This post is up to date with Version 3.5 Phase 2
Shenhe is a 5-Star Cryo Polearm character from Liyue. She can only be obtained via “The Transcendent One Returns” Event banner. Primarily, she serves as a support for Cryo-oriented teams.
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 each of her teammates an Icy Quill. This effect increases the DMG of any teammate’s Cryo attack. The higher Shenhe’s ATK is, the more potent the buff gets. Through Shenhe’s A4 passive, 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 difference in efficiently clearing 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. At the same time however, I’d argue that 5 or 7 hits is too low. 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. For 12 seconds, the spirit will then deal Cryo DMG over time and decrease an enemy’s Cryo and Physical RES. Through Shenhe’s A1 passive, characters within the ult’s radius will gain a 15% Cryo DMG Bonus buff. While largely used for the utilities, you can get okayish numbers out of Shenhe’s ult. The multiplier of the DoT is very low (46.37% at Lv. 6) but the DoT attacks twice every 2 seconds, 12 times in total for a C0 Shenhe, and it does get buffed by the Icy Quills. The highest the Cryo/Physical RES debuff can go is 15%. For a C0 Shenhe, this requires using a Crown of Insight. For more potent debuffing, you should still consider using other sources such as Viridescent Venerer (4) or Superconduct. Energy shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for Shenhe’s Burst. It does cost 80 Energy but since Shenhe ought to be built with Energy Recharge and 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.
- C1 – Adds 1 charge to Shenhe’s Elemental Skill. Shenhe’s Skill is a bit difficult to spam due its cooldown ranging from 10-15 seconds. In a 20 second rotation, you can narrowly use the Press version twice before you risk extending your rotation. The same can’t really be said about the Hold version. Despite the timing issue, Shenhe’s C1 is a great upgrade as it can improve the uptime of the Icy Quills and reduce the Energy needs of your Cryo characters.
- C2 – Increases Shnehe’s Elemental Burst duration by 6 seconds. Additionally, characters within the ult’s radius will also gain a 15% Cryo CRIT DMG buff. Having this Constellation will make it even more versatile and it’ll allow you to enjoy the various perks for the vast majority of a fight.
- C3 – Adds three Levels to Shenhe’s Elemental Skill.
- C4 – Gives Shenhe a Skyfrost Mantra every time someone triggers her Icy Quills. Shenhe can obtain up to 50 stacks of this effect and each stack lasts for 1 minute. Shenhe casts her Elemental Skill, she will consume all the stacks in her possession, increasing her Skill DMG by 5% per stack. Having this Constellation will boost Shenhe’s personal DMG but not by much. It’s also worth noting that it’s impossible to get all 50 stacks without Shenhe’s C6.
- C5 – Adds three Levels to Shenhe’s Elemental Burst.
- C6 – Alters Shenhe’s Elemental Skill so that Normal and Charged Attacks do not count towards the Icy Quills’ Trigger Quota. If your On Field DPS primarily fights with the aforementioned attacks, this Constellation is very useful to have. Otherwise, this upgrade doesn’t really address the Icy Quills’ low Trigger Quota.
Like with every limited 5-Star character, I can only recommend getting Shenhe’s Constellations if you absolutely have the money to burn. Some good stopping points besides C0 and C6 are C1 and C2.
The following lists of weapons begins with Shenhe’s 5-Star Signature Weapon, followed by other recommendations in descending rarity and alphabetical order. Stats provided in the parentheses are assuming the respective weapon is at Lv. 90.
- Calamity Queller (5-Star | 741 ATK | 16.5% ATK) – Provides a DMG Bonus for all Elements in addition to having ATK% as its second stat. After the wielder casts their Elemental Skill, the Calamity Queller grants them the Consummation buff, increasing their ATK per second, up to 6 times. If the wielder is off field, the buff’s effect is doubled. I don’t have this weapon so I can’t personally attest to it but it is generally considered a superb option for Shenhe, due to the amount of ATK it provides.
- Engulfing Lightning (5-Star | 608 ATK | 55.5% Energy Recharge) – Increases the wielder’s ATK by a percentage of their Energy Recharge over the base 100%. In addition to having Energy Recharge as its second stat, the Engulfing Lightning gives its wielder even more of the stat for 12 seconds after they cast their Elemental Burst. While there is an opportunity cost giving this to Shenhe over a DPS character, this is a popular 5-Star option for her as it simultaneously compliments her buff and addresses her Energy needs.
- Vortex Vanquisher (5-Star | 608 ATK | 49.6% ATK) – Increases Shield Strength. Scoring hits on opponents will increase ATK up to 5 times, more so if the wielder is protected by a shield. The Vortex Vanquisher’s passive isn’t that valuable or practical for Shenhe. Usually, she’ll get just one stack before swapping out with her teammate. That said, this Polearm provides her with an excellent amount of ATK. It’s certainly more useful on her than on Zhongli.
- Favonius Lance (4-Star | 565 ATK | 30.6% Energy Recharge) – Gives Shenhe a chance to generate extra particles upon landing a CRIT. This is arguably Shenhe’s best 4-Star option due to its above average base ATK and Energy-related perks. The one caveat to the Favonius Lance is that it makes building CRIT Rate more of a requirement for Shenhe.
- Missive Windspear (4-Star | 510 ATK | 41.3% ATK) – Version 3.1’s Event Weapon. The passive is irrelevant for Shenhe and it’s better utilized by a DPS character. Nevertheless, this is one of the very few 4-Star Polearms that provides ATK% so it gets a recommendation as a F2P-friendly stat stick.
- Prototype Starglitter (4-Star | 510 ATK | 45.9% Energy Recharge) – Craftable. Like with the Missive Windspear, the passive is irrelevant for Shenhe so this serves solely as a stat stick. Go with this weapon if you lack anything better. For Shenhe, refinements are not necessary.
- Noblesse Oblige (4) – Elemental Burst DMG set; provides a teamwide 20% ATK buff for 12 seconds when the wielder casts their Burst. It’s a solid support set that ties nicely with Shenhe’s utilities. That said, you only need one character with this set equipped.
- ATK Set (2)/ATK Set (2) – Maximizes the DMG increase provided by the Icy Quills. If you want to opt for this combo, I recommend Gladiator’s Finale (2) and Shimenawa’s Reminiscence (2).
- ATK Set (2)/Emblem of Severed Fate (2) – ATK and Energy Recharge 2-Piece combo. This strikes a good balance between augmenting the Icy Quills and addressing Shenhe’s Energy needs.
- Sands: ATK% or Energy Recharge
- Goblet: ATK%
- Circlet: ATK% or CRIT Rate
As a general rule of thumb: if Shenhe’s weapon provides ATK, her Sands should have Energy Recharge as its main stat. If Shenhe’s weapon provides Energy Recharge, go with an ATK Sands unless she is struggling to get her Elemental Burst every rotation in the Spiral Abyss. If Shenhe is at C1, you only need one major source of Energy Recharge, be it her Sands or her weapon.
If Shenhe has the Favonius Lance equipped, she’ll need a CRIT Rate Circlet in order to reliably proc the weapon’s passive. Since Shenhe ought to be supporting a Cryo character, she’ll almost always have access to Cryo Resonance. Therefore, Shenhe can afford to run with 45-55% CRIT Rate.
Being a support for Cryo DPS, it should come to no surprise that Shenhe ought to be in a team with a Cryo carry. Shenhe is viable for any Cryo oriented comp, including Mono Cryo, though I do find that she skews towards Frozen comps due to most Cryo carries preferring to use Frozen and the uptime Cryo Resonance has with the reaction. Because the Icy Quills buff each member of your team, Shenhe enables you to comfortably run a team with a third or even a fourth Cryo character.
Elemental Resonances that benefit Shenhe are Cryo (15% CRIT Rate against enemies affected by Cryo/Frozen), Electro (extra particle generation), and Pyro (25% ATK).
As a disclaimer, the following lists of recommended teammates and example teams is not necessarily a comprehensive one. Also, the example teams may include characters that are not included in the recommendations as they arguably synergize more with someone else on the team and less so with Shenhe.
- Eula (5-Star | Cryo) – Being a Physical On Field DPS, Eula doesn’t benefit from the Icy Quills. That said, she and Shenhe work surprisingly well together as Shenhe can debuff enemy Physical RES and supply Eula with Energy.
- Ganyu (5-Star | Cryo) – Ganyu’s DPS is concentrated in her Charged Attack, therefore encouraging Shenhe to cast the Hold version of her Elemental Skill. That said, it is a little difficult keeping the Icy Quill buff active for Ganyu’s Charged Attack. Because of her Elemental Burst, Ganyu has an easy time losing the Icy Quill. You could forego casting her Burst but that would then neglect the perks that come with it. As such, I recommend Shenhe with Ganyu for the former’s other utilities. If both Ganyu and Shenhe are at C6, the two become an incredibly deadly pair…but good luck getting both of them to C6.
- Kamisato Ayaka (5-Star | Cryo) – Ayaka’s Elemental Burst will burn through the Icy Quills in an instant. For the extremely brief duration however, the ult can experience a sizable spike in DMG. Despite burning through the buff, Ayaka remains the best and most hassle-free On Field DPS to augment with Shenhe’s Elemental Skill.
|Kamisato Ayaka||Sangonomiya Kokomi||Shenhe||Sucrose|
Shenhe has two major flaws. The first is that she is simply a niche unit with limited potential for team comps. The second is that her key utility for her niche is held severely back by a stingy condition. Despite these flaws, Shenhe has been a mainstay for Cryo-oriented teams, her kit complimenting the Element to a T. I’m personally not a big fan of Shenhe as a unit but I would be lying if I said that I don’t often use her for my Ayaka team in the Spiral Abyss. Those looking to min-max their Cryo DPS should consider Shenhe down the line.
This post was originally published on January 17, 2022