Updated for Version 1.2
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Table of Contents
Kafka is a 5★ character available exclusively from the Nessun Dorma Warp in Honkai: Star Rail. She is a Lightning damage dealer belonging to the Nihility Path. Kafka is the premier Damage over Time (DoT) character bringing both exceptional personal damage as well as the ability to amplify the damage of other DoT characters. With her powerful Area of Effect (AoE) damage output and explosive detonations of DoT effects, Kafka makes for a well-rounded damage dealer who can lead teams to victory.
As a character whose mechanics focus on triggering DoT effects, she has unique playstyles, synergies and stat requirements that we’ll cover below.
Kafka’s kit revolves around her unique ability to trigger DoT effects on her own turn without reducing their duration, granting all Damage over Time effects additional damage output and removing their reliance on enemies taking turns. The more often Kafka can act, the more often she can force DoT effects to trigger.
This makes Kafka unique in that a portion of her damage can be derived from the stats of other characters, allowing her to scale with both her own stats and kit, as well as all current and future sources of DoT. Bear in mind that this also means if you are choosing to pair Kafka with other DoT characters, these characters must also be very well invested to see good damage returns.
Kafka’s Skill and Ultimate are what forcibly trigger DoT effects. Her Ultimate detonates DoT effects at a higher percentage of the original DoT when compared to her Skill, but this requires her A2 Bonus Trace to be able to detonate all DoT effects instead of just Shock.
While Kafka’s Skill is only capable of detonating existing DoT effects, her Ultimate is the source of her own personal DoT, inflicting Shock onto all enemies and then immediately triggering the DoT effect once. Because of the immediate DoT proc, Kafka does not need to set up her personal Shock beforehand to maximize the effectiveness of her Ultimate.
Kafka’s Talent is a follow-up attack that is triggered by ally Basic ATKs, and it will inflict her Ultimate’s Shock DoT onto the enemy hit by the follow-up attack. This allows Kafka to easily prime enemies to take high damage from her Skill without being overly reliant on her Ultimate for set up. Because the follow-up attack has a one-turn cooldown (based on Kafka’s turns), it is relatively easy to apply Shock onto multiple enemies and then keep it going, provided you meet the criteria for activation.
Kafka’s Technique is a way to begin an encounter with her Ultimate’s Shock DoT already applied onto all enemies, thus reducing Kafka’s ramp-up time.
Due to these interactions, Kafka’s Ultimate is the most important aspect of her kit, since its DoT can be applied through multiple means and is the main source of damage that will be triggered via her Skill and the Ultimate itself.
Note: Trace levels shown are 1/10/12 (Basic ATK 1/6/7).
Ability Level Priority
> > >
Ultimate > Skill > Talent > Basic
Both Kafka’s Ultimate and Skill offer great damage, but her Talent’s follow-up attack inflicts the same DoT as her Ultimate, meaning her Ultimate is the top priority to level.
Bonus Ability Priority
A2 > A6 > A4
A2 will generally be the highest priority Bonus Ability to unlock, unless you are playing Kafka without any other DoT characters.
Kafka always wants to use her Skill every turn. You should aim to apply DoT to enemies before using the Skill.
One way to apply DoT to the enemy is by using an ally Basic ATK to activate Kafka’s Talent, though this relies on the ally being faster than Kafka. Other methods include using ally Abilities that can apply DoT or using Kafka’s Ultimate to apply Shock. Since Kafka’s Ultimate also detonates the Shock as it’s applied, this is a very efficient setup.
Kafka’s Technique can also be used to apply Shock at the start of an encounter, giving her a head start in applying DoT to all enemies.
Kafka’s Ultimate can generally be used as soon as it is available, though there may be situations where you want to hold onto it for a bit to gain more out of it, such as by waiting for teammates to apply their own DoT effects onto enemies for a larger detonation, waiting for Kafka to get buffed by a support, or debuffing enemies prior to using her Ultimate.
4-Pc Band of Sizzling Thunder
|BiS option for Kafka. Performs as Kafka’s best set in general. She ideally wants to use her Skill every turn, so you should have 100% uptime on its ATK buff.|
4-Pc Genius of Brilliant Stars
|Can compete with 4-Pc Sizzling Thunder. When Kafka is against Quantum-weak enemies or has DEF Shred on her team, this set will be her best performing option; otherwise it can be slightly behind 4-Pc Sizzling Thunder. |
Overall, this Relic set is one of the most efficient to farm broadly on your account because it widely competes as the 1st or 2nd choice option for many characters. On Kafka its performance varies depending on whether your team has other DEF reduction effects and if the content you are fighting has a large Quantum-weak focus.
|2-Pc Combinations||2-Pc viable sets include: Messenger Traversing Hackerspace, Musketeer of Wild Wheat, and Band of Sizzling Thunder.|
If a combination of any two of these 2-Pc sets yield a higher quantity of useful substats, then that could also be effective.
Space Sealing Station
|Kafka’s Best-in-Slot Planar Ornament set offers her valuable ATK%. She uses SPD Boots so she will easily reach the 120 SPD requirement.|
Pan-Cosmic Commercial Enterprise
|If at E1, this can help alleviate the increased need for EHR while still providing a decent ATK% boost in the process. Not recommended otherwise.|
Patience Is All You Need
|Only marginally better than a S5 Good Night and Sleep Well, not recommended to roll for if you have 3 or more copies of that LC.|
Good Night and Sleep Well
|Best 4-star gacha Light Cone by a landslide, but requires other Nihility units or multiple Break DoTs on the enemy to maintain the full amount of stacks.|
|Kafka does not make any use of CRIT Rate, however the Vulnerability debuff from Aether Code makes up for this. Not recommended to roll for due to only marginal improvement over a high Superimposition Fermata and being worse than S3+ Good Night and Sleep Well, but you can use it if you already have it.|
In the Name of the World
|Stat stick, use if you have it but don’t pursue it.|
|Best F2P option and incredibly solid at S5, competing with the other 5 star options outside of Patience Is All You Need.|
Eyes of the Prey
|At E0, this is worse than a Fermata at equivalent Superimposition levels, but at E1+ it becomes a better option due to the EHR it provides.|
EHR (to ~28%) > SPD > ATK > Break Effect%
Prioritize getting to 28.3% total Effect Hit Rate before going for other substats. This 28% EHR does not have to be exclusively achieved through substats since it can also be acquired through Kafka’s Traces or external factors such as Pela’s A4 Bonus Ability.
SPD and ATK
You should prioritize SPD substats as this will have the most significant bearing on Kafka’s ability to deal damage, regardless of which team composition you go for. More SPD is better, so long as you are able to keep up with the increasing SP costs associated with going faster. More ATK is never a bad thing, though this has a lower priority compared to SPD and EHR.
Break Effect% is a stat that Kafka can potentially make good use of against Lightning weak foes to improve the damage of the DoT from Weakness Break, especially since her Ultimate and Skill are capable of detonating the Break DoT. However, this is oftentimes an unreliable overall damage increase, since it relies entirely on Kafka being the one to Break the enemy which is not always possible. It is also completely useless against enemies that are not weak to Lightning. As such, Break Effect% is better used on other characters while Kafka focuses on SPD and ATK%.
One thing to keep in mind is that building Break Effect% is only an effective strategy when built on a single character of a team, since an enemy can only be Weakness Broken by one character at a time.
You may have noticed that we do not have CRIT in our substat priority list.
You should build Kritka 🤯 NOW! ⏲️
And give somebody 🧑🦲 else a piece of this knowledge 🧠 and Kritka 🔥 so we can all live 🌎 in Band of Sizzling Thunder ⛈️ Cavern farming crit pieces. 🧑🌾
Because what ❓ else are you here for? 🧐
To worship 🙌 Kafka?
Build Kritka. 🛠️
I mean that, with a hundred 💯 Crit Value.
With a thousand Crit Value. 🔒
guys it only joke no crit pls
DoT cannot crit and Kafka’s DoT detonation effect similarly cannot crit, leaving her CRIT-scaling multipliers which are nothing short of abysmal. The CRIT-scaling hit of her Ultimate has an 80% multiplier per enemy at Trace level 10, which is even less than her Basic ATK. In comparison, her DoT damage from Shock (which is completely incapable of hitting crits) is 290% of her ATK at the same level.
Building for CRIT will pull far more valuable substats away from the strongest part of Kafka’s kit. Again, this is dreadful. If you get CRIT substats by chance, that’s just unlucky, but no matter how good that CRIT may seem, don’t get baited. Invest in Kafka DoT stocks instead.
Kafka has a unique set of synergies due to her reliance on DoT in terms of both her secondary Damage dealer options and the support buff and debuff options. Characters that can apply DoTs have a natural synergy with Kafka’s detonation effect, but characters that can enhance Kafka’s own DoT or that are able to debuff enemies are also very potent.
Second Damage Dealer
These characters require high investment as well, but can also contribute considerable damage.
|Large AoE Wind Shear damage and DoT Vulnerability debuff benefit Kafka greatly. After he’s done maxing out his stacks, he can Basic ATK repeatedly to generate SP. Also allows for an easy 3 stacks on Good Night and Sleep Well. Great synergy.|
|Highly recommended for content against single targets and/or Physical weak enemies. He can also dispel problematic enemy buffs similarly to Pela’s Skill if necessary. Luka’s Ultimate also increases the DMG that a single enemy receives, amplifying DoT as well. Due to his Ultimate’s high Energy cost, he can become an SP sink if you’re not careful.|
|Kafka’s Talent can sustain her Shock effortlessly against a single enemy, but has more difficulty in AoE situations. Against multiple durable enemies, or those with powerful CC, Serval helps to maintain Shock uptime while contributing her own Shock DoT. One advantage Serval brings to Kafka teams is her ability to extend Break Effect Shock favoring her against enemies that are weak to Lightning. Keep in mind that the personal DoT contribution of Serval is significantly lower than either Sampo or Luka.|
These characters buff Kafka and/or her teammates. They typically require lower investment than another damage dealer.
|One of Kafka’s best flex slot choices, especially against Fire-weak enemies. Can buff both Kafka and any other damage dealers, and gives an ATK% and flat SPD buff to the entire team. The more SPD, the more frequently Kafka can detonate DoTs, and this therefore equates to more damage. Can also be run SP neutral. Contributes a DoT of her own, though it is largely negligible.|
|Tingyun’s ATK% and DMG% buffs offer a considerable increase to Kafka’s personal damage output. Her Ultimate’s Energy Regeneration allows Kafka to detonate more DoT instances more frequently. Her Skill’s 3 turn duration can also help achieve SP positive or neutral scenarios. However, keep in mind that if you are running a second damage dealer, Tingyun will not help them at all, as her buffs are exclusively single target.|
|While Kafka cannot make effective use of CRIT DMG, Bronya still grants ATK%, DMG% and can advance Kafka’s turn. Granting Kafka additional actions leads to additional uses of her Skill and Ultimate, which in turn causes additional detonations.|
Bronya’s high SP requirements can make it difficult to use her alongside Kafka without Bronya’s E1 or signature Light Cone, though this can be somewhat mitigated with careful play. Because of this, Bronya can be considered an advanced option, and is therefore not generally recommended.
These characters debuff the enemies. Freeze has been counted as a ‘debuff’ due to it being an enemy-centered effect.
|A universally good debuffer that can implant Lightning Weakness, or Quantum Weakness for the Genius of Brilliant Stars Relic set bonus. She also helps Kafka’s team break faster, and potentially adds an additional Break Effect DoT into the mix. Her DEF Shred also stacks with the aforementioned Relic set. However, take care not to Break with Silver Wolf as the delay from the Entanglement debuff will reduce your DoT ticks due to slowing the enemy.|
|Notable for her AoE DEF shred stacking with the 4pc set effect of Genius of Brilliant Stars and becoming even more potent. A decent SP positive pick that does not require much investment, and also has access to a buff dispel. Additionally, she grants 10% Effect Hit Rate to everyone in the party, bringing Kafka up to 28% before any Relic stats.|
(March 7th, Gepard)
|Freeze synergizes well with DoT effects as enemies take a turn to recover from Frozen, during which DoT effects tick down but the enemy does not get to act. Freezing enemies will provide more DoT ticks over the course of the fight while simultaneously stretching the time between enemy attacks without the downsides of other control effects, such as Imprisonment or Entanglement. |
EHR main stat pieces and a focus on EHR substats for these characters will lead to an increase in overall DoT damage and safety. Keep in mind that both of these characters can be very SP hungry when played for Freeze.
|Slowing or Imprisoning the enemy directly delays their turn reducing the rate of ticking DoT damage. Welt’s Ultimate DMG Vulnerability also stacks additively with Sampo’s, so you are better off using someone else.|
Strong Imaginary/Quantum Breakers
(i.e. Qingque, Yukong)
|Controlling effects such as Entanglement or Imprisonment reduce the rate at which DoT effects tick due to the enemy becoming delayed and should be avoided.|
Make sure to keep Weaknesses, SP, and content in mind when you draft your team. A team that works very well against waves of small enemies may do terribly against an Elite. Similarly, a team that cannot sustain its main playstyle is eventually going to fail.
Because Kafka is not really reliant on any one specific teammate, her team compositions are quite flexible. Putting Kafka alongside any combination of the aforementioned teammate options is likely to result in a good team, though again make sure to consider SP when constructing your party.
Additionally, because Kafka is quite frail, adding a solid defensive option is imperative and non-negotiable if you are aiming to tackle end game content such as Memory of Chaos. Forgoing that for more damage will not bring you good results. Don’t try it.
While it is certainly possible to play Kafka in a triple carry setup, it comes with significant drawbacks, most notably that a setup like this is extraordinarily fragile. You sacrifice practically all defensive utility while not necessarily surpassing the damage profile of Dual Carry or Solo Carry. This setup also requires substantially more resources to be put into each character, since all three of your damage dealers need to be at a high investment to take full advantage of their personal damage.
(Solo Carry is functionally the same as “Hypercarry” but without CRIT. This is to more easily recognize that you should not build CRIT.)
Kafka can work as a solo carry and DoT unit on a team with dedicated support units. These teams rely on Kafka dealing highly increased Shock damage due to allies providing buffs for Kafka’s damage output, or applying debuffs to enemies.
Keep in mind that these are not the only possible teams to play with Kafka, just some examples.
Tingyun Asta Solo Carry
Extremely fast team that does not rely on applying debuffs onto enemies. Tingyun can be played net SP positive, meaning that Asta can more freely use her Skill to maintain exceptional uptime on her Ultimate, resulting in a very fast, permanently buffed Kafka who can use her Ultimate far more frequently. Kafka should not be built for CRIT even for “Hypercarry”. Once again, do not build CRIT.
Note: This team struggles to utilize GNSW on Kafka.
Bronya Solo Carry
Allows Kafka to double up on turns, giving her more Skill uses and thus increasing the number of times she can detonate her own DoT. Only a Fast Bronya will be able to realistically keep up with Kafka, and this also requires careful play and a lot of SP to maintain. You should aim to maximize your usage of her skill without depriving Kafka of SP. This team can struggle with emergency situations due to a lack of free floating SP.
Note: Bronya cannot be reasonably used with Kafka in a Dual Carry setup, as it is borderline impossible to find the SP to make that team even get started, let alone maintain it for any length of time, meaning that by choosing to use Bronya with Kafka, your second Flex slot becomes notably more limited.
Double Debuffer Solo Carry
A double-debuffer team also works for a solo carry Kafka. This team has plenty of SP and is not particularly Skill dependent, allowing for flexible use of Skills based upon the situation. This means you have the leeway to use SP on Pela’s Skill for the purposes of dispelling enemies, or to use the surplus SP for emergency purposes on your Defensive Flex.
Note: Bailu and Gepard work particularly well as Defensive Flexes here due to their elements. Gepard in particular can make great use of any surplus SP to take advantage of his Skill’s Freeze, and subsequently increase the rate at which enemies will take DoT ticks.
Double Defensive Solo Carry
Keep in mind that this team will not perform very well damage wise compared to all other team options. Ideally your Kafka should be very highly invested, to the point of being able to almost clear as the solo damage option. For the non-Defensive Flex Slot, any of Kafka’s other synergistic teammates can work.
Although any defensive character can be used, notable choices include March 7th and Gepard for access to Freeze. Preservation units holding Trend of the Universal Market can be another source of DoT, though this would really only be for the purposes of maximizing the effects of GNSW.
Dual Carry Kafka teams utilize her kit to detonate the DoT effects provided by one additional DoT damage dealer. These teams can use either a buffer or debuffer to enhance team damage output.
Keep in mind that these are not the only possible teams to play with Kafka, just some examples.
Only Skill once per Ultimate use with Serval to tag enemies with her Shock, then Basic ATK to generate SP. Focus on generating SP necessary for Kafka and maximizing your Ultimate uptime with Asta. Serval is also capable of extending Break Shock, so this can also contribute extra damage for Kafka’s Skill and Ultimate DoT detonations.
This team lags behind other options, but it is very accessible if the only gacha character you own is Kafka, and is still decent, especially against Lightning weak foes.
Sampo Dual Carry
Good single target with very strong AoE. Focus on getting 5 stacks of Wind Shear with Sampo as soon as possible without depriving Kafka of SP. After your primary targets have 5 stacks, use his Basics to generate SP unless you need more Toughness damage from his Skill.
Although Asta is highlighted in this image, she can be replaced by other SP positive units such as Pela or Silver Wolf. An Asta-specific note is that the extra SP from Sampo’s Basic ATKs are well spent on Asta’s Skill to increase her Energy gains and improve her Ultimate uptime.
Luka Dual Carry
Very strong single target focus. Luka is mostly SP neutral, since he needs to maintain his Skill’s Bleed but also wants to be using his Enhanced Basic ATK to detonate his own Bleed too. Silver Wolf provides significant single target debuffs and DEF Reduction that stacks fully with Luka’s DMG Taken debuff from his Ultimate. This team typically wants a fully SP positive Defensive Flex since both Silver Wolf and Luka also want to be using SP on occasion.
Although Silver Wolf has excellent synergy with Luka due to their shared single-target focus, Pela or a SP positive Asta can also be substituted here.
Triple Carry Kafka teams use 2 additional DoT carries, forgoing any kind of support units. As of version 1.2, there are still a very limited number of DoT units, so this team can be hard to put together. One must take care to properly manage SP while dealing enough damage and properly sustaining the team.
Keep in mind that these are not the only possible teams to play with Kafka, just some examples.
Sampo Luka Triple Carry
This team requires the highest investment out of most of Kafka’s team options to take full advantage of it while having little to no survivability. Careful balancing of Sampo and Luka’s SP is also required, as well as high investment into a strong solo defensive option.
- August 13 2023 – Published for v1.2
- August 17 2023 – Added Infographic for v1.2
- August 25 2023 – Changed from Quick Guide to Guide.