Shenhe is a 5-Star Cryo Polearm character from Liyue. She can only be obtained via “The Transcendent One Returns” Event banner. A support unit, Shenhe serves to empower her fellow Cryo units in combat.
Shenhe’s main form of support is her Elemental Skill, “Spring Spirit Summoning”. This Talent performs differently depending on your input. Pressing the Skill button will have Shenhe dash forward with a “Talisman Spirit”, dealing Cryo DMG to anything in her path. Holding the button will instead have Shenhe command her familiar to deal AoE Cryo DMG. Regardless of your input, Shenhe’s Skill grants her team an “Icy Quill”. This effect increases the DMG of any teammate’s Cryo attack. The higher Shenhe’s ATK is, the higher the buff. The Press version will boost Skill and Burst DMG by 15% for 10 seconds while the Hold version gives the same bonus for Normal/Charged/Plunging Attacks for 15 seconds.
Mileage will vary as to how valuable this buff is to you. One Icy Quill can potentially boost your Cryo DMG by the thousands, which can make a decent difference in efficiently clearing endgame content such as the Spiral Abyss. Theoretically, an Icy Quill also has 100% uptime as its duration lasts just as long as its cooldowns (10 seconds if you press the Skill button, 15 seconds if you hold). On paper, this sounds like a solid buff to have in a Cryo oriented team.
What severely holds the Icy Quill back however is its Trigger Quota. The buff will disappear after a certain amount of hits, 5 for the Press version and 7 for the Hold version. If a Cryo attack hits multiple enemies, each enemy hit counts separately. I sort of understand why a limit is in place as without one, Shenhe would become one of Genshin’s most broken units and Cryo would dominate the meta (more than it already does). At the same time however, I’d argue that 5 or 7 hits is too low. Top tier Cryo carries such as Ganyu and Ayaka and even supports such as Kaeya are able to attack multiple enemies or multiple times and will therefore burn through the quota in a matter of seconds. Outside of a single target situation, you’re left with very little uptime and a lot more downtime, especially if you use the Hold version. Overall, the Icy Quills are nice to have but the Trigger Quota prevents it from being a huge game changer and as I said, mileage will vary as to how valuable it is to you.
When Shenhe uses her Elemental Burst, “Divine Maiden’s Deliverance”, she summons a Talisman Spirit in an AoE. The spirit will then deal Cryo DMG over time and decrease an enemy’s Cryo and Physical RES. I’m not sure why this Buff debuffs Physical RES. You can use it for Physical/Hybrid Kaeya and Qiqi but either character will want to be built more for Cryo DMG for Shenhe’s Icy Quills. And for a premier Physical carry such as Eula, you have zero incentive to pair them with Shenhe as they hardly need a Cryo DMG boost when their Physical attacks are more than enough. Regardless, the debuff is included if you ever find yourself using Physical attacks.
Unfortunately, Shenhe’s Burst is very weak. The DoT is extremely low (46.37% at Lv. 6) so the Burst isn’t really meant for DMG. The utilities don’t make up for that either. At Lv. 1, the Burst debuffs Cryo/Physical RES by a measly 6% and you have to raise Shenhe’s Burst to increase it. Unless you whale for Shenhe’s C5, you have to Crown her Burst in order to get a full 15% RES debuff. You’re probably meant to use this Burst in conjunction with the 4-Piece effect of the Viridescent Venerer Artifact set or the Superconduct Elemental Reaction but you needing to do that speaks to how little the Burst contributes. The one compliment I can give to Shenhe’s Burst is that it’s not too difficult to obtain. It does cost 80 Energy but since Shenhe ought to be paired with another Cryo unit, Energy becomes less of an issue for her. Most Cryo units also generate a lot of Cryo particles so you don’t have to look too far and wide for a battery unit.
Shenhe is frankly a tough sell. Her Icy Quills can make a difference in your Cryo DPS but there is a lot of downtime to them that you’ll have to contend with. Meanwhile, her Burst has the exact opposite problem as it has decent uptime but it doesn’t contribute a whole lot to your DPS. I won’t go as far as say she’s useless but I hesitate to call her a must pull due to the flaws in her kit. And I have been using Shenhe but that currently isn’t necessarily because she has more value over, say, Diona or Rosaria. The best use I’ve found for her was with Ayaka who, with 4-Piece Blizzard Strayer and Kokomi, doesn’t need Diona’s healing and shielding or Rosaria’s CRIT Rate buff so my pick for a Cryo support simply defaults to Shenhe. Regardless of her pros and cons and unless you’re waifu over meta, you should only consider pulling for Shenhe if you’re a Cryo character main. Outside of Frozen and Mono Cryo comps, there’s almost no reason to use Shenhe in anything else.
Thanks for reading!