Its your boi Jhorry here to share a fantastic (read: controversial) new build for Zhong Li based around his Pillar’s unique property of being the only persistent source of constant, pulsing Geo damage.
In the ever present search to make Zhong Li decent at least with anything, even if it is a Niche composition that has some caveats on its play style requirements and potential viability concerns, I have discovered a (as far as my google-fu searching has been) undiscovered build based on the dark arts of Freezing your foes, never giving them a moment’s peace, and breaking their souls with the grinding power of earth and ice. G
Glacial Erosion: A Full EM Zhong Li Shatter Comp.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this unique build, we must first discuss all of the crap that makes his Pillar generally consider a hot mess in his current state, and THEN talk about how to go “nah fam” to all those problems with “this one simple trick!”
With that out of the way, here is the scoop on all of the Pillars poop, er, problems:
We all know his Resonate damage from his Pillar is hot garbage, and that he has issues keeping foes near the Pillar to even remotely have a chance to get out its full damage potential (which, in actuality, is VERY good for a single E press) it has to remain up with a foe inside its small area for 30 seconds, thus it is highly impractical to land all the pulses. This is why everyone is super and justifiably frustrated that his C1 is practically mandatory for better area coverage (and honestly, it DOES make this build easier, but I’m poor C0 scum).
Simply put, you need to lock your foes down in a spot to get the best bang for your buck, and the buck isn’t that impressive to begin with. Next, we have the limitation that the Pillar can be fairly easily destroyed. That is a bummer, and also hurts its realistic damage dealing capabilities. Lastly, Geo has (to MOST player’s knowledge) no offensive interactions with other elements! (A LIE, LIE I TELL YOU!)
TLDR of Poopy Pillar’s Problems:
Pillar has Poop base damage and Scaling
Needs Immobile Foes
Pillar Can Die
People are IGNORANT SWINES who do not understand the Freeze, Geo, and Shatter mechanics.
With all of the above taken into account, it is only natural that most players initially, justifiably write off any Pillar focused builds as non-viable, but lets see if we can challenge that initial hot take, together. (sorry about calling some of you ignorant swines… hugs)
The Fix – Shatter Comp and Mechanics Explained
Shatter is a unique mechanic that involves a three way (hawt) interaction between the wettest of elements, Hydro, with the chillest of elements, Cyro, along with the most rock-hard turgid of elements and weapons, Geo and Claymores (look, people, they even have CLAY in their name! It was hinting at Geo all along!)
This extra spicy three-way can lead to some interesting results. We have some people having a lark about using Shatter for fun with things like Noelle, but I’ve yet to see anyone try to make a meaningful Geo shatter comp to my knowledge because, other than Ningguang, we didn’t have a regular, high rate of Geo application from any character. Also, Ningguan is a LEGIT BAD ASS BITCH who SLAPS with her damage ratios, so who would in good conscious slap Elemental Mastery on best girl? No one of good morale character, thats who.
Then enters big Daddy Zhong and his turgid, majestic Schlong. The Pillar of Earthing from the CEO of GEO. The Washington Monument of Phallic Perfection. He, like Fischel, can regularly produce Geo Reactions while not on the field! This is a unique property of his Dhong, and we seek to exploit the every living crap out of it.
Here is how Shatter works: Shatter is an Elemental Mastery and Level based reactions similar to Overload. It deals 66% of the damage of Overload as Physical Damage, without the obnoxious “fling your foes into orbit” mechanic. Interestingly after extensive testing this evening, I noticed another unique property of Shatter: It scales based on the Physical Defense of your foes.
This means that Supercharge does, in fact, improve the damage of Shatter, as does any other Defense lowering ability such as Lisa’s Ascension Tallent. If used against Ruin Guards without Supercharge, it does SIGNIFICANTLY less damage than against your standard foes. It does much more against the fatui mages, for example. It does NOT scale with Physical Damage increasing Chalices.
Now lets look at the Frozen status. As far as my testing suggests, being Frozen does not count as “Hydro” for the purposes of “While Afflicted by Hydro” for weapon bonuses but does appear to work for Cryo I believe. It also lowers most Physical Damage being applied to it from non-Claymore sources, but I would need more testing to fully confirm.
This leads to the ideal composition for a Shatter team to have:
A max EM character constantly Consuming the Shatter as quickly as possible.
A source of constant Cryo and Hydro application.
A carry who has Hydro or Cryo as its primary damage type with its spamable Normal Attack and preferably someone who benefits with their Tallents or Constellations while attacking a Frozen / Cryo afflicted target.
The Hydro and Cryo will NEVER consume the Shatter’s damage bonus, ONLY the Geo/Claymore user. This makes it exceedingly more consistent than some other interactions between Auras and Triggers where it takes some finesse to line up properly.
This leads me to the final composition I’ve settled upon that has had very promising results. Obviously it will not be “Ideal” for every single situation, and in particular the current “hardest” floor STRONGLY favors Pyro and dissuades Cryo, but I’m looking beyond the current Meta toward future content that may very well NOT always favor Pyro to such an insane degree as it currently does.
Kaeya as the Carry with a standard build that focuses heavily on DPS, using Bolide Set and Cryo Chalice, C1 if able
Chong as the Burst Support that comes in as needed to apply his Elemental skill and Elemental Burst, enabling 100% uptime of Cryo application from Kaeya.
Xingqiu as the Burst Support / damage Mitigation Healer enabling full uptime on Hydro Application with full Nobelles and Sacrificial Blade.
EM and Health focused Zhong Li with as high EM you can get from weapons and if lucky on main stat of Artifacts. C1 not required but exceedingly helpful, and vastly improves dps of more regular Shatters.
The Play Style (NO MOVING FOR YOU)
The result of mixing the above is a CONSTANT uptime on Freeze/Cryo with a Shatter from each individual pulse of Zhong Li’s Pillar (s). As soon as any of the cycle needs to be reapplied, you simply Zhong Ult + E > Xing Ult + E(x2) > Chong Q (if up) / E > Kaeya spam attacking with E and Q uses as needed.
Kaeya will have 100% uptime on Shields, Frozen or Cryo, to take advantage of an effective +30% crit chance at C1. He will constantly Self Heal with each E use, has good uptime on his Ult, and will have enhanced Frost shields from Zhong’s EM scaling.
Kaeya should always seek to maintain uptime on his Cryo autos from Chong’s E, a Shield from Crystalize, and will deal VERY GOOD constant DPS if invested in heavily like all other carries. Going Critical Damage is STRONGLY encouraged due to the innate 30% critical hit chance with this team composition.
The best part of the above is it keeps foes highly stationary, and a quick swap and E on Zhong is all you need to reposition in extreme cases. Against Mage Shields, Zhong’s pulsing E and his Q actually deal non-negligible damage, and the build can naturally handle Electro, Hydro, Geo, Anemo, and Pyro Fatui with ease. It is weakest obviously against Cryo Abyss Mages, but will absolutely wear down their shields with claymore and Geo hits, and the Planet Befall does actually take a good chunk out of the shield. Cryo Fatui are the ultimate bane of the build, so it is critically important to LOCK THEM DOWN and deal as much damage as possible prior to them generating their shield, or just simply run a differ team or swap out Chong for a Pyro and take the loss of crit and frozen uptime.
Against pure Cryo enemies that don’t have shields, Kaeya becomes a very serviceable Physical dps carry. If you prepare in advance for such fights, simply swap to a Physical chalice and go to town.
This is the most fun build I’ve run in Genshin thus far. It is hilarious to have a minigame of “how long can I exploit this foe being absolutely locked down and in this small area.” It actually works exceedingly well and may even be easier than some builds for Mobile players, as much less dodging is required, but you would have to get very comfortable with your positioning and quick swaps for ability chaining.
I hope others can find this build to be a fun alternative to their current builds. With very “crap gear” investment on my Zhong he already deals over 2,000 damage per Shatter at a meager 250 EM. Now that I’m actually aiming for this play style, I intend to make a full EM Petra set so that I can further buff Cryo damage for Kaeya by picking up one of the thousand Cryo Geo Crystals littering the battlefield once every 10 seconds when I swap to him to reposition the E or to Q and start over the ability chain.
I hope this has been helpful for anyone wanting to build around the Zhong Dhong and to get as much “cheap deeps” out of investing in EM over Crit and Crit Damage. Stats to prioritize on Zhong: EM anywhere you can get it, Energy Generation as sub stat, EM as sub stat, HP Flat and HP %.
… This has been my Ted Talk, thank you for listening.
Its a Game, Have Fun Yall!