Lady Avalon is tech support! You are using it to support the servants of the arts! Fabulous!
Despite how similar their outfits are to Merlin’s outfits, proto-Merlin plays a middle ground in splitting the difference between Tamamo and Reigns. It deals less damage than Tamamo and more than Reigns (usually), while providing more charge than Tamamo and less Reigns (again, usually – overcharging, relative NP levels, and combat durations can oscillate between these two somehow). Assuming you have a full support fund, the value of Proto Merlin decreases significantly. If what you want is damage, Tamamo has you covered. If you want to charge and overcharge the Castoria, Reines does it better than Proto Merlin does.
The Lady Avalon feature is the defining mix of things she offers. It brings charging and overloads (like Reigns) while also bringing in arts and healing buffs (like Tamamo). She might not be the best at either, strictly speaking, but having both makes her a very safe choice for an arts stand, especially considering she also has an emergency party. The Proto Merlin / DPS / Castoria is a very stable hard shell. It’s arguably the best in the game right now, in fact, especially outside of the “pure” stall setting that’s Merlin/Himiko/Castoria. Merlin/Morgan/Castoria often waste a Castoria’s Arts buff, as the Proto Merlin equivalent takes full advantage of the stimulants of the two supports, so it will probably move faster assuming you’re using an appropriately strong DPS.
Arts, fortunately, do not harm the powerful damage dealers. It would be easier to name all the bad choices than all the good choices, and even then, the struts pull a lot of weight, and servers with weaker points will probably still work just fine. However, two powerful options that are particularly notable are the Brown Enma and Lancer Ryoma. Beni offers party-level anti-aliasing, as well as some extra party fee, which covers the main gap in this shell and speeds up the team a bit. Meanwhile, Ryoma brings heavy damage and some benefits, while providing a party charge boost that can be rotated with Lady Avalon to ensure Castoria delivers four hits of flips every three turns, effectively eliminating any survival advantage Rin might bring.
You do not have Kastoria, or do not want to bring her support? Not a problem! Lady Avalon is a meta support in her own right, and while the non-Castoria teams will be a lot weaker in relative terms, she’s still pretty strong with the right setup. Tamamo is a good partner for the Lady Avalon, as Tamamo can help alleviate the very long lulls of proto-Merlin. Tamamo/Proto Merlin teams are prone to NPs in staggered or short cooldowns, as well as strong barbs, but if you’re fighting a short enough fight to be able to lose people on an unlucky turn, they can work well together.
Cheaper forms of supports can also work! Mozart brings in a lot of nice art buffs, for example, and while he’s unlikely to live to use them twice, you can use your taunt on CE to turn that weakness into an advantage, letting him take the hit and die turn to make way for another party member. Proto Merlin also provides enough treatment that support with plenty of defense buffs could be enough to keep the party alive until NP turns out – Mash and Waver are clear candidates. Reines is also doing well, increasing the charge in its NP helps Proto Merlin to generate more stars, making it more likely to flood the field.
In non-Castoria teams, damage dealers that provide party protection are especially valuable. For combat against enemies with ST NPs, or for combat where living creatures are the main threat, sarcastic tanks like Fionn and Percival are especially great. Summer Erice actually also contains a mixture of sarcasm and sarcasm, which makes it a great ST alternative to the two above. Alternatively, Summer Kiara has a one-party-level dodge, which can bike with Proto Merlin’s invuln to tackle enemy NPs.
It’s also worth noting that Proto Merlin probably allows some atypical farming settings, thanks to negative charging on its NP. Even in NP5, Proto Merlin provides a maximum of 40% of the total charge in farming contexts – 10% goes to waves 2 and 3, and 20% can be used at any time – but the fact that this charge can be divided into three waves and come on means the server that The Arts NP refund prompts that there is a servant who will be able to duplicate certain groups of enemies that they could not solve otherwise.
I won’t go into detail about any of these companies, for several reasons. First, it would take a lot of time to find these specific situations, put them in, and give them all their intricacies – and it would only be a small subset of the examples anyway. I have a bunch of reviews to go through, and at least one of them (Ibuki’s) will be long, so I’m ignoring this in order to get them out more quickly. Perhaps most importantly, these recovery thresholds will be highly dependent on the NP levels of Proto Merlin. If you’re going to invest in NP levels, it’s better to do it for damage handlers that you know are able to replicate (so they can reach higher damage limits) rather than the support that would sometimes enable damage handlers. You may or may not have to repeat a little better. Proto Merlin-based loop settings do exist, but they’re not really practical or important, so unless you’re really interested (in which case I’m sure someone else will do an in-depth breakdown of all possibilities), Proto Merlin can be safely ignored for cultivation, except for a tamo replacement.
Ms. Avalon doesn’t actually need to start shipping for NP right away, in most cases. I’d recommend making the most of that, which likely means running either Prisma Cosmos or 2030 to get CE. 2030 quickly pushes the generation of proto-star Merlin to levels where the accidental cash is very likely, while Prisma helps Lady Avalon NP more frequently than she usually does.
Supporting CCs is Ms. Avalon’s top pick, although the details are somewhat open. Buff removal CCs can ostensibly come in handy, while NP damage CCs can be nice to help the team move a little faster. Healing is also a powerful option, especially since Proto Merlin treatments come in the form of maximum increases in HP, which means that ongoing damage can still be healed.
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