obvious choice due to his healing and buffing. At C6 however, he becomes useless with Xinyan as the latter would not want the Pyro Infusion provided by the Constellation. By default, Xiangling wouldn’t work. Her Pyronado is way too good to waste in a Physical DMG comp. Furthermore, Xiangling can serve as a carry in her own right. Amber wouldn’t actually be a bad choice. She can provide a taunt and as well as an ATK buff, either via her sixth Constellation or 4-Piece Noblesse-Oblige. Her not being the best with Elemental Reactions will hardly matter for a Physical DMG carry who can’t even use the one Reaction that would help her DPS. Bear in mind however that this still requires using Amber.
Constellations are frankly a must for Xinyan. At the very least, you want her at Constellation 2 as it gives Xinyan a Level 3 Shield upon casting her Elemental Burst and increases the CRIT Rate of its Physical DMG by 100%. The latter part is crucial to Xinyan’s DPS as it effectively makes the Burst a guaranteed CRIT. You’ll still want CRIT Rate for her Normal Attacks and Elemental Skill but to best bank off of Constellation 2, stacking CRIT DMG to maximize Burst DMG is your top priority. The next Constellation to shoot for is the fourth one as it adds a 15% Physical RES debuff for when you attack an enemy with Xinyan’s Skill. It’s a much more reliable means of augmenting Xinyan’s DMG compared to keeping her Shield up for her A4 passive.
Honestly, Xinyan is one of my least favorite characters to play as in Genshin Impact. So much about her kit doesn’t make sense. She’s a Physical DPS and yet she can’t use the one Reaction that benefits Physical DMG. Being able to provide a Shield for herself ought to be amazing for a carry but because of the varying levels and the split scaling, it might as well not exist in her kit. Her Elemental Burst can be an effective nuke but that’s really about it. The whole kit needs more tuning and unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely to happen. If 5-Stars such as Yoimiya and Kokomi can’t get a buff, what are the odds for a 4-Star character getting one? If you have other Physical DMG dealers such as Razor, there’s no reason to build Xinyan. Just about any other character of the like will do her job better. If you absolutely want to use Xinyan however, wait until she’s at C2.
Thanks for reading!