Catalysts, which often take the form of tomes or mystic artifacts, are the weapons of choice for mages in Genshin ImpactThese powerful weapons are one of several kinds at players\’ disposal, and they help their users channel magical energy into every attack.

Characters who use catalysts in Genshin Impact are all magic-wielders, though they may be associated with different Elements/Visions each. These magic weapons are generally considered ranged, as their users don\’t really attack with the physical catalyst itself.

Catalysts function very much like any wand, staff, or rod would in most role-playing games, so players should think of these objects as the vessels their characters use to channel their Elemental energy in battle. As such, Normal and Charged Attacks with a catalyst tend to involve some sort of ranged magical burst or blast. Normal Attacks with a catalyst can also be an Area of Effect (AoE) attack, depending on character, and all Charged Attacks performed with a catalyst are AoE attacks.

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Because of the magical nature of these items, every attack performed with a catalyst also inflicts Elemental Damage. This is incredibly valuable, as most characters rely on their Elemental Skills or Bursts to apply Elemental attributes to other in-game objects or enemies. Whereas claymores offer the benefit of additional damage to Geo objects, catalysts allow a player to deal Elemental Damage quickly, safely, and without wasting precious energy resources.

Genshin Impact: The Catalyst

The characters in Genshin Impact who can currently wield a catalyst are as follows: Barbara (Hydro), Klee (Pyro), Lisa (Electro), Mona (Hydro), Ningguang (Geo), and Sucrose (Anemo). Relative to other weapons, this spread of characters covers a fair amount of the available in-game Elements/Visions, though there\’s still a lack of Cryo mage, for example. Insofar as strategy, the five available characters are commonly split into two groups: support, and offense. Barbara and (arguably) Ningguang offer supportive or defense-leaning abilities, while Lisa, Mona, Sucrose, and the newly arrived Pyro mage, Klee, all use their magic in more destructive forms.

For the purposes of this breakdown, a catalyst\’s utility and affordability will hold most weight. Plainly, utility is important because players want their weapons to effectively perform their functions. A good catalyst should be able to make a solid mage even more effective, whether it\’s by damage boosts, or special passive bonuses. Affordability on the other hand is a bit more contentious.

Some players may be alarmed that certain five-star weapons are missing from the top ranks of the list below, but rest assured, that has been taken into consideration. While five-star weapons are generally stronger, and offer more incredible abilities than their lower-starred counterparts, they are also impossibly difficult to obtain. Five-star weapons are only rewarded by valuable Wishes, so enhancing a five-star weapon is a herculean task involving, mostly, luck. In light of this, five-star weapons generally shouldn\’t be considered S-Tier, unless they\’re somehow obtainable without a cash-luck combo.

Yes, Thrilling Tales is a three-star weapon. Yes, Thrilling Tales is a top-tier catalyst. The relatively common tome allows for an incoming party member (not the user) to enter battle with a whopping 48 percent ATK boost. There sincerely isn\’t a comparable weapon boost offered to mages in this game, especially not by an item obtainable through casual Genshin Impact gameplay.

Within several hours of gameplay, most players will have found several of these catalysts, and that\’s what seals the deal for them as S-Tier. Any mage equipped with this catalyst will be able to unlock potentially devastating combos with their newly buffed teammates. The Prototype Malice, on the other hand, is an essential choice for healers like Barbara. This craftable four-star catalyst helps keep Energy supplies up, and grants HP regen to the party, which only helps double down on Barbara\’s existing Hydro healing powers.

A-Tier

  • Mappa Mare* (4-star) | Infusion Scroll – Triggering Elemental reactions grants a 16 percent Elemental DMG Bonus for 10 seconds. This effect stacks a maximum of 2 times.
  • Solar Pearl (4-star) | Solar Shine – Successful Normal Attacks increase Elemental Skill and Elemental Burst DMG by 40 percent for 6 seconds, and vice versa: successful Elemental Skills or Bursts increase Normal Attack DMG by 40 percent for 6 seconds.
  • The Widsith (4-star) | Debut – When a character enters battle, they earn one of three theme songs for 10 seconds. This effect can only occur once every 30 seconds. Songs: Recitative – ATK increased by 120 percent, Aria – all Elemental DMG increased by 96 percent, Interlude- Elemental Mastery is increased by 480.

Mappa Mare takes the cake here for being craftable, and for offering a significant damage boost to its user. 32 percent total isn\’t as wild as some of the stat boosts on five-star weapons, but given the relative ease of obtaining Mappa Mare, it\’s an impressive number. The Solar Pearl is a unique choice in that it\’s one of this season\’s special Battle Pass five-star weapons. Those who own the Battle Pass (and want to prioritize one of their mages) are highly encouraged to simply choose the Solar Pearl as their five-star reward for the season.

That said, enhancing it to Rank 5 will prove difficult, since finding an additional copy is basically impossible right now.  The Widsith is earned from Wishes, so it\’s a bit more attainable, but even still, its ability only becomes truly excellent at Rank 5, and unless players are ready to dish out the Primogems and Fates, that won\’t be possible at all.

B-Tier

  • Blackcliff Amulet (4-star) | Exorcise – Defeat an enemy to increase the next Elemental Burst\’s DMG by 48 percent. Lasts for 30 seconds, and can stack up to a maximum of 3 times.
  • Sacrificial Fragments (4-star) | Composed – After successfully dealing damage to an enemy via Elemental Skill, the skill has an 80 percent chance to end its own cooldown. This effect can only occur once every 14 seconds.
  • Eye of Perception (4-star) | Echo – Normal and Charged Attacks have a 50 percent chance of generating a Bolt of Perception, dealing 360 percent ATK as Damage. The bolt can bounce between enemies up to a maximum of 4 times, and the effect can occur once every 8 seconds.

All three of these offer incredible abilities, but all three of these are rather tricky to locate. That said, the passive abilities are unique and substantial enough to warrant note, even at Rank 1. Sacrificial Fragments helps players bust past cooldown times, while Blackcliff Amulet and the Eye of Perception offer matchless boosts Elemental Burst DMG, and general offense, respectively.

Honorable Mentions

  • Amber Catalyst (3-star) | Elemental Mastery – Successful Normal Attacks increase all Elemental DMG by 12 percent for 6 seconds. This effect stacks a maximum of 2 times.
  • Skyward Atlas (5-star) | Wandering Clouds – Increases Elemental DMG Bonus by 24 percent. Successful Normal Attacks have a 50 percent chance to \”earn the favor of the clouds.\” This effect actively seeks out nearby enemies to attack for 15 seconds, dealing 320 percent ATK DMG. Can only occur once every 30 seconds.
  • Lost Prayer to the Sacred Winds (5-star) | Boundless Blessing – Increases Movement SPD by 10 percent. When in battle, gain a 16 percent Elemental DMG Bonus every 4 seconds. This effect stacks a maximum of 4 times, and lasts until the character falls or switches out of combat. (Please note: details regarding this weapon\’s Rank 5 Elemental DMG Bonus are currently based on predictions – 10 percent Elemental DMG Bonus at Rank 2 is confirmed, 16 percent at Rank 5 is speculative.)

And finally, we have some honorable mentions. All three of these would be lovely choices to help out with the current Elemental Crucible event, given their Element-boosting bonuses. The Amber Catalyst offers a meager 24 percent increase in Elemental DMG, but considering how easily it\’s found in chests, players should be aware of its existence. In the absence of stronger four-star options, a simply enhanced Amber Catalyst can make a world of difference.

That aside, players can always bank on the famous five-star weapons Gacha-spenders literally Wish for. Their abilities are undeniably powerful, but few players will want to sink that much time (and probably, money,) into a virtual weapon that then requires upgrading.

Genshin Impact is available now on the App Store, Google Play, and PS4.