And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial. ~ Shakespeare
Hello everyone; my name is Trent Bates. I play out of the Boise Idaho Meta. I’m a new author on Hand Cannon Online. I met Emanuel Class (Bloodrath) when he came to visit the River City Warmachine Crew, and we discussed many things as we played games. One of those things was my view of Butcher Unleashed. He asked if I would be willing to put it together in an article, and this is what was born.
Caster Stats and Abilities of Note:
Most people can look at the card, so in this section I am just going to talk about the important stats and abilities of Butcher3.
The Butcher’s stat line is possibly one of the best in the game. DEF 14 and ARM 18 are monstrous base stats, especially once you factor in that most of his game is spent camping Focus. Combine his natural hardiness with the typical MAT 9 P+S 16 weapon master offense we’ve come to know and love, and you have a caster that is both able to kill anything in the game and stand firm against many assassination attempts.
This version of the Butcher is a Caster Unit, which is important because the two granted abilities from he and the dogs are integral parts of what makes this guy a god among mortals in the assassination threat game. The most important granted ability is Relentless Charge, which he benefits from while at least one of his dogs is alive. Pathfinder on a charge is KEY to being able to leverage your threat. Remember that once you charge you have Pathfinder for the entire activation; this means that if you choose to Energizer after charging you are not slowed by terrain! The second ability, Vengeance, is granted by him. This has less of an impact on the game as it’s only something you get to do if your opponent decides to let you; Butcher has to lose a dog to activate it, and he only has two. A canny opponent can deny you Pathfinder if they can safely get rid of your dogs, so Vengeance is more of a deterrent to keep the dogs safe than a certainty you can count on.
Butcher has three big spells on his card. The first two are Energizer and Impending Doom, which both fulfill a very similar function: threat projection. Being able to move three inches outside of normal movement gives him not only an increased personal threat range but also, in certain builds, huge threat from his Jacks. Combine that with the ability to pull anything within 5 inches into his Reach via Impending Doom and you have a HUGE nonlinear threat that is almost impossible to estimate! Even more amazing is that the threat he projects is further increased by Madelyn Corbeau and Vengeance.
The last spell, Flashing Blade, turns Butcher into a fat, grumpy, and insane lawnmower. Whatever you can get into range gets killed at a cost of a single Focus. Plus it has the added benefit of being a spell, which can be cast at any time during his activation! That’s key, because it makes him nearly impossible to jam and tie up.
The last critical thing we need to talk about is his feat. Every aspect of it is amazing! The most important part is that he regains all his Focus. Nothing but the most skewed armor list is going to be able to live after a 12-Focus Butcher says “Hey Girl.” This feat allows Butcher to go in, kill high priority pieces with his original focus, and then feat to get back to full camp ARM again. The other part of his feat is that after he uses it any Command check caused by his Terror is auto-fail. Nothing is more amazing than telling an opponent that unless they can make this unit Fearless it won’t do anything for a turn. This also has great scenario utility, as a broken unit does not contest zones or flags.
Game Plans and Strategies:
Put simply, Butcher is a bully. His game plan is to show up and force your opponent into a cautious mode of play that will give you board and scenario advantage the whole game. His kit makes him an expert at clearing zones and forcing your opponent to make bad decisions that result in unequal trades. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he needs to be mid-board the whole game, but where he stands will dictate where your opponent is willing to put his valuable pieces.
The moral of the story here is that often the threat of what he can do will cause your opponent to totally hamstring themselves trying to avoid it. The best part about Butcher3, however, is that when they do it wrong you have more than enough ability to punish it.
Board Control – In my experience, it is very easy to bully people with the Butcher’s potential threat. Having control of at least a 16” threat bubble (5” move + 3” Charge + 3” Energizer + 5” Impending Doom) around your caster is simply incredible.
Scenario – Butcher’s board control inherently helps his scenario game. And he is probably one of 2-3 casters in the game who can clear a whole zone by himself.
Assassination – A caster with this much base threat and the ability to one shot most casters in the game? Yeah, he’s an assassin. Not to mention boosting is almost not needed against most casters.
Mobility – There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t already been highlighted, but this is certainly something Butcher3 has in spades. This fat man can move!
Anti-Spell Tech – There are several abilities in the game that have similar abilities, but things like Alexia and Orin can be big issues for Butcher3 if he can’t get them off the board early.
Debuffs – Things that prevent charges can create some tough order-of-activation problems. Also, Butcher’s full camp and how safe he can be is easily foiled if they can drop your ARM by 2-3. At that point he can be hurt, and spikes are more likely to ruin your day. (Having Eyriss or Ruin to remove debuffs is very important for him).
Better Control – Sometimes you run into casters that can lurk outside your threat bubble and still contribute to the game. Arc Nodes are things you need to prioritize quickly to mitigate such advantages and force the enemy caster into unfavorable situations.
Eyriss – If they have an Eyriss on the board they can actually bully you, and that is never a winning situation for Butcher3. She is one of the most important targets to eliminate, because if she manages to shoot you, the game is probably over.
Better attrition game – One of the bigger issues I run into is not being able to win on attrition. As a Butcher3 player it can really get tough if you are losing all your stuff around you and you are forced to use the big man to get an equal playing field back. The biggest reason this happens is because one of the above weaknesses is present in the current game. Much of what makes Butcher great is forcing your opponent to make the tough decisions and punishing them for it. But if you find yourself in that position instead, games can quickly turn and you will find yourself trying to win against your opponent’s whole army with just your caster. Does being in this situation dictate an auto loss? No, but when the game flow stops being dictated by Butcher3 he often has to over-commit and risk assassination to bring the game back around.
Independent and self-sufficient units are a must! Butcher does not support his army with spells. He supports them by limiting options for your opponent.
It is beyond important to have upkeep removal in your list. If Crippling Grasp or something similar gets on Butcher you need to be able to remove it!
Spot removal is HUGE. You need a way to get those pesky anti-magic mechanics your opponent has off the board.
Warjacks! Butcher can run him some Warjacks. Sometimes it’s nice to have multiple trading pieces.
Shield Guards are an auto include (especially against enemy Eryiss).
Cloud walls can be back-breaking for people and improve your board position options (TAC Corp with Valachev, or Greylords)
Butcher3 is a tough caster to play and master. Good opponents will make life tough and try to force you play your trump card way to early. Remember this though:
- You must take control of the flow of the game! If you’re not bullying and forcing you opponent to react, you will lose the attrition war. I’ve had games where I lost almost my entire army to kill Eyriss, and then won the game because Butcher was able to move forward.
- Hold that feat! As long as you have it there is little doubt that Butcher won’t kill whatever he gets to. When you use it make sure you’re getting equal trade for it.
- Protect your dogs! Losing Pathfinder can be the difference between winning and losing.
- Scenario is Butcher’s friend. Bully to gain the scenario point advantage and profit from the terrible moves you force your opponent to make!
Until next time Comrades! This is Supreme Kommandant Trentovich signing off; always remember a dead swan . . . is a filling meal for your family!