Possibly the most overlooked weapon class in Elden Ring is Flails. Most would argue this is with good reason. Flails have some of the shortest range of any weapon in the game, and their attack speed is disappointingly slow given their range and lack of variety in move sets. Most come packaged with the only Flail-specific weapon art, Spinning Chain, which does have its uses for certain enemies, but it’s not nearly enough to overcome the weapon class’ weakness. While Flails do have access to the same ashes of war that Hammers do, it really only serves to offer diversity for a challenge run rather than give them any real utility.
The Flail moveset’s basic light attacks are four horizontal quick attacks, with the heavy being just one overhead that can be charged for more damage. The roll into an attack is the same as the Hammer weapon class — just a quick spike down into the ground without the advantage that Hammers have in both hit box and damage. Running heavy attacks are the same as Hammers as well, just a quick spike into the ground like the roll attack. Jumping attacks are another quick strike down but don’t suffer from the same hit detection issues that some weapon types do. Dual wielding and running two Flails does work for very aggressive play styles with little drawbacks compared to other weapons. All the flails share the same moveset, which makes planning a loadout for your run much simpler.
The regular Flail is one of the earliest weapons available as a pickup in Elden Ring and is also one of the earliest bleed effect weapons obtainable. Like most of the Flails in Elden Ring, its weapon scaling is lackluster, and the bleed effect itself stops being an advantage as soon as you can find a weapon that either natively causes bleed buildup or one you can add it to.
Even its ability, Spinning Chain, can no longer stagger certain bosses as of recent patches, losing what little use cases it had. If you want to experiment with bleed weapons as early as possible it may be worth a look. The Flail can be found in the back of a carriage by the Gatefront Ruins.
4 Nightrider Flail
The Nightrider Flail holds many similarities to the base Flail. Both cause bleed buildup at the same rate, both start with the Spinning Chain weapon skill, and both deal bleed build up worse than most weapons in the game. The only advantage the Nightrider Flail has is its slightly better base scaling with Dexterity.
A 24 Dexterity requirement is a pretty big ask for a lackluster early game weapon, but given the regular Flail is not that much lower, it gives the Nightrider Flail a slight edge. The Nightrider Flail can be found as a drop after defeating the Night’s Cavalry in the Weeping Peninsula.
3 Chainlink Flail
The last of the Flails that start with the stock Spinning Chain ability, the Chainlink Flail has all the same traits as the regular Flail and the Nightrider Flail, and all share the same bleed buildup, ability, and weapon skill. The Chainlink Flail is the first to have some decent stock scaling with C Strength, and an 18 Strength requirement, which is a little more realistic than the Nightrider Flail’s 24 Dexterity requirement.
In a bubble of the three, the Chainlink Flail is the best. The Chainlink Flail can be found as a random drop from the Lesser Mad Pumpkin Head enemy type.
2 Family Heads
The Family Heads is the first Flail to feature a non-Spinning Chain weapon art. The Familial Rancor is the only skill unique to the Flail weapon class. The Familial Rancor summons several skull shaped spirits from the top of the Flail that launch toward any targeted enemies.
The Family Heads does not have the same bleed buildup as the other Flails, but it has the benefit of also scaling from Intelligence as well as Strength and Dexterity. The Family Heads can be found after defeating Necromancer Garris at Sage’s Cave in the Atlus Plateau. He can be found behind an illusory wall in one of the chest rooms.
1 Bastard’s Stars
The Bastard’s Stars is the most unique of all the Flails in Elden Ring. It deals the least physical damage per shot but features a strong weapon art with the Nebula weapon skill. When activated, the weapon launches a dark cloud in a wave behind the user, which then explodes and deals a good amount of damage to any enemies it touches. The unusual hitbox and general unintuitiveness in needing to be mostly in front of an enemy makes the other weapon that features the Nebula ability, the Wing of Astel, a far superior option between the two.
Still, if you plan on doing a Flail only challenge run, the Bastard’s Stars seems like the obvious pick. The Bastard’s Stars can be found by giving the Remembrance of the Naturalborn to Finger Reader Enia in the Roundtable Hold. The Remembrance of the Naturalborn can be found after defeating Astel, Naturalborn of the Void in the Lake of Rot.
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