I see The Butcher catch a lot of flak from people for this and that or whatever, but what I’ve really noticed is most people have no idea what they’re doing with him or how he actually works.
I guess to start I’ll open with this is going to be like 90% Butcher info and 10% stuff most people are doing wrong in Hero League. Also for people who care here, http://imgur.com/gGKFdb8 I hit rank 1 playing almost exclusively Butcher. (Because I’m not hard headed enough to go Butcher when it’d mean our team comp isn’t just bad, it’s awful.)
I’d like to start with what The Butcher actually does. The Butcher kills things. It’s the only thing he can really do, he’s also exceptionally good at it. His biggest weakness is that almost the entirety of his damage comes from auto attacks, which makes playing him extremely difficult.
This is the first misconception I see. People mistake this for making The Butcher a very flat character, he goes in and right clicks to victory or he dies, you just kinda roll the dice after you charge in on their back line. That’s really not how The Butcher should operate. Most of the mechanics or “skill” of The Butcher is engaging appropriately, there’s obviously more to it than that and things to learn, but the biggest improvement you’ll ever make for yourself playing him is to be choosey. This can mean waiting 3-4 seconds before engaging in a fight, it can mean lurking around out of sight for a while, but it’s important. You don’t go in until you see your window, otherwise you charge in, get peeled, never catch back up, die.
Before I get nitty gritty, other things of value to know. Hamstring (Q) resets your auto attack, you should always AA > Q > AA. Immediately after hitting your Ruthless Onslaught with a follow-up Q, click behind your target and get moving, don’t just stand there while you prep your auto attack, orb walk. If you’ve got Lamb to the Slaughter it’s sometimes best to open with it instead of using it immediately after charge if it means you catch someone particularly out of position instead of giving them a moment to move, I rarely see it used this way. (Also it’ll catch stealthed targets, RIP Nova) For Quick Match, which I won’t discuss much here, if an enemy Butcher charges you, start your Charge so your Charge begins (Note, after the delay) right as he collides with you. You’ll unstoppable through his stun and then stun him, the timing is tight, but it works.
Let’s talk talents.
Block: No. It could be situational if you’re really worried about a Sonya or Raynor, but you’re strong vs both of those. (And I guess Butcher if you’re in quick match)
Chop Meat: Completely overshadowed, would be good (Overpowered) if it wasn’t on the same tier as Victuals.
Victuals: Overrated. It’s definitely good and it’s definitely what you should go with sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, but I strongly prefer Invigoration. I’ll go into lane without skilling and choose based on who I’m against with Victuals against a particularly hard lane. Later on the healing can be clutch, but it’s usually not a big deal.
Invigoration: Shaves a second off of the Hamstring cooldown. Three seconds vs four seconds definitely matters, the mana reduction is an added bonus you’ll notice. The reduced CD means more slows, more auto resets, better chasing, etc.
Envenom: Is really bad right now.
Flail Axe: Like Victuals it’s legitimately good and I like it, but this is where a horde of people are going to disagree with me. I think it’s worse than Cheap Shot. I’ll explain why later.
Unrelenting Pursuit: I see people take this a lot, I don’t really like it. More often than not you’ll get to use your charge at the start of a fight and then again while chasing afterward. I’ve tried it, it’s kind of nice, but I think it’s overshadowed in almost all cases.
Cheap Shot: People like to write this off since, “It only works once or at level 20!” but that’s not really fair. When you get it your Hamstring is hitting for 90s, which means your charge boosts it to 180 at level 4 which is significant. You’ll also almost always get the doubled damage in team fights, and later on at 20 it means instead of 240s you’re hitting for 480s every three seconds. (Because you took Invigoration) Damage is the only the Butcher really offers, so it’s important to have as much of it as possible. I like Flail Axe, but it really doesn’t help much with chasing because if they’re that far you probably aren’t catching them without Ruthless Onslaught anyway and poke damage with Hamstring is fairly awful. (It’s 50 +10/level and a bit danger close)
Brutal Strike: I actually like Brutal Strike. I’d prefer it over Abattoir if Abattoir didn’t preserve your Fresh Meat stacks. It adds to a quick charge combo better than Abattoir and works better for overall damage because it’s not particularly often you get to just beat on something, normally you’ll get 1-2 autos before having to move in a little which is time wasted for Abattoir to get value. Brutal Strike doesn’t include your passive when it comes to the 50%, not sure if it’s a bug or not, but definitely hurts the talent.
Abattoir: Overall really good. It’s more damage, later on it’s attack speed, like I said I’d still prefer Brutal Strike if it wasn’t for the stack protection. The stack protection is really important later on. I still like Brutal Strike in games if we’re really pushing for an early win as the extra burst is definitely better in the mid-game, but Abattoir has a lot more value as the game goes on.
Insatiable Blade: Totally unnecessary and overshadowed.
Final Assault: Totally unnecessary and overshadowed.
Lamb vs Furnace. I catch a lot of hate for this, not quite as much as for picking The Butcher in the first place, but still quite a bit. I much prefer Lamb to Furnace. In my opinion, Furnace is the niche pick. I know, you’re sitting there right now thinking, “You’re dead wrong, the damage on Furnace is huge!” well let’s talk for a moment. The damage on Furnace (335+35/level) is slightly less than two auto attacks from The Butcher. Just as a quick example, at level 20 using my standard build you’re auto attacking for 550s, Furnace hits for 1,000.
Now I know you’re also thinking, “But it’s area of effect you idiot!” Now I’m going to ask you to take a moment here and think some more, the area of effect isn’t great, so usually you’re only going to hit your target and maybe one other person. Usually that second person is something durable as well. Like great, I did 1,000 damage to a Johanna/Muradin/Uther, I don’t really care. The damage I care about is the damage to the person I’m focusing. Yes huge five man ults happen, but they’re not often and shouldn’t be counted on.
I take Furnace if I feel I absolutely have to 100% whomever I charge in a single combo or as a team we’re pushing for a huge wombo combo deal and just about never any other time. 100%’ing an enemy as The Butcher is actually not easy. Basically, when Savage Charge was 15% of current you could semi-reliably do it, but you couldn’t really count on it, it wasn’t uncommon for your target to barely live with sub 5%-10% life. Now that the charge is 10% this went from semi-reliable to they’ll almost always barely survive and you’ll get peeled off and die. This can work great with a dive buddy, but if you have a dive buddy you probably don’t need that Furnace to succeed anyway. I consider it unnecessary and pales in comparison to the crowd control offered by Lamb.
Lamb has a significantly shorter cooldown (60 seconds vs 90 seconds) so you can feel free to use it almost whenever and it actually also deals damage. (90 +15/level) which chips at Furnace Blasts’ value a little more, not a ton more, but it isn’t insignificant. (You can also pull off super cool snipes with it sometimes.) Lamb to the Slaughter is also borderline necessary vs most assassins as it pushes you from being able to force them back to outright kill them if they take a single step out of position. The utility on it is just unreal and the cooldown is very forgiving. It’s also almost guaranteed to give you at least two more auto attacks which is going to net you more damage potential than Furnace Blast.
Burning Rage: No
Spell Shield: Take as necessary when vs teams with Kael + Whomever has large ability damage
Crave Flesh: I generally find unnecessary and it traps you into wasting Brand. Using Brand immediately is rarely correct, holding it for the heal when you get to about half or so is almost always the correct decision. The movement speed is nice and noticeable, but imo it’s unnecessary with Lamb and overshadowed.
Savage Charge: I liked this more when it was 15% of current rather than 10% of maximum health. That said, I still take it. Late game you’re going to reliably deal 300-500 damage to charged targets, which combined with everything else you get is useful for everything from opening and killing that squishy as quickly as possible (Which sounds hypocritical because I don’t like Furnace, but I touched on that) and for stylish executes vs fleeing targets, especially tanky ones. It’s just overall solid.
Crippling Slam: Definitely good, but extremely overshadowed. Unfortunate really. It’d be a contender as a Tier One, Four, or Thirteen trait.
Blood Frenzy: Almost always the decision, with Abattoir it’s essentially 35% attack speed all the time. Extremely hard to argue with that.
Enraged: Sometimes necessary, just like Spell Shield. Especially nice if you went Brutal Strike earlier for more mid-game power. I don’t often take it, but sometimes you have to.
Nexus Blades: Yes, every time. It gives The Butcher everything you want, right click damage and a little more chase power. (Which procs the double damage on Hamstring) At level 20 with this you’ll be smacking for 550s.
Bolt of the Storm: Unnecessary, overshadowed by Nexus Blades.
Slaughterhouse: A gimmick, not overly helpful. I got a lot of value out of it once because I was on a team with no real crowd control or front line to speak of.
Fires of Hell: Never actually works like you hope it will. (Except for that one time you always remember fondly, but can’t repeat.) Could potentially be cool if you’ve got a huge wombo combo team and someone who’s excellent at landing Mosh Pit.
Generally speaking my talents are:
Invigoration > Cheap Shot > Abattoir > Lamb to the Slaughter > Savage Charge > Blood Frenzy > Nexus Blades. This build has a lot of early-mid power while scaling beautifully into the late game. I sub in Victuals, Spell Shield, and Enraged as necessary.
As for generally how to approach a fight. Hang back, if they have something like Sonya or another big time invader just chill with your back line and kill them as they try to dive. Nothing can tank Butcher for more than a couple seconds and you get to save your backline and set up a solid fight before really committing. (Waiting also usually means less crowd control when you go in) If they don’t have someone you really expect to invade your back line, wait for your moment.
Position yourself at the far side of a team fight and the moment you see your target take a step that isolates them even a little bit, we’re talking out of melee range really, charge in, Lamb, kill them, swap targets, Brand that target, heal back up. If things are going awry, Brand their tank and attempt to Lifesteal tank, doesn’t always work, but it can make you incredibly difficult to kill and more often than not buys your team enough time to get something done while you get focused. Don’t forget to time your Hamstring to reset your auto attack, don’t forget to orb walk, don’t forget that charging into a pile of crowd control means you die. The Butcher is fairly durable for his class, but he’s not a tank nor should you act like one.
I see a lot of people talk about Johanna countering The Butcher. I really don’t have a problem vs her as The Butcher. Her blind isn’t particularly long and it’s not on a particularly short cooldown, it’s also much more avoidable than people think. Yes some Johannas will hold it for a while specifically for you, but that means she didn’t use it on someone else and you can still work with that.
Lili isn’t as bad as people believe either. Her blind is a lot better, it’s longer, shorter cooldown, but it’s also somewhat avoidable. Lamb to the Slaughter is also a great way to pin her down through her passive and ensure she just dies. Lili is definitely strong vs The Butcher, but it’s not a hard counter.
On that note, The Butcher is much better in just about every match-up than people believe. For instance, if it’s melee, it can’t beat you by itself. The closest I’ve seen is an Artanis that went the heavy triple strike damage build, but also took Suppression Field. I was still able to stall out with a Ruthless Onslaught and some back peddling with a Hamstring to turn it around once the blind ended and heal up with Butcher’s Brand. (If they hold Suppression for your Brand they’ll lose anyway)
Sonya is extremely weak the The Butcher. She’ll never be able to come close to 1v1’ing you and every fight you hang back, she dives in since she has no other option, you kill her, you move on. Easy.
Raynor is a little tight, but you can kill him through his heal and knock-back with a Lamb to the Slaughter pretty reliably, even when he gets support. Furnace gets some bonus value vs him since it can help just outright kill him before he heals for 1,000.
Jaina, Kael’Thas, and Nazeebo all fall into a pretty similar category of easily killed. They all have a strong way to peel you, but it all loses to Lamb to the Slaughter. You’ll have a hard time killing them with Furnace. Kael’Thas especially, if he times his Nether Wind correctly, can have it stun you the moment you land your charge. You’re durable enough to take their hits, land the Lamb, and kill them through it however. Yes I know I’ve spoken in absolutes a lot here and in reality things like, “Just Lamb and kill them.” do not always work because they might have an Uther or Malfurion or whatever, but you and I both know there’s far too many variables for me to account for all of them.
Lt. Morales/Uther I’ve gotten Stim Droned by her and done some truly amazing things before, but almost every time the Medic just kinda ults at a really awful time and nothing happens. Probably my own fault because my playstyle tends to be very Passive – Aggressive. I don’t mean Passive Aggresion, I mean I’m moving in, backing off for just a moment so they’ll move towards me, back in, out, in, out. It looks weird, but it works. Uther is similar to Morales as a big force multiplier, am a fan. I rarely get Divine Shields, but more often than not The Butcher is the correct target. It sounds selfish, but The Butcher is selfish. Deal.
Azmodan is a very easy kill for The Butcher. He just can’t fight you, ever, he also has no mobility skills to speak of.
Abathur you should really be cloning The Butcher and give him his dive buddy. I know you like cloning Raynor, but there’s not a lot anyone can do about two Butchers charging their back line. Butcher is not ult reliant for damage and requires a lot of effort to shut down, two is super strong. Not sure why I never see Abathurs clone me over the like Jaina/Raynor. Trust me, it’s great. At least try it.
Leoric is quite weak to The Butcher. He can’t ever beat you. If you lane vs him, grab Victuals and sustain through. Back off to break Drain Hope, otherwise just auto attack him whenever possible. He moved up to Q creeps? He should take at least two autos and a hamstring for that. Later on he can’t sustain through your damage because his durability comes over time while your damage output is just too much for it.
Muradin can be a problem. You really do just need to avoid him, it can be hard to play around, but it goes hand in hand with proper positioning and engagement being critical.
Final bit I’d like to squeeze in. I’m not sure what’s up with Butcher’s Brand, but it’s fairly unresponsive sometimes. It’ll take a full second or so to actually be used. It’s part of why I don’t like Crave Flesh other than it messes up the initial combo/encourages wasting it. I’ve had a lot of times where I had time to get in 1-2 autos and was spamming Brand and it just didn’t happen. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with it.
If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message or leave a post or whatever, I’ll watch this for a little while.