Want to learn how to create the best build for Kaeya in Genshin Impact? Of the four starter playable units you acquire in Genshin Impact's prologue, Cryo Sword user Kaeya is definitely our favourite. He sits head and shoulders above the Traveler, Amber, and Lisa in our Genshin Impact tier list, where he made it all the way to B Tier — and if that doesn't sound like much, consider that this makes him our highest rated free-to-play character until you get the chance to recruit Barbara at Adventure Rank 20.
Kaeya sports a mysterious eyepatch and is definitely flirting with you when he promises to tell you the story over a drink sometime... but more importantly, his Cryo powers are invaluable for creating the ice bridges that help you open up more of the map in the early stages of the game, while his basic yet balanced kit ensures that he's good for more than just elemental utility. For this reason you're going to want to keep Kaeya in your party at least for a while (even if his ice-themed combat quips get old really fast). He's also currently the only completely free Cryo character in the game, so if your aim is to play Genshin Impact without spending a lot of cash, Kaeya's your man. So here's how to make sure his fighting skills are a match for his usefulness as an explorer.
How to build Kaeya as a DPS or sub-DPS in Genshin Impact
Kaeya's ideal placement in your Genshin Impact party can be hard to determine. As the strongest of the starting characters, early-game players and those who are focusing on building an entirely free-to-play party will probably want to use him in the DPS role. However, as you expand your roster, you'll likely find better candidates for your combat linchpin, although Kaeya remains undeniably useful as a Cryo DPS or sub-DPS (thanks to the fact that the vast majority of Cryo DPS characters are at a premium 5-star rarity). Therefore, this guide aims to cover all the bases with a general DPS build for Kaeya that you can adapt to suit the specific needs of your party.
Best weapon: Skyward Blade
Alternative: Favonius Sword
Kaeya's best weapon is undoubtedly the Skyward Blade. Not only does it boast a boost to Crit Rate, but using Elemental Burst with this sword equipped triggers an effect called Skypiercing Might. Skypiercing Might lasts for 12 seconds, during which movement and attack speed are both increased by 10%, and there's a signficant (variable) increase to both normal and charged attack damage. Kaeya is a strong DPS and close-up combat character in the early game and/or if you're focusing on free-to-play characters, and the benefits offered by the Skyward Blade are considerable if you're planning to keep him in your party long-term.
However, if you're struggling to get hold of a Skyward Blade (or want to keep your best weapons for your DPS and give Kaeya the sub-DPS role), then the Favonius Sword is a good alternative weapon for him. There's a high chance that scoring a critical hit with this sword will generate an Elemental Orb which will restore a chunk of Kaeya's Energy, which will reduce the cooldown time on his excellent Elemental Burst skill. It's not quite the huge suite of benefits offered by the Skyward Blade, but it works well with Kaeya's kit, and at 4-star rarity you're more likely to find the Favonius Sword easily.
Best artifacts: Blizzard Strayer
Alternative: Noblesse Oblige
For Kaeya's Artifact set, use all available slots to equip Blizzard Strayer when you can. The Blizzard Strayer set specifically boosts Cryo characters, and with two pieces equipped all of Kaeya's elemental attacks will deal an additional 15% damage. Equipping four pieces adds 20% crit rate when attacking an enemy vulnerable to Cryo, plus an additional 20% when attacking a Frozen enemy — so, in ideal conditions, you can make the most of a one-two punch using both Kaeya's elemental and weapon attacks.
Since gathering four pieces from one set can be a tall order, you can supplement Kaeya's artifacts with pieces from the Noblesse Oblige set as needed. Two pieces equipped will increase his Elemental Burst damage by 20%, and if you go for the four-piece option using this talent will increase all party members' attack by 20% for the next 12 seconds. Kaeya's Elemental Burst might not be quite as useful as his Elemental Skill, but it's a close call, and it's well worth boosting it while you wait to collect the Blizzard Strayer pieces that will improve his elemental attacks across the board.
For stats and substats on Kaeya's artifacts, aim for the following:
- Circlet of Logos: CRIT DMG
- Sands of Eon: ATK
- Goblet of Eonothem: Cryo DMG Bonus
- Substats: CRITs and ATK
Talent priority: Frostgnaw (Elemental Skill)
Secondary: Glacial Waltz (Elemental Burst)
All of Kaeya's active skills are worth investing in, since he works best in combat that makes use of both his elemental and weapon attacks. However, if you have other sword-wielders in your party or are focusing on Kaeya as a sub-DPS, then his normal attacks should definitely take last priority, as they're competent but nothing outstanding. Prioritise his elemental skill Frostgnaw, which is one of the best utility skills in the game, allowing you to instantly freeze Hydro-effected enemies in their tracks, and giving you excellent access to map exploration activities thanks to its short cooldown time making it perfect for constructing frost bridges across water. Next up, invest in his elemental burst Glacial Waltz, which makes a great supplementary combat skill that can keep a group of close-up enemies occupied taking gradual damage while Kaeya focuses his swordwork on tackling them one at a time.
Here's a full list of Kaeya's Talents:
- Normal Attack: Ceremonial Bladework
- Normal Attack - Performs up to 5 rapid strikes.
- Charged Attack - Consumes a variable amount of Stamina to unleash 2 rapid sword strikes.
- Plunging Attack - Plunges from mid-air to strike the ground below, damaging opponents along the path and dealing AoE DMG upon impact.
- Elemental Skill: Frostgnaw - Unleashes a frigid blast, dealing Cryo DMG to opponents in front of Kaeya.
- Elemental Burst: Glacial Waltz - Coalescing the frost in the air, Kaeya summons 3 icicles that revolve 4 times around him for 8 seconds. These icicles will follow the character around and deal Cryo DMG to opponents in their path for so long as they persist.
- 1st Ascension Passive: Cold-Blooded Strike - Every hit with Frostgnaw regenerates HP for Kaeya equal to 15% of his ATK.
- 4th Ascension Passive: Glacial Heart - Opponents frozen by Frostgnaw will drop additional Elemental Particles. Frostgnaw may only produce a maximum of 2 additional Elemental Particles per use.
- Utility Passive: Hidden Strength - Decreases Stamina consumption when sprinting by 20% for all characters in the party. (Not stackable with other Passive Talents that provide the exact same effects.)
- DPS: Kaeya
- Sub-DPS: Amber
- Shields: Noelle
- Healer: Barbara
5-star alternative: Diluc replacing Amber, switch Kaeya down to sub-DPS
Kaeya can be happily substituted in basically any party that calls for a Cryo DPS or sub-DPS, but this particular composition is designed around free-to-play characters who are obtainable early on in the game. In other words, this is a great party to use when you're starting out, but with wise upgrading can carry you through even to the later stages of the game.
For Kaeya's sub-DPS, I recommend his fellow starter character Amber. She's not especially strong, but as an archer she can take care of ranged attacks that are beyond Kaeya's skill set, and her Pyro bow combo makes her great for utility activities like lighting fires and breaking down enemy shields. Combining her Pyro effects with Kaeya's Cryo effects trigger the Melt reaction, which increases damage dealt to afflicted enemies by between 1.5x and 2x. However, Amber's really the weak point in this team, so if you've managed to get your hands on a 5-star Pyro DPS character like Diluc, for example, this would be the place to use them; in which case, Kaeya works better as the more utility-focussed sub-DPS to the Pyro 5-star's main DPS. Diluc is constantly available on the standard wish banner and is Kaeya's sworn brother in-canon, both good reasons to use him on this team.
Noelle is not quite a starter character but you're practically guaranteed to pick her up early on in the game, and she's got a solid Geo shield ability that can also be used to heal the party while on the move; thanks to this, she's quite a crutch character for many free-to-play Genshin Impact fans, and she and Kaeya often stick around even on premium teams. Finally, Barbara is undeniably the game's best free-to-play character and best healer, and unlocks automatically once you reach Adventure Rank 20. Her healing powers are excellent (pair her with Noelle and your team will feel invincible); but just as importantly, in combat she can afflict enemies with Hydro, allowing Kaeya to hit them with his elemental skill for the highly-desirable Frozen reaction. This completely immobilises afflicted enemies, leaving them entirely at the mercy of the DPS and sub-DPS.
How to level up Kaeya in Genshin Impact
To fully ascend Kaeya you'll need the following materials:
|1 Shivada Jade Sliver, 3 Calla Lilies, 3 Treasure Hoarder Insignias, and 20,000 Mora
|3 Shivada Jade Fragments, 10 Calla Lilies, 15 Treasure Hoarder Insignias, 2 Hoarfrost Cores, and 40,000 Mora
|6 Shivada Jade Fragments, 20 Calla Lilies, 12 Silver Raven Insignias, 4 Hoarfrost Cores, and 60,000 Mora
|3 Shivada Jade Chunks, 30 Calla Lilies, 18 Silver Raven Insignias, 8 Hoarfrost Cores, and 80,000 Mora
|6 Shivada Jade Chunks, 45 Calla Lilies, 12 Golden Raven Insignias, 12 Hoarfrost Cores, and 100,000 Mora
|6 Shivada Jade Gemstones, 60 Calla Lilies, 24 Golden Raven Insignias, 20 Hoarfrost Cores, and 120,000 Mora
|168 Calla Lilies, 46 Hoarfrost Cores, 36 Golden Raven Insignias, 30 Silver Raven Insignias, 18 Treasure Hoarder Insignias, 9 Shivada Jade Chunks, 9 Shivada Jade Fragments, 6 Shivada Jade Gemstones, 1 Shivada Jade Sliver, and 420,000 Mora
Like most of the free-to-play characters, Kaeya's ascension materials aren't particularly rare. The main thing to keep in mind is that all three insignia types he requires are primarily gained through combat with Treasure Hoarder NPCs, and that you'll need to go toe-to-toe with higher-level members of this bandit gang to pick up enough Silver and Gold Raven Insignias.
To level up any one of Kaeya's three talents, you'll need the following materials (you can repeat this process to level up mutliple talents if you would like):
|Talent Level (+ required Ascension Level)
|6 Treasure Hoarder Insignias, 3 Teachings of Ballad, and 12,500 Mora
|3 Silver Raven Insignias, 2 Guides to Ballad, and 17,500 Mora
|4 Silver Raven Insignias, 4 Guides to Ballad, and 25,000 Mora
|6 Silver Raven Insignias, 6 Guides to Ballad, and 30,000 Mora
|9 Silver Raven Insignias, 9 Guides to Ballad, and 37,500 Mora
|4 Golden Raven Insignias, 4 Philosophies of Ballad, 1 Spirit Locket of Boreas, and 120,000 Mora
|6 Golden Raven Insignias, 6 Philosophies of Ballad, 1 Spirit Locket of Boreas, and 260,000 Mora
|9 Golden Raven Insignias, 12 Philosophies of Ballad, 2 Spirit Lockets of Boreas, and 450,000 Mora
|12 Golden Raven Insignias, 16 Philosophies of Ballad, 2 Spirit Lockets of Boreas, 1 Crown of Insight, and 700,000 Mora
|6 Treasure Hoarder Insignias, 22 Silver Raven Insignias, 3 Teachings of Ballad, 21 Guides to Ballad, 38 Philosophies of Ballad, 6 Spirit Lockets of Boreas, 1 Crown of Insight, and 1,652,500 Mora
Fortunately, it's comparatively easy to farm the upgrade materials needed for Kaeya's talents, especially since there's a lot of overlap with his Ascension Materials and the talent materials you'll be farming generally for the whole of your roster. The only Talent Materials for Kaeya that you'll really need to go out of your way for are the Spirit Lockets of Boreas, for which you need to beat the Wolf of the North domain challenge at Level 70+.
Working through Kaeya's Constellations can be troublesome, since the starter characters are never featured on Character Event Wish banners, and he therefore never has an increased drop rate in the gacha. You can still get Kaeya's Constellations, either by getting lucky and pulling him on the standard Wanderlust Invocation banner or purchasing him from Paimon's Bargains, though with the effort involved you might prefer to just focus on adding some higher-tier Cryo characters to your roster instead. Fortunately, though, none of his Constellations are really must-have game-changers, so you can build him up pretty well without grinding to get all of them. Furthemore, Kaeya is one of the best free characters in the game and honestly tons of fun to keep around, so in case you do decide to hang on to him, here's a full list of his Constellations:
- Excellent Blood (Lvl 1): The Crit Rate of Kaeya's Normal and Charged Attacks against opponents affected by Cryo is increased by 15%.
- Never-Ending Performance (Lvl 2): Every time Glacial Waltz defeats an opponent during its duration, its duration is increased by 2.5s, up to a maximum of 15s.
- Dance of Frost (Lvl 3): Increases the Level of Frostgnaw by 3. Maximum upgrade level is 15.
- Frozen Kiss (Lvl 4): Creates a shield that absorbs damage equal to 30% of Kaeya's Max HP. Triggers automatically when Kaeya's HP falls below 20% and lasts for 20s. This shield absorbs Cryo DMG with 250% efficiency but can only occur once every 60s.
- Frostbiting Embrace (Lvl 5): Increases the Level of Glacial Waltz by 3. Maximum upgrade level is 15.
- Glacial Whirlwind (Lvl 6): Glacial Waltz will generate 1 additional icicle, and will regenerate 15 Energy when cast.
How to get Kaeya in Genshin Impact
Kaeya is the Cavalry Captain of the Knights of Favonius. You'll meet him in Mondstadt as an NPC during Act 1 of Genshin Impact's Prologue questline. Not long after you'll gain him as a Trial character during the Crash Course quest, where you'll clear the Temple of the Wolf domain with his assistance. Completing this quest adds Kaeya permanently to your party as a fully playable character. It's impossible to miss out on getting him, so don't worry about it.
It's also possible to re-roll Kaeya as part of the standard Wanderlust Invocation wish pool to gather his Constellations, and he's available to purchase from Paimon's Bargains approximately once every six months (usually as part of the June and December line-ups). However, as a starter character he isn't included in the pool for Character Event Wish or Weapon Event Wish banners, and therefore never features with a boosted drop rate on the former, making him one of the game's least likely gacha pulls.
That's everything you need to know about the best Kaeya build in Genshin Impact! If you want to see how he measures up against the game's other Cryo Sword users, check out our Genshin Impact character tier list, or see our guide to the best Kamisato Ayaka build.