Equipment has always been one of the most exciting parts of Flesh and Blood. From the initial high of pulling an important piece to the careful planning of how to utilize this equipment slot alongside your deck, the effect your equipment choices and utilization can have on your gameplay is by no means negligible. However, the newer equipment pieces in Tales of Aria, as well as a generally more complex card pool to choose from, means that mastering each equipment slot has never been tougher. In my equipment spotlight, I try to break down each piece in the game one by one, going deep into its use-cases, side boarding options, archetypes, and preferred combinations. For this week, let’s get right into Shock Charmers!
For beginners looking at Shock Charmers, the card may seem quite confusing in its value proposition. Why would I pay two resources just for one instance of extra damage on my next attack action that hits? When looking at the rate of normal attacks, the going rate for damage is extremely poor.
In addition, within many non-arcane oriented matchups (which is most of them), Shock Charmers is a poor defensive piece. With the nature of the current meta, and the aggressive pressure put on by most decks, choosing a non-blocking equipment must be done with careful consideration, as you open the door for many on-hit effects and such to pass through from your opponent.
Really, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking poorly of the equipment piece in a vacuum. However, Shock Charmers is one of those cards that hits way above it’s weight class once we start to investigate various card combinations and put in within actual gameplay.
A major point newer players also miss when looking at Shock Charmers is understanding that the instant effect is not limited to “once per turn.” In fact, Shock Charmers can be used as many times as you can pay for its ability, with each activation resulting in a separate instance of damage. As we’ll see in a moment, this has serious ramification when paired with certain combinations of cards.
When active, the “plus one” replacement effect from these above cards ups the damage from Shock Charmers as well, as each activation of Shock Charmers is a separate instance of damage layered onto the attack. When you start to stack damage in this manner, Shock Charmers can quickly become an incredibly powerful source of burst damage. A common attack sequence in lightning-based builds is multiple Ball Lightnings finished off by a breakpoint attack such as a fused Frazzle (Red). The Instant activation of Shock Charmers could easily then result in three to four damage for each activation as the final Frazzle connects on the chain.
This brings us to the next benefit of Charmer builds. Since raw damage isn’t usually respected as a relevant on-hit effect on its own, many will not defend a singular fused Frazzle (Red) and simply choose to take the 5+1 damage from the card. Catching people off guard in this manner is easily punishable with Shock Charmers in the same way that attack reactions work. Suddenly, a few Shock Charmers activations can mean that those other useless blues in your hand translate to six or more extra damage! People must respect these lines of play, and if they don’t, you’ll be able to raise their eyebrows as Shock Charmers activations erode their life total far beyond what they were expecting.
Lastly, Shock Charmers is an extremely threatening late game armpiece. Since it can layer an extra damage on any attack that hits, it can easily decimate low life totals if attacks are undefended. While you have two or three cards in hand, you could potentially present an extra four damage off any attack at instant speed. Hence when life totals are low, Shock Charmers helps give you that extra tempo by forcing blocks even without the presence of a threatening on-hit or massive base damage from the attack action itself. People not respecting Shock Charmers activations late game could easily get blown out when any attack creeps over their blocks.
In terms of complexity among equipment pieces, I really do feel that the Charmers rank high on the list of cards that are difficult to master. We spoke a lot about the power of Shock Charmers to push damage and other “on damage” effects above, let’s now get into its more complex benefits.
The first and foremost non-damage benefit of the Charmers is the ability to send cards back to the bottom of your deck on demand, on whichever turn. This is nothing to take granted for. Since you need to a cost to pitch for in Flesh and Blood, rather than the other way around, there isn’t always an easy way to make sure your power cards stay in your deck.
Some other arm slots, like Grasp of the Arknight or Braveforge Bracers, allowed this to an extent, but really the Charmers take its past the finish line. Making sure your Chilling Icevein (Red) is ready at the bottom of your deck, or an Ice Storm is stacked alongside a Lightning and an Ice card is a very useful tool. Many times, you don’t even need to have a reason to activate Shock Charmers to do damage. On the first turn for example, using it to filter your hand, and not give your opponent the chance to do the same by attacking them is a wise choice.
Another interesting piece is when we activate Charmers. I see a lot of players currently use it solely as a pseudo-attack reaction type activation. Although there’s nothing wrong with this and really it’s a good way to make sure they’ll be getting the maximum damage and effects through, I think there’s also more room for it to be used as a change-up or bait for blocking.
Activating the Charmers at the start of the chain means the effect will drag on continuously over the attack chain until it is resolved, like Plunder Run’s draw a card effect. This effect can bring about some interesting reactions from players. Changing up the lines of your playstyle can force odd decisions out of even the best of players, as they react to this different style of gameplay. For many, they’ll usually go the extreme road and either declare no blocks or fully block, depending on the attack. This pattern of behavior is usually consistent the next time you do the same line as well, meaning you can find alternatives to punish.
In addition, a great gameplay line is activating Shock Charmers once, and then using multiple activation as an attack reaction after. This can be a great bluff as it tricks your opponent into thinking they will most likely only be taking two Frostbites from a Blizzard Bolt (Yellow) on the chain and declare no blocks thinking they can manage this. You can use the Charmers again as a reaction to pump the card and create a multitude more, messing up your opponent’s decisions. This sort of gameplay, where you show you hand partially is extremely useful at high levels, tricking your opponents into blocks and patterns where you purposely sell yourself as having a poor turn, and then punish them for not blocking it up.
Lastly, I want to also note that the spellvoid 2 on the Charmers is no joke. In Blitz, it’s the bane of Wizard players’ lives, in addition to being a great out against Rosetta Thorn’s arcane damage in the late game. As arcane damage sources, and that too large amounts of them seem to be getting more and more prevalent, Shock Charmers is becoming a better and better defensive piece by the set.
That about wraps up my first equipment breakdown on one of my favorite arm pieces released to date. Comment down below your favorite card combinations with Shock Charmers, or what equipment piece you want me to breakdown next!