An updated video version of my Swirl Guide, with information relevant to the 1.6 transformative reaction changes.
Swirl, just like all transformative reactions, uses your Character Level and Elemental Mastery to determine the damage that will be dealt, and is only affected by enemy resistance. Swirl completely ignores damage reduction, defense and enemy level.
Swirl is a reaction that can only be caused by an Anemo user as the reactor, unless you’re fighting the Anemo Hypostasis – an enemy that naturally has an Anemo aura.
This means that otherwise, you can’t apply an Anemo aura to an enemy and have another character apply an element to cause Swirl.
Anemo can only react with an existing elemental aura, which will result in a Swirl reaction of that element – Pyro, Electro, Cryo or Hydro. This means that the Anemo character’s Elemental Mastery and Character Level will always be used to calculate Swirl damage. If you are building a character to utilize Swirl reactions, increasing their Elemental Mastery and Character Level is very important.
Anemo cannot react with Geo.
The Swirl reaction causes the Swirled element to be spread to enemies in AoE. For Pyro Electro and Cryo, this causes AoE damage of the respective element, and the elemental aura is applied to nearby enemies. Hydro is an exception, in that it only causes the Swirled enemy to be damaged in single target, while spreading Wet to nearby enemies.
If you are Swirling in AoE, it is possible to keep an elemental aura up on enemies indefinitely by continually Swirling the element back and forth.
Swirling the same enemy repeatedly in single target will naturally cause the elemental aura to eventually expire.
This elemental aura spread is quite strong, and is a stronger application than most abilities provide. A stronger application is very useful, because it means that the aura will remain on enemies longer when you react with it using other elements, and it can also be utilized to take out enemy shields quickly.
When utilizing Swirl for damage, there is a limit you must account for. Swirl can only cause two instances of damage per element on an enemy once every half second. Any further Swirl reactions of the same element within that half second window will still spread the element in AoE, but will not do any damage.
This means that if you have four enemies with Cryo auras, and Swirl them with an AoE ability, only two instances of Swirl Cryo damage will occur per enemy.
Hydro again is the exception here, as it doesn’t do AoE damage, so you will only get one single target damage instance per enemy with an AoE ability.
This limit is per character however, so it will not come into play if you are using multiple Anemo users to apply Swirls at the same exact time.
The part that really makes Swirl powerful is the potential for chain reactions.
Swirl can cause chain elemental reactions. When a Swirl reaction applies an element to an enemy with a different elemental aura, the resulting reaction’s damage will be calculated based on the Anemo user’s Elemental Mastery and Character Level.
For example, if you have two enemies, and one has a Pyro aura and the other has an Electro aura, Swirling them with an AoE ability will cause both enemies to react with Overload.
Swirl has amazing AoE potential because of this. Characters that function as off field elemental appliers can make things easier, giving you a constant source of elemental auras to Swirl together.
Electro-charged is typically the best chain reaction to use for consistent damage, in addition to providing crowd control via stagger. The Anemo user’s Character Level and Elemental Mastery will be of higher value with this chain reaction, as both Swirl and Electro-charged exclusively use these stats to determine damage output.
Also, Electro-charged creates a dual aura of Electro and Hydro, and Anemo can cause both a Hydro and Electro Swirl at the same time – effectively spreading the reaction.
The other reactions from Swirl like Melt, Vaporize and Overload generally can’t be sustained as chain reactions from Swirl unless an enemy has a permanent aura. One element will generally overpower the others and you will end up with the same aura on all enemies.
Freeze can be sustained, but you can’t consistently double-Swirl Hydro and Cryo, and the Freeze reaction itself does no damage.
If you are using an Anemo user with an Elemental Burst that has an Absorption Mechanic such as Venti or Sucrose, absorbing Hydro into their Burst with an enemy that has an Electro aura is the easiest way to create a self sustaining Electro-charged reaction. This is because the Anemo portion of the Burst will cause Electro Swirls to spread Electro auras, and the absorbed Hydro portion of the damage will proc Electro-charged continuously.
Freeze is the best reaction to use for consistent crowd control, although the damage output for Swirls will be much lower. The value of Character Level and Elemental Mastery to your Anemo user is much lower if you are using Freeze as a chain reaction.
This is because although Freeze involves Cryo and Hydro, both cannot be consistently Swirled at the same time like with Electro-charged.
The chain reaction of Freeze also naturally does not cause any damage, and if you are Swirling Hydro it will only do single target damage per Swirl.
Melt and Vaporize will multiply off of Swirl’s base damage, increasing Swirl’s damage by the reaction multiplier and Anemo user’s Elemental Mastery. Melt and Vaporize reactions will typically end up consuming the other element over continuous Swirls, and result in a mono element spread across all enemies.
Swirling elements for these reactions is typically used to help keep up auras for other party members to consistently react with.
The 4 piece Viridescent Venerer set is the best artifact set for enhancing Swirl damage hands down.
This artifact set improves Swirl damage by 60%, which is the same as adding a flat 60% bonus to your reaction damage multiplier seen on your character stat sheet. On top of that, when you Swirl an enemy, that enemy’s elemental resistance to the element infused in the Swirl will be reduced by 40%. This further increases the damage output of Swirls.
Even when you are not specifically focused on the damage output of Swirls, the resistance reduction effect will also increase the damage from the absorption and infusion effects that many Anemo characters have, as well as from chain reactions. Naturally it is most valued as a supporting effect for increasing your party member’s damage output.
An important factor to note is that the resistance reduction effect will only be applied if the user of the set is on field at the time of the Swirl reaction.
In the case of a double Swirl from Electro-charged or Freeze, both elemental resistances will be decreased on the enemy.
Anemo users being forced to be the primary reactor can be taken advantage of, not only by utilizing Elemental Mastery stacking, but also in situations like with Fischl’s fourth ascension passive.
Fischl’s passive states that if your active character triggers an Electro-related elemental reaction when Oz is on the field, she will deal Electro damage equal to 80% of her attack.
Since Anemo users always have to be the reactor, and you can easily keep up an Electro aura on enemies by Swirling in AoE, constantly proccing Fischl’s passive for a massive DPS increase is quite easy. If you cause a chain reaction Electro-charged, this will also proc Fischl’s passive.
Jean’s Elemental Burst is also very unique, in that it applies Anemo to the on field character. If that character has an elemental aura on them, this will cause a Swirl of that element. This can be used effectively with Jean’s Sunfire, where Bennett’s Elemental Burst is used to apply a consistent Pyro aura to the character, and Jean’s Elemental Burst then applies Anemo – Swirling Pyro.
This is extremely effective in Abyss against the Abyss Lectors. The constant Swirl spam applies a strong Pyro aura to the Lector’s Electro shields, and contributes greatly to taking them out swiftly.
With patch 1.6, Swirl has received a substantial buff. Typical Swirl users can expect to see their damage output increase by 20 to 90 percent, with the higher end increases coming with more investment in Elemental Mastery and Character Level.
Even with less investment in Elemental Mastery, a level 90 character with 200 Elemental Mastery will still see a 50 percent increase in Swirl damage from this buff. For active transformative reactors, increasing your Character Level has become much more important than before.
The diminishing returns on Elemental Mastery has also been greatly reduced for transformative reactions, and the new formula allows you to pretty much stack as much as you want.