Deck of the Day: Xerath Zilean
Hello all, Dragonguy here with another new exciting take on the control playstyle in Runeterra. This deck uses Zilean and Xerath together to whittle down opposing boards and relies on The Arsenal to finish the game if it goes too late.
Xerath Zilean is a relatively new concept, as the execution on the idea of a landmark-based control deck was not really possible before Beyond the Bandlewood expansion.
With the cards such as Rite of the Arcane and Xerath himself, this archetype was truly given life this season. One of the first players to try and make this archetype work was BBG, and my take was heavily inspired by his original list.
Xerath Zilean is a control deck that uses landmark synergies to grind the opponent out of the game, and finish through the superior board, often with The Arsenal empowered with several keywords.
To control the board, the deck has a few different tools at its disposal. Roiling Sands landmark, which is generated from Rock Hopper and Unraveled Earth, allows us to force trades, as well some suboptimal plays from the opponent who will want to avoid a key unit becoming Vulnerable.
The other main way we remove units on the board is with our champions. Zilean makes
Time Bombs also have amazing synergy with our other champion, Xerath, who will damage the weakest unit whenever a landmark you control gets destroyed. This is especially potent with Roiling Sands, as it can stunt your opponent’s development by killing units before they can deploy protection.
For more direct removal, we run Rite of the Arcane, allowing you to deal with a problematic unit and pop an allied landmark, which will usually have upside.
To support the theme of ‘landmark self-destruction’, we run Inventive Chemist,
Your inevitability and the finishing power comes from The Arsenal. This unit gets a random keyword for every allied landmark you’ve destroyed, and with our gameplan centered on destroying landmarks, this card can easily get a large number of keywords that will simply be too much for the opponent to answer.
Finally, this deck runs Ancient Hourglass as a way to protect our key threats. Hourglass will fizzle any removal, and then destroy itself next turn to bring the unit back.
This is not only a defensive spell, however, as it can be used proactively on some of our units for crazy synergies. Xerath triggers his own ability when he pops out of a landmark, and The Arsenal will get double the amount of keywords he previously had!
Zilean Xerath is a very fun and fresh control archetype that is more than capable of wearing down opposing decks.
However, it has a few weaknesses. The biggest one is how vulnerable it is to Aloof Travelers, as The Arsenal is the most expensive card you run, and losing him makes closing out the game much more difficult.
The deck can also struggle if your opponent is able to efficiently answer Xerath, as Hourglass is the only protection for him and he is pivotal for destroying opposing boards. If you are able to get your Xerath engine going, however, it is difficult for the opponent to come back into the game.
Overall, the deck has felt really solid and definitely has potential. If you have been looking for a new take on the landmark archetype, then this is a great deck to try.