Intoxicate Me Now- A Competitive Look at Rogue's Newest Card
Today I will be discussing the competitive use of the new Rogue legendary in Whispers of the Old Gods- Xaril, Poisoned Mind. As usual I will analyze the raw stats and effect of the card and see what possible decks and cards Xaril might see play with. Let's take a look:
Right off the bat, a 4 mana cost minion that has 3 attack and 2 health isn't great in terms of combat. Tomb Pillager pressures the board a bit more at the same cost, especially during the early game. 3 damage can still trade well with a decent amount of minions, and things with deathrattle typically want to die. Also Xaril being 4 mana means that if you are desperate for a combo initiator, he won't be useful in that regard until later in the game. However, what you can easily use to start a combo are Xaril's toxins that you gain from his battlecry and deathrattle:
Most of these spells are pretty decent for one mana. Bloodthistle, Briarthorn, Fadeleaf Toxin are the only ones that are better depending on the state of the Rogue's board. Players also get two chances to snag something they may need. The downside of this effect is obviously that the toxin you get is random. Most likely Rogues will want to get either the Kingsblood or Firebloom toxin since they seem like the most useful. Dealing 2 damage can kill off a minion or push for lethal and drawing a card is always nice.
For Standard play Xaril, Poisoned Mind seems pretty versatile based on what Rogue decks are currently popular and the direction the Hearthstone Design Team is taking with Rogue. Xaril's toxins would be super useful in Malygos Rogue. Players can use the low cost spells to trigger Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Violet Teacher, while also initiating the combos from SI:7 Agent, Eviscerate, and Edwin VanCleef. Azure Drake, Malygos, and Bloodmage Thalnos can increase the spell damage of Firebloom Toxin to push for board control or lethal. Maybe players will see a return of Charge minions like Southsea Deckhand and Leeroy Jenkins thanks to Bloodthistle Toxin (though this seems like a bit more of a stretch thanks to the random nature of Xaril).
Xaril could also make a good addition to Deathrattle Rogue. The problem with Deathrattle Rogue is that it is losing a lot of strong deathrattle cards, such as Piloted Shredder and Nerubian Egg, in Standard play. However, in a recent stream featuring Hearthstone's Lead Designer Ben Brode was asked on his stream about "good deathrattles" and he said, "I'm not going to tell you about unreleased stuff in Whispers of the Old Gods". Players are already aware that N'Zoth, the Corruptor is coming out and that card makes Deathrattle Rogue quite tantalizing.
I do see a couple of downsides regarding Xaril, Poisoned Mind. Due to the randomness of Xaril's effect players might not get the toxins they need. Saving toxins could lead Rogues into overdraw situations and force them to use the toxins ineffectively. Also for a Deathrattle minion he doesn't stick well to the board. Playing Xaril on turn 4 doesn't seem helpful as he is quite flimsy in combat. Xaril just doesn't leave a lasting impact on the board as a legendary. However, that might be due to the role he plays as a more utility card for the Rogue.
My final verdict on Xaril is that I believe he is competitively viable in certain decks. I think he'll make a great fit in Malygos Rogue, but might face more competition in Deathrattle Rogue, both Standard and Wild versions. Rogue's legendaries in the past two expansions have not had a lasting impact on the Hearthstone meta (I will always love you Trade Prince Gallywix), but I think Xaril, Poisoned Mind will see play.
About the Author- I am a writer that follows competitive esports such as Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Follow me @Kenny_Humiston on Twitter for content updates.