How do I build a strong deck with Xero in Children of Zodiarcs?
Xero is the character that separates the wheat from the chaff amongst Children of Zodiarcs players. It is possible to construct a very effective, very synergistic build with Xero but it is equally possible to make one that leaves him as a useless hunk of bolts trundling around the battlefield. Xero 101 is about understanding his two modes (Guardian and Overcharged) and building the best deck to maximise the effects of each. Perhaps it is possible to build a deck that can make use of both modes but my attempts to do so have not met with success and, if it is possible, it will require a high level of both deck construction and tactical play on the maps. It is definitely best to pick one mode and focus on it.
The Guardian build actually makes Xero the character who cares the least about positioning. Beyond knowing when to cluster your characters together for maximum effectiveness from Invigorate and Cellular Regeneration you should be fine. His go-to move in this mode is Temporal Anomaly which has a very high range and is only single target. This makes the Guardian mode pretty forgiving although pay attention to the order you activate in as Temporal Anomaly is only of use on a character who has already activated. Xero should be the last character you use on your turn if you plan to use it. The Overcharged build is tougher on this front. This makes Xero a tank whose job it is to get up in the enemy’s face and use Vanguard Stance to keep enemies engaged with him. To make the most of the AOE of Vanguard Stance and the other powerful Overcharged abilities you will need to manoeuvre Xero precisely to be in the right place.
Meditative Subroutine – This is a support ability that only affects Xero and his primary mode-enabler for Guardian mode. Whatever happens, it will put him in Guardian mode and with a couple of stars will give him regen for three turns. It comes with a bonus star die too so you should almost never be unable to get the regen extra with this card. Once you’re already in mode then using this is a Free Action that will draw Temporal Anomaly if you have any left in your deck and still has the possibility for triggering regen. With this card (and with Mysterious Energies for Overcharged) you’re best to think of this as a tax. This is simply something you have to do to get the most out of your other cards. Once you’re rolling in the mode though you’re never sorry to see these. They never cost you your action, one way or another they should replace themselves and they let you top off your regen. Discussing the worth of this card is fairly pointless really. If you want to play the Guardian build then, unless you’re going to try and enter the mode through Consecrated Fist (below), you have to have this card. It’s that simple.
Mysterious Energies – This card gives you a star die for three turns or, if you’re in Overcharged mode already, it is free and draws you Might of a Titan. Other than that, everything just said for Meditative Subroutine applies to Mysterious Energies, just for Overcharged mode.
Vanguard Stance – If the enemies position themselves favourably Vanguard Stance can do some serious work. It doesn’t hit the hardest but the bonus shield dice prevent Xero from taking the brunt of counter attacks and the hold effect will keep them locked in place fighting a character with high HP and high defence. Like most of Xero’s attacks, Vanguard Stance has bonus abilities depending on whether he’s in Guardian or Overcharged. The latter is a bit underwhelming, just providing an extra ten attack. The Guardian bonus is tasty though as it puts regen on all allies for three turns. Regen is serious game and though Xero has other ways of triggering it you can never really have too many sources of it, particularly when it’s incidental to the main effect of the card like it is here.
Might of a Titan – This ability is the signature Overcharged card as it’s the one that Mysterious Energies fetches. That means that the designers are expecting this to be the cornerstone of an Overcharged build. It’s a single target attack with a couple of bonus shard dice to compensate from Xero’s fairly underwhelmingly low natural attack value. A couple of stars will give it the ability to pierce armour and (at level two) it will get +20 attack and force the target to discard 3 if Xero is overcharged. Overall this a whole bunch of nice effects although the level one version is a touch on the weak side. If you’re going for an Overcharged build you will be seeing plenty of copies of these whether you want them or not but thankfully they’re decent. There is a bonus effect if you use this in Guardian mode but you really don’t want to be doing that.
Consecrated Fist – Xero has primary support abilities that put him in Guardian or Overcharged mode but you will also unlock secondary ways to do that. Consecrated Fist is that for Guardian mode. It’s a single-target attack that can heal Xero for a small amount with a couple of stars and can put him in Guardian mode for four stars. Four stars is a hefty price to pay and even with the bonus star die the card gives you I have found it to be hit and miss as to whether you can pull it off. Obviously you can build Xero’s dice to maximise stars if you’re going to be relying on this to enter Guardian mode (or Antimatter Discharge to enter Overcharged) but I would be squeamish about leaving Meditative Subroutine behind. If you’re already in Guardian mode this will give Xero regen for 3 turns. Meditative Subroutine already does this so this is really only useful if you’re going the route that leaves that out completely and relies on this for entering Guardian mode.
Antimatter Discharge – This is Consecrated Fist but for Overcharged mode. This difference is that Antimatter Discharge is a t-shaped AOE magic ability not a single-target attack ability. That does make it more appealing. Like Consecrated Fist it needs four stars to enter Overcharged and gives you a star die to help with that. The two star ability to draw two cards is stronger than the small heal on Fist though and the Overcharged bonus of putting a Cursed Shard die on targets is also stronger than the Regen on fist. Overall I would say that the idea of ditching the primary mode-activator is more appealing for Overcharged than it is for Guardian due to how much stronger Antimatter Discharge is than Consecrated Fist. Even so, I would not be totally leaving out Mysterious Energies.
Megavolt – This is a pretty blunt ability. It hits in a five-square long AOE, which is very nice, and Xero’s magic attack is higher than his physical attack so you can expect to see more damage out of this than something like Vanguard Strike. As a bonus it can make the enemy discard one, which is fairly insignificant. In Overcharged mode it gets +20 attack and in Guardian mode it can put Hold on the targets, both of which are very nice. Overall, there’s nothing wrong with Megavolt, but I have typically found it hard to make space for, certainly not beyond a copy or two. It’s just not core enough to what Xero wants to do in either mode.
Temporal Anomaly – If Might of a Titan is the cornerstone for Overcharged mode then Temporal Anomaly is for Guardian mode. This is the card that repeat uses of Meditative Subroutine will draw. It’s a pretty interesting and unique effect too. It’s a single-target heal spell that will give the character it’s used on an additional turn if in Guardian Mode. Essentially it lets Xero give up his action to heal another character and let them activate again. Unless the healing was needed on Brice I found myself using this on Nahmi almost exclusively as there is a huge amount she can accomplish with an extra action. It can feel a little unexciting to have Xero spend the whole battle doing nothing but giving Nahmi extra turns but that is really the only reason not to do this. As a battlefield tactic in Children of Zodiarcs it is extremely effective. Don’t forget that you can potentially eek extra value out of Xero’s turn even when he uses this. A use of Meditative Subroutine first will be free, charge Xero’s regen and let you roll a bunch of your dice to try and get extra cards or healing. If you’re in Overcharged when you use this then the target gets to draw three cards instead of having a free action. I don’t know why you would ever want to do that.
Cellular Regeneration – This ability is an AOE heal ability with a decent range. For two stars it well set regen on targets and for four stars it will give everyone star dice. Handily it supplies you with two bonus star dice to accomplish this. As a tasty extra if you’re in Guardian mode it will also put Evasion on all targets (this gives all enemies a cursed shard die if they target the character with Evasion). For me this is the only card Xero has that is an auto-include whichever build you’re going for. In Overcharged mode the healing, bonus star dice and regen is a great stack of abilities and the fact you get evasion on top of that in Guardian is just ridiculous. This is the best healing spell in Children of Zodiarcs and when you get all the abilities rolling on this it becomes very hard to take your characters down. Make sure you hit everyone with it whenever you use it.
Invigorate – This is a bit of a tricky ability. When I first unlocked it I immediately put it in the deck, thinking it was powerful but the more I used it, the less impressed I was. Essentially it is an AOE card-draw spell. It gives extra star dice to maximise its utility so it is very good at doing its thing but it has no healing and does no damage. What this card really does is let Xero give up his turn for your characters to draw a ton of cards. Even as I type that out it sounds appealing but it just does not impact the battlefield in any way and you cannot afford to be giving up one of your three characters’ turns that way. The only situation I could see you wanting to use this is if you build your entire squad with this card in mind. Perhaps you could give up all your card draw faces for other effects and this card might work as your sole source of card draw amongst all three characters. I haven’t tested this but I can’t imagine that the extra effect you would get on other characters would be enough to make this worth it.
The deck below is the Guardian mode build I used. For my money, Guardian mode is stronger than Overcharged mode but both can be valid and play very differently so I advise giving both a try to see which suits your playstyle better:
- 3x Vanguard Strike
- 2x Megavolt
- 3x Temporal Anomaly
- 4x Cellular Regeneration
- 6x Meditative Subroutine
For an Overcharged build, replace Meditative Subroutine with Mysterious Energies and Temporal Anomaly with Might of a Titan. Beyond that your consideration is just how many Antimatter Discharges to bring in. You can probably drop one Cellular Regenerations if you want in this mode but I wouldn’t go below three, it really is just a very strong ability whichever mode you’re in.
Of all of Children of Zodiarcs‘ characters, Xero is less concerned with his dice, particularly in Guardian mode. A lot of his faces are going to have shields and shards on regardless of what you do and these are merely nice-to-have, not essential. Apart from maximising your stars, particularly for the Cellular Regeneration bonuses, there’s not too much to focus on.
I am by no means an expert at Children of Zodiarcs and am sure there are plenty of interactions and possibilities that I’ve missed. If you have any thoughts on strategy in Children of Zodiarcs or things I may have overlooked then let us know in the comments below.