Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Butchers 201

Having gotten a good number of Butcher games under my belt (and out of my system) during our first Big League, I finally feel halfway qualified to write another of these mid-level articles about another team.

Overall the Butchers are characterized by the ability to deal huge amounts of damage in combat and generate tons of momentum if they get to do so. They balance this by being the least reliable kickers in the game (not necessarily in scoring goals - their goal threat is ok, but their accuracy is lowest amongst the guilds) and being one of the least survivable combat guilds (average overall for the game).

Captain, Attacking Midfielder
  • Ox is the quintessential support captain - while he is capable of dealing respectable amounts of damage in melee (he IS the Master Butcher, after all), he generally does not bring as much bang for your buck when using INF compared to the rest of his team. As a result, he usually gets less influence than he contributes to the team, and uses it to throw out buffs/debuffs and position himself effectively.
  • Speaking of positioning, Ox is above all a walking aura of death. For no INF whatsoever, Ox brings a 4" aura of +1 damage to his team in The Owner. Optimizing this aura is key to mastering Ox. On top of this, Ox's legendary play Get 'em Lads! is an even bigger aura that brings an additional +1 damage to friendlies and -1ARM to enemies. Stack these effects and watch opposing players disappear in a puff of red mists and flying chunks of meat.
  • Ox's spells are oriented towards melee support - Tough Skin for +1 ARM is excellent on almost any Butcher (especially Brisket, or Ox himself), They Ain't Tough! stacks on top of his legendary to make ARM disappear (stellar against Masons!) and Butchery gives yet ANOTHER +1 damage. That's +3 damage total, meaning almost any Butcher generates a minimum of 4 damage for 1 INF against any target.
  • The reason Ox usually does not want to use a lot of INF himself, despite his 7 TAC and constant aura, is that his playbook is not particularly great relative to the rest of his team - thanks to The Owner, he does have 2 damage on 1 hit, but his next damage result is 3 damage on 4 hits. His damage does not spike near the top of his playbook and he does not wrap as easily as other Butchers. Having a push on 1 hit and a double push on 3 hits is quite useful for counter attacks however, especially combined with his legendary turn's -1 ARM debuff.
In terms of weaknesses, other than the lower powered playbook, his team's reliance on his aura forces the Butchers to bunch up more than they would like to at times, which can hurt against players like Smoke or Commanding Aura brawlers.
He is also 3+/1 with 19 boxes, which overall is decent, and becomes much better with Tough Skin. However, his tendency to activate early to position for the aura or his legendary can make him vulnerable and a little predictable.

The pretty face of Guild Ball

Captain, Striker

  • While Ox is the quintessential support captain, Fillet is a greedy superstar. She wants influence, and a lot of it. She does little for anyone else in the team, other than arguably Quick Foot (which, no surprise, she makes excellent use of herself given her high speed). She'll probably be your top damage dealer AND your top goal scorer most games.
  • One thing that Fillet brings to the Butchers is a serious goal-scoring threat. Between her high 7/9" MOV, Quick Foot, Smell Blood and Blood Dance, she is ridiculously mobile, rivalled on the team only by Shank. On top of this very high mobility, she has the second best kick stat in the team (second to only the 3/8" Brisket) and with a little momentum, she has no problem putting the ball to the post. She is, after all, a striker :)
  • While Butchers are mostly focused on single target damage, Fillet is personally able to deal out sizable AoE damage with Pain Circle and Blood Rain. Stack this with her Haemophilia aura which prevents Bleed effects from expiring within 6" of her and her Legendary play which causes an instant bleed tick (all of which get around Tough Hide, by the way), and you've got a lot of damage all over the place.
  • Her ability to deal huge amounts of damage through Bleed and bleed ticks is also why you often want Fillet to activate late in the turn. This allows her to put bleed up on everyone, deal some damage, pop her legendary, and then get another 3 damage at the start of the next turn. If you win first turn, you can then go first with Fillet and kill everything thanks to Smell Blood and Blood Dance.

So what are the weaknesses of this super mobile slaughter machine? First, she has no defensive tech outside her 5+ DEF. If you can circumvent this, you can focus her down quite effectively, and given her importance in the lineup, it is quite advisable to do so. Thousand Cuts for instance is almost a death sentence if you can auto-hit her with it.
Second, her playbook has no early dodges or pushes, making her quite vulnerable to counter attacks and also making it hard to get out of combat IF the target is not bleeding. She relies quite a bit on getting 4 hits on the charge to get Blood Rain off.
Third, and primarily as a compounding effect of the above issue, is her 1" melee zone.


  • The greatest benefit Princess brings to your team doesn't appear on her card - her synergies with Boiler and Brisket, which turns them into serious damage dealers. 
  • For Brisket, this comes in the form of a +2 TAC buff if the two are within 4" of each other. This makes Brisket TAC 6 with a 4 long playbook - throw in a Ganging Up bonus or two, and you've got an easy wrap. Throw in one of Ox's damage buffs or Tooled Up, and you've got some serious damage coming out of your timid striker.
  • Boiler has an Assist bonus with Princess, effectively giving him +2 TAC and +1 DMG when he attacks a target that Princess is engaging. This turns Boiler into a TAC 7, Anatomical Precision model with a 5 long playbook... which brings some wraps, which stack up with damage buffs really well... you get the idea.
  • Finally, Princess has remarkably good combat capabilities for a mascot. TAC 4, 6/8" MOV and a pretty good combat playbook with momentous damage, Bleed and Rabid Animal (a movement debuff!).
The downside to this little death beacon is that she has to get up close and personal to really get work out of her abilities. This can not only telegraph your tactics (if you see Princess engage someone, who know Boiler wants to get in there soon after), but it leaves her vulnerable to attack (especially with no push or dodge on her playbook). Loved Creature helps with his to some extent, but once you've lost your mascot, that's a precious 1 INF for the Butcher team permanently off the field.

  • The most important thing about Truffles is that the fat pig is unusually hard to kill for a mascot. And she isn't even sneaky about it - no sturdy stats like Flask, no fancy escape shenanigans like Naja, nor revive effects like Dirge. Just a fat hog with 11 boxes, Sturdy and Tough Hide. On top of that, she has a 1" push on the first column of her playbook, and a character play that allows her to run away after taking damage. The amount of effort needed to bring down this piggy is more than it appears at first glance.
  • Truffle's playbook is not particularly great, however it does have two redeeming features - she has a KD on two hits, and a short playbook. The KD is great on parting blows, and the short playbook means that wraps are likely on the charge especially with a few crowding out bonuses and Smell Blood. Her damage dealing isn't as consistent as Princess, but it is still quite high for a mascot.
  • 40mm base also pretty good at crowding things out, blocking charge lanes, or blocking LoS to the goal :)
Truffle's weakness is obvious - she's not Princess. She lacks synergies with players and her damage isn't quite as consistent. It's hard to pass up Princess if you have either Boiler or Brisket on your team, but otherwise Truffles is a pretty good way to get a bit tankier in combat and keep your mascot influence on the table a little longer while having easy access to a momentous KD.

And here are our players, from best to worst:

  • The first thing that strikes you about Shank is that he is one of the most mobile non-captain players in the game. Although his 5/8" MOV is only slightly above average, having Where'd They Go as a character play, 2" melee zone, Damaged Target as a trait and dodges on every playbook damage result makes him an incredible winger and slippery as a Fish. He can basically get where ever he wants at any time, and is excellent coming back on the pitch after some icy sponges.
  • With a TAC of 6, 2" melee and and a sweet playbook, he is a source of consistent momentous damage and makes stellar use of the Butchers' damage buffs. Shank is the archetypal Butcher in that sense - just straight up reliable when it comes to damage. If you give him influence, he will deal damage and generate you momentum - easy as that.
  • One often overlooked aspect of the vice captain is his access to Thousand Cuts, which is one of the strongest debuffs in the game at -2DEF. Sure, you are often choosing between this and 3+ momentous damage, but if Shank activates early and hits this playbook result, it can make the difference between an enemy player surviving or being pulverized.
His weaknesses are obvious and to the inexperienced, perhaps even crippling - 4+/0 defensive stat with 14 health boxes, and only 2/6" KICK. He is not very survivable and isn't particularly good at scoring goals despite his great mobility.
In play however, once you learn to use him effectively and keep him safe using his mobility, his mediocre stat line can be mitigated, and his momentum generation helps make up for his poor KICK stat.

Getting these chains to stay on is an achievement in itself.


Info on Boiler can be found on my Cornerstone article. I'll just summarize it here:
  •  Boiler is the best support player in Butchers outside Ox - his two character plays can be extremely useful in the right situation. Swift Stance is a solid buff of straight +1 DEF, bringing Fillet to 6+ or Brisket to 6+/1 vs males - very potent. Even bringing himself to 5+/1 is very good.
    Marked Target is not quite as useful, but has some great uses - either in popping 1-off abilities like Clone or Gluttonous Mass, or even using it on a counter attack to unexpectedly increase threat range. The fact that it cost 1 and is available on only 1 hit makes it valuable.
  • Boiler is also possibly the best damage on the team with the right set up (basically, getting Ox's buffs up and Princess in melee with the target).
  • Anatomical Precision and Crucial Artery - the little kid lands hits and gets bleeds for extra damage and extra synergy. Simple, effective, magical. What a player.
No critical downsides, although having a 1" melee and relying on Princess in order to reach his true damage potential can make him a bit predictable. Also has a non momentous damage result! Shock.

  •  Brisket is the best kicker in the team by a mile - 3/8" KICK baseline makes her the best kicker in Butchers, and has Super Shot! on top of that for 4/10", second only to Angel's 5/10". Having a 18" goal threat without external help is pretty good and gives Butchers some semblance of a football team.
  •  She is also arguably one of the tankiest Butchers thanks to Charmed [Male] - 5+/1 against most targets in the game. Throw any defensive buff up and she becomes really tough - 6+/1 with Swift Stance, 5+/2 with Tough Skin.... oh, and Unpredictable Movement.
  • Finally, one of the greatest aspects of Brisket is that while she is a goal-scoring machine, she is still a Butcher and can deal sizable amounts of damage with a little set up. Short playbook with a good amount of momentous 2 damage results on her playbook, made only more ridiculous by her +2 TAC buff from Princess. Great late-turn damage dealer.
Brisket's main downsides are that she is relatively static for a striker (like Angel), having a low base TAC and no dodge result on 1 hit, and her first momentous dodge results on 3 hits. She also does rely quick a bit on Princess on order to wrap and therefore deal Butcher-worthy damage.

Veteran Brisket

  • When you boil it down, vetBrisket is a more aggressive, mobile and supportive version of Brisket1. Her key strengths come down to her 3 special rules:
  • Above and Beyond grants her team a permanent +1 INF for the rest of the game. In the influence-hungry Butcher team, that is HUGE, especially if you are playing the influence-hungry Fillet. If you manage to get an early goal with Brisket (not too difficult, with her good speed), then she has pretty much paid for herself already. Try and make it happen!
  • Support from the Wing gives her a -1 INF discount to charges if she begins within 8" of a pitch edge. This makes her very INF efficient and tactically flexible. With the 2 INF she brings, you can charge in, steal the ball off a Close Control model (thanks to momentous Ball's Gone! on 4 hits) and take a shot on goal. Alternatively, you can use that 2 INF to Quick Time someone - one of the few movement buffs in Butchers.
  • Unpredictable Movement is great on a winger, especially with a 4+/1 stat. She does lose Charmed Male so is significantly more vulnerable, but overall it would put her above average in the survivability department for her team.
I have only managed a handful of games with Brisket2, but it is quite apparent that her biggest weakness really is that she competes with Brisket1 for a slot on the team, meaning that your kicking/scoring potential with Butchers is capped (which is the intent, without a doubt).

She also doesn't quite have the same damage potential of Brisket1 due to the longer playbook, but she has a lot more variety in that playbook in terms of dodging and tackling the ball especially.

Huge weapon - no reach. Seems legit.

  • Tenderizer is the best dedicated goal tender in the game. He has both of the goaltender traits - Rush Keeper and Goal Defense - whereas Compound and vetVelocity only have one each. Just by having him within 4" of the goal, with no INF, he makes scoring quite a bit harder for anything but dedicated strikers.
  • His playbook is pretty solid, especially for counter charging - low pushes, KD on 3, and with excellent results on 4 and 5 hits. Throw in 2" melee zone, 3+/1 with 19 boxes (same as Ox!) and you've got a pretty decent brawler on your hands.
  • Last of all, and worth mentioning, is that Ground Pound is ridiculously powerful. A huge AoE of KD on top of 2 damage and 2" push is really strong if you can get it from a playbook result. The downside of course is that it costs 4 INF otherwise, and also affects friendly models, making it very situational. Powerful, but dangerously so.
Tenderizer's weaknesses are subtle but very significant, and mostly come down to his position.
 In my experience the main issue is that because his free goaltending benefits are so tasty, you often feel reluctant to bring him up the board and involved in the fight, which objectively speaking would probably be much better given his 2" melee and decent playbook (especially if the enemy team has access to dodgy strikers). If you're doing that of course, why wouldn't you just bring another player that brings 2 INF to the table to get more attacks in?
This then works into his 1/4 INF. While he protects the goal quite well for 0 INF between Rush Keeper, Goal Defense and his medium base, he requires quite a bit of INF to do anything else - even just getting the ball to Seismic Kick it back to your team costs 2 INF, and a guaranteed Ground Pound costing 4. The part that stings is that you never really know if he'll use that INF or not, since he is usually far from the action  (speaking of INF, he also only brings 1, compared to Compound's 2/4 for example). 1 INF basically allows him to run into play and crowd someone.

Compound and vetVelocity on the other hand, also do pretty well up the field. Compound's Horrific Odour debuff, 2" melee and Gluttonous Mass can make him a competent defensive model upfield even with only 1 INF, and Velocity has Fly Keeper to turn her into a semi-legit striker if needed. Tenderizer sits on the goal with no INF, pretty much all the time, and this can often lead you to play 1 player down if your opponent just focuses on takeouts for a bit.

Tenderizer's art is based off the legendary Ken Dryden's game pose.

And now moving on to the true runts of the litter....

Attacking Midfielder
  • Meathook actually has a lot of redeeming qualities and is not a bad player. First and most importantly, her offensive stats are very solid. MOV 6/8", TAC 6 and KICK 3/6" are all pretty solid, and she is the second best kicker on the team! Helpful to get momentum and teamwork happening.
  • She can deal good to great damage in the right situation. With a momentous 1 DMG on one hit (2 on 3 hits), she can deal pretty decent damage. If you live the dream you can Scything Blow 2-3 enemy players and get bleeds up on everyone - usually you will just hit the same target multiple times though. Additionally she has a push on 2 hits, which can help her survive through counter attacks.
  • She brings Tooled Up. Great play for Butchers! More on that later though.
  • Finally, and perhaps her defining quality, is her heroic play Sanguine Pool: -4/-4 MOV and 1 DMG to all enemies suffering conditions within 3". That is a big AoE. It triggers not only off Bleed, but also KD and Poison (available in Butchers through Rabid Animal and Dirty Knives). It's an excellent control play, especially if she can do it before moving away, or first activation of the turn after landing a Scything Blow on 3+ targets (THE DREAM).
    EDIT - remember that since it does 1 point of damage, it will trigger Crucial Artery and thus inflict Bleed on everyone affected (ie. those suffering conditions already). Nice bonus. Thanks Trent :)

In terms of weaknesses, I will quote Football Legend Will "Wheaton" Wijnveld:

"4+/0. 1" melee. 1/4. Garbage."

Her defensive stats are mediocre with 14 boxes, so like many Butchers, she is quite prone to death. Her only redeeming defensive ability is the aforementioned push result on 2 hits.

1" melee range is IMO not that big a deal all things considered, but it certainly is a bit of a downer when you rely on the Scything Blow/Crucial Artery combo to justify a lot of your influence feed and when you can compare her to the 2/4, TAC 5 Anatomical Gutter with Scything Blow on 4 hits....

The 1/4 INF is comparable to Graves1's problem - although she can do really cool things with 4 INF in the right situation, she does almost nothing for the 1 INF that she brings, outside Tooled Up.

Finally, the comparison to Rage is inevitable. Both bring 1 INF, both bleed people, both deal good momentous damage, and both have Tooled Up. While Meathook has a higher potential (if you give her 4 times the INF), Rage is a lot more consistent in damage and momentous on top of being more survivable.
It's not that Meathook is that bad, just that other options are better most of the time at doing very similar things.

Attacking Midfielder
  • Boar is really about one thing - dealing efficient damage. Berserk and Furious make him very efficient at doing so. He brings only 1 INF, but can make 4 attack with that INF. His TAC of 8 also means he is likely to get pretty good results (he does have 3 momentous on 4 hits) on the charge.
    If you manage to stack buffs on him and get him in on a low DEF/crowded out model with a damage buff or two (ie. The Owner), he is going to pulverize almost any player for next to no resource investment.
  • 2" melee is pretty good for Butchers. It helps him with counter attacks (at which he is pretty good with a KD on 3 hits).

Despite this, Boar is in my opinion on of the bottom 5 models in the game.
His biggest downsize by far is that he is the least survivable model in the game on top of being easily controlled - 2+/0 and SPD 4/6". The only other model with a 2+/0 stat line is Stave, who at least has Tough Hide and a strong ranged presence. Boar has Regenerate, which to be honest is severely undertuned for a survival ability on a 2+/0 model.
Throw any controlling character play his way, and he is more or less out of action, given that he lacks any team buffs or synergies.
He is very prone to counter attacks IF he does not KD on his first attack, which neuters his damage output significantly as it not only throw his charge damage out, but also stops the use of a Berserk attack.

His playbook is not especially good for a model 100% focused on fighting - 8 long, mostly 1 row, no compound results. Just incremental momentous damage, some non-momentous pushes, Hamstring and KD on 3, and non momentous 4 damage and concussion on 8 hits. It's not bad, but it's not quite enough for what he wants to do. Having more compound results and a stronger upper playbook (ie. momentous KD + 3 DMG on 5/6 hits) might help remedy this.

Like Meathook, he is more or less replaced by the more consistent, survivable and synergistic Rage. The two advantages Boar over Rage are that he is affected by Butcher damage buffs and 2" melee. He is inferior in all other ways (including buff-free damage, thanks mostly to Rage's Crucial Artery)


So there you have it - a mediocre Butchers player's take on what I think is a pretty underrated team with a surprising amount of depth, despite being easy to pick up. Here's hoping for some errata to make Meathook and Boar slightly more interesting/viable in the competitive game to broaden their bench a little.


  1. Really liked this. May need to poach some of the template for the Engineers guide that I swear I will write!

    Plans to follow up with those Union options?

    1. No plans at present, but I might do something on the Union options for the Fish (I do miss my Fish...)