Butchers Breakdown


When considering the game of Guild Ball, there are usually three archetypes: scoring, control and take-outs. Butchers are considered to be the quintessential take-out team. Usually, when pundits give demonstrations, they use either the Kick Off Guilds – the Masons and Brewers – or the Butchers and the Fishermen, who are considered as opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Since the start of season 4, Butchers have been very strong, and were considered as one of the top dogs, just behind the Morticians and Hunters. The 4.1 patch saw some nerfs for these top Guilds, but this only affected Tenderiser for the Butchers, taking away his Rush Keeper and thereby forcing Butchers to be pro-active, removing his bubble of safety from the equation. But they also received a new toy, a new captain. At the time of writing, the Butchers are at a solid 54.7% chance of winning, with a standard deviation of 1.9%. The 50% mark does not appear within the probability interval, so the Butchers can be considered as one of the stronger Guilds.

As I said, the Butchers received a new toy around the release of patch 4.1; Veteran Boar. While Ox (53.6%) and Fillet (47.7%) balance each other out quite nicely, Veteran Boar stands at the top of the foodchain with an amazing 60.4%; this captain wins 6 out of 10 matches. This feels quite strong…

So, considering that Veteran Boar hasn’t been around since the start of season 4, I’ll also show some data since patch day; 57.1% win chance for the Butchers, an increase of almost 2.5%! Boar stays at his 60+% winrate, while Fillet sees a slight increase at 50.0%. The real shocker actually is Ox, who has dropped down to a measly 43.1%; the change to Tenderiser might have affected him most.

So, having one of the strongest Guilds around, there might be some balance issues present within the Guild. Let’s break it down…

As expected, the take-out team received the ‘take-out centric’ vote for almost all of you. 

The votes for Opportunistic or Captain Dependant are actually quite confusing to me. You are one of the most pro-active Guilds within the game, so I wouldn’t consider the Guild as opportunistic at all. Also, all captains are take-out focused. I’d like to ask those who votes for these answers to give an explanation to their train of thought; there might be some insights to be found.

As expected, Veteran Boar also leads the charge at almost two-thirds of the votes. Interestingly, Ox also still receives almost 30%, while having such a low winning percentage since the Tenderiser change. Fillet has almost no votes, leading me to believe that she’s either considered as the weakest link or has a niche purpose.

So… Steamforged… we have to talk. While I am usually quite content with all of the cards you put out, Veteran Boar is just… not okay. Mainly due to his strength, a LOT of Guild Ball players have basically just hopped on the bandwagon, searching for success in trying to increase their Longshanks rating. But I guess that’s not why the rest of you are reading this article, so I’ll just stick to the numbers.

Captain Veteran Boar can be considered as a point-and-click missile, that basically deletes any model within a single activation. Even the hardiest of models – Anvil comes to mind – can succumb to his rage. Besides being so deadly, he also brings loads of setup and efficiency to the team; Stagger and Singled Out set not only himself, but also his teammates up for high-efficiency murderizing. If Boar doesn’t finish the job, you can be damn sure one of this squaddies will. Efficiency, he brings in the form of his Characters Traits, Legendary play, and his influence numbers. While being Furious and Berserk himself, he can also hand out these traits to his followers. Once per turn, Blood Lust allows for any model to buy themself the Berserk trait, greatly increasing their output, and Chop Chop gives anyone within 6” of the captain the Furious trait. Combining these, it’s possible to get an 8 attack Shank or Boiler, which honestly is quite terrifying. Still though, these are not the ‘main offenders’. While only having an influence cap of 2, Boar still brings the regular captain amount of 4 influence to the team, which means you are able to load up most of your squaddies to full capacity. It’s not weird to see a Butcher player nowadays put 4 influence on both Boiler and Shank and 2 on Boar and still have 3 influence to spare for his other two squaddies. And who to power up with those influence, you say? Well, let’s add Cinnamon to the equation; now Boar has an 11” threat range! With all the efficiency and killing power that Veteran Boar brings, I think he would still be amazing bringing only 2 influence to the table, so basically making him a 2/2 INF. It’ll provide more of a puzzle for the Butcher player, having to play with only 11 influence. In any case, being at a solid 60+% winning chance since his release and not seeing any signs of slowing down might give cause for Steamforged to take a look at him for the 4.2 patch. Hunters received a big one in 4.1, and that was with Skatha only being at 57%. What are your thoughts on Boar? What might make him more balanced?

While Ox seems to still be widely respected as one of the most valuable captains of the Guild, his win ánd play rate have seemed to drop considerably since the advent of Boar and nerf for Tenderiser. I still think he’s in a nice place, but you’ll have to play with him more carefully than you could do before. Before 4.1, Ox usually played Tenderiser as the captain’s bodyguard. His auras would extend far enough to provide the killing power to the squaddies, while staying safe within the Rush Keeper bubble. This playstyle is gone, so I guess this is why Ox’s winning percentage has dropped considerably; some people have not received the memo yet. While being a 3+/2 with 17 hit boxes, Ox is not easy to take down – especially for 1” beaters, as he has excellent Counterattack options. While the KD might require a slight spike, the double push should be very much doable for the Master Butcher. Still though, if your opponent is able to focus him down, the team loses a very significant part of their output with the loss of Ox’s damage buffs. His The Owner trait allows for any Butcher to basically have +1 DMG added up to their playbook, while they are within 6” of the captain. Activating his Legendary, Get ‘Em Lads, adds up another +1 DMG, while also shredding the Armour of any opposing model within the Legendary’s 6” aura. And if you think +2 damage is enough, think again; Butchery brings another source of damage buffs to the table, making it possible to have a +3 DMG buff against certain models. And oh, Butchery is nót OPT. Luckily, it’s not that easy for Ox to play it from the playbook, so he’ll usually have to pay its 2 influence cost to get it. As you can see, if your opponent removes Ox from the equation, you’re in for a world of hurt. Also, since Ox’s efficiency is centered around him, there is some obvious counterplay for the more mobile of Guilds. 

Fillet received almost no votes, which to me isn’t directly related to her value. As a fast, mobile super solo captain, the game usually revolves around unlocking her potential. With the addition of the Cooks, Fillet has gained a considerable buffs in Roast. In my eyes, Fillet is great for hunting down fast Guilds, or those that stack up close to each other. She is a great last activation captain, as she easily provides the Bleed condition in an area around her target. This condition also increases her effectiveness, as her Smell Blood trait gives her a +1 DMG buff to Bleeding models. Being able to Blood Rain on a charge, dodge around using her damage+dodge playbook results, and finishing it up with her Exsanguinate can basically delete her initial target, and provide for 8 damage on models around her, setting up more kills for the next turn. Sadly, also a problem that super solo captains have, shutting her down will greatly decrease the output of the team, and Fillet is not that hard to shut down. Models with decent Counters are the bane of her existence, as she can’t reach her own KD result that easily. Also, her only defensive ability lies in being a 5+ and having dodges on her playbook. At only 14 hit boxes, she’s quite easy to take down with a small amount of setup. Still though, I think she has her place within the Butcher team. The problem is that vBoar basically fills both her and Ox’s slots for being a ‘support’ captain with super solo-esque damage output. I think that if Boar is toned down, either Ox or Fillet will see a resurgence.

Oof… the pig is nót happy about this. Princess received ALL of the votes. Let’s think of why…

Well, it’s actually not that hard. Princess has received quite a buff in season 4 with the addition of the Vicious Character trait. She also still has Loved Creature and Rabid Animal and an excellent playbook, so there is merit in giving her influence as well. And obviously, there is the fact that she powers up Boiler, one of the team’s greatest damage threats. Basically, she’s got everything going for her.

Truffles on the other hand is slow, has low defenses, and has an ‘okay’ playbook. Basically, Truffles main gameplan is being a 7” KD threat bubble for 1 influence through Vindictive. But that’s all he does. Yes, he’s got 11 HP and Tough Hide, but his 3+ DEF and 1” melee zone will just make him an easy target to dodge off of for strikers, or an easy momentum generator. He’ll not die easily, so your opponent will farm him for loads of momentum.

Either Princess needs to be toned down (why does she even have Vicious?), or Truffles needs a buff. I’m leaning towards transferring Vicious from Princess to Truffles, but you might have a different opinion. What are your thoughts?

It seems the most valuable squaddie title is tied between Shank and Boiler, both being the main damage squaddies in a Butcher line-up nowadays. There are also some votes for Cinnamon, regular Boar, Brisket and Veteran Ox.

Shank is an obvious pick for the Butchers. He’s fast, has TAC 6, has an excellent playbook, has 2” melee range, and can be given 4 influence. Through Where’d They Go?, he has a 14” threat range, which can be increased to 16” due to Damaged Target. While you might think: well, okay, but now he only has a charge attack and one after; what should I worry about? Well, add in all the threat extension that the Butchers have, and the buffs from Veteran Boar, and suddenly it’s possible to have an 8 attack Shank coming at you at that same threat range. Now thát is terrifying! He also brings Thousand Cuts, which shreds 2 DEF away from it’s target, but being placed at his fifth column, it is harder to pull off without paying it’s hard influence cost of 3. Anyway, with Veteran Boar being the top dog at the moment, it’s obvious to see why Shank is up here as well. Be careful with him though; at 4+/0, only single dodges for Counterattack options, and only 14 hitboxes, he’s quite the glass cannon.

I’m actually quite impressed that Boiler wasn’t considered as more valuable than Shank. He can put out the most amount of damage of any squaddie on your team (when set up correctly). He brings an easy momentous tackle, and a reachable KD or push-dodge due to Anatomical Precision, so has decent Counterattack options. He brings a ranged damage threat via Axe Throw, which will also dish out the Bleeding condition through his Crucial Artery trait. He has a decent 9” threat. Ánd he brings in Marked Target, which is not once per turn, and can be crucial for Veteran Boar. Together with Cinnamon, this gives Boar a 13” (!) charge threat range. Still, like Shank, Boiler can be quite the target against 2” melee beaters due to having also only 14 health points. Be sure to protect him.

Of the others, Cinnamon, Brisket and Veteran Ox make sense to me. Brisket can bring additional influence to play with via Above and Beyond, and it a decent ball-killing model, while still being able to be influence efficient via Dirty Knives. Cinnamon’s +2”/+2” MOV aura is invaluable to a Butchers squad, ánd she can dish out quite a bit of damage herself. And Veteran Ox, while also being a great battery or setup model, is a great first activation when there is an easy take-out on the table, as you’ll be able get the Owner aura through The Old Ways trait in a Veteran Boar or Fillet team.

The results for the tournament 12 I found REALLY interesting. The main benchwarmers can be found in Truffles, Veteran Brisket, original Boar and Fillet.

Truffles is obvious, looking at your votes for most valuable mascot.

Veteran Brisket is a model that I’m expecting to have quite some votes in the last segment of being the least valuable model in the Guild. She brings one of the only ways that Butchers can deal with conditions through Field Medic, but that trait is usually considered a trap. Why would you start dealing damage with a sub-par beater to save out 2 MP, while you could also just beat someone to a bloody pulp and be 2 VP’s up? Also, she’s a 4+/1 with only 13 wounds, so she’s a massive target for 2” melee beaters. Also, she brings some influence efficiency with Support From the Wing, but with Veteran Boar in power, this trait seems unnecessary. Basically, her original version has way more going for her, so there’s no point in bringing this version. I feel that there should be some change in Field Medic, as there might be some potential there, but I have no idea as to what that might be yet. Maybe make Rest and Encourage within 3” of her cost -1 MP? Any other thoughts?

I’m actually quite sad to see that Fillet is warming so many benches, as she has so much potential in my eyes. I think Ben Redmond will also be quite saddened, as I’ve seen many posts from him trying to champion the Flashing Blade, or how I love to call her, the Red Queen. I think the reasoning behind this low presence lies mostly in the challenge of unlocking her; she’s not a straightforward captain to unlock, and most people might not even care for the challenge now that Veteran Boar is around.

Original Boar can be quite obvious, as I think that a lot of Butcher players will only bring Veteran Boar in their tournament list, which makes bringing Original Boar useless.

And there we go. Two-thirds of you voted for the pig, again quite obvious.

Truffles really needs some love; either in bringing down Princess or giving him something extra (or both). At this time, Butchers actually only have one mascot, which is quite sad from a balance perspective. Let’s see if Steamforged will act on this in the 4.2 patch.

Other choices here were Veteran Brisket, original Boar, Tenderiser, Meathook, Roast (?) and Veteran Gutter (?). While I understand the first four, I have some problems understanding Roast and Veteran Gutter. 

Roast is a major buff to Ox and Fillet teams with his “Vindictive”-aura, while also bringing quite a healthy amount of damage to the table. Yes, his defensive stats are very worrisome, but when played cautiously I can see great potential.

Veteran Gutter is also someone I did not expect to see here. Being a 2” melee with a 10” threat and having Sweeping Charge, especially with Veteran Boar so dominant, feels quite strong, especially while also having Anatomical Precision. Her damage track is decent, she has a reachable tackle, and can be very mobile with Route One. In my eyes, her main problem is that Shank, Boiler, Veteran Ox and Cinnamon are quite locked in place in Veteran Boar teams, and that her efficiency drops down a lot with other captains.

Other newcomers are Tenderiser and Meathook. Tenderiser losing Rush Keeper has made him less powerful, and his new trait is actually less effective for Butchers, as it’s damage that doesn’t also provide momentum. Meathook can usually be seen as a Tooled Up bot, who has some use within a Fillet team through Sanguine Pool. But with Fillet falling out of favour, so will her squaddies, it seems.


So, after looking at the data, there are some obvious problems to be found. I actually think that none of these lie with the squaddies; the team gets picked around their strongest models. 

At this moment, in my opinion, the problems lie with Veteran Boar being too strong of a pick, being able to fill in the slots of both Ox and Fillet at the same time, and with the Butchers actually only having a single, VERY strong mascot. Due to Veteran Boar, the likes of Shank, Cinnamon and Veteran Ox are in favour, and due to Princess being the only mascot choice, Boiler’s pick rate is also not going to drop any time soon. This feeling was only strengthened after listening to last week’s Rage Quit Wire podcast, who also had quite some problems with the current top dog.

Listen, I’m not trying to hate on the Butchers, or Veteran Boar. I’m actually quite happy for them, after being in a slump for the entirety of season 3. But the problem that is Boar is just not healthy for the game balance; when bandwagoners can just jump on the ride and suddenly start winning games against opponents they previously couldn’t beat, that’s a problem. 

Are you guys agreed with me? Or am I going to receive some flak from the Butcher community for speaking out? Either way, we’re done with this edition of the Guild Breakdown.