This tier is very subjective depending on the situation, but for Scythe build, I find Shade and Shackler to be the best two options. Based on whether or not you want the increased slow utility and unchanged cooldown for security and peel, or the dodge for heavy AA teams, you really can't go wrong.
The extra range on Scythe is critical for not only harassing enemies in lane, but getting off utility and poke that will soften up the enemy team for engages. As you continue to scale into late game and spec more and more into Scythe, this increase to the ability's range will prove very useful and terrifying.
Harvest is my favorite on this tier. It allows you to go in and sustain with some decent AoE damage, and maximize your engage utility.
This tier, again, is subjective based on situation. The debuff to healing at 20 is DESTRUCTIVE with Poison Nova and gives very little to work off of on the enemy team's part. However, I think the best team utility comes from Mages, similar to Azir's wall in League. The zone you can create along with the slow utility and kill security can not only save your team, but allow you to brutally turn the tides of a fight around any area-based objective.
This slow is where Scythe's brutal utility begins to rear its ugly head. The range on top of the slow, matched with the slow utility brought by your passive and potentially the selection of Mages keeps your enemy's persistently slowed even more aggressively than Jaina.
The reduced cooldown is CRITICAL. This allows you to keep any target you hit slowed, debuffed in healing, and subject to your root, ult, and Cursed Strikes. An amazing talent that gives Xul a huge power spike at 16.
The cherry on top for Scythe build. This counters, as mentioned below, any hero with healing or self sustain. With the reduced cooldown on hero contact, the slows, extra range, and utility from your shield slow and ult choice, Xul is a nightmare for any team that's trying to win the war of attrition in a team fight.
I'm a 2x Rank 1 and Master+ player specializing in high MMR Assassin & "flex" play. I have played HotS since first wave technical alpha testing, and competed in tournament play. I now stream and youtube more casually.
I played World of Warcraft for 9 years, primarily for PvP. I maintained a steady position in the R1 brackets for seven consecutive seasons (arguably eight), and without cheating if you can believe it. Although I only play the game casually now, I maintained steady 2500+ ratings on multiple specs of Warrior, Death Knight, and Paladin throughout said seven seasons of competitive play.
UPDATE 3/16/2016 - Thanks Reddit. A large number of pretty interesting and unnecessary nerfs will hit Xul on Wednesday (3/16), so I've swapped a couple of things around and made some edits. Here's what you need to know for this coming Wednesday:
- "Winter Is Coming" build has very little changed; Xul's strength with this build is the damage dealt by skeletons in split pushing. while nothing significant has really changed, I've marked it as nerfed.
- While the damage to Spectral Scythe was nerfed, its utility was not, so I still have Scythe Build as the most relevant in terms of utility that Xul brings. This build remains the same.
- "Anti-Tank" build is actually incredibly relevant now under the scope of these new nerfs; the only thing that really changes in the build is whatever upgrade to bone shield you wish to subjectively take at level 1 based on the team compositions. The damage is still quite high and will capitalize on Xul's team fighting ability in the Hero Damage department.
Like always, this is a full guide for Xul including multiple builds and pointers, and will be updated constantly with new strategies, tips, tricks, and so on. Reminder, my builds are not law. They represent the successes I've had, and what I like using. Enjoy!
OCM's Tier Choice: Tier 2 (Niche)
- 3/3/2016: Video for "Winter is Coming" build.
- 3/2/2016: Video for "Scythe" build.
This guide currently features:
- Scythe Build
- Anti-Tank Build
- "Winter is Coming" Build (Nerfed)
Xul is one of the most versatile, if not THE most versatile, of the game's specialists. He has a ton of potential builds that work in many ways to counter many enemy team drafts and individual counter picks, and because of this, I believe he will rise rather quickly in the meta and bring about new relevance to specialists that's been overshadowed by high wave clear assassins throughout the past few patches.
This guide will focus on a few of the builds I think will be the most effective for playing with Xul, and will explain when each of these builds will be the most useful.
SCYTHE BUILD: (Featured at Top)
You guessed it, this build focuses on Xul's Spectral Scythe ability. In a pretty evident meta of versatile and high damage melee assassins who do well at sticking onto targets with persistence and high burst, I think this will be the "go-to" build for many comps, as it not only emphasizes peel for you and your team, but allows Xul the pursuit and security he needs to close in on kills of his own.
Because Scythe is a skillshot, the ceiling with the build is evidently making sure that you're landing the skillshot. Because of it's cast time, range, and area of effect, this is not really hard, and keeps the skill ceiling pretty accessible while allowing for great counterplays against self-sustaining assassins, tanks, and of course supports with the healing debuff at 20, and the utility provided by the slows and wave clear that you'll develop all throughout the game.
This build keeps Xul in the fray with ranged poke and requires careful decision making on when to fully engage. Be cautious and smart and this build will reward proper use with great pushing power, great teamfight utility, and effective counters against all forms of self-sustain.
ANTI-TANK (TEAM FIGHT) BUILD: Backlash (Flexible) / Jailors / Harvest Vitality / Poison Nova / Giant's Curse / Amplify Damage / Call of the Grave
The anti-tank build is just that, a massive counter to any warrior type hero with a big health pool. The multi tank meta very much still exists, often times shown nowadays with a "main tank" and an "off-tank bruiser". This build allows Xul to jump into the fray and capitalize on beefy teams with destructive percent-health damage that makes most frontlines practically irrelevant.
After the nerfs on 3/16, this build will see increased general relevancy due to it's utility and damage brought forth in team fight situations.
Don't be afraid to jump in and begin chunking away at tanks with this build. Be cautious of when to use your healing on Cursed Strikes and be sure to stand beside enemy frontliners when your shield expires to make best use of the 15% health proximity damage.
"WINTER IS COMING" BUILD (Nerfed): Shackler / Jailors / Harvest Vitality / Skeletal Mages / Corpse Explosion / Skeleton Mastery / Raised Mage
It's a large claim to make, I know, but I'm pretty sure Xul has one of the best pushing builds in the game, and this is it. This build capitalizes on Xul's intended role, the Specialist. Specifically, this build makes the best use of Xul's ability to summon units and push lanes, but also his ability to summon units in the midst of team engages. This build will allow you to turn any lane you're in against the enemy and basically restrict the enemy team from safely engaging in-lane.
This build excels when you have a team composition that allows you to "go off and do your own thing". If your team can manage themselves, you'll be able to conquer lanes and push structures with efficiency that only gets stronger and stronger with each tier.
The build also makes use of Jailor and Skeletal Mages (including the upgrade at 20) to make use of targeted summons that can help you and your team claim area objectives and create annoying zone that rivals other summoner specialists, like Zagara, Nazeebo, and Azmodan.
If you don't think you'll be able to break away from your team and capitalize on gaining experience and structural leads, don't go with this build. This build will do the best when you're allowed to dominate your lane early game and neglect early and unnecessary objectives. For example, the first punisher going over to the enemy team on Infernal Shrines will not be worth the fact that you took their fort in bot lane.