Genshin Impact Keqing Weapon Build Guide
Howdy there! A number of us have been wondering how to best pick which weapon/build/etc to use for Keqing, and there have been plenty of posts asking “What weapon should I use?”, or “What Artifacts should I use?” or “What stats should I prioritize?”, or “What secondary waifus should I use to support the best waifu?”
I myself was one of the people asking this question, and I even made a post asking it earlier. I got some advice, but none of it really answered what I really wanted to know, which was “how do I pick from what I have” — instead, people were answering with “this is what you should try to get”. That’s helpful, but only sometimes, since you definitely need to know what to do until you get there. So, when someone else ended up asking a question of “Which of 3 specific weapons should I use, please don’t say the Flute, I know that already, I don’t have it though”, I felt for them. I too wanted to know. So I decided to do some math. After a few hours of plugging numbers and using damage formulas, I answered his specific question with the power of MATH, but I also learned the basics of how to pick things from what you have. This information is helpful, and I’m not sure there are many stats guides out there yet, so I’ve decided to start one, and this one is written with Keqing in mind, since Keqing is the best.
Let’s Get Started
So, you’ve got a couple of weapons, but none of them are the definitive “best weapon for Keqing”, The Flute, so you don’t know what to do. There’s a lot that goes into picking the best weapon, and I could break down every part of it with the power of MATH for you, but we’re going to instead focus on the core principals, and how to apply them. There are 5 core principals to picking your weapon: “What do you Have?”, “What’s my damage focus?”, “What’s my team?”, “What numbers increase my focus?”, and “What will I find fun?”
What do you Have
Principal number one: What do you Have? Obviously, the most important part to picking the best weapon for your Keqing is what ones you have. I’m not really going to spend a long time on this subject, since it should be apparent that you need to pick your weapon based on the ones you have, but it can be surprisingly easy to forget that it’s more important to pick from what you have than to pick from what is the so-called meta. Also, at its core, this guide is written for F2P or budget players, because if you can toss money at this game until you get the weapon you want, then you’re probably not here asking “what weapon should I use?”, you’re probably over at genshin.gg looking at their optimal builds (this is not meant derogatorily, high-rollers allow the completely F2P be completely F2P, you just probably don’t need this guide as much).
So, at its core, you pick from what you have. If you have 4-stars, you pick from your 4-stars, but if you only have 3-stars, you pick from your 3-stars, and so-on. If you happen to have a 5-star weapon, use it, no-questions asked. They’re both ridiculous for Keqing.
If you want a tl;dr of this guide, and just want me to tell you which weapon to use on Keqing, I’ll go ahead and give my opinion now before moving on to the next section, but do keep in mind, that this is my opinion, based on how I weigh the next sections. It’s not definitive.
tl;dr weapon tier list for Keqing: The Flute > Lion’s Roar > The Black Sword > Iron Sting >= Prototype Rancour >= Royal Longsword > Sacrificial Sword > Favonius Sword > Blackcliff Longsword = The Alley Flash > The Sword of Descension (if you have the last one, why would you even consider putting it on Keqing instead of the MC?)
What’s My Damage Focus
Alright, into the real meat of this guide. This section is complex, and requires a descent bit of game knowledge to really figure out, so I’m going to break it down for you. In Genshin, we’ve got a few different two different categories of focus, with a few different ways to approach those two categories. The first category is “Direct Damage”, and the second category is “Combination Damage”. Direct Damage focuses on the damage your character is doing with their skills and attacks, while Combination Damage focuses on the damage you do by combining elements to make explosions. A good build has a healthy mix of both, though each character and each build will focus more on one or the other, and different stats work together with the two categories differently.
We know the formulas for determining how much Direct Damage you do, and we kinda know the formulas for how much Combination Damage you do, but when we start factoring in the latter kind of damage, the math gets muddy. That being said, we know which stats affect which kinds of damage (mostly), so we can work from there.
Now, how do you decide which kind of damage focus you’re going for? Well, that’s a bit tough. First, you have to take a look at your DPS carry (this term will be expanded on in later guides; in this guide it’s easy: the answer is Keqing), and figure out what kinds of focus your DPS carry can do, as well as which one is best for them. With Keqing, Direct Damage and Combination Damage are both viable, so we have to get into a bit more of the nitty-gritty now: Stats and Elemental Combinations
The main stat that exists is ATK, and it affects everything. We’re ignoring this for now; we’ll come back to it. The three stats that matter in this section are CRIT Rate, CRIT DMG, and Elemental Mastery (hereafter abbreviated to EM). CRIT seems to mostly effect your Direct Damage, and EM only affects your Combination Damage. I personally don’t have the info yet on whether CRIT affects Combination Damage, so for now, we’re going to assume it doesn’t. Because of Keqing’s passives, she’s able to very easily focus into either category, and focus on either substat, or on raw ATK and DMG numbers. More on this later.
As a final note in this section, which path you follow should probably be at least somewhat based on your team. I’ll be doing a Team Building guide later, but the basics for now are that the different Elemental Combos do different things, and even on the Direct Damage builds, you need to exploit Elemental Combinations, as they are core to this game’s mechanics, as well as making Keqing fantastic. The simple version, for the purpose of this guide, is this: if your team is heavier on Cryo and Pyro, focus on Direct Damage. If your team is heavier on Hydro, focus on Elemental Combinations.
At this point in the guide, it’d be wise to decide if you like the idea of focusing on Explosions (Elemental Combinations) or on Direct Damage more, with the latter also needing to pick between CRIT and raw ATK.
tl;dr of this section: Decide if you like explosions or raw damage more
What’s My Team
I touched on this briefly in the previous section, but I’ll be going into more depth here. This game is heavily designed around your team, enough so that I’m writing another guide on how to build your team for Keqing specifically. There are plenty of guides out there on how to build a team already, so I’m not going to be doing a general guide on it.
For now, though, we’re going to assume you already have a team that you like, and you’re just trying to pick the right weapon for Keqing (or another DPS carry for whatever reason). It heavily depends on what utility your team is providing in support to Keqing, because it will affect which kinds of Elemental Combinations you are doing, and how often you can be doing them. To save on space, we’ll keep most of the team aspects for the future Team Building guide, and just explain the following:
- If your supports mostly apply elements only while they are out, focus raw damage > elemental combination damage as a general rule
- If your main elemental combos are Melt or Vaporize (Pyro + Cryo or Pyro + Hydro, respectively), focus raw damage more than Elemental Mastery (EM is still good though, just less good). This section is for non-Keqing players.
- If your main elemental combo is Superconduct, focus on doing Physical Damage afterward.
- If your main elemental combo is Swirl (Anemo + Not Anemo), focus on raw damage
- If your main elemental combo is Overloaded or Electro-Charged, focus on Elemental Mastery (especially true for Electro-Charged, which scales better with EM than anything else)
- If your main elemental combo is Crystalize, you’re not dealing damage with this combo.
What Numbers Increase my Focus?
We’ve touched on this a bit here and there already, but now we’re really going to get into the meat of the math, though I won’t be showing the math right now. This is where we finally start talking about ATK as well, and what stats on your weapon will help you out more than other stats.
To start off with, all damage you deal is based on a percentage of your ATK stat. For example, the first Normal Attack from a Talent Rank 3 Keqing does 44% of your ATK stat as damage. This number is then multiplied by any DMG% bonuses you have. Because of this, DMG% bonuses do more for your damage than ATK% bonuses do. Additionally, ATK% bonuses only pay attention to your Weapon ATK and your character’s ATK numbers, not any flat bonuses provided by your artifacts’ sub stats or the Plume of Death ATK number. So, when you’re comparing weapons (or even artifacts in a later guide), remember that DMG% > ATK%.
CRIT is a strange field because it’s a chance to do more damage. If you’ve got good CRIT numbers already, and you’re focusing on raw damage, CRIT is good, so having a CRIT bonus on a weapon is really nice. Elemental Mastery is similarly weird because it only applies when you do procs, so its effectiveness is directly tied to how often you’re causing your enemies to be affected by elemental combos.
For Keqing, if you’re able to apply non-Electro elements to enemies consistently while you are Keqing, Elemental Mastery is extremely good. If your team can’t support that, then Elemental Mastery is much less powerful (though still pretty damn good on her). Electro Damage % is god tier on her because she is constantly doing Electro Damage, and DMG% vs enemies who are affected by Electro can essentially be read as just DMG% (Lion’s Roar’s effect, for reference).
Finally, every weapon has different Effects. These effects vary in how they work and are all pretty cool on the 4-stars, and even some of the 3-stars are really cool, so you need to look at what the effect of your weapon is. If your weapon gives you a stacking buff, take that into consideration, or if your weapon does more damage against people affected by certain elements, keep that in mind too. But also pay attention to your weapon’s ATK stat, because while some might have really cool effects, their ATK stat is lower by enough to not make it very useful (I’m looking at you, Sacrificial Sword)
What Will I find Fun?
Ultimately, this is the most important section, but also one of the ones I will write the least in. The most important thing to deciding your weapon (after whether or not you have it) is whether or not you’ll find it fun to use. This game is PvE. It’s also very player friendly, and tier differences are small enough that everyone and everything is pretty much viable. Don’t feel pressured to go with the Absolute Best Weapon Ever™ just because someone said it’s better than what you like (if you like the Sacrificial Sword and have it, use it, even if I think it’s dumb).
Putting it All Together
Alright, time to put it all together. You’ve assessed what weapons you have, you’ve picked your Damage Focus, you’ve analyzed how well it’ll work with your team, and you’ve learned that DMG% > ATK%, but ATK is vital, and you know how much of a focus you should be putting on CRIT, Elemental Mastery, and other substats. So, how do you pick a weapon based on all of that?
You start by looking at the main stat: ATK. Of your weapons, which one has the highest base ATK? This isn’t the end-all be-all though, because those ATK numbers aren’t hugely different, so also take a look at the substat. Does one of your weapons have a substat that you really like? Finally, is the effect something you can make good use of? If your highest base ATK weapon has a substat that isn’t good for you, and its effect isn’t great, then it’s better to go for a lower base ATK in favor of good substats with good effects.
Okay, we’re going to go a bit more of a dive into specifically Keqing’s weapon options now. There are three ATK tiers of 4-star Swords (meaning all 4-star swords have one of three ATK stats), and they are as follows:
- Highest ATK: Prototype Rancour, Blackcliff Longsword, The Alley Flash
- Middle ATK: The Flute, Lion’s Roar, Iron Sting, Royal Longsword, The Black Sword
- Worst ATK: Sacrifical Sword, Favonius Sword
The top 3 ATK swords can definitely do great damage, because high ATK, and they benefit the most from ATK% buffs (making the Rancour pretty awesome), but their drawback is that their effects are more focused, or their secondaries aren’t great for us. Both the Rancour and the Blackcliff are Physical DMG%, so their secondary basically isn’t used by us at all. The Alley Flash has CRIT, and we can do a lot with CRIT, but its secondary is weird, forcing you sprint frequently to get benefit from it. If you like to sprint, and you have the Alley Flash, it’s a fantastic weapon for a Crit Build. Otherwise, I’d personally pass, and recommend passing, on this tier of swords.
The Middle ATK swords are interesting, and really where we’ll be pulling from. The absolute best weapon for Keqing is The Flute if you manage to pull it, because holy shit does it do a lot of AoE damage. Its secondary stat is also great, and since we attack stupidly fast and are using loads of Normal Attacks, The Flute is #1.
After the Flute, I recommend the Lion’s Roar. It’s fantastic because you’ll be seeing Electro on enemies pretty much all the time as Keqing, so that’s essentially a permanent whopping 20% DMG buff. Remember, DMG > ATK. Its secondary is also nice, because we love us some CRIT. Consider running a Pyro in your team as your support element (Xiangling is fantastic for this).
From here on out, it’s down to preference. Iron Sting technically does less damage than the Prototype Rancour, which is the one you’re most likely to be comparing it to, since these two are the only two you can guarantee yourself as a F2P. That being said, Iron Sting’s secondary is Elemental Mastery, and we like that more than we like that icky Physical Damage. Also, these are the only two weapons you can somewhat reasonably rely upon as potentially being refined (since you can craft them), and each time you refine these two, the Iron Sting gets closer to beating out the Rancour in damage. If you refine it to tier 5, the Iron Sting is better in damage than the Rancour is. This is for Keqing specifically, since we can easily keep Iron Sting’s buff up 100% of the time.
If you like Big Crits and cannot lie, The Royal Longsword is your friend. We hit really fast, and its effect doesn’t have a cool down, so we’re going to either be critting a bunch, or hitting those 5 stacks quickly and then critting, and we’ve got a good Crit number. Base ATK as a secondary stat is also awesome. The nice thing about this one is that it’s a relatively F2P friendly weapon, since you can get it with Starglitter if you want to.
The Black Sword has a Crit Rate secondary stat, which is already great, but the fact that it also has a 16% DMG bonus for our Normal and Charged Attacks is great (that’s where most of our damage comes from, afterall), and we get health back on Crits? If you buy the Battle Pass, you probably bought it to get this weapon, because this is probably as good as the Flute, imo
I hate the Sacrifical Sword. It’s probably pretty good on other sword users, but on Keqing, we barely need it, and it barely helps us. It’s got low ATK (we love ATK), Energy Recharge isn’t a very useful stat for us to have on our weapon (my teambuilding guide will explain why), and its effect is not worth it for us. Our Elemental Skill is only on cooldown for 7.5 seconds already, which isn’t that long, and we want to be using our Normal Attack combo during that cooldown anyway for that sweet, sweet damage and constant electro procs. Also, its effect can only happen once every 30s, so it’s not that relevant to us anyway. If you’ve got a support character that uses swords and has a long cooldown for their Skill, put this on them instead, it’ll see much better use there than on Keqing.
Favonius Sword is low damage, and it benefits from us Critting a bunch, but as mentioned earlier, we really don’t need that much energy, since Keqing generates energy stupidly efficiently if you build around her correctly. Not a bad weapon for other DPS, or to maybe put on one of your support units so they can benefit from the secondary stat.