EDIT! STOP TELLING ME THE PATCH CAME OUT I KNOW I"M PLAYING XUL NOW KTHXBYE!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU BLIZZARD!!!!!
I wanna talk about my main man Xul. He's my highest level at 40 (rookie numbers), playing Quick Match exclusively. I hope to:
A) Improve my own gameplay through the power of talking shit through.
B) Improve the perception of Xul of other players, whether playing or playing with Xul.
C) Inspire the Devs to make a few tweaks to Xul's kit. (A man can dream.)
I am going to talk about Xul's:
- General Strategy.
- Four Builds, and when to use them.
- Desire for quality of life improvements.
This shit is long. Join me on a wonderful adventure through Xul.
Xul is a map dominating defenseman. Even his weakest wave clear builds clear waves faster then most characters. His root allows him enormous anti-dive and counter-punch play. Maximizing the value of your root is the most important thing that you can do with Xul. It is absolutely crucial that, in teamfights, you are using your root as a peel, and not an engage.
When Xul engages it is typically a hard engage. He does not have good escapes. You do not trickle out Xul's abilities. You dump them all at once and either blow them up or get blown up. If you mess up your engage, the only thing that will save you is your decent hp total. Know when to engage, and when you do, push deep and hard.
Xul is amazing at ambushes. Heroes of the Storm has very few vision abilities. In games like League of Legends, any character can control vision. Why run up to a Nazeebo in mid-lane? Maybe wait in a bush and see if he wanders forward a bit. Then fucking push right in, he gets rooted right in the middle of the lane as he's backing up, ult, reaper's, swish swish swish you did it!
Flank. Don't root the tank. He's where he wants to be. Get a squish. Preferably one with low movement. Getting any ability with a 30 second cool down or better blown is a big win. You get 3 roots off in that time.
Your best case scenario, in any fight, is to come in after everyone's blown their wad, and root your choice. If you try to act as the frontline engage, most of the time, you will get blown up. Let the Butcher go in. Let ETC go in. Let anyone go in first. Then come on down and be the next contestant on "Taking No Damage!" The gameshow where you don't take direct damage! Wooooo!
If you're balls deep under a tower, you have to look at the minimap. If you can't see the enemy team, then they're coming for you. Period. Full stop. I know you want to knock that shit over. I want you to knock that shit over. I also want you to not die. If you're under a tower, you have to be looking at the minimap.
If they get objective and take a tower, and you knock down a tower at the same time, then you evened out the loss of the objective.
Most importantly, it is very likely that you are the wave clear. There is no build where this is an exception. All of your builds are powerful waveclear, and most people will expect you to waveclear, and you should expect to waveclear. Waveclear.
Build One: The Master of the Map
Probably Xul's most well known build. Most streamers treat this build as their default build. I'd love it if someone had an example of a streamer that didn't use this build. For real, hit me with examples. I'll watch.
>/> > > > > > > > > > > > >.
The point of the build is to get so far ahead on the map that the opponent can't recover. You are always getting camps. You are always clearing the side lanes. You are always working every advantage that you can get on the map. After 13, you can steal camps faster then anyone, solo. It can also be a massively useful defensive ability on Braxis Holdout, and a useful quick clear for Garden of Terror, or Infernal Shrines.
Your team fight ability is largely spray and pray. It is actually very difficult to get value from > with Rapid Harvest in a team fight. While it enables an insane level of wave clear, it's pretty tough to actually position yourself so you take advantage of the 75% attack speed increase. This effect also double up on Grim Scythe, which really relies on hitting multiple targets at once, or getting stuck on cooldown. The reason you're taking Skeletal Mages and Cold Hand of Death is in the hope that you enable your ability to pump up your scythe. It's not actually that common a thing to do.
BUT IF YOU DO SON IT'S FUCKING DONE! IF YOU GET THAT SHIT UP TO 75%, YOU ROLL OVER MOTHERFUCKERS LIKE A TRUCK DRIVING THROUGH THEIR FUCKING SOUL. IT DON'T MATTER IF ALL FIVE OF THEM DOG PILE YOUR ASS BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO BE HEALING SO FAST AND SLICING THEIR SOULS INTO HELL SO FAST THAT THEY'LL HAVE TO FUCKING RUN OH NO THEY'RE ROOTED AND SLOWED AND XUL RULES! XUL RULES!
This does not happen alot. There are some characters that stack the deck in your favour. Zarya's ult, ETC mosh, Mephisto's root ult. But most of the time, other players understand not to stand toe to toe with you and are happy to just let you languish, or bait you into overcomitting. In Quick Match, you're really tied to the wheel of fate, so these kinds of connections aren't that common.
Still a pretty standard build though, as there are many games which you can win just by crushing the enemy team with the map itself. Your lane push is insane. Your siege ability is insane. You increase the size of your own wave by around 40%. Killing minions under towers lets you keep sieging those towers until your new wave shows up. It's really powerful if what you think you should do is dominate the map.
Build Two: Ambusher
This is a build that I've been playing recently which has real teeth to it in a 1v1 situation. If you think you're going to be in a 1v1 situation, most of the time, perhaps while double soaking, I really suggest thinking about this build.
> > > > > > > > > > > > >
You've hidden yourself in a bush. Your opponent over commits in a lane, and you're behind them. You step out and throw down your >. When it triggers, two skeletons pop out of the ground and start mauling your target, while healing you. You get up to them, and nail them simultaniously with a close range Poison Nova, which does incredible damage, made so much stronger because of Amplify Damage. Executioner lets you land enormous crits. The moment they're free from the root, you pop shacklers, enabling your Executioner, and locking down the target. After 20, you also get heals and your skeletons do more damage.
It's very important to patiently wait for the root to fully pop. The 25% increase in damage is no joke when you're unloading every single power play you have in your book. You can also switch out Shackler with Backlash if you think you can one shot people, but that's riskier IMO.
I also think people will see Trag as a controversial choice, but it's the only way to heal out of combat. You can end a fight with both of you very injured and hurt, but then just suck up a lane while they're forced into using a well or backing. You get to keep up the pressure. They go home.
You do pretty decently in a teamfight with this build too. If you can interrupt a fight with your combo, you can really blow things apart. But when you're doing it, you're ambushing the fight. Don't engage. Just get into the worse position for the enemy. Blow up their backline.
Build Three: The Team Fighter
Maybe you don't want to commit so hard to ganking, or you're in a two lane map where teamfighting is neccessary. You're seeing that the enemy team doesn't have much displacement, and so you think you can get in there and swish swish a bit. You want to consider using this build in a match where teamfighting is inevitable, and map objectives are weak. Doubley so if you're looking at a dive comp, or a hard engage comp.
> > > > > > > > > > > > Any.
This build is much more utility focused. It's built for an in and out strategy designed to enable your damage dealers, while maximizing your own personal survivability in the team fight. You accept that you're not going to get the Grim Scythe resets. You accept that you're not going to get 75% attack speed. You accept that having no follow up play after the Nova goes off is not great.
You are there to defend the squishies as your tank front lines. Dropping your Skeletal Mages enables your executioner, which increases the value of harvest vitality, but most importantly, slows the fight right down for your backline to destroy their backline. I pick backlash and bone spear, because there's so many times when you just need that extra damage. Shacklers makes sense as a followup play after your Mages go away, but it's typically much more beneficial to take 12% of the tank's maximum health. If someone wanted to run Amp Damage instead of Bone Spear, I wouldn't fight them, but Bone Spear is basically guaranteed damage, while amp damage isn't.
At 20 the field is wide open. Increasing the slow of your skeletons, and your mages with Cold Hand of Death doesn't suck, but it's 20% extra slow. If you're finding it hard to catch these guys, this will help, but if you're catching up just fine, then maybe consider >, or >.
Mortal Wound can completely shut down a healer. It's insanely powerful to cut healing by 75% for 4 seconds. This can brutalize LiLi's jugs, Rehgar's Ancestral, Alex's healing ring. It's this incredibly powerful anti-sustain ability that players should not sleep on. If they have double support, I think you'd be nuts not to use this.
Kalan's Edict just lets you use Skeletal Mages more, which is great. It's 1% per skeleton attack. Clear a few waves and you're back in business. This really does mean that you'll always have that tool available for major fights, which is super useful given it's high level utility to your team.
Overall, The Team Fighter adds the most utility, and survivability, to a team fight. Your objective is to protect your squishies, while enabling them to dish out intense damage. A few swishes with executioner and harvest vitality can really turn the tables, but don't require the hard commit of rapid harvest.
Build Four: Mage Xul
Sometimes you get into a game and you're like "Hell no." The comp and map is just absolutely perfect so you can't engage, and the map conditions are dumb. You really want to try to get into melee range and do some swishes when the comp is Garrosh, Diablo, Uther, Valla, Tracer? You've got a huge boner for getting thrown around, displaced, and totally fucked this game? So you're like "I guess the map conditions?" but you're on Hanamura so fuck you. No rational person would pick Xul for this situation, but you play Quick Match, so fuck you sometimes. That's the name of the game.
> > > > > > > > > > > > Any (But really think about mortal wounds alot.)
This is what you do when you need to become a mage. If melee range means certain death, then here's your best build. Sometimes you can actually justify this build if you're positive that you'll never catch anyone for a reasonable amount of time. Lots of characters have straight up teleports, and are extremely mobile. You want to be getting the damage in as you can, and maybe the best way to do that is with > consistently challenging their position from afar. It's a decent poke build designed to avoid direct confrontation, and rewarding you if the enemy gives chase while you retreat.
Reaper's Toll typically comes online about level 10-13, which gives it a real power spike with Echos of Death. You create zones around you that explicitly state "You come in here, and I will hit you." Echos also means that if you run up, throw out a Scythe, and then retreat, if the enemy chases, they'll take extra damage. It's very poke focused, augmented with Bone Spear, but sometimes a Xul's gotta do what a Xul's gotta do.
Desire for Quality of Life Improvements
We're coming up on almost a year since Xul had even a single patchnote. There are some talents that did not make it into any of the builds that I've listed here. There are reasons for that. Even small, subtle changes would really help the quality of life of Xul, and give him more opportunity to explore different builds and playstyles with talents that are essentially dead.
>. The cooldown increase is over 60% while adding a very niche functionality that is only really useful in very specific situations in the first place. It means that you're gaining way less shielding overall to avoid a very specific situation where a bunch of auto-attackers are on you, which… gotta say… if that's happening to you, then you gotta start looking at the minimap more.
There's a ton of characters with evasion on all kinds of abilities. Qhira gets an evasion talent, and it doesn't increase her cast time. Illidan is evasion. I just don't think this talent needs a cooldown that badly as the situation it's covering isn't that desperately important. Certainly not so important to give me 66% less shielding through the game.
> Should have it's cooldown removed. The early game is tedious with it, as picking this talent is essentially picking a dead talent until level 10-13. That's a pretty long wait, when every other talent on the tier just gives your other abilites new functions instantly. What's very frustrating is that the main reason to pick this ability is that you're feeling uncomfortable, and waiting for the quest to end increases that discomfort. Removing this talent would not break Xul's kit, but it would make this ability much less tedious in the early game, and make it feel much more solid overall. Please remove the cooldown. PLEASE!
> is another talent I just don't think is pulling it's weight. I'm willing to hear a counter-argument, but it seems extremely specific, and I wouldn't consider it unless I had a dedicated and competant healer. Given that this is Quick Match we're talking about, that's not gonna happen. That said, I'm sure if you picked Xul with the expecation that this ability would get value, it could not suck. I just think healing yourself is more powerful, overall. I have no idea what to do with this, and maybe it's nothing.
> is way too niche to be taken seriously as a talent in this tier. Bone Spear is way more reliable. Your best case scenario with this talent is that the skeletons from Jailors explode on your target, and do 110 damage. Bone spear does double that, and that's guarenteed damage. What's this talent for? It's not even effected by Andarial's Visage. What? Dead talent.
> Should be baseline. Maybe reduce it's damage if you want to do that, but I really just strongly feel Bone Spear should be baseline. Xul suffers generally from "Specialist Syndrome" and he was released around the same time as the whole map system of the game was changed, which really messed with his role in the game, generally. Bone Spear being baseline would help smooth out some of his clunkiness, without completely breaking him or making him over the top.
Xul gets no love. No patches. If you see Xul on an end screen, just know that boy was hustling around getting shit done for you. Give him a boop. Xul gets no love and a boop feels nice.
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